In last week's column I published two letters regarding simchas (joyous occasions). One was from a grandmother and the other from a gentleman who had just made his daughter's wedding - the first simcha in his family.
We live in a very chaotic world. If we stop to consider what is happening around us - all the things that are out of our control - it can be frustrating and frightening, so most of us try to bypass these situations by pretending we do not see them.
May 3, 2009-9 Iyar 5769: This is a date I will always remember and give thanks to Hashem. I was crossing 14th Avenue at 1 p.m. on a rainy day when I was suddenly struck by a car. The Almighty zokef kefufim straightens the bowed.
While working for the U.S. Census Bureau in 1990, I knocked on the door of Soviet ?migr?s in Boro Park and proceeded to converse with them about their recent arrival to the United States. This elderly couple had come from Moldavia. They were survivors of both Nazi and Communist tyranny.
I have wanted to tell this story for a while. There are experiences in life that help us find our soul, the candle of God within us. This was such an experience. It is a true story about the eternal flame of the Jewish soul - with a Chanukah message.
We had just finished celebrating the High Holidays in Boca Raton. With the intensity of those days behind us, we were looking forward to visiting my family in New York. The kids were so excited and counted down the days until they would see their Bubby and Zayde, aunt, uncle, and cousins. Never did I realize that while I was deciding what clothes to pack for the Yom Tov of Sukkos, I would also be packing clothes for my father's levayah.
I was in Brazil, speaking to the Jewish community of Sao Paulo, when the sad news of the petira of Irene Klass reached me. Many memories, many scenes, many conversations and experiences flashed through my mind. With Irene's passing, a whole era - a whole way of thinking, of values, of goals, of idealism - disappeared. Irene had a sense of mission and never allowed politics, petty jealousies or territorial considerations to influence her.
It was erev Simchas Torah and I had just lit my Yom Tov candles. I was rushing to go to hakafos (dancing with the Torah) at my local shul.
My husband of 40 years is always ready to help people. He is also very kind to his family and is always eager to embark on a family outing. However, he has one stipulation. He would rather not drive long distances at night, as he has had challenging experiences driving in the dark in fog, rain and other inclement weather.
I've received an inordinate amount of mail in response to the letters I published two weeks ago regarding onas devarim - painful and abusive language. It seems this problem is prevalent in many circles, among children as well as adults, indicating this is a societal condition that is unfortunately reflective of our culture.
In last week's column I published letters from two women who wrote about the terrible ordeal from which many of our people suffer. In the Torah, such an affliction is called "onas devarim" - verbal abuse. While we are all familiar with the prohibitions regarding lashon hara (gossip), the prohibitions regarding onas devarim are less known. In fact, most people are not even aware of them. The following is my response:
Although the following incident occurred many years ago, it is etched in my mind as if it happened yesterday.
It was 1 a.m. when my daughter Shani and her friend Tehilla took a wrong turn and found themselves traveling along a dark, isolated stretch of road outside Jerusalem. A few moments later, they noticed a young bearded man dressed in a suit and black hat flagging them down. Tehilla was surprised when Shani abruptly stopped the car. Tehilla tried to dissuade Shani from giving the young man a ride, given the late hour.
Dear Rebbetzin: I am not sure whether this is the right forum in which to discuss my concern, but I am hopeful that your widely read column can be used as an arena to air this issue.
For the past two weeks my column has been devoted to the plight of seniors who find themselves incapacitated and in the unfortunate situation of being placed against their will in nursing homes. For various reasons, their children are unable to care for them or engage proper help to safeguard their well being.
Normally, I enjoy air travel. But the night before a recent flight to Los Cabos, Mexico, I developed an excruciating earache. I tried nursing it with organic eardrops, but by the time we arrived at the airport, the pain had only intensified.
This past Yom Kippur, my father, an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor, surprised our family by recounting a wartime Kol Nidre observance that stirred his soul.
My treasured parents loved Yiddishkeit. Their belief in Hashem was unwavering. My darling Daddy used to tell me that if I was ever afraid, I should recite the Shema. Whenever I was troubled, my precious Mommy would reassure me, "Gott vet helfen!" (God will help!).
QUESTION: I see that some people refer to the month of Cheshvan as Marcheshvan. Which is correct?Nachman M.(Via E-Mail)
While studying the anatomy of the heart in Machon Biotechnology in Israel, I had some thoughts: The four holiest cities in Israel - Jerusalem (fire/aish),Tzfat (wind/ruach), Chevron (earth/adamah), and Tverya (water/mayim) - seem to correspond to the four chambers of the heart.
I was writing in my home office, and the back door was open, letting the breeze waft in. It was quiet, except for a loud squawking squirrel outside. In fact, he was so loud that it sounded as if he was in the next room. I stopped typing and unsteadily dragged myself to the dining room door, terrified to open it.
In last week's column I wrote about the sincere Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur resolutions that we make year after year - the commitments we make to change, to become better, kinder, people, and the promises we make to become more devoted Jews, more loyal to Torah and mitzvos.
Rabbi Dan Roth's very first day teaching in yeshiva did not at all go as planned. After learning in kollel for many years in some of the best yeshivos in Israel, Rabbi Roth got his first job teaching in a program for teens-at-risk. A short time before taking the job, he wrote a sefer on modern-day lessons gleaned from the teachings of Pirkei Avos. In the process of writing the book, he realized that he had a talent for making Torah concepts relevant and down-to-earth.
For the past 10 years, I have been privileged to be part of a women's Tehillim group in Jerusalem. Every Shabbat, we meet and divide Sefer Tehillim (the Book of Psalms). We pray for the safety of our soldiers, for Eretz Yisrael, and for those injured in terrorist attacks. We also bring our individual lists of people in need of Divine assistance. We pray for women waiting to become mothers, for singles waiting to meet their spouses, for sick people waiting for good health, and for soldiers waiting to come home.
The High Holy Days are over. It was an awesome spiritual time - when we probed or souls, asked profound questions and tried to determine what our lives are all about. We made resolutions - each in our own personal way - committed to being better Jews. We promised to become better ambassadors of Hashem, more meticulous with mitzvot, more devoted and zealous in doing acts of loving kindness, and in general, become more dedicated to our Torah and all that that implies. And now comes the big question: Are we still determined to make that change?