May 21, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 21, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Welcome back to “How Should I Know?”—the column to go to when your father says, “Ask Mommy,” and your mother says, “Ask Tatty.” That way, when they ask, “Who gave you permission to do this?” you can say, “How Should I Know?”

Dear Mordechai,

Why does my father always say that cholent is Gan Eden, yet an hour later he has a stomach ache? He has this same routine every week.

D.Y.

Dear D.,

Cholent actually is Gan Eden. Unfortunately, though, you’re eating it in olam hazeh. Every bit of Gan Eden you experience in this world takes a little bit of schar off of your total, so you have to go through a little bit of Gehinnom afterward to balance things out. I don’t know much about the actual Gan Eden, but I picture that eating cholent there will have no ill effects. (I dream pretty small.)

But in this world, there has to be a balance. That’s why delicious foods, such as Slurpees, are usually not that good for you, while not-so-good foods, such as kale, are awesome for you. Kale is especially good for you, because not only does it not taste that great, but if you want to eat it you have to check it for bugs first. You don’t have to check Slurpees for bugs.

And literally everything in life is better if you’re holding a bowl of cholent in front of you—from schmoozing to learning to Shabbos walks to running on treadmills to swimming to waiting for your wife to come out of the dressing room to business meetings to dental appointments to annual doctor checkups to jury duty to the hospital’s delivery room. It’s the Shabbat version of coffee! Except that unlike coffee, you very rarely hear anyone say, “Whoa, I think you’ve had way too much cholent!” Though people do say it about themselves.

Dear Mordechai,

When is the best time to learn with my kids over these short winter Shabbatot?

Y.D.

Dear Y.,

I assume you already know about Friday night. But Friday nights are crazy enough, because you want to relax and play a game with the kids and schmooze with your guests and take a walk with your wife and fall asleep in front of a sefer and maybe hit a shalom zachor, and you’re already pushing it on how many things you can cram into one Friday night and still call it “relaxed” without fitting in time to learn with each kid individually. Sure, you can come up with one sefer that you can learn with everyone at once, but every time I mention to a rabbi that my kids get excited about learning things they don’t even learn in school, he says, “They should really be learning what we’re learning.” Like there’s a halacha.

Motzei Shabbatot are long too, though it’s not so easy to sit down with a sefer, with everything that’s going on at home. So a lot of neighborhoods have something called “father-son learning,” in which you can bring your sons—or your father (I usually bring my sons)—and learn with more than one kid at a time on the same side of the table as quick as you can before the arbitrary time that someone gets up and starts telling a story, which is 100% not why you’re there, at which point you have to stop the learning, wherever you’re up to, and be quiet for 15 minutes, after which someone raffles off some prizes from Amazing Savings and then all the kids race over to grab some nosh and a can of caffeinated sugar, and then the entire place packs out, even though you still have more to learn, according to that sheet you have to sign.

You’d think it would be easier to learn at home and not have to find parking or learn in a rush, and you can just give your kids nosh and raffle off something from Amazing Savings (though somehow, in my family, no one would win) and then your wife can interrupt you with a long story. But it’s hard to learn at home on Motzei Shabbat.

So what I usually do is daven Hashkama, and then I learn with my kids for the rest of the morning until my wife gets home from the late minyan. Because for some reason, even though the afternoon is shorter in the winter, the morning somehow is not. I don’t know the science of how that works.

Have a question for “How Should I Know?” You have to wake up pretty early in the morning.


Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published seven books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles