It’s that time of year again, when a third of your e-mail and text messages is devoted to Sefirah reminders. Now, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the reminders. But somewhere in between the 11th and 22nd one, I begin to wonder whether the Jewish community has lost faith in my ability to remember. And it’s not just Sefirah. A Jewish novelist once wrote, “Jews have six senses: touch, taste, sight, smell, hearing… and memory.” Lately, it seems the only way we’ll remember anything is through e-mail and text. So here are my top-five picks for reminder notifications.
Confession: I am the Cal Ripken Jr. of missing Sefirah. When it comes to consistency, there’s nothing I’m as consistent about in my avodas Hashem as messing up the Sefirah count. The night that always gets me? You guessed — the first night. I leave Maariv early, and it haunts me for the next 49 days. Of course, I am a man of pride, so during subsequent nights in shul when they’re making the brachah, I move my lips and garble out some noise so no one discovers my delinquency. The worst, however, is when someone turns to me and asks, “Was last night 16 or 17?” and I have 100 percent certifiably no idea. I just answer, “yes,” hoping one of his guesses is correct. But the ultimate pain for someone who misses the count every single year is being reminded of the errors of your ways several times a day. Every yeshivah e-mail, every meaningful minute, every Sefirah count app is just another reminder, to paraphrase Abba Eban, that I never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. So going forward, to avoid embarrassment, if I’m ever asked what count we’re up to, I’m just going to respond with confidence with the day of the week and walk away. “Last night was Thursday.”
ALERT! Thanks to a group of generous matchers, every dollar you give in the next 24 hours is worth $10,000. And thanks to the intensity of this campaign, we’re also matching every reminder and phone call you need. Needed only one e-mail reminder? With our generous matching program, you will also get ONE THOUSAND e-mails in the next 24 hours. And that’s not all! Need only one phone call to donate? Expect 11 phone calls from people you vaguely remember and will gladly give to in order to avoid small talk with them. “Oh, yes, hi Shlomo — so happy you called, I also look back fondly on my days in high school 20 years ago, but — bad news — I already gave, can we catch up another time?” Next time a mosad issues a high-alert matching-funds campaign, they should offer an incentive that if they reach the goal early, they’ll stop calling. That’s a bonus round I would gladly contribute
It’s always hard to remember when you need an eiruv tavshilin and what exactly you’re supposed to do. It is kind of like the tongue twister of halachah. Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore. Eiruv tavshilin consists of a cooked and baked item that allow you to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos — but say it three times fast and you start slurring what it’s about. Eiruv tavshilin lets you cook on Shabbos, but you need to give someone shalach manos? That can’t be right. Well, I know there are two foods involved, maybe we’re supposed to give them to the needy? That’s why those eiruv tavshilin reminders that your shul undoubtedly sends are so handy. But if it were up to me, aside from eiruv tavshilin, there should be a reminder going in to a three-day Yom Tov to take deep breaths and pretend you’re happy that you’re at your spouse’s family for this Yom Tov marathon.
For most of Jewish history, segulos were transmitted quietly from teacher to student throughout the generations. Now most segulos come from e-mail listservs you feel too guilty to unsubscribe from. As one rav put it, “If I had a dollar for every e-mail I will get today reminding me to say parshas hamahn, I wouldn’t need a segulah for parnassah.” And nothing indicates the sincerity of the segulah like when it’s sponsored. “This reminder to say parshas hamahn was sponsored by Bnei Yeshivos.” Or even better, “This reminder was sponsored by Mortgage Associates — when your segulah is realized, be sure to visit our offices.” Maybe it’s time we found a segulah for getting less e-mails?
End of Year
Dear executive director from every mosad I’ve ever given money to, thank you so much for your concern about my year-end tax donations. How thoughtful that you were worried I would miss out on qualifying for those precious year-end tax deductions. You guys — you really shouldn’t have! And who on earth told you that my number-one financial issue is remembering to give away enough money on time. I mean, honestly, when you have as much of it as I do, I might need even more reminders. So, from the bottom of my heart and bank account, I appreciate your selfless care for my tax efficiency, and please, if possible, have someone get back to me about those 40 percent off at Banana Republic coupons I wanted to donate. It only works for select styles, but it would be great if I can get the tax write-off.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 760)
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