In my previous column, I wrote that helping to foster a positive self-image in one's children is the greatest gift parents can give them. Similarly, self-like (not to be confused with narcissistic self-worship) is a key component in having a successful life.
The new school year is starting and parents across the board are busy getting their children ready for school. New clothing, books and study aids like calculators have been bought and bus service and car pools organized. As the year progresses parents will do whatever it takes to help ensure their offspring do well in their Limudei Kodesh and secular studies, including helping with homework or even enlisting a tutor.
Last time I wrote about the misguided attitude toward sports and exercise that seemingly permeates many frum circles. Some askanim view physical activity as unnecessary, needlessly diverting precious time from Torah study.
A recent article that appeared on the haredi website, yeshivaworld.com, described how askanim in Israel had approached HaRav Aryeh Yehuda Leib Shteinman, shlita, armed with a kol korei against vacations during bein hazmanim. Their goal was to get his haskamah in their mission to stop bachurim from doing what they felt was an inappropriate and wasteful use of time - hiking, swimming, nature walking, sightseeing, etc. (generally vacationing from their studies).
Maybe because Tisha B'av was on our minds, as were recent dismaying events both in Israel and closer to home, but what had started as a relaxed, light-hearted lunch with friends took a dark turn when someone mentioned a recent tragedy involving a young child. Another friend shared an equally horrible story. We acknowledged that lately we all had heard of so many "umglicks" - horrific events afflicting members of the community.
The other day, while schmoozing with a friend, the conversation (as chats often do) turned to food. My friend talked about a delicious dish she had eaten as a guest during Shavuot. She mentioned how she planned to replicate it in her kitchen, but hadn't gotten around to it yet.
Like most people on this planet whose abodes are wired to electricity, I have a computer and go online. It is amazing to me that information on any subject or on any matter can be instantly retrieved with a few clicks of a mouse.
Human nature is such that we tend to procrastinate the attainment of important milestones and goals, such as an education or a shidduch. This is so because we delude ourselves into thinking that we have all the time in the world.
I wait at the airport for the arrival of my youngest son, along with his wife and baby. Upon arrival, they will rent a car and make their way in an unfamiliar city to his oldest brother's house.
My mother's recent yahrzeit after Pesach, coupled with Yom HaZikaron and recent Yom Tovim and Shabbatot spent with my children and grandchildren, has cemented my belief that I was robbed of a major life asset - my grandparents. While I knew that having them was a life-enhancing relationship, I didn't truly comprehend it until I became one.
Over the years, I have been to many, many theatrical productions, most in Toronto, some in Israel and of course, in New York - on Broadway, off-Broadway, and even off-off Broadway. At times I have been entertained, amused, moved, and educated by what I have seen ( and on the negative side, sometimes bored or disgusted or angered) but I don't think that I have ever been imbued with a much needed sense of hope.
I know Purim is over, but Megillat Esther is so rich with lessons on how people should live their lives - along with the consequences of not doing so - that I wish to share one of the many wisdoms that I have gleaned from reading it. I believe that the world wouldn't be in the mess it is in - economically, socially and spiritually - if people would only open their eyes to the megillah's masterful insights on how to behave.
In many countries around the world it is required by law to put warning labels on products, activities or places that can cause injury or death. Thus the labels of many medications and foods or items, such as cigarettes and alcoholic beverages, contain strong warnings on them saying that they are harmful. Likewise beaches that are unsafe to swim in due to a strong current, lack of a lifeguard, or high bacterial count also have signs posted cautioning people not to go swimming. Hospital rooms that contain radioactive products have signs warning about entering.
I wrote a version of the poem below many years ago, before the term "shidduch crisis" came into vogue.
In my case, the answer to the above question is, "Yes, too much pressure (in my case blood pressure) led me to indulge in not so smart (actually stupid) "avoidance" behavior.
For me, the moments before sundown every Friday evening are like a "mini" Yom Kipper.
I recently became a bubbe again with the birth of a granddaughter, Kayla Elisheva.
I recently had the good fortune to be able to attend a musical in New York City that was entirely in Yiddish, a presentation of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene.
Many of us, especially those who are in mid-life, have weathered certain "storms" in our lives - some easier to cope with and "get over" than others.
The first half of the following poem is loosely based on a true situation as shared with me by a very close friend whose family "culture" was to "good- naturedly" tease one another or make gentle fun of each other's looks and actions.