Chillul Tefila Bifarhesia, as well as halachicly challenged verbiage and dress, are external manifestations of a critical lack of personal yiras shomayim which has lethal consequences.
We all know them – the sad sacks who seemingly were born under a bad constellation. Nothing goes right for them, they insist, and they are always being tripped up by circumstances beyond their control. The hapless, blameless victims of ill-blowing winds – they come running to you, insisting you drop what you are doing and come to their aid…
I am not talking of someone who on occasion faces some kind of unforeseen setback and reaches out for help. We all have a Murphy’s Law kind of day from time to time when things go wrong and events go from bad to worse. What I am talking about those so-called schlimazels who make a career of being parasites – living off of other people’s good will and competence. Habitually needy and clingy once they latch on to you, these human leeches sabotage and undermine themselves in order to perpetuate their dependency on others. (Whether they do so consciously or subconsciously is something only a mental health specialist can determine.)
Common scenarios that bring out these pests: The car service never showed up and they must catch a flight to a family wedding/funeral/interview – could you drive them to the airport, their flight is leaving in an hour! (of course they called the car service five minutes earlier and there were no cars available).
She is constantly running out of staples such as sugar/flour/milk/bread/eggs and could you help her out? The in-laws are coming/she has to bake/brownies for the school bake sale/she promised her husband a cake for his birthday.
Another favorite calamity – s/he meant to put gas in the car but didn’t because the phone rang and s/he was on for hours/it was dark/ s/he fell asleep, and now he/she is late for an exam/a medical appointment/a date/jury duty. You must drive them. Or they have to go somewhere but it’s too cold/too hot/they are too tired/nervous to schlep by train, bus, or walk – it’s just a five minute drive.
And of course, he forgot their wallet at home/her credit card just expired/the bank closed just as he got there/she took the wrong purse. Could you help them out just this once… Just a few dollars, for sure they will pay you back within a week … But when you chase after them they tell you that … they had to go to the shul dinner/ replace the freezer that suddenly went on the blink/had to pay for their son’s date – he has to make a nice impression. You end up resigning yourself to accepting the fact that your money has become a “donation.”
It is not unusual for these relatives/acquaintances/ neighbors to drop in unannounced, not wanting to bother you, they know you’re busy it’s – erev Pesach – but …. could they have a coffee/something to eat – a cheese omelet on toast would be a lifesaver… they hate to impose but… they forgot the house keys and can’t get in the house/they had a stressful day and can’t think straight/ they forgot to take their medication and have no strength… and so on and so on and so on.
The dance never changes. These operators subtly send out the message that they are the ill fated victims of a malicious mazel, born under an evil star, and as they journey down the highway of life, they are cruelly beset and undermined and hamstrung by a never-ending series of potholes, bumps and dead ends.
Nebbich, you think, as you put your soup on low/end the phone call with your daughter in Israel/postpone the shower/forgo the lecture/the exercise class… and grab the car keys and run out the door, hoping you’ll be back in time for the kids’ bus as you drive to the grocery store to take her shopping, loading the groceries full of liquid laundry detergent and bottles of soda into the car and hoping you didn’t wrench your back.
Of course, she would love to help but her doctor told her no heavy lifting for another three months. But you have plenty of time to think about her poor plight as you wait for her to come out of the post office/the bank/the crystal store… it will only be a minute and you’ll be on your way…
How sad, your Yiddische heartz (your Jewish heart) cries, as you roll up your sleeves and prepare to cook all over again for that unfortunate neshama whose stove broke in the middle of cooking the roast/whose out of town Shabbat plans fell through the last minute/whose invitation was canceled – and whose family’s stomachs are too delicate for take-out.
In the meantime, these self-absorbed beings, with no thought or care to the inconveniences, sacrifices, and mesirat nefesh strain they put on the unsuspecting, naive and kind-hearted people – have no sense of appreciation, gratitude or reciprocity. After all, the world was created to serve their needs. Many have managed to cultivate an army of people willing to give rides when a bus goes that route, lend money for “necessities” – such as digital cameras or plane tickets and a myriad of other things that they absolutely need in order to survive.
