Tag Archives: rabbi

Rabbi Mouse?

I just saw this on my Facebook and I just had to ask my readers here. My apartment building has a problem with mice. I hate mice. They make me scream and be all hysterical female which is so not a role I am comfortable with (snortle). I saw a mouse last night. The boys went into saviour mode with brooms and mops. They didn’t find it, so then they tried convincing me I was seeing things (while at the same time teasing their youngest brother that the mouse had found a home in his school bag).

So one of my friends said that her brother had learned in yeshiva in Israel that there was a picture of a certain rebbe you have to put up on the wall in your house, and no more mice. One look, I guess, and they run away. She wasn’t sure which one, but she said that’s what he learned.

Any of you ever hear anything like this before??

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Rabbis are guides not dictators!!

I respect my rabbi. I respect the KoD’s rabbi. Until we move, we have two separate rabbis. My rabbi has been my spiritual leader for most of the past 13 years. If I have questions he is the competent local orthodox rabbi that I consult. I don’t believe in rabbi shopping. I ask all my questions to one rabbi. I don’t seek out the rabbi that will be the laxest.  I don’t believe in that. However, when it is KoD that will be doing the asking, he will ask his own rabbi. When we move, the KoD’s rav will be mine.

What I really don’t believe in is running to the rabbi or spiritual leader to ask about every single thing in your life. I live a religious life. I keep as many mitzvoth as I can. I know what it means to live as an Orthodox Jew. Occasionally questions come up – and when I am not sure about halacha I will consult the rabbi. I will not ask him whether the time is right for me to buy a new house, or if my son should be allowed to check his email, or if I should blog about how my husband loves my hair. I will not ask him when I am sick if I should take the medication or pray instead to get better. I won’t ask him if I can go to the movies Saturday night or if it’s ok for me to talk to my friend’s husband on the phone.

Why not? Firstly – because I don’t need rabbinical approval for every single thing I do in this life. I have my own moral compass. I have a brain. I can think things through, discuss with others, and am ok with the majority of my decisions. Not everything we do in life has to have the seal of rabbinical authority. Secondly, do I really think the rabbi wants to be bothered with the minutiae of all of his congregants’ lives? Does he care what brand of Kleenex you use, or whether your laundry detergent sat in a shopping cart where ham sat before? So much of what I hear people have asked their rabbi is narishkeit – nothingness, silliness.

A rabbi is there to teach us, to help us learn and grow. He is not there to control our lives. He is there to celebrate and commemorate with us – hatches, matches and dispatches (births, marriages and deaths); to visit the sick; to pay shiva visits; to help lift us up when we need it; to provide advice and counsel when warranted; to inspire us to be better servants of God. As far as I know, when a man is studying for his smicha, there isn’t a class on “how to control your congregants 101”. Being a rabbi is about encouraging the community to be better people, to be better Jews and to help them get there.

We can think for ourselves. I don’t need a rabbi thinking for me. And I highly doubt he wants to be the one to decide on everything in a congregant’s life.

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How I define tzniut

How does one define tzniut (modesty)? The truth is in everyday Jewish parlance it’s more or less taken to mean the way one dresses. Elbows and knees are supposed to be covered as are the collarbones and all places in between. Some say women’s bare legs are supposed to be covered by hose. Some say not. Some say tzniut includes women not wearing trousers, some disagree. Different sections of religious Judaism define it their way and within those sections, individuals define it personally sometimes (as I do).

It can also refer to one’s behaviour too. In this instance tzniut can mean not drawing attention to oneself. For example: I was once in a store and a whole bunch of teenage girls from the local ultra-religious girls’ school came in. They were all wearing long skirts and long sleeved shirts, their hair was tied back modestly, no make up on. They were dressed in a modest manner, but they drew attention because they were loud and obnoxious and fooling around in a manner that was not modest at all and totally inappropriate. It seems as if we expect better behaviour from people who dress more modestly. Which is a total fallacy but that is a post for a different day.

