June 13, 2024
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June 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Welcome back to “How Should I Know?”—the column that attempts to answer age-old questions such as:

Dear Mordechai,

Why do some shuls give gelilah to kids?

– JP

Dear J,

That’s a great question. It’s the only kibud that requires any kind of height, yet we give it to the shortest kid, who reaches up blindly and basically always fails to get the mantel onto at least one of the atzei chaim. Then he lifts up the mantel again, gets it on, and the other eitz chaim comes out. And this is after he tries to put the entire mantel on backwards.

Bear in mind that this is a kid who’s never dressed a squirming toddler.

Sure, there are ways to handle the height thing. For example, if it’s a really short kid, you can quickly give the magbia a shorter chair, if you want to see a momentary expression of panic on his face.

So I’m not sure of the real reason they let kids have gelilah, but I have some guesses, besides for the obvious chinuch reasons. I think it’s possible that they do this because this is the one point of leining when two people come up to the bimah at once, and they don’t want anyone to not be sure which one of them is supposed to be getting hagbah and which is getting gelilah.

But the main reason, I think, is that this way there can be other adults standing right there, ostensibly to help the boy do gelilah and to raise the klaf with their taleisim, of course, but actually also ready to grab the Torah if the magbia isn’t strong enough or his back suddenly goes out. The sheer number of people standing up there, ready to pounce, is kind of embarrassing, but don’t worry—they’re there for the kid. Maybe with enough people crowded around him, he won’t put on the mantel without putting on the belt this time.

Dear Mordechai,

What are you supposed to do when your big brother smokes and you can’t stand the smell?

– L.M., London

Dear L.,

Smoking is a filthy, dangerous habit undertaken mainly by people who want to look cool to the small fraction of the world that does it, too, while repulsing literally everyone else. But that small fraction is the people they want to impress.

“Look! I, too, have a stick in my mouth, and that stick is on fire! Let’s be friends.”

Or maybe it’s not about looking (or smelling) cool. Maybe they’re people whose method of handling the stresses that life throws their way is by taking constant breaks, and then coming back smelling like either a tire fire or way too much cologne. Who am I to judge? Some people handle stress by overeating, and others handle it by smoking. Both are not healthy!

That said, I’ve never heard of anyone dying from second-hand eating.

My point is that this entire question is therefore lashon hara, and I’m not mekabel that your brother does it. I do not believe you. As far as I’m concerned, your brother does not smoke.

That said, there is a fire awfully close to his face, for some reason, and it’s your duty, as his brother, to put it out, using whatever means you have at hand—a fire hose, a cup of soda, a bottle of ketchup—even at great personal risk to yourself.

What’s he going to do—tell your parents? He can’t do that without announcing what he himself was doing.

Your other option is to fight fire with fire (metaphorically), and try to develop an aroma of your own that he can’t stand. Stop changing your socks. Start overusing his cologne. Develop a love for flavored herrings. And when he confronts you about it, say that you’re just trying to block his smell. Worst-case scenario, he’ll escalate the situation and come in with other smells that will further block his original smell, forcing you to come in with still other smells, and eventually your parents will have to step in or else the next time he lights up, the house will explode.

Have a question for “How Should I Know?” I am not surprised.

By Mordechai Schmutter


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