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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 7/09/10

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Dear Rachel,

 

             A couple of columns ago a reader was up in arms about some objectionable action of our youth, yet I’ve heard no commotion over their in-action.

 

Where is the outcry over the in-action of countless of adolescent and adult grandchildren who fail to make time to visit or call a grandparent to say hello or to inquire of his or her wellbeing?

 

In this world of ours it seems that everyone (our young, in particular) is involved in a zillion and one projects. Children who are not preoccupied with “texting” or “surfing” are juggling schoolwork and chessed assignments, and young adults are so self-absorbed with shidduchim and friends’ vorts and weddings (not to mention non-stop cell-chatting) that aging grandparents simply don’t fit into their crammed timetables.

 

No, I do not take the cause on for myself – I simply find it heartbreaking to see the elderly (particularly those who’ve lost their other halves) spending endless lonely hours surrounded by frozen-in-time framed photographs of their children and grandchildren. What an undeserved and cruel fate, to be left with only pictures and memories after years of toil and tears invested in raising their families.

 

So who is at fault, Rachel? These are not so-called teens-at-risk or underachievers, nor are they kids from broken homes or dysfunctional backgrounds. And yet the recent lament of a lonely almonah rings in my ear and tugs at my heart: This is why one needs to have children?

 

             As a relatively young (and grateful) grandma, I have my “senior moments” when I shudder as I contemplate what lies ahead.

Reassure me, Rachel

 

 

Dear Reassure,

 

On at least one day of the week, “texting” and “surfing” and all mundane acts are (miraculously) placed on hold as we strive to get in touch with our spiritual selves.

 

This season’s long Shabbosim give us the leisure to delve into the deeper meaning of our existence and to fortify our belief system – by drinking in the wisdom contained in Pirkei Avos, gleaned from Mishneh Torah.

 

Right there in the first perek, you may find the reassurance you seek: “Im lo achshav imassai – if not now, when?” (Utilizing the time now to do the right thing can prevent future heartache.) 

 

Rabeinu Yona’s interpretation of this saying strikes at the heart of the issue you address: Young plants (our children) are malleable and can be trained to grow straight, in an upward direction. Once they have grown crooked, it is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to set them straight.

 

Grandparents – what an amazing gift! I must confess that to me, as a child, a “bubby” and “zeidy” were fictitious characters in fanciful tales. I could only dream of what it would be like to have a bubby who would love me and spoil me as only a bubby can.

 

What I’d have given to know my grandparents! How I’d have loved to impress them and do them proud, to make them smile, to confide in them and to know that my secrets would be as safe as can be, to hear stories of their own experiences and to learn from their age-old wisdom!

 

             Oh, we (my siblings and I) knew that our parents had parents once upon a time, but to us that was in another life, another world, before an evil man cut them down in their prime, making sure that they would not live long enough to realize grandchildren.

 

How foolish is the one who squanders G-d’s precious gift of Grand Parents, to say nothing of the wasted priceless opportunities to fulfill the mitzvah of honoring them!

 

And who could possibly care more about you than a grandparent? A parent’s love is tempered with discipline and the challenges of childrearing, whereas a grandparent is free to love pure and simple. 

 

Nobody can be a parent, teacher and best friend all rolled into one quite like a grandparent. Cherish them today, for nobody lives forever!

 

Confidential to “Esther”: It’s been a while since you went off to begin a new chapter in your life, with much hope and enthusiasm. Just to let you know that you are often thought of and to say how gratifying it would be to hear from you!

 

* * * * *

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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