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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Dear Tznius’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 7/23/10

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Infertility: Where do we draw the line? (Part II)

The following commentaries are in response to a letter by “Is tznius not the hallmark of our lifestyle?” (featured in Chronicles of 6-18-10). The first part of the letter below appeared in last week’s issue.

Dear Tznius, (cont’d)

In your letter you ask, “What do attempts at producing a life in a lab say for our belief system? How does taking all sorts of extreme measures, while being monitored and supervised by men and women in white coats no less, translate to acceptance of our G-d-given lot?”

As for our “G-d given lot,” we do our best with what we have and who we are – frail and imperfect human beings – to accept His will and to do so with a complete trust and happiness, knowing that G-d is taking care of our every need as only He can.

Having said that, why should anyone who needs medical treatment, whether for depression, an ingrown toenail or infertility, not seek the ultimate in medical help in order to live the best life possible and serve G-d with a glad heart? With each attempt and every new day comes the proof of our acceptance, along with the absolute belief, that G-d can perform miracles, and does, and that it is He who grants success in the operating rooms and in the laboratories and pharmacies of our world, not the men and women “in white coats.”

Should it be said that cancer-stricken patients who receive revised treatments based on new findings in continuous research have missed the boat since their protocol had not been perfected when they first became ill? Does that mean that new patients should disregard the newer and possibly life-saving treatment?

The organization you most likely refer to is a powerhouse of brotherhood – a model of effectiveness in helping people, of trust, compassion and sheer determination. My entire family is extremely grateful for the love, the caring and warmth they’ve shown us, along with a steadiness of focus and aid in reaching our goal.

I am sorry for the pain you feel which drove you to write your letter based on your personal experiences. I can certainly imagine, and I certainly recall quite vividly the trauma, the discomfort, the fear and hopelessness I felt throughout the many years I struggled with infertility.

Still, I know first-hand how many hundreds of thousands of dollars fertility treatment costs, and I fully understand that the organizations that assist and sponsor such costly treatments must do what they can to maximize their fundraising success. (Legitimate personal concerns of advertising strategy should be addressed with the people behind the posters; debasing the entire community of volunteers and counselors, patients, family members and fundraisers alike is pointless.)

As for how parents explain such ads to their children: Firstly, it is often the children who notice first (as they are more perceptive than the credit given them) that a particular couple has no children. Explaining sadness and difficult situations to children is part of every parent’s responsibility. Childlessness is but one example.

As for the poster, getting back to my original suggestion of possible eye-catching campaigns, I believe a smiling, healthy-looking infant is by far the classiest way to go.

Grateful beyond words

Dear Rachel,

As I read the letter written by Tznius (Chronicles 6-18), I could feel her pain – a pain that I think has skewed her view on the subject of infertility treatments and organizations that assist couples in attaining parenthood.

While intimacy is the natural lead-in to procreation, intimacy and procreation are not interdependent. Lack of intimacy (due to medical intervention in a sterile environment) does not preclude procreation; it enables it. Hashem in His kindness has given the chochma (wisdom) to mankind to devise medical methods to help Yidden be mekayem the mitzvah of pru u’rvu, even when there are infertility issues involved. There is no contravention of tznius here.

Dear Tznius:

You ask, “What do attempts at producing a life in a lab say for our belief system?”

It says that our gratitude to Hashem for the miracles He does for us by providing the refuah before the makah (the remedy before the onset of the malady) is endless. It says that we accept his munificence with much gratitude. Even with scientific technology, only Hashem can create life.

To your question, “If one were meant to have children, wouldn’t G-d grant them in the natural way?” – not necessarily. Hashem has His reasons, known only to Him, and we cannot and dare not second-guess Him. Following your reasoning a cripple would have no right to interfere with G-d’s plan by using braces or crutches to walk and a parent would have no right to repair a hole in a baby’s heart through surgery, etc.

Everything is in Hashem’s hands, but that does not absolve us from making our best hishtadlus (efforts), while recognizing that, ultimately, it is in Hashem’s hands to either allow our efforts to succeed or not. It would be wrong to sit back and just “accept our G-d-given lot.”

The wonderful organizations that assist infertile couples need funding, and there is a pressing need to get their message out there for everyone to see. Nothing therein is inappropriate or mortifying for children to see. The littlest don’t read ads and older children are already aware that mothers go to the hospital to have babies and that sometimes a mother might need a doctor’s help to have a baby.

As far as the picture of a smiling baby in an ad, if a childless woman has trouble with that and actually finds a picture painful, she had better not leave her house, because she will encounter many real babies being wheeled in carriages and in the arms of their mothers. Imagine how much pain a real, live baby would cause! I think that a sense of proportion is called for here.

