Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

Chanukah Party

I went home, as I said. I think I did have a slight temperature, because I felt more comfortable when I took off my sweater. I napped for a bit, and then decided that I needed to eat something, so I had some kosher cup of ramen. It's light and salty enough that it settles the stomach, and I was actually hungry afterwards, so I finished the bagel I'd failed to eat earlier.

Jonathan came home from shiur (he took the week off to do a "Winter Week of Learning.") early and we decided I was well enough, so we took a cab to the party. This went fairly well - I did spend more time with a book he'd given me (great excuse, you know?) then socializing, and the food was semi-questionable, but I ate what I could trust. This part of his family, while strict on fleishigs if they keep kosher at all, eat non-kosher cheese. In fact, there were big lumps of cheese and crackers set out - lovely looking gruyere and cheddars. Too nice looking to possibly be kosher. *Sigh*.

The kids all loved our gifts (well, baby Ellie liked the wrapping paper more, but at fifteen months, what do you expect?) and my mother-in-law liked hers - I got her Le Crueset silicon spatulas. I actually got her two sets - I gave her the blue ones yesterday and she'll get the red ones next Sunday. (Folks, these are the most useful spatulas ever. I've had mine for over ten years now, and I use them to stirfry and saute and to make roux.) If she wants to hang them up, my father-in-law can easily drill holes in the wooden handles.

The party itself was somewhat subdued - several people were out of town because it was so late this year and they wanted to be in their winter home in Arizona, plus everyone was feeling sad because we'd just lost someone we'd all loved. My husband gave me a treif cookbook in her memory. (Rich Bayless's Everyday Mexican as it happens. Pure chance - Jonathan doesn't know from chefs.)

But there was also the reminder of good things - there is a baby due any day now, so there's possibly a bris in the future (they do not know what the sex is.) and there's certainly a celebration.

The only thing, besides the absences, that marred things for me was the candlelighting. Our hostess, who certainly should know better, had the three little boys do the lighting. Yes, this is adorable and they enjoyed it, *but*. They were all under bar mitzvah.

This comes under the idea of being "yotzei" on someone else. There are certain mitzvot that can be performed by one person on behalf of another - making kiddush on Shabbat or yom tov, or havdalah. Lighting Chanukah candles is one of them, so the group candlelighting we do at this party is fine halachically. However, and this is the kicker - the person performing the mitzvah must be of an equal or greater level of obligation.

Children under bar or bat mitzvah are NOT under any level of obligation at all. They should light (under adult supervision and with adult help) because it's fun and because it's important for education, so that when they reach twelve or thirteen they can do it with ease, but they are not required to do so.

So here was this big bunch of people, all singing the blessing together and assuming that they are no longer obligated to light. This produces two problems - 1. many of them might have lit at home except that they assumed it was now taken care of (granted, many would not have lit at all, so that doesn't make a difference) and 2. All of them said a blessing in vain, which is a problem all by itself. (I simply abstained, which no one noticed.) I did quietly tell my mother-in-law to light again when she got home, and why. The other Orthodox family presumably knew better, and didn't want to keep their son from taking part.

If the hostess weren't who she was, I'd have shrugged this off as ignorance, but she *isn't*. She was educated in day schools, and runs a synagogue. She's very serious about Judaism. She should have known better. (I don't know why she simply didn't set up another menorah, as she had a nice collection, and let the kids light one and adults light the other.) There was no point in making a fuss, so I didn't.

We lit when we got home,which wasn't much later than we'd have normally lit anyway. We just used the candle chanukiah because, honestly, it's easier to set up, and I was yotzei on Jonathan because we have an equal level of obligation.

I'm at work now - it's not as dead as it was. I'm feeling eh, but better than yesterday. As there were no phone messages, I'm assuming that no one called anyway.

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