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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Dear Anonymous’

Our Son Wants To Leave Yeshiva

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Dear Rabbi Horowitz:

We were taken aback when our 18-year-old son just called us from Eretz Yisrael (we live in Europe) and told us that he was coming home and wants to immediately go to work. He said that he is wasting his time in yeshiva, and just can’t take it anymore. He said that he will “run away from home” if we don’t allow him to go to work.

Our son was never much of a student in Hebrew or General Studies, but we honestly didn’t think things were so uncomfortable for him.

Help! What should we do?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous:

Please start by taking a deep breath, making a cup of your favorite tea (for Americans I would have said coffee) and just relax. After all, it is entirely possible that your son had a bad day, week or month, and with the proper combination of problem- solving and parental love and guidance, you can help him get resettled in the yeshiva he is currently attending – or in a yeshiva setting that might be more appropriate for him.

It is of the utmost importance that you lower his anxiety as soon as possible and that you start getting comfortable with all reasonable outcomes – for the apparent emotional reasons, and also for pragmatic ones. Obviously, as his parents, you would like to calm him down. But perhaps more importantly, as the ones who will (hopefully) be best positioned to guide him through this challenging time/crisis in his life, it is crucial to realize that it is nearly impossible to have a rational conversation with an agitated person. And from the sound of things, your son is very highly agitated.

I have found that kids like your son (and people in general) get most anxious when feeling boxed in and without any options. It is precisely the frustration of feeling trapped that often drives kids to make rash decisions.

In is interesting to note that our Torah instructed Jewish kings not to completely surround an enemy on the battlefield, but rather to leave them an escape route in the event that they wanted to capitulate – even though placing an enemy under siege was common practice at that time. Why? Because a cornered enemy is a far more dangerous one than one whose back is not to the wall, and the Torah wanted to minimize casualties. And while I am certainly not comparing your relations with your teenager to a battlefield, the importance of reducing stress in situations like this one cannot be overstated.

In practical terms, please call your son immediately and tell him that you look forward to sitting down with him and discussing his life plans – with no preconditions. This means that you will assure him that an array of options will be open to him, including his wish to go to work. That should calm him down considerably.

Do your due diligence carefully and try to get honest feedback from previous rebbeim or teachers. They may help you discern between temporary frustration with his studies and more permanent reasons that may make full time learning impractical for his learning and personality profile.

If one or both of you are able to get away from work and familial obligations, and the finances of a trip do not present a challenge to you, I think it would be better if you would visit him in Eretz Yisrael rather than having him come home. This is because being there will allow you to get a handle on his current school setting, and will help you assess why things are not working out. And even if he ultimately comes home and goes to work, it will help you guide him if you understand why the wheels came off in the current setting.

I know that this advice of letting him know that all options are on the table – including some that you may not be thrilled with – may sound counterintuitive, but I believe that following this advice will result in a far greater chance of winding up with an outcome that will please you.

Here is an analogy that might drive this point home: Think back to the final few hours of Yom Kippur. In all likelihood, you were famished and waiting to finally eat and drink something. But somehow, once the fast was over, you may not have felt as deprived as you did earlier. Why? Because once you have the security of being able to eat, the hunger pangs don’t seem to be so all consuming.

So giving your son your blessing to consider the options he wants may actually make him comfortable enough to give school a second chance – knowing that “Plan B” is always available to him.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 8/15/08

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Dear Rachel,

I love your column! To the woman suffering from her husband’s sex addiction (To leave or not to leave… Chronicles 6-27), I really encourage her to join SAA meetings, and her husband should attend these meetings in addition to their therapy.

These meetings consist of a highly successful 12-step program that has seen amazing results! It’s strictly anonymous so you don’t have to worry. ((Time and locations are available for download online.)

She shouldn’t think, “I don’t have to go to meetings…it’s his problem; if he gets helped then I’ll be fine.) She needs recovery. From her letter I detect that she sees herself as a victim. She can make the decision to choose a healthier approach.

The results of the program are way beyond one’s greatest expectations, but recovery must be taken seriously. You can have a beautiful future!!

For the record, these meetings are also available to people suffering from similar addictions, such as GA (Gamblers Anonymous), AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), NA (Narcotics Anonymous), etc.

Been there…

Dear Been There,

The program you speak of can be wonderfully healing but, as in all things, one must be a willing participant − and sincere in his/her desire to succeed.

Your letter is vague as to your own role, but whether it has been the one of addict or suffering spouse, it is obvious that with your positive attitude and unflinching determination you have triumphed and overcome.

Congratulations! May you reap success in all your future endeavors and aspirations!

Dear Rachel,

As a specialist in the field of therapy, I feel that what you are doing is really wonderful and is something that has been necessary for a long time in the frum community.

You bring to it a special charm, decency, thoughtfulness and insight, and all overlain with a deeply traditional warmth and knowledge.

Today in my office a young (late 30s) woman whom I had seen a while ago when she was vacillating whether to break up her marriage, came back for a visit. She told me she has made up her mind and has begun divorce proceedings. She came to thank me for being supportive and for helping her clarify her thoughts when she had last come to see me.

But − here is the punch line − she told me that in her relatively small circle of frum families in her age bracket she was one of several currently in the process of breaking up!

That is just one of the reasons why your column is so necessary. There are so

many people − especially young married people − in difficulty and groping for understanding and help.

Keep up the good work.

An anonymous admirer

Dear Anonymous,

Your words are most heartening and your praise most flattering, but you attribute the credit to the wrong source. When we embark on a course that embodies gemilus chassadim (acts of kindness) – whether they are in the form of support, empathy or guidance – we are assured of siyata D’Shmaya (Divine guidance). Daily we pray “Chaneinu me’Itcha chachmah binah v’daas” and rely on Him to infuse us with His wisdom, understanding and insight.

May our Creator continue to shower His blessings upon us all and send His healing to the physically needy, spiritually devoid and intellectually lacking.

Thank you for doing your vital role in bringing succor and relief to the hurting and lonely souls among us.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 6/15/07

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories by e-mail to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.

To all women, men or children who feel that they are at the end of their ropes, please consider joining a support group, or forming one.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to help agunot, please send your tax deductible contribution to The Jewish Press Foundation.

Checks must be clearly specified to help agunot. Please make sure to include that information if that is the purpose of your contribution, because this is just one of the many worthwhile causes helped by this foundation.

* * * * * * * * * *

Dear Rachel,

I hope you print this letter, as I believe it will benefit others. I and just two friends have spoken to each other about a subject that is embarrassing, and we almost didn’t talk about it. Two of us are engaged. All three of us feel similarly, about facing marriage.

We are just plain afraid of relations with our spouses-to-be. In our community, unlike others, we go from not having relations at all to being married. It is one big sudden jump. Yes, it has happened from the beginning of time. But to us it feels – well, it is hard to explain.

This might seem strange to you, but one of the unsettling things about it is – how can we respect each other (our spouses) afterwards?

You will no doubt recommend therapy. None of us for various reasons would be able to do so. So we hope in some way you can respond to us. We are sure some of our friends and others in the community feel this way and are just too embarrassed to talk about it.

Need to remain Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

First, let me reassure you that your fears and misgivings are not all that strange. In fact, though most girls, as you say, will not voice their uneasiness, a large majority feels exactly as you do.

Those who claim to be cool, calm and collected as they look forward to the big day are usually either more mature (in years), have been ‘enlightened’ by an older sister or friend, are emboldened by their own extensive dating experiences, or are great actresses.

Yes, it has happened from the beginning of time. But you are fortunate in this day and age to have an excellent educational resource at your service to allay your fears: your kallah teacher. Today’s kallah classes are not what they used to be. If you do your research, you can take advantage of one-on-one valuable interaction with someone whom you can comfortably approach with any question or qualm you may harbor.

The best I can do in this format is to assure you that your chassan may be as shy and apprehensive as you are; that the phase you are about to enter into is as natural as the rising and setting of the sun; that your self-consciousness and embarrassment are indicative of your modesty – a beautiful and appealing trait in the people of our heritage; and that the ultimate expression of love between a man and a woman in a proper environment and under the right circumstance can be a most satisfying element of a relationship.

The difference between you and your counterpart in the secular (more permissive) society is major. You and your partner in life begin to “date” in earnest on your first day as husband and wife, with the newness and excitement of getting to know one another piquing your interest in each other on each successive day. The single who has been ‘hanging out’ with the opposite sex long before even thinking of settling down may be streetwise, but her/his anticipation is short-lived and the thrill of togetherness will leave much to be desired.

If you are interested in obtaining contact information, please get in touch via e-mail. (Since your anonymous letter arrived by postal mail, there is no way to offer you any personal connection data.)

It would be a pity to allow trepidation to detract from your joy during one of life’s most delightful stages. If you truly believe that you have met up with your intended, have faith that the same G-d Who brought the two of you together will guide you further and forever on your path through life.

Hatzlachah in forging a lasting and fulfilling life partnership, and Mazal Tov!

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 1/19/07

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories by e-mail to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.

To all women, men or children who feel that they are at the end of their ropes, please consider joining a support group, or forming one.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to help agunot please send your tax-deductible contribution to The Jewish Press Foundation.

Checks must be clearly specified to help agunot. Please make sure to include that information if that is the purpose of your contribution, because this is just one of the many worthwhile causes helped by this foundation.

* * * * * * * * * *

Reactions To Disappointed Husband And His Critics (Continued)

Dear Rachel,

My take on Disappointed Husband is that he is obviously feeling left out and unloved and may well be justified in feeling so. There are halachic and common sense rules that state that a woman must remain “attractive” to her husband. The actual lashon the Chazal use is “lo tisganeh al ba’alah.” There is even a heter to wear makeup during Niddah times. The late Rav of London, Rav Padwa,z”l once gave a hard hitting drashah against the snood/robe syndrome, which he said has been known to cause men to stray.

It is also clear that the woman is suffering, either because of the husband’s attitude (I do not like his paragraph about “fancy women” which is over the top) or simply because of the massive pressures of motherhood, etc.

Counseling is an absolute necessity to help the woman out of her issues (which may or may not be about him) and to help him to help her. He must also be part of that process to reconcile his needs (which are very real) with being a mentch towards the wife who does so much for him and the kids.

The glamour will then automatically return.

A Concerned Reader

Dear Concerned,

My thanks to all of you who have written to express your concern and advice.

The consensus is that home is where man’s heart should be and that a woman’s way to her man’s heart rests not in her culinary expertise alone. But woman by herself cannot carry the weight of responsibility in keeping their union in tip-top form. We all owe it to our loved ones and ourselves to keep in shape and do our utmost to please our partners – for whom we have pledged everlasting devotion at the outset.

In other words, husbands are equally obliged to stay fit, attractive and attentive to their other halves. Read on.

Dear Rachel,

I am not the type of woman to write to a column, but I need and want help for my situation that I’m not even ashamed of.

I am a married, frum woman, mother of four. I am also a “wow” woman whom other men notice. My husband and I are married 18 years. I love him and he loves me. He let himself go years ago. He’s gained a lot of weight, doesn’t care about his appearance and has developed some disgusting habits along the way. I’ve lost my attraction for him. I love the flattery and attention from the looks I get, and guess what? I’m having an affair! With a man I knew 20 years ago. He is also “happily” married, but his wife doesn’t pay “attention” to him. We are not in love. Our respective families are a big priority to us. We are simply using one another because of what we are lacking from our respective spouses.

Why should I have to suffer because my husband doesn’t keep himself attractive for me? I’m tired of hearing about women who don’t keep themselves attractive for their husbands. What about the men who don’t care about their own appearances? I don’t like what I’m doing and I want to stop, but I’ve been attracted to this guy for years and he called me one day. Even though he’s married, he wants me. I’ve never lied to my spouse about where I’ve been or what I’ve been doing during daytime. I just didn’t tell.

My children are in school all day. They have no clue. I’m the same loving wife and mommy when I’m around them.

Tell me how I can appreciate my “king” at home so I don’t have to live this secret life.

Please print this letter. I’m sure I’m not the only woman out there who feels like the shoe is on the other foot.

Anonymous but not ashamed

Dear Anonymous,

Justifying your unfaithfulness to your spouse is pointless – there is zero tolerance for transgression of the sins of adultery, murder and idolatry. Rationalization only allows you to carry on your liaisons without the accompanying burden of guilt.

Most puzzling is your affirmation of your love for your husband. And yet you claim to feel no shame in stooping to an unethical mode of behavior to gratify your physical needs of the moment.

Did you ever attempt to communicate your feelings to your husband? In the event that you did and it didn’t garner any positive results, did you give marriage counseling any thought or serious consideration before taking up your secret trysts?

What do you suppose your husband’s reaction would be should he stumble upon your infidelity? How would you feel if you were to discover that your husband was being unfaithful to you? If the mere contemplation of such scenarios makes you shudder, then chances are good that you will come to your senses and get your act together.

The first thing you must do is to take off the blinders that offer you short-term vision and to start focusing on what’s in it for you in the long run. Your quest for gratification through forbidden means is hazardous to your long-term well-being and will certainly not solve your marital woes.

Ask yourself how you will go about explaining the stain on your neshamah in the Heavenly Court and defending your foolhardy risk of jeopardizing the outcome of your soul’s ultimate spiritual journey.

As for your potbellied husband, if he declines to get off his rump despite an earnest plea on your part, taking the matter up with a competent therapist will help you decipher the root of your ills and provide you with the realistic options available to you. Resorting to immorality as revenge or self-appeasement is not a viable alternative.

I wish you a speedy refuah shelaimah for all your ills.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 6/16/06

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories by e-mail to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.

