web analytics
September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



The Sword In The Tongue


Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Letter #1

Dear Rebbetzin:

I am not sure whether this is the right forum in which to discuss my concern, but I am hopeful that your widely read column can be used as an arena to air this issue.

We are taught from a very young age about the prohibition against engaging in scandalous language against our friends/neighbors/acquaintances. There is a plethora of literature out there on the topic as well as shiurim, audiocassettes and clubs whose members commit themselves to being extremely mindful of what they speak and what they listen to.

We are aware of and repeatedly taught about the dire consequences of speaking lashon hara.This transgression is severe and multifaceted. Thankfully, guarding our tongues and ears against malignant speech is a subject that has, baruch Hashem, made its way to the forefront of Jewish life.

There is another abuse of speech I have noticed lately which I feel is a rather neglected or even non-existent topic of discussion: impertinence. I find that everywhere I turn lately I encounter this form of vulgarity in language; it seems to be commonplace, almost accepted.

Two weeks ago I was at a shul function. Also attending was a woman whose family had been going through a trying and painful period due to the broken engagement of her child – which came as a surprise to the community, not only because of the seeming compatibility of the couple but also the suddenness of the breakup. In such a case, one would think a kind word of comfort would suffice. I was shocked to witness the level of brash and shameless questioning this poor mother had to endure: “What happened?” “Who made the decision?” “What other factors were in play?” “Is he/she back on the market?” “What was the monetary impact?”

The woman tried to be polite and answer generally, but her growing discomfort was obvious and the interrogations were unrelenting.

Recently, I wanted to schedule an outing with a friend during which we would both run errands while taking the opportunity to catch up. At first I was rather offended at her seeming hesitation and reserve, but later she confessed to me that she no longer shops and runs errands on the route we often took together. The reason? Her youngest child suffers developmental setbacks that have unfortunately become more and more apparent and she can no longer stand the impertinent and pressing inquiries into her personal matters, especially by people who are barely connected to her.

I was really able to empathize with her sentiments. The financial climate has affected my family to the point where we were unable to send our children to camp this summer. Not too long ago my eight-year-old daughter told me she didn’t like her carpooling arrangement and wanted it changed. It turned out the woman with whom I share carpool duties asks too many questions and makes her uncomfortable:

“Is your father working at the same job?” “Has your mother started to work since she got her degree?” “What camp did you go to this summer?” “What?” “You didn’t go?

“How come?” “What did you do all day?”

This insensitivity impacts on all generations. I was helping my mom find a place to rent temporarily while she was about to embark on a home renovation. This is the type of “chore” my father doesn’t like to involve himself with, which I don’t think is that out of the ordinary, but the frum woman showing the apartment apparently found it strange enough to ask my mother, “Do you have a husband?” and other personal questions.

My mother and I were both flabbergasted. What difference does it make to her either way? Why is it her business? When is enough enough? When did intrusiveness become acceptable? I hope people realize that damage can be inflicted without saying something directly nasty. Why do we feel entitled to know our neighbors’ entire goings-on?

Sincerely,

Fed Up

Letter #2

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

Recently, I went through a harrowing experience. The pain and the shock are things I cannot describe, but as difficult as my experience was, the insensitivity of others made it much worse. The saying “rubbing salt on an open wound” really hit home.

I am 21 years old and was expecting my first baby. For my parents, this would have been the first grandchild and for my in-laws the first male grandchild (all their grandchildren are girls). Grandchildren are always awaited with great anticipation by bubbies and zeides, but I am certain you will understand their joy was even more intensified. As for my husband and me, we were flying. Once we found out we’d be having a boy, we made plans – we even had the bris all planned out. I went with my mother for baby furniture; as is traditional, we were careful not to finalize a purchase but just designated our choice.

I went into labor two days before my due date. I had a very hard time. From the outset, there were complications and my beautiful little baby was stillborn. As I wrote above, I am unable to describe my pain, my suffering, and my depression. But as terrible as it was, it was made ten times worse by people’s insensitive remarks:

“Did you have to sit shiva?” “Did you give him a name?” “Did you have a regular leviah [funeral]?” “What exactly happened?” “At what point in the labor did you find out that something was wrong?” “Was it the doctor’s fault?” “Are you suing?”

Instead of saying something kind like, “I’m certain that Hashem will give you the bracha of many more babies — a beautiful large family,” they ask about gory details, which only makes everything so much worse.

Rebbetzin, every question was another knife in my heart. When I discussed this with my husband, he challenged me with: “Why don’t you do something about it?”

“Like what?” I asked.

“Well, for one thing,” he answered, “you can write to Rebbetzin Jungreis. Her column is highly respected and has a large readership ranging from the secular to the religious, from the young to the old.”

I saw the wisdom of his suggestion. The thought that perhaps some people will learn to be more careful with what they say, and how they say it, gives me a measure of comfort.

A Brokenhearted Almost-mother

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.

No Responses to “The Sword In The Tongue”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks to the UNGA, Sept. 29, 2014.
State Dept Press Corps Shapes US Response to Netanyahu’s UN Speech
Latest Judaism Stories

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

PTI-092614-Shofar

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

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 […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

Rabbi Dayan took a challah and some cooked eggs. He then called over his 15-year-old son, Aharon. “Could you please ask your friend Chaim from next door to come over and help me with the eruv tavshilin?”

This world has its purpose; it has been ideally fashioned to allow man to grow.

More Articles from Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

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 […]

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

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.

The time immediately preceding Mashiach’s arrival is likened to the birth pangs of a woman in labor.

If we regard pain and suffering as mere coincidence, we will feel no motivation to examine our lives

What does Hashem want of us? That we should protect each other and the awesome heritage He gave us.

Gratitude=Great Attitude. Appreciation is always appropriate.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/the-sword-in-the-tongue-2/2010/11/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: