Conversation of the Weekend: Born into the Wrong Era

“You realize that we’re really old by the standard of the middle ages. We’re like, 40 in medieval years.”

“Yes, but think how desirable we’d be if we went back there now. We’re strong and healthy. We have all of our teeth. No wrinkles or smallpox scars. What’s not to love?”

“True. And we definitely have the skills to manage a castle.”

“I’d love to manage a castle.”

“You’d have to convince them you were nobility, though, to marry in.”

“I can read.  I have table manners. That already puts me ahead of half of them. And I wear corduroy and can act superior. A pedigree I can make up–they don’t have efficient background checks yet.”

“Good point. It could be done.”

“Any Jews have castles back then?”

“Um, well, no.”

“Too bad. I really would love to manage a castle.”

“You can manage an international business, though.”

“As a male Rothschild, maybe. But a Jewish woman?”

“It’s not a new thing. Since you’re not supposed to use Torah as a shovel to dig with, the rabbi was usually supported by giving his wife a monopoly on a commodity. And some women used that as a base to launch a business.”

“International?”

“Well, among the German states. Close enough. Haven’t you read Gluckel of Hameln?”

“No.”

“Shame on your Jewish history teachers!”

“If she didn’t have a beard and write a book, they didn’t cover her. It was a narrow, male-rabbi-chauvinistic curriculum.”

“She wrote a book and ran a business. Read it.”

“I still would rather have a castle.”

“Try Toys R’ Us.”

New Rule: Don’t Rely on Single Friends

I propose the 3-month rule for making plans with single friends. Beyond that, their priorities can get fuzzied by a gentleman caller who may have called more than the usual amount of times.

There was the time a few of us had loads of fun at the Rennaissance Faire, so we decided to go again next year. We all whipped out our phones and entered the appointment.

Well, within 9months one had gotten married and moved to Israel, and the other was married and in Connecticut.

Then there was the time I made a bet on a matter that could only be proven at the end of the year. Again, Friend and I marked it in our phones. But before I could win (or lose) the prized pie of pizza, the phone was lost down the drain and the owner had left to Israel, met a gentleman, married him, and moved to Houston.

So I probably shouldn’t have gotten excited about the idea of an annual kayaking trip with a NMF#17. Granted, you don’t often find nice Jewish girls willing to spend a week paddling down a river and camping in the woods. There is no reason to suppose that someone wouldn’t come along and snap up such a rare gem on sight. But I can’t help but feel a teeny drop let down about it.

When you get down to it, every single woman’s goal seems to be to get married. And she will prioritize that well above any of her other single friends. So, it’s important, when dealing with single friends, to never plan more than nine months out. This way, you will never get stood up, or jilted for a man.

Blessing for [Do Not Insert Anything Here]

BoSD said a prayer at the kever of R’ Meir ba’al Hanes on his yartziet. Conclusion of her boss: “Wedding upcoming!”

Response of BoSD: “Say what?”

This reminded me of something that annoyed the bejeebers out of me in seminary.

For those who don’t know or might have forgotten, many seminarians participate in the sport of Brocha Collecting. The goal is to get as many brochos as possible from as many Big Names as possible in the course of your 10 months in Israel.

I was never a major-league player, but initially I dabbled in it in the ad hoc street game way. If a bunch of athletes were going and had the extra space, hey why not. I went along. If I was in the right neighborhood for Shabbos and my partner for the weekend wanted to score – we went.

Now, weird thing: nobody ever asked us what sort of brocha we wanted. In fact, 99.9% of the time, the only brocha we got at all was for a rapid betrothal.

I can’t really blame the rabbis and rebbetzins of Israel for taking the cognitive shortcut of assuming they knew what interested us. If I was accosted by wide-eyed seminary girls on my way to Shabbos lunch, I’d also throw them a quick bone and continue home. There’s no way a gaggle of 18-year-old girls is going to stand between me and my chulent.

Maybe marriage is all that occupies the minds of 18-year-old Israeli girls, but it really didn’t bother me much at the time. After all, everyone knows that after seminary you go home and get married. It’s a natural thing, like teenage growth spurts and getting wrinkles. It just happens. Why would I ask for special intervention on the matter?

But it wasn’t just the rabbis. It was everyone. Our tour guides would talk about how every kever we visited was a segula for getting married. Random strangers at various kevarim would accost us to tell us tales of chizuk lest we lose hope and not daven for our zivug with as much kavana as we might. People who we visited for Shabbos would insist that we visit the kever of their local ‘saint’ and wink and ask for an invitation when we returned.

The assumption is so widespread, I’m sure it applies to the dead as well. I can just see what’s happening in that kever while we all pray. “Hm. Sem girl, I’ll jot her down for marriage.” He stifles a yawn. “Now that middle-aged woman over there – I wonder what she needs?”

Truth be told, I also found it a drop insulting. I mean, do they all think there’s absolutely nothing else occupying our minds? If we got married tomorrow, our happiness would be complete? A slightly shallow analysis, methinks.

Which was why I resolved that when I grew up and became a tzedekes and rebbetzin, sought out for brochos, I would always ask everyone what concerned them. Well, unless the chulent was getting cold. Then I’d just give something general like “may your wish come true.”

I’m an Issue

Good4, bless her little heart, is a few months shy of entering the big wide world of dating. The parents, bless them, say that I’ve demonstrated why to marry children off young. Which is a little silly, since Good4 isn’t the slightest bit like me, but nobody is objecting, because Good4 (unlike me) actually wants to be married before she’s six months out of seminary.

Anyway, Good4’s intro to Being A Single came on chol hamoed. She pelted down the stairs shouting my name. “Do you know what Abba has in his email account about you?” she asked, breathless.

“Um, no,” I answered, wondering what it could possibly be already. My tax records? Incriminating emails from scandalized people who have seen me walking into hotels with men? RSS email feed? Cherished letters from my seminary days?

“A folder called ‘Bad4 Issues,’” Good4 declared. “And I have one called ‘Good4 Issues.’ But Best4’s is called ‘Best4 Family.’ Can you believe it?”

Well, yes. “It’s because he’s married,” I explained. I didn’t mean it like that. I meant that our folders couldn’t be called “[whoever] family” because we didn’t have a family. Of our own, I mean. Also, Best4’s folder was probably full of photos and videos of the kinfauna, whereas ours were probably full of tax documents, scandalized-witness emails, and poorly spelled letters from seminary, hastily tapped out on a palm-top computer while eating falafel in Ben Yehuda.

But Good4 was puzzled by her first apparent run-in with marriage discrimination. “Because we’re single we’re issues? Does Also4 have an ‘Issues’ file too?” she wondered aloud.

“Yes he does,” confirmed Mr. Shidduchim, who had followed her down the stairs at a more sedate pace, befitting the dignity of his age and position in the household. “You are all issues until you’re married. Then you’re still issues—but you’re somebody else’s.”

Ding! She got it. She laughed. Can you tell she’s new to the game?