I feel your pain

* * * * *

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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 7/16/10

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Infertility: Where do we draw the line?  (Part I)

The letter-writer signed, “Is tznius not the hallmark of our lifestyle?” (Chronicles 6-18-10) calls into question the ethical mores, as she perceives them, pertaining to the subject of infertility treatment. Indicating her disapproval of the depiction of “A healthy-looking smiling infant” (used by an organization for their ads and mailings), the author critiques the practice (“What do attempts at producing a life in a lab say for our belief system?”) as well as method (“taking all sorts of extreme measures, while being monitored and supervised by men and women in white coats”) utilized in helping couples alter their childless state.

The writer also takes exception to the lack of tznius (“I was always under the impression that the method by which to carry out the mitzvah of pru u’rvu is an intensely private one”) and what she considers to be an “in-your-face campaign” that she feels may pose an awkward dilemma to parents who would need to explain to their children what these ads allude to.

The following is a reader’s commentary in answer to “Is tznius not the hallmark of our lifestyle?”

Dear Tznius,

You are right. Indeed, pictures of healthy-looking, smiling infants are not the best way to solicit for an organization reaching out to help hundreds of couples struggling with infertility to realize their dream. I, for one – having been there, done that – often mused how effective a fundraising campaign might be if but a small percentage of our pain could be depicted on those posters and mailings.

How horrified would the average reader be to confront the size of the needles I had to subject myself to during treatment, and how much more of an impact would it make if organizations (such as the one you refer to) would opt to use the photographs of healthy embryos in a Petri dish instead of happy babies on their advertisements! As a follow-up, ads can perhaps illustrate how none of those beautiful embryos developed into the healthy-looking infants – the ones clearly causing you great distress.

You ask if G-d had meant us to have children, would He not have granted them the natural way.

As I try to understand where you could possibly be coming from in your letter, I am completely stumped by your query. Have we not learned since the beginning of time that G-d works in mysterious ways? Did our patriarchs and matriarchs not beseech the heavens for a child of their own when they were childless? Does our holy Torah not devote much narrative on this very topic, delving into the unimaginable difficulties faced by husband and wife and by women in particular who desperately hope for a child? Finally, is anything G-d does really “natural?”

To try and understand you, I must ask a question in return: Do you use a fax machine? How about a computer, a cellular phone, an iron, a radio, and just about a million other things modern technology has given us? If your throat hurts, do you not take a culture? If your knee is scraped and bleeding, will you not apply an antibacterial cream and/or dress it with a bandage?

Your logic would mean that G-d would want us to wear wrinkled shirts and get breaking news from history books. Laboratories are laboratories! Whether testing bacteria for strep throat or sugar levels for diabetes, the work done in medical facilities today is nothing short of a miracle – G-d’s blessing for our generation! A hundred and fifty years ago, the folks living at that time were blessed with the automobile. Should they have insisted that car manufacturers halt the assembly process and just let everyone walk, as surely G-d had intended us to?

Yes, the mitzvah and concept of having children is an intensely private one. And then, if G-d forbid calamity strikes, how is it to be handled if all is kept private? A couple needs the information in order to survive! They need to know, as soon as possible, that they are not alone, that there is help and that their story can G-d willing have a happy ending!

Because of the importance placed on privacy in married life, reaching out for help under such circumstances is often the most difficult step a couple must take. I often felt that I could tolerate everything relating to infertility, if only I didn’t feel so violated. Yet, I consciously chose, as did my fellow infertility sufferers, to “face the music” – the hope, the pain, the frustration and the bitter disappointment, time and time and time again, before we finally merited having a child of our own! The hope kept me alive, even if I had to “share” that hope with my whole family and my entire community! In the end, it seems a small price to pay to enjoy a beautiful, happy baby who is of my husband’s and my flesh and blood.

No, I don’t feel cheated that this blessed event took place in a laboratory, just as I don’t refrain from seeing the dentist when my tooth hurts. Everything G-d has put on this earth, including the brains and determination in medical science and progress in medicine, has the potential to be holy. We certainly have the ability to choose, but at a time when clearly thousands of beautiful couples in Klal Yisroel are faced with the devastating news that they must be treated medically in order to have children, who would suggest that they just “forget it and move on with life?”

Please understand that the desire to have children is pivotal to Jewish life and tradition – as are children themselves – which is the reason the organization has the kind of success it does! No parent, no grandparent or even a neighbor wants to see one of “us” – a Yiddishe daughter or son – remain childless!

To be cont’d

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 6/18/10

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010
Divorced or widowed: Which makes the better catch?

 

Dear Rachel,

 

My close friend and I are both avid readers of your column and are normally on the same page as far as your opinion goes. We are now at odds regarding the following.

 

My friend says that someone marrying the second time around is better off with a widow/widower since a divorced person carries much more “baggage” than someone who lost a spouse through death.

