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August 31, 2015 / 16 Elul, 5775
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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

By: Rachel

Dear Rachel,

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)

Dear Rachel,

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!

Many women may not agree with you — I know how most of them feel about the issue, even as singles. And their “Bais Yaakov” education doesn’t do anything to help; they come out thinking they know best, yet have very little self-esteem. (They often mistake their self-regard for great self-esteem… what a shame!)

A single frum male   Dear Rachel,

I’ve always worn a sheitel in a low-key style, and to be honest I’m one of those who could never see myself going out with anything but “hair” on my head. So you can imagine that I really appreciated the open and honest way you approached the subject in your reply to the tichel-wearing LA girl.

I would also like to thank Rabbi Gil Student for going to the trouble of commenting at length on the column (Letters to the Editor 10-14-2011). His detailed explanation on the married woman’s head covering, as defined and decided by highly regarded halachic authorities, was something I needed to hear. I’m the type who appreciates black and white explanations and will save a copy of that letter for future reference.

A Middle-Aged Grandma

 

Dear Rachel,

I was very surprised at the generalizations you made in your reply to the LA tichel wearer. You made it seem like only the tichel wearer is capable of understanding the transient nature of this world, as learned from the sukkah. It is interesting to note that Chazal tell us that one should decorate one’s sukkah, make it beautiful and bring into it all of his finest possessions.

I still can’t get over the recent tremendous loss of our dear Rebbetzin Kanievsky. The reason I mention her is that in her house EVERYONE was welcome and everyone came — women in hats, tichels, wigs, and even women without a head covering.

Rebbetzin Kanievsky accepted everyone, listened to everyone and gave everyone chizuk and a bracha. It would be an incredible aliyah for her neshama if we would try to do the same and not be so judgmental. Let’s leave the judging to the Judge of all Judges; it is for Him to decide the sincerity of each individual, whether she be a tichel or sheitel wearer, or is bareheaded. Who are we, who only see the exterior of an individual, to decide – based on what is on one’s head – how sincere or religious a person is? That to me seems like a great miscarriage of justice.

I am sorry that LA girl had a bad experience during her return to Yiddishkeit, but that does not give her or anyone the right to label all of the beautiful sheitel wearers as not as sincere as she is.

As Hashem admonished Shmuel HaNavi:

Man sees with his eyes but Hashem sees the heart.

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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