Solely In Black and White: September 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Question: Blogging on Chol Hamoed

seven days of succot

I am kinda wondering; can one blog on Chol Hamoed? Or more specifically, is it muttar to blog on Chol Hamoed? So while my knowledge of hilchas Chol Hamoed might be considered lacking, I am not about to go ask this question to my local orthodox rabbi for some odd reason… :-) Don't get me wrong; either way is absolutely fine with me. I have nothing against vacations, including blogging, nor do I have a problem with writing a few posts due to the fact that I now have some free time on my hands. Even though the internet is a repository for abstract and obscure information, it seems the only other discussion of interest on this topic (that I found easily) was written a few years back on Hirhurim, but even that post didn’t reach a definitive conclusion. So what do you say, can one blog on Chol Hamoed? If you cannot type out a comment on Chol Hamoed, then figure out some other way of letting me know! :-P

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Succos and Esrogim

The Big Citron Slow Food Event

The Big Citron Slow Food Event by SusieFoodie

Via Flickr: Licensed under Creative Commons

Okay, back to work… at least from my blogging perspective. I’ve completed the majority of tasks that need to be taken care of at the moment so I can kick back and spend time doing extraneous stuff like writing posts and plotting my next surprise as part of surprise warfare. (Side-note: TAK is currently winning. :-( (Maybe we should take bets on who will win…. ;-) )

Incidentally, and on the topic of Succos preparations, I find it bemusing how much money Arba Minim vendors charge for esrogim. When you try to describe this phenomenon to anyone who is unaware of this market dynamic, you get some rather confused stares and quizzical looks. Luckily this only happened to me once, but the fellow was wise enough to nod apologetically in his state of disarray. Logically, how can it be possible that a somewhat typical citrus fruit which is grown within the contiguous United States in mass quantities and sold throughout the year for pennies on the dollar per pound can fetch upwards of $200 in certain markets? The answer is really quite simple but irrelevant. I guess the simplest analogy to explain this issue would be to juxtapose esrogim to diamonds. I’ll have to remember that next time I have to explain it…

Regardless, esrogim are mystical objects that are arguably worth the price (depending on what you spend of course...) because they complete the set; they make up a part of the whole. There are many explanations and reasons given for the symbolisms associated with the esrog and what it represents within us and within the context of Klal Yisrael, but that is not where this post is headed. Incidentally, I can share with you a bracha I received upon finding my esrog last year, to which I should note was quite nice and proved to be rather hard to find (the esrog, not the bracha! Okay, maybe it’s both…): “May you find a Kallah as nice and beautiful as your esrog!” and B”H I did! Although after showing the esrog to my friend he found a negligible defect in it. :-/ Hmm… I wonder if I should avoid introducing TAK to him…? :-P

In retrospect, I am quite happy that person didn’t give me the same bracha for my lulav and hadassim last year, those weren’t nearly as good, to put it mildly…. :-/ ::shrug:: I really have no idea how these mystical thing work. I guess this is why I was always skeptical of trying obscure simonim on Rosh Hashanah. Who knows what they really might mean?! For example: eating Life cereal. So while eating “Life” might connote one’s asking for a sweet (or cinnamony) life, but does that also mean one is asking for a mass-produced life that comes from a box? That doesn’t sound good… unless of course one is “cookie cutter,” then I guess its okay, right? Or perhaps those who eat the store-name brand version, does that mean they’re asking for a cheaper and imitation version of life?! I’m not even going to get into the issues that come up if the cereal in question is spoiled, dried out, or extra crunchy! I cannot see any of those boding well for anyone… Also wouldn’t a cereal life be phonetically a little too close for comfort to a serial life…. :-o I dunno, I'm just saying... Yeah, so while I commend those who chose to utilize obscure, unique, and creative simonim during Rosh Hashanah, Succos, and all year round, to which they’re actions are fully supported by halacha and admirable, I think I’ll pass at the moment and stick with tried-and-true ones.

Wishing everyone a Chag Sameach and all the best.   

Monday, September 20, 2010

An Engaged’s Lost Friends?

Toy Love

There is a known phenomenon which occurs when one gets engaged: they hemorrhage friends. The use of the word hemorrhage is quite succinct really; it’s a slow trickle and progression… While this fact of life is nothing new, it is an interesting eventuality of getting engaged and ultimately married. I am not the first one to blog about this topic either. This actuality has been chronicled in many blog posts and stories. Although I don’t know which friends I am going to unwillingly be distanced from yet, it remains a sad thought that this dynamic has to happen. Granted, there are ways to minimize the loss or the severity of one’s impending fallout, but let’s face it, once you’re married other consideration and priorities take precedence, as they rightfully should, and one’s focus on their friends will ultimately suffer. But then again, this is a two-way street as well, and I can remember being on the other side the median. It is also something that even if one is cognizant about, they are still somewhat helpless to control.

Anyway, the point of interest I wished to add this topic was that science has actually done a study on said phenomenon. Researchers from
Oxford University concluded that falling in love costs on average two close friends from one’s core circle of friends.

Single women often complain that their girlfriends, who were once as close as sisters, dump them when they find a new guy. They're left hurt, upset and bewildered. Whatever happened to sisterhood, they wonder? 

Based on this report, however, it seems to be a matter of simple arithmetic: You can't add a consuming new romance and keep your other tight-knit relationships at the same number and level of intensity---and this phenomenon isn't limited to women. 

The research team found that men and women are equally at risk of losing two close friends when they get involved with a new romance. After that, they're left with four remaining friends, on average, one of them being the new person that has come into their life. 
Article Link

"If you don't see people, your emotional engagement with them drops off and does so quickly. What I suspect is that your attention is so wholly focused on the romantic partner you don't get to see the other folks you had a lot to do with before, and so some of those relationships start to deteriorate." 

In a separate study, Dunbar's team looked at how men and women maintained friendships on the social networking website Facebook. They found that women's Facebook friends were more often friends from everyday life that they spent time with, while men tended to collect as many friends as they could, even if they hardly knew them. 
Article Link


Venn Peagram by SFWeekly 

Machete Bear by ~sebreg

Alex Noriega 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Futility of Disclosure

tell truth

What if I was to tell you the following phrase: “I knew a little secret you might be interested in hearing” how would you feel? I imagine that phrase might intrigue some, beguile others, infuriate some of the rest, and just plainly confuse the remainder. Perhaps its the knowledge that secretes are both asset and liability that makes them so alluring... And that’s true without even knowing what I’m talking about!

Information and perhaps knowledge has this tendency to become a commodity; highly sought after and potentially quite important, or invaluable depending on the case and context. Unlike commodities, the metaphysiology of inside knowledge can take on the form of a particle that can be freely traded between parties at will unhindered by physical barriers or resistance. Whilst information has the potential to be insightful and helpful, it also carries the properties of harm and misuse. More importantly and hauntingly, the other side of this perilous double edged sword, information can never truly be retracted, potentially creating indefinite and everlasting misinformation based on the grave consequences of misunderstandings, misuse, or misinterpretation. All of which can lead to the creation of a misanthrope. I’d be misleading if I didn’t say I’m missing the point. Anyways...

Being that it’s Aseres Yemei Teshuva and that I am in the process of reflecting on many aspects of the previous year and many of the event that have transpired, I was pondering one specific topic that keeps revolving in my mind to which I have recently been wondering about – giving shidduch information. Everyone knows that being interrogated in any way, shape, or form in relation to shidduchium can be torturous and/or very difficult. Rightfully so, one should do their due diligence when researching a potential date in order to avoid potentially hurting another human being unnecessarily or wasting anyone’s time, their own included. Granted, some people do prefer to ask some the weirder, bizarre, and difficult lines of questions (and that’s the short list for now… ;-) ), but at some point you’ve got to start wondering about the answers… 

The way I approached this situation, pr thought process, was to look at it from this angle. In retrospect, I don’t think I ever killed a perfectly good shidduch with either information or misinformation. I believe I’ve used diplomacy, political correctness, and plausibility to answer questions and give descriptive answers to the best of my abilities, pending the circumstances. Okay, maybe some ambiguity too when warranted. However, the concern I have is not in the information that I did choose to disclose, but rather in the words that I chose to withhold, because sometimes you really do know something that might be of interest to another person.

Strangely, these types of scenarios come up every so often with varying degrees of severity. In the most recent example I was unsure about one specific detail that related to one of the parties family background. Before reaching a conclusion on the matter I decided to ask a trusted confidant, one my dating and shidduch research gurus, what their take was on the situation. Their response was the polar opposite of mine. I had taken the route of “the information in question under the current circumstances, in all likelihood, shouldn’t potentially affect their relationship or marriage in any way.” To which he sided with the unarguable logical tactic of “if it was you, you would want to know that information regardless of its cause and effects; furthermore, if someone were to withhold information like that from you, you wouldn’t exactly be happy with them.” 

While I am sure your want to know what information the information of the post on information is, I am sorry to inform you that I will and cannot inform you of such. See, wasn’t that informative? (:-) :-P) Regardless of the specifics, I am still vexed by this question; I am really in the wrong for not saying something…? 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bitachon: a Thought for Rosh Hashana

Here is a excerpt from the Chazon Ish’s Mussar Sefer: Emunah U’Bitachon (Faith and Trust) perek beis (chapter 2):   

There is an old misconception rooted in the hearts of many when it comes to the concept of trust in Hashem [bitachon]. This term, used by the righteous to name a celebrated and central character trait, has undergone a change, and has mistakenly become a term to describe the obligation to believe in any situation a person finds himself in where he faces an undecided future with two ways apparent — one good and the other not — that surely the good outcome will be the one to occur; if one is doubtful and fears the possibility of the opposite of good occurring, he is lacking in trust in Hashem. This understanding of trust is not correct, for as long as the future has not been revealed through prophecy, the future is not decided, for who knows Hashem's judgments and rewards? No — trusting in Hashem is not that, but rather the belief that nothing happens by chance, and that everything that occurs under the sun is the result of a decree of the Almighty.

When a person encounters an event that according to the ways of the world involves personal danger to him, it is natural to fear the ways of the world; his intense feelings weaken his resolve to remember that we do not live by chance, and that there is nothing stopping the Almighty from saving him and from arranging causes that will change the outcome. When one exercises self-restraint at such a difficult time and inter nalizes the known truth that this is not a chance misfortune but rather it is all from Hashem, blessed be He, for better or for worse; when one allows one's faith to alleviate the fear and give one the courage to believe in the possibility of salva tion; when one allows oneself to understand that nothing that one is facing necessarily tends more towards a bad outcome than a good one — then one has achieved the trait of trust in Hashem.

Part of this trait of trust is to be staunch in one's faith even when one contemplates the possibility of suffering; still, one's heart maintains its awareness that this is not a chance mis fortune, for there are no chance occurrences in the world at all — everything is from Him, blessed be He.

In addition, the efforts to counter the danger that people by nature make, are modified in the case of one who trusts: instead of courting wealthy and influential people, and search ing for useless strategies, he who trusts in Hashem will exam ine his deeds and turn his heart to repentance, prayer and charity, in order to remove the evil decree from himself.

Just a thought...

Wishing everyone a kesiva v’chasima tova!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Go Park!

Animated Short no.1 from Yum Yum London on Vimeo.

Please use caution when parallel parking please. Thank you. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Question: How do you Daven?

Copied for Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, Licensed under Creative Commons

In the spirit of the High Holy Days rapidly approaching, let’s talk about davening. The question for this week is: So, all kidding aside, how do you daven? (No, not to The Wish Genie! :-p) Besides for the actual words of davening, do you specify everything you need from Hashem or do keep your supplications generic knowing that Hashem knows best what you truly need?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Question of the Week: Who is your Shadchan?

I’m not really sure how this question came about, but it’s something that I seemingly have been asking a lot of people for a while now. That question really stems around a different question: who is making all those shidduchim? Yes, I know, G-d is the one who ultimately pairs people up and chooses who and how and all that, but who is actually redting these shidduchim? Someone is responsible for all those contributions to the ranks of OnlySimchas, unless shidduchim has finally been outsourced to robots, then maybe we’d have a self sustaining mechanism but everyone would be uniform.  :-/ That theory aside, the question remains, who really is behind it?   So to assuage my curiosity, if you will: predominantly, who redts you your shidduch dates? 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I Just Knew She was the One for Me

I remember the first time we met. It was as if in a dream; an epiphany of the most pleasant kind. The type of dream one dreams about dreaming about… one in which you don’t want to wake up and face reality, rather stay in the world of blissfulness and delight. It may have contained cotton candy, unicorns, and rainbows, but that stuff got filtered out. :-p

The details were menacingly memorable. The setting was perfect, the ambiance bizarre. It was a façade that was slightly surreal; sparkly with soft overtones in a very natural way. A soft smell of lilac with a pleasant breeze permeated the air around us. Perhaps the scene was not memorable in its own right, but in context of what transpired shortly thereafter, it will remain a very vivid picture on my conscience for a long time. And how could it not? It was a moment quite worthy of remembrance. It was a beginning to a book with a many glorious and wondrous chapters which I have yet to pen or read, but to which I am greatly and eagerly anticipating partaking in.