By Mordechai Schmutter

Dear Mordechai,

How come the first dance at a chasunah has so much pushing involved? Why is it so crowded?


Dear R,

I don’t know. But then, I’ve never really liked the first dance. Sure, the chassan is presented “for the very first time” (even though that’s always been his name), so you want to get in to dance with him, but it’s very hard to get him to see you then anyway. First he dances with his father and father-in-law, and then his brother and brother-in-law, and then he’s trying to dance with an equal amount of people from each side so no one calls off the marriage.

Meanwhile, you’re dancing in the innermost circle, hoping to get noticed, and after about ten seconds, you realize you’re on the outer circle. How did that happen? You’re still holding hands with the same two people. Are they in some kind of conspiracy? So you go to the middle again, and ten seconds later, you’re back on the outside circle. It’s not even an outside circle — it’s you and the two guys, walking around the perimeter of the outside circle, holding hands and avoiding the stepladder.

I want to get a copy of the tapes, so I can analyze how on earth this is happening.

But I don’t care. I’m more of a second-dance man these days. I’m getting to the age where I don’t need to dance for the full hour — a couple of minutes are OK with me. And maybe if the dancing is going to be going for an hour anyway, we can all take turns so we don’t have to all be in the circle at the same time. Like maybe the people who have to get home to babysitters should get the first dance, while the father and father-in-law, who are going to be there until the end, should come last.

Generally, I dance for a few minutes and then stand off to the side. While I’m standing around, all the other people who don’t dance feel like they have to make conversation, even though that’s when the music is the loudest. So am I the only person who can’t participate in a conversation when it’s that loud, or what? It’s mostly older people, and they can’t even hear you when there’s no music. They make you lean in and talk into their ears, and there’s always cotton in there. But suddenly during the dancing they’re all talkative. There’s only a certain amount of times I can say, “What?” before I do that fake laugh and say, “Yeah,” and hope it wasn’t a question. But at some point I run out of an acceptable amount of “Ha! Yeahs,” because they keep trying to talk. So how do I get out of those conversations? I think I have to get back into the dancing circle.

Maybe that’s why so many people are dancing. I’m always like, “Why are we pushing? There’s plenty of time to dance.”

It’s because they don’t want to have to make conversation when the music is loud.

Maybe that’s also why the music is loud.

Dear Mordechai,

I’ve been cleaning under my couch cushions, and I think I found all the pens. Why are pens attracted to the inside of couches?


Dear C,

I think it has more to do with the fact that when you sit on the couch, your knees are higher than your tuchus, and your pants pockets are entirely upside down. So everything in your pockets — pens, change, phones, hard candies — are going to fall at your sides. And since you’re sitting squarely on one of the cushions, your sides are perfectly lined up with the cracks between the cushions.

So my suggestions are:

  1. Don’t sit squarely on a cushion. Sit on the crack. This might upset everyone else who wants to sit, especially when you do this on a love seat.
  2. Take off your pants before sitting on the couch. This brings a whole new set of problems, but you can solve those by using one of those couch blankets. What do you think they’re for?
  3. Before you sit on the couch, empty your pockets onto the coffee table. What do you think that’s for? Coffee? It’s a table at shin height near expensive furniture. It’s not for hot brown drinks; it’s for conversation pieces, like the contents of your pockets, and why they’re all pinkish.

But you could find worse things under your cushions. For example, there was a family on Long Island last summer who, according to a recent AP article, found a 3-foot python under the couch cushions of a tenant who had recently moved out, probably because his python got loose. This is why you’re supposed to do bedikah with a candle and a feather and a spoon. You distract the snake with the feather, hit it with the spoon, and set your couch on fire with the candle. Then you go to a hotel for Pesach.

Dear Mordechai,

Where did the expression “What am I, chopped liver?” come from? Why chopped liver?


Dear Y,

I get the question: If you come to Shabbos lunch and have a choice of liver or egg, you’re usually going to pick the liver. I guess some people don’t, because liver is kind of a gamble. Sometimes it’s really good, and sometimes it’s kind of grainy. I don’t know why. Maybe it depends on how much the animal drank when it was alive. Alternatively, the liver could be bad because it’s Pesachdik. Which is weird, because how can a body part be chametz? Unless the cow is drinking something a little heavier.

But usually liver’s pretty good, so what’s up?

So I looked into it, and I think it’s because a lot of times you’re cooking for Shabbos, and you make the entire Friday-night meal, and you make cholent for lunch, and you figure that the rest of lunch will be leftovers from Friday night. But what about an appetizer? You think you can use the rest of the gefilte fish from Friday night? You’re saving that for seudah shelishis!

You totally forgot to make an appetizer, didn’t you? What is it, chopped liver?

So we go with chopped liver. It’s easy enough to take out of a freezer on a Shabbos morning before shul.

Or maybe the expression comes from liver at a Kiddush. When you go to a fancy Kiddush, people eat the cake, people eat the cholent, and sometimes people take a separate plate and eat the gefilte fish. But no one goes for the liver. It’s skipped over.

Not only that, but then you come home after the Kiddush, and you’re bursting at the seams, and you’re like, “I guess we have to have a seudah now,” because gorging yourself at a Kiddush wasn’t considered a seudah, seeing as you didn’t have challah. And you can’t have the seudah later, because your wife is starving, because she doesn’t eat at Kiddushim. But what are you gonna do? How can you eat an entire meal after that huge Kiddush?

Not only that, but the less social you are, the more you probably ate. (This is especially important on Shabbos, because you have nowhere more important to be and no phone to pretend to be staring at, there’s no dancing, and the best you can do if you’re antisocial is pretend you’re looking up a vort for a lunch that everyone knows you’re not going to eat after this huge Kiddush.)

So you have no room for lunch, and if you don’t eat the cholent at home, your wife is going to start asking what you ate at the Kiddush, like it’s a federal crime to eat at these things. So that said, you’re definitely skipping the liver. How hard did she work on it? You’re the one who took it out of the freezer, and then she mixed in an egg for some reason. Who’s going to be offended if you don’t eat it? It’s chopped liver.

Have a question for Mordechai? Scream it into my ear. If I go, “Ha! Yeah,” I’m trying to be polite and hoping it wasn’t a question.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of six books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to


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