web analytics
November 23, 2014 / 1 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



The Curse Of Family Breakdowns


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Several weeks ago I shared a letter from a heartbroken mother whose children had shut the door in her face. Time and again she tried to open that door, but despite all her attempts she did not succeed. No matter how she humbled herself and begged, no matter how many people interceded on her behalf, it was to no avail.

Subsequently, I received many e-mails from people who, to one extent or another, found themselves in similar predicaments. The question we must ask is this: How can such tragedy befall the Jewish people, who throughout the millennia were renowned for their exemplary family life?

As I write this column, we are in the closing parshiot of the Torah. In Ki Savo, a litany of curses is proclaimed. Is that the way to bid farewell to the past year of Torah readings? It does seem odd, but those familiar with Torah study know that every word, dot and syllable is a blessing, even if at first glance it appears to be a terrifying proclamation. One of the curses pertinent to our subject is “Cursed be the one who curses his father and mother.”

How are we to understand this? The answer is simple and should give us all pause. The alienation between parents and children that shuts doors is in and of itself a terrible curse. It is a curse that is self-inflicted and does not require an outside force. Can there be anything more painful for parents than to have children and yet not have them? For children to have living mothers and fathers and yet feel like orphans? If that is not a curse, what is?

Surely that should serve as a wake-up call for families who have built walls of animosity, contempt and hatred in their homes. In short, that is the catastrophe we too often see nowadays.

So now perhaps we can understand why the Torah speaks of all these horrific situations as the curtain comes down on another cycle of Torah readings. Paradoxically, through these curses G-d offers us a blessing: “Leave behind the nightmare; consign it to oblivion; bring an end to your splintered, dysfunctional family. Start a new life and open a fresh, clean page in your book of life.”

But how we are to go about this? Perhaps our first step should be to attempt to comprehend the complexity of human nature.

“The heart of man is wicked from its very start,” we read in Bereishis. Contrary to what most believe, humans are not born good, compassionate, kind, giving or respectful. These are traits that must be learned and developed from early childhood.

When Hashem proclaimed the Fifth Commandment – “Honor your father and mother” – He provided us with the tools to enact it. In contrast to animals, who soon after birth are able to go off and fend for themselves, humans many years need the loving care, devotion and commitment of their parents. This is in order that a sense of gratitude, of indebtedness, might forever be engraved in the hearts of children.

As we noted above, these traits do not come automatically. They are not spontaneous. They have to be taught, and that is an education that can only be imparted in the home. It is something that even the finest schools or universities cannot teach. Tragically, however, in our 21st century culture this is a teaching that escapes most parents. Children’s obnoxious behavior is indulged and even considered “natural.”

Just contrast the manner of child rearing of years gone by with what we see today. Yesterday, we were taught to rise for our parents and our elders; to share our goodies with relatives and friends; to speak respectfully to one and all. Expressions such as “thank you,” “please,” “excuse me” and “I’m sorry” were all a part of our vocabulary. Even as we learned to speak we were taught these words; they weren’t just token phrases.

When a parent would come home, we rose in greeting. When grandparents came to visit, we ran to the door and kissed and hugged them, and when they departed we accompanied them to the door.

It goes without saying that curse words were foreign to us, as was violent and hostile behavior. On a personal level, I would like to share with you that in our family, every Shabbos eve when our parents blessed us we kissed their hands with reverence and love – a tradition that in our generation is unheard of.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “The Curse Of Family Breakdowns”

  1. Karen Berger says:

    I have been reading the Rebbetzin's articles for years and I have a great deal of respect for her but I wonder whether she ever gets both sides of the story. When my children would come to me with a complaint about a sibling or a playmate, I always asked what happened before the event that triggered the complaint. People talk about familial alienation as if it happens in a vacumn. All of a sudden, a child cuts off a parent and said parent has no idea what caused this behavior. The question has to be asked. What really happened before the child cut off the parent? A bond so primal? That question has to be taken seriously and answered before any real healing can occur.

  2. Please forgive me if I misslead.the only time your ever allowed to be negative towards the ones in a form as G-D to you (as life creating) is if they blaspheme GOD

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
What, me incite terror? Abba: "The Jews must be barred by any means possible."
Ex-Senior Justice Official Asks Homeland Security to Ban Abbas from US
Latest Judaism Stories
Rabbi Avi Weiss

Yitzchak thought the Jewish people needed dual leadership: Eisav the physical; Yaakov the spiritual

Weiss-112114-Sufganiot

According to the Sefer Yetzirah, the nature of the month of Kislev is sleep.

Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

Though braggarts come across as conceited, their boasting often reflects a low sense of self-regard

Nimchinsky-112114-Learning

Not every child can live up to our hopes or expectations, but every child is loved by Hashem.

Leaders must always pay attention to the importance of timing.

While our leaders have been shepherds, the vast majority of the Children of Israel were farmers.

Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165

If a man dies childless, the Torah commands the deceased’s brother to marry his brother’s widow in a ceremony known as yibum, or to perform a special form of divorce ceremony with her known as chalitzah.

Dovid turned to the other people sitting at his table. “I’m revoking my hefker of the Chumash,” he announced. “I want to keep it.”

Ever Vigilant
‘When Unworthy, One’s Number Of Years Is Reduced’
(Yevamos 50a)

Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

Her Loving Parents
(Via E-Mail)

Ramban interprets Korban as self-sacrifice, each Jew should attempt to recreate Akeidas Yitzchak.

Dr. Schwartz had no other alternatives up his sleeve. He suggested my mother go home and think about what she wanted to do.

Why does Lavan’s speaking before his father show that he was wicked? Disrespectful, yes. Rude, certainly. But a rasha?

We find that in certain circumstances before the Torah was actually given, people were permitted to make calculations as to what would better serve Hashem, even if it were against a mitzvah or aveirah.

More Articles from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

When art and evil are intermingled, evil is elevated and made acceptable.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

In BB, he said “You, my children are the angels of Shabbos and the licht are your beautiful eyes.”

Why does Hebrew refer to mothers-in-law as “sunshine” when society often calls them the opposite?

Boundaries must be set in every home. Parents and children are not pals. They are not equals.

The call of the shofar is eternal. It is not musical. Its magnetic allurement cannot be explained.

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

One of the cornerstones of our Jewish life is chesed, kindness. Chesed can only be taught by example

“There is nothing new under the sun” is as valid today as it was yesterday.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/the-curse-of-family-breakdowns/2012/09/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: