By Shaindle Schmuckler | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s funny how the man in the moon can morph into the blue moon, harvest moon, fire orange moon. Ever visited a classroom the day after a full moon? Or taken a major exam the day after? Superstitions abound with the powers of the moon.
When I was a young teen, my Mama (grandma z”l) gave me strict orders never to look directly at the moon. Looking at the moon would cause a lifetime of strife (shvereh yoren). So, needless to say, I would deliberately check the moon every night. I was young and invincible!
I still check the moon every night.
When I was growing up and eager to please the grown-ups, I listened carefully to their words of wisdom. Most of these wisdoms traveled from Europe to America. We were commanded not to question these words. May we only live and be well biz ah hundert un tvantsick (to 120 years of age).
And now, dear reader, a blessing on your head as I share the following:
Never open an umbrella in the house (or it will rain at your wedding).
Do not step over people, especially children. You MUST walk back over them, or they will stop growing. My mom, who just about cleared 5 feet and her baby sister, who did not clear 4-11, had plenty of reasons to believe this to be true. Mom was a diligent enforcer of this one, for which my sisters and I are grateful; we grew beyond the 5-foot mark.
I loved to sew and knit. I had to remember: Never mend clothes while someone is wearing them. If it can’t be avoided, the person you are putting in harm’s way MUST chew on a string!
Never place shoes on a dresser or a table; you will become an invalid. Who in her right mind would put shoes on a dresser or table?
Never say “Wear them well” to someone with new shoes; you must say “Tear them well,” which indicates the ability to walk on both legs.
Don’t put a hat on a bed; you could cause a death. Please do not try this at home.
I love green olives. I admit it. I love them in my egg-white omelet with mushrooms, red onions, a little mustard and spinach. Never eat one lone olive; you must eat two, three or more. A single olive is consumed only during the meal after a funeral.
For good luck, marry on a Monday or a Thursday; if it is raining on your wedding day, even better. (For whom? Certainly not the bride, who bought a new dress and shoes and had her hair and makeup done.) I married on a Saturday night; we survived this act of rebellion.
When you move into a new home, you must have a broom, salt, sugar and a loaf of bread. Move on a Monday or Thursday. The best luck will come if it is raining the day you move.
You must have a mezuzah with a kosher klaff on every door except the bathroom. I suggest you also have lots of string in case of an emergency, such as your hem coming down while you hang a mezuzah.
When I became pregnant, I was forbidden to share the good news to avoid an eyen harah (evil eye). When I did reveal my good news, I was stunned when my mom and mother-in-law did not say mazel tov. They invoked b’sha’ah tovah (in good time).
My father was a Kohen. My sisters and I are Kohenettes. We may not go to a cemetery, and for certain can’t walk on the soil. I bet you can guess the next one: A pregnant woman is not even to go near a cemetery.
One day I received a box from my mom. I was certain I would find a sweet baby gift inside. Instead, I found two prayers written in Hebrew and placed in old frames. I waited until after 8 p.m., when the phone rates went down, to call my mom. She explained that the prayers must be hung over the baby’s bed to ensure the evil eye never reaches the baby.
Other tricks to keep the evil eye away: Do not hold a baby shower; never set up the nursery until the baby is born; do not give the baby a name before birth.
Mama had a baby boy who died shortly after birth. The baby had been given a name. When she became pregnant again, it was decided the baby would be called Alte (old one) if it was a girl or Zaide (grandpa) if it was a boy, fooling the gods into thinking the baby was an old man or woman. Hence, my Uncle Jack (z”l) was called Zaidel all his life.
Back to the framed prayers.
My first girl, Raina, slept peacefully, with the prayers protecting her from the evil eye. When my in-laws came to visit, my mother-in-law saw the two prayers and laughed. “What are these?” she asked between giggles.
“Prayers to ward off evil,” I said. “My mother sent them to me with instructions to hang them above the crib.”
What narishkeit (nonsense). “The essence of each is the same,” she said, smiling. “However, blue is for a boy; the red one is for a girl. You don’t hang them both. It will confuse the angels who watch over newborn babies.”
Oy, what an auspicious start for my journey into motherhood.