Tag Archives: Perspective

Tznius These Days

“My husband wants to know, maybe you can explain it,” my friend asks. I’m talking to her motziah Shabbos she’s driving home from Shabbos Sheva braches, kids conked out in the back seat, her husband driving and baffled. “My cousin was there, her husband learned a few years in Israel, she went to a top seminary everything and you should have seen how she was dressed. I get the grey lines of tight clothes and long shaitels and knee-skimming skirts, but here she didn’t even try. My husband wants to know what she’s thinking.”

Me the groiyse mind reader, Na, I just have enough opinions and perspectives for five people
“Who said she’s thinking anything,” I started. “These days there such a lack of regard to the authority of halacha maybe she views it as nice but optional.”

Or maybe she’s feeling disenfranchised that her husband’s not learning anymore, so she’s not in the “yeshivish” world anymore.

Or, she’s not in school no one’s telling her what to do, so she’s just acting out like this. Because she’s not an idiot you know, she knows the Halacha, sure, she can recite it and many other lessons that were drilled into her head over the years.

“Na,” my friend counters. “It’s not scandalous for her husband to be in college, it’s ok for her crowd.”

“I dunno,” I muse. “These days no one is tznius and what used to be black is now grey. They always hocked in school about skirt lengths, but have you noticed no one covers their elbows anymore?”

“People in Lakewood still cover their elbows,” She answers.

“Well people on Facebook don’t.” I say, “and these are my ‘friends’.”

“And what about shaitels,” my friend continues.

“What about them?” I ask. I wear short shaitels, not for tznius reasons (although it does work out) but because my bone structure gets lost in long and my face looks fat, so I can discuss it pretty neutrally.

“We came to a consensus on Shabbos that past your bust is prust, past your shoulders to your bust is long and until your shoulders is totally fine.”

I laughed; it’s all so arbitrary.

“My sister n law was hocking about some woman she saw in the pizza store” my friend continued “ ‘her shaitel was till her waist it was disgusting!’ I ripped into her. When you got married, your shaitel was 11 inches, now it’s 16. Her’s was 16 when she got married, add five inches, that’s 21. You started off more yeshivish, but you’re at 16, she started off less so, it’s the same five additional inches, what’s the difference behind the thought? My sister in law was quiet.”

So was I.

“I can’t listen to this sister in law talk about tznius,” my friend started again. “Every day she wears the same long pleated mid-calf skirt. She doesn’t get it. She doesn’t understand women when they’re pregnant… When I’m pregnant I struggle with my knees, they’re the only part of me that’s skinny!”

And I’m thinking, does her cousin feel as misunderstood as my friend does by her sister-in-law?

My friend came back to her cousin. “Her skirt wasn’t near her knees with a slit, there’s no grey area, it’s a straight up nisht. What can make a girl just disregard everything she’s been taught.”

And then I remembered. There had been a tznius gathering for educators in my community. “Shaitels shouldn’t be more than 2 inches past the jawbone.” A co-teacher and I exchanged looks and laughed. We both complied with his ruling, but no one else did. I didn’t think much of it until the next day at school when a bunch of teachers were firing off.

“2 inches past, that’s way too short”

“I’m not cutting my shaitel”

“Who is he to make up such random line?”

Then one teacher articulated what everyone felt but couldn’t put words to.

“I’m not a person who doesn’t listen to daas Torah. If I’m told something, I do it. But I’m not cutting my shaitel, so I’m mad that he is turning me into someone who doesn’t listen to Rabbanim; it’s not even Halacha. ”

Four inches were told, hair not past a shirt’s yoke, colorful shoes need not apply. These aren’t Halacha, but it feels like that sometimes, and if we don’t listen long enough, we slowly become people who don’t listen to Rabbanim even when it is Halacha…

I don’t know what my friend’s cousin was thinking. I don’t know why she dresses the way she does, but I walk the streets and she’s not alone. The reason can’t be solitary. What I do know is that tznius is complex. It goes to the root of who we are as women and yidden, and in this modern world that seems to contradict each other even if it shouldn’t. I also, know we’re going about it all wrong. I don’t know right answer and what we should be doing, that many opinions I don’t have, I just know that this isn’t working.

