Those of you who have been following my column and those of you who have read my books, especially Life Is A Test, know that in the closing chapters, I focus on Acharit HaYamim - the days that will precede our Redemption, known as Chevlei Moshiach - the birth pangs that will herald the coming of Messiah.
The tragedy of Mumbai was still fresh in our hearts. The cry of little Moishele, "Ima, Ima - Mommy. Where is Mommy?" kept reverberating in our minds.
This true story took place in Brooklyn, New York. It was a wintry, dark afternoon when my father collapsed before my eyes. He slumped over in the front passenger seat in the car and lost consciousness. When he slowly and dazedly opened his eyes, he was weak and pale.
I have realized in the last few months that the friends and acquaintances in our lives are there for a very special reason. It is clear that we are in relationships to help each other at different times in our lives.
When one decides to have children, one has to decide: how one intends to bring them up, what values one will imbue in them and how one will stress their importance. Whatever they may be, when one instills the right values in a child, one later receives the dividends of one's efforts. This was proved so true this past Yom Kippur for Rebbetzin Judith Friedlander.
Special Note: Once again I share with you that, much as I had planned to conclude our discussion on daughter/daughters-in law - mother/mothers-in-law problems, the letters keep pouring in. It appears that these internal family conflicts are more widespread than we realized.
It can be very challenging to be arranging a flight to Israel while dealing with the needs of a large family, managing a high-pressured job, and satisfying the needs of parents who are eagerly awaiting your visit.
I realize that many people attribute this type of negative, obstreperous behavior to the tenor of our times. We are living in Ikvesa d'Moshicha, a period, our sages tell us, in which chutzpah will abound - the young will rise against their elders, and children will relate to their parents and in-laws with insolence. But to me, that is not quite acceptable. I do not consider that to be a legitimate excuse.
What would you do if you were confronted with a seemingly insoluble problem? Would you give up? Would you say, "Let someone else solve it; it's beyond me?"
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.