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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Erev Shabbos’

Conflicts, Conflicts, Conflicts

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Special Note: For the past two weeks my columns have focused on the sad state of contemporary family life – controversies between siblings, parents, and children. Unfortunately, however, this deplorable state of affairs is not limited to families. Our communities and our institutions are all ridden by “infighting.”

I have received countless e-mails and letters from readers bemoaning this deplorable reality that crosses all boundaries and gender lines, running the gamut from the observant to the secular, from the young to the elderly, and from male to female. I could probably keep publishing these letters for many weeks without exhausting the topic, but I think that we are all too familiar with the scene, so instead of belaboring the issue, I invite you, my dear readers, to explore along with me, some big questions:

Why are we so self- destructive? Why are we constantly at each other’s throats? How is it that we fail to realize that the greatest harm that we are inflicting is upon our own selves? As Rabbeinu Bachya taught, “There is no foe that can inflict evil on a man like his own evil deeds.”

And so, the question remains: “How can we, enlightened individuals, products of a sophisticated education, continue to live by the laws of the jungle? The question is all the more puzzling since ours is a generation that has so much to contend with – we can apply the passage, “Ein bayis she’ein sham mes – There no family that does not have to wrestle with some tribulation.”

Additionally, we are surrounded by enemies who are bent on destroying us; so how can it be that we do not unite and reach out to one another? We are all only too aware that when our people, our synagogues, our communities, are torn by machlokes, strife – then every individual in those communities, in those synagogues is also diminished. And when families are destroyed, then every individual member of that unit is left broken and maimed – so again I ask, why are we so self-destructive?

The question challenges all of us, for this scourge affects every Jew. And what’s more, our history testifies that we were cast into our long, dark exile precisely because of this sin of sinas chinam – baseless hatred between Jew and Jew. So why do we persist in this self-destruction? Why can’t we free ourselves from the chains of jealousy, pettiness, animosity and hatred?

If any generation should be sensitive to the urgency of curing ourselves of this disease, it is surely ours. We were witness to the most horrific evil ever to be visited upon mankind, and surely we must realize that that which took Hitler, yemach shemo, years to do, can, G-d forbid, be done today in a matter of minutes…. and that is exactly what Ahmadinejad’s agenda calls for.

So what must it take to awaken us? How much more suffering must we endure until we learn to live by the laws of loving-kindness? What must it take to teach us the two simple little words “I forgive?”

Many will try to rationalize and dismiss the subject by saying, “Rebbetzin, what are you getting all excited about? That’s the reality of today’s world…. It is what it is…. ” Others will dismiss the subject by blaming societal conditions, values and mores: greed, chutzpah, selfishness, jealousy, and hatred…all intrinsic to our culture.

Still others will give it a kosher Torah twist. We are living in the period identified as “Ikvesa D’moshicha” – the generation in which the footsteps of Moshiach can be heard, and that generation, we are told, will witness an escalation of that which is most base and loathsome in human nature.

I don’t buy any of this. To be sure, we do live in a world gone mad, a world in which people have forgotten basics, in which traditional moral values have been eclipsed, in which greed has replaced devotion, indebtedness – entitlement, chutzpah – respect, family cohesiveness – self adulation. Alas, these cultural aberrations do exist, and there is no point in denying them, but all this does not change our reality, which is rooted in timeless Torah values.

From the genesis of our history, we were always in conflict with the times. We marched to the tune of a different drummer and never considered that which was in vogue or politically correct. Our values were set in eternity – they came from Sinai. So no, the cultural rationalizations of the ages did not impact on us… those among us who remained Jews did so precisely because we had the spiritual stamina to say “No!”

As for those who would throw up their hands in futility and hide behind the reality of “Ikvesa d’Moshicha” – that we are living in the period of pre-Messianic times – that rationalization is equally unacceptable. If anything, the awareness that we are living in the period of “Erev Shabbos” should goad us into action so that Moshiach might arrive in peace and blessing rather than through suffering and fire.

Should we not want to do teshuvah and usher in the Messianic period with joy and gladness? But, you might ask, what practical steps can we take to bring about such change?

That, B’Ezrat Hashem, I will discuss in next week’s column.

The Shabbos Blessing

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Friday was a hectic day. The night before, I had been rushed to the emergency room after feeling unwell. I was released early in the morning, and was given a copy of my EKG. I brought the EKG results to my cardiologist first thing in the morning.

When the doctor read the EKG, he was concerned that I might have suffered a heart attack. He whisked me by taxi to the emergency room at Beth Israel Hospital. They immediately gave me a room, did another EKG, and rushed me to the catheterization lab on the eighth floor.

