Several thoughts came to mind when I read the letter regarding the behavior of children in shul and adult reactions to it. In my opinion, this is a serious problem and the letter writer was completely correct, yet it was a strong letter that can be construed by some as bordering on sinas chinam.
If everyone showed basic derech eretz, we wouldn’t have this problem. Unfortunately, not only will many parents do nothing, but they will get angry if anyone says anything, because any criticism could damage their darling children psychologically and impede their development.
When my sons were very young, I would take them outside of shul if they made any noise. As they grew older, I taught them that it was completely forbidden to make a sound during leining, Kedusha, and the Mourner’s Kaddish. Later, I taught them that no talking was permitted during davening. When they were old enough and tested me, I would punish them appropriately. Today I have the nachas and zechus to see my frum, yeshivish son put his finger to his lips if someone talks to him during Kaddish.
Years ago I davened in a shul with a prominent rav. If a baby made a sound during his sermon, he would start screaming that the baby should be taken out. On the other hand, when my sons were growing up we went to a shul where the rav’s attitude was that all babies and children should be brought to shul. I won’t comment on the former case, knowing that most people share my opinion. However, if parents won’t show derech eretz, the rav has to deal with it. The following anecdote will show how one rav coped beautifully:
Many years ago in a shul in Brooklyn, just as the rav began his sermon one Yom Kippur, a baby in the front row started whimpering. The rav began: “On Yom Kippur there are three whom we must forgive.” (The baby started crying louder, and the mother was visibly mortified and frozen.)
The rav continued: “We must forgive ourselves…” The crying intensified. “We must forgive our fellow man…” The crying became still louder. I fail to recall the exact context of the sermon which took place over forty years ago, but I do recall the rav finally saying, “I forgot, there’s a fourth we must forgive. We must forgive babies who cry during the sermon.” Everyone laughed, and the mother relaxed and took the baby out.
Finally, things might be easier if adults also behaved appropriately during davening, especially during the three instances mentioned above. However, that’s a different parsha.
A Sweet Year to All! A Tichel-Wearing LA Girl stirs emotions (Chronicles 10-7 and 10-14)
I would like to thank the tichel-wearing LA girl for sharing her story. Though we live in a very yeshivish community, I often find myself shaking my head in disbelief when coming across young wives who flaunt their long and glamorous (fake) custom locks of hair that cascade down the middle of their backs. There is no way they can miss the looks they get and the seductive message they communicate.
LA girl’s letter (and your reply) was enough to motivate me to honestly assess my own modestly priced wigs. I think I’m going to trim the length of one that may come across as too youthful for a mom of five kids.
Thanks for the eye-opener Thank you LA Girl!
I totally second your point of view! It’s deceptive and untznius’dik, especially when married women flirt and flip their sheitels. As a single man, I find what goes on in the streets of Brooklyn today to be absolutely horrible. Kudos for having the courage to write about it!