The Three Weeks

by Aaron under Israel,Judaism,Single Life

As I write this entry, I’m certain it will not come out grammatically correct, maybe not even as rational thoughts. Normally that’s not an issue as I write, but today it kind of is. The reason is that today, I am hungry.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to start playing sad music and show you starving kids in Africa, nor will I go on about food stamps. Instead, I am writing about a different cause of hunger: two fasts that begin and end the period in Jewish life known as “The Three Weeks.”

The Three Weeks always scare me. They started on Tuesday, July 15 (The 17th of Tammuz) and end on the evening of August 5th (The 9th of Av). These are three weeks that were very difficult for the ancient Jews (yes, even by Jewish standards these weeks weren’t easy). Some people don’t listen to music or get haircuts during this time of year.

For me, these weeks are always scary. I worry I’ll lose a job, a girl I’m dating, or worse. My brother returns from Israel in two days, but obviously having him there as I write this scares me as well. While I won’t get too much into it, the situation in Israel during this time of year is an obvious reason for worry right now.

But worry would defeat the purpose of these weeks, in my opinion. The Shabbat service I went to last Saturday discussed the reasoning for studying the rituals of the temple during these three weeks — not to mourn their destructions (both took place during this three-week span), but to hope for the days when we go back to the temple and have to use those rituals again.

Life is gonna kick you in the face sometimes, that’s how it goes. As a new guy in New York, it’s literally happened to me once or twice. But you can’t let it sway how you live. That means if someone turns you down on a dating site, don’t go on and on about it if you meet that person in real life. Don’t whine to others about how you’re always single.

What people really want is someone who will keep them upbeat. At any given moment, we are all just one or two complaints from a total kvetch-fest with the right crowd. Who doesn’t like to complain? But in this three-week period, I encourage you to make the choice to say nice things, to learn about the positive things around you. Destruction will always happen, we may lose the temple, but one day it will stop, and maybe the temple won’t be rebuilt tomorrow, but maybe we can make each other a little happier in the meantime. Have a safe and happy three weeks everyone — and if you’re fasting, may your fasts be easy as well.


Lashon Hara

by Aaron under Judaism

A part of dating that many people underestimate takes place off the dating websites, and is not only limited to your engagements with the opposite sex: it’s the attitude you carry with you all the time. You can’t change that, and a lot of different parts of your life impact that attitude. With that in mind, one of my friends did something amazing a few weeks ago: they stopped me from gossiping about someone.

In the age of the paparazzi, gossip (or Lashon Hara as it is called in Hebrew, meaning literally “evil language”) about anyone and everyone is a common thing. Sometimes it can even be helpful, as the Torah tells us (and science reaffirms, through helping our mental health according to some studies) that talking ill of someone to help avoid an unfair situation, such as Bernie Madoff’s scheme, is okay. What is not okay is talking about others in lights that we shouldn’t be.

Dallas has this problem, and I’m sure many more of the young adult communities have the same problems around the world, Jewish or otherwise. But it’s become a real problem in Dallas, with a lot of people hurt over people being involved in their lives that shouldn’t be. So my friends and I have gotten in the habit of watching out for each other and reminding each other not to gossip about others and rather to avoid names (which is also not okay if it makes it obvious as to who is being spoken of still), or even better, just saying nice things about others.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with dating or your life. It’s simple: people may not be able to read your mind, but your attitude will come across in everything that you do, and gossiping about others on a regular basis is only likely to bring you down. I consider myself pretty happy, but even I do it sometimes, and I know that’s not right. I feel worse when I talk about others, even if that slight second as it’s happening feels so juicy.

So start looking for the positivity more in others and raising people’s spirits when possible. Everyone loves the person who makes others feel great, and believe me — you’ll start to love that person, too.  And really, that’s the first step of this whole thing.