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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Baruch Hashem’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Friday, July 27th, 2012

A powerful lesson on how to end our days of mourning…

Dear Rachel,

Not long ago you ran a letter from a mother-in-law who, in her words, counts herself lucky (see Chronicles, 6-15). Her letter was a beautiful testimony to her children by way of a positive affirmation of the mother/daughter-in-law relationship, and I trust you don’t mind publishing another article with a positive slant. Though my mother-in-law does figure into my story, the emphasis is on hope and miracles, and faith in Hashem.

For years now we have had an extremely difficult time with parnassah. Ever since the real estate market took a nasty tumble and our world turned upside down, it’s been a struggle just to keep our family fed. Most of our close friends and neighbors have come to realize that we are not well off, but they have no idea to what degree. Yet our emunah remains strong and intact, and day-by-day we have somehow managed to survive.

The yeshivas our children attend have for the most part been understanding of our plight, but come summertime it is difficult to explain to our children why their friends are away at camp (or in day camp) while they must entertain themselves at home. Baruch Hashem this summer our eldest two have summer jobs, and, miracle of miracles, our 12-year old son was offered a scholarship in a recognized sleep-away camp. This still leaves us with a few youngsters at home, but who’s complaining…

The great news became sobering when we saw the list of items our son needed to take to camp. No way would we be able to pull this off — and no way would we deprive him of such a wonderful opportunity. It was time to sell the only item of value that I had held onto: my modest engagement ring.

Our extended family chipped in to help us out, and together with the money we received for the ring it looked like we would make it. My mother-in-law, who lives in a different town, had bought some items of clothing on sale and had a neighbor of hers visiting our neck of the woods deliver them.

When the amiable Mr. Neighbor showed up at our door with my mother-in-law’s package, he informed us that he too had contributed something that we would find in the bag. (Apparently he knew something of our situation.) After he left we checked the contents of the package and were surprised to find a heavy coffee can filled to the brim with coins and bills.

Within a day or so of this incident, our gas was shut off due to an unpaid bill. No amount of pleading moved the company personnel to have rachmonus on us; they wouldn’t even accept a partial payment. We were told that in order to restore the service we would need to pay up in full — a sum of $877.81.

Since whatever we had left from the sale of the ring would hardly cover even half that amount, we decided to raid the piggy bank we hadn’t touched in years. (Long ago we had begun to accumulate spare change in an empty water bottle.) My husband and I, coffee can and water bottle in hand, took off for the local bank that has an automated coin changer.

When we added the money we had left to the tally of the two containers, the total came to $877 and change — the exact amount we needed to have our gas turned back on!

Needless to say, only Hashem could orchestrate such a “coincidence” — to show us that He is in charge and helps those who rely on Him to help them out. We all know that without the doings of chessed the world would literally not have a leg to stand on, and we are truly appreciative of those who partner with Him in carrying out gemilus chassadimin every form.

Thank you, Hashem!

Dear Thank,

What a heart-warming letter and affirmation of the Jewish heart that cannot bear to see another suffer. Would more people be made aware of your dire circumstances, no doubt more would be showing up at your door bearing their filled “coffee cans.”

Criticizing While Respecting

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

Dear Dr. Respler:

My parents, who I love dearly, constantly contradict what I say to my children. They constantly interfere with the way my wife and I raise our children. For her part, my wife is very frustrated with this situation. What makes it harder for her, her parents live out of town while my parents live close by and are thus more involved with our children.

My mother is forever criticizing my wife, who is a wonderful mother and very caring and compassionate with our five beautiful children. My mother has a different view of how to raise children, and honestly, that makes we wish I had a mother more like my wife.

I struggle with low self-esteem, which my wife tries to bolster with her enormous love and sensitivity. I believe that my low self-confidence emanates from having critical parents who never complimented me.

My children are, Baruch Hashem, doing well in school. They have derech eretz, clearly showing that my wife’s childrearing techniques are working. My parents, conversely, are nervous people, and believe that children should be seen and not heard. They believe that we are wrong in not hitting our children. They are so critical that it drives us both crazy. I have spoken to them numerous times about not interfering in the way we raise our children and he last things I want to do is keep the children away from them.

We have spoken to our rav who has made it clear that while we do not have to accept their child-raising suggestions, we are obligated to respect them. Please help us with this challenging situation.

Frustrated

Dear Frustrated:

It appears that your parents need to control you in some manner and choose to do so through criticizing the way you raise your children. Critical people are often insecure and need to control others in order to bolster their own self-esteem. Is it possible for you to change the subject when your parents begin to criticize you? If their criticism persists, you can respectfully disagree by saying, “Mom, Dad, is it possible that even if you don’t agree with our childrearing techniques, you can respect our methods and not criticize us? We feel hurt when you constantly criticize the way we raise our children. It is also not healthy for the children to see this disagreement.”

In my professional practice, I see grandparents who were very strict with their own children and then undermine them when they are disciplining the grandchildren. This is incredibly in appropriate. It is only in situations where grandparents witness their children damaging their grandchildren in some way or, chas v’shalom, acting abusively or neglectfully toward them do they have the right to intervene. Even then, they should tread lightly to ensure that their interventions are taken the right way.

I support your efforts to respect and love your parents by not severing the important bond between them and their grandchildren. However, you must demonstrate derech eretz toward your parents when discussing with them their inappropriate, meddling behavior and when telling them that you do not want to ever be faced with the possibility of having to sever that very important bond. If your parents realize how serious you are, they will hopefully back off. Continue to be supportive of your wife by working with her in continuing the successful chinuch that you are giving your children.

As for hitting your children, I too do not generally believe in that technique. Sometimes, though, hitting young children gently in order to explain a point may be appropriate. A rav I once spoke to about hitting shared this perspective. The rav felt that American parents who generally hit their children do so in order to pacify their own frustrations, i.e., they hit to rid themselves of their self-anger.

Al pi halacha, we are not allowed to hit children when we are angry. Some tzaddikim were known to hit their children gently when they were not angry in order to teach them. Since we are not on their madreigah and we generally hit our children to alleviate our own frustrations, it is forbidden for us to do so.

Here is a beautiful story that I learned from Project Derech: The eight sons of Rav Shlomo Carlebach, a rav in Germany, all grew up to be rabbanim. Whenever one of his sons was late to minyan, his punishment was to not get jam on his toast. But Rav Carlebach also did not put jam on his own toast, to show the child that he felt his pain and would thus deny himself that eating pleasure as well. This level of childrearing is one that we should aspire to. If we deny ourselves of a small privilege and therefore share the pain with our children, they will be less likely to have punitive feelings toward us and will ultimately have a very deep regard for us, their parents.

Preempting The Death Penalty

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

In this week’s parshah the Torah writes about a prohibition on killing a murderer prior to his trial. As the pasuk says: “…v’lo yamus harotzeach ad amdo lifnei haeidah lamishpat – … so that the murderer will not die until he stands before the assembly for judgment” (Bamidbar 35:12). The same rule applies to anyone who commits an aveirah that is punishable by death; no one is permitted to kill him prior to his trial in beis din, including the witnesses that warned him and witnessed the aveirah. The Sefer Hachinuch (mitzvah 409) writes that if one kills a transgressor prior to his trial, he is regarded as a murderer.

Anyone who performs any aveirah l’hachis (a transgression to spite Hashem, not because of temptation) is rendered a mummar l’kol haTorah. The Rosh (Moed Katan 3:59) says that one who is warned by two witnesses that the action he is about to perform is prohibited and punishable by death and responds that he will commit the aveirah despite the warning, attains the status of a mummar l’hachis. The reason is this: one performing the aveirah because of temptation would not do so after being warned that his life is on the line. Rather, we can assume that he is acting to spite Hashem.

