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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Every Friday’

Whose SImcha Is It Really?

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Everyone loves a wedding. Really what is there not to love? You gather together with family and friends, all dressed up in your nicest clothing and jewelry, are treated to a sumptuous meal, and then get to enjoy wonderful music and even some dancing. And dancing at a wedding is unique in its own right – women of all backgrounds, at every stage of life, twirling and clapping all for one person – the kallah. What could be nicer?

At some weddings you even get to see elderly grandparents sharing in the simcha. Sometimes they are there with canes, sometimes in wheelchairs, sometimes accompanied by an aide or another relative. They too are dressed up and smiling, they too want to participate and rejoice with the chassan and kallah. But how does one rejoice, express their personal simcha, when they are infirm and can no longer dance, clap or twirl around?

The focus of a wedding and its source of simcha changes as one ages. When you are young, you think that the one with the most simcha, the one experiencing the most joy must be the kallah. She’s the one in the white dress, nervously anticipating the exciting moment the band will boom out “Od Yeshama” and she will see her chassan come proudly striding towards her. Everyone cranes their necks to see the expression on his face.  But as we mature and our perspective widens to identify with the parents of the young couple, our thought process changes.  Here they are, marrying off a child, a child who just a blink of an eye ago was a toddler, a youngster.  “Why, just a short while ago she was still a baby,” they marvel, along with all their friends.

Then time passes and we have traveled a little bit further down the road of life and watched ever younger kallahs get married (and don’t they seem younger and younger to you all the time now?) and you look again. Now you notice the older generation; the grandparents, and sometimes even great-grandparents, the survivors of the past, the ones who put so much effort into getting everyone to this day.  Often they cannot stand on their own and it can seem as if they have been relegated to the sidelines.  Yes, they are there for pictures, snapped for eternity for that all-important album, to show that they were there at this simcha. But sometimes they do feel somewhat pushed aside.

It should not be that way.  Our elders are our crowns – ateres rosheinu.  It is a tremendous zechus – even if the younger generation doesn’t always appreciate it – to have them alive and able to participate in our simchas.  They are the symbols of what was, what is, and what can continue to be. They are really the apex of the multi-generational event that culminates at every wedding.

Just recently I was baruch Hashem able to return home for my youngest sister’s wedding.  And it was everything it should be – the beautiful kallah, the makeup, dresses, gowns, sisters, cousins, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews; the rush to prepare, the incessant shopping around to find “just the right outfit,” organizing everything so that all the overseas children could come, the hall, the food, the caterer…all of it. There was the pre-wedding Shabbos together with even more cousins and family members; the time spent together, the cleanup.

Then the day of the wedding dawned. We all got up early, nervous and excited. Each one of us got dressed in all the finery we had been preparing for so many weeks.

And my grandparents, now in their nineties, bli ayin hara, got ready too.

Bubby looked great. She walked with difficulty – but she walked, mostly on her own, sometimes with one of us. She looked magnificent. Zeidy could no longer make it to a wedding completely on his own, and needed a wheelchair. But even in his wheelchair, he looked so good. With his cane in his hands for when he would get out of the wheelchair, we set off.  As the elders of the family they had been anticipating this wedding for a long time, but for Zeidy there was an added dimension to this special simcha.

This sister had been born when my parents were running a business and both needed to be there full-time.  They would never have left her with just a sitter, but someone needed to watch her.  Zeidy, who was retired, needed a job, something he could do well and would make him feel needed…a perfect shidduch. Zeidy became my sister’s prime babysitter. And oh, how those two loved each other.  He looked forward to each day – talking to her, holding her, proudly pushing her around in her stroller, playing with her and even occasionally changing her diaper.  Zeidy loves each of his grandchildren, but for this particular grandchild, he has a special place in his heart.

This special relationship continued throughout the years. My sister often went over to visit – they lived just a short two blocks from our home.  She would stop by to just say hello, eat some of my Bubby’s famous chocolate chip banana cake, (her favorite!), and play some cards with Zeidy. He always lit up when he’d see her. And as she went through the turbulent teenage years, she would still remember to call and visit, in between being with her friends, going on outings and stays in summer camp. Bubby and Zeidy’s house was one of her favorite places to be.

