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Running on Jewish Time

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


First time- it's an accident
Second time - its bedieved
Third time - its a mitzva

Masmida, lately has been anything but.....

so, I'll be back when I actually have something worth posting.

Hit Counters

I stuck one on my blog last week and just got the first report from it.

Lots of hits, very few comments.

I feel sort of like the bubbe who says, "Nu! you were just across the street and you couldn't stop by to say hi!"

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


We all can define this in terms of hemlines and sleeve lengths. I'm intrested in a different definition.

Is this modesty?

My current working definition is that concealing that which does not need to be revealed. But there is much to be either articulated or defined in such a defintion. Prehaps I need a new definition entirely.

Maybe my question is what is actually modest behavior?

Leah - The Exhausted Mother

[for the one whom I may not call Leah]

The name Leah means exhausted.

Why was Leah exhausted? from crying about the possiblity of marrying Eisav and she didn't.
The morning after, Ya'akov says to Leah, "... Liar, the daughter of a liar, all night I called you Rachel, and you answered me?!" Answers Leah, "There are students without a teacher? Your father called you Eisav and you answered!"[breshit rabba]
Ya'akov became Eisav. He bought the rights of the firstborn, took the blessings and now, he's married the woman that Eisav was supposed to.

but still,
Hashem saw that Leah was hated
even if Leah didn't. In a relationship that has more than it's share of difficulties, Leah kept on going and going and going. Every child's name echoes her pain, until Yehuda, who is pure thankfullness for more than she had coming to her. and then a fifth son and a sixth son. until

but it is Leah, Yisrael's wife, not Ya'akov's, who becomes Bnei Yisrael's mother. Mother of Yehuda, the kings, mother of Levi, the priesthood, mother of Yissachar, the sanhedrin.

*ch. 30

Not Quite a Rant.

I'm tired. It's raining and I'm falling headfirst into finals week.

.... and with G-d's comsumate sense of humor, I get a phone call.

I should be grateful for the oppurtunity. I should be thinking about what I want to do and what I'm really looking for. I should be feeling a new sense of possiblity.


Oh, I'm going to have to rearrange everything. great.

One of my teachers told me "Today is the best day of your life."

today. every day. every day is supposed to change the meaning of your whole life.

So, deep breathe, big smile, and "Well..........."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Mincha Time

If Shacharit is for the bright new dawns in our lives.
and Ma'ariv for the pitch black nights,
then Mincha is for the moments of stablity, crumbling at the edges.

Most of our life is spent in mincha-time, done much, so much more to do.

Do you really think you manage all on your own?

Those who can't do....

Why is it so many of my friends who are still single end up teaching?

...because they all capable of doing.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A Few I've Forgotten

[warning: contains generalizations]

A perspective I hadn't considered

I seem to have forgotten the many girls who were all too relieved to close their books and walk out with their diplomas, assured that daddy would be replaced by hubby and all would be well with the world.

Without much time for them then, now I have a certain compassion for them; they are married with children, the status they always craved and seem not to understand what they are meant to do with it. They seemed lost in the minutea of their own lives, chattering to keep away the silence.

The real reason I am not a feminist is these women do not need a new dimension to their live, they were never intellectual to begin with, they need something to give meaning to all the very real kindness and love they give do everyday.

Friday, November 25, 2005

OrthoFem and Why I am Not One.

Orthodox Feminism.....

Let me explain why this phrase generally aggravates me beyond all belief.

1. It's not honestly Orthodox!

Expanding women's role in Jewish life is equivlent to expanding any other other item in Judaism. Inherent in the concept is that Judaism1 is not wide enough, not expansive, in short entirely insufficent. That is what bothers me.

2. It teaches women to aspire to the exception rather than the rule
It is arguable, that for every extraordinary women who becomes renown for her learning and teaching, there are hundreds who are not. But since when have the exceptions become the rule? Since when is every jewish women expected to become Devorah Ha'Naviah, or Nechama Lebowitz or the Maid of Lublin? They themselves refused to be drawn as rolemodels. Devorah herself is first and foremost described as Eishet Lapidot.

This is just as damaging as teaching all boys that they should become the Rosh Yeshiva.

3. It demeanes the imporatant accomplishments of those who have more conventional roles.

There is no one regarded as less interesting or important than a housewife, these days. As I speak to various women, I see the wince of anticipation in their eyes as I ask them what they do with their time? But who else creates people?! The schools, yeah, between history and english and math, there of personal classes [rolls eyes], the government, G-d protect us from such, the media, G-d forbid. Who is the one who takes essentially a little puppy of a two year old and transforms them into a human being, forget all the effort that it takes to get to two years anyway.

These women deserve better than to be told, that their role and their contribution is too... restrictive.

In short,
rather than make a great strum und drang about roles and expansiveness and restrictness just...
Love Kindness, Do Justice and walk humbly with the L-rd, your G-d.

1 I have decided not to use a title invented by the Reform in the 1800's to distinguish themselves by those they were trying to ossificate

Thursday, November 24, 2005


The buzz of family, the wine, the table set all in white and beautiful china....

and then driving away at the end of the meal is almost sureal as if chol and kodesh have collided.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Rivka, a Woman with a History

[for LRH, as thanks for pointing out that we should all aspire to be Ba'alei Teshuva]

Rivka, the sister of Lavan the Liar, was the first Ba'alat Teshuva1. In the whole of the Torah, there is only one sentence of dialouge between her and Yitzchak recorded
My life is a misery because of the daughters of Chet [that Eisav married]. If Ya'akov marries a woman from the daughter of Chet like these........... What reason will I have to live?! [breishit 26:46]
and it's a deception. Rivka is not worried about her son, Ya'akov, marrying some strange woman, she's saving one son from being murdered and the other from becoming a murderer.

Why is one son trying to kill the other? because she compelled Ya'akov to decieve his father and take the brachot. another deception.

Why Ya'akov? because when she was pregnant, she went, not to her husband, Yitzchak, the greatest man of his generation, not to her father-in-law, Avraham, the first and founder of the Jewish people, but to Shem and Ever and found out that
there are two nations............. and the elder will serve the younger
Rivka came to Avraham's family with a history, a very heavy history, her father was a would-be murderer and her brother, in his very blessing
You should have thousands, myriads of children,......just like us [Lavan]
forced her to struggle for ten years to overcome and still she had an Eisav.

but she replaced Sarah, anyway, because, she ran to do the ordinary kindnesses, just like her father-in-law and gave some strange man a drink.

and then she took all the decitfullness, all the lies, and the deception that she learnt in her father's house and used it the right way.

Rivka the girl who ran to water a thirsty animal,
is the same Rivka who defied her family and announced that she was going to Yitzchak, with or without consent,
is the same Rivka who went to 'inquire from G-d' about the children in her womb,
is the same Rivka who loved her son Ya'akov unconditionally
is the same Rivka who saw that her other son had gone a long way from the path of supporter and protector that his father chose for him.
is the same Rivka who took on even the very real threat of Yitzchak's curse to insure that Ya'akov got both blessings that he would need.
is the same Rivka who confronted with a choice between her two sons, sends away the one she loves, the one who is the embodiment of the ideals that she persued her entire life and keeps at home the one, so like her brother, that traps with his mouth in hopes of somehow, someway redeeming him.

is the same Rivka, sister of Lavan the Arami.

is the same Rivka in the blessing whispered over our daughters heads, every shabbat night.

1 In our modern usage of someone who returns later in life, the one who actually described as the first ba'al teshuva is Yehuda, the father of all kings, which is an interesting thougt for another time

Monday, November 21, 2005

There is an Eagle....

...that flies high above the sea. Every ten years, it climbs higher and higher and higher, until it comes so close to the sun, that all the feathers catch fire. The eagle halts and falls, plumeting into the sea.