Reb Chaim Ozer Grodzensky (Achiezer 3:53) writes that he discussed the following question with his wife’s grandfather, Reb Yisroel Salanter, the gaon ohr yisrael: the Gemara (Avodah Zarah 26b) says that one may kill a mummar l’hachis. (This is brought down in several places by the Rambam, including Rotzeach 4:10, and in the Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 425:5.) This is known as “moridin v’eino malin – throw him into a pit and do not save him.” The view of both the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch is that if possible one should publicly kill the mummar with a sword. The Rosh (Teshuvos 32:4) says that one should only kill via a gramma (indirectly), i.e., throw him into a pit and remove the ladder.

Question: How can the Torah say that we cannot kill a murderer or any transgressor until after his trial in beis din, despite the fact that he was warned in front of witnesses? After all, according to the Rosh the transgressor has the status of a mummar l’hachis (since he is not acting out of temptation), thereby permitting anyone to kill him as per the halacha of moridin v’eino malin.

Reb Chaim Ozer suggested two answers, but believed that the question demands more analysis. His first suggestion is that the pasuk is teaching us that although one is permitted to kill the individual who sinned by means of moridin, the Torah nevertheless prohibited killing him in this case until after his trial in beis din. However, Reb Chaim Ozer rejects this answer for several reasons. One reason: Why does the Chinuch say that one who kills the sinner is regarded as a murderer? Since he could kill him from the halacha of moridin, he should not be considered a murderer. The Chazon Ish (Yoreh De’ah 2:17) maintains that the halacha of moridin only applies when the sinner cannot be tried in beis din due to technical problems, i.e., no witnesses. Therefore, in a case to be brought in beis din one may not apply the halacha of moridin.

The second solution is that the pasuk is referring to a scenario in which we know that the individual did teshuvah. Therefore he can no longer be killed under the halacha of moridin. However, teshuvah does not remove the death penalty from beis din. Hence, the Torah says that we should wait until he is found guilty at trial before killing him.

I would like to suggest that the question does not start. I was scared to say that I learned the Rosh differently than Reb Chaim Ozer and Reb Yisroel Salanter. But, Baruch Hashem, I found afterwards that the Chazon Ish (Yoreh De’ah 2:12) learns the Rosh as I did. I believe that the Rosh is being taken out of context. The Rosh is discussing the Mishnah that says that there is no aveilus for people who are killed by beis din. The Rosh explains that this is because since they were warned that their life was on the line but nevertheless sinned, they are obviously not acting out of temptation; thus, they are comparable to a mummar l’hachis. I think that the Rosh never meant to say that anyone who transgresses after being warned is a mummar l’hachis regarding the halacha of moridin; rather the Rosh is saying that regarding aveilus we consider him a mummar, comparable to a mummar l’hachis – whereby aveilus does not apply.

A Parent’s Anguish

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis,

This is the most painful letter I’ve ever written. I’ve been through many horrific experiences. My parents were survivors of the Holocaust; they were shattered people. I know you will understand this since you too are a Holocaust survivor.

The scars of that period never heal in those who went through it. As much as my parents celebrated, as much as they laughed and rejoiced, the nightmare was forever with them. My parents raised us with much love. They literally lived for us. They saw their entire families wiped out and now their children represented all that was lost. They never felt a need take a vacation alone – when they did go away it was always with us, their children.

This was the nurturing I was exposed to, and I brought up my own children the same way. They were always my first priority. I was always home for them. I was always there for them. This was equally true of my husband.

As we know, at the bris of every baby boy we say a berachah that the child may merit to enter the covenant of Torah, chuppah and ma’asim tovim. Yes, the dream of Torah-committed parents is different from that of secular parents, whose hope is that the child will grow up to be successful, which in our society means to make loads of money.

