Special Note: Several weeks ago, I published a letter from a young father, Akiva Shapiro. Many years ago, Akiva discovered the world of Torah through Hineni. He not only became part of our organization, but a leader and an activist. I was also privileged to introduce him to his aishes chayil- his soul mate, and today, he and his lovely wife are the proud parents of a beautiful family.
He sat in his prison cell sulking. I'll call him Steven. Time was playing tricks on him. It seemed like only yesterday, but at the same time like a lifetime ago, that he was married to a wonderful woman and had children who were the joy of his life. He had a high-powered job on Wall Street and luxuries that the average person couldn't imagine.
The beautiful Yom Tov of Shavuos has passed, but our Yamim Tovim never fade. We are charged to carry them with us throughout the year. While this holds true for all our Yamim Tovim, it is especially valid for Shavuos. This is the one day for which our Torah does not designate a specific time or date. Shavuos is "Z'man Matan Toraseinu," the season of receiving our Torah, and that is an eternal happening, which every one of us must re-experience and relive every moment of our lives. "Not with our forefathers alone did Hashem seal the Covenant, but with us, we who are here, all of us alive today (Deuteronomy 5).
In last week's column I responded to the mother/grandmother who wrote about the escalation of chutzpah on the part of the young vis-à-vis their parents. In my answer I suggested that we have adopted some 21st century attitudes that not only countenance this obstreperous behavior but actually endorse it. I also mentioned that while we may take certain consolation in knowing that our sages predicted what we are experiencing today, nevertheless, it does not mean that we of the Torah community should countenance it. Chutzpah toward parents/grandparents, teachers and elders in any shape or form is unacceptable.
Around a year ago my wife and I were having a Shabbos meal at the home of our friends, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Gershon and Chana Rachel Schusterman of Los Angeles. The rebbetzin was telling us about how our Jewish names are Divinely inspired.
I have always felt that Hashem's Will was my will. I always accepted everything, telling myself that everything was for the best. I trusted that it was Hashem's Will. It was and still is. I always accepted everything, telling myself that everything was for the best. I trusted that it was Hashem's Will.
In my last two columns I published a letter from a mother/grandmother who felt very saddened and discouraged at the shameless chutzpah that marks today's parent-child relationship. In the first segment of her letter, she cited the disrespectful conduct of children, and in the second, she gave examples of the deplorable behavior of young adults - even married couples.
In last week's column I published the first part of a letter written by one of our readers who related that this past year, circumstances had compelled her and her family to go away for Yom Tov, but she was terribly embarrassed by the behavior of many of the people in her group.
The time was 6:03 a.m., and I was already late for shul. My father had passed away in October of 2008, and I was saying Kaddish for him. Morning prayers began at 6 o'clock. I had to be there within four minutes or miss the rabbinic Kaddish. To worsen matters, I hadn't taken my 3 a.m. Parkinson's medications on time, and I had begun to feel a rise in what I call my "trembling index."
My daughter met Rutie on her first day of studies at Hebrew University. The classroom was full, mostly with female students, many of them religious. As the weeks went by, Shani got to know some of Rutie's personal history. Her mother was European- born, from an Orthodox Jewish family. Her father was born in Israel, and had a secular upbringing. Rutie's family did not lead a religious life, but there were elements of her mother's past in some of the things they did. Rutie and her mother lit candles every erev Shabbat and chag, and kept a kosher home.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: Once again, Yom Tov has come and gone. I was hoping that with all the things going on in the world, people would have learned something...or at least would want to change.
There are no coincidences in life. We know that everything that befalls us is basherte - to the point that even if a man stubs his toe that too is orchestrated from Above. It was not by coincidence that, on Parshas Tazria Metzora, I received an amazing letter from an amazing young man. Some 10 odd years ago, I had the privilege of launching him on his Jewish journey.
Our oldest daughter recently came to visit us from Eretz Yisrael. We wanted to be sure to give our children a good time together in order to properly mark the special occasion. We decided that it would be fun to take everyone roller-skating after Shabbat at a rink not far from our house. Little did we know that the evening would mark the start of a dramatic change our family life.
Special Note: For the past two weeks, my columns have focused on ways and means to establish shalom bayis in our homes and our families. The following is the third installment of this series.
Special Note: In my last column, I discussed the tragic consequences of Sinas ChinamB jealousy and hatred of the brothers toward Joseph that cast us into our first exile in Egypt, which continues to plague us to this very day. The following is a continuation of that column:
Avigail took the plunge into marriage, and we are so proud of her! My walk down the aisle with Avigail by my side was a visceral reminder of the days when she was by my side in another place and another time. Let me share the story with you.
I have written in the past about my visits to the Israeli Misrad Harishui (Israel's DMV) in the 1970's and 1980's. At that time, I served as a Senior Administrative Law Judge in the American DMV Traffic Courts, Vice-Chair of DMV's Appeals Boards, and Director of DMV Downstate Field Operations.
In this season, when we gather around the Seder table to celebrate the birth of our nation, it behooves us to take a few moments to consider what we have learned - what we are taking with us to guide us throughout the year. Among the many priorities we should consider, surely shalom and achdus - unity - must be in the forefront. Sadly, today these pillars of our faith are missing from our families, from our communities and from the world at large. While we may not be able to influence the world, our communities or even our families, we can and must impact upon ourselves - we must emerge from this Pesach - different.
Once again, I am on a plane. I am returning to New York after a long, two- week journey. It has been a grueling, but exhilarating tour. Each day, I addressed the Jewish community of another European country. The first stop was Paris. I was forewarned that in Europe if you draw an audience of 100-200 people, you could regard yourself successful, so my expectations were not very high. But when I arrived at the huge synagogue it was crowded wall-to-wall. There wasn't a seat to be had, and people were still coming, not only residents of Paris, but from as far away as Strasbourg.
Imagine if Borough Park, Brooklyn, really had a big park in it, with hiking paths and a lake. But it doesn't have such a park, and there's a couple from France that is better off, very much better off, the way it is.
She was the first-born and by all accounts, quite brilliant. In the early 1900's, her father, Choni (Papa) had preceded his family to the shores of America to find a better life for the family he left behind in Europe. As with so many of his landsmen, he planned to send for his family when he found a livelihood and a decent place to live. Yet his wife, Ita, (Mama) had other ideas.
I love to sing, but venues for frum women who sing are few and far between. I have to settle for kvelling when I listen to the men in my family lead the prayers in shul.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: I can't begin to tell you how important your column has been in this most trying period. To one extent or another, everyone has been tested by the financial meltdown.... some of us more than others, and I'm afraid that my family falls into that category. Allow me to give you some background:
My phone rang one morning last week. It was the wife of a friend whose weekly shiur I attend. "Could you spare some time to help a patient in the hospital to put on tefillin?" she asked. "The person who usually does it can't make it today."
It was December of 1980. I was walking towards the Kotel, Judaism's holiest site. I recalled that a Torah friend of mine had explained before I left New York