Emotions and Observance

A friend once told me that keeping niddah was much harder than keeping any of the other mitzvot, because emotions come in to play much more so than other halachot, like shabbat or kashrut.

At the time, I agreed with her. I mean, niddah walks its way into your bedroom, pokes its head into your sexual life, and stays there, like a mole, interrupting time that should be private.

However. As I gave more thought to the idea, I started to think that perhaps other halachot are like that as well. I mean, the very idea of halacha is that it’s a life-system, it should dictate each and every decision that one makes.

I felt the emotional pull of halacha shortly after I got married. I was used to waiting 3 hours between meat and milk, my husband waits 5. I agreed that since traditionally the woman takes on the man’s customs after marriage, I would change my custom and start waiting 5. It made sense to me, at the time. I was thinking of our future children, and how it might be confusing to them if mommy waits 3 hours and they have to wait 5, or if daddy waits 5 but they wait three.

I believe now that this idea is naive. I actually WANT my children to appreciate the fluidity of halacha and the distinction between law and custom.

I also believe that the concept of wife taking on husband’s customs is patriarchal and sexist. This is actually the ONLY situation in which I just blindly accepted his customs. When I pray, I pray the way I always have. At Chanukah, I light my own menorah, and plan to have our children light theirs as well, even though in his household, only his father lit a menorah. When we make kiddush on shabbat, he says the blessing over the wine and I say the blessing over the bread (this was actually his suggestion, and I love it), even thought neither of us grew up in a family that did that. We generally believe in adopting customs that make sense to us, not simply customs that have been handed down from father to son, forsaking the daughters and mothers.

So, yes. The 5 hours thing bugs me. Every single time when I choose to wait instead of having dairy, when it has been somewhere between 3 and 5 hours. Over shabbat, I wanted an iced coffee with milk 4 hours after having meat at lunch. I was in turmoil-I really want this drink, and I’m really bitter about this whole 5 hour thing. After debating with myself for approximately half an hour, I decided to “screw it to the man” and assert my position that this whole paternal custom thing is ridiculous and damn it, I was going to have milk in my coffee.

I opened the fridge, and realized that we had a bottle of soy milk sitting there, about to spoil in the next couple of days if not used immediately. Oh, fine. I resigned myself to having pareve iced coffee for the sake of not wasting ingredients, but I still was going to inform my husband that I reject his 5 hour custom and I’m going back to 3.

(For the record, my husband was extremely supportive of my decision and laughed when I told him that I struggled with it for half an hour).

This was not about the milk. It was not about the coffee. It was about feeling belittled by halacha simply because of my gender.  I will say that I certainly have my issues with niddah, but the concept of emotions becoming intertwined with halachic observance is no less at play in kashrut or shabbat (Have you ever had to walk out of court early because the sabbath was coming? Not fun.) than it is with niddah. By its very nature, halacha is designed to function within a persons emotional sphere. Sometimes I appreciate it, but other times I don’t, and for me, thats when I really have to examine my emotions and figure out what the true issue really it.

The Real Reason Coffee Connoisseurs Drink Black

Every time I go to a fancy coffee place, I am faced with a dilemma. I often order a latte or cappuccino, in which the upscale coffee places tend to make a fancy design in the coffee. I, like a true American, like a little sugar or splenda in my drink to take the bitterness out–but I hate the idea of mixing in the sugar and thereby ruining the design of the foam.

What to do, what to do??

Hi, My Name is Beverly, and I’m a Coffaholic.

I know I just posted, but I’m posting again for 3 reasons.

1. I just wrote about hate. I feel morally obligated to balance it out with something I love.
2. I haven’t posted for 2 weeks before today.
3. Coffee Trumps Everything. Period.

I have a coffee addiction. Actually. It’s not the caffeine I’m addicted to, its the coffee itself. I don’t crave coffee because I’ll get headaches if I don’t have it, it’s because I tend to drink coffee when I want to get relaxed, and it has become my comfort drink. Before I have a panic attack, I’ll drink a cup of coffee and usually the panic wanes. It works even better if I buy the coffee at an overpriced coffee bar.

I have a number of reservations about moving to New York City next year, but now I have atleast one reason to look forward to it:

New Yorkers, apparently, take their coffee seriously.

Hate is a Strong Word…

…but I really, really, really, don’t like these things:

*When I call the mechanic to make an appointment for my car, ask for a certain time, he asks if we could make it half an hour earlier, and I say that will be a stretch for me to make it, but I’ll try to get there on time. Then, when I arrive half an hour late (the time I WANTED to make the appointment for originally), no other clients are there and they are more than happy to take me. WHY couldn’t you just schedule me in at this time to begin with??

*Parking garages that say “visitor parking straight ahead” but actually only have 30 min. parking meters for visitors. What if I have an hour an a half long class? I can’t possibly leave class twice to feed the meters.

*Drivers who take 45 seconds to realize the red light has turned green.

*Students who don’t look where they are walking, walk into the middle of traffic, then give the finger to cars who almost hit them.

*People saying they will do something then not doing it. I will not elaborate on this, but it’s happened to me several times recently.

*7-11 coffee.

The Worst Day Ever

Well, maybe not ever. But here’s a list of what happened in the last five hours:

-I planned to wake up at 7:30 to daven, shower, and study. I woke up at 9:30, and only had time to study. Now I feel unholy and dirty.

-I’m sick, but I just took off school for Yom Kippur and will be taking off more time to go home for Succot, so I really can’t justify missing any more class.

-I’m in an eternal state of “Do I really want to go to law school or not, and if not, what DO I want to do?” I sometimes picture myself as a forensic analyst, but then tell myself there is a reason I’ve been avoiding any type of science-type classes. Then I get mad at myself for not taking a more well rounded course load.

-I’ve been spending too much time with the boyfriend. I think my roomates are annoyed. It’s not their right to be annoyed (because we spend time at his house, not mine) but I don’t want to get on their bad side.

-The meeting I was supposed to go to at 12 was apparently at 10. I never got the email, the boss asked me if I forgot and is meeting personally with me later.

-I have to give my advisor reasons why I want to go to law school so she can write a reccomendation letter for me. I can’t really think of any other than, “I’ll make a lot of money” and “I want my parents to be proud of me”.

-I went to the coffee shop to get my standard feel better drink, a tall iced skinny caramel macciato, and realized that even though i had shlepped my whole purse with me, and even had to go back to one of my classes because I left it there, my credit card is still at home.