Every Friday evening when I lit Shabbos candles I took an extra few moments to pour out my heart and beseech Hashem to grant my husband and me the privilege of seeing our children under the chuppah embracing a genuine Torah life.

Hashem blessed us with eight children – six boys and two girls. Baruch Hashem, all our children found good shiduchim and we saw them all under the chuppah. But very soon everything fell apart with one of them.

I once met a woman from Jerusalem who had five children, one of whom was killed while serving in the army. An insensitive person visiting her during the days of shiva foolishly said, “Thank G-d you still have four children.” She told me that remark was like a knife in her heart. If somebody has five fingers and one is amputated, would you say to that person, “Your hand is fine – after all, it’s just one finger that’s been severed”? If you lose a finger your entire hand is damaged and can no longer do that which seemed so simple only yesterday.

I often think about that woman’s story. In a way I too have lost a finger have been offered foolish consolation. “Don’t get upset, you still have seven children from whom you have nachas.” They can’t comprehend that I go to sleep and wake up with just one thought: “My child, my child, my child is missing.”

My other children are exemplary in their commitment to Torah, their devotion to mitzvos and the respect and love they show us, but this one son and his wife have caused us terrible anguish. And that anguish has taken over our lives and gives us no peace.

This one son married a girl who has agendas. I do not pretend to be a psychologist so I will not even attempt to analyze the situation. But this little wife has made a great breach in our family and destroyed our harmony, our unity. She does not talk to or recognize any of my other children, her husband’s siblings. She does not visit them and does not communicate with them. She will not allow my son to see his siblings or to visit and talk to them.

My son gives the impression that he is in accord with this. The cousins do not know each other. They are not permitted to spend time together.

Why does my son allow this? I don’t know. We all live in the same community and our family tragedy has become public knowledge. Our entire family has suffered. A hundred and one times I have tried to reach my son and daughter-in-law but it has been to no avail. The same holds true for the attempts made by my other children.

My husband and I begged, cajoled, and compromised our dignity – and our children did the same – but our son and daughter-in-law snubbed all our efforts. They locked their doors and their hearts.

Shopping For Priestly Garments

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

I receive letters and e-mails every day from all parts of the world. Sadly, there is no shortage of problems. Pain and suffering abound. How to navigate the turbulent waters of the world we live in is a challenge for everyone.

Every once in a while, however, I receive a letter that seems so outlandish I suspect it’s fictitious – someone playing a prank. Such was the case with the following e-mail.

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

I am so confused and troubled. I am scheduled to get married in two weeks. Two months ago, my father announced he had to go to Paris for a very important business deal. My mother loved the thought of going to Paris and decided to accompany him. Although we hadn’t finished our shopping for the wedding, we scrambled to find the right gown and while we couldn’t decide which one to take, we did settle on a certain designer.

“Anything that you choose there,” my mother assured me, “will be stunning.” As for Mom, she decided to get her gown in Paris.

When my parents returned, my mother took a look at my dress and thought it was awful. I had already paid most of the money – a huge sum – and they refused to give a refund. It’s now two weeks before the wedding, and it’s doubtful whether they can have a new gown in time. I am miserable. I have nightmares about looking ridiculous at my own wedding.

As I mentioned, my mother bought her gown in Paris and, frankly, it is embarrassingly tasteless. My mom and I have been fighting. We keep blaming one another. So what do we do?

I’m curious as to how many readers think the letter is authentic. Well, the fact is – I made it up. Why did I do it? Sometimes, in order to drive home a point, you have to draw a graphic illustration. We, you and I, we are the kallah and the mishpachah. The greatest day of our lives, the ultimate wedding, is quickly approaching, and to our chagrin we are unprepared.

You and I went to a couturier for a specially designed dress. We spent a small fortune on it only to discover we won’t be able to wear the dress on which we lavished so much money. At the end of the day, G-d forbid, we will stand like schnorrers begging for entree to a great wedding hall.

We, the children of the 21st century, are victims of an obsession with money. We idolize the latest in fashion and turn to Paris, Milano, and Madison Avenue for guidance. We will discover too late, G-d forbid, that what we dedicated our lives to is an abominable waste. The wedding is just around the corner, and we are totally unprepared.

We are in the midst of the Three Weeks, which signal the destruction of Yerushalayim that culminated in the tragedy of Tisha B’Av, when our Temple was reduced to ashes.

The Talmud teaches us that when the great sage Rabbi Akiva saw the site of the destruction, with wild animals roaming the holy grounds, he smiled and comforted us: “Even as this prophecy of destruction has come to pass, so too, shall we behold the prophecy of redemption and rebirth fulfilled. Messiah will come and the Temple shall once again glow in all its splendor and majesty, illuminating the entire world with the Word of Hashem.

Many centuries have passed. Our blood has flowed freely over the face of the earth, and it was not only sword and fire that consumed us but assimilation as well, swallowing up our children in the melting pot of the nations. And now we have entered a time in our history when the footsteps of Messiah are audible – that is, if we know how to listen. Soon we will have to go to that “great wedding” and, as in my fictitious letter, we will be mortified. Our garments will be ridiculously inappropriate.

So let us stop for a moment and ask ourselves how will we feel at that wedding when we meet the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. How will stand before our King, our Heavenly Father? Will we say we had to attend to our business or that we were searching for haute couture and therefore forgot the proper dress code? Will such rationalizations fly? How will we explain it all?

Jewish Connections

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Yom Yerushalayim, a national day of thanksgiving to Hashem for the liberation and reunification of the Holy City of Yerushalayim, is celebrated in Israel with many different meaningful programs. One of them is the annual bike ride from Hebron to Yerushalayim, celebrating the former’s liberation.

As we looked out from our mirpeset (porch) across the fields, we saw many of the bike riders. Among them were our daughter-in-law and two of our grandchildren, but despite looking through our binoculars we couldn’t find them among the throng, as there were just too many riders going from the City of our Fathers to the Holy City. However, we heard the sounds of joyful music accompanying the bikers, which traveled into our home and enhanced our happiness.

It was also a personal day of remembrance, as it was the yahrzeitof the heroine of this story, Malka Metzger, my husband’s grandmother.

* * *

The time: the beginning of World War I; the place: Baligrod, Poland.

Malka Metzger, married with five children, stands at the doorway of her home, saying goodbye to her husband Alter Ben Zion. He has been drafted into the army. He dies in Trieste and his wife is left alone, without any source of income to care for her three sons and two daughters (one of the daughters was my mother-in-law, a”h). Malka was an intelligent woman whose strength, courage and faith in Hashem helped her whenever she faced difficulties.

She had a reputation in her town for baking delicious challot, breads and rolls. She decided to use her skills to make a living for her family. Malka approached one of the town’s wealthier Jews, Mr. Rubin, for a loan to buy flour and other ingredients for her baking. She promised to repay him and began doing so when she made some money. Malka fed her children with the baked goods left unsold. But when things began to deteriorate in Baligrod, Malka left for the U.S. (with tickets sent to her by Alter Ben Zion’s sister).

* * *

The time: the early 1920s; the place: New York City’s Lower East Side.

Malka’s children find jobs and through hard work and siyata d’shemaya, they are able to help their mother with living expenses. Her sons are able to save enough to open their own businesses, selling retail poultry. All the children get married and the family begins to grow. One of Malka’s sons, Yitzchak (Itcha), locates the two daughters of Mr. Rubin (the aforementioned generous lender) who also relocated to the Lower East Side. Itcha collects money from the family to help these women with their expenses. Malka lives to see the marriage of her children, and the birth of grandchildren and great- grandchildren.

She inspired all who knew her, and everyone respected the Metzger name.

* * *

The time: 2012; the place: Yerushalayim.

