Mensch (which can also be spelled mentsh—the more correct romanization of the Yiddish) comes straight from German, where it means man or mankind. As the Yiddish saying goes, “a mentsh tracht und Gott lacht” [Man plans and God laughs]. Along the way, mensch picked up other meanings. A second meaning that has passed from usage is as a synonym for servant. To be somebody’s mensch was once used as a slur by Yiddish writers such as Sholem Aleichem and David Pinski.
A land flowing with milk and honey–Eretz zavat chalav u’dvash–is one of the most famous descriptions of the Promised Land. While the rabbis expound that the milk is only that which flows from kosher animals (most prominently goats) and that honey refers not to the product of bees but to the sticky honey of figs and dates–it is a strange description. Has anyone ever seen a land literally flowing with either milk or honey?
With Labor Day just one month a way, it’s tempting to celebrate white wine while you still can. Perhaps you’ve got a refrigerator filled with half bottles from your last garden party, or your wine cellar is overflowing with Chardonnay specials from the local liquor store. Think of it, too, as a last hurrah. When the sandals, shorts, and skin go back in the closet, a little inhibition follows. Fall carries with it a sense of seriousness, not to mention the High Holidays – so get your kicks now while you’ve still got summer as an excuse.
“Two of these close friends had met through JDate and so she thought to herself, ‘This is the year it’s going to happen; tonight I’ll make a profile and see what happens.’”
Death is the great equalizer, and once people have passed away it is irrelevant how wealthy, popular or influential they were or were not. Jewish burial customs are particularly sensitive to this issue, as testified to by the burial custom of the modest shroud.
“It was the first and only message like that I had ever received from JDate because that night, I cancelled my membership. I knew this relationship was about to take off!”
Anytime we can’t find or achieve something we really want, it’s hard not to get discouraged. But try to keep some perspective. The average age of marriage for men today is 28 — which means half are older than 28. Also, the more education a person has, the later it is he or she will probably marry. You are still well within the “normal” range that life partnerships happen these days.
On Tisha B’Av, the ninth of Av, one of the ways that the Jewish people demonstrate their mourning over the loss of both Holy Temples is by refraining from Torah study that brings pleasure to those who study it. Therefore, it is considered appropriate to read only the more somber texts, specifically: 1) Talmudic sections dealing with the destruction of the Temples, and the laws of mourning and excommunication (such as those found in the Talmudic Tractate Moed Katan), 2) the Book of Job, 3) the admonitions and rebukes of the Book of Jeremiah, and 4) the Book of Lamentations.
“Turns out we grew up at the same synagogue and attended the same religious school, same summer camp and same college.”
Tonight, at sunset, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar begins. Known as the Fast of the 9th of Av (Tisha B’Av), the observances of the day are very similar to Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. In addition to fasting (no food or drink) for a 25 hour period from sundown Monday to nightfall on Tuesday, additional restrictions include refraining from washing, using lotions, wearing leather shoes and marital relations.