It was about a week before Chanukah last year when I traveled to Israel to spend some time with my son, who was learning in Yeshiva there.
Prior to Rosh Hashanah, our daughter Bracha insisted on giving a sizeable amount of tzedakah to a worthy organization. This gift was in addition to the amount she is careful to separate from her earnings on a weekly basis. Barely sixteen, our daughter is not intending to become rich from her part-time job, but parting with even more than the usual 10 percent of her salary was clearly above and beyond the letter of the law.
As I write this column I am returning from the Philippines. Yes, the Philippines! Are there any Jews there? Hashem's people are scattered throughout the four corners of the world. And now, as we enter the period described as Chevlei Moshiach, the holy flock has to be awakened and gathered.
It wasn't so much my father's problem as it was mine. The commandment to honor one's parents had always been for me simply the right thing to do. Jewish tradition characterizes it, however, as the most challenging of the taryag mitzvos. Anyone who has ever cared for a terminally ill parent appreciates the difficulty of performing this mitzvah well.
For the past few weeks I have been writing about the crisis that has descended upon our world - a crisis that is nothing less than Chevlei Moshiach, the pain and suffering that has been predicted will occur in the pre-Messianic era.
Every year, prior to the High Holy Days, I visit the graves of four generations of my ancestors buried on Har HaZeitim (the Mount of Olives).
In my last column I promised that, B'Ezrat Hashem, I would outline constructive steps to help reverse the madness that seems to have overtaken our world. One of the most powerful weapons that we, the Jewish people possess, that has been our shield from the genesis of our history is prayer. Through genuine prayer, we can conquer and triumph over every adversity.
My husband and I had been trying to have a baby for several years. We'd gone to specialists and come pretty close a few times.
As I promised in my last column, I will get down to basics and begin outlining what we must do to convert darkness into light - tragedy into blessing.
Gone. The money was gone. I bit my lips and felt my eyes fill with tears. This was hard earned money that I received from a client whom I had worked for all month.
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.