 

I feel that the second spouse of a previously happily married individual must compete with a ghost that will always hover between them – while an ex-spouse whom your partner didn’t get along with or wasn’t happy with will not pose much competition.

 

What is your opinion?

 

Practical thinker

 

Dear Practical,

 

          Notwithstanding the validity of both your viewpoints, the most potent ingredient of a successful second marriage is a healthy dose of self-esteem – irrespective of the life circumstances that surround the couple.

 

For instance, a woman with a sense of self-worth is less likely to be intimidated by the memory of her husband’s late wife, at the same time recognizing that a man who has already proven to be good husband material is more likely to make a go of a second marriage.

 

Divorced, single or widowed, the reality is that it takes two to tango. Two emotionally mature, serious-minded and committed adults should be able to weather the ups and downs that are part of every marital relationship, let alone a second one.

 


Should matchmakers offer money-back guarantees?

 

Dear Rachel,

 

Many frum people looking to get married rely on a shadchan for introductions. My question, to put it bluntly: If the marriage doesn’t work out, is the shadchan in any way responsible and does he or she get to keep his/her “finder’s fee” regardless?

 

Naturally I do not refer to a marriage going bust after ten or twenty years. But shouldn’t there be some “coverage” for at least a year?

 

One man I know recently got divorced following a two-week marriage in hell, and I happen to know that the so-called matchmaker who recommended the shidduch received a hefty fee.

 

In another case I am familiar with, a young couple divorced after months of counseling (though the marriage was doomed from the start). The girl apparently had mental issues and was on medication -  “minor” details that the boy and his family – as well as the shadchan, it is said – were not made aware of.

 

Shouldn’t a matchmaker be more in the know before assuming such a major undertaking?

 

Marriage is not a joke

 

Dear Marriage,

 

For all practical purposes, and to the best of my knowledge, it is up to the individual being set up to do his/her own investigating. No shadchan worth his weight in shadchanis expects clients to agree to a shidduch out of hand without first conducting their own inquiries.

 

A matchmaker is not expected to act as Sherlock Holmes. Many shadchanim have only a basic profile and it is up to the two individuals being set up to do more extensive research.

 


Infertility: Where do we draw the line ?

 

Dear Rachel,

 

Pictures of a healthy-looking, smiling infant in ads and mailings are everywhere. One can hardly escape them. I refer to the solicitation tactics of an organization that helps hopeful infertile couples realize their desperate goal.

 

Now I’m sure I’m setting myself up for much criticism, but here goes. If one were meant to have children, wouldn’t G-d grant them the natural way? To be frank, I was always under the impression that the method by which to carry out the mitzvah of pru u’rvu is an intensely private one – shared by husband and wife in the privacy of their personal sleeping chamber.

 

What do attempts at producing a life in a lab say for our belief system? How does taking all sorts of extreme measures, while being monitored and supervised by men and women in white coats no less, translate to acceptance of our G-d-given lot?

 

Can it be said that the childless woman today in her sixties and seventies missed the boat (since scientific technology was not as advanced in her younger years)? Wouldn’t we then in essence be denying that our fate rests in the hands of Hashem?

 

Setting the above aside the in-your-face campaign of such organizations – which, in my humble opinion, ought to be run in a much more discreet fashion, with much less hoopla – is bewildering. In all earnestness, how are parents explaining to their wide-eyed, curious children what these ads allude to (or is it only the Chronicles column in the Jewish Press that will “mortify” these same parents)?

 

And can you just imagine the stab of pain in the heart of the childless woman made to confront the larger-than-life depiction of the smiling infant appearing in circulars in her mailbox, in newspaper ads, and on advertising banners?

 

I can.

 Is tznius not the hallmark of our lifestyle?

 

Dear Tznius,

 

          The common line of logic has it that the same G-d who tests us and gives us has also allowed us the scientific strides that enable (some of) His children to overcome their infertile predicament.

 

To your line of thinking, one would need to take issue with the entire medical field. Why strive to attain refuahs (in the way of medical treatment) if Hashem could have prevented the illness to begin with, and, for that matter, cured it without any medical intervention?

 

Those suffering are required to beseech the Ribono Shel Olam for relief. The barren woman takes a cue from our matriarch Rivkah and davens to Hashem for help in overcoming her childless state.

 

Could we then not argue that evolvement of sophisticated science technology has come about as a result – and in answer – to these prayers?

 

Thank you for your sensitive insight of a delicate issue.

 

Our intelligent readers are invited to contribute their perspective and opinion.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 12/11/09

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Dear Rachel,

I would like to comment on some recent letters that discussed the subject of women’s tznius, promiscuity, and the social mingling of men and women.

