Tag Archives: religious

WWYD – sleepover

(Not my story, as told to me by a friend)

Your young child is invited to a sleepover. You know the family from school. The parents are divorced, but have remained within the community. Mother still covers her hair, father still wears a yarmulke – both still heavily involved with their children and their community.

When you drop off the child for the sleepover (at the mom’s house) you see a religious looking guy there that you have never met, he’s sprawled on the sofa watching TV in his sweats and black kippah. You figure he is her brother or something. You think nothing of it until you pick up your child the next day, the guy is still there, in the same clothes, and your child tells you on the way home that he is Ms Sleepover’s special friend and he got to cuddle with her all night in her room. Your older child (who is in the car with you at the pick up time) happens to mention that she knows Ms Sleepover has been dating a guy for a while, as this child is friends with the other sibling.

What would you do at this point? Your child has absolutely no reason to lie to you. Your child doesn’t even think there is anything wrong because s/he is too young to understand that religious people don’t behave that way. Do you take this opportunity to teach some values to your child who may be too young to understand? Do you tell your child she cannot play over there any more – after all if she has a male stay over guest, perhaps her kashrut or parenting or character is also suspect? Do you call the mother and tell her that what she does on her own time is her business, but you would appreciate it if she didn’t expose your child to her sinful behaviour?

Personally, I don’t think I would force the issue, I just wouldn’t let my child sleep over again. If I were to be challenged by the parent on why I let him/her sleep over last time but not this, then I might tactfully bring the subject up.

What would YOU do?

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And the tongues were wagging

I went out to dinner with a girlfriend (Empress CaresALot) last night to celebrate our receiving an appointment date for our visas. Because we had been waiting to do this for a long time we decided to go to one of the upscale kosher joints in Montreal – Morty’s. Empress CaresALot and I love to eat steak (we talk about dead cow all the time) and Morty’s is a phenomenal steakhouse.

A couple in their late 20s entered during our meal and were seated near us. He was wearing a kippah and promptly went to perform the ritual hand washing for bread. He made the bracha. Religious. Observant. Impressive.

Not too long after, we were treated to the display of him bending over his wife or girlfriend with his tongue thrust down her throat for an extended excruciating moment. I would not have objected to noticing him peck her on the cheek, or even briefly on the lips, I might even have thought that was cute, but this was a full on French kiss with absolutely no one in the room doubting that he could take it to the next level there and then. It was uncomfortable. I didn’t want to look but it was like a train wreck – you just couldn’t look away.

If he had not been wearing a kippah and not washed for bread would we have been so shocked? Probably. It was not the place to behave in such a manner. This isn’t a nightclub. It’s a kosher restaurant where people go out to have a civilized meal. The fact that he had the outward trappings of an observant Jewish male just added salt to the wound. Somehow one does expect more of someone who is identifiably “religious”. But where is the sense of decorum? Can you not go anywhere these days without being confronted by inappropriate behaviour? Do people not get taught anymore how to behave in public?

We didn’t allow this to ruin our meal and soon got back into our conversation, but oh how it rankles me just thinking about it now.

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No Mikvah for You!

OK, I am really angry. This has been going around my head for days on end. My friend Shorty is an awesome person. She started becoming more and more observant and is invested into her Judaism. Read her personal story here. Shorty wants to learn all she can about the best way to embrace her religion.

When Shorty was not on her religious path she married a truly wonderful man. He is totally sweet and so good to her. He isn’t Jewish. At that point in her life marrying Jewish was not on her radar. By her own admission she lived very much of an assimilated life. Life-threatening surgery started her religious gears churning, and she has been on the path to more Jewish knowledge ever since.

Shorty’s husband is extremely supportive of her quest for Jewish enlightenment. He is her number one cheerleader and takes pride in her.

Recently Shorty started attending a class locally, with other Jewish women, about the laws of family purity – Taharat HaMishpacha. Traditionally, during menstruation and for a week after a woman is not physical with her husband, she immerses in the mikvah, and they can re-consummate their physical relationship. It truly is something special in a marriage and when this mitzvah is performed properly it brings added benefits to the marriage.

Shorty was told that because her husband isn’t Jewish, she really shouldn’t bother with the whole thing. It’s like saying a bracha (blessing) on non-kosher food. It’s wrong.

If she is told not to bother with this mitzvah, why should she bother with any of the others? Do they also not count because she is intermarried? Should she not bother keeping kosher because her husband isn’t Jewish? Should she not say brachot on kosher food because her husband isn’t Jewish? If she gets into the practice of keeping the laws of family purity, and immerses in a mikvah – how can that be wrong? Is it not the woman’s mitzvah to keep? The husbands do not have anything at all to do with the keeping of this mitzvah except to not touch their wives when forbidden to. Shorty’s husband is more than willing to respect her observance of these laws. Shouldn’t we be encouraging people to keep more mitzvot, not push them away because “you’re intermarried, you couldn’t possibly keep this mitzvah properly”. If she does decide that she wants to go to the mikvah – would she be turned away? Is a mikvah attendant within her rights to do so? I think not. Even if the mikvah lady knows that a woman is not married, or married to a non-Jew, she has no right to refuse to observe an immersion.

I can think of plenty of Jewish husbands who don’t care if their wives use the mikvah or not, plenty of Jewish wives who don’t practice Taharat Hamishpacha properly because it isn’t important to them. Here is a Jewess willing to take on this mitzvah, which is HUGE, and she is being told not to bother. There is something wrong here.

Maybe one day Shorty’s husband will decide to convert. We don’t know the future. Pushing them away from keeping this mitzvah is not the way to keep a person interested in pursuing their religious ideals. Is it fair for a rabbi to tell someone NOT to keep a mitzvah? Is it moral?

Granted I do not know the halacha behind this issue, but in my book any discouragement of a Jewish person from keeping a mitzvah is just wrong.

Please chime in with your thoughts.

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How would you define “frum”?

From Ohr Somayach:

“Frum is a Yiddish word. It originally meant “pious.” In Europe, when all Jews were Torah-observant, “frum” meant one who was exceptionally religious and righteous.

Today, when so many Jews are not Torah-observant, “frum” has come to mean anyone who believes in the Torah and is observant of its laws.”

These days it seems everyone has their own way of defining it. Ohr Somayach’s definition is too broad for my taste, but just what does “frum” mean? I don’t like using the term, preferring the term religious, but then again, what I consider religious, someone else might label as “modern”.

So, over to you, readers. How do you define frum, or religious? How about Yeshivish, Chareidi or Chassidic? What does Modern Orthodox mean to you? Reform, conservative, conservadox, liberal?

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