To all women, men or children who feel that they are at the end of their ropes, please consider joining a support group, or forming one.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to help agunot, please send your tax deductible contribution to The Jewish Press Foundation.

Checks must be clearly specified to help agunot. Please make sure to include that information if that is the purpose of your contribution, because this is just one of the many worthwhile causes helped by this foundation.

**********

Dear Rachel,

As a long-time avid reader of your column, I have been particularly intrigued by the many who had written of their conviction that SSA cannot be changed.

Years ago, I too suffered from this illness, struggling for a long time to understand its cause. I tried a number of therapists to no avail, and my cure finally came from years of self-searching. However, in addition to SSA, I also suffered with Pedophilia. I have discovered that its root is essentially the same as that of SSA. Whereas in SSA one feels less of a man than his peers, with Pedophilia an adult man feels himself to be less of a male than a 10-year old boy. The proof of the validity of this concept: Once I figured it out and worked on the underlying issues, the problem entirely disappeared.

A number of years ago, I read an article written by a well-known frum professional who claimed that there is no cure for this illness and the best we can hope for is to teach these people how to control their impulses. With all due respect to a professional of his caliber, this is completely untrue. How sad for those suffering with this problem to hear this! Such an attitude comes from the secular society and is totally not in line with Torah hashkofas – and by writing and telling people that there is no cure for this illness we exacerbate their problem? How fortunate for me that when I suffered from this malady years ago, I did not read or hear that it was considered incurable. I shudder to think what I would have done at the time had I come across such an article.

Unfortunately, the more repulsive a particular illness is to society, the more likely it is to be considered “incurable.” It is so much easier to tolerate the afflicted individuals this way. Consider this: If a pedophile would be deemed curable and would seek the appropriate treatment and be cured, we would have to accept him as part of society. We are, however, so disgusted with what he has done to our children, so horrified and so utterly enraged, that we cannot tolerate the thought of ever having this person be a part of our community. While it is certainly appropriate to be angry and repulsed by this individual – very much so – don’t we, as frum Jews, believe in teshuva, in change?

Yet certain problems are so repulsive that it is extremely difficult for us to consider the likelihood of change. We rather want nothing to do with the person and, therefore, label his problem as ‘incurable’ – thus sparing ourselves from ever having to associate with him. This attitude is unfair to the suffering individual. How many less pedophiles we would have if only their illness would be perceived as being curable!

I offer two proofs that this illness is indeed very much curable.

A) Scenario: An individual suffers with this illness and is told that it is incurable. He attends a program to learn how to control his impulses, and despite the fact that this person never again acts upon his impulses, the mere fact that he has them makes it impossible for him to feel that he is a normal part of society – let alone frum society. Now, when a person walks around feeling abnormal and different, how can he possibly succeed in life? Well, we all know that Hashem does not present a person with a nisayon that s/he cannot overcome. If this illness is incurable, how can Hashem expect this individual to achieve success? Hence, we are forced to conclude that this problem can be cured.

How so? With three steps:

1) Completely accept the fact that, if you work hard enough, you have the ability to entirely overcome this illness and be fully cured.

2) Understand the root cause of this illness, as described above.

3) Work with a skilled technician to overcome the root problem.

By sincerely following these steps, one can most definitely look forward to getting to the point of no longer feeling these impulses and being completely cured. He can even look forward to a time when he will fail to fathom how it was that he could ever have felt such impulses.

B) The author of this presentation is a frum 45 year-old happily married man, with children – overall successful in life.

From the age of 13-21, this writer suffered from this supposedly incurable illness.

After much intense soul-searching, I arrived at the understanding described above and have not had a pedophilic impulse for 24 years. In fact, I can hardly recall ever having had this problem. Does this not qualify as cured?

It is my sincere hope that this letter serves to dispel the widespread notion that this is an incurable disease – and to encourage those suffering with this illness to seek help*, with the assurance that they can be fully cured and begin to lead a normal life. Yes, you really can put this all behind you.

* An organization that dedicates itself to helping people with this type of problem has helped me realize my true potential as a human being – and for that I owe a debt of gratitude to JONAH.

An anonymous individual who wishes to convey to you that as long as you are alive, no matter what you have done – and I mean no matter what – you can change and put it all behind you.

Dear Anonymous,

Congratulations – albeit belated – are in order! You have triumphed in your quest to seek the truth and to discover your true self – the one intended especially for you by your Creator. Your valiant conquest of the “enemy within” is nothing short of stupendous. You’ve set a shining example and course for others to follow. May good mazal shine upon you and yours forever!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-19/2006/06/14/

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