Some of these letters admonish males for not reining in their baser inclinations; others take issue with females for their lack of modesty. (See Chronicles of 9-18, 10-23, & 11-13-09)

Let me make it clear that in no way do I advocate “dressing down” in order to keep a man from “looking.” For the record, I am simply a frum woman with Torah values who recognizes the difference between normal and abnormal.

No excuses for the “vulnerable” husband. Even though we live in an open society where practically everything is acceptable, there is simply no excuse for “forgetting” our Ten Commandments-one of which relates to adultery.

As for women, what happened to exercising common sense? And let’s not mince words-every “red-blooded” female wants to look pretty. I, for one, need to feel “well put together” but I know my boundaries. Being fashionable and trendy does not have to mean low cut or belly-exposing tops, or skirts that end mid-thigh or have slits that leave little to the imagination. Frum Jewish females who dress this way have no seichel or are sorely lacking in good taste.

I recently returned from a trip abroad and was taken by the old-fashioned gentility of the average (non-Jewish) woman one encounters on the streets of Italy. For that matter, a refined lady anywhere in the world will not be caught in public wearing ill-fitting clothes that are suggestive of women of ill repute. I suspect that if our girls who dress this way had an inkling of how they come across, they would be horrified.

The bottom line is that we can dress normally and be presentable without running a fashion show at the expense of our family.

Tznius and Femininity can co-exist

Dear Rachel,

Your answer to the letter from Mature Wife seemed to imply that heightened standards of conduct between men and women are a “Chassidic” thing. This is not so.

The Gemara records incidents of Amoraim who took extra precautions in this area (see the end of Ta’anis dealing with Abba Chilkiya, as an example).

This matter was an issue even for the Amoraim, who were spiritually far advanced over us. What emerges from the sources in the Talmud is that social intercourse between men and women who are not married to each other, or otherwise close blood relatives, is inappropriate. The yetzer hara is strong, and nobody can be certain that s/he will never cross the line.

Just telling it like it is…

Dear Rachel,

The letter by Mature Wife made me realize how tightly some people’s eyes are shut to the crisis that has exploded at full speed through many of our communities.

In his speech on “Platonic Relationships” Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky relates a story from the Gemara on the subject of Ain aputropus l’arayos, loosely translated as nobody is safeguarded from immorality.

Bruriah, the wife of the Tanna Rabi Meir, swore that a moral, resolute and righteous woman is not seducible.

Rabi Meir tested her by getting one of his students to entice her. The student succeeded and Reb Meir caught them in the act, resulting in Bruriah killing herself.

Does “mature wife” think the student swaggered up to her saying, Hey gorgeous, I fancy you!!? NO! He started with seemingly innocent banter and familiarity, just as you do with your group of friends.

If some of our holiest, most erudite people understood the risks, set themselves strong boundaries and could still fail, imagine how cautious we must be in the ’2009′ world we live in!

With so much exposure as it is, what with work associations, the provocative (Jewish and non-Jewish) woman on the streets, movies and Internet, why on earth would anybody willingly place that stumbling block in front of herself? Is a home to build, a marriage to sustain, and possibly children to educate, not enough to “bond” you??

Al taamin beatzmecha ad yom moscha – don’t trust yourself until the day you die, especially on this subject, which NOBODY is immune to. Tzaddikim fixed stronger boundaries because of the considerable danger, and therefore it is of utmost importance to set yourself as many restrictions as you possibly can.

This is not, G-d forbid, about not trusting one another, but about protecting and looking out for each other, because sometimes we can shock even ourselves!

There is a relationship flu spreading – vaccinate yourselves! Shield yourselves! Open your eyes! Separation is not, as Mature Wife said, “sinking to a new low” – but a strength and a level that can be a challenge to rise to.

Looking down at people who care for their spouses and kids by keeping them as sheltered as possible is like saying that keeping hilchos muktza is sinking low; can’t a person trust himself not to be mechallel Shabbos? Of course not! It’s a hard mitzvah, and these “extra” halachos keep one from falling

DON’T kid yourself that it’s not a possibility for your husband to notice your attractive friends.

DON’T suppose your friends’ husbands aren’t assessing you.

DON’T delude yourself by denying what perfectly accepted socializing can lead to.

DON’T presume that belonging to a Chassidish, Litvish or Modern Orthodox community makes you immune to this problem.

DON’T forget you’re HUMAN!

And as Mature Husband asked in his outstanding letter, who am I to talk?I am a single, outgoing and attractive 22-year old girl, raised in a balanced and open-minded home. I have seen first hand, from my own experiences as well as those of friends and family, the complicated situations that your husband, wife, son or daughter, could all find themselves in.

I wish for you a continued blissful, healthy and devoted marriage.

Single and guarded

Dear Tznius, Telling and Single,

Your words of wisdom need no elaboration and enlighten us just at the right time. Wishing you and all of Klal Yisrael a safe and happy Chanukah!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-211/2009/12/09/

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