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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
On siyyum and gender roles and doilies and meat

Last night, a friend of mine (the same one who thought we were vegetarians) had his siyyum - he finished a tractate of Mishnah in honor of his mother's sheloshim - 30th day since her death. May her neshama have an aliyah. (May her soul ascend to Heaven.)

He probably would have done this anyway, as he is a scholar, but as it happens it's the Nine Days and the siyyum means he can serve meat.

I arrived there at the dot of 8:30, which is pretty amazing for me.

And he's in not quite panic mode, getting the food and such all out and arranged, while trying to find time to finish the learning. First thing I did, just like most of the few other women, was to ask how I could help. He's not stupid. Next thing I knew, I was arranging plasticware, and then dishing macaroni salad (to which he had me crumble macaroons. I didn't ask, and I didn't taste.) and lining his mother's oven with foil and cutting kugels and...well. Other women were making iced tea and cutting vegetables for salads.

Okay, not all the women were helping, but there were far more men around, and things may have been done without me seeing and so I couldn't testify, but they were sitting in the living room staying out of the way. Given the cramped circumstances, a wise move. No, he's not married. He's suffering the fate of a kohain who has waited too long - most of the women his age are married or divorced, and he's not permitted to marry a divorced women. He could marry a widow, but those are also scarce.

Thing of it is, I couldn't not help. And Mark needed it the way his not-quite-panic became full-on-panic. Although another friend and I were amused over his obsession with paper doilies - there had to be doilies under the cakes and the cut-up kugels. I don't even think about doilies.

The siyyum went well enough, given his last minute cramming, and we did attack the cold cuts and the chicken, of which he still had substantial leftovers.

It's funny. It was only Tuesday. Everyone who ate meat had it on Shabbat; they will have it again this Shabbat. It's entirely possible that, even without intending it, they've spent whole weeks without meat in the past without caring. But you couldn't tell. Our rabbi, who is not a vegetarian, but isn't overly fond of fleish, watched with amusement.

Jonathan came in just as Mark was saying the kaddish that marks the end of the siyyum, but Mark had already found reasons why just attending the event would make it permissible for Jonathan to eat meat. There was barely a minyan for the ma'ariv that we had before dessert, though. People had to leave.


Yes, what justifies eating meat is not hearing the siyyum, but attending the party celebrating the siyyum. Just as, if you attend a bris this week you may eat meat, even if you didn't directly participate in the actual surgery. The only restriction I'm aware of is that you have to have some real connection to the people who are celebrating the siyyum or bris or whatever it is, so that you would have come to celebrate with them even if it wasn't happening this week, or even if they had decided not to serve meat. You can't come just for the meat (or rather, if you do, you can't have any).

"dishing macaroni salad (to which he had me crumble macaroons. I didn't ask, and I didn't taste.)"

Gross. Maybe his mother did this?

How old is he? I have an acquaintance in Baltimore who is kohain eligible--very nice lady...I set her up with a guy from Teaneck but he was too modern for her tastes.

He's in his late forties or fifties, I believe.

I have to say that I feel awkward fixing anyone up. In this case, Mark's probably too modern for her, too. He's a fan.

Yeah too modern for her, and I don't make it a habit of playing shadchan either. I saw her mother recently and she pressed me for names.