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My last two columns dealt with the biblical injunction that we “watch over our souls.” Hashem has commanded us to do what we can to keep ourselves healthy and alive. We are not to focus solely on ourselves but also to keep an eye on our families, friends and neighbors – especially those who are alone, infirm, elderly, and limited in their ability to efficiently take care of themselves. This is especially so for babies and children.
I recently was at a busy airport and saw aheimishe family making their way to the check- in counter. There were several children in tow and lots of luggage. People were staring at them and, as I got closer, I realized why. A boy of about 20 months was jumping and skipping around – but was not getting too far. Attached to his wrist was a long leash, the other end of which was attached to his mother’s wrist. Because the leash was stretchable, he was able to prance and run around but could not get away. Some people walked past the parents with disapproving frowns distorting their faces, for the very idea of “chaining a child” was an affront to them. But I thought to myself, kol hakavod.
It is easy for a parent to get distracted while navigating through a busy international airport, with its seemingly endless waiting, the long walk to the gate, and digging up passports and other documents. In a blink a toddler can walk away unnoticed. By having their child on a leash, these parents were “watching over the soul” of their little one.
I think that using some kind of restraint when very young children are in a crowded public place like a mall or playground (where they can easily get separated from their parent/babysitter/bubbe) is the “glatt” thing to do. This is especially so when the teenager or adult has several children under his/her care.
I strongly feel that older children, who are allowed to walk alone, be given “kid-friendly” cell phones, whereby they can receive or call certain programmed numbers if they need help. Better they should have the ability to call home than ask a stranger, even a heimishe-looking one, for help. Tragically, “frum” garb does not always translate into a safe adult.
Despite high gas prices, people need to get into their cars and go wherever they need to go. In this regard, here are some suggestions on keeping children safe. First, before you back out of your driveway, look around to see if there are children playing on the sidewalk or riding bikes. Notify the kids or adults (who are hopefully outside watching them) that you will be backing up, and that they should stay put until you are on the road.
Nowadays trucks and vans are equipped with a warning siren when going in reverse, but unfortunately this is not so with cars. I would like to see all vehicles equipped with one; but until then, be your own warning device. Glance around and make sure it is safe to back out.
If your car was parked outside overnight (or for a few hours in a public parking lot) I suggest you do a walk-around, and glance in the front and back seats before getting in. As improbable as it likely is, a stranger with sinister motives could be hiding inside – especially if yours is a bigger car or van.
And when arriving at your destination also glance in the front and back seats, to make sure you haven’t left something important behind, like your cell phone or pocketbook – or a sleeping infant. It is no laughing matter. Harried, distracted and exhausted parents have tragically left infants in cars where extreme heat or cold resulted in horrific heartache and loss.
I have made a habit when on the subway or bus to look behind at my seat after I have gotten up to get off. On many an occasion, I saw that I had left behind a bag with food, new clothing, an umbrella, or even my pocketbook. It only takes a second to look, and that quick glance has saved me from much aggravation.
With the summer heat upon us, it is crucial to keep young children hydrated. If you come in from an outing and you’re thirsty, no doubt your baby is also thirsty. Crying that you might attribute to tiredness or crankiness can be a desperate plea for something to drink. Young but verbal children engrossed in play may not come in and ask for a drink – but go out and offer them one anyway. They may be dehydrated but too busy playing to notice how hot they are. Make sure all bedrooms, at the very least, have a fan. Young children feel the heat like everyone else.
Always “test-drive” fans and other electrical appliances like lamps that are new, or haven’t been used in a long time. Leave them on during the day for several hours in a room where you can notice if they throw out electrical sparks or are malfunctioning. Always check the wire for any signs of wear and tear. And make sure you have working smoke detectors on all levels of the house, as well as a well-rehearsed escape plan in case of an emergency.
Teach older children to always close the safety gates so that babies cannot crawl onto steps or go into rooms that are not childproof. It goes without saying that there should always be a pair of responsible, adult eyes on babies and young children – especially when they are outdoors. Don’t assume that being with other, slightly older children will ensure their safety. The blind can’t lead the blind – and children can’t watch over children.
While these recommendations do not take much effort or expense, they can save a family much anguish. Hashem wants us to take the initial, necessary precautions to keep our families and ourselves safe. He will do the rest.
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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/watch-over-the-souls-of-your-children/2008/07/09/
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