Special Note: Subsequent to the publication of my article on the conflict between a young woman and her mother-in-law, I received an avalanche of mail. I feel very saddened to share with you that these letters all reflected anger, resentment, and most tragic of all, a deterioration of what used to be the beautiful cohesiveness of Jewish family life.
The scene: Harvard University, April 25, 1977. I am standing at a turning point - not one that will be written up in even one academic journal, but one I can almost see while still feeling dizzy from all the turning.
My Dear Friend Allow me to preface my remarks by recalling a story about two brothers who lived in the holy city of Jerusalem. Their houses were at opposite ends of the city, and they were separated by a great mountain.
It was the 26th of Tammuz. The sun was slowly sinking behind the clouds over the Old Montefiore Cemetery, the burial place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt"l. I had come to commemorate the yahrzeit of my high school teacher, Rabbi Dovid Wichnin, zt"l.
Today, the impossible has become our reality. Events are transpiring so swiftly, that we have difficulty absorbing them. Our generation is sleeping, and we have failed to react to that which is befalling us. So I felt compelled to devote my columns of the past month to those events. Nevertheless, despite the critical world situation, personal problems – family, shalom bayis, children, illness, continue to assail us. I receive hundreds of e-mail requests for help weekly from every part of the globe, and while, in the past, I published many of these letters, for the past few weeks I have been responding to them personally. Some of these e-mails, however, do not lend themselves to personal responses, but require the public forum of my column since many people are reluctant to identify themselves and write anonymously, or the letter writer hopes to convey a message that will be read by people involved in his or her problem. So I now return to addressing family conflicts through my column.
What is purity? Too much of what purports to be good is watered down by the "not so good." There seems to be a lurking selfishness behind many sin-cere gestures - a "what's in it for me?" approach. With cynicism the order of the day, anyone who tries to rise above the rat race is often condemned as hypocritical or phony. In such a world, the concepts of purity of character and purity of purpose seem to be simply theoretical.
It was late afternoon on Yom Yerushalayim. We were enjoying a clear, cool, beautiful Yerushalayim day as we walked into Ir Dovid, the historic City of David. We passed the newest excavations and walked down the stone steps leading to the ruins and the older excavations of the City of David. We sat in the amphitheater near the base of the hill.
In mid-December, I traveled to Eretz Yisroel with my wife, Chanie, for a twofold purpose. Firstly, I wanted to visit my two children who are learning in yeshivos there. Secondly, in light of the fact that I had assumed the position of executive director of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, I wanted to solicit as many brochos from gedolim as possible, and to pray at kivrei tzaddikim (graves of righteous people).
I was thinking of my mother today. I realized that I still have much to learn from this wise woman. G‑d blessed me with my special mother who serves as my role model, my caretaker, my friend, and above all, my inspiration.
In last week's column I published a letter from a young man who felt that he was treated unfairly in his quest for a shidduch.
Ask and you shall receive! If you want something, ask your spouse, your children, your family and friends. When all else fails, ask Hashem! What do we really need? Let's be honest. We have food on our tables and a roof over our heads. We have family and friends who are true to us.
QUESTION: When does a mourner complete the year of mourning during a leap year?Zev Stern(Via e-mail)
Special Note: When I wrote my most recent book, I weighed and considered what the most appropriate title should be, and although I examined many options, the title that kept repeating in my mind was "Life Is A Test."
I served in the Traffic Violations Bureau (TVB) of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for many years as an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), Senior ALJ, Vice Chairman of the Appeals Board and, finally, TVB Director.
On June 27, 2001, a single mother and her son landed at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel for a two-week vacation. The plan was that she would go to a seminary and he would go to day camp. Neither of them knew a soul in Israel, nor did they know any Hebrew and next to nothing about Judaism.
In the early 1970's, my father, HaRav Moshe Aharon Shapiro, z"l, served as rabbi of a kosher, shomer Shabbos hotel in the Catskills. During one of those summers, my brother-in-law invited us to use his bungalow over the July 4th weekend. On Sunday we drove from the bungalow colony to visit my parents, arriving at the hotel between Minchah and Ma'ariv.
Whereas Salek's father's appearance was rather modern for that period - sporting only a short beard, just like his cousins - his grandfather, Avrohom Orenstein, had a flowing beard and wore a shtreimel on Shabbos.
I have a story to share with you - one that might change the way we look at every detail of our lives, labeling them coincidences or miracles. You be the judge!
The shtetl of Apt would rise early every weekday morning when the men would rush to one of the houses of prayer, better known as shteiblech.
In preparation for Shabbos, Salik Orenstein's (our protagonist, and through his eyes and his memoir are we viewing the shtetl) mother baked challos.