1 Comment

Posted by on November 22, 2015 in Jewish, Musings, Uncategorized


Tags: , ,

The Slow Transition


I’ve been lying to myself for years. Yesterday though, it knocked on my door so nicely, and I couldn’t deny it. I’ve come to accept who I am as a person, it’s hard, it’s always hard acknowledging something you’ve tried to hide and deny. The time has come, and I hope I’ll be better for it.

“I booked you tickets to Florida for Shabbos,” my husband called to me from the couch. There was light intensity in his pitch, and I knew he wasn’t kidding.

“You what?” I asked like I honestly hadn’t heard what he said.

“You need a vacation, you’re dying to go – I booked tickets?”

“Tickets?” I stressed the “s”.

“Ye, I spoke to Roo today, you’re going with her.”

“But, but, what about you and E, and where we gonna stay, what are we gonna eat, I have to teach…” I started protesting, even though I AM dying to go to Florida. And I ruined it, the whole happiness, surprise and spontaneity. That’s it, I am not a spontaneous person as I had led myself to belive. I like to plan and consider. I like to know my options, know I’m doing what’s best and right for me. I don’t jump into things. I’d rather miss it, lost in consideration, than make a hasty decision.

I always thought I was spontaneous, or I always wanted to be light and free – but I’m not, I’m serious, intense and I think too much. Yes, I would walk to my friends on Shabbos with out calling ahead. But I think that’s where it ends

I cant just get up one day and buy my husband a present. I can get up one day and think I’d like to do that, but it’ll take me a while, to find the right one, the right deal, will he really like. Nike is not for me, I NEVER just do it. I never wanted to be that person, they seem so stuffy and rigid, but I really get thrown for a loop when my schedule changes without ample notice. I try to roll with the punches, but it’s a real effort on my part.

My day is always scheduled and planned in my head, what I plan on doing when, how much time I allot to do certain things, and when emergencies come up – not my emergencies, somehow I handle those, but if someone needs an immediate favor from me, it’s very difficult for me to rearrange things in my head, to realign my expectations of what I planned on doing. Going to Florida is wonderful – not on such short notice it just stresses me out!

I remember yelling at my mother when we would run errands, we’d have a list of things to do and then towards the end she’d remember one more stop she wanted to make. I’d get really agitated. In my head I was ready to go home, I was home already doing everything I planned in my head, and the extra 10 minutes, or even two would upset me.

“You’re messing with my head!” I’d tell my mother. She didn’t really get it, because she quite the opposite of me, drop everything, and do something better that comes along.

I equated spontaneity with happiness, and youth. A careless abandon, and truly living life. That’s how it is in books anyway. And the inflexible scheduled people were stuffy bores with no lives, and ruined everything. No wonder I wanted to be spontaneous.

And when I talk about how I feel, it sounds so much worse and severe and stifling than I feel my life is. I love my life, and I think it’s time to graduate from my dreams and recognize that there are worse things in life than slow to transition.


Posted by on July 6, 2014 in The Sporadic Side


Tags: , , , , , ,

Just Passing Through

I want window valances. Not pretty, frilly delicate ones. Bold ones, with sharp lines. Possibly emerald, or in that family.

I also want new paint. My walls are white. Not stark. But the dulling gray white, that just makes you think off crumple generic tissues. I’d paint my dining room a neutral sort of yellow. I’d put mauve in my bedroom. And for my kids room I want one wall electric blue, the others a light shade. And really, I want one wall to be a cork board.

I also want a coffee table.

And light fixtures. I have no light fixtures, just bare bulbs. It’s a little to industrial looking to be hip.