It was Erev Shabbos, a short Friday. The last place I’d expected to be was an operating room. I calmed myself down with the thought that it was too late to go home, so I might as well accept the fact that I would be spending this Shabbos in a hospital bed.

It was finally my turn for the procedure. All I could focus on was the clock with the minute hand counting down to candle-lighting time. The doctors were doing their job, and I was trying to figure out how I would be able to light the candles on time. They kept asking me how I was feeling, and I kept asking them what time it was.

The clock showed 4:50 p.m. Shabbos was at 5:09 p.m. I looked up and saw two overhead operating lights. I realized that the only way I would be able to bentch licht (light the candles) this Shabbos would be to recite the blessing over the electric lights. I recited the blessing and beseeched Hashem to please let them finish the procedure before Shabbos started.

Finally, the doctor was done. He came around the curtain and said, “We have good news for you! We didn’t find any problems. You are clear to go.”

I smiled and asked, “What time is it?”

It was 5:07.

I whispered, “Thank you, Hashem, for your Hashgachah Pratis (Divine Providence).”

It’s Time For Superwoman And Super Caregiver To Retire (Part II)

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

 (Names and situations altered for privacy)


 

Malky’s father-in-law had been in the hospital for months. Now, with Pesach approaching and his health improving, her in-laws would be joining Malky and her family for the holiday.  Malky knew it would mean more demands on her time, and she understood that being an on-site caregiver was not going to be easy.  But Malky loved her in-laws and wanted them with her for Pesach. 

 

In addition, Malky’s son, who lived in another state, was coming for Pesach with his wife and their seven children.  Another son, who lived a block away, decided that making Pesach this year would be too difficult for his newly pregnant wife.  So, they too would be moving in to Malky’s home.  She wasn’t quite sure how she would manage, but she smiled and told them how nice it would be for everyone to be together. Malky knew how much her in-laws would enjoy having them all together at the Seder.

 

Ruchi’s husband was scheduled to be in the hospital the weekend before Pesach, for some routine tests to measure the progression of his chronic illness.  With the hospital being too far a distance to walk on Shabbos, Ruchi and her husband had made peace with him being alone. In fact, for Ruchi the timing couldn’t have been better. Exhausted from Pesach preparations, she was looking forward to spending Shabbos in bed, free from care giving chores.

 

However, Ruchi’s children were concerned that their mother was going to be alone all Shabbos, so they decided to come Erev Shabbos instead of Erev Pesach. Ruchi laughed half-heartedly as her dream of sleeping all day was replaced with preparing for her large family for Shabbos as well as Pesach.

 

When Brocha’s in-town children announced that they too where moving in to her house for Pesach, along with the out-of-towners, Brocha thought she would faint. It was true that her chronically ill husband had been stable recently and she had planned to have the local children over for meals, but now where would everyone sleep and how would she manage to get through the yom tov with the never-ending tumult of so many people in her house. The thought of everyone together made her smile.  She would love to have everyone for the entire yom tov. She loved the fact that they all wanted to come home, but sadly she also knew that it was something she couldn’t handle at this point in her life.

 

And so, unlike Malky and Ruchi she explained to her ‘in-town’ children that as much as she would love it, it was just too hard for her to do this right now and she’d have to say no. Initially shocked, Brocha’s children became frightened. Their mother had never said anything was “too difficult” for her to do.

 

However, slowly, they began to realize that their expectations in regard to their mother were unrealistic. Since their mother always did whatever they asked of her as if it was her joy, and never a problem for her, they had never thought about all the work or expenses involved, or whether or not she was really able to do it.  They just assumed she was, because she had never given them a reason to think differently.

 

Now, she was aging and the burden of care giving was taking its toll, but she had never let them know, until now. As a result of her finally saying no, her children began to rethink their expectations.

 

Not only did her in-town children not move in, they made their home ready for Pesach and invited everyone over for one of the meals. For the first time they even offered to help with the cooking.  Brocha told me that just having her daughter-in-law make the chicken soup for yom tov made a huge difference. It was one less thing to think about, but more importantly it made her feel cared about and loved in a way she hadn’t experienced before. She also told me that by finally telling her children “it was too hard,” prompted everyone to get up and help serve without her asking. They even insisted that she sit while they served since she had done all the cooking.

 

It is somewhat ironic that as we age and can do less, our families grow and we are expected to do more. Giving our children a realistic picture of our decreasing capabilities instead of pretending that we are still superwomen, invites our families to see us more appropriately. It gives them the opportunity to take on more family responsibility if they choose and grow into the adults we have always wanted them to be.

 

More on this topic next week


You can reach me at annnovick@hotmail.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/its-time-for-superwoman-and-super-caregiver-to-retire-part-ii/2009/05/13/

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