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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
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The Readers Respond: Lack Of Consideration


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Special Note: In last week’s column I wrote about the very painful situation in Israel, but as the tragedy keeps escalating, I once again feel impelled to share some thoughts. I doubt very much whether there are too many parallels for the catastrophe that occurred this past week when the wedding hall collapsed.
We stand stunned in face of this senseless catastrophic ‘accident’ But then again, we Jews know that there are no ‘accidents!’ There is a Divine hand that guides everything that occurs, even if it be beyond our understanding. Alas, this latest catastrophe cannot be blamed on the Arabs, so we must look within ourselves. I would like to suggest that we need a total spiritual revamping, and for that we must scrutinize our neshamas and determine what takanahs we can apply to our lives.
May HaShem have mercy upon us all and may we in turn extend mercy and chesed to one another.  I received many letters in response to my column ‘Lack of Consideration at Simchas,’ when guests respond that they will attend and then show up only for the reception, leaving empty seats and tables for which the host must pay. I am pleased to share three of those letters with you.

Letter # 1 – From A Prison InmateDear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

The lady who sent in her letter, ‘Lack of Consideration’ should be commended for honoring her mother and father’s wishes in holding the catered affair. It sounds as if she and her husband went out of their way to do this. Furthermore, she is making a good effort in deciding to ‘channel that anger in a positive direction.’ What I am not totally clear on is why she is angry. She claims that she is a ba’alas tshuva and her husband a ba’al tshuva. I would think this would help her to look beyond this incident and be more understanding. So, fifteen percent of the people didn’t come. Prior to sending out the invitations, she was warned that twenty five percent wouldn’t come. Mazel tov! She beat the average.

Looking further, it seems that she was upset by the expense incurred and the ‘waste of food’. Don’t we learn that everything we have (money, food, housing, etc.) is a loan from HaShem, and therefore, we must give back. There is a mitzvah to help the poor, to leave the ‘corner’ of the field for the needy, so, rather than looking at what was left over as a ‘waste of money and food’, wouldn’t it have been nicer if she took that as an opportunity to donate the leftovers to tzedakah? This way, she could share her son’s simcha with those who are in need of support.

Trust me, I know about being stingy, greedy and inconsiderate (I was there!). I know that I do not have many ‘Brownie points’ with HaShem, but I also know the feeling of helping, of lightening a person’s worries or fears, even if the person doesn’t say thank you. You need to always look just a little further, and ask yourself these important questions: ‘Did I do this action to make me feel good? … to make me look good? Or did I do it to be good and do chesed for others?’

Please feel free to print this letter.

From a man behind bars who knows what it’s like to be in need and appreciates any form of chesed.

Letter # 2 – Some Practical Suggestions

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

I read with interest your column this week of the woman who was upset at the poor turn-out at her son’s Bar Mitzva. I would like to offer a solution. Similar to yeshiva dinner RSVP cards on which many options are listed – i.e., reservations, size of ad, paying by check or credit, bill us later… maybe simcha invitations can also include the option - We will be happy to attend the reception/chuppah/smorgasbord/but will not be able to stay for the dinner. Since the option is clearly printed, there is no feeling of hurt or embarrassment on either side. I think guests will be happy that it’s just fine to come say mazel tov, stay for a few minutes and then leave. Maybe your readers will find this helpful.

Many thanks for all of your great work on behalf of K’lal Yisrael.

Letter #3 - ‘Punctuality Counts’

Dear Rebbetzin:

I felt I had to reply to the ba’al simcha who was upset about guests leaving before the meal. My husband and I have been, unfortunately, exactly that type of guest. Many times it is printed that the Chuppah will take place at 7:30, but in reality, it doesn’t take place until 9 or 10 pm. Often, we are an hour’s drive from home and must be up at 6 the next morning. We have been to exactly four weddings in the last 10 years when the chuppah was within 30 minutes of the stated time, and we were able to eat and bentsch with the assembled).

There is no chuppah at a Bar Mitzvah…still, we’re talking about school boys. Why do we need a protracted smorgasbord before the meal? Does the pshet’l (dissertation) have to be after 10 PM? I am not suggesting that this particular simcha ran so late, but I’m pretty sure that if one wrote on the invitation: ‘bentsching (grace) at 10 pm’ and kept to the schedule, more seats would be filled. If we arrive at a simcha at the time stated on the invitation and no other guests are there and the hall is still being set up, we are pretty sure we’ll be leaving before the meal (babysitters have to go home too). But if the affair is called for 6:30 and the soup is on the table at 7:30, we’re pretty sure we’ll stay to bentsch.

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