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While recently riding on a private local bus, I couldn’t help but overhear two elderly, balbatish ladies talking. What caught my undivided attention, however, was the pride in one woman’s tone as she announced that she and her husband would boycott their granddaughter’s wedding because they did not approve of the young man.
Apparently, the young bochur did not meet the grandmother’s stamp of approval even though, from what she described – he seemed like a rather acceptable fellow. He was in college, pursuing a graduate degree, working part-time and had attended a modern Yeshiva. His parents were first generation Americans and spoke with accents. These facts of his life – as far as she was concerned – placed him on the “wrong side of the tracks.” Simply put – he was not good enough for her granddaughter.
She insisted that she deserved at the very least a boy who was Rosh Yeshiva material, one who had graduated from a “yichusdik” yeshiva, and who would make learning his priority. Such a grandson-in-law she could be proud of – not some “modern” college boy whose parents were unknown outside their immigrant community.
“Bubbi” had given her grandchild the ultimatum – either break up with the boy ? or she would not attend the wedding.
It took all my self-restraint to avoid shaking this pitifully narrow minded lady who actually felt that she had her grandchild’s “best interests at heart.”
What she was truly looking for was in-laws who would impress her chevra.
I fervently prayed that the girl in question would have the gumption to stick to her convictions and remain loyal to the young man and go ahead with the wedding.
There are many stories that have crossed my path similar to this one, where close relatives put undeserved pressure on a young person to pick between them and their zivug. The excuses are superficial and often based on snobbery or a desire to maintain control over an adult child.
In the former scenario, a potential spouse is rejected because of pettiness and sinat chinam: the boy/girl is from a different culture (Sephardi or Ashkenazi, Chassidish or Litvish); wants to learn/or wants to earn; is too frum/not frum enough; comes from a ba’al teshuva family, or from the wrong community in Europe. The excuses are endless, and for the most part, without real merit. And worst of all – this pressure causes so much discord, aggravation, and anguish at a time that should be joyous and full of appreciation to the Ribono Shel Olam.
To the grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts and close family members who insist “him/her or us” – I say shame on you!
I personally have been to so many weddings, including two of my own, where the mothers and/or fathers of the chossen or kallah are newly minted adult orphans, having lost a beloved parent or both in recent years. Day to day life has become bearable, but Yomim Tovim and simchas are still challenging emotionally.
As we marched our children to the chuppah, most of us valiantly but unsuccessfully tried not to cry, but tears of supreme joy spilled down our cheeks, alternating with tears of supreme grief because our mothers/fathers could not physically share in this ultimate moment of nachas in our families.
To have been able to embrace and be embraced by our parents as the glass was broken and the young couple excitedly emerged for the first time to build a bayit ne’eman b’Yisrael would have been the crowning moment in our lives and theirs. This is especially true for elderly Holocaust survivors. Witnessing their grandchildren getting married, many named after their own murdered mothers and fathers and siblings – would be the superlative validation of their survival and the rebuilding of the fragile family tree.
I personally know of grandparents who have been blessed with the health and years to participate in the simcha of their oldest grandchild. They have declared their “principled” intention of not attending her wedding if she doesn’t break off the engagement because they “don’t approve” of the groom.
Instead of thanking the Creator for His benevolence in granting them life and allowing them to reach this tremendous milestone in their lives – of seeing bnei banim – children of children – getting married and establishing a new home – they willfully and self-righteously turn their backs on this merciful gift from Hashem.
It makes me wonder who to pity more: the grandmother, or her granddaughter.
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Yet all are part of one neshamah, planted in rich, verdant soil, determined to grow. May our garden continue to produce a glorious assortment of flowers and trees, each attached firmly to its roots. Our diverse southern vegetation flourishes and grows into different trees, flowers, and fruits, and a rainbow of glorious shades and hues appears. Yet each shoot is rooted in the same soil, stretching its branches and blossoms heavenward in an endless pursuit of growth and connection to the One above.
