Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Quality Of Your Kugel

I had seen a copy of Binah Magazine lying around and had been curious about it so I asked Ma for a copy of it. This is an old issue and I haven't read the most recent issue yet, but let me just say that if the woman in this story marries this man, I think I will scream in frustrated rage.

This is an excerpt from Chapter 26 of "Pass Or Fail" by Sara Wiederblank as published in Volume 4, No. 195 on August 9, 2010.

"I'm sure you do. But I really want to hear your answer to my question."

"What girls do in school? They learn, they have discussions, they socialize, they have activities...I'm not really sure what you're asking."

"The thing is, shouldn't they be doing more home economics and cooking, and less of the heavy-duty inside-a-sefer type of stuff?"

Bracha gave him a look. "Oh, not you now," she said.

"What did I say?" he asked plaintively.

"I'm surprised at you," she said reprovingly. "I expect- and I get- that question from my struggling students and their parents. But you, someone who learns in yeshivah- do you really think the quality of your kugel is more important than your wife's knowledge of Torah?"

Eliezer thought a minute. "I'll be honest with you- lots of guys, like myself, care about how good the food is, but don't care very much about how much their wife knows about the Ramban's wife of hashgachah pratis. Do you think we're wrong?"

"How can I say you're wrong if that's how you feel? But I do think it's shallow. If a boy is going to be learning- even if he's not- and he's going to have children, who are going to need to be raised in the proper path- the best cook in the world won't do as good a job supporting him and raising them if she doesn't have a deeper understanding of how to be a good Jew. At least that's my opinion."

Eliezer smiled. "Mine too. In fact- if a girl is going to be supporting someone in learning- shouldn't she make her career plans accordingly? To show that it really matters to her?"

Bracha straightened up. "Are you referring to me?"

"I guess so," he shrugged. "It has crossed my mind to be concerned about the financial aspect of things. Since I am planning on learning for a while, you know."

"I have quite a tidy sum saved up from my time in accounting," Bracha told him tightly. "And I can return to that field at any time. I am extremely committed to keeping a husband in learning."

He had the good grace to look chagrined. "I must apologize," he said. "That was very rude of me- grilling you on your financial status. I didn't mean for it to come out exactly like it did. I just have been wondering what your plans were, and it came out poorly. I have no doubt you're committed. It just seems strange- leaving a great job like you had for teaching."

"I do draw a salary here too, you know," Bracha informed him, not quite ready to forgive and forget.

He laughed uproariously. "You call that pittance a salary?" he asked, reminding Bracha that he was familiar with the field- intimately so.

When he saw the look on her face, though, he broke off laughing immediately.

"I'm sorry. You'll think I have no idealism. I do, really. It's just that...I'm also a pretty practical guy. That's all. Now, this conversation is not heading exactly where I wanted it to head. The thing is..." he leaned forward.

"We're getting to a point, well, where we know...think seriously about what we're up to."


This piece infuriates me; it brings back all the reasons that I hate Bais Yaakov. Assumptions in this piece:

1. Girls' learning isn't important. They should just learn how to cook.

2. Rather than telling the man he is a COMPLETE IDIOT for saying that the quality of his kugel matters more than his wife's mind, the woman replies with the meek, "How can I say you're wrong if that's how you feel?" Let me tell you something! I, Chana, have no problem telling such a man that he is wrong and he's also a bleeping idiot and he can go to hell. At least, thank the Almighty God, Bracha tells him it's shallow.

3. This is just a critique of the story- one second Eliezer is saying that he thinks the quality of his kugel is more important than his wife's mind. All of a sudden, after a one-paragraph speech by her, he agrees with her opinion? What's up with that?

4. The avaricious entitlement of the Kollel approach, as demonstrated by the fact that he thinks it's fine to basically insinuate that this woman should leave her job teaching and go back to accounting simply because that way she'll be able to support their (assuming she marries him) prospective family better.

5. His insulting her ideals- "you call that pittance a salary?"

This man is a jerk and if this Bracha person ends up marrying him in the story I am going to scream. So someone who has read the rest of the piece, tell me, do I need to have a rage-fest or not?

Incidentally, the reason this bothers me so much is because all the impressionable young frum girls read this magazine and if the man ends up marrying the woman, they are going to come away with the impression that all the points I mentioned above (that girls should just learn to cook and make top-tier kugel and should get jobs that make more money so they can support their kollel-learning husbands) are correct and they should model themselves after this girl. Which is completely and utterly wrong and infuriating and I hate stupid men with their idiotic desire to have robotic Stepford Wives instead of people who actually think.


tent-peg wielder said...

Don't worry yet. Certainly the flying lokshen kugel eater-learner is infuriating, but the piece is satirical, and there are probably a few Beis Yaakov girls out there with the same infuriated reaction as, I have actually met the author of the story, and she is affiliated (at least in part) with YU. It seems that the point of the story is that women's and men's learning is important, Bracha will be justified in the end, and if Bracha ends up marrying the guy it will only be after he's undergone a serious transformation, like in the romantic comedies where the stiff, unloving men learn to lover or the hopeless, whiny woman learns to take control of her life and find a guy that respects her.

Michael Teitcher said...

Well said, and passionately expressed as usual Chana. I would add something about it that has always bewildered me. If the rigorous study of Torah is a real value for this guy, and is not just masquerading for a mere cultural affinity for the yeshiva world, doesn't he want a life-partner who can substantively appreciate what he invests so much time doing - i.e., a girl who is learned? And I find it hard to believe that a distant visceral appreciation of learning serves as an adequate substitute for real engagement to sufficiently serve as common ground providing the bedrock for a meaningful relationship.

nmf #7 said...

Just FYI, the latest issue of Binah happened to be by my neighbor this week, and Eliezer dumps Bracha. So there ya go.

Chana said...

NMF, thrilled to hear that, but I would have far preferred it if SHE had dumped him seeing as HE is the jerk. Alas.

tent-peg wielder said...

Don't worry, Chana, see our correspondence--Eliezer dumping Bracha is the beginning of his meeting cooks who don't know as much as Bracha does--i.e. the beginning of his transformation and forthcoming appreciation of our accountant-turned-teacher. MWAHAHA! Tent-Peg Wielder's prophecy stage 1: complete!

The Cousin said...

The male in the story is definitely a jerk (to put it politely) and the woman in the story should probably ditch the guy.

That said, I'm not familiar with the rest of the story (e.g. what proceeded it).

That said, what Jewish guy would pass on a female who is both knowledgeable and makes a good kugel?

Sisterbear said...

Oh Chana, Binah fiction stories are meant to get your goat, otherwise it wouldn't sell enough copy.