I grew up Modern Orthodox, wearing trousers and short sleeves. I lived in my jeans. I miss wearing jeans. They were part of my uniform growing up. Came home from school, threw off the grey long skirt, the grey jumper and the white shirt, pulled on the jeans and a sweatshirt and was good to go. I was comfortable. You are never as comfy as when wearing jeans or sweatpants. You cannot just lay about comfortably in a skirt, even if it’s a long denim one. You just are more aware of your behaviour. Which is kind of the whole point I suppose.

Someone explained it to me like this , when you go to a wedding, or a party, or some kind of simcha (joyous event) and you dress up, you feel different. You are careful how you sit, how you move, because you are wearing your finest clothes and you don’t want to wrinkle them or spoil them. You behave in a more dignified manner. We are always in front of God so we are supposed to stand to attention and be aware of where we are.

Well, that’s all well and good, but you cannot be stiff all the time. You have to let your hair down a bit. You have to be able to be comfortable in your own home at least. I don’t know, I don’t think I subscribe to that philosophy.

I have a lot of issues with conformity. I don’t like being boxed in, being told what to do. I am a dafkanik…tell me to do something and I want to do the opposite. I have written previously on the blog about my troubles with covering my hair – eventually I came to it on my own terms.

Tzniut seems to be a hard one for me too but I think I have reached a place where I am happy with my level. I like attention. I am being totally honest here. I like walking into a room and being noticed. I dress for that too. Yes it helps to be a skinny wench with an awesome figure, especially when one has birthed four big-headed children and is well entrenched in her 30s. God has also blessed me with a pleasant face and a huge smile (ok we can say big mouth, but huge smile sounds better) and obviously I have a HUGE ego….. This is the way God created me. I am 100% natural, no additions, no subtractions, no Botox. Why should I hide myself away?

I am always respectful. When I attend functions at the boys’ yeshiva everything that is supposed to be covered is covered. I sit quietly on my side of the mechitzah. I act in a manner befitting the environment however much it peeves me.

When I go to shul or religious events I dress respectfully. Is it all dark colours and monochromatic? Absolutely not. I am a colorful person, and I refuse to tame that down as well. I wear lots of bright colours, pinks and reds and greens. I am flamboyant, but within limits. I wear high heels because I can walk in them and I absolutely love to wear them. I dress for me, for no one else. I do not dress to prove a point to anyone.

Do I cover my *nees? Technically I do. I won’t wear a short on the knee skirt with bare legs, even in the summer. If I plan to be barelegged then I will wear a skirt that covers my knees. When I wear my short skirts I usually wear them with thick black tights, and only in the winter. In my mind, therefore my *nees are covered. However, the skirts I am talking about are to the top of my knee, and NOT mid thigh. I have my limits. I am a woman of extremes. I either wear long skirts to the ankle, or knee length. No calf length for me. This is the way I am comfortable. Does my skirt length make me a terrible person? Someone who always wears long skirts and dresses modestly according to the technical definitions – is she better than me?

I show no cleavage, my shirt collars are always near or on the collarbone, but I don’t measure it. My elbows are almost always covered, because I honestly don’t like anyone looking at them. Ick.

So I guess I set my own standards and limits. People may even call me a hypocrite. When I was doing the dating thing a rebbetzin (rabbi’s wife) told me to dress differently. That I would not find a husband if I continued to dress in this manner.  No high heels, tone down the make up, wear clothes a size bigger than I should etc… Basically, deny who I am in order to catch a good one! My husband loves the way I look, and appreciates that I make an effort with my appearance. If he has a problem with an item of clothing that I have donned, he isn’t afraid to tell me, and I will usually respect his opinion.

You know, you can ask 10 different religious Jewish women about tzniut and get ten different answers. The laws and customs of today are different that they were scores of years ago. In the 1920s it was scandalous to show ankles. In the 1960s so many of our religious mothers wore mini skirts. Each community seems to have its own standard. I dress the way I feel comfortable dressing. I behave in public in a modest manner, I am not loud and boisterous and I know how to respect decorum. I do not draw attention to myself with behaviour or with loud speech.

So I guess that is my definition of tzniut. I toe the line, but up to a point.

I just wanted to add that we were discussing this a lot on twitter the past couple of days, and it seems to me that when discussing tzniut it seems heavily weighted on the female side. What women should and shouldn’t wear. There are similar standards for men, but I hardly ever hear them talked about.

*Hameivin Yavin…..

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Observance of Kashrut and Niddah are equal??!!

I was horrifed at the story told in a comment on my guest post on DovBear’s blog.

I was talking with some friends in the community and they mentioned the rabbi was coming to them for Shabbat lunch. I replied that I thought it was well-known the rabbi doesn’t eat at other people’s houses as a blanket rule because he doesn’t want to embarrass anyone over kashrut issues. The person then tells me that that is the “public reason” and that in reality the rabbi eats by people all the time. He decides if a person is trustworthy enough based on whether the wife asks niddah shailas to him.

Nice, huh?

JS | 10.22.09 – 1:51 pm | #

I have the utmost respect for Rabbis, especially those who I know to live their life the way they preach. My Rabbi is one of those leaders who does everything in life in the name of God. To think that a Rabbi out there has the reputation of basing his trust of a woman’s kashrus on whether or not she asks him niddah questions – the two have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Some devout women will go through life NEVER having a niddah question, and their house is just as kosher, or perhaps more so, than a woman who asks the rabbi niddah questions 12 times a year. I am incensed that this Rabbi has been given this reputation, either deservedly or not. There are women who observe taharat hamishpacha kehilchatah but eat out at non kosher restaurants. But if one of these women asked this rabbi a niddah question would he eat at her house – I doubt it. I think this story has to be looked into more, because it makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.

Steaming over here……

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Interesting Development

I need time to digest this and put my thoughts together on it – but I wanted to know what YOU think.

Israeli Rabbis Back Gay Parenting

please read the link and comment here. thanks.

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Olympic Meshugass!

I actually listened to the rabbi’s speech today in shul, and most of what he said ticked me off. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe he is usually controversial and I never listened before.

 

First he talked about being Jewish – that in order to be counted as being Jewish one has to keep the mitzvoth. What? In my understanding if your mother is Jewish, that makes you Jewish whether you keep one mitzvah, 613 mitzvoth or none. I guess his point was really that if the Jews don’t keep mitzvoth there will be no Judaism left. But saying you are not Jewish if you do not perform mitzvoth was wrong. No wonder secular Jews sometimes feel alienated from organized religion, if this is the prevailing attitude,

 

Then he decided to lambast the Olympics, calling the amazing feats of athletic prowess “meshugass”, ridiculing the respect we have for people who can jump higher, run faster, dive cleaner etc. Apparently according to the rabbi, this is totally wrong. We shouldn’t admire anyone who obviously has these talents because it has nothing to do with who we are as Jews. We should admire people because of their Jewishness, their fear of G-d, their belief in Him, and their daily struggles in order to serve Him. Surely a person who is faster, can jump higher etc is blessed by G-d, surely these are G-d given talents? Ok, maybe worshipping them is too much, but how can anyone fail to see G-d’s gift in Michael Phelps’s swimming? There is something totally unworldly and beyond the norm in that. There were many Jewish Olympians this year – should we not be proud? Is the rabbi saying we should be ashamed to put any emphasis on physical accomplishments?

 

I am guessing that this rabbi, well into his 70s, has a different mind-set than I do, and sees evil and anti-Jewishness everywhere he looks. What I really hate about rabbi’s sermons is that there is no Q and A period after, that there is no arguing with his point of view. The rabbi speaks, the service continues, and I am left to stew with my thoughts. Of course, I could have discussed it with him after mussaf, at the Kiddush, but would he have spoken to me, a mere woman? Not just a woman, but one with an opinion too. Perish the thought! This Rabbi seems to be all fire and brimstone. I hate that.