Wednesday, July 10, 2013

When Good Things Happen to Good People

Dining room before makeover
Dining Room after makeover
Wow! This is a great example of both bad things happening to good people - and for a change good things happening to good people. The inexplicable tragedies that the Vaspis have suffered did not deter the selfless good they have done for others. And now, without asking for it, something truly nice has been done for them. Kol HaKavod to the producers of the Israeli version of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. From COL Live:

How can you help a good-hearted family whose entire life is about generosity, giving and helping others while they live in poverty and have suffered a tragedy?

Make over their crumbling home.

Both baalei teshuva, the Vaspis suffered a devastating tragedy when their 1-year-old daughter Menucha Rochel drowned in an abandoned rubber boat that was filled with rain water two years ago.

"You can't actually convey the feeling of losing a beloved child. The world stops," the 43 year-old mother said on the program, which was broadcast this past Motzoei Shabbos on Israel's Channel 10.

The family suffered an earlier tragedy when they were traveling and a bus lost control and hit their car. Their daughter Sheina was severely injured. The doctors needed to amputate her leg, leaving her wheelchair-bound.

And while they have been living in a decaying home and forsaken surroundings, the Vaspis are known for their constant kindness and hospitality. "Our activity gives us strength," the couple said.

The Vaspis
"Their home is open 24 hours a day," said Naomi Tzimering, a mother of 11 children. When she needed to move and could not afford a down payment, the Vaspis provided her with installment checks.

Tzimering was one of the many friends and neighbors who came to help the contractors of "Extreme Makeover" with renovating the Vaspis' home. "They don't even have a lock on the front door," the host Amos Tamam pointed out in amazement about the home that also serves as a kindergarden.

Friends noted how a warm meal is always offered to any in need. "Einav could call Anat at 3 p.m. and notify her that they will be having 30 guests for dinner," one of them said. "And she will never say no."

Seeking inspiration and understanding of the chassidic lifestyle, interior designers Michael Azulay and Gat Namir-Choter-Yishaitraveled to the central Israeli village of Kfar Chabad where they toured the replica of 770 Eastern Parkway, Lubavitch Headquarters in Brooklyn, NY.

They learned about the idea of "bayis malei seforim," that a Jewish home should be filled with holy books, and decided to paint the Vaspis' home in a shade inspired by the red brick row "house of theRebbe of Lubavitch."

While they were working on building a kosher home - separate sinks for dairy and meat, a large display of seforim and photos of the Rebbe throughout - they sent the family on vacation in the Golan Heights.

When the Vaspis returned, after 5 days of hard labor on their house, they were welcomed by a crowd of cheering people and a colorful, modern brand new home and friendly garden which was named the "Joy of Life Park."

"This family contributes to the community every day and this was our chance to give back to them with whole hearts," said the host, thanking the many Israeli firms that donated appliances, tiles and lumber.

They even redid the "farbrengen corner," the barbecue area where Einav holds a weekly chassidic inspirational gathering for men. A frequent guest there is the local Shliach Rabbi Yaakov Reices who came to affix a Mezuzah on the front door.

The mezuza was shaped as the middle column and entrance of the 770 building. "Shehecheyanu Vekiyimanu vahigiyanu," the father blessed with a wide smile, and tears in his wife and children's eyes.

The Israeli version of the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" reality television series has recently featured the house of Einav and Anat Vaspi, residents of the rural settlement Yesud HaMa'ala in Northern Israel.

Creators of the show, which provides home improvements for families that faced some sort of recent or ongoing hardship, were touched by the story of the Lubavitch couple and their 4 daughters.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Is She Right?

Frimet Goldbeger - Photo credit: Forward
I have to say… Frimet Goldberger, a formerly Chasidic (Satmar) but still Orthodox woman  is very hard to disagree with. From the Forward:

As an Orthodox woman, I understand the unique challenges men, especially Orthodox men, face daily in controlling their beastly sexual impulses. I understand because I live with a man. An Orthodox man.
Men, before you get all riled up about my sexist statement, allow me to explain. In a recent article, blogger PopChassid addresses this issue.

“Dear women,” he writes, “I have a request…I would like to ask you to dress modestly…I’ve come to accept something about myself. That inside of me is something dark. Something disturbing. It’s the evil, conniving side of me…It’s what I call my friggin’ bastard within…It’s the side of me that turns people into objects. Especially women… I need to work not to objectify you no matter what. Even if you’re dressed in a bikini or even, for some reason, running around naked. But here’s the thing: just like anything in my life, whether it’s not gossiping or getting angry or anything else — I screw up. I screw up a lot. That’s who I am, that’s who (I’m guessing) you are, and that’s who everyone else. I’m a screwup. It’s my natural state of existence.”

To this I say, Amen, screwup. Women are objectified by friggin’ bastards, all the time. And men have to deal with this, all the time.

That is simply not fair.

You see, as someone who disposed of many of the stringent Hasidic modesty rules, I can attest to the fact that immodest women are objects. In fact, I am constantly objectified by many disturbing, dark, and evil men. For instance, when I dress in a bikini and run around naked (which happens all the time), men need to work that much harder to control their urges.

But, here’s the thing: just like anything in my life — whether it’s not flashing my next door neighbor, or putting on clothing in the morning, or anything else — I screw up. I screw up a lot. It’s my natural state of existence, and I can’t help it.

Before you write me off as a joke, hear me out. I have a suggestion to you, Popper (can I call you that?), and to all struggling bastardly men out there:

Take your request a step further. Demand that women all over (that includes you, Pamela Anderson!) dress according to the tznius standards of the queens of modesty — Satmar women.

The attire for Satmar women is consciously designed with evil men in mind. Women wear long-sleeved refrigerator boxes, short wigs or shpitzels (synthetic hair rolled up into a sausage-shaped accessory, usually worn underneath a scarf, so that only one round inch shows), and bulletproof stockings — which acquired their name from the famous and heroic story of the late Satmar Rebbe, Yoel Teitelbaum, who, in order to ascertain the thickness of his signature stockings, had his gabbai shoot through them with a Glock 22, while he wore them on his legs.

What are the benefits of dressing like Satmar women, you may ask. Well, as a former Satmar, I can assure you they are numerous. No Satmar man ever struggles with impure thoughts; he never has to see a pair of elbows that isn’t his wife’s; he also never has weird things happening you know where because of a woman, unless it is in his bedroom — with his wife.

They are the true bas yisroels — the pious gatekeepers of Hashem’s Torah, his children, heck, even his world.

But, I know, this may not be possible for everyone. So — my other suggestion to you is to advocate for modesty standards that comply with those of the so-called ‘Hot Chanis’. One commenter suggested they are as immodest as shiksas. That is false. In fact, men all over prefer tight skirts over pants and $3,000 styled-to-perfection wigs over temperamental hair. ‘Sheitle Hookers’ are perhaps not as modest as Satmar women, but they certainly dress for their husbands and not for other beastly men. I have spoken to some of them and they are completely befuddled by the assertion that they are trying to reel in other men.

PopChassid, as a formerly-Satmar and currently naked Orthodox woman, I ask that you please consider my suggestion. I honestly believe you will be doing women, and especially the women close to you, a great service if you do.