As Zeidy aged, many family members tried to find ways to help him. It wasn’t easy and became even more so as he began to lose most of his eyesight.  It was my sister who came up with a great idea. Every Friday, she would go over to their home to learn with Zeidy. He loved those learning sessions. This went on for years, and he looked forward to it all week long. When she graduated high school and went out of town, it was very hard for him. But even then she made sure to keep it up – every week, she’d call him long distance, and when she was in the city, she would come over in person to learn something with him. Zeidy loved it.

As the kabbalas panim got underway, my sister was busy with all the guests coming over to greet her. The photographer placed us, her older sisters, in a row behind the dais, and seated the two mothers, as well as my grandmother and her sister on the dais next to her. My uncles wheeled Zeidy into the room to be near the dais so he could somehow be part of the badeken.

Then the music started, and my father, the chassan and his father, along with all his exuberant friends, came marching into the room. The electricity was palpable. Of course the women had tears in their eyes. My Bubby sat up straight in her chair, proud to be with us. Zeidy was still there, waiting expectantly, but quietly near the front of the dais.

As the chassan badeked her and my father bentched her, it seemed as if everything was happening so fast.  Taking off her jewelry, handing her the appropriate tefillos to say, and of course, the ubiquitous photographer needing “just another shot, & smile,” made it all very hectic. But then suddenly, to the utter astonishment of everyone present, the kallah jumped out of her chair and sprinted towards the edge of the dais, gown, veil, flowers and all. It happened so fast the photographer actually missed it!

She ran the few paces to where Zeidy was sitting in his wheelchair, bent down all the way so he could hear her and screamed, “Zeidy! I want you to bentch me!” She had shouted twice until her heard her.  Those of us standing around stopped in our tracks.  The band may have still been blaring away, but for us, that moment froze in time. Crying, Zeidy lifted his shaky hands, unsure of where to put them with all her hairdo, veil and headpiece in the way. Undeterred, my sister put his hands directly on her head, headpiece and expensive hairdo notwithstanding, and bent down more so he could bentch her.

None of us could hear what he actually said, but it doesn’t matter. Hearts talk too and that is the best language.

Sometimes, despite the best intentions, the elderly are inadvertently left out of the most important parts of a large simcha. Often unavoidable, but this scene with my sister says volumes. Even when our elderly are “too old to participate,” their mere presence at such a life event is a simcha all in itself! And by giving Zeidy that honor she showed him more than with words, hugs or anything else, that he was never too old to matter in her life, no matter how he looks, no matter what he can or cannot do.

This is the ultimate hakaras hatov. This is the greatest kavod we can give to those who matter to us.

Ironically, it was only after this touching scene was over, that the photographer heard something special had happened — and he had missed it! He came running back in and asked my sister to “do it again” so he could get his picture of it…which she gladly did…and even the second time around, Zeidy cried.

But don’t worry. My eleven-year-old daughter caught the first time, the real thing, on her digital camera to share with everyone again and again, after the wedding was over…

Spare Change Can Spare A Life

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

It is said that giving charity can save one from death. We also believe that there is no such thing as a “coincidence.”

Many years ago, while living in New York, I was rushing home from work a few hours before Yom Kippur, as there were several things I had to do before the holiday started. My brother and his wife were staying over, and I had to heat the food we were going to eat before the fast. But first…
My parents had a tradition of going to shul and putting money in the charity plates that were put out one day a year, before the start of Yom Kippur.

Every Friday, before lighting Sabbath candles, I put loose change in my charity box. I now brought that money with me to put in the plates. Before going home, I rushed to shul to give the charity. Every minute counted, and as soon as I finished I left the building.

I saw the same delivery truck that I saw when I entered the building. There was just a narrow street I had to cross, and then I would be home to do some last minute chores. I looked to see if there were any cars coming, and seeing none I dashed across the street. I guess that I was in such a rush that I did not pay attention to the long skid that trailed in back of the truck, enabling the driver to slide the merchandise out. I ran across the skid, thinking I was running on solid ground. But I soon realized that I was being hurled across the street. Landing on my feet somewhere in the gutter, I looked to my left. To my horror I saw a car headed in my direction. I kept running and found myself on the sidewalk – out of harm’s way and close to my apartment building. Out of breath and somewhat in shock, I realized that a car had almost hit me. What had happened had not yet sunk in.

I stood on the sidewalk not moving, trying to make sense out of what had just happened. Suddenly I noticed that a car had pulled over close to where I stood. It was the driver of the car that had narrowly missed hitting me. The driver asked me how I knew his brakes were working so well. He obviously thought I deliberately tried to outrace him. While I remember his question very well, I don’t remember my answer. The only answer I can think of is that giving charity can save one from death, and that giving it before my near accident – right before the Day of Atonement – was no mere coincidence.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 9/08/06

Wednesday, September 6th, 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.


Readers Respond To ‘A Mother’ (Chronicles June 30) – Part 2

Dear Rachel,

I would like to stick up for us “working moms.” I agree that there are some misguided women who choose to leave their babies for many hours a week to go to lunch, salons, the gym, etc. They probably need to examine their priorities. Most frum women who work do so because their income is needed to meet the many demands on a frum family’s budget – such as tuition, Shabbos clothing, kosher food, camp, etc.

The letter writer who attacked working women with such venom, suggesting that our children are doomed to horrible fates, left me wondering what is missing from her own life that she feels the need to viciously attack a huge segment of our community.

My husband works at a very fulfilling profession, but sadly his compensation will never be enough for a frum family of six living in New Jersey. I have worked my entire adult life and have had four children while working. I am a controller for a large company in New York City. My job is demanding, but B”H, our incomes combined enable us to meet tuition and mortgage payments in a nice unassuming frum community, put food on our table, enjoy Yom Tov, send our kids to camp, and that’s about it. Both of us work hard, and there is still no “room” to “lower our standard of living” as the letter writer suggests. I believe many working mothers find themselves in similar situations.

At different times, my children have had babysitters, been in day care and have been cared for by grandparents. The letter writer proclaims that I cannot work and have kids, and that my choice at the outset should have been to not have any children. I find that to be a scathing and hurtful comment. I invite her to come and meet my well cared for, polite, joyful and derech-eretz’dik children.

Most working mothers deal with the heartache of missing some first smiles, first steps and a few school plays as well. But we do the best we can with the circumstances and nisyonos Hashem has handed us. We need to focus on the “peckel” Hashem doled out to us, deal with it the best way we can and devote as much as possible to our children when we are home with them.

I implore all your readers not to judge as the letter writer did. That is not the way the Torah tells us to act, and that is not the way we should be treating one another. Instead of judging, reach out to your friend or neighbor and try to understand their situation, to see if there is any way you can offer help or comfort. Only then will Moshiach come, and Jewish mothers will no longer be separated from their precious children.

A Devoted Working Mother

Dear Rachel,

In response to the judgmental mother who wrote to bash all working mothers, I write to say that I am a full-time working mother of five beautiful, wonderful, well-adjusted and very loved children. I am appalled at the letter writer’s insensitivity and narrow-mindedness. I know many full-time stay-at-home mothers (which she is not, according to what she states in her letter) who are very fortunate they can afford to be home to raise their children, yet they don’t go around judging mothers who need to go out to work.

My situation does not allow me to stay home. Though I work full-time, my husband or I see our children off to school every morning, and a sweet Polish woman takes them off the bus when they get home. In the evening, it is I who feed my children, do homework with them, bathe them and tuck them into bed by 8:00 p.m. with shema and a kiss.

I don’t preen in my time away from home, nor have I deliberately chosen the hardworking lifestyle. Known to be fine and well-behaved − the result of having parents who do not judge others, who are honest workers, and who treat people with kindness − my children are straight-A students, eat home-cooked meals, wear hand-knitted sweaters and want for very little. Yes, they have more responsibility than other children, which has made them independent and capable.

I’m not advocating that this is for everybody. But has the writer, who accuses all working mothers of collapsing from exhaustion on Shabbos, been to visit these families? Every Friday night my children bring me their parsha notes which we review; we then daven and set the table together.

We should JUDGE, you say! I say take some time out from your busy mothering to read Pirkei Avos: “Don’t judge your friend until your reach his/her place” I wouldn’t want Hashem to judge me, and therefore I don’t go around judging others. You must have been absent in school when they taught “Dan l’kaf zechus (to give others the benefit of the doubt).” You have no idea of the schedules of the mothers of children you see in the park with hired help. Besides, it is none of your business.

Last but not least, how dare you place the blame for rebelliousness of teens on “working mothers!” Factors such as ineffective teachers, bad friends/neighbors/environment and depressions, cam all play a role in teenage rebellion. The best parents can end up with a rebellious child.

Hashem should give us all siyata d’shmaya that our children should grow up and head in the right path, because we all try to do the best we can with the life and children we have.

A Hardworking, Devoted and Loving Mother

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-33/2006/09/06/

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