Tag Archives: jewish

WWYD – Minyan

It’s summer time and the living is easy. Well, easier than getting the kids up and off to school every day. The pace is more relaxed – life is less stressful. That being said, we never forget that we are religious Jews, and our religious practice still dictates the same things that they do in school time.

I have two boys over barmitzvah, one 9 months away from “becoming a man”. The KoD goes to shul every morning, to daven (pray) with a minyan (a quorum of ten men over the age of 13). I expect the same of my oldest two – and there is a later minyan than the 7 am one the KoD goes too. There is one at 8 am throughout the summer.

How much do I push for them to go? Shouldn’t this be something that should be their choice, or should I expect it of them and do my darndest to drag their tired selves out of bed? They can daven at home, but it is so much better to daven with a minyan.

What do you do with your teenage boys in this regard? What worked for you as a teenage observant boy? What are your thoughts?

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Adoption advice needed

My friend Shorty and her husband are looking to adopt a child. They have started exploring all of their options and researching and attending information sessions. Shorty sent me this email earlier today, asking for advice.

Hey H

so here’s the deal…we’re looking into adoption – likely from China. I’ve had two issues when it comes to adoption

The first, a non issue with the Chinese child adoption is the open adoption thing. Domestic adoptions are all open (or most of them, in Ontario, Canada). I just have a hard time wrapping my head around an open adoption, where the adopted child will be raised Jewish, and well, Frum (religious) Jewish. While as you know DH is amazing, his family is patient but well, not necessarily totally understanding. So imagine a whole OTHER extended non Jewish family in the picture…

The second issue is the whole “teach the child their culture” thing. While i have no problem telling my (G-d willing!) adopted child where they are from, I’m not exactly keen on telling them the whole story about Chinese culture, as much of it revolves around a religion. I figure there must be some kind of balance, teach them about the language, and some non religious culture things. It’s just the first I hear of this. I know a few other people who had adopted from China, and their children, happen to be Chinese, but they never made any extra effort to teach the kids Mandarin or take them to Chinese dance lessons. I’ve just been reading about Chinese culture lessons for these kids…which somehow has to fit in around friends, and sports and school and well, regular life things.

So…what do you think? do you know anyone in this kind of situation (religious and have adopted from another country or are in an open adoption)

The scary thing is, because of the homestudy, you really have to have all these answers laid out before hand…like they ask you things like “how do you plan on raising the child – specifically”. Umm…does anyone know in such a detailed way how they are going to raise their child? They might know, religion, or a no-spanking policy (i actually do know a couple who spank, unfortunately) but other than that…does anyone really know what they do day by day, before the child arrives (adoption or by birth)?

Ok lots of random questions, but i know people like to comment on your blog more than mine, and I really need some words of wisdom!!

Lots of hugs

Shorty

If anyone out there has any advice for Shorty and her husband, please share it.

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I believe!

How do you do it, how do you believe b’Emunah shleimah (with full faith)? Certain things I am dealing with right now are severely testing my faith, and I know that I need to work harder on knowing deep within my soul that this will all work out the right way, that it’s all part of God’s plan. Blind faith – does there come a point that you have to admit it isn’t working? Or is blind faith like that old chestnut of the man hanging off a cliff, ignores the rescue attempts, dies and then asks God why He didn’t help him and gets told “who do you think sent you the helicopter…??” If you do your Hishtadlut – due diligence – you need to be able to trust that it’s all safe in God’s hands, right? Is that what blind faith is?

Is having true emunah and bitachon an issue that FFBs struggle with more than BTs or converts? Is it because I was brought up with God front and centre that I take Him for granted until things go wrong and then have a hard time believing and trusting 100%?

What do you do to improve your belief and faith in God? Can you help me do it too?

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Brachot

From the Mailbag (reworded).

We have brachot that we make at every moment in the day. We make brachot (blessings) on food that we enjoy eating, and on seeing a beautiful sight like a rainbow, on circumcising a baby and on celebrating a marriage, and even on exiting the bathroom. When we meet a king or queen there is an appropriate bracha to be made, when it thunders and lightnings – there’s one for that too. There seems to be a bracha for almost everything we do in our Jewish lives. So how come we don’t have a bracha for sex?

Good question. Anyone?

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Asking a Shaila (a question)

This one is for the #JewCrew.

Let’s say there is a brother and sister who have a halachic shaila about family matters they need to ask of a rav. The sister follows one rav, the brother another. He asks his rav, she asks hers, and the answers are different. Who do they go according to?

EDITED TO ADD – this is something that they have to do together, not separately.

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What Would Moshe Think?

On my long drive back to Montreal yesterday my mind travelled a lot, as it generally does. But it kept coming back to one central thought. How is the Judaism that we practice today similar / different to the Judaism that Moshe brought with him from his time on Mount Sinai? If Moshe were to show up at any of the religious Jewish communities today, or on Shabbat or a holiday, would he recognize this as the same Judaism he adhered to millennia ago?

There has been so much emphasis by different factions on chumras (stringencies) in various different areas. Tzniut, kashrut, mikvah observance etc. Yes, there have always been 613 mitzvot, and we cannot keep them all these days because we have no Bet HaMikdash. But the ones that we can keep – do we keep them to the right levels? In the right way? In the right spirit?

One of my favourite lines to say is that Moshe’s sister Miriam did not wear panty hose in the desert. She didn’t. She was probably dressed extremely modestly, but I bet she wore sandals. These days sandals with bare feet are scandalous, apparently. This is but one example.

So, folks, what do you think? Would Moshe recognize our Judaism?

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Bracha from a Rebbe

I just received an email from a good friend telling me a big-name rebbe is going to be in town, and that I should go to him to get a bracha (blessing), you know, to speed up the move and the paperwork etc.

I have to be honest, previously I would have scoffed at this type of thing. The guy is flesh and blood like the rest of us, how can a bracha even from a learned man change your life? God is in charge, He’s already planned out my year, no bracha will change it. For me it was right up there with tying a roite bendel (red string) around my wrist – it works if I believe in it, but doesn’t if I don’t.

But this email gave me pause. Should I, shouldn’t I? Couldn’t hurt, right? And then I got to thinking, it’s extremely hypocritical of me to even think I should go. After all I never believed in this kind of stuff to start off with. Now that I need extra help with my situation, it’s all of a sudden ok?

Can a bracha from a learned man really change around one’s future, one’s parnassah, one’s heavenly decree? Am I a hypocrite if I do go and ask for a bracha for me, the KoD and our family?

What are your thoughts?

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My Awesome Boys!!

It’s Friday, a day that I traditionally spend in the kitchen, whipping up delicious food for Shabbat – chicken soup and home baked challahs etc. My boys have hungry tummies and very much appreciate my cooking. (It’s all the extra love I put in). Poor KoD doesn’t get to enjoy my Shabbat cooking very often, but soon enough that will change and I will be chasing him out of the kitchen too to stop him from “taste testing” like the boys do.

We like to have our house clean for Shabbat – so that we can welcome the Sabbath Queen in the right spirit. Usually I have laundry going at the same time as I am cooking – and once I am done cooking the kitchen gets scrubbed.

But we have a lovely sized apartment and no cleaning help. So that means that all the boys have to pitch in whenever asked. It’s not a choice, it’s a necessity. Growing up we had a chore list, and it rotated. That way there was a fair division of labour. I am not as organized as my mum was, so it’s always a little different. But the boys know better than to complain. Sometimes they will collaborate on chores to get them done quicker.

Squiggy likes to clean the bathrooms. I don’t know why, but I can see he has pride in a job well done. I hate hate hate cleaning the boys’ bathroom. Those of you with sons will understand why. So, that has become his job by default. A funny – today he felt a little lazy and I could see he needed motivation. I told him he’d better use some elbow grease. He looks under the sink – Ima, where’s the elbow grease??

Lenny gets to do the living room / dining room and does a great job too (when he remembers to actually move the furniture and sweep under it). He also loves to go to the store for me to pick up items that have been too heavy for me to carry, or that I forgot.

They are all dab hands at folding laundry and putting it away. The oldest two even know how to work the wash machine. HockeyFan loves to wash the dishes, and this afternoon he organized the refrigerator – apparently he put the yogurts in alphabetical order. He always asks me what else he can do to help.

ChatterBox is only 7 and as such I am not expecting too much. He gets to match up the socks, and organize his toys, and put away his Lego. Taking the recycling down to the garage is his job, and he gets to set up the candlesticks for Friday night. He loves to set the table for the Shabbat meals and does a fantastic job. The kids all take it in turns to help me serve the meal, and to clean up. They fight about whose turn it is to help. “It’s not fair, Ima, he helped you last week. Please can it be my turn?” Sometimes they will insist that I remain seated for the whole meal, so they can serve me.

It’s now 330pm and I am exhausted. There is one more load of laundry to be folded, and then I think I will take a nap. The house is sparkling, the aroma of delicious food is wafting through the apartment, and soon we will be showered and dressed in our Shabbat finery to welcome Shabbat with the lighting of my candles.

I am so blessed – I have the best boychikles in the world.

Shabbat Shalom.

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Men! Question for you!

A few years ago I heard from a male of my acquaintance that he does not wear tzitzit because they make him look fat. Plus he also said there was no need to wear them every day, only when wearing a four cornered garment. It’s a chumra, he said, to wear them daily.

Does it really make that much of a difference?

Please enlighten me.

Signed the mother of 4 proud tzitzit-wearing boychiks.

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Helping not modest?

From the YWN coffee room…..a lady asks the following question :

Walking down the street today, I encountered a young father shlepping up the steps a double stroller along side of him a young child who he was also trying to help up. Is it tznuis for me to help him up with the carriage?

(Wonderful sentence structure…sigh)

There were a good many people who replied telling her it’s a mitzvah to help a fellow Jew. There were also those replies that told her indeed it isn’t tzanuah, in fact one went so far as to say that issues of negiah (inappropriate touching) or Niddah arise.

I don’t know, folks. Someone needs help, you help. You don’t stop to have a halachic internal argument about the pros and cons of helping someone who obviously needs it. It was suggested on that site that if they carry the stroller together it isn’t proper, especially if she is a Niddah. Let’s go further – what if someone saw her helping a man who isn’t her husband with a stroller and a kid that wasn’t hers. Maybe, just maybe, they might think something inappropriate about her or him. So therefore don’t bother helping anyone of the opposite sex, you know, just so that other people won’t perhaps think wrongly of you. Again, is that how people want to live their life – based on what others think of them? Should we not be living our lives to serve God not man?

As a mom who struggled with double strollers any help was appreciated, male or female. How have we got to this point that we have to be so hyper aware of breathing in case we might do it wrong??!!

ETA: apparently fanatical stupidity goes back a long way. with thanks to Rabbi Josh Yuter who provided me with the following source:

39. B. Sotah 21aWhat is a foolish pietist like? — E.g., a woman is drowning in the river, and he says: ‘It is improper for me to look upon her and rescue her’ 39. תלמוד בבלי מסכת סוטה דף כא עמוד ב היכי דמי חסיד שוטה? כגון דקא טבעה איתתא בנהרא, ואמר: לאו אורח ארעא לאיסתכולי בה ואצולה
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