Latest update: March 6th, 2012
Reader Response to Community (lack of) values (See Chronicles 3-18-11) — the woman who wrote to complain about the apparent unwillingness of friends to help her and her husband move to a another dwelling, the lack of a warm welcome and embrace from their new neighbors, and the general indifference of the “younger generation.”
Had anyone spoken to me after I finished reading Community (lack of) values, I would have been unable to respond; that’s how dumbstruck I was. By now, of course, I’ve recovered sufficiently to find the narcissistic behavior of a woman in her mid-twenties who calls the younger generation self-absorbed, funny.
I was 42 when I was divorced. I was alone in a 5-room apartment with furniture, had to find another apartment, a job, sell half my furniture, pack what was left to move, then unpack as soon as I moved into 3 rooms, all by myself.
My closest friends were in no condition to help. I won’t comment on the shape I was in during all of that year nor in the years following when the ceiling in my apartment leaked. It would never have occurred to me to ask strangers to help (my brother, mother and sister didn’t offer), nor did I expect them to.
Where is this woman’s husband? Surely two people in their mid-twenties are capable of moving to another apartment without outside help. This is one of the smaller problems one deals with in life. The writer also seems to think she was entitled to the same attention as a woman in the neighborhood who had a baby and was known and befriended by everyone, and who had probably done the same for others before having her own.
The “queen and her consort” wound up having to move most of their things by themselves and had to “announce their arrival” to everyone. How horrible! She’s bitter? She should retire from society. She’ll never be missed. As for being placed at the end of the table at any dinner, I never knew it was something to complain about — unless, of course, there were no diners sitting with her. Pity the poor guests that were, knowing she felt too good to be sitting with them! Amongst other things, this person also lacks social graces.
I am inclined to believe the letter was a plant. How can any woman in her mid-twenties be that obtuse? This baby needs to grow up. Reeking of envy, self-serving, unable to carry her weight (even with the help of her husband), blind to her shortcomings… such deadbeats are to be avoided like the plague. Life is hard. There’s no need to cater to freeloaders. She’s a taker. She doesn’t know how to give.
Rachel, you were diplomatic in the extreme. I hope the complainant realizes this, but I doubt it. A new husband, a new apartment, and already complaining? The future for those around her looks grim indeed.
Be a doer, not a whiner
You should have told the woman who wrote to you complaining about the “younger generation” to get a life. How does a couple moving from one apartment to another think of asking “friends” to help them move? If this was a single guy or girl with just a couple of boxes and some odds and ends, asking a pal for a helping hand is understandable. But a married couple’s belongings and furnishings would normally require the services of a mover for hire.
This woman doesn’t seem to realize how overbearing she is and how it makes people want to keep their distance. Unfortunately, there are plenty of charity cases in real need of chesed, but this couple doesn’t seem to fit the bill. If I’m wrong, they can take advantage of the many gemachim and organizations in their community set up for the purpose of helping the needy.
Otherwise, this woman ought to keep in mind that one who relies on charity when it is not needed will one day find him/herself really needing it.
Kvetching ain’t the way
What struck me most about Values’ letter was that her entire focus is on what she wanted to receive from others. Not once does she mention having given anything to another person. I have no doubt that the parents who had just had a baby and were the recipients of help and meals from the neighbors had themselves helped out other neighbors in similar situations in the past. She doesn’t mention a single thing she did to help others. Is she demonstrating the very same self-centered narcissistic behavior that she is accusing others of?
Rav Dessler, in his sefer Michtav M’Eliyahu, speaks at length about the importance of being a giver instead of a taker. Clearly, one of the side benefits of being a giver is that it makes people inclined to give back to you.
A member of the older generation
Can we really know what motivates our writer to feel and act as she does? Consider the following scenarios:
1) She and/or her husband grew up in a home where their parents were frugal (out of necessity or habit) and they don’t know any better.
2) Our letter-writer did not wish to disclose that one or both of them have a physical impediment.
3) They are simply two lonely souls without siblings who are craving some social contact and are desperate to “fit in.”
Social graces and etiquette are picked up in the home during one’s growing years from role models — generally parental figures. After that, life experiences further hone and mold one’s character traits. Our first reader/responder (above) is the perfect model: She came by hard times and rose to the occasion – most admirably, it would seem – and became stronger and more resilient as a result.
Hopefully the author of Community (lack of) values, now a mere “babe in the woods” in her mid-twenties, will live and learn as she and her spouse mature.
Thank you for giving them some pointers on getting there.
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About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to email@example.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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