It’s not about the money. Or the shallowness. I’d do it all in a heartbeat, if it was my house, but it’s not. It’s a rental; it would be foolish to invest in this space. I’m just passing through until my dream home (with too many windows) becomes my own. And until that happens, I’m happy to wait with bare windows.

There was this story about the Chofetz Chaim that I never fully appreciated. A visitor came and commented on his sparsely furnished home. The Chofetz Chaim inquired of his guest where his furniture was. The guest looked at him quizzically; I’m just a visitor, passing though. The Chofetz Chaim nodded in agreement. He too was just a visitor, passing though, waiting to go home, for Mashiach and Yerushlayim.

As a child, I was never the one shrieking along to the song “We want Mashiach, we want Mashiach now” not because I didn’t want it, but that I didn’t totally get it(also I’m not a shrieker, too self-conscious for that).  I’m not all there yet either.

But I’m not buying valances or painting, because I’m just passing through, waiting for my real home.


Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Jewish, Musings


Tags: , , , ,

The Real Winners

“Who should I make it out to?” I asked.

“Zichron Yaakov Tzedaka,” she answered, her hands fumbling around one her many manila envelopes finding change for another teacher; she was always doing some chessed thing or another. I crouched over the desk and wrote out a ten dollar check. She handed me three red tickets.

“Write your name on it; the display’s past the double doors; put the tickets in there.

I nodded smiling; I had seen the display for the last week. Every day when I walked to class, the opportunity to win a set of linen or aMarc Jacob watch mocked me.

“You know this money is going straight for tzedaka,”

She nodded, “Ye, I know, that’s what I put this auction together for.”

I shook my head and laughed,

“No, I meant this money is lishma, yeah, I’m putting a ticket in, but I never win anything ever, Publisher’s Clearing House doesn’t even send me letters”

She chuckled,

“Really, nothing? Ever? Most people have won something or another, even if it not a Chinese auction, but a scratch off lotto or the like.”

“Nope,” I said almost proudly, “Nothing. If it’s based on luck, I’m sure to lose. I’ll win you any game of spit. War, I lose every time.”

She shrugged lightly. “Drawing’s this Thursday.”

She left the teacher’s room. I left too, I was running late already, I had to pick up the kids, but make a stop first. My sister organized abone marrow/stem cell blood drive, and was harassing me to be swabbed.

“You have to show support for my effort” she said.

“I don’t have time.”

“You could save someone’s life,” she changed tactics.’

“The likelihood is small, and really, I just don’t have time.”

“I’ll pay the extra $10 dollars at the babysitter that you keep your kids there a bit longer and just do it.”

“Fine,” I conceded. “I’m doing this for you. Because, really, you know the odds, you’re the coordinator, and keep your 10 bucks, I’ll do it lishma.” I winked.

The whole thing took five minutes. Swab here, here, here, and here. Lost all my lipstick to the q-tip, but I got a nice membership card telling me I’m a donor, and did my second good deed for the day. Then I walked back to my car all the way across the parking lot, because there are never spots up front when I arrive – plenty now, but none then.

It doesn’t even bother me anymore, it’s my mazal, I’ve come to accept it. Am almost proud of it at times. and it keeps me from doing stupid things, like trying incessantly to call into the radio station, praying to be the 107th caller and win a new cd, a free pizza or something of the sort. I don’t hope for rain, or to make the bus, I plan ahead instead. It’s ok, don’t pity me, I’m happy, I just have nosort of luck when it comes to any sorts of odds.

My chicken soup was up, and the fish already made, when her name showed up on the caller id Thursday night.

“I won I won I won!!” I shouted by way of answering the call.

“Ummm, actually,” she started.

“You can’t tease me, calling Thursday when you’re supposed to be drawing the Chinese Auction.”

She laughed, “We drew the winners for the auction, have no fear, your streak is still alive.”

“Phew!” I joked, “Close call. So what can I do for you?”

There was a moment’s pause, and when she spoke again her voice was more serious, earnest, concerned,

“I volunteer for Gift of Life, you’re a match to someone, would you be willing to go for further testing?”

