Monday, March 29, 2010

Let's Free Ourselves

It's 2:00 am, and I am sitting down to write a blog post that most people probably won't read. The quality of this post may or may not reflect my four hours of sleep last night, as well as my periodic pilgrimages to the kitchen to take the cookies out, or change the trays because the pesach oven burns everything on the bottom tray. It may also reflect my nervousness about the taste of non-gebrokts chocolate cookies with no vanilla sugar, no baking powder, no margarine, no confectioner's sugar and not much of anything.

I want to try to convey the most incredible shiur I heard, but it was long and complex, and we have already established that my lack of sleep may be impacting my cognitive ability to make any sense, so I will try to bring out an important point, and hope that it makes sense.

Rabbi Ari Kahn asks a question on the story of the night that the yidden went out of Egypt. In the beginning of the perek, when Hashem instructs the Jews to take a sheep and tie it up, etc, it says in the pasuk, when describing the ritual, "Al matzos u'mororim ye'ochluhu" - You should eat your karban pesach with matzah and maror.

In the Hagaddah, when it says the three main aspects of the seder - pesach, matzah, maror - It says, matzah, al shum mah? Why do we eat the matzah? It goes on to say that the reason for the matzah is that the Jews went out of Egypt so quickly that they didn't have time for their bread to rise. But how does this fit in with the above paragraph, where Hashem instructed the jews, two weeks prior to the actual exodus, that they should eat the karbon pesach with matzah and maror - the night before they actually left Egypt!

Another question is asked. Why did the Jews eat the maror? Isn't that to remember the bitterness of our enslavement in Egypt? And finally, why did Hashem give the Jews the commandment of rosh chodesh before they left Egypt, not wait until they reached har sinai?

The answer, as Rabbi Kahn explains, is that with the commandments of rosh chodesh and taking the sheep for the korban pesach, Hashem was psychologically redeeming the Jews. A slave has no concept of time, his time belongs to his master and means nothing to him. And with the mitzvah of rosh chodesh Hashem was giving the yidden back the concept of time. Additionally, taking the sheep and tying it up for slaughter, while probably very dangerous (think burning a life size edifice of Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama in the middle of Harlem...) it was incredibly liberating. The Jews were informing the Egyptians that they were no longer afraid of them, no longer cared who they worshiped, no longer worried about the Egyptian view of them.

The night before the Jews left egypt, they were actually still slaves, but they sat down to eat their karban pesach with matzah, to commemorate the speed with which G-d had taken them out. But it seems that they are commemorating nothing! They didn't even leave yet! In truth, they had a lot to commemorate. They were so sure that Hashem would take them out of Egypt, they didn't need to see it, they already celebrated the miracle, the speed with which the miracle took place.

And the moror? Why did they need to eat the maror? Simply, because they were so sure of their eminent freedom, so freed- in their minds- that they needed the maror to remind them of what slavery felt like.

Because of their certainty that G-d would free them, they actually were free. That night, when they ate the roasted lamb together with matzah and maror, they actually tasted the redemption. And that is the essence of pesach. If we could only really learn to believe that G-d will bring our redemption, if we could believe it with our full hearts, then we would no longer be enslaved to galus. We would, like the Jews sitting in slavery in Egypt, taste the redemption. We would be free.

Have a chag kasher v'sameach. This yom tov, let's all try to free ourselves!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Limbo Starvation

Ah, it's Pesach, that marvelous time of year. The kids are home from school, their mothers are overstressed, and the house teeters between flying and shining.

And of course, everybody is starving.

I can't be the only one who hates this time of year. The kitchen is in limbo, chometz being a four letter word, but pesachdik food isn't being turned out yet. And somehow, in this magical time of year, even the non-chometzdik basics like an apple are MIA.

Like I said, everybody is starving.

And here is the most mysterious part of all. My mother went to the grocery store and bought the place out. Seriously, I don't think she left anything for the next lady to buy. (Excluding pesachdik macaroni, margarine, spices and garlic, all of which are prohibited under my father's ultra strict minhagim.) The delivery men shlep in the boxes, grunting under the weight of it all, rolling their eyes at the dumb women who think a week is a year, and here we are. Pesach food!

And still, there is nothing to eat.

What is it about this limbo time? Is mine the only house that has starved its occupants for the last couple of days?

The good news is, two pesach cakes (eggs, sugar and potato starch. Is there anything else to put in a pesach cake?) have just emerged from the oven, and the first pot of potatoes is already boiling on the stove.

Yay, food! Pesach food, but food nonetheless.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Top Ten Signs It's Erev Pesach

10) You wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of screams coming from your mother's room. "No! No! You can't eat out of the kitchen!!"

9) Supper: two boxes of whole wheat pasta, a package of spelt orzo, three cans of beets, raisin bran-sans milk, and a small container of leftover-then-frozen breaded chicken cutlets.

8) Cleaning ladies clutter the streets, trudging home, barely visible under the huge garbage bags full of leftover Purim junk.

7) If you want to buy a bag of pretzels you have to hunt it down in the corner of aisle 48, behind huge red letters proclaiming "CHOMETZ"

6) If you want to actually EAT those pretzels you have to disinfect your hands, mouth and clothes before re-entering the house.

5) You find yourself humming "Pharao b'pajamas b'emtzah halayla."

4) You find "No chometz past this point" signs on every door of the house.

3) You are unsure if you want to kiss or strangle the guy who reminds you that the inyan of chometz involves no mention of spring cleaning, sorting through piles of too-small clothes, and flipping through old photographs.

2) You catch your mother feverishly flipping through her copy of "one million and one ways to cook a potato," muttering to herself about chumrahs and picky eaters.

1) You laugh at the irony of celebrating the festival of redemption and freedom by enslaving yourself with unnecessary work, but you won't do anything to change that.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Quick Bit of Irony

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that Toyota's motto is "moving forward"?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Wear Black?

The store is a small one, but it's close to my house, conveniant, and just my style. The clothing they sell is expensive, but if you shop at the right times, you can get $80 dollar sweaters for ten dollars. And, while it's not a company who's merchandise any MP would admit ownership of, it is a well known brand. That means the quality is good, which is the factor I care about. See, the better the quality the less frequently I need to shop.

Anyhow, I discovered this store a couple of years ago, and have shopped there for the majority of my warsdrobe ever since. I've also brought a number of friends there. You can therefore imagine that the night time manager knows me pretty well.

The manager in question is a proud, though unaffiliated Jew, and loves to discuss her Jewish background with me. It was probably my second visit to the store when I learned that her grandmother was orthodox, her mother was conservative, and she is just not religious.

We've discussed many things, though theology is not often on the list of topics...until my most recent visit.

I was shopping with my mother, and, in a desperate attempt to find something and be done with it, I walked into the dressing room with a huge pile of sweaters. Almost all of them were black.

I stepped out of the dressing room to display the first sweater, when I heard my friendly manager shmoozing with my mother. "I'm nervous to ask, but I just have to..." My mother nodded, urging her to go ahead. She looked hesitant, but continued. My ears perked up, as she said, "does Judaism have a rule about ladies wearing black?"

My mother looked down at her green sweater and cringed. I looked down at my black sweater and grinned. Our friend wasn't finished though. "I mean," she continued, "I don't know...maybe only the girls have that rule?"

At that point, I couldn't control myself. I burst out laughing. She looked confused, but then again, so is my mother. "Black and black," mom always proclaims "looks awful." But there we are, her very own daughters, looking awful. Day after day after day.

I pointed triumphantly to a sweater I had tried. "Look! Grey!" But then I took pity on her; I attempted to explain. And that is when I really started to sound stupid. After vehemently denying a law about "thou shalt wear black," I started mumbling about styles and conformity, weddings and flattering colors, and I sounded dumber and more confused as the minutes went by.

And the friendly manager still had questions. "But when my grandmother was orthodox, they didn't have this law yet, did they?"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Top Ten Types of Guests

This week, in honor of Top Ten Tuesday, we are going to venture over to G6's blog to read about Top Ten Types of Guests. I haven't been a guest (yet!) at G6's house, but last week's meeting with her makes me pretty sure she is a really good hostess.

Did you write a Top Ten list that you'd like to have featured here on BOSD as part of Top Ten Tuesday? Do you have an idea that you'd like me to write? Email me, just a blob at gmail dot com.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I, On The Other Hand, Can Complain

I'm writing this post in a state of extraordinary nausea. And, believe it or not, I'm thrilled to be writing this.

See, it all started a couple of nights ago, during a discussion with a newly married friend. "I don't know what's wrong with me!" she lamented. "I woke up so nauseous today!"

Immediately, I started to wonder. Is she trying to tell me something? Or was her statement a matter of extreme naïveté?

"Uh, Esther, are you trying to tell me something?" For a minute there was confused silence, and then- "Omg, SD! I thought that of all people YOU were safe to complain to."

"Listen Esther, I'm not examining your stomache every time we meet, but complaints like that kind of warrant the question..."

She sounded sad. "You mean there is nobody I can complain to about my stomach virus?"

And sadly, thus is the state of our society. Newly married women are subject to inquiring stares, and those married for a little longer get the pitying glances. Anyone in between? Well, suffice it to say, they can't complain.

And I can. So...


Ahhh... Complaining is better than husbands, right?

(And, btw, this is going in parenthases on the bottom of a post to reduce the risk of appearing to be a shnorrer, but due to popular request, these is now a paypal "tip jar" on my blog, in case anyone wants to show appreciation for this blogger, especially in the wake of her new computer purchase.)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I Didn't Go To Dinner... (oh, and I need your help)

When meeting fellow bloggers, a few minutes can mean two hours. Take last night for example. G6 is awesome to shmooze with, and she beat me to post about it:

On an unrelated note, I'm looking to buy an HP tm2t laptop. If anyone knows of a good coupon code, or any other place where I can get a good deal on it, or if you'd like to sponsor it, please let me know in the comments or email me, just a blob at gmail dot com.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Top Ten Reasons To Laugh

Laughter is no joke! I did a paper on this for school one time, and I was pretty impressed with the number of clinical trials that proved the old adage: laughter is the best medicine!

(The idea for this week's Top Ten Tuesday goes to P, who I'm calling P simply because her name doesn't start with a P.)

10) "A clown is like an aspirin, only it works twice a fast." -Groucho Marx

9) Laughing's fun!

8) Laughter really IS the best medicine!

7) Laughter lowers a person's blood pressure.

6) Laughter has been proven to reduce blood sugar in people with type two diabetes.

5) Laughter elevates a person's mood.

4) Laughter is good for your heart.

3) Laughter stimulates production of endorphins, the body's natural pain killer.

2) Laughter has the same effect on the body as aerobic exercise.

1) Laughing burns calories!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Not a Blogger's Shabbos Indeed

"This won't be a blogger's shabbos," she warns me hastily. "Some of the girls coming don't even know that I HAVE a blog!"

I looked at Bad4 in shock. I had been pretty sure I was going to spend shabbos in company of fellow "Internet-weirdo-types." "I can't believe it! I wouldn't have come if I had known!"

Naturally, as a non-bloggers event, our shabbos doesn't warrant a recap post, which is a shame, because I would have loved to tell all of you about how bad4 and her college friends sent me into the best shabbos afternoon nap of my life when they started to discuss the finer details of their profession.

Instead, I'd like to tell you what happens when you put four bloggers and a blog-reader into a house with two non-bloggers and expect blog-discussion not to make it into the conversation.

It doesn't work.

I don't think we lasted an hour before the first hints of blog-yness crept into things. About half hour into the seuda, the cat, which had been threatening all along, got out of the bag. C, who I'm calling C simply because her name doesn't start with a C, was utterly confused. "Wait, so you don't really know Bad4 'through a friend?'" She turned to Bad4's neighbor and long time friend, "So do you not actually know Bad4 offline?"

Similar moments of confusion ensued when C asked our friendly blog reader, "So what is her blog?"
"It's Bad For Shidduchim."
"I'm sure it is. But what's it called?"

All in all, shabbos was nice, the food was great, company was even better, and best of all, conversation only flew miles over my head about 30% of the time, which is more than the non-blogger folks can say.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Keep On Smiling

It’s a good thing the hall wasn’t a couple of degrees colder, or my face would have frozen permanently into a huge, fake, cheesy smile.

It’s not my fault, I had to smile. I was at a wedding, and people were watching.

I refer not to the video being shot of all the guests politely picking at their wedding hall standard fare, where people attempt to conceal bulging cheeks as they mumble a quick mazel tov to the Choson and Kallah. Nor do I refer to the omnipresent photographer who’s photos, even the stellar shots, manage to incorporate obviously unsuspecting people with faces that shouldn’t have been recorded for posterity.

Don’t get me wrong. I hate the photographer. I hate the videographer. I don’t think I want either of those folks at my wedding. But neither of them are responsible for the Colgate smile I have pasted onto my face. No, it’s the Nosey Shadchan, hiding under the mask of the Chizuk Lady at fault here. As usual.

See, when you are at a wedding, and you are single, the NS’s and the CL’s of the world are pretty sure you are depressed. It can’t be anything other than tortuously difficult to attend a wedding with your ring finger still unadorned. Obviously, right? Here you are, watching as another friend floats away on the cloud of dreamy bliss called marriage, and you are still stuck in the daily grind of the rut called singlehood.

You poor thing.

Wipe that smile off your face for half a minute, and suddenly every NS/CL in the room will descend upon you. “Mamaleh, don’t worry, your day will come soon. I am telling you, it feels like it will never happen, but it will! Just keep smiling!”

And everyone knows, being depressed is bad for shidduchim.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Request For My Readers

About 15 months ago, when I started this blog, I was sure I'd never tell a soul in real life about it. I was the girl who'd blog under the thick, dark veil of anonymity. "That way," I reasoned, "I can write whatever I feel like."

As time went on, I started to realize that my shield of anonymity had two large cracks. The first was the other bloggers. At the beginning of this blog, it hadn't actually occured to me that I'd become friends with the other bloggers. About fifteen bloggers later, and I see how wrong I was. In fact, I LIKE the other bloggers.

The other crack in my shield is a lot harder to gauge. As hard as I may try to conceal my identity, I write about my life on this blog; people are bound to read it. There is a part of me that still doesn't believe there are more people reading this than just the active commenters. But there's also the realistic side of me, the side that sees the sitemeter and analytics stats, the side that knows that hundreds of people visit this blog daily.

But both sides of me are in agreement to go into denial about the possibility of my aquaintances being among the many thousands of people who've read my blog since the day it began. But denial only takes you so far. At some point, the denial gets pushed to the side as I am forced to realize that of people I know are reading my blog, I need to know about it.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad you read it; please come back often. But if you know about me, it's only fair that I know about you, right? If you are reading this post, and you know me in real life, please consider this the cyber version of knee begging. Chose your method of disclosure. You can send an email to my real life address, to my blog address (justablobatgmaildotcom), send me a text, or even post a comment with a request not to publish it.

If you are reading this and thinking "I think I know who it is, but I'm not sure," trust me: you don't know who it is. Vehameivin yavin.

Oh, and once I'm begging, one last thing. I'm just dead curious about who is visiting my blog. Even if you don't generally comment, please just stop in and say hi, I won't publish your comment if you don't want me too.

Looming forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Top Ten Phases of Purim Drunkeness

A few notes about this post. Firstly, it's not a true Top Ten list, rather, it's a list. Being that it's Top Ten Tuesday and being that the list has ten items, the outcome was pretty obvious.
Also, this is by no means a general portrayal of drunk men on Purim. This is more of a recap of my family's Purim seudah.
Lastly, I may have portrayed this as an overly wild affair, but, rest assured, it was in good taste. Nobody get out of control, not even when we were down to the last bottle of "good wine."

Anyhow, here's the list, in order from one to ten, on purpose.

1) Faked jollyness- This is the phase where tipsyness is expected, as the Purim Seudah has already commenced, but the wine has not taken affect yet. This phase is represented by loud, but very coherant singing, among other things.

2) Lengthy, complicated, and overly enthusiastic divrei Torah- this is the phase where each man at the table gets up to give a devar Torah of extraordinary complexity. These are far lengthier than things the men would attempt without the wine, recited with overwhelming enthusiasm, and, surprisingly, fascinating.

3) Loud singing; minor dancing- This is the phase where the men start to sing pretty loudly. The dancing doesn't come in quite yet, unless someone finds himself passing the last bottle of dry white wine to someone across the table. These things shouldn't be trusted in the hands of sober women, you know. (Large quantities of food are digested at this phase.)

4) Louder singing; lots of dancing- the line between phase one and phase two is very fine. Sometime after the Kraut Lukshen is finished, before the Boston Cream Pie is brought out, the singing grows louder and the dancing more pronounced.

5) Disjointed, irrelevant and confused divrei torah- this is when the yeshiva bochurim get up to explain why haman will hang all those who don't contribute greatly to their yeshivah, and the part where the men get into complex tumulting about masechtas they haven't yet learned.

6) Disjointed, irrelevant and confused singing- this is the phase where songs like "layehudim haysa oirah" get combined with "salachti" from yom kippur davening. The main problem with this phase is that at this point, my tone deaf brother is drunk enough to think he sounds great. And the other men are drunk enough to agree with him.

7) Unseasonal singing- This is the phase were my brother will stand on his chair and sing the entire Chad gadya from beginning to end, complete with sound affects. Also included in this phase: opening the door and proclaiming shefoch chamascha, singing a yet-undiscocered tune for maoz tzur, and doing yom kippur style chazanus.

8) extreme tzidkus- this phase makes my mother proud, and the other women cry from laughter. This is the phase where my brother called his rosh yeshiva, leaving a ten minute message on his answering machine, crying as he thanked him for turning him into everything he has become today. (I am unsure how nachas inducing this is coming from a drunk boy but...). This is also the phase where loud, kavanadik brachos prevail, the phase where the boys promise everyone in sight that they will shteig in learning, and the phase where a twenty five minute benching occurs, complete with chazanus and shir hamaalos sung to the tune of "hatikva".

9) all of the above- this is the anything goes phase. It's the time when ladies desperately try to get the men out of the house, in case their alcohol makes a reappearance via reverse peristalsis. It's the phase when nothing really happens, but everyone makes a lot of noise. It's the waiting time before maariv, when the men are not fit to leave the house yet.

10) out for the count- this is the phase where the men slump onto the nearest chair and wonder if anyone wants to carry them to shul. It's on this quiet night that the Purim seudah ends, much to the relief of mothers of little children.

How was your Purim?