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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 6/11/10

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In Chronicles of 5-14-10, “Nothing surprises us anymore “wrote of her family’s suffering as a result of heavy financial losses sustained in the widespread and devastating mortgage meltdown.

Her letter described how, despite their own needy state, they have continued their longstanding chessed tradition of welcoming anyone in need into their home. This included a neighborhood woman who had periodically unburdened her marital woes to the kindhearted pair and had suddenly appeared at their door in an extremely agitated state, in desperation to escape her abusive spouse.

The latter had soon come looking for his wife and broke into the home to gain access to her, whom he then audibly threatened to harm.

Though the family ultimately refused to press charges for breaking and entering, the writer’s husband suffered a vicious verbal assault by the head of the yeshiva their sons attended for causing this man “all this trouble and aggravation.”

To “Nothing surprises us anymore ” Rabbi David A. Willig responds as follows:

The Torah tells us that if someone breaks into your home, you are allowed to kill him. And you refuse to press charges? What do you expect? Bullies will use whatever weapons they have, whether fists or money, to get what they want. They will continue until they are confronted. You should have pressed charges, and you then could have told the “Rosh Yeshivah” that you will contact the DA for attempting to intimidate a witness.

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In the column of 5-21-10, an “alarmed bubby” related how she minced no words in censuring a Chassidic teenager when she caught him absorbed in inappropriate reading material at a retail magazine outlet. Below, feisty readers take “bubby” to task for her heated stance

Bubby, take a chill pill.

Obviously you did not learn Pirkei Avos during Sefirah. If you had you would know – al tistakel bakankan… [Don’t look at the vessel, but what’s inside of it]. This should be especially true for shidduchim. I am sure that if your grandchildren follow the path of our sages rather than being fooled by their eyes they will find wonderful shidduchim.

You wrote to Rachel about this!?

You admit that “male is male.” What do you expect him to do? Organize a covert op where he tucks his payos into a baseball cap and puts on a polo shirt and jeans? He’s not out to offend you or anybody else. He was in a store, he got curious, and that’s it. Period.

You make it sound like he planned the entire thing to cause a chillul Hashem. He’s a teenage boy and he wasn’t thinking. He had a moment of weakness and your freaking out about the fact that he “pretends to be an Ultra-Orthodox person” is way off base.

A teenage boy wearing jeans and a tee with a suede kippa on his head would have caused the exact same “chillul Hashem,” but you would have probably not followed him out and embarrassed him in the same manner.

Don’t worry about your grandchildren’s shidduchim, lady. They have to be more nervous about keeping their dates away from their grandmother who has her priorities completely skewed.

Siyag lechachmah shtikah [the fence to wisdom is silence]

You made a bigger scene by yelling at him in a store. Nobody cared what he was doing, and nobody had any idea as to what he was looking at. At least he was only looking! It could have been much worse.

He has his priorities straight – he is still wearing the levush, still davens and still goes to yeshiva. This is his way of letting off steam or discovering the world. The world is full of shmutz; you don’t need a magazine to see it. Just take a trip to the city by bus or subway. You think he never saw this stuff before? Whom are you kidding? Wake up and smell the coffee.

The pictures in the magazines in the stores are not worse than anything outside his door.

From a Bahbee who prefers honey over vinegar

The letter from An Alarmed Bubby was very disturbing. The chassidishe bochur who was absorbed in a girlie magazine was doing something very wrong and inappropriate, but he was doing it furtively, and it is not he who caused the chillul Hashem – Alarmed bubby is the one responsible for that! She reacted with angerand is the one who turned the affair into a public spectacle.

She insists that she is not anti-chassidic (methinks the lady doth protest too much). How would she have reacted had the bochur been litvish? Would she have suggested he take off his black hat and jacket? (How exactly does one take off long payos? It’s not exactly like a sheitel that can be taken on and off with ease.) Would she have run after him yelling, “Which Magid Shiur’s shmooz are you going to now?” I seriously doubt it.

Had she not let her irritation get the better of her (her words), she might have discreetly approached the young bochur and told him in a calm voice, “You are defiling your heilige eyes with that shmutz. What you are doing is ossur and inappropriate for a frimme bucher.” This way she’d have undoubtedly accomplished much more than she did with her spiteful rant and causing a chillul Hashem in the process.

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We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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