While the “helpers” think they are doing a chesed going out of their way – often bending over backwards, aiding those who claim they cannot help themselves, the “shlemiels” are the ones who are in control and calling the shots. And laughing all the way to the bank.
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Nearly half a million of them fought in Red Army uniforms, under communist slogans but with a personal vengeance that was solely the result of Jewish experience. More than the “Greatest Generation,” they were the living superheroes hidden in plain sight.
It’s all over.
The orchestra is still, the lights are dimmed. Your simcha outfits hang in your closet, silent witnesses to a time you will treasure in your mind and heart forever.
After noticing that you can’t log into your computer, your pulse quickens as you are called into your supervisor’s office. S/he has some bad news. You are being laid off. You have 15 minutes to clean out your desk and surrender your cell phone before security escorts you out of the building. Job termination, especially in the corporate world, can be heartless.
I have always had a problem with the Omer. Doing the mitzvah of counting the Omer was of course pretty easy. Remembering to start the second evening of Passover and remembering to stop the day before Shavous took a little concentration but somehow I always managed. No, for me the nagging problem was always why was I doing this in the first place, other than the fact it was a biblical (according to the Rambam) commandment.
With the semi-mourning period of Sefira behind us, and the festival of Shavuot as well (as evidenced by the tightness of our clothing due to over-indulging in irresistible versions of cheesecake that is an integral component of celebrating our receipt of the Torah), our community can look forward to participating in joyous engagement parties and weddings.
Dear Dr. Yael:
Do you really believe that the Internet is the reason why the divorce rate is so high among young couples? This may be so in some cases, but what about the fact that many singles are pressured to get married at a young age despite not having any idea what they are looking for in a mate? And add to that the fact that many are pressured to make a decision about marriage after dating for a very short period of time.
From the moment they stand under the chuppah, newlyweds have two years to enjoy the special bliss that new love brings. This new finding, reported by the New York Times, is based on a study undertaken by American and European researchers. 1,761 people who got married and stayed married over 15 years were followed. The research shows that after two years the couples moved into a more companionable state in their relationships.
Shel Silverstein’s 1974 poem “Where The Sidewalk Ends” is intended to paint a magical picture of a world of peace and serenity far away from the “black and dark streets.” At the time, perhaps the end of the sidewalk was a place that was “measured and slow.” Today, however, for many parents, where the sidewalk ends can feel like a scary place.
The next chapter of the award-winning novel.
Florida is famous for sparkling water. We have the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico surrounding our coast. We have bays, lakes, canals and, of course, an incredible abundance of swimming pools in homes, resorts, apartment complexes and city parks.
The buzz is back as Camp Gan Israel Florida Overnight gears up for another fantastic summer, CGI Florida style. What makes CGI Florida so different from all the other overnight camps? It’s all in the details.
Leah Katz, a TeenZone camper at Oorah’s TheZone summer camp and an 11th grader at Midwood High School, read her winning essay about how TheZone changed her views on Judaism at the Jewish Heritage Awards Ceremony held at Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’s office in April. The purpose of the Jewish Heritage Essay Contest is to acquaint public school students with Jewish history and customs and to help foster a deeper understanding of Jewish culture. The contest is open to students of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Leah’s essay is reproduced in full below.
Moshe Sharett, the head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department, visited Egypt in 1945. In Cairo he met a most remarkable young woman, a beautiful journalist who was the darling of Egyptian high society – from high-ranking military brass, to culture icons and Muslim sheikhs, to the court of King Faruk.
The two proceeded to talk about everyday things and surprisingly her mother-in-law did not find anything else to criticize. This occurred a few more times, with my client changing the topic every time by complimenting her mother-in-law or mentioning something positive about her.
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.
He stood his ground despite the intense pressure to do what everyone else was doing. His integrity was more important to him than “fitting in.”
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/the-smart-schlimazels-and-cunning-shlemiels/2005/02/23/
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