Archive | November, 2010

Maccabeats Holiday Special

28 Nov

Alvin and the Chipmunks step aside! There’s a new group of performers who have taken the holiday season by storm, and they didn’t need helium to do it.

The Maccabeats and Uri Westrich have done an incredible job on their latest video and deserve a huge shkoyach. Get yourself in the Chanukah mood and keep it going by adding it to your iTunes collection at http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/candlelight-single/id405567885. Enjoy!

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Pull! Yourself! Together!

26 Nov

Every guy wants to be Mr. Incredible. Some become Mr. Incredible by braving the bar exam, others by tackling year upon year of medical school and others by conquering tax season. All in all, they all share the common desire – to be viewed as strong, respectable and able to support.

Every girl wants to be Elastigirl. She wants to be admired for her wit and humor, her binah, sehcel and da’at. She wants to give love and empower those she cares about. She wants to feel special. Beautiful. She may successfully disguise herself as the self-sufficient woman with no need for anymore, particularly a man…but take away her fancy degrees and impressive job and she is like those who are less “accomplished” as she is, in want of companionship and love.

With G-d’s guidance and generosity, we find that person who makes us feel like Mr. Incredible or Elastigirl. They see us like G-d sees us; imperfect yet so capable and precious. They understand what we are capable of and what our potential is more so than we can see in ourselves. They believe we can save the world. They believe we have a purpose, and the most incredible thing is, we see the same potential in them. Put the two together and you get a flagrant force, ready to take on the challenges of life.

But sometimes, this understanding and clarity of vision fades. Life is hard. Our superpowers become dull and blunt. The bills have to be paid, the roof to get fixed, the shopping lists grow and tuition…oh don’t even get me started about tuition. The superhero within is trying to break out of the slumberous routine but it cannot. The ominous words of Shlomo HaMelech ring too true as we slowly become drowsier to the direction of our lives, yet our hearts never forget our true identity.

What is the answer to such a tragedy? What tool has G-d given us to snap out of the slumberous routine?

Kol Dodi Dofek

Through the voice of your beloved Hashem calls out. Being someone’s spouse is not just a means of giving each other companionship and pleasure, being a spouse means accepting responsibility for this person; making sure they don’t forget their capabilities. See the truth as is is- when you choose someone to be your lifelong sidekick, Hashem is choosing you to be His agent in making sure your spouse’s tafkid (purpose in life) is fulfilled. You are their designated chizuk-leader. You are the one who can always remind them they have superpowers. That he is Mr. Incredible and she is Elastigirl – always was, always is and always will be, not matter what life throws our way.

My tefilah to Hashem is that all of us, whether married at this point or still in search of the RD will have the gevurah and sechel to pull ourselves together; to view both members of the relationship as one self. We shouldn’t get to a point where we see our sidekick as an ordinary Joe(ette) with ordinary abilities. We should always view them as Mr. Incredible/ Elastigirl and be able to make them feel that way with every passing day, as they should do for us, b’ezrat Hashem. That’s how it works when you are part of a team – your goals merge. You pull yourself together and become The Unstoppable. The Incredibles.

You will show him  you remember he is Mr. Incredible and you will remind him who you are!

Edna Mode

Keepers of the Dating Chrestomathy

22 Nov

Deep within the bowels of the Orthodox community; hidden from commoners and simpletons assembles an underground society. They look like you and me, and act like us too. They smile with utmost gentility and converse in modest yet confident prose. Their appearances are rather ordinary– not too bland yet not too flashy. You would never guess the secrets they nestle. You would never surmise the information they contract and contain.

These are the Keepers of the  Dating Chrestomathy.

Have your ever wondered how news travels so fast? How did your friend know that the guy you’ve been hoping to go out with is interested in your friend? How did your friend have an answer as to if this person would give you a chance before the shadchan got back to you? What is the source? How does she know? And how is it that she always seems right?

Someone- whether it is your friend, her sister, her roommate or coworker – is part of this hush-hush upper crust congregation. The source can only be traced back so far. At a certain point the only answers to be obtained are silence and a nebulous umbra of ambiguity. The chrestomathy will never be mentioned, but it’s influence can be sensed even those by capering along in blithe oblivion.

Yes, the Dating Chrestomathy. That is what they pour over at their highly confidential symposiums, far into the night and hidden from even the keenest eye. Each is assigned a social quadrant and each is responsible to report their latest findings from that nook of our bubble of a world. Together they discuss, hypothesize and predict what will be in the social forecast in the coming days. Who will be introduced to who, who will conveniently miss who and who will “accidentally” bump into each other are all examined, plotted and decided. They are acutely aware of each individual’s social patterns; who they eat with, who they study with, who they casually chatter with and the precise dilation of their pupils when speaking with any of the given parties. Their emphasis is put on nonverbal communication. That which the average person leaves to the assumptions of the subconscious is what the Keepers thrive on. At the end of each meeting, they record that which they achieved that week. Who is interested in who? Who confided? Who confessed? Who answered in the affirmative and who answered with unrequited affections? Carefully they choose which stories to release and which to keep hidden within the depths of their coveted collection.

Their chrestomathy.

Our lives.

So many of us let these tidbits and tales define our decisions. Confidence and emunah which was present one day can be hindered the next, like in the following case:  Shimsy  just worked up the courage to pursue a date with Leah, who genuinely admires. However due to the reportage that she is interested in her brother’s chavruta, he loses his once sturdy confidence.  Though in reality her brother’s chavruta has happily been going out with someone else for 3 months,  is shaken. He was ready to do his histadlut. He was ready to risk the chance of rejection, but know he isn’t so sure. Why should he try with someone who is so madly in love with someone else? Why would he try to compete?

That’s what the Keepers want us to believe. They want us to believe we are in competition; that those with the most information will thrive and those without it will flop. They want you to believe that they are in charge; that they can determine who you get a chance with and who you will never be good enough for. Don’t listen to them. Don’t let your fate be just another passage in their chrestomathy of the shidduchsphere. You shape your own destiny. You leave your own impressions. G-d has a plan, and whether they believe it or not, His plans are above theirs. Their assemblage is merely foolishness and their argot is merely chatter. All those stories they pine and pour over is for naught, because one day, fate will be settled. Whoever is meant to marry who will be decided, with onlysimchas pictures long lost to the ever-moving world wide web and the bentchers scattered carelessly in a drawer. Do not fret and do not fear. G-d is in charge. And so are you. See beyond the rumors. See beyond the here and now. See beyond the chrestomathy.

In case you want a definition : http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/chrestomathy?show=0&t=1290468013

Serendipi-sea

16 Nov

Your cousin meets the perfect guy for you while in Israel over Pesach. He has the right hashkafa, kipa and sense of humor to have you walking to the chuppah in no time.

“Wow that’s really nice. Thank you for thinking of me.”

“Oh my pleasure, I cannot wait to see this through! I kept getting into conversation with him in the tea room and every time we spoke I thought ‘this is the guy for Linda!’  I gave him my contact information to let me know if he’s interested so I’ll keep you posted…”

One week passes. Two weeks pass. Then three. No call from Mr. Perfect.

That’s alright, everyone knows most guys don’t have the guts to say, “thank you but I’m not interested.” No one likes to be the barer of bad news and the chances of him ever seeing this random girl from Pesach  or you are slim to none. Silence says it all, so really, why take the chance of being perceived as a jerk?

Because of serendipity my friend, that’s why. Because G-d likes to show us in His unique way that He is completely in control and that if it is bashert for you to give an answer (whether it be ‘yes’ or ‘no’) He’s going to make it happen no matter what direction you run in.

I know this because I was that girl; the one who was suggested to Mr. Perfect. Not only did G-d make him meet me but He had the would-be shadchan at my side at the same time. He had no choice but to talk to me and acknowledge my existence, though he tried very hard to get out of it. I’m not quite sure what the big deal was- it’s not like I suddenly expected him to ask me out. I mean I know this would have made an epic episode of the Twilight Zone: Shidduch Edition, but there’s no reason toassume we are destined to marry. That’s it: it’s me or eternal bachelorhood.

No.

All the little details that made this seemingly impossible meeting possible came into fruition, not because any person plotted its occurrence, but because G-d did. I understand young Padawan, that bumping into the girl you turned down, especially when her loving cousin is in range, is awkward. But there is no reason to run away from her like a frightened puppy dog. I didn’t ask for this as you did not, so if we’re going to be real about this happenstance you and I are in the same boat. It’s really not a big deal. Really.

After this most intensely dramatic introduction, I couldn’t help but wonder why.  How is it that I keep finding myself  in these social-experiment type of situations? Is Ashton Kutcher in the wings? Will  someone just tell me I’m on Candid Camera already? Truth be told I find such occurrences rather entertaining and intriguing  muses for my blog, but there must be a more valuable reason for creating the living adaptation of Coral in Shidduchland.

And there is.

Those of us in Shidduchland tend to get kvetchy from time-to-time. Why is it so hard to find the right person? Why is this process taking so long? Why can’t You just make it obvious to me, Hashem? We begin to wonder what it will take for Hashem to bring us the RD. Maybe it isn’t so simple. Chazal have compared such ventures as difficult as splitting the sea.

But the splitting of the sea isn’t the tough part. In a milisecond G-d can construct an impeccably, flawless plan to bring us to our zivugim without a moment’s delay. He can give us more than one route to find them, and if we miss the first route, He can easily calculate a second one. And a third. And a fourth if need be. The hard part about shidduchim is not being introduced to the right person, it’s being ready to choose the right person. Though Mr. Perfect and I did not hit it off, the scenario made it perfectly clear to me that the fruition of a  shidduch has less to do with what is going on Upstairs and more to do with the choices we make. When I look back at my life thus far, I can see G-d’s particularity in just about every serendipitous meeting I have had. If shidduchim relied solely on serendipity then finding a marriage partner would be easy as kugel. There would be no bechira (free will) involved. If we only experienced serendipity with one person, there would be no other option; no way of knowing if this relationship is something we are open and eager to work on. Hashem wants us to be like Nachshon ben Aminadav. He wants us to actively come forth and say, “this is what I want. This is what I believe is best.” Sometimes the sea splits,  most of the time it does not. It’s hard to step into the sea. It’s hard to believe that this time the sea will split. But we have to try. We have to be aware of where the true difficulty lies. Our shidduchim are not waiting for us in heaven, they are here with us on Earth. We’ve gotta go find them. We have to be ready to give all our heart, all our soul, every resource  and step into the waters.

We have to be ready to choose.

Quote For Thought: The Ladies Grieved…

4 Nov

“[He] was to bring twelve ladies and seven gentlemen with him to the assembly. The girls grieved over such a large number of ladies; but were comforted the day before the ball by hearing that, instead of twelve, he had brought only six with him from London, his five sisters and a cousin.”

— Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice)

Seriously, this line made me laugh out loud. I chuckled like a cheetah, howled like a hyena and guffawed like a …snuffleupagus  Is this not every USBG I go to? Every vort? Every wedding? Every NCSY/Yachad/Bnei Akiva/shabbos table/shiur/charity event/Camp reunion/ debate/timeIstepfootonto185th? C’mon, even if you and I are not thinking about the “possibilities” at each of these occasions, how much would you bet someone is? I’d put my caf card on such a probability. Any day.

There is no need apply lengthy, windy prose to this actuality – when the number of women exceeds men at a USBG, the hopes of some women are tragically deflated. When, miracle of miracles, there are equal or more men than women…I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a lady or two pull out their siddurim and recite Nishmat. Thank You, O G-d for saving us from the drought of our days. We were starting to believe that our chosen fate is that of spinsters.

I’m sorry, I know I’m exaggerating the reality an eensy, beensey bit, but the similarities between 19th century English society and our Orthodox society are undeniable. The emphasis on numbers and dissemination of cockamamy, hackneyed ideas is clearly present in both scenarios. I merely laugh because if I do not, I will cry. We can be so shallow here in the West, so feeble-minded. I say if everybody is bored and dissatisfied enough with their lives to rag on about others then we should all go to Sderot or Chevron and give a helping hand.Nothing makes you grateful like a few bullet holes in the side of your trailer.Then again, maybe I’m being  judgmental, so I’m going to stop right here.

Shabbat Shalom to all!