I'm happy, sitting by the window, typing away. A little face peers into mine, mouths words I can't hear. I pull the headphones from my ears, and Matisyahu stops pounding.
"I want to sit here." She points at the seat next to mine. I look across the aisle, at where she'd been sitting quite comfortably with her sister. The older girl still sitting there looks back at me, and shrugs. I pull the purse and coat into my lap, clear the space for the little girl. She clambers into it, settles in. I slide the headphones back in, wake my IPod up from sleep mode. The girl climbs off her new seat, disappears into the back of the bus, comes back a moment later with two activity books.
"This one's mine, and this one's my sister's." She shows them to me proudly.
I turn off the music again. Someone has obviously decided she's my new friend.
She opens the books. Shows me which pictures she's colored in. I admire them. I offer her a pen, so she can do another puzzle. She pulls a line through a maze, looking up at me, for approval, every few minutes.
"Wow. You're so smart." I actually love little kids. Babies are quite boring, (sshhh, don’t tell anyone I said so), but once they begin to talk, they become fun. "You're drawing like such a big girl! How old are you?"
"I'm six." She says. She's called Rivky. She learns in the Gur school. I tell her that I have a niece her age, also in Kitah Aleph. She's disappointed to hear my niece go to a different school.
Then I notice Rivky's big sister, standing in the aisle. "What's your name?" she asks me. The questions carry on. "How many kids do you have?"
"Oh, I'm not married." I pull at my hair, show where it's connected to my scalp. People have been thinking I'm married all evening, I'm used to it by now. I've given up explaining that this afternoon, before the engagement party, I just stepped out of the shower and let my hair dry the way it is. That it's the Shaitels Machers fault for copying my messy look this year.
The "big" sister (She's already ten and a half, she's in fourth grade) goes back to her mother. Then she comes back again.
"Where do you live? How old are you? What Chassidut are you?"
Finally she comes out with it. "My mother asks if you want to marry a Gur Chassid?"
I gulp. Try not to laugh. "Oh. Well I'm not Chasidic you see, so I don't think I'll marry someone Chsasidic. But tell her I say thank you anyway."
At first I'm flattered. I resolve to sit next to a Litvish first grader next time. Who knows where that could lead? Maybe she'll have a big brother? An uncle would do too. Maybe this is why Chareidi girls aren't allowed to drive?
Then I remember that Gur has a Shidduch Crisis going on too, just like we have. Only it's a reverse Shidduch Crisis. There are too many single boys, looking for wives.
You see, not many girls want to marry into the Gur Chassidut. Not even the Gur Girls themselves. They often look for husbands who belong to other Chassiduts.
The reason? Gur has a lot of rules, a whole lot of rules, about marriage. There are the rules on exactly how it's permitable to have marital relations. You know those recommendations in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch? Well by them that's law. Along with a lot of other restrictions. Like they aren't allowed to sleep in the same bed together. Ever. But I won't go into them all here, it being a Frum blog and all.
There are other restrictions too, not only for the bedroom. One that I heard is that a husband isn't allowed to call his wife by her first name.
So now Gur is looking for wives for their boys. Women willing to take on the all the restrictions. And they are having a hard time finding them.
Which leads me to my brilliant idea. A solution to both Shidduch crises. Let's marry our girls to their boys! If a girl in NY is feeling desparate, ship her over here, to the local Gur community! Simple, yet brilliant. I wonder why nobody else has thought of it yet.
1 week ago