web analytics
July 29, 2015 / 13 Av, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Your Choice, Your Life

        I recently received an e-mail from a woman who, based on her skillful command of English, is surely a North American living in Israel. She took issue with a statement I made in an earlier column (June 23) in which I wrote, “In many households when a child, especially a daughter, enters the shidduch parsha, apprehension and a gnawing anxiety fill the household – a situation that can almost be likened to the just-below-the surface angst an Israeli family experiences when their son is drafted.” The writer let me know in no uncertain terms that the worry Israelis feel is not below the surface – it’s real and palpable and as far as she knew, “No American parent needed to care for an injured chassan or kallah as a result of the shidduch parsha or bury their children because of it.” She concluded with what she felt was a lack of appreciation for “our children’s sacrifices – that Americans could go shopping, get manicures and surround themselves with gashmius because “our children” were risking their lives to protect the Jewish state.

 

         There are two issues here that I want to address – validation, and taking responsibility for one’s choices.

 

         The writer was aghast how I could compare the anxiety experienced by parents over their children’s shidduch experiences to the anxiety racking Israeli parents whose children are in the army. Of course the situations are not on the same level in terms of being life-threatening, but the worry and concern is just as real and heart- wrenching for both sets of parents. It is extremely important for people to validate a person’s feelings – even if they think the situation is trivial and the feelings or reactions unjustified.

 

         For example, a two-year-old child has a favorite blanket that falls off the stroller one day and he is inconsolable. His mother pooh poohs the loss saying, ” It was only an old rag of a blanket, frayed, torn and faded. Yet to the child his loss and grief is just as strong and consuming as the grief and loss experienced by a widow who lost the engagement ring her late husband gave to her decades ago.

 

         On a casual level the situations don’t compare, but in terms of the emotions that surface, they are on the same level. And it is crucial to validate these feelings. The wise mother will commiserate with her child and console him for his loss. If she doesn’t, and this lack of validation continues as he grows up, he will get two ego-crippling messages – his feelings don’t count; therefore, he is not of any value. Ultimately he may grow up not trusting his judgment, very likely rendering him unable to make a decision, and tragically make him ripe to one day fall into the clutches of controlling, possibly abusive persons. People need validation for their emotional well-being. Couples who don’t validate each other’s feelings often have a severe lack of shalom bayis.

 

         To the woman in Israel I say that, of course, there is a big difference between sending a child to the army (although I remember when it was once an extreme source of pride for the parents, something to brag about if he got into an elite unit) and having a child in the shidduch parsha, but the anxiety, fear and despair is just as potent. Many may feel it is not justified, but like a boy whose beloved dog is killed, his heartbreak and loss is as strong as someone who (G-d forbid) loses a child. Everyone’s reality is relative, but one should not diminish or minimize the other person’s view of his/her world.

 

         I also want to address what I feel is her anger and resentment towards North Americans Jews who she feels, ” don’t appreciate our children’s sacrifice.” Firstly, I want to reassure her that Jews everywhere totally are aware of and deeply appreciate and admire the misirat nefesh of the Jews of Israel, and every loss of life is deeply felt and mourned.

 

         But part of making choices is taking responsibility for the outcome of these choices and not resenting those who made different ones or feel that anything is owed to them by virtue of their choices. For example, a girl who chooses a kollel life style, and has to work and make do with less, has no right to resent her sister who married an “earner” who can afford a more affluent lifestyle. Likewise, the wife of the earner should not envy her sister for having a husband who is more learned and respected in the community as a talmid chacham.

 

         My guess, based on the letter writer’s mastery of English is that she or her parents were North Americans who made aliyah, and as such she has American or Canadian citizenship. She chose to either move to or stay in Israel. She must take responsibility for the outcome of her choices – the good and the bad – for with all choices, there are pros and cons. By choosing to live in Israel, her children will eventually serve in the Israeli military and must deal with the risks of doing so. At the same time, she and her family are living a life that on a daily basis is imbued with spirituality and meaningfulness that is beyond the experience of Diaspora Jews.

 

         One should enjoy the benefits of one’s choices and deal with the drawbacks, but not resent those who took a different path for they too must deal with the good and the bad that is the outcome of their choice. To do otherwise leads to sinat chinam – to everyone’s detriment.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Your Choice, Your Life”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
The White House will free Pollard but bar him from traveling to Israel for five years.
US Won’t Let Pollard Out of Country for Five Years
Latest Sections Stories

Personally I wish that I had a mother like my wife.

What’s the difference between the first and second ten-year-old?

What makes this diary so historically significant is that it is not just the private memoir of Dr. Seidman. Rather, it is a reflection of the suffering of Klal Yisrael at that time.

Rabbi Lau is a world class speaker. When he relates stories, even concentration camp stories, the audience is mesmerized. As we would soon discover, he is in the movie as well.

Each essay, some adapted from lectures Furst prepared for live audiences, begins with several basic questions around a key topic.

For the last several years, four Jewish schools in the Baltimore Jewish community have been expelling students who have not received their vaccinations.

“We can’t wait for session II to begin” said camp director Mrs. Judy Neufeld.

Chabad Chayil wishes all a happy and healthy remainder of summer.

It’s ironic that the title of terrorist has been bestowed upon a couple whose alleged actions resulted in the death of three turtles.

More Articles from Cheryl Kupfer
Kupfer-060515-Supermen

There are fathers who bravely step up to the plate and fill in the maternal vacuum with their love and devotion.

Kupfer-On-Our-Own-NEW

The message being conveyed is that without “flour,” without the means to support oneself and one’s family, one’s focus on Torah will be impeded by worry.

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

Not knowing any better, I assumed that Molly and her mother must be voracious readers.

Unpleasant happenings are quickly discarded if they do not affect us directly.

I have always insisted that everything that happens to anyone or anything is min Shamayim.

It is so hurtful to heighten people’s sense of inadequacy and guilt in a matzav that is already horrendous and difficult to bear.

Make no mistake: in the wrong hands cars are weapons of mass destruction.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/your-choice-your-life/2006/09/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: