Every Friday evening, in Jewish homes across the world, the question is asked, "Eishet chayil mi yimtzah – The woman of valor, where can she be found?"
Charedi rabbinical leaders in Israel, and I imagine globally, are greatly perturbed, even horrified by the “chumrah” some Orthodox Israeli women have taken upon themselves – that of covering their bodies up in a manner similar to traditional Muslim women, who wear head to toe, shroud-like black burkas.
As Jewish festivals go, Chanukah is one of our favorites – it is quite “user-friendly.” We get a rare green light to travel and cook with no restrictions. We can drive back and forth (no need for our hosts to find sleeping accommodations) and feast with family and friends as we gleefully celebrate the miracle of a rag-tag band of heroes beating the odds. We rejoice over the improbable reality that a few overcame the many; of a bit of burning oil lasting way beyond its “shelf-life.”
In my previous column I mentioned that a matchmaking initiative called the NASI Project was generating an avalanche of discussions, debates and disagreements regarding its value in effectively dealing with what is referred to in Orthodox communities as the shidduch crisis.
A new shidduch initiative has created an ear-deafening buzz in frum communities across North America and beyond.
Dear Readers, Over the long stretch of Yom Tov, I spent a lot of time in the park (in three different states) while enjoying the antics - some of them hair-raising - of my grandchildren as they swung, slid, jumped and hid. As you can imagine, the park was full of heimishe men, women and children, happy for the opportunity, after three days of being indoors at shul and at the dining room table, to work off excess calories (the adults) and excess energy (the kids).
We have just completed three sets of three-day Yom Tov/Shabbat combinations, and now with some sadness (tempered with a dollop of relief) we return to "normalcy" and our daily routines.
During Yom Tov, the great majority of Jews are surrounded by family, friends and neighbors. Whether in shul or at the table, we share the holiness and festivities that define our holidays with the ones we love and are connected to. The hours fly as we daven, and later feast on a succulent variety of fish and meat dishes, kugels, salads and desserts. The day is full of warmth, color and noise as adult banter mingles with children's chatter.
Dear Readers, From time to time, members of The Jewish Press community take the time and trouble to write or e-mail me sharing their feelings regarding something I wrote. Most of the comments are supportive and encouraging - and some are not. Either way, I appreciate all reader input, negative or positive, as it lets me know that my thoughts and observations are having an impact.
In my previous column, I noted that the typical response to a tragedy in the heimishe community is a call forteshuvah. Almost always, the two "culprits" singled out for the cause of our misfortunes and in most need of repair are shmiras halashon and a lack of tznuit. I stated my belief that these are just two of the many components of a more insidious behavior that is pandemic in our community - that being the wanton, often deliberate action of misleading and fooling people into doing things that ultimately are detrimental and even ruinous to them.
It seems that whenever there is a tragedy in the heimishe olam, almost always the horrific, premature loss of life due to a car crash, a drowning, a freak accident or mindless violence/terrorism, it immediately is followed by a chorus of anguished voices screaming out the need to do teshuva.
Dear Readers: Everywhere you turn, it seems that people are beset with so many problems and worries; some are financial in nature, some revolve around social issues like shidduchim and marriage, some involve setbacks and losses, and the non-actualization of the vision we had of how the days of our lives would play out.
Dear Readers, Charity should not just be about putting money in a pushkaor writing a check. I strongly feel that taking the initiative and offering positive and comforting words, which will in some measure alleviatie another person's pain or burden, should count as tzedakahas well. As we approach Tisha B'Av, followed by Shabbat Nachamu, we should take the lesson of the collective need for ahavat Yisrael that we are so painfully aware of.
She gets out of the taxi at her little sister's place, As she approaches the front door she slows down her pace. She takes a deep breath and forces a smile on her face, Though sadness and anxiety make her heart race.
Several weeks ago, a young husband and father wrote a letter to Dr. Yael Respler, columnist for The Jewish Press and a psychotherapist, asking for advice on how to stop smoking. He mentioned that his father, a heavy smoker had died of lung cancer. The young man wrote that he loved his wife and children and hoped he'd be zoche to have a long life with them. His problem, "I am also a chain smoker since my time in yeshiva as a bochur."
Dear Readers: The Torah revolves around one simple concept - treating others in the way you would want to be treated. The following poem gives a glimpse as to why.
I have never used my column to eulogize friends who have passed away, as their loss affected me and an inner circle of people who knew them - but not necessarily the community at large. But that is not the case for Shimie Silver, a"h, for without exaggerating, his circle of friends numbered in the thousands and transcended borders.
Thousands of young frum men and women in their late teens and early 20s will soon be returning from a year (or two or three) in Israeli yeshivas and seminaries, full of youthful exuberance and idealism. Many who had planned on going to college have changed their minds (often to the dismay of their parents) insisting that secular studies or employment are not for them. They want to be full time learners or the wife of one.
In my last column, I wrote about the head-scratching phenomenon of fine young men and women in their late 20's and early 30's who were as marriageable as their friends and siblings, but were still single. I wrote the article because it seemed that over Pesach, every person I met - whether a local or a visitor - representing the full spectrum of Orthodoxy, wondered if I "knew someone" for a single son or daughter, a niece of nephew or a family friend who was still in the parsha despite the fact they were so eligible and "normal."
Out of all the Jewish holidays, Pesach is the one that brings far-flung family and friends together. You go to shul, for a walk, shopping or to an amusement park during chol hamoed, and to your delight you bump into friends and acquaintances you haven't seen for ages. You sit down and you shmooze and you catch up with each other's lives and share information about people you both knew from "the old days."