Saturday, July 03, 2010

I Named My Avayrot (sins) "Willow" and "Phoebe"

There is a very large debate in some sects of the Jewish world about pets and how to deal with their "circumstances". Some people believe you cannot spay or neuter a pet because it is against Torah. This leaves a huge problem in our animal world. A rescue kitty or pup is only allowed to be saved from a kennel or from being put down after they have been sterilized. This sterilization is to avoid other animals from being on the streets. Animal population control is an important way to provide security for those who already need love.

Now the big question: Why is it not okay to commit an avayrah in order to do a mitzva? Is it not a mitzva to save an animal from abuse or untimely death? Adoption of an animal is one of the highest forms of respect for G-ds little creatures, no? The idea of opening your home from 1-20 years for another creature and providing it love and attention seems to be something the Torah would support. How is this act of kindness not over-riding the government mandated rule about adoption animals?

On the human front, we also have operations that deal with human sterilization. We are commanded to be fruitful and multiply (Sefer Hahinuch 291). A woman having her tubes tied is not reversible, nor is having a hysterectomy. My wonderful Jewish mother had her tubes tied the day after I was born. "Crap, look what I made! No more!!!!" Ha! A man who has surgery in health related cases can also be left sterile. The prohibitions of sterilization and marriage, however, remain independent, and therefore indispensable medical treatment that causes infertility (as with some prostate surgeries) does not impact their personal status (Tzitz Eliezer 10:25:24). However, a man can get a vasectomy and have it reversed. Think of it as the same concept of the modern tattoo. Now a man is blocking his seed from fertilization, but it does not have to be a permanent situation. It is said all males must have their sexual organs (Leviticus 22:24).

Shlomo Brody wrote a great article about dealing with animals and fertility for the Jerusalem Post. I recommend people read his article. However, we must learn that our faith has evolved with the social needs of others. Jews are now donors because we are able to save a life once we have perished. We are able to also save lives of animals. These animals deserve to be loved. My rescue cat, Phoebe, and my rescue pup, Willow, have greatly improved my quality of life and I know I have done a mitzva by providing them with a loving home. I will continue to get animals from rescues. I feel the puppy mills and pet shops are the biggest sinners. Selling animals that will eventually end up in a pound and be seen in a commercial with "Arms of an Angel" being played in the background.

Pets are a huge responsibility, but they can also be a blessing. I hope if you're thinking of buying or adopting a pet, you take into consideration all the issues revolving around the animal. It is a huge sociological benefit to spay and neuter your pets, despite all religious debates.

Be true to the streets-


7 Jewish kids go to church weekly

I ran into one of my elementary school teachers just the other day. I used to love seeing her at school because she was the only Jewish teacher and I also could see her at temple with her twin girls. Beautiful young women they were. I used to watch what they wore, how they did their hair, what they said and the terms they used. Girls a few years older always made an impression on me. I think it was because I am an only child, so I had to learn from somewhere. I used to envy these young ladies.

As I exchanged hellos and quickly caught her up with my life, she shared that her daughters were married and she was the grandmother of 7 children. I became excited until she went further into the fact that her daughters had converted and she was not able to see there weddings. My heart dropped.

1st, you must honor thy mother and father. Not allowing your mom into your wedding because she is Jewish and you have left the faith made me not only want to vomit, but reek havoc! I mean what a nightmare for a woman who raised you in a warm and loving home. I cannot think of anything worse than ignoring your mother’s feelings and not allowing her to partake in such a serious event. I know that this family was close and that the woman who stood before me was a very active and loving mother; she’s nothing to avoid! Secondly, by Halacha her grandchildren were still Jewish, but they will NEVER know! These 7 children will not be taught their culture and heritage that is rich with beauty and worth.

I get angered. With the Jewish population dwindling and assimilation being such a serious subject. I stood there trying to be happy for this woman who clearly was also uncomfortable with the situation. Two days later I ran into a woman from the salon that I had previously run into my beloved teacher. She said she held my teacher as she cried on the day of her daughters wedding and how sad the whole situation is. I suddenly realized that simcha is really a view point. For her daughters, raising these kids in a loving home is a simcha. Although I am not saying these two women should be burned at the stakes for leaving their faith and mother behind, I am saying their simcha brings tears to many people’s eye. Unfortunately, these are not tears of joy, but tears of grief and anger.

I try and find a place to blame. Was it our synagogue? Maybe they did not do enough outreach. I certainly know I did not find a love for my faith through it. Was it my teacher’s lack of cultural enrichment? Maybe she herself was not taught the deep values of a Jewish home or how much prayer and culture can enrich your being. Should these young women have gone on birthright as soon as they hit college or not been allowed to date outside their faith as teenagers? It really boggles my mind. In Judiasm there is something for everyone! You just have to be proactive like anything else! You did not learn how to tie your shoe without being taught and you will not find a way to be spiritual without being taught in a myriad of ways!

Faith is a prescription and it’s dosage is whatever you make of it. Some of us like the culture. Some find it through social events or religious holidays. Some people are at the 3X daily. This very situation makes me concerned for my own children (G-d willing I ever find Mr. Right). Will I get the dose right or will I too be excluded from a wedding or have grandchildren that will never know what a joy being Jewish is?

Simcha (happiness) is all in perspective.

Be true to the streets!


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jewish Mixers and a lesson on why mixing isn’t always what it is cracked up to be: A lesson on Leshon Horrah….

So it is clear that Jewish mixers are an invention from the Jewish grandmother. They’re sly and cunning and deceptively alluring with food and other freebees. As the summer time warms our beaches and many of us have our outdoor activities, we crave company of friends and significant others. At one particular mixer, I was thrilled to have the pressure off. I was dating someone and was there purely for the social aspect. A-ha! A window of opportunity to not feel pressure within the Jewish community.

I had previously asked a friend if his group would like to join mine for coffee. As I was taking off to go to Aeroma (the wonderful Israeli filled coffee house on the west side of town), I stopped my friend mid-conversation to discuss if they would join us. As I overheard his friend speaking to him she stated, “That girl has no chance with him (speaking about her male friend and a woman off in the distance). She has a huge nose and she’s ugly!” My heart stopped. The first thing I thought was holy crap. What if I was the girl she was talking about? Secondly, I looked at the girl exchanging a pleasant conversation with handsome male company and this girl making the comment. I figured her Jewish mother had told her she was absolutely beautiful her whole life. Such a warped sense of self. This girl looked like she did not know what a vegetable was. I was shocked such mean things came into my mind and gained my friends attention. The girl who had just said such harsh things waits for me to get in a word to my friend.

I had a very quick inner monologue that went like this:

Holy crap she just bashed another Jew.

Does she know she’s not a 10, not even a 5?

Why am I thinking such horrible things?

I think I am angry that she spoke horribly about this defenseless woman.

What to say? What to say?

Be smart about this, but do not allow her to act like that.

After the monologue, this came out, “ Hey ___________, I was going to ask you if you and your friends were coming, however, as much as I deeply wish you could come, I do not want to expose my wonderful group of loved ones to someone who not only publically demeans people they don’t know, but seems to take joy from it to make her own esteem flourish.” Her mouth dropped and I suppose she decided to take her anger out on me after I up and left.

The moral: When we open our mouths publically, we earn judgment from others. It is not always right to judge, but it is ALWAYS right to realize when something should not be socially accepted. Leshon horah, the restriction of speaking with an evil tongue. There is always a reason for G-ds rules and guidance. A mixer only works when mixing is allowed.

Be true to the streets!