Tag Archives: halacha

And now it starts!!

The pre-pesach insanity. The minute Purim is over, for most balabustas, it’s full steam ahead for pesach preparations. Suddenly you cannot eat anywhere but the kitchen, the dining room is off limits. Closets must be emptied and reorganized. Light fixtures have to be taken down and scrubbed. The moms are on a mission to rid the house of anything chametzdik. In some houses there is not much decent to eat between now and Pesach.

But really, this craziness goes so much further than that. Most of this Pesach cleaning is really spring cleaning, but using Pesach as the excuse. According to the halacha, you don’t need to take down each individual crystal from your chandelier and scrub it in hot soapy water. There will be no chametz there, and certainly no recognizable or edible chametz. Just plenty of dust. Women who are not machmir on many things year round, suddenly in the month before Pesach are incredibly strict on what can pass muster as being clean for Pesach.

I like my home to be clean even when not preparing for Pesach. When I have the energy and the inclination I might take down the light fixtures (even though I am Hungarian I have no chandeliers) and clean them, but it will not be explained as cleaning for Pesach. Taking everything out of the closets in my room so I can wipe down the walls and ceilings and vacuum the floors – that’s nothing to do with Pesach – I don’t keep bread in my bedroom closet. To clean for Pesach you need to just get rid of chametz. Dust is not chametz. Lint is not chametz. A disorganized closet is not chametz.

If you keep your house organized and clean year round, then cleaning for Pesach should be no great hassle, and doesn’t really need to be thought about till the week before. Rooms where you know there has been no chametz don’t even need to be cleaned for Pesach. The kitchen and dining areas are really the only places that need a thorough going over and you can’t really do that until just before the holiday.

I have made Pesach annually since I got married the first time around. I have it down to a science. I would like to think that I don’t make the kids insane for weeks in advance. That I am not a dictator who has a panic attack every time someone walks out of the kitchen with a cookie in hand. When the kids were babies, yes, I found cheerios etc in interesting places. Soon enough they learned to do the chametz wiggle before leaving the kitchen in the week before Pesach.

So many times I hear women complain about how exhausted they are by the time they sit down for the seder. It’s unnecessary to be that tired. It’s a holiday. I want to enjoy my holiday with my family, not be a burned out wreck because I have been a cleaning and scrubbing fiend for a month!!! “Avadim Hayinu” – we were slaves – in Egypt, not in present day 2010! Please, get it all into perspective, ladies, and show up at the seder in your yomtov finery, with a smile showing naturally on your face, and know that you will enjoy yourself, not fall asleep by the second cup of wine.

Yes – once the house is Pesachdik there is a lot of work to be done. The changing over the kitchen, the shopping and the cooking. Food preparation for Pesach is a lot more time consuming. Get everyone involved. Plan your meals. You CAN cook on yomtov, it doesn’t all need to be prepared before hand. There is no need for us women to be zombies – let’s enjoy every part of the pesach preps.

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Loss of Innocence

This morning we had an interesting discussion in the twitterverse. My JewCrew and I had been discussing many theological issues since last night, including whether Halacha (Jewish Law) evolves or not. One of my tweeps brought up a valid point about whether certain acts became assur (forbidden) or if they led to a recommendation to not do something. Not technically wrong, but advised to abstain.

The example that was given was connected to marital relations. Sex isn’t supposed to happen in the daylight and is supposed to be performed in a certain way. I am not going to get into details here. These things are not forbidden per se, but the rabbis strongly advise against it. From where was this extrapolated by some meforshim (commentators)? From the Book of Esther. Chapter 5 verse 2.

“The King extended to Esther the golden scepter he was holding. Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.”

Apparently, according to those meforshim, this is all a euphemism for a particular sexual act that Esther performed with such aplomb that King Achashverosh gave her half his kingdom. *

I sat in my chair shell shocked. This is Queen Esther we are talking about! The Queen who saved us, her people, from being destroyed by the evil Haman!! How can holy rabbis even think to paint her in this negative light? I am not mad at the JewCrew Tweeps. They were just doing what we all always do, passing on knowledge to foster understanding and more conversation. Yes, Queen Esther did what needed to be done in order to save us. I was quite happy sitting in my naïve little bubble thinking that we fasted, she made a feast, ratted Haman the Evil One out, and we were free. The End.

Now my reading of the megillah (scroll, in this case the Book of Esther) will be forever tainted with the idea that the innocent girl that married King Achashverosh in order to save the Jews  – was she a wanton hussy schooled in the erotic arts or was she a victim of the whole regime? It must be said that this is ONE of who knows how many explanations and could totally be misinterpreting the whole sentence. But I will never know, and that will now be in my head next Purim and every Purim after.

Why has this thrown me for a loop? It’s been on my mind all day. To me this seems almost sacrilegious. Perhaps it’s because I see myself as named after her in some way? The text calls her “Hadassah”. I guess Esther was her middle name and was used to identify her every subsequent time in the book. Not that I am so holy. I am not. But it’s almost like that moment when you realize your parent is a human being and not quite perfect. That pedestal didn’t seem quite so high after. It seems devastating to me to even think of Esther in a sexual context. Obviously our forefathers and foremothers were intimate with each other, otherwise we wouldn’t be here today. So why am I having such a hard time in dealing with this? Is it because I wonder if God forbid I was called upon to perform such an act to save my kids or my people – would I have the guts to follow through? Or is it because I now see her as perhaps more of a victim than she already was? So disturbed….

*this act was performed in broad daylight and sent the King into such a tizzy that he parted with half his kingdom, which is why we are warned against such behaviour. We don’t want to give away half of what we own for just a few minutes of blissful gratification.

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Tattooing for cosmetic purposes

 

I am an eyeliner gal. I cannot leave the house EVER without eyeliner. And if I do, just don’t look at me. I have heard that you can have permanent make up tattooed on, and that would eliminate the need to do your make up every day. Now I have seen the blush that they do and it just doesn’t look natural. But I would totally do the eyeliner, in a heartbeat.

 

However, the Torah prohibits tattooing. Once is not supposed to cause harm to the body as we are created B’Tzelem Elokim – in G-d’s image. However, there are cases where cosmetic surgery has been permitted in order for the person to have a better self image.

 

So, I posed a question on Twitter and FaceBook, and have had some interesting responses. Excerpts of which I post below, anonymity of responders is protected.

 

I wanted to know if you had any knowledge about the halachot of tattooing and if such a cosmetic procedure could be permitted and by which Rabbi.

 

#1 I believe any tattooing is forbidden. But once it’s there, it’s not forbidden to have it. Halakhah is weird like that.

 

#2 Yeah, but you won’t be allowed to be buried in a J cemetary if you have one I thought.

 

#3 There is absolutely no basis in halacha for not being buried in a Jewish cemetary if you have a tattoo. I have heard this from numerous rabbis and Jewish drs in drashas over the years.
Commenter #1  (once again) is correct. Halachically, it is forbidden to get a tattoo. However, once someone has one, there is nothing that says they MUST get rid of it – in fact, there is a question as to whether one CAN get rid of a tattoo b/c it can cause more damage…

 

#4 Must be a rumor started by mothers to scare their kids out of getting one. Thanks for the clarification guys 🙂

 

#5 i once worked with someone who was converting to Judaism and he was getting his tattoo removed. i wonder if his rabbi told him to do that or if it was his personal choice.

 

#6 I wish that was allowed! I never leave the house without eyeliner on… What kind of cosmetic tattoing would you have done, if it was halachically permissable?

 

ME –  just the eyeliner – the blush and lipstick look like paint in the work i have seen, but the eyeliner i would do in a heartbeat. i cannot leave the house either without it!

 

#8 it was prbly a personal choice. There are only 2 ways to get tattoos removed. 1 of them involves lasers, is supposedly mostly painless but isn’t guaranteed. The 2nd way involves them cutting out that part of your flesh — certainly not painless…but it will def get rid of it! Ouch!