When the eagle falls into the sea, it doesn't die. It grows new feathers and breaks free of the surface and flies into the sky. The nine time, this happens and tenth, the eagle falls and never comes up again.
Every ten years, we reach a height, a blazing pinnacle of perfection. A perfect moment, full of light and calm and then we fall. hard. slamming into the sea, sinking deep into the waves only to fight to the surface and gulp in harsh lungfuls of air. We break free of the water and sail back into the wind with the strange new wings we've grown.

There have been moments in my life, when I have been so sure, so aware of myself .

There have been other times, moments of change, moments that balance on a knife's edge, where I choose, not where or what or how?
... but what I am.

Moments of pure will, when I grit my teeth and ignore the sick feelings in my stomach and do the right thing.

Step onto the plane and leave all the safety and security of my room, my family, my home.

Tell an old friend goodbye.....let my best friend walk away.

Moments, my wings on fire, the cold blue sea beneath yawning beneath me.

Moments, I step off the cliff into the dark and ask G-d to catch me.

Tzadik ben Tzadik

This is going to upset alot of people. So i'll preface it:

I am FFB, all my closest friends are NOT. I grew up in a Ba'al Teshuva home, I will probably marry a Ba'al Teshuva, (am not adverse to dating them at least), I love and profoundly respect anyone who has the courage to walk away from everything they've known for the sake of the right thing.

But then there's this little issue in the parsha(sorry, next week's):

Why was Yitzchak answered and Rivka not? The prayer of a tzadik ben tzadik is greater than a tzadik ben rasha. [rashi, somewhere in the first aliyah]

[roof thuds, as numerous individuals hit it]

but........... where a ba'al teshuva stands and a tzadik gamor can't!1

yes, but a tzadik ben tzadik has a greater challenge, because a tzadik ben rasha can reject everything he gained from his parents, a tzadik ben tzadik has to transcend that. To create his own relationship with G-d indepent of his father's and his own with his father.

1. my question is last parsha, we read that Hashem listened to the voice of the lad (yishmael) rashi says that the prayer of the person himself is 'yafeh' than others for him and will be answered first, but Rivka was praying for herself, and Yitzchak was praying for her but i don't know the answer for that.

A Tiny Miracle

A little girl with black hair and big bright blue eyes was born today to a couple in Birmingham England.

and I'm shepping nachas off a goddaughter, I haven't even seen yet.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Why Dating is Bad for Your Character

somethings that's been cooking in the back of my mind

All the Horrible Midot that Dating Leads to:

  1. Judging: Sometimes people have a bad day, sometimes people have a bad date, the two tend to coincide.
  2. Skepticism: three words " The Shadchan says....."
  3. Unspoken Expectations: So, so many, I never realized that I wanted a husband who was honest, funny, learned and educated (in all the nuances that those carry), brilliant, socailly adept, outgoing, kind, and not to mention at least six foot.
  4. Paranoia: There are only three girls in my class not yet married..... [twitch, twitch]
  5. Selfishness: Why is it that a relationship that is supposed to be all about giving is predicated on a discussion, " So, nu, what do YOU want?"
    1. Self-absorbed: when you're single, there is the horrible tendancy of your life and your conversation to revolve around dating..... "but enough about what I think about this guy, what do you think?"
Apologies for not updating this after shabbos and thanks for your paitence, I was being a good best friend.

Addendum: These are not reasons to refuse to date, but like all medicene, dating should definitely coming with a list of possible side effects. ;)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Lo L'Shma, ba l'shma

but only if you want it too.

and I'm questioning my own motives.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Prying Open Windows

Sometimes inspiration comes effortlessly, prose and poetry flow freely, I think in sonnets and I speak in songs.

Sometimes it doesn't.

Lost in a gray misma of dullness, walking through dark streets every morning, watching the overcast sky, tinged a sick grey yellow through the windows of my bus home. It seems like the idealistic, happy, energetic self is a different person entirely.

I plod into the foyer over to the desk, and confronted with another piece of humanity, flash a smile, a reflex trained from years of habit, "Excuse me, do you know where I could find...."

Then trudging to the elevator, wondering if this grayness ever comes to an end, if I ever will feel energetic and hopefull ever again. So I go, I take care of my business, prefunctuarily, without any of the soul and power I generally dedicate to it.

I stare at the buildings as the flash by the windows of the car, lost inside my head, staring at the monolithic walls that lock me in and....

get tired of it. this is stupid.

So I'm leaving. I taking this prison of dullness to peices, I am prying open the windows, forcing the locks and taking dynamite to it if I have to. I don't care if emotionally I don't have any energy, if my paitence is nil, and no one has called me or emailed in days.

If I can still smile at another human being, I still have enough self-respect to get dressed and blow-dry my hair, even I'm not going to see anyone that day.

If I can drege energy from somewhere to empathize with another human being's exhaustion, then I can still take the time to pray for another girl's happiness, even though she won't know to say thank you.

If I can still complain to G-d about the weather and the homework and the fickleness of existance, then I can still take the time to pour my heart to him about all the not so little things, even though I don't know that He will say 'yes.'

and even if at this time, in this place, they are mere words and empty actions, I can still do them. and one day...

the deep well inside me will spill over and fill the world.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

By Flood or by Fire

The Flood started today, oh, about miday. 1

Why? because that generation commited 'hamas'2

They destroyed all the barriers, between man and women, human and animal, mine and yours and G-d let them keep going until the wall between sea and land fell and the world drowned.


G-d strechted a rainbow across the sky, and told Noach,
" I will not curse the land anymore, for man is evil from his youth, nor will I destory all life as I have now.(Bereshit 8:21)"
and follows my father's favorite drasha:

This time it was a flood but, next time.....

it's going to be FIRE.3

1 according to Rebbe Nissan, and no, I am not touching the complicated business of calculating excatly when the flood started, because that is entirely too much arithmatic

2 The homonym with a current group of murders in entirely too fortuitous to really ignore, but we will anyway

3 as to why.... well in a country that is so inflexible it will cut off the feet of man who doesn't fit [bereshit rabba], there is a excess of firey indignation that has to go somewhere

Friday, November 11, 2005

An Ambition

I want to be 70.

I now that sounds crazy in a world where 60 year-olds try to look forty, and forty tries to look twenty and twenty tries to look like seventeen, the ultimate moment of beauty. [what happened to maturity of beauty is a whole different disscusion]

I want to be a 70 year old Yiddshe Bubbe.

Alright, I'll pass on the the heavy accent and the 'achh. if you had my knee, you wouldn't say such things.' and the shapeless sweaters.

But I want to have healthy, strong, thriving children who are changing the world one family at a time, and energetic, idealistic grandchildren who come over to sneak cookies out of my kitchen and play in my apartment.

I want to sit on my porch in a rocking chair, next to my husband and take satisfaction in the sun and the home and the community we've built around us.

I want to have the strength that comes from decades of simply dealing with life.

I want to have the wisdom and the strength of that age that would allow to give and give well, with a eye to the future and familiarity with the past.

Thursday, November 10, 2005


I write best when I think no one else is reading.

The I just wonder and analyze the world and think about things. and then write and rewrite inside my own head to articulate and refine the idea, letting the language shape the terms and the terms shape the language.

When I talk with someone, I listen to thier words, what they say, what they don't say, matching my ideas against their and try to speak to the person, the individual, to their world and thier mind and their emotions.

But when someone comes behind me and listens in, I freeze.
What I say to one person is not meant for another. To be heard without being answered, is to be evaluated, judged.

I have lots of opinions, lots of things to talk about, but you listen, you judge and I don't know what you think.
So I throw out something mediorce, not enough to attract ridicule, not worth a second glance, something sentimental and easily dimised as the sort of trite trash heard everywhere.

and when everyone stops looking, well, no expectation lead to very intresting places.

[i cringe to think of what this says about my self-esteem]

a future possiblity

[first round]

Okay, so why might Masmida be going to England?

a) so she can get her own gorgeous accent
b) because it's foreign but they still speak english
c) her best friend lives there and offered to room together
d) she wants to broaden her world beyond America and Israel
e) It's going to give her an oppurtunity to do something that she loves more than anything else.
[guess what that is]

it's not for dating, I don't even go to New York to date.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Other People's Dreams

As a rule I don't post about dates, the Jewish world is far too small for attempts at true anonymity, and when I meet the guy I marry, I want all the memories and the moments to be private, not for public consumption.

That having been said....

I will post about people....
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams. - W.B. Yeats

The men we date, most of the guys I've dated have been relatively poor. Guys in their last years of college, in grad school, just starting to work. All they have is dreams, the dream of the man they wish to become, the dream of what the home they would rather come back to, the dream of the job they would reach for. They are very raw and unfinished, just like us women.

The best of them have their feet firmly on the ground and are struggling to achieve, using will and energy to conquer all obstacles. But there comes a conciousness that they can't achieve there are obstacle that cannot yeild to a single person.

So boys and girls date and marry and become men and women.

Men give women so much, just look at the ketubah, the t'namim, but the most frightenly fragile gift they give us, is their dreams. They trust us with so much of who they are and what they are, they trust our belief in them.

A lesson learnt the hard way: be gentle with other people's dreams.

What Else is Happening?

Amid satin skirts, and miles of white tableclothes and napkins and tulle, I saw an old friend of mine. Drawing away from the queue in front of my friend, the kallah, the queen, we retreated from the flood of "mazal tov" to catch up.
"Nu, so how are things?"

"Baruch Hashem, I'm working, I'm at school, I'm just recovering from the chagim, what about you?"

"Thank G-d, can't complain"


"So how are things........"

And then the flood gates open, dating is so horrible for the midot. too picky, not picky enough, what is 'shiach' anyway?! hate when there's to long between dates, checking out, not checking out..... no horror stories..... but no miricle stories, either.

and we laugh and commiserate, and try to avoid the itching feeling as more and more of our friend show up, shaitels on their heads, laughing and talking about their apartments, their neighbors, their families.

and then in frustration I turned to my friend and asked, "So what else is happening?"

My friend, turns back to me, as confusion flashes across her faces, and then she starts laughing, not demur giggles or polite chuckles but deep, warm laughter and soon, I'm laughing with her. We try to hold it in, as people turn to look at us, but the laughter keeps coming.

So, nu, what else is happening?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Wide Open Doors

I'm so excited. a breathe of fresh air has swirled through my world.

I'm graduating in the fall and didn't know what I was going to be doing, working, going to graduate school and was using my work to avoid thinking about it.

and dating, dating when you don't know what you're doing with your life is like dancing on red hot nails: No, not there! don't want to land here either. Where am I supposed to be?! and why does this hurt so much?!

but now a door has been flung open and I might spend the summer following graduation in England doing one of the things I love best.

intresting work, far away from home and great accents.

what more could I ask....

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Protection by Reflection

There are people who keep you out by their absorption in your concerns.

You ask them how they are and suddenly you find yourself discussing your own life goals and ambitions, only to walk away at the end of the conversation and suddenly realize that you never got an answer.

Ever done that to someone else, only to have it mirrored back to you. Each so concerned that the conversation center on the other, in allowing the other feel themselves as the center that the conversation descends into an awkard abyss of politeness.

It would be funny, if behind the deferral and the courtesy wasn't the haunting sense of some pain, some unacknowleged need, the lack of love of self.

It's ironic that in the emphasis to give and give and give, that we seldom include ourselves in the all the generousity. In the rush to help our friend with their burden, forget our own on the side of the road and then once our friend is goes on, we find ourselves, lost with no mission of our own.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Bitter Month

[I'm actually posting something halfway related to the ostensiable purpose of this blog. wow.]

bitter, bitter, bitter...

Why is this month called Marcheshvan?
  1. no holidays this month
  2. the flood destroyed the world
  3. Yerovam ben Nevat rebelled against the House of David
  4. Sholomo finished the Beit Ha'Mikdash and didn't dedicate it until the following Tishrei

The wonderful irony though is.... this is the month in which we can really work without interuptions and there is little sweeter than the taste of accomplishment.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Are women supposed to be intellectual?

There are some women out there who are, undeniably. But they are self-acknowledged exceptions. Nechama Lebowitz and Sara Schner both openly refused to cast themselves as role models for their students. Most of my teachers, married late, or had children late, or otherwise ended up in a unconventional position for a woman.

Mrs. Smiles gave me backhanded mussar about being too busy to date. My teacher here, gave it to me straight up. and they're right.

Feeling Deluged

I'm completely at sea,

free to travel in any direction

trapped in a empty circle of blue beneath the bright dome of the sky.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Overeducated and Undertaught

I always wondered, what happened when all these highly educated Jewish women left seminary and Stern to go out into the rest of life. I knew that significant portion of them got engaged, 'went fluffy' and then got married and had kids and didn't have time to think again until their youngest was eight.

I knew some of them went on and taught and became truely knowlegable, after these were the women teaching me.

But now I'm wondering about the rest of the group, the ones that don't get married [at least within six monthes of seminary] and don't teach. Three years out of seminary, I've seen girls who don't open a chumash from shabbos to shabbos, and girls who do chumash and rashi every day and argue any idea backwards and forewards. But mostly I've seen girls who are frustrated.

Most of the shiurim are for women with children, who have a hour a week and would like to hear some advice and stories and be reminded that there is a human being at the end of all the diapers. That's good and that's fine, and that's what they need.

.... in some ways, I know hijacking a shiur by asking questions that most of the women can't follow isn't fair to them and it is their shuir.

I want to go to a shiur where I can work at an idea. I spend all day working in a highly intellectual enviroment, and I know that if I don't keep my intellectual understanding of Torah on at least a compreable level, my Judaism will grow soft and flimsy.
Looking at the world through the eyes of Torah, requires that constantly reexamining torah, turning ideas over and over inside your head to match the depth of to which life is experienced.

or rather simply, I want to understand torah like a twenty-something year old not a thirty five year old. [that'll have to wait a few years]

Gone Fluffy

I swore this would never happen, but it has.

I've gone fluffy.

For girls, anyway, there is so much hashkafa and daver haskels and pathos mixed into anything we're taught, after a certain you can call the moral of the class with the first pasuk quoted.
In my senior year, the principal assigned a project to write our personal reflections on eight ideas that we learned in chumash that year and at least eight other haskafic ideas that we've learnt. For my opening salvo, I argued that 'ein od milvado' states that there can't possibly be an 'I' to write this, and for that point on didn't use the word 'I.' I did not like fluffy assignments.
but now... I've gone fluffy.

My friend and I were discussing the application of 'nekudat ha'bichira' in terms of how to think about all the college students around us, via email. Girls singing in public to create more ruach. Boys who came to simchat torah for the booze, and these are some of the more inocous activities that happen on college campuses.

I read her struggle to remain sensitive to the ideal and to the reality at the same time.
wrong actions, right choices for those who are choosing. and to remember that, and admire those making good choices for them (ie not judging them for doing things wrong),
and then... I went fluffy.
Just love people
I replied.

Dude. Halacha is Halacha, People are People, and when perfect standards meet imperfect reality, somethings gotta to give, and the answer is not some sort of group hug.

As an emotional response, it may be legit, but the reality is it completely sidesteps the question of people who do the wrong this for the right reason.

I've gone fluffy.

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