It took a moment to register.

“You won.” She said softly.

I guess I did.

“I won, I won, I won!” I repeated  my opening line.

I broke my streak on the mother load.

(Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, though inspired by real events)


1 Comment

Posted by on January 16, 2013 in Writing


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

if i could

a discussion in class about choices,



second chances,


and if you could do it over

would you?

should you?

could you?


said many students

they’d love

they’d want

they’d die



not sure

don’t think



wishing when it happened,

that it had gone differently.

that I said something else.

that some things didn’t happen at all.


those moments with the pause

of shame

of frustration

of desperation


smiles not meaning happiness

but, sarcasm,

but, grief

but isolation


people ask,

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“Only the good die young”

“She’s so sweet, but suffers so”


the unsatisfactory answer:

they can handle it

G-d loves them

it’s a test


i don’t know

if i’m a “good” person

if i “handled” it

if i’ve passed


i do know i’m here


just now

this moment


because of what

i’ve done,

didn’t do,

gone though,


all is

for better or worse,

the good with the bad

the joy in the sorrow


i am me,










and i kinda like me.

so no,

so sorry

so, whatever.


i choose

no reset

do over

groundhog day.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Musings, Poems


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Paternal Prediction revisited

Old School Graphic Design Tools

Today’s WordPress Prompt reminded me of this post I wrote 5 years ago – it’s as relevant as ever.

I hope I don’t turn out like my father.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my father.

Tonight we were doing an early spring-cleaning, just one closet. Out came the old coats, the worn out shoes, the broken kitchen appliances, and assorted memories.

There was a large leather portfolio that I dump unceremoniously on the side. It was just waiting to be placed in an organized allotted space. My father passed the wreckage that was the cleaning, and spotted the portfolio.

“My old stuff!” he said excitedly. He picked it up, cleared whatever was on the kitchen table with the sweep of his hand, laid down the portfolio and opened it.

Inside was my father’s old work. His work as a graphic artist, years before computers were standard. Where the artist actually had to be one, and not rely on the manipulations and clip art of present day (not minimizing today’s graphics artist, but it’s a completely different field with a different set of skill requirements).
He pulled out papers where he created an accountant’s sheets. He drew ALL the lines. Perfectly. He pulled out posters he created for concerts where all the elements where pasted on top of each other and then printed together. Brochures, where he drew the products, and the simulation of person trying it. He pulled out a yellowed New York Times, where an ad he created had ran. He pulled out several envelopes and letterheads in which logos he created graced. And then he just took out fun things that he drew with an advertisement theme. It wasn’t just, oh I put together the logo or I worked on it; he CREATED it.

“Ta,” I said. “You were amazing. What happened?” He just laughed and said something like,

“I’m so busy just printing now, I don’t have time to patchke on this stuff, besides, this is not how it runs anymore.”

“But, you’re so good!” I protested. He smiled for the compliment but sighed slightly.

“Maybe when I retire I’ll go back to it.” He said optimistically.

I always prided myself on having some artistic skill, I knew I got it from my father, and I’ve seen plenty of his personal work. But seeing today how he utilized his talents for business was successful and loved it, made me feel a bit inadequate in my dabbling in the arts.

But he’s not using it anymore. He loved it. He was great. But real life gets in the way.

I don’t want that to happen to my talents. I want to use them, for them to be me, not for me to tell my children years from now,

“Y’know I had blog when I was younger….”


Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Family, Musings


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

My Animal Instinct

Today’s post is brought to by Plinky. I answered today’s question, of which animal I’d choose to be:

If I had to choose which animal to be, I think I’d go with the American Bald Eagle.

They are lookers.

They are strong

They are powerful.

They are respected.

They are talented.

They are smart.

They are also an endangered species, so anyone who messes with them is instantly considered a jerk.


Posted by on December 30, 2012 in Musings, The Sporadic Side


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 251 other followers

%d bloggers like this: