web analytics
September 22, 2014 / 27 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘gift’

Three Reasons Why You Should Not Help Your Children Buy a Home or Apartment

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

What is the greatest present that you can give your children when they get married?

In certain communities, the answer is, “an apartment.” Many parents take on second or third mortgages, sell their own homes, or bury themselves in debt to make sure that an apartment comes along with the trousseau. While they may not be looking forward to paying off huge debts at an age when most people are retired, they will probably sigh and tell you that these days, you can’t find a decent match for your child unless it includes an apartment as well.

But in fact, there are three reasons why buying an apartment can be detrimental for you and your children:

You can’t afford it

You may jeopardize your retirement. You have worked all your life to support your family, providing your children with an education and everything they need to grow into fine, responsible citizens. As you grow older, your children should move on to support themselves and the savings that you have put aside can be used for your golden years.

You need to be fair to your children –don’t give to one unless you can give the same amount to all. Buying an extra apartment can be costly. If you have more than one child, huge resentment can arise between them if only one of them got the free apartment.

Not everyone is doing it

Although the rumor mills may say “everyone buys the bride an apartment,” it is just not true. I have been a financial advisor both in New York and in Israel and I have seen what goes on firsthand. Some folks help, and some don’t. This is very much a matter of individual choice.

If your future in-laws pressure you, just say no. Tell them your financial planner advised against it. You do not need to be forced into putting yourself into heavy debt to pay for an additional apartment that you really can‘t afford.

Would you sell your daughter for camels?

If the parents of your child’s intended absolutely refuse to marry their child to yours unless you pay up, are you really interested in this match anyway? We live in the modern world where people marry based on mutual goals, dreams, and love. If the other side’s main priority is how much money you have (and are willing to spend on the wedding/apartment), rather than your child’s sterling personal qualities, the future may not shine so bright.

Rather than putting yourself into debt or spending your retirement savings, encourage the young couple to build their home and future together on their own two feet. Their teamwork building their own home (both physical and spiritual) will create more of an everlasting edifice than even the most luxurious apartment from you.

If you want to know more about when it’s wrong to gift to your children, read Gifting Money to Children – Right or Wrong.

It’s My Opinion: It’s All in the Attitude

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

The lobby of the doctor’s office was crowded. I slid over to accommodate an older gentleman, who was moving toward me.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “my walker has a built-in seat, but I’ll sit next to you and be your guard!” He was dressed simply. His eyes were twinkling. His smile was wide.

Time dragged on. Many in the waiting room showed impatience. They glanced at their watches. They complained to each other.

The gentleman beside me sat patiently. We exchanged pleasantries. We became waiting-room friends. I asked him where he was from, and he told me he was born in Poland. Little by little, he shared his story.

He was a teenager when World War II broke out. He had been in several concentration camps. His body carried the badge of his experience. He wore the death camp numbers on his arm.

“Life is beautiful,” my new friend asserted. “Every day is a gift.” He continued to speak in a highly positive way. He had children. He had grandchildren. He was “privileged” to have visited Israel.

My name was called and I entered the office for my appointment. When I came out the gentleman was still sitting in the waiting room. I went over and thanked him for sharing his story with me and being a role model of courage and tenacity.

“You know,” he said, “what happened to me when I was young, actually was the reason that I have a good life now. I never get upset over the little things that drive other people crazy. I enjoy every day that I am alive. I know they are all a gift. I am truly happy.”

I went outside to give the valet the ticket for my car. As I contemplated my recent conversation, a woman burst out of a black Mercedes. She was elderly, well dressed and coiffed. She was muttering and sputtering as she passed by, but I could clearly hear what she had to say.

“The [expletive] golden years,” she exclaimed, “Well, they stink!” Her face was red. Her voice rose to a wail. “I’m so annoyed,” she added. “Now I’m late for my appointment!”

Yes, things happen. We are late. We are early. We mixed up the date. There are delays and mistakes and problems we deal with all the time. There are bridges that are up and computers that are down, cars that won’t start and leaks that won’t stop.

There is success and failure, joy and angst. There are fender benders and fatal crashes, big catastrophes and minor annoyances and everything in between.

Certainly we should not judge someone from an isolated incident. There is often a “back story” to explain someone’s actions. Nevertheless, I could not help but be compelled by how these two people handled the stress of life.

“Life is beautiful.” “Life stinks.” It’s all in the attitude.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Mother-in-Law in a bind… or is she?

Dear Rachel,

I need sympathy and you sound like the type of person who would understand where I’m coming from. Here we are, finally at the stage where our kids are all grown, baruch Hashem, and raising families of their own, and we can sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor. Okay, sit back may not be totally accurate since my husband and I are both still working in order to be able to maintain our standard of living.

Please don’t get me wrong; we are far from well to do (we don’t even own our own home), but we are not the couch-potato type and are grateful to have the ability to lead active lives. The extra cash my job brings in also makes it easier for me to spoil my grandchildren — one of life’s little joys. Until recently, that is…

Two of our granddaughters were having birthdays just weeks apart. Our son and his family live quite a distance away, but with that being a surmountable issue, I happily shopped on my lunch break for some nice gifts for the two girls. (A younger sib had been the recipient of my generosity just a couple of months earlier when he had his Chumash party, and the baby’s birthday was still several months away.)

I gave the wrapped-up gifts to a co-worker who happens to live in their vicinity, and I phoned my son to let him know that my co-worker would be in touch with them. As for me, I could hardly wait for the girls to see what I bought them and could just picture their reaction.

My enthusiasm was short-lived — when my son called me later that day to ask if the gifts were only for his daughters and to let me know that my gesture wasn’t sitting well with his wife. My daughter-in-law, he went on to explain somewhat awkwardly, felt that it was not right to exclude the other children.

I pointed out that the girls were celebrating birthdays and reminded him of the occasions when their other children had been the recipients of my big heart, but I may as well have talked to myself. The bottom line, apparently set by his wife, was gifts for all or for none. Period.

I was floored, to put it mildly, but the last thing I wanted was to get between my son and daughter-in-law, so I just let it go. My husband had no qualms about the solution: Return the gifts for a cash refund and forget about it.

I did exactly that, and there’s been no mention of the incident since.

Here comes graduation and I can’t ignore it, Rachel. How should I handle this?

What’s up with daughters-in law?

Dear What’s Up,

Nothing new. It’s ages old, well known and documented — there’s just something there (between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law). That’s not to say that there aren’t any who get along famously, but generally speaking, it is not an easy relationship. Even the Gemara concurs and sums up the friction as rooted in a mother-in-law’s resentment at seeing all that she has entrusted to her son bestowed on his wife. The daughter-in-law senses the vibes her husband’s mother gives off and reciprocates in kind. One’s heart reflecting the other’s heart…

Your letter makes no reference to past contentions between the two of you that might have precipitated this incident. Regardless, let’s keep in mind that daughters-in-law are as entitled to their moods as the rest of us overworked and underappreciated women.

Still, this is no reason for you to “ignore” upcoming graduations and other occasions you wish to acknowledge. One resolution that works for many grandparents, for a myriad of practical reasons, is to let your grandchildren choose their own gifts — with the money you give them, or with gift certificates they are bound to appreciate.

Come graduation, hand it to the graduate, preferably in a card that can contain a personal message from bubby. If you can’t make it there, put the card (with check or gift certificate enclosed) in the mail — you know, the old-fashioned kind that requires a stamp on the envelope and address in longhand.

Anti-Israel Scottish Student Loses Appeal of Racism Conviction

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

A university student in Scotland lost his appeal of a racism conviction for insulting a fellow student’s Israeli flag.

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel at the Court of Appeal in Edinburgh turned down Paul Donnachie, 19, in a bid to have his conviction overturned. Donnachie had been sentenced last August to 150 hours of community service and was expelled from St. Andrews University.

Donnachie in March 2011 told Chanan Reitblat, an exchange student from Yeshiva University in New York, that Israel was a terrorist state and the flag was a terrorist symbol. He then put his hands down his pants and rubbed them on the small flag hanging on the wall, the BBC reported. He also called Reitblat a terrorist.

The flag had been a gift to Reitblat from his brother, an Israeli soldier.

“This is a ridiculous conviction,” Donnachie said at the time of his conviction, according to the BBC. “I’m a member of anti-racism campaigns, and I am devastated that as someone who has fought against racism I have been tarnished in this way.”

A second student, Samuel Colchester, 20, was acquitted due to insufficient evidence. He was suspended from the university for one year.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Dear Rachel, 

This year, just as my children were eagerly anticipating the Chanukah gifts they would be receiving, my wife was busy contemplating a beautiful vase she had just received from an acquaintance, whom we occasionally have over for dinner.

When I questioned her preoccupation with the gift, (she was turning it this way and that, as though expecting something to fall out of it), she said she was pretty sure it had been re-gifted (meaning the giver had received it from someone else and had decided for whatever reason to give it away). My wife says it should have had some sort of sticker at the bottom and that the box it was wrapped in did not fit properly.

I didn’t see a problem if it was re-gifted, but my wife seemed to take it as though someone had unloaded an unwanted item on her.

All of this recalled an incident that occurred when I was about twelve years old. We lived in Montreal, Quebec and had baruch Hashem a wonderful childhood — notwithstanding the anti-Semitism in the neighborhood, being children affected by the holocaust syndrome and at the mercy of somewhat broken-down, battle-weary rabbis trying to teach us the art of frumkeit. Yet, all in all it was a normal life.

Erev Pesach came around and my aunt and cousins would be coming over for the Sedorim. (My uncle had passed away at a very young age, leaving his wife and children to fend for themselves.) They would always bring us presents; nothing elaborate, just a gift, like some new toy. But the mere expectation was delightful.

We were taking our forced afternoon Erev Pesach nap (in order to be able to stay up for the Seder) when the bell rang. We knew the presents were here. But this time around they brought me a toy that I remember being disappointed in. I never even opened the packaging and placed it in a drawer in my room.

Weeks later a close friend had a birthday coming up and I thought, “Hey, why not re-gift? It’s still in the original packaging; he will love it.” Meanwhile my young mind was rationalizing: if he will love it, if it is a cool fun toy, then why was I disappointed enough to reject it?

There I was, holding the gift in my hand, questioning my great idea to give it away and wondering if maybe I should keep it for myself. I guess it was a two-fold lesson: one, that we should appreciate everything – especially gifts, and two, that giving to someone was a great feeling and the right thing to do.

I tried explaining this to my wife. To get a gift, I reasoned, to truly appreciate it and to thank the person giving it to you is first and foremost, but then to be so selfless as to be able to give to another, now that is a beautiful thing.

Sure, it may seem callous to give away a gift someone gave you, so each scenario should be examined on its own merit; after all, you don’t want to be offending anyone who might see it as a lack of appreciation. So how do we make one another appreciate the fact that it’s the actual giving and receiving that is the real gift, and that loving the vase or toy or car seat warmer is secondary?

Sometimes it is nobler to re-gift if you do so to make someone happy, especially if that person is having a rough life, G-d forbid, and is in need of some TLC. This then becomes the power of friendship and chesed and true appreciation of the act of giving, not the actual utilization of the gift.

I say rise to the occasion and re-gift. (My wife still has this look on her face that says I haven’t convinced her.)

Better to give than to receive  

Dear Better,

It is the giver’s pretense of having gone to the trouble and expense of buying something for the specific occasion that makes the recipient uneasy. When realization dawns that the present is a re-gifted one, the personal element falls away and the receiver is left feeling as your wife does — that she was used as a receptacle for the disposal of another’s undesired item.

Weren’t you, as a 12-year old, about to do the same when you instinctively reached for the gift you felt you had no use for, which had been left to languish in a drawer? It was only when you anticipated your friend’s excitement at receiving it that you had second thoughts about its value.

Nonetheless, your argument is a convincing one. A gift should be considered as precisely that – a gift. It’s not an item asked for or earned, and the recipient should appreciate and acknowledge the giver’s generosity. After all is said and done, if someone were to give me something of theirs that they know I’ve admired and would love to own, I’d certainly be touched.

Guiding the Kosher Wine Consumer

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Looking for a great gift for the wine maven in your life? Look no further. Daniel Rogov has what you are looking for with his latest two hardbound, pocket-sized guides: Rogov’s Guide to Kosher Wines 2010: The World’s 500 Best kosher Wines (The Toby Press; November 1, 2009; 145 pages; $19.95), and Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines 2010 (The Toby Press; October 1, 2009; 485 pages; $19.95).

Rogov is the weekly wine and restaurant critic for the Israeli daily Haaretz. Even though he is not an observant Jew and is not remotely mindful of kashrus in his daily life, Rogov’s name has become increasingly well known in kosher wine circles. The reason is simple: in the course of evaluating thousands of wines from around the world, he tastes and reviews more kosher wines than any other published critic. Despite that a great many Israeli wineries actually produce non-kosher wines, a massive amount of very fine kosher wine is produced in Israel – all of which is tasted and reviewed by Daniel Rogov.

This is not an insignificant point, for the value of these two guides rests on the strength of Rogov’s professional critical judgment of wine in general, and of kosher wines in particular. That’s why his name is in the title. It is one critic’s view, and is perhaps a little idiosyncratic.

The value of the 2010 Israeli wine guide, the 6th annual, is fairly straightforward. Rogov reviews nearly 2,000 wines from about 150 wineries, all of which are ranked and described. Rogov also includes useful discussions of the history of wine production in Israel, Israel’s diverse wine- growing regions (a detailed map is included), and a brief discussion of the current Israeli wine scene. Also included in this handsome volume is a glossary of wine terminology, and contact information for all the wineries in the book. It is compact, comprehensive, and very easy to read and use as a reference for future purchasing and for helping one decide what to drink and when.

