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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

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Readers’ Commentary
Re: Great-Grandma’s Not-So-Illustrous Golden Years

Dear Rachel,

Regarding the letter signed, “The Golden Years are not so golden” (Chronicles Oct. 4), I would like to say that I truly sympathize with the bubby and understand that loneliness is painful and difficult to endure. She must feel like all her life’s work has not paid off.

Having said that, I would like to propose some ideas (which she may have tried). There is a Yiddish saying, “Az di gist bista” – if you give then you are. What I am suggesting is that she remember all her grandchildren by sending them a birthday card and a little present and phoning them on occasions such as anniversaries, graduations, chumash seudahs, etc.

There is also truth to her comment about motherhood; it is not always so glorious and wondrous. I live with untold pain as well. My daughter is twenty-one and due to a family situation coupled with the shidduch crisis, the shadchanim don’t call. Seeing her losing her sense of pride and dreams is painful to bear.

In conclusion, many people live with great pain, some from illness, childlessness, or loneliness. There is no one difficulty that encompasses absolute pain above all others, because pain is immeasurable.

No matter what is pressing on our hearts, may we all be granted a yeshua from above.

Continuing to hope and pray…

Dear Continuing,

You’re doing good by hoping and praying, but you might also want to reflect on the following: 1) Hashem, the Master Shadchan, has proven His resourcefulness countless times; 2) your daughter at the young age of twenty-one has no reason not to stand tall and hold on to her dreams; 3) an optimistic attitude and positive frame of mind on her mother’s part will go a long way in encouraging her to follow suit.

Dear Rachel,

I’m glad you set bubby straight. Let’s just say that not too many grown children call their parents daily or are eager to host them for Shabbosim and Yomim Tovim. The lady ought to count her blessings.

On another note, she might be suffering from depression and should inquire about taking prescription medication to lift her mood. To be sure, physical debilitation is a downer, but that’s all the more reason to take advantage of modern medicine available to counter the blues.

Just saying…

Dear Just Saying,

Good point.

Dear Rachel,

The elderly widowed great-grandma surely can’t be having an easy time of it, but I’d like to suggest that it is her attitude that’s keeping her grandkids away. She sounds embittered and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if she unloads her troubles on her young visitors — not that I’m looking to excuse their negligence. Children and grandchildren have a chiyuv [halachic obligation] to pay honor and respect to their parents/grandparents, regardless of whether the mitzvah comes easy or not.

A smile is catchy

Dear Smile,

We don’t really know, do we? And like you infer, we don’t do a mitzvah because it comes easy. If the woman’s grandchildren would bring their grandma some cheer, she might find reason to smile.

Dear Rachel,

The letter written by the great-grandma brings to mind the new law that was enacted in China a few months back — that all adult children must visit their elderly parents frequently (“elderly” constituting older than 60) and must also make sure that their financial and spiritual needs are met. This law purportedly came about due to the many reports of children’s neglect of their elderly parents.

Ironic, isn’t it?

Dear Ironic,

Forget not that the Chinese government has its own agenda. Their “one-child per family” policy mandated over thirty years ago has come home to roost; while seniors account for over 15% of the country’s population and their numbers are climbing, the country’s work force made up of the diminishing younger generation is shrinking and leaves the government to foot the astronomical bill for elder care.

Thus the driving force behind the Chinese version of kibbud av v’eim was to save the government coffers.

Dear Rachel,

As I was reading about the bubby whose golden years have lost their sheen, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the negligent children. Yes, I mean the children. Because they fail to realize that what goes around comes around.

One day they too will reach a ripe old age. Whereas by then they will have most likely forgotten their dereliction of duty towards their own parents/grandparents, Hashem keeps a very precise accounting of our every deed and repays in kind.

I don’t mean to sound morbid, but that’s the reality.

Just telling it like it is

Dear Just,

No argument there. However, our benevolent Creator does not seek vengeance but rather waits for us to do the right thing and to constantly strive to grow in ruchnius.

That said, parents who drop the ball and fail to do what’s right unwittingly pass those failings on to their children — who tend to emulate the actions (or inactions) of their parents.

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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