By Mordechai Schmutter

Welcome back to “How Should I Know?” — the column that puts the “um” in “advice column.”

Dear Mordechai,

I need to sign up for something, and the computer wants me to create a password. But I’ve thought of hundreds of passwords in my life, and I’m tapped out. What should my password be?

Anonymous (obviously)

Dear Anonymous,

Well, you can use the one I use. It’s M as in Mordechai, and then — Wait. Are you just trying to get my password?

That’s a new trick.

See, the issue here is that every service assumes they’re the only one in your life requiring password. How many new passwords do these people think I can come up with and remember? I don’t have any words in my life that contain letters and numbers and one weird character. I’m not a chemist. Should I use my license plate? It’s HL8F7J and the symbol for New Jersey.

These days, my password is “Forgot my password.” I click that phrase, and they email me my password. That way, I just have to remember my email password. And I make fewer impulse purchases, because it’s a whole long process.

Sure, the experts have advice about coming up with passwords that can’t be hacked, but I think the last thing you want to do, as far as passwords, is something a computer expert tells you to do. For example, they say not to use any word that can be found in a standard dictionary, because anyone with access to a dictionary can go through the whole thing one word at a time and find out your password. Who do these people think you are? The president? Who’s going through the whole dictionary one word at a time for your password?

They also say not to use any of the standard passwords that everyone uses: 12345, abc123, password, guest, admin, football, 3.141592653589793238462643, and princess. How do they know what everyone uses? Are they going around polling people who are just telling them their passwords? I don’t think so!

But one thing that experts advise is to think of an entire sentence that you can remember — like a song lyric or a ma’amar Chazal — and create a string of letters representing each word. Then, for added security, you can do an AT BASH type thing, where A=T, B=SH, and so on. Then swap out some of the letters for numbers that look similar, stick in some punctuation that originally came with the sentence, and tack on a 613.

But if you are just going to use a standard word, it helps to be super-bad at spelling. Then no one will get it — even if you tell them straight out.

Dear Mordechai,

I woke up to go to shul on Shabbos morning and I realized that we’d forgotten to put the whole stack of pans of food into the fridge after the Friday-night seudah. What should I do? My wife is going to kill me.

Anonymous (obviously)

Dear Anonymous,

Serve it for lunch. If anyone has stomach issues, they’ll assume it was the cholent.

See, the real question here is what’s more important: Shalom bayis or not making everyone sick? Shared hardships bind people together, so…

It also depends on how high you keep the air conditioner. Was the food really out long enough for it to be an issue? I mean, some people have really long meals, right? How is this any different? So maybe feel the food to see how cold it is. Make sure to wash negel vasser first, with soap.

This kind of thing doesn’t happen during the week, because before you go to bed, you go into the kitchen to turn off the light, and you see if anyone left anything out. So to prevent this from happening in the future, make sure to put something in the kitchen on Friday that you’ll need to go get before bed, like your sweatpants. Be careful where you put it, though, because if you just hang it over a chair, all the guests will dry their hands on it.

Dear Mordechai,

Does a 7th-grade rebbe get paid more because he has to go to 25 bar mitzvahs over the course of the year?


Dear Y.,

He’s paid in food, I think. It’s not like he’s expected to bring a present.

He does have to be prepared to speak, but he can just say whatever dvar Torah he’s going to say to the kids on Friday. The kids aren’t listening to his speech at the bar mitzvah, and the parents aren’t going to be in the classroom on Friday. And sure, some of the kids are going to say this dvar Torah to their parents on Shabbos, but the bar mitzvah boy is not one of those kids. He’s having a bar mitzvah that Shabbos. His speech was written months ago. His parents didn’t say, “Actually, we’ll just send him to school on the Friday of his bar mitzvah, and then he can say whatever vort the rebbe says, unless he has a substitute that day.”

And anyway, who’s going to pay the rebbe to go to all these extra bar mitzvahs? The principal? He has to go to over 100 bar mitzvahs every year. You’re getting no sympathy from him. The poor man is fleishig 24/7. He never gets to have a cup of milk. This is why people who run yeshivos start losing their hair early. In case you were wondering.

As the rebbe, you don’t have to show up to every bar mitzvah. Nor do you have to make any commitment ahead of time in the form of a reply card. After all, your wife’s name is on the invitation, too, but does she show up? Let’s put it this way: I’ve made two bar mitzvahs so far; one rebbe showed up and the other didn’t. And zero rebbetzins. To be fair, the second rebbe was an 8th-grade rebbe, so I’m not sure that showing up was in his contract. But the rebbe can decide, spur of the moment, whether he’s even coming, and I’m pretty sure that it has a lot to do with what his wife is making for supper that night.

“Tuna noodle casserole? Yum… Oh, I totally forgot; I have a bar mitzvah.”

That’s why the wife never shows up.

Dear Mordechai,

Should I go to the Black Friday sales?


Dear M.,

That’s a great question. Some might say that Black Friday isn’t a Jewish holiday. But some might say that any holiday that involves saving money is the most Jewish holiday that isn’t mentioned in the Torah. Though some might say that if you look at Pesach, Sukkos, Purim, Chanukah, and the Yomim Noraim, Jewish holidays are specifically about spending money. But some might say that, yeah, on Black Friday you’re spending money, too. Though some say that you’re also saving money. But some say that since you’re buying things that you otherwise wouldn’t have bought just so you can save money on those things, it’s actually more about the spending. However, some say that, spending or saving, since this holiday is partly on Thanksgiving, it’s not a Jewish holiday. And some say that Thanksgiving is actually the most Jewish non-Jewish holiday, since it involves getting together with relatives, thanking the Ribbono shel Olam, and eating until you have no choice but to take a nap. And some say that, yeah, but then instead of falling asleep on the couch, you have to fall asleep on line in front of a store. And we’re right back where we started.

So let’s see: Does the parashah say anything we can use? Well, technically, in Parshas Vayishlach, which is coming up, Yaakov Avinu sends his brother a present. On the other hand, gifts are more about the person receiving, and Eisav wasn’t exactly Jewish. On the other hand, his mother was Jewish. On the other hand, giving someone a gift in the hopes that he therefore won’t kill you is not really in the essence of Chanukah. On the other hand, another section of that parashah involves Yaakov Avinu traveling in the middle of the night for some small jugs and then getting into a wrestling match, and you don’t really get more Black Friday than that. On the other hand, this probably was not exactly the takeaway the Torah had in mind.

So do what you want. I personally am just trying to stall you at home so you don’t beat me to the stores. You’re reading this article right now, but I wrote it weeks ago.

Have a question for “How Should I Know?” I’m not even here anymore. 

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of seven 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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