This past Lag B’Omer, we were blessed to make our first upsherin, where we celebrate our son’s first hair cut. It’s a wonderful milestone that mimics the three years that we refrain from plucking a tree’s first fruits and symbolizes the entry of the child into the world of Torah learning. It’s a clear sign to everyone; this boy is no longer a baby.
Although there are more direct and faster routes to Beer Sheva and Eilat and all the sites and towns in-between, the Basor River is one of the beauties of the Negev that defiantly justifies a diversion.
The importance of death customs has been ingrained in me since birth. When I served as a shomeret for my grandmother, I was instructed not to eat, drink or perform a mitzvah in the same room. In the shock of death, it seemed rather inane to be told it would be considered mocking the dead. My grandmother was gone; she couldn’t do those things because she didn’t exist anymore, a fact that still makes me tear up.
I would have to say that one of the most annoying things about having a newspaper advice column, aside from all these people writing to me and asking for advice, is that they frequently don’t tell me WHY they’re asking.
Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l, who passed away on 28 Tammuz, (July18) this year at age 102, spent all of his days and most of his nights learning Torah. He was the paramount leader of our generation, and inspired tremendous awe and reverence in everyone who knew him. Now, every woman has the stunning opportunity to do something in his memory. A Sefer Torah is being written in his memory and women around the world have the chance to dedicate a letter.
Due to her family situation, it is understandable that she will have more responsibilities than other girls her age, but she would benefit from having some free time and receiving more appreciation for her hard work.
For children, summer means outdoor sports, picnics, and of course, no school! Teachers and students work hard all year long – and everyone deserves a break from education over the summer. However, this two-month break can often have some pretty devastating consequences.
It was only after we celebrated the great news that we were expecting twins that we saw the first sign of problems. First of all, my wife was losing, not gaining weight, even as the babies continued to grow normally. Soon after, routine blood work revealed that my wife was suffering from gestational diabetes.
Rabbi Pinchas Gruman is the new rav of the Minyan at Aish Tamid.
One of the most respected Torah figures in Los Angeles, Rabbi Gruman has been described as “The Los Angeles link in the mesorah of the yeshiva world” by Rabbi Nachum Sauer. As a talmid in Lakewood in the 1950s, Rabbi Gruman received semicha from Rav Aaron Kotler, zt”l, and Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l. Soon after, he moved to Los Angeles.
Another tree is down.
I’m driving down Lakewood Avenue, figuring that maybe, just maybe, the tree that blocked the middle of North Lake Drive has been removed, and I can go through. After all, they had a whole day. I’m sure things have been taken care of.
A popular topic of discussion in newspapers, magazines and talk shows revolves around the management of personal finances – or rather the lack of them. In most cases, dealing with overwhelming debt is the topic de jour. Seems many people are drowning in it. Spending more than they have has mired countless consumers into a financial quicksand with maxed out credit cards and collection agencies knocking on the door. Speaking of doors, many face eviction and the loss of their home.
One of the subjects I was taught as a young child in school was Tefillah. Since we spoke only Ivrit during our Limudei Kodesh and secular Hebrew studies – literature, creative writing and Jewish history – we pretty much understood the words we were davening.
Shortly before Pesach, I received a rather agitated call from a long time reader of The Jewish Press who pleaded with me to write a column regarding what she insisted was the unwarranted high cost of Pesach food – in particular shmurah matzah – and how hard it was for young families to pay what she felt were over-inflated prices in order to keep strictly kosher.
The price of deliberate obliviousness is very high – emotionally, physically, socially, and financially.
How is it possible that a person of seemingly normal intelligence (nowhere does it say he is simple) not have the ability to ask a question – to not react and enquire as to the why of the hustle and bustle around him?
It was one of those cold, rain-soaked evenings – the kind that make you look forward to a hot drink, a good book and a soft couch to curl up on. With those happy thoughts in mind, I proceeded to cross to the other side of the street.
The other day I was shopping at a large supermarket and happened to go down the frozen foods aisle, past the endless freezers containing every imaginable flavor, shape and size of ice cream. I rarely buy. Rather I am like a tourist in a museum – gawking at wondrous objects that I know I can’t take home with me.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/stupidity/2004/12/01/
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