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Chassidic Dad Blog

Got Milk?

May 28, 2013 3:06 PM
"Regular" milk and almond milk.
"Regular" milk and almond milk.

When I was little, milk was pretty simple. It came in a carton, and there was always some of it in the fridge. At some point in the late ’80s, we changed to big plastic gallon-sized jugs. But the milk stayed the same. Following the highest standard of Jewish law, all of our milk came from a special farm where the milking was overseen by a Jew, thus ensuring that it contained 100% cow’s milk and nothing else. This special Jewish milk, called chalav Yisrael, was (and still is) more expensive than the ordinary stuff. But we never dreamed of having anything else.

Fast forward 20 years. My kids also enjoy milk in their cereal (and out of their cereal, it seems). But they have choices. In addition to regular milk, we have soy milk and almond milk, which Y won’t touch, but R and A like very much.

Besides for costing much less than chalav Yisrael milk, these alternative milks have another benefit:

Jewish law dictates that we do not eat milk and meat together. In fact, after a meat meal, we wait six hours before eating or drinking dairy. Now, obviously, you cannot expect a little baby to wait six hours before having a bottle. But by the time the kids are a bit older, we teach them to wait. This means that after having hamburgers for supper, R will gladly enjoy a glass of almond milk before saying bedtime Shema, but Y gets just water.

This past Friday (before Shabbat), I tucked Y into his bed and closed the door.


“Yes.” I poke my head into the room.

“I want a drink.”

“Okay, I will bring you water.”

“I want milk.”

“But you just had cholent!” I reply, referring to the Sabbath meat-bean-potato-and-whatever-else stew, which the kids also eat on Friday afternoons.

“So I will have almond milk.”

“But you never liked almond milk.”

“Now I do. Please bring me almond milk.”

A moment later I return with a disposable cup with an inch of almond milk. “Here is your milk. Enjoy.”

“I changed my mind,” he replies without looking.


Grape Juice in Bed

May 12, 2013
In anticipation of the summer, I installed the thickest blinds that Walmart has to offer. So far, they are up at 6:30 a.m. regardless.
In anticipation of the summer, I installed the thickest blinds that Walmart has to offer. So far, they are up at 6:30 a.m. regardless.

As you may recall, we have been putting the kids to bed early on Friday afternoon before Shabbat, and then having a quiet Shabbat meal after they are asleep. So far, things have been pretty smooth. We had Friday night down pat.

But then came Saturday night. The issue here is that while you can bring Shabbat in early (starting from the time known as plag haminchah), you cannot usher it out early. Thus, while our kids have their own early Shabbat on Friday afternoon, they were missing the havdalah ceremony, which separates the holiness of Shabbat from the week ahead. (Since my oldest is four, and small children are not yet obligated to do the mitzvahs, and whatever they do is primarily training for adulthood, we made the executive decision that they would take a break from havdalah training until the fall.)

Two weeks ago, around two o’clock early Sunday morning, Y was crying in his bed. I groggily came to see what he needed. He asked for milk. I stumbled over to the kitchen, sloshed some milk into a cup and brought it over to his bedside.

He was still crying. “I missed havdalah. I want havdalah,” sobbed my heartbroken son.

“It’s okay, Y,” I replied. “The halachah (law) is that you can make havdalah on many liquids—including milk. Here, hold your cup of milk and say with me.” Together we said the blessing over milk and the havdalah. Satisfied, Y drifted back to sleep, and I drifted back to bed.

Fast forward one week. Saturday night. We finally finished sweeping, washing and putting away. We were just about ready for bed, when . . . “I wanted to wake up for havdalah!”

Armed with a cup of milk, I entered the room. “No, I want to do it the way you do. I want grape juice in a becher,” he said, using the Yiddish term for the silver goblets we use for kiddush, havdalah and the Seder night.

So there we sat, the two of us, he holding a cup of grape juice and I holding his hand, chanting the words together.

That was last week. It is Friday morning, and if past performance is any indicator, he will wake up for havdalah once again. I am telling you in advance, if he asks for a candle in bed, read my lips: the answer is a resounding “no.”

This is a blog about life with my wife and three children, who will, with G‑d’s help, grow up and probably be embarrassed by what I write.

As of spring 2013, Y is a thoughtful four-year-old who loves books and learning things. R is one year younger and full of energy. A is a sweet little girl who loves her red shoes. T is their ever-capable and loving mother, and I am their dad.
Menachem PosnerRabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor at Chabad.org, the world’s largest Jewish informational website. He has been writing, researching, and editing for Chabad.org since 2006, when he received his rabbinic degree from Central Yeshiva Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch. He resides in Chicago, Ill., with his family.
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