Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Av 5760 - August 3, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family


First of all, thanks for a job well done! Your column is the first I turn to each week, after the headlines.

With the upcoming Bein Hazemanim, may I request some ideas on vacation places for families with children -- parks, zoos, one-day trips etc. in Yerusholayim and outside the city? Also, some indoor places for hot weather. All places should conform to standards of Tzniyus - Rochel S.

Dear Fan -- that's a difficult order, especially the last, since PLACES may be fine, but the people who visit them, not necessarily models of propriety. Still, we might suggest exploring the various religious neighborhoods, a different one each time.

This begins with a bus ride, already fun and relatively cheap. Each place has its own playground. Maybe have children who are old enough fan out and explore street names, draw a map and salient features, discover shuls and their names etc., interview children. You can give out points for all kinds of information, or create hints in advance, something like a scavenger hunt. This can be done late afternoon, ending with a simple outdoor picnic and a watermelon prize. Children can work in pairs or all together.

The various tourist information bureaus (listed in your phone book) will supply you with brochures and maps of the different places of interest in the city for you to visit, and whether entrance is free. You will have to use your own discretion as to what you want your children to see. We used to take children to such places as Heichal Shlomo, which has a very nice exhibit on micrography (tiny writing on egg shells etc.), religious articles, and a three-D diorama exhibit on Jewish history plus a nice shul downstairs with stained glass windows. (In those days, even riding in the elevator was a novelty!) Pretty kosher, but not everyone may feel comfortable there politically. Maybe have some adult scout out places listed before you take the family. All parks are listed and the bus routes to get to them. Maps and many museums are for free!

NOT TIED DOWN: Since during this time you are not particularly tied down to any time schedule, how about doing things differently. NINE DAY WONDER -- try taking the entire family to the Kosel for Tikun Chatzos. Prepare them in advance, tell stories about prayer at the Kosel. Alternately, you may wish to visit the Kosel early, early in the morning for the sunrise minyon, also a very rewarding experience. Do this the first week of Av, get to know the regulars, perhaps engage them in conversation. People are not so hurried at this time. You may wish to compare notes later about the different types of people you saw. Give the children coins to give to tzedoka, and end up with a roll-and-leben breakfast someplace in the Old City.

Locate people who know others in the older neighborhoods of Jerusalem and ask if you can pay a short (20 minute) visit and hear them talk about old times. There will be many oldtimers with time on their hands who will be glad for the attention. Someone must have grandmothers in Botei Warsaw, Botei Rand, Botei Ungarin and so on, who would be thrilled to talk.

SUPPER IN THE DARK -- pick a park and plan your supper there - - after eight, when it is already dark. The boys can find a convenient shul for maariv while you set up. The menu, pita, falafel or whatever, can be the afternoon activity, and the park experience can run as long as you like, till ten. Bring jumpropes, balls, games. The novelty will be so exciting that they will want to do it more often.

Line up FACTORIES and FOOD PLANTS, like Tnuva, Angel etc. where you can have a guided tour. Get together groups of twenty (no problem, right?) and they will be glad to accommodate. The postal building is fascinating -- to see mail sorted etc. Air conditioned, most of these.

Once you get started, there will be no limit to ideas, and transportation will probably be your only costs. Have fun, educational fun!

THEMES: Visit a kosher library and help children pick out books on a subject: Yerusholayim etc. Have children prepare small story skits, maybe invite friends. Help them with props, allow a budget.


PUT THE KIDS IN THE KITCHEN and you get out of it. Let them plan menus, whatever, and prepare the meals! Think of kashrus problems in advance, like checking eggs, sifting flour etc. Let them even do the shopping! A great way to start the day is with these easy, delicious


Have your early birds get up and make this dough, then set aside to rise while they daven. Should be ready for baking by the time they are all ready. Late birds will naturally get up when they smell the rolls baking...


1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

heaping tablespoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoons dry yeast

2 1/2 cups warm water

1/2 cup oil

sesame seeds (checked)


Mix all ingredients, saving some of the oil for last. As the dough forms, knead well, until it leaves the side of the bowl, then add the last bit of oil. This will make it smooth and soft. Cover with plastic bag.

When the dough is doubled in size, punch down, form long frank-rolls, dip in water and then in sesame seed. Let rise for another 15 minutes. Bake till brown.

This can become a regular vacation activity. Children can invite friends to sleep over and include this.


A LETTER of another kind...

I was utterly shocked reading the article, "Help! A Drama in Real Life" [about a refrigerator breaking down], 20 Sivan.

I have never read such a tasteless article. I am sure the writer has never been ill or had close relatives ill...

Sara V., London

We beg to differ. What may seem to you total irreverence, is, nevertheless, to us, a whole theosophical approach to life.

TOTAL APPRECIATION: Why relegate Hashem only to your siddur or a sickbed? Hashem is not only outside your refrigerator, He is inside it, too, and making its heart beat. We need not bow to that appliance and pray to it: but you should be perceptive enough to realize that when it runs, we should be appreciative, and when it limps, we should be concerned in a far reaching way.

Dovid Hamelech lived his life with total awareness: Shivisi Hashem. Whatever we do, even if it is to thrust our hand into a pocket and come up without the correct change -- it is because it has been thus decreed. Everything is a message from Hashem, not that we are to sit and ponder over every little thing, but yes, that we are to think, and to live our lives cognizant, being thankful for everyday things and wary of, perhaps, our own shortcomings when things SEEM to us to be going wrong.

Chazal certainly point out the obligation of appreciation for every little thing, every BREATH we breathe. This also extends to the inanimate things we own, like `little jars' etc. Wells that provide water -- should not have stones cast into them. Staffs that perform a service should be treated with deference, not `ab-used.' Every leaf that falls was so ordained to fall.

Why not extend our gratitude to Hashem for refrigerators, who serve so well? No one is silly enough to think that they have a life of their own, but as an example, as an extension of Hashem's overall kindness to Mankind in allowing electricity to be discovered and inventors to invent, they do very well. It is very shortsighted to turn to Hashem only when sickness strikes. As the Chofetz Chaim pointed out in a very graphic moshol, we should cast our ENTIRE burden upon Hashem, not like the foolish beggar who was given a hitch in a wagon and insisted on keeping his knapsack on his back! You can pray for refrigerators, too, and for all things, big and little, to go smoothly.

And another aspect: Chazal teach that Hashem strikes at a person's possessions before He gives warnings to their bodies. Perhaps the writer preempted any illness in the family G-d forbid, as you suggest, by her sensitive awareness of a problem existing and by praying. Perhaps it was her sign to introspect and do tshuva in some area or another. We are not supposed to make any direct connections, I think, but perhaps she might be moved to improve in the area of hospitality or something else related. Just a wild guess, but this, I think, is how we should live our lives, thinking, absorbing messages, trying to improve, and not just shrugging our shoulders and saying, "Oh, well, refrigerators do go kaput after so many years. That's life." That's Amolek.

I can imagine different scenarios to end the story, Ex Machina, like Hashgocha Protis providing her a good refrigerator for cheap etc. Then our letter writer might not have written her letter. But whatever happened had its own time and particular reason, and we leave it up to our readers to commiserate and draw any enlightening conclusions they wish.

I have my own refrigerator story to reinforce this attitude: since Pesach (due to overscrubbing, perhaps), it hadn't been keeping things cold but even after 18 years, I was reluctant to part with it. A heaven-sent brainstorm prompted me to get the rubber door gasket changed (for only 280 shekel) and now it is born-again. Let me tell you, ever since, I have been going around in mini-euphoria, ever so grateful to Hashem for the idea and for making me go and do it. Hashem is definitely inside and outside my refrigerator these days, with no sacrilege intended.

Would love to hear the reactions of other readers, either way. Handwritten notes cheerfully read. Mail: Weinbach, Panim Meirot 1. FAX 02-538-7798.


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