Malka’s granddaughter, Judy, and her husband are visiting Judy’s brother Gershon and his family in Yerushalayim. Judy is introduced to Gershon’s grandchild. The young man’s name is Yitsy Beri Rubin. As soon as Judy hears this, she wonders if there is a connection; Rubin is, after all, a common name. After much discussion, they conclude that indeed Yitsy is the great-great-grandchild of Mr. Rubin, the tzaddik who supported Malka Metzger when she was a poor almanah.

In 2012, Yitsy Rubin marries Malka Metzger.

If it wasn’t for Mr. Rubin’s tzedakah, who knows what would have happened to Malka and her family? Her faith that one Jew could, and would, help saved her and her entire family. And the Metzger family, Malka’s descendants, is well known in Jewish communities both in Israel and throughout the United States.

Baruch Hashem, today’s Metzger family members carry on the family tradition by living lives of Torah u’mitzvot – showing hakarat hatov, giving tzedakah, and performing acts of chesed.

Imagine the joy in heaven when this union between the Rubins and Metzgers came to be!

Craving A Wife’s Emotions

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael:

My wife, who takes good, loving care of our children and is very generous with her time, has a closed nature. It is not in her character to pay compliments or show appreciation. While she tries valiantly to never raise her voice to the children or me and works hard to always speak with derech eretz, I yearn to hear her tell me that she loves me – although I know that she does. I keep trying to be giving and warm her, exhibiting what I want in return, but I am usually disappointed. After seven years of marriage, I see some changes – but they are very slight. I crave more openness and warmth from my wife.

Her family is less expressive than mine. My family is emotionally open and we often express how much we care for one another. My in-laws never really say, “I love you,” and so I know that is what she grew up with, but I want my wife to be more like my family and me. I want our children to be warm and expressive, and although they definitely bring out my wife’s limited warmth I still feel that she has a long way to go in this area. I am not trying to be critical because I love my wife and am very happily married, Baruch Hashem. However, her lack of openness sometimes frustrates me. I don’t always want to be the one who starts loving conversations, I want her to learn to trust me with her vulnerabilities by telling me more often how she feels. How can I help her overcome this closed nature?

A Loving Husband

Dear Loving Husband:

Family nature is significant and often contagious. Thus if your wife grew up in a family that was not expressive with their feelings, sharing her feelings with others will likely make her uncomfortable. Over the years it has become clear to me that people tend to subconsciously emulate the way they were raised. I applaud your continuous giving and warmth, but although modeling the behavior is very helpful, it would also be valuable for you to have an honest conversation with your wife about your feelings. In a warm and loving manner, consider saying the following to her:

“I really love you and treasure our relationship. I appreciate all the time and effort that you put into bringing up our children and caring our home, and the way you support and take care of me – as well as the derech eretz you have always shown me. I know that in your own way you try to be there for me. But you cannot imagine how much I crave your warmth and loving words. I know it is hard for you, but maybe you can try to initiate speaking to me in a loving and warm manner. It would mean so much to me.”

It is important that you try to be patient, as this is not something that can be changed easily. You may have to bring this up a number of times, always in a gentle and caring way – and never in a manner that is accusatory or nagging. It may even be a good idea to give your wife some examples of things she could say that would make you feel good.

You both may feel uncomfortable the first few times she says what you suggested, but it will become more ingrained in you both as time goes on. Think of the famous lesson, mitoch she’lo lishma, ba lishma – from doing something habitually, you may come to do it for Hashem’s sake. Even if your wife initially speaks more lovingly to you because you requested that she do so, she will become more comfortable speaking in this manner over time. And in due course it will become like second nature to her – as well as more meaningful.

Focus on the positive qualities that you acknowledge your wife displays. Be patient with her while continuing to be loving and warm, even if she is not initiating the types of conversations you are craving. You mentioned that there your wife has already demonstrated some change, so what you are doing is working, and she is really trying.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/craving-a-wifes-emotions/2012/06/21/

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