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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Gan Eden’

Chronicles of Crises In Our Communities – 7/31/09

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Dear Rachel,

A while ago I had the misfortune of suffering the loss of a family member. Ever since, I’ve been meaning to air my frustration over the Shivah experience. While I do believe that for the most part people mean well, the burden of their ignorance falls on the bereft.

Define it as you will, death is a tragedy. But when it is a young (or relatively young) person, whom we see as leaving his or her best years behind, the heartbreak is compounded. It is perhaps for this reason that our house of mourning was packed beyond capacity every night. Allow me to add that I do have tremendous hakaras ha’tov (appreciation) for all those who took the time to fulfill the mitzvah of paying a Shivah call.

If I may “borrow” some space in your widely-read column, I would like to offer readers some pointers that might help others avoid the discomfort that members of my family (females mostly) endured during a trying period of time:

1. Do try to visit by day, if you can, since nights are generally more hectic and can become overwhelming.

2. Do share any feel-good personal experience or interaction you’ve had with the deceased (but please try not to giggle or laugh loudly in the process).

3. Do express your sympathy (after all, it’s what you’ve come to do), but check your tears at the door before entering.

4. Do allow the mourner to speak of the deceased at his/her discretion and pace, but do not feel free to ask 20 questions out of your insatiable morbid curiosity.

5. Do ask for directions to the restroom facility, if needed, but this is not the time to take a sightseeing tour of the premises.

6. Do stay on (beyond the 20 minutes or so) if you are a close friend or relative, but if the place is filling up to standing room only, graciously give up your seat and return the next day, if you are so inclined.

7. Do not visit daily (unless you are a very close friend or relative and are there to lend a helping hand in some capacity). One visit is all that is required.

8. Do make your visit brief, especially if you are a mere acquaintance and have nothing much to say. (It is totally inappropriate to sit endlessly in front of the mourners and gawk as though they are on display at a freak show.)

9. Do visit during evening hours if it is more convenient for you (as it is for many), but do not arrive at a late hour. (The day is long and tedious enough for the mourners who also need to get some sleep.)

10. Do not linger if the mourners are being served their meals. Convey your condolences and exit graciously (unless specifically entreated by mourner to stay).

11. Do call (in lieu of a personal visit, if you live too far away). This is perfectly acceptable and appropriate – however, endless reminiscences and chitchat are not. The mourner may have in-house visitors waiting to get his or her attention. Make it short and sweet and call to chat at some other time.

12. Some people seem oblivious of the fact that a house of mourning is as hallowed as a house of worship. It is therefore unbefitting to dress in an untznius’dik fashion (immodestly). Out of respect for the family and the departed soul, females should be vigilant about keeping elbows and knees covered, and a married woman should cover her hair.

Thank you, Rachel, for letting me sound off. May we merit hearing only good news.

A weary mourner…

Dear Weary,

Thank you for your insightful suggestions in how to conduct oneself with dignity in a delicate situation. Like you say, most people have their hearts in the right place, but many are unfortunately intimidated by the nature of the circumstance and are awkwardly ill at ease.

It helps for the visitor to try to understand the bereaved and for the bereaved to try to recognize the discomfort of the visitor who never knows what to expect. Personalities vary, making it difficult to predict the effect a tragedy will have on a mourner.

In addition to your excellent recommendations: Many families in mourning post notices of “non-visiting hours” on their doors (generally during the long summer days) which allow them some respite time – usually a two-to-three-hour afternoon break.

HaMakom Yenachem eschem… May G-d comfort you among the other mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim. In layman’s terms, you are not alone in your grief. Taking the literal interpretation for HaMakom – the place: HaMakom Yenachem… the “place” should comfort you… the place where your departed loved one now resides – namely Gan Eden.

“Nachamu, Nachamu Ami… Be comforted, be comforted, My people…” [Yeshayahu 40:1-26]

May we know of no more sorrow and merit to witness the fulfillment of the prophet’s reassurance – that our suffering will end soon.

Please send your personal stories, thoughts and opinions to rachel@jewishpress.com

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 02/20/09

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Dear Thirty-Something,

Your letter (Chronicles 12-5-08) touched many hearts, though I suspect that most readers will not take the time to write to a column. I too admit to having had the urge to write this letter ever since I read yours, and yet it is now weeks later

Though your letter no doubt moved even readers who cannot per se identify with you, no one can feel with you more than one who has walked in your shoes and literally experienced your hardship. It is from such a vantage point that I write to share my personal feelings vis-à-vis your particular dilemma.

Like you, I missed no opportunity to obtain a rebbe’s brachah, to recite Shir HaShirim for 40 consecutive days endlessly, and to give generously to the cause of hachanassas kallah, etc., etc.

When I completed my year in seminary overseas, I came home with great expectations, fully confident that I would soon meet my basherte and settle down to live and love happily ever after.

Well, like they say, man proposes and G-d disposes – He sure had other plans for me. Baruch Hashem that I was blessed with a healthy sense of optimism and have always had the tendency of seeing my cup as half full rather than half empty. And yet, had anyone foretold that it would be another 11 years before I’d find my zivug, I’d have probably lost some of that cheerfulness and bemoaned the long wait. (I guess this is one reason we are not given the wherewithal to see what lies ahead…)

Like you, I made the best of my single years. Thankfully I had no pressure from my parents (from whom I must have inherited my optimistic gene) – we all had no doubt that when the time was right “he” would show. And so none of us ever lost any sleep over the “delay.”

Meanwhile, with the passing years, I grew, matured and primed myself for the future by observing other young couples and their struggles. And with time, I altered my outlook.

By now you may be wondering how all this relates to your dilemma of having met a wonderful, amiable man who is not on the same level as you in Yiddishkeit. You express your fear of aging – not in an aesthetic way but as a valid concern of leaving your fertile years behind. I quote you: “What happens if we wait to the point where we are not capable of having children? I am not going to take that chance.”

I recall another part of your letter, where you say, “I have cultivated myself to be a consciously religious, G-d fearing and loving woman….”

I feel with you. When I first started out, it was with a dogged determination to marry a “learning boy.” And there were plenty out there ready to commit – none, though, to whom I felt even the slightest connection. It was somewhat frustrating, I will grant, but gradually, like I said before, I altered my outlook. (New perspectives develop with time; for instance, what may present itself as desirable and feasible at 19 or 20 can be viewed as totally impractical at a later age.)

Progressively, I widened my horizons to the point of deciding that my zivug might emerge from where I may least expect him to, and so I listened to all suggestions made by friends, acquaintances, relatives or matchmakers. One never knows… I would tell myself. However, character and religion were essential components that I was not going to compromise on – he still had to be a ba’al middos and sincerely frum.

When the call came with the real thing (unbeknownst to me at the time), I almost turned it down because it didn’t “sound” viable. But I reminded myself of my resolve and yielded to the shadchan’s pleas. And, like they say, when you least expect it….

My advice to you, dear friend, is to widen your horizons – without compromising your religious convictions. If you had Modern Orthodox in mind, consider dating someone more to the right. If you’re set on Sefard, take a chance on Ashkenaz. If black hat’s your thing, think kippah serugah, or vice-versa. It’s what’s inside that counts, and religion is very much a part of a person’s “inside.” Regardless of well-meaning advice that may be coming your way, not adhering to Hashem’s commandments is a weakness, a failing and a lack of spiritual backbone. Our religion is the mainstay of our lives.

Remember your own words: “I have cultivated myself to be a consciously religious, G-d fearing and loving woman….”

Be true to yourself…

Dear True,

There is not much to add to your sensible, meaningful and powerful message, which will hopefully register with the many who find themselves at the same crossroads, whether in their 20s, 30s, or 40s.

A maggid once made the following observation regarding one of the blessings recited under the chupa – …k’samechacha yetzircha b’Gan Eden mikedem – Let the loving couple be very happy, just as You made Your creation happy in the Garden of Eden, so long ago:

Almost every chassan and kallah have had other shidduchim proposed before the real one came along. If they are captivated by one another, they quickly forget all their past experiences. But if their attraction to one another leaves something to be desired, they may be prone to regret having missed out on a previously suggested shidduch.

Adam and Chava – having no precedent, no past, no previous anything – were thrilled with each other’s zivug. Therefore the new husband and wife are wished happiness, just like Adam and Chava’s – who had no prior shidduch history except for their significant other!

May all singles presently in search of their mates soon find that special kind of happiness and bonding that will render their past dating experiences but a fleeting memory of bygone days.

Thank you for caring enough to take the time to share.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-142/2009/02/18/

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