The tasting notes in both books are intelligent, concisely written and helpfully communicative – as these things go. That is, each review gives one a very clear picture of Rogov’s perception of the wine’s sensory characteristics (fruits, flowers, spices, etc.) and relative charms (balance, elegance, personality, etc.). The wines are further evaluated on the familiar 100-point scale favored by Robert Parker and the Wine Spectator.  Rogov provides a key: 96-100 points is a “Truly great wine”; 90-95 is “Exceptional in Every Way”; and 85-89 is “Very Good to Excellent and Highly Recommended”; and so on down the line to objectively undrinkable (0-50).

If Israeli wines are of any substantive interest, Rogov’s Guide to Israeli Wines 2010 is an essential pocket guide. If kosher wines are your primary interest, however, the Israeli guide alone is great, but not perfect. After all, so many wines are not kosher. Those who self-select to drink only kosher wine have no need for intimate knowledge of non-kosher Israeli wine.

Why, you might ask, are so many Israeli wines not kosher? They are, after all, made by Jews using kosher ingredients (grapes) in the Holy Land itself; so what could be wrong, right? Wrong, unfortunately. Among the key components to producing kosher wine is that those handling the process, from crushing the grapes until sealing the bottled final product, are Sabbath observant. Obviously, this also means that no winemaking can be done on the Sabbath. Many non-observant Israeli winemakers are not interested in such restrictions, or in the potential compliance headaches of conforming to the rabbinic supervision entailed in obtaining official kosher certification.

Vayeira: Looking Back

Saturday, November 12th, 2011

Hashem offers a gift of the greatest proportions: teshuvah. To paraphrase Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, with teshuvah, no sin is too large — and without it, no sin is too small. To be effective, teshuvah has certain conditions, and one is that it must be sincere. A superficial confession does not erase sin. Further, Hashem must see that one’s teshuvah is complete; one has not only ceased to sin, but wishes to sin no longer. As sulphur and salt poured down on Sodom, Hashem offered to Lot and his family a final chance to do teshuvah and thus be spared from the destruction. That teshuvah had to be complete: He ordered explicitly, “Do not look behind you.”

“Do not look behind you and do not stop in all the plain; escape to the mountain lest you be destroyed” (19:17).

The admonition “Do not look behind you” was added in order to make Lot eligible for rescue. It came to teach Lot that he needed to cease feeling any regret at leaving the sinful place Hashem had condemned. Lot had “tarried” (19:16), which demonstrated some reluctance to leave; but now he gained awareness of the righteousness of Hashem’s justice and he turned his back forever on his past association with the sinners.

Because they chose to obey Hashem’s will and spurn the sinners, he and his daughters earned the right to be saved. But his wife did not achieve the progress her husband and her daughters achieved. She still harbored some affection for Sodom; and though she continued to hasten away, she looked back. Therefore she did not gain the right to be saved. Those who had a change of heart were saved; she failed to desert completely her old inclinations, and she was lost.

It may be asked: the people in the cities were to be destroyed, but why was the plain destroyed? We read that “the plain of the Jordan, which was watered throughout” (13:10) was the source of the wealth of these cities and the cause of their wickedness. “Behold, this was the sin of Sodom your sister: the haughtiness of satiation of food” (Ezekiel 16:49). Therefore, the plain was destroyed to demonstrate to mankind the lesson “He makes rivers into a desert, and the springs of water into a place of thirst; a fruitful land into a saltfield, because of the evil of those that dwelt there” (Tehillim 107:33-34).

The expression “in all the plain” is parallel to “And Lot chose all the plain” (13:11). This is what became of Lot’s cherished choice, and it was for this that he had forsaken his mentor Abraham. Now Lot could view the devastated salt-desert, where all his possessions had gone lost because he had forsaken the wealth of Abraham’s tutelage for the sake of the wealth he had hoped to gain from the fertile plain.

“And his wife looked behind him, and she became a pillar of salt” (19:26). Lot was walking behind his company to urge them onward. “His wife looked behind him,” which demonstrated her regret at leaving Sodom. Now that G-d had shown His condemnation of the evil cities, it was incumbent upon all to share that attitude, especially in view of the admonition of the messenger (19:17). Thhough physically she was going with her husband, her heart was still in sinful Sodom; therefore she was sentenced to remain there (see 19:3).

Thus one who abandons a sinful way of life or a sinful practice must understand that he should not look back with any longing or with the least interest in his former ways. Lot and his family were taught to regret that they had resided in Sodom, and to uproot from their minds all sentiments of attachment to the wicked city.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/vayeira-looking-back/2011/11/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: