Saturday, November 30, 2013


What am I thankful this Thanksgivukkah? First and foremost, I'm thankful for a roof over my head. I'm thankful for friends of mine, in particular M-who understands how I feel about everything and we enjoy hanging out watching a movie or whatever, S-who is ALWAYS there when I want someone to talk to, and T-my friend from elementary school who really gets some of the unspeakable things I've been through.

What are you thankful for this year?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A New Way To Look At the Agunah problem...

So, I've thought about what an agunah is and how they become one, the Torah creating this ill and the set up of the current get and its system. I've actually thought about this for a while. Back in maybe 2008, I discussed this with a woman friendly kollel wife and then her husband came home and we added him to our discussion.

The idea is when a man marries a woman the katubbah is a commitment to provide all these things to her. It's a one sided contract. The woman does not sign it or anything for that matter. Then when a man is tired of his wife, the Torah dictates that instead of just kicking her out, he has to write up a letter and send her on her way. It seems like from the verse that this was so she could try to go get a new man as men would have feared sleeping with a married woman and having the husband show up to beat him up or whatever. At no point does a woman actually sign anything saying she will cook and clean for him, men just assume that part. At no point does a woman sign over the rights to her body for sex at his whim. All of these things are assumed but not in any contract.

The get is essentially the man buying out of what he signs-the katubbah... so my argument is that first off, the katubbah isn't a valid contract. Even from one law class, I know that a contract contains: offer, consideration and acceptance. This is nothing more than a written offer. There is no consideration or acceptance that makes it onto paper. It is all assumed. Furthermore, if a man doesn't hold up his end of the offer, it seems to me the whole contract should be null and void.

So we asked the husband about this. His response was that the contract isn't valid, so calling it null and void doesn't matter, it's never an enforceable contract in the first place. Ow, my forehead hurts as my palm just went flying into it.... So, if the contract isn't a contract, why do women need another contract to get out of it? What are the women "getting out of" since they never sign away any rights on paper? I mean with a state marriage contract, both men and women are expected to only have sex with each other and figure out their bills and kids together. Both parties have obligations and both parties can initiate divorce. Nevertheless, in the Jewish marriage, actually only a man obligates himself to provide for a woman and their children. In reading the passage about the get, it sounds like it's a courtesy to women so that they can find someone else without the new man fearing repercussions. However, the Torah states unequivocally for men to give this document. Nowhere does it refer to it as a nice thing to do or an option. The Torah communicates it as necessary as keeping Shabbos.... so take that boys!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Parenting: age inappropriate expectations

I know. I know. I don't have kids of my own. However, I watch parents and have noticed this one. I just stumbled across this article on Anger. It discusses anger in response to a kid failing to meet expectations that are just totally wrong for their age and development. Again, I'm not a parent so I'm sure some of you think I don't have the right to have an opinion about this or be blogging about it. I did, however, have a parent that I mostly lived with who was this sort of parent. Thankfully, my mother was a good parent and she was a phone call away. Also, I was more neglected than yelled at for not living up to crazy standards.

In the article, the mother states that she wouldn't have any of her mother's “touchy-feely, psychological nonsense,” and that, “Children must be obedient without prizes, charts or notebooks.” Honestly, to some extent that might be true, especially for an older child. My mother didn't reward me for meeting expectations. She took privileges away when I didn't. Also, maybe I was a freak, but I really wanted to make my mother happy with me. I wanted to make the Honor Roll because she told me all the time that she wanted me to and thought that I could. There were no prizes for this.

The article mentions that often these children/teenagers, "turn to addictions for soothing, since a computer, chocolate or alcohol will never be angry, rejecting or disappointing.." It's probably good that I am only addicted to chocolate and not drugs or alcohol. Most of the rest of the article deals with anger, which is important to deal with, but my point in this blog post was to shed light on expecting kids to act as is appropriate for an older child could damage them. Sometimes, they need to be cut some slack. Again, I'm not a parent but I think many parents would agree with me. In the most extreme, you wouldn't expect a 6 month old to toilet train themselves. You wouldn't expect a 5 year old to go out and support themselves and leave home or even cook their own meals and be left home alone overnight. I mean normal people wouldn't at least. The article touches on more gray areas like how much a child should be spilling before it's ok to yell at them for it. Actually, even grown ups spill. What about a child not falling asleep right away? Well, when a friend of mine and her kids came for Shabbos and her youngest wasn't asleep, I spoke up, "look you don't have to fall asleep, you just have to be quiet and not bother your sister and you can only come out here if you have to go to the bathroom." Well, of course she fell asleep. Her mother, my friend, complimented me for being able to see the solution. Well, I'm also a cheater. I was restless not wanting to go to sleep and that was what my mom told me. Usually it worked, though I remember her catching me reading a book with a flashlight behind my bed so the light wouldn't wake my sister a couple times.... not what she had in mind...

There is a line between being overly permissive and unrealistic expectations and one would want to walk somewhere in the middle. Yeah, well easier said than done, but it's something to think about.