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Ask Shifra

Something Different... Answering questions and making curious observations (online) since 2005.


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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Questions I've been avoiding Part 2

It's a little known fact that only about one out of every ten "Ask Shifra" questions I receive at shifraq@gmail.com get answered here on the blog.

There is a method to my madness:
Most often the question's author asks me to not answer the question online because it is too personal, too revealing, or because I already know who they are (at least online.)

The second most common reason is that I don't feel equipped to answer the question. I do respond to all my non-spam email (eventually) but some topics are just over my head.

Gerus (or conversion to Judaism) is one of those topics. I get a lot of questions on that topic but I consider it out of my depth. It is difficult for me to get my mind around the idea of leaving everything you know and immersing yourself into a totally foreign lifestyle. It's difficult for me to give advice because my instinct is always to tell the writer NOT to do it - and that might be pretty hard to hear once a person has made a decision that this is what he/she really wants to do and is just looking for some support.

Another question I can't answer is "Should I break up with my girlfriend/boyfriend?"
As detailed as your email might be there are two sides to every story - I don't know you and I don't know your significant other so it's really impossible for me to assess the situation fairly. That said, if you are already at the point of asking a stranger over the internet if you should break up with someone you know intimately the answer is probably yes.

Beauty tips are also not my area of expertise - no, I don't know if a buzz cut would look good on you but odds are the answer is "no" and also "are you for real?"

Oh and for the last time I will NOT be answering questions about the halachik implications of wanking. Email Gil or something. I'm not a Rav or a posek or priest who takes confession, or a 900 number.

Last are the kind of questions that are not really questions at all - just sad stories.
But if you need someone to listen that's something I can do too... Sometimes it's good to get things out in writing. It allows you to look at your life from a new angle or to release some of what you've been feeling in a constructive way.

Well now you've had a behind the scenes peek at what it's like to be "ask shifra" but don't let that stop you from sending in your questions, whether I can answer them "online" or not it's my pleasure to help out where I can.

24 Comments:

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Ezzie said...

I find it interesting to see the questions people ask of bloggers - anonymous or not.

I don't get Q's at quite the same level as you seem to, but random people - some whose blogs I know, some not, etc. - will e-mail me questions about different subjects. Other bloggers I've met with/spoken to have told me similar stories, some of them fascinating, some of them scary. I never know what to do when I'm not sure if a person is "all there", or seems depressed, etc; I'm somewhat afraid that to some anonymous person I've never met, a 'wrong' answer could push them over some edge.

For some issues, it's easy to send them over to somebody else. Other times... you just have to wing it. It's not fun.

[And now, stating the obvious...] I've always wondered what compels people to contact (of all people) a blogger with their issues. I guess it's simply the anonymity or pseudo-anonymity, combined with the ease. People read AskShifra and think, "Well, her advice is usually solid, maybe she can help me." It's probably also the fact that bloggers in general are advice/opinion-givers. If people like our typical advice/opinions and we've earned their trust/respect, they're willing to ask us Q's more than they would someone they know or someone who they'd have to pay to ask.

I remember that a couple of months ago, a commenter on this blog e-mailed me about a comment I'd made; this person ended up providing some nice, pleasant advice that was helpful to us in a series of e-mails back and forth. They had established that they knew what they were talking about, so it was worth listening to.

 
At 4:20 PM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der ┼íteg) said...

i can call a 900 number for halakhic advice? wicked!

 
At 6:20 PM, Anonymous The one who will soon become known said...

Wow... You are on a blogging roll... 3 days in a row... Keep up the good work...

 
At 6:51 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

I KNOW - don't get used to it!!!

 
At 7:51 PM, Anonymous the one who will soon become known said...

It's one of those things you just want to get used to... But as they say... good things never last...

 
At 1:10 AM, Blogger Lab Rab said...

Shifra,

Perhaps you can develop an online referral network, for those "entering Judaism" questions that aren't your particular focus area. You would have to do some legwork to find the site/people who would match your values well (somehow I don't see you and Aish.com jiving!). Meanwhile, those people would hand you the "interpersonal relationships" questions, the area in which you excel.

Oh yeah, you have a day job, right? ;)

 
At 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you should consider why they ask you about wanking. Could it be that you have this sort of vibe that makes them think you are a sexy jewish mother. I must admit to being of that opinion myself!

 
At 8:53 AM, Blogger Elie said...

...I will NOT be answering questions about the halachik implications of wanking.

You get questions like that?? Oy! And here I thought British people were so polite and reserved...

 
At 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elie, who said the person asking is British? Anyway they don't really want an ansewr it just turns them on to ask.

 
At 9:24 AM, Blogger Elie said...

I was half-kidding, but I thought that was a specifically British slang term.

 
At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I'm a nerd, but what is "wanking?"

 
At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wanking is masturbation, or shichvas/t zera, or spilling ones seed in vain. Can't ask for much more than that, lol. Can apply to women but somehow i get the feeling that wasnt what shifra was being asked about.

p.s. im the first anonymous

 
At 8:19 PM, Blogger Shifra said...

Elie - I used used the "w" word because it was the most innocuous I could think of!

Ezzie - Anonymity does create this bizzare ability for people to tell all.
I do hope though that after 15 months of having this site up I've earned my stripes as a giver of solid advice.

Lab Rab - Sounds great! If you can find a way for me to earn a reasonable salary doing it it sounds like a work-from-home dream job!
I'll start ironing my tichels now!

Anonymous - I'm flattered, thank you.

 
At 9:57 PM, Blogger Chana said...

Well. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who was going to ask that question. (Not?!)

And I think a 900 number for halachic advice is a shanda. A shanda, I say! I'm not asking for an 800 number. CYLOR!

 
At 3:26 AM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Nobody asks me nothing- said just like my great-grandmother would have said it.

 
At 2:26 PM, Blogger The Wondering Jew said...

Ezzie,

blogging allow husbands and wives to ask questions to each other from separate computers in their own home, GET HONEST ANSWERS, and not even know theyre talking to each other.

Thats when you know the shidduch was BASHERT!

 
At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

Actually, Don't you CALL 900 numbers FOR "wanking" purposes?

Don't dial the wrong number Steg.

Could it be that you have this sort of vibe that makes them think you are a sexy jewish mother.

Actually, I have a feeling all the female j-bloggers have this reputation. And talking about "wanking" only hightens that reputation.

 
At 3:29 PM, Blogger mother in israel said...

Could it be that you have this sort of vibe that makes them think you are a sexy jewish mother.

Actually, I have a feeling all the female j-bloggers have this reputation. And talking about "wanking" only hightens that reputation.


Ya think?????

 
At 8:30 AM, Blogger DTC said...

I think that we all just want to read more Chavi Kaufman stories.

Have you considered writing a book?

 
At 9:35 AM, Blogger Ezzie said...

Ezzie - Anonymity does create this bizzare ability for people to tell all.
I do hope though that after 15 months of having this site up I've earned my stripes as a giver of solid advice.


Definitely.

 
At 9:36 AM, Blogger Ezzie said...

blogging allow husbands and wives to ask questions to each other from separate computers in their own home, GET HONEST ANSWERS, and not even know theyre talking to each other.

Thats when you know the shidduch was BASHERT!


That's actually a bit scary.

 
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