Sunday, October 24, 2010

Eh, She’s Not for Me!

I had a good laugh today when I read that a Taiwanese woman was so disillusioned with the men in her city that she married--herself. The question I ask is, "Who gets to keep the house in case of a divorce?"

It’s not easy being a woman on the blind date circuit, especially in big cities. In “New York, single women outnumber single men by more than 210,000. In the Philadelphia area and greater Washington, D.C., single women outnumber single men by 50,000.”1 Thus, it’s no wonder that a woman spends seven hours in the mirror before a blind date and then, after a whole night of listening to an egotistical man speak only about himself and his ex-wife and turning you into his therapist, a dejected woman returns home to a freezing liter of Haagen-Dazs and a hot shower wherein the pretenses of such nights and layers of makeup gradually clog up the drain.

Women begin questioning, “Will I ever meet anyone?” “Is it me or them?” “Why should I bother anymore?” All these failed dates begin to shape how they see themselves as women. One guy thinks they talk too much, so they tone it down; then, the next guy thinks they have no conversation. It comes to a point where women just don’t know who to be anymore. Then your friends all advise, “Just be yourself.” We would, if we remembered who we were to begin with. All these interludes eat away at us like Hannibal Lecter and what’s left is usually unrecognizable and bitterly unappetizing.

Men, too, have it hard as their cojones are cut off by today’s superwomen who often make more bucks and scream sexual harassment when the guy opens the car door for them, those vain women who never met a mirror they didn’t like. Men also get put off by obnoxious gold diggers—you know the kind—those graduates from the Ivana Trump School of Mergers and Acquisitions who are trained to want the only wedding ring displayed behind bulletproof glass. Males are left no longer sure whether to be gentlemen or jerks. And as we keep banging off of each other in these failed dating expeditions, the definitions of the sexes are constantly evolving as we keep reshaping ourselves to adapt.

I think we have become such a superficial society that even when we seek our mates—the most important relationship in our life--we often overlook substance for external traits.

Then I think about the bible reading of the week wherein Abraham seeks a wife for his son Isaac with the conditions that she comes from a good family and suitable place. And so, the patriarch’s servant looks to find a woman who is also kind and compassionate and of substance, who has common values and is worthy of perpetuating the seed of Abraham. He finds Rebecca. And the Bible tells us that Isaac took her as his wife and he loved her. In today’s society we invert that order. First we think we have to be crazy in love and then we can think about marriage. We have only to look at the statistics of divorces and adultery to see how well that is working out.

Stop thinking of whom you have to impress by having a charm on your arm. Everyone goes home to their lives and no one really cares if you are alone or not, except you. Remember, no matter how good looking a girl is, there is always some guy who is tired of sleeping with her. The search for finding someone "even better" is endless. Ask the Taiwanese woman who is spending her honeymoon in a twin size bed, alone. I just hope she doesn't run out of quarters for the shake-o-matic bed.

Maybe it’s time to look at people a little deeper as to what is “hot” and what is “not” before we whittle away our days alone on our hypercritical perch.

1.Richard Florida , “A Singles Map of the United States of America,” The Boston Globe.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My Eyes Adored You by Aliza Davidovit

I was so angry this morning after I caught someone I love lying to me and manipulating me that I almost couldn’t write this blog. All the calm feelings and even-keeled sentiments needed to compose an inspiring article were nowhere in reach except perhaps at the bottom of a bottle of kosher wine. But it’s only 10 a.m. and still twenty minutes too early to start drinking.

So what do you do when those you trust let you down? Do you close your eyes? Do you open them ever-wider? Do you start an all-out war and put them in their place?
The truth is I have no answers for this today except to look into the biblical teaching of the week and hope something applies to me.

Turns out this week’s portion speaks of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. How apropos because I’m ready to come down like a wrecking ball on this friendship of mine as the betrayal is sticking in my throat like a stubborn long spiky fish bone which won’t come up and won’t go down.

So, I’m with God when He says He is going down to visit this sinning town and wipe it out. But then the words of Abraham come to quantify the wrath and he starts negotiating with God asking if He would save the cities if even only 50 good men could be found and the Good Lord concedes. Abraham keeps whittling away at the number until he is assured that S&G will be saved even if only 10 good men could be found in their midst.

And so I too am forced to start assessing what redeeming qualities can be found in my friend. I’m further reminded of the Talmudic teaching that says a person was created with two eyes so that with the left eye (which represents judgment) he should look at himself to find his own faults and work on eliminating them; and with the right eye (which represents mercy) one should look upon others with compassion and kindness. For certain, since love is blind, when it comes to ourselves we only see perfection; yet when evaluating others in our lives we have 20/20 vision.

But I think the deeper lesson here is what we tend to focus on, be it the good or the bad, will grow and will change us. They say every single thing has a negative and positive aspect to it and the one that will dominate is the one you “feed” the most. If I focus on the “lie,” then from now on every sneeze my friend makes will be subject to my analytical scrutiny and to my second guessing. In the process, I become the ugly one, the one who becomes obsessed with deviousness even as I try to dodge it, whereas the great Patriarch Abraham focused only on the good, even in the vilest of places. In this same biblical portion we also read about Ishmael’s mother, Hagar, who in thirsty despair focused only on the parched desert around her and therefore did not see that a well was right beside her too.

