Meir Panim’s Tiberias Free Restaurant not only provides warm meals, but the opportunity to socialize as well.
There is a wise Yiddish saying that translates into this observation: “Yichus (illustrious ancestors) is like a potato - they are both under the ground.” My understanding of this statement is that while one should be proud of one’s outstanding forefathers - one should not base his/her self-evaluation on ancestral achievements. In other words, don’t walk around like you’re a superior being just because your great-grandparents were special. Their menschlichkeit, their knowledge, their midos are not transferable. You must earn these accolades through your own efforts.
Unfortunately, many people have the mistaken belief that since an individual comes from yichus, that he/she embodies the virtues and capabilities of his/her ancestors. They buy into the premise that the sterling qualities that made the family yichusdik is automatically passed down to the heirs. Hence they are thrilled when a shidduch is rett (suggested) for one of their children to go out with “so-and so” who is “so and so’s” einekel (descendant).
While in many cases, the members of the generations that follow do emulate the achievements and qualities of their memorable alte zaydehs, it is not necessary the case. Sometimes, a member of the clan is nowhere intellectually or morally near the level of his forbearers. Case in point: Esav was the son of Yitzchak Avinu and grandson of Avraham Avinu. He had the best yichus possible – but all he really inherited was their DNA.
The reality that the character of a son or daughter is not on par with their yichus is tragically overlooked by shadchanim. Often the parents on the other side are eager to believe the misrepresentations, even though there are indications to the contrary. The hapless young person ends up fahling ahrein - an expression that in English can be explained as falling into a bad situation, one that is very hard to extradite oneself from - like quicksand, or a deep pit.
Many people have written to The Jewish Press sharing how they were the envy of their friends for getting “such a catch,” and they bitterly realized how deluded they were to think that Mr./Miss Great Family Pedigree made great marriage material. Sadly, marrying a scion of a household with a distinguished family tree does not guarantee “happily ever after.”
The lesson to take to heart is that each potential marital partner should be evaluated on his/her own merit. This holds true whether they come from very respectable families, or if they come from less stellar backgrounds. After all, just as Esav was who he was despite his illustrious background, the virtuous Rifka was the daughter of Bethuel, and the righteous Leah and Rochel were the daughters of Lavan! Ironically, under today’s rules, no self-respecting family would have touched those girls despite their incredible midos.
The jaundiced view regarding young people who are not quite “mainstream” i.e. from a divorced home, baalei teshuva, immigrant family, etc., is often inaccurate and unjustified. So is the misguided perception that kids from “wonderful” homes are themselves wonderful.
People assume that children of divorce are messed up or have emotional problems, and will not let their children date those from broken homes. They don’t realize that any household where there are married parents but no sholom bayit is also a broken home. Children growing in two parent homes where the parents constantly fight and yell in front of their them, where the adults are demeaning, critical and verbally abusive - are at more risk for being dysfunctional than children in single parent homes that are tranquil.
In the same vein, young people who go to yeshivas/girls’ schools that are not considered as being top level schools are often ostracized when in comes to shidduchim. The irony is that many of these students are more sincere and hardworking in their davening and learning, and have more developed midos and ahavas Yisrael than some whose entry into a “good” yeshiva was smoothed by their father’s or grandfather’s hefty annual donations.
To prejudge a person, either favorably or unfavorably because of superficial yardsticks, is unfair and self-defeating. A parent might pass up a wonderful person and end up with a son or daughter-in-law who will bring discord, turmoil and heartache to the family.
The old saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover” has much merit to it.
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This is the story of a Holocaust survivor who began her odyssey in Dej, Romania. Chanele Anne Grun Kempler was a teenager when she came to Auschwitz, almost 20 when she immigrated to Montreal and became a famous artist, and 64 when she passed away, alone in her bed, in 1994, on her chest a letter from Yad Vashem informing her that the painting she offered to the organization would be admitted and displayed.
It’s not that I think contractors, painters and tile guys are exclusively greedy, deceitful incompetent people – I think they are just poor businessmen or women!
I look into the flickering flames of the Shabbos candles and I am thankful for the warmth and light that emanates from them and illuminates our home.
Widow of world-famous nuclear scientist and human rights activist, Dr. Andre Sakharov, and an outstanding activist in her own right, Yelena Bonner was invited to speak of the suffering she endured in Stalinist Russia. Instead, the 86-year-old leader of the Russian human rights movement chose to speak about Israel and the Jews. Why?
I wonder why bullying exists in our community and in society at large? I was very surprised at a 30-year-old client’s explanation.
The rebbe had told Meir and Yehudah to take turns, but that wasn’t working out so well.
The sage Hillel summarized the entire Torah by saying, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn it.”
Sometimes it is hard to help people, and sometimes you can help people by just using whatever it is you have at the time – even an amazing fishing rod.
Musial told the taunted Jackie Robinson: “I want you to know that I’m not like many of the other guys on my team.”
Brooklyn resident David Siller, currently studying in Israel at Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah in Beit Shemesh, was awarded a trophy for finishing 3rd in his age group (14-18) in a 5-kilometer race for the benefit of the Benjamin Children’s Library of Beit Shemesh.
Let me begin by congratulating my dear machatunim, Soraya and Jay Nimaroff, on being the recipients of the Community Service Award at the Sderot Hesder Institutions 18th annual anniversary dinner.
How confusing it was growing up with conflicting messages. On the one hand, we were told, even admonished, to eat everything on our generously piled up plates (it was a sin to waste food), yet we were made to feel like we were a lower form of human being if we were overweight.
While in New York recently, I was invited to see a performance of “Waiting for Godot” – a multi-layered play on the human condition that I was introduced to in high school. What was fascinating and unique about this particular production was that this renowned play was being performed in Yiddish – with English and Russian subtitles beamed onto a screen for non-Yiddish speakers. (Staged by the New Yiddish Rep, at the Castillo Theatre, and directed by Moshe Yassur, it stars Shane Baker, David Mandelbaum, Rafael Goldwaser, Avi Hoffman and Nicholas Jenkins.)
Now and then my Bubby would open up about what she went through in the camps, of what she witnessed… From time to time she would talk about her baby sisters – twins – and how she would sew them identical dresses and braid their hair the same way challenging everyone to guess who was who.
Our community has a very different mindset – we live to have children. Each child is considered a bracha – a priceless commodity to cherish and nurture.
I read an article recently that described the fascinating phenomenon of mainstream, well-educated, responsible men and women deciding not to have children. According to the article, these people have given the matter a great deal of thought and have come to the conclusion that parenting is not for them.
Now and then you read or hear of a tragedy – typically a car accident – where those involved are suffering from life-threatening injuries or unfortunately have lost their lives. Frequently, in the initial reports, the victims remain nameless “pending notification of next of kin.”
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/pride-prejudice-and-potatoes/2003/11/05/
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