Friends, despite these great biblical lessons, this is one of those situations where personally, I just don’t know where to look. So in the meantime, I’m looking for the corkscrew.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Yes You Can! by Aliza Davidovit

Sometimes the biggest impediment between what we want and where we are is our own voice inside our head. “I can’t do it,” “It’s too late for me,” “I don’t have what it takes,” etc. We sit in the bleachers watching our lives pass us by and instead of cheering ourselves on, we boo ourselves out of the game even before we start playing. And in this cold world where everyone tries to drown you out either because of jealousy or their own insecurities, we join them in self-deprecating language as to why we can never be what we strive to be or to get where we want to go. Our own negative words erect blockades before us where none have to be.

Now, whether you like her or not is your affair, but I can’t help but think of Oprah Winfrey when I think about words. Hers is the epitome of the triumph of the underdog story. Everyone told her she wouldn’t make it. Whatever it is, she didn’t have it. All kinds of negativity was hurled at her. Yet she never let the words, not her own or those of others, shackle her--a daughter of slaves who chose to free herself. Not words nor negativity would she permit to be her taskmasters.

We all know that speaking disparagingly of others is not a nice thing to do. So what makes it nicer when we can’t find a kind, encouraging or hopeful word for ourselves? We must choose the vocabulary of our days very deliberately because it becomes the narrative of our lives. How can you really believe in God if you don’t believe He gave you everything you need to forge forward? You may not have had the economic advantages of your neighbor, or the education of your brother, or the looks of your sister, but you have something they will never have, YOU! Moses held in his hand not a golden gilded sword for the task ahead of him, he had but the staff of a shepherd and he made it work for him, with faith not fear.

When we look at many of the biblical giants, none of them were perfect. Moses had a speech impediment; Jacob had a limp; Issac became blind. Yet each of them had the self-confidence to take chances. None of them stayed home all day watching soap operas and living their lives vicariously bemoaning their lot in life.

So dear friends, I urge you to let go of all the negative words that are shackling you to your discontent--just as the Patriarch Abraham in this week’s Bible reading left all the things that defined him behind. It may be interesting to note that the Hebrew words that command Abraham to get up and go (lech lecha) have the numerical value of 100, the same as his age when his son Isaac was born. All his potential, the seeds of destiny, were bred in his optimism in breaking with yesterday, in seeking new definitions of himself, so much so that even God renamed him changing Abram to Abraham.

Look in the mirror and say “Yes I can” over and over again until the mirror reflects your potential even before you show up. Great things await you; they are just waiting for you to put in a good word.

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

And the Congeniality Award Goes To... by Aliza Davidovit

It starts early on our desire to be accepted. Often the price for admission is our individuality. We suppress what is different about us either in opinions, morality, stance or proclivities because we don’t want to stand out, or be laughed at or be disliked. How often on Facebook or other blogging sites do you find yourself among fellow conservatives or liberals pandering to the conversation with trepidation that if you say something out of the accepted norm of your “clan” that you will be ostracized?

But our potential dear friends lies not in sublimating what is unique about us and in squelching our voice but rather speaking boldly, come what may. A herd mentality is a dangerous thing no matter which part of the political or religious spectrum you may be on.

In this week’s Biblical reading we read about the Tower of Babel wherein God looked down upon those who set to build this tower into the sky and said: "Lo! [they are] one people, and they all have one language.” So what’s wrong with that? It’s not like they were committing murder. What is wrong with it is that they were so single-minded, so much in lockstep, so much of “one language” that no one questioned the other or challenged the other as to whether their actions were correct or not. Such uniformity in mind and action is a dangerous thing as it is bound to succeed, as did the Nazis to a great extent.

No, it is not easy to stand against the establishment; it is not easy to be that only voice which speaks out against wrong or injustice, but it is our duty to destiny which lies not only in the Kingdom of God but our kingdom here on Earth.

I’m reluctant to point to it, but I can’t begin to tell you how many people laughed at me when I ripped up my masters diploma from Columbia University in protest of its invitation to Iran’s President Ahmadinejad. One blogger wrote that I ripped all proof of having any brains at all. I was pretty much called every name under the sun from Zionist bitch to, well, it doesn’t matter. Throughout, I kept in mind the famous quote, “It doesn’t matter what they call you, it’s what you answer to!” And I was answering to a call of duty, not to those who looked down on me, but to those who looked up to me.

I urge you all to be that voice that rings out in the silent halls of consent, the one to make a ruckus when something is not right whether it’s on a national scale or an old lady being mistreated by a checkout clerk at the supermarket. Let’s not pretend we like to mind our own business while every other second of the day we are on information overload seeking out what’s going on in every dark place in the world from celebrity to gossip to local riffs and tiffs.

Also in this week’s biblical portion we read about the story of Noah. In a world of complete depravity, he had the courage to be the sole voice of decency, to walk a righteous path and to live by example. For certain he wasn’t winning any popularity contests as he was hardly speaking “the language” of the times. Both he and his ark were oddities to deride until came the rain and the rising of the tide. In the end the “joke” was not on him at all.

I’ll bring this blog to a close with a poem I learned as a little girl:

No Enemies?

You have no enemies, you say?
Alas, my friend, the boast is poor;
He who has mingled in the fray
Of duty, that the brave endure,
Must have made foes! If you have none,
Small is the work that you have done.
You've hit no traitor on the hip,
You've dashed no cup from perjured lip,
You've never turned the wrong to right,
You've been a coward in the fight.

~ Charles MacKay (l814-l889)

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