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July 1, 2016 / 25 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘LIFE’

Life Chronicles

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I have just recently come into the “shidduch parsha” and have seen three young ladies who, thankfully, did not want a second date with me.  Truthfully, I am terrified of getting married!  I have heard such miserable stories about failed marriages from friends and members of my extended family who have suffered horribly during and after divorce, that I am totally soured on the topic of dating and certainly marriage.  My biggest fear is meeting someone I want to spend my life with, making commitment, getting married and then finding out after a number of children that we are not meant for each other.  My life would be ruined, I might hardly ever see my children and I would have to support a family that is no longer mine, damaging any chances of my ever getting married again, chas v’shalom.

From where I stand as a young man just starting out in the quest of finding a life partner, the odds of my making a mistake and suffering the consequences are as good as my finding someone I’ll spend the rest of my life with.  That is terribly frightening and extremely off-putting.  I have started going out because my parents expect me to, not because I want to and certainly not because I’m ready to join the circus and perform, as is expected of me.  When I read articles about “starter families,” “first wives” and “second/third marriages,” I am horrified at how acceptable it has become.  Maybe I am old school in my thinking, but whatever happened to “until death do us part”?  Where did the ideal of a “life partner for life” go?  Why is it so prevalent to hear that “Ploni is divorcing Almoni” after three years of marriage and one child when they seemed to be so perfect for each other?

I really don’t know how long I can put off the inevitable, I’m not cut out to be a player like some of the guys I know; I would love to find a nice, sweet girl with the same aspirations as myself and lead a loving, devoted and happy life.  Is that still a possibility for a young man like myself?



Dear Friend,

Your letter represents the fears of many of your peers, both male and female, who are hedging the “shidduch parsha” out of fear and concern about the future.  Just as in most things we undertake, there are no assurances about the success or failure of these endeavors, but that should not be a deterrent to trying our best to achieve our goals.

To try and assuage your fears and those of the many others out there who worry about the same things you do, I want to remind you all that we are commanded to marry and procreate by the Ultimate Shadchan who created Chava expressly as a life partner for Adam.  Hashem will guide you to find your zivug, but you must be wise enough to see her (or him, if you are a young lady reading this), even if she does not the exact visual, physical or emotional picture you had conjured up in your mind for the perfect soul mate.  If you have a certain type of person in mind for yourself and are rigid in that expectation, you may, indeed, be waiting for a very long time, while you pass up the one Hakodosh Boruch Hu has created just for you.  What I’m suggesting is that you approach this with a very open mind and without a laundry list; just go out on a date and let things evolve naturally.  Stop worrying about what you cannot control. Concentrate on your own life and not the success or failure rate of others.  That is your objective.

Rachel Bluth

Israel Among Top Five Countries on WHO 2015 Life Expectancy Chart

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Only 22 countries around the globe have reached an average life expectancy at birth greater than 80 years, according to the World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory (GHO) data, which would suggest that if one is planning to retire abroad, one should consider those countries most seriously.

Life expectancy at birth reflects the overall mortality level of a population. It summarizes the mortality pattern that prevails across all age groups in a given year – children and adolescents, adults and the elderly. Global life expectancy at birth in 2015 was 71.4 years (73.8 years for females and 69.1 years for males), ranging from 60.0 years in the WHO African Region to 76.8 years in the WHO European Region, giving a ratio of 1.3 between the two regions. Women live longer than men all around the world. The gap in life expectancy between the sexes was 4.5 years in 1990 and had remained almost the same by 2015 (4.6).

Global average life expectancy increased by 5 years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s. Those gains reverse declines during the 1990s, when life expectancy fell in Africa because of the AIDS epidemic, and in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The 2000-2015 increase was greatest in the WHO African Region, where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years to 60 years, driven mainly by improvements in child survival, and expanded access to antiretrovirals for treatment of HIV.

As to the friendly global race of whose citizens get to live longer, the top countries are, in descending order: Japan – 83.7, Switzerland – 83.4, Singapore – 83.1, Italy – 82.7, and Israel – 82.5. The US did not make the 80+ club in 2015, with only 79.3 years’ life expectancy. Neither did the Russian Federation – 70.5.

Israel’s neighbors are definitely not ideal locations for retirement: Egypt – 70.9, Jordan – 74.1, Lebanon – 74.9, and Syria – 64.5 (if you’re lucky). Nigeria stands out with 54.5 life expectancy, along with Angola – 52.4, Burkina Faso – 59.9, Burundi – 59.6, Cameroon – 57.3, Central African Republic – 52.5, Chad – 53.1, Guinea – 59, and Guinea-Bissau – 58.9.

So, here is the list of world countries where you’ll get to grow older than 80, barring unexpected circumstances:

Japan – 83.7
Switzerland – 83.4
Singapore – 83.1
Italy – 82.7
Israel – 82.5
France – 82.4
Sweden – 82.4
Canada – 82.2
Luxembourg – 82
Netherlands – 81.9
Norway – 81.8
Malta – 81.7
New Zealand – 81.6
Austria – 81.5
Belgium – 81.1
Finland – 81.1
Germany – 81
Denmark – 80.6
Chile – 80.5
Cyprus – 80.5


With 5 Life Sentences for 5 Murders Marwan Barghouti Prepares to Play Nelson Mandela

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

Members of Belgium’s parliament on Wednesday nominated Marwan Barghouti for the Nobel Peace Prize, referring to the security prisoner serving five life sentences as the “Palestinian Mandela” and a symbol of peace. The recommendation cited a group of Nelson Mandela’s fellow prisoners on Robben Island, who in 2013 called for the release of “Palestinian political prisoners” held by Israel.

Before we explore the decision and its possible outcome for Israel, it is essential to establish the differences between Mandela and Barghouti, lest a lie be allowed to be perpetuated unchallenged.

In July 1963, Mandela and about a dozen other members of the African National Congress, including three Jews, were arrested in their farm hideout, in the Rivonia suburb of Johannesburg. Ten of them were tried for recruiting individuals and training them to carry out attacks against the Apartheid government; carrying out such attacks themselves; serving world Communism; and raising funds abroad for their illegal enterprise. Mandela spent the next 18 years in prison.

Barghouti, on the other hand, was convicted of 5 counts of murder of innocent civilians, including authorizing and organizing the March 2002 seafood market attack in Tel Aviv in which 3 civilians, including a Druze policeman, were murdered. He was given five life sentences for five murders altogether, and 40 years imprisonment for an attempted murder.

Now that we’re clear on the differences between the South African and the Arab terrorist, we should note that it is hard to imagine the Norwegian parliament not giving the Nobel peace prize to Marwan Barghouti. In fact, if the Netanyahu government had not been rattled this week by right-shifting coalition changes, it could be expected to support the award, at least tacitly.

Marwan Barghouti, with his record as the leader of the First and Second Intifadas, may be the only viable alternative to rule the Palestinian Authority after Mahmoud Abbas (81) leaves office–most likely on a stretcher. Barghouti has the political skills and experience to run the PA effectively. In fact, at one time he said he supported the peace process, but when he realized that Israel was not ready to capitulate on key issues such as the right of return for Arabs, or the unhindered formation of a terrorist haven on its borders, he launched the 2000 Al-Aqsa Intifada.

At this point, outside the Gaza Strip, only Marwan Barghouti has the street cred and the political wherewithal to rule the PA, which should be a source of concern to Israel. Indeed, this is the final outcome of the Oslo fiasco, the fact that the only legitimate leadership alternatives in both Gaza and Judea and Samaria are murderous criminals with Jewish blood on their hands.

This is the entire rationale of the Belgian nomination, which tells the Norwegian prize committee: “By granting the Nobel Peace Prize to someone who embodies the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom, but also their aspiration to achieve peace, a leader who can unite Palestinians around a political project that clearly includes a two-state solution on 1967 borders, more threatened than ever by colonization and the absence of a political horizon, the Committee for the Nobel Prize would be helping to resurrect the indispensable hope of creating a way out of the current [political] impasse.”

And they emphasize: “Peace requires the freedom of Marwan Barghouti and all of the political prisoners, and more generally the freedom of the Palestinian people living for decades under occupation.”

It’s a well crafted proposal and, as we mentioned, it is very likely going to yield the authors’ desired outcome. It follows two earlier endorsements of Barghouti, one by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Adolfo Perez Esquivel, the other by a unanimous vote of the Arab League’s Arab Parliament. Once Barghouti gets the nomination, Israel would be urged by all its many friends and well-wishers around the world to respond in kind with its own magnanimous gesture, release the glorious leader from his jail cell and put him on a (roundtrip) flight to Stockholm. The word “opportunity” would be thrown around a lot, and although Barghouti would not offer even one measly concession more than Abbas has done—in fact, he’d likely cut down on all that Abbas “good will”—Israel would still be perceived as the oppressor and illegal occupier, while the new peace prize winner would be crowned king of peace. In fact, whether it lets Barghouti out or doesn’t, Israel would still be condemned.


Life Chronicles

Monday, May 16th, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

This was the most horrible Pesach ever.  I just don’t know if life will ever go back to being remotely close to what it had been.  And I’m not even sure that I want it to, as in retrospect I don’t think things were that great to begin with.

My husband and I have been married nineteen and a half years and live quite a distance from both of our parents.  From the beginning, it was understood that we would alternate spending Pesach with our parents, and we continued to do this even as our four children were growing up.

Not living within walking distance meant we had to sleep over and, needless to say, the cramped quarters and painfully uncomfortable sleeping arrangements in my in-laws home often led to irritability and arguments amongst the kids.  They much preferred to stay at my parents’ home because it was roomier and offered many more creature comforts. In addition, my mother prepared all the foods my children enjoyed whereas my mother-in-law cooked very simple foods geared to my father-in-law, who is diabetic and on a very restricted diet.

My mother-in-law is a sweet and gentle soul, but my father-in-law is a controlling, opinionated and strict authoritarian. While the kids were small, I managed to smooth things over, bringing goodies and snacks with me to combat the lack thereof in my in-laws house, so things did not get too out of hand. My husband, and sometimes even I, bore the brunt of my father-in-law’s criticism and very verbal displeasure.  I could see my mother-in-law fighting back tears when this happened and my heart hurt for her. Each time we had to spend Pesach with them it was harder to tolerate.  As the boys got older, my father-in-law began including them in his torment and it wan’t easy getting them to understand that going there for Pesach was a matter of kibbud Av.

This past Pesach was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  My husband recently underwent surgery to remove a growth on the back of his head, which made it impossible for him to wear his shtreimel for any length of time.  However, his father insisted that he wear it not only to shul, but also at the table.  Always obedient to his father’s demands as it sometimes avoided an all out blow-up, he swallowed some pain medication and went to shul with his father.  When he came home early from davening, I noticed blood coming through the bandages and was alarmed at how pale and in pain he was.  I took off his shtreimel and made him sit back in my father-in-laws recliner, hoping this would stop the wound from bleeding out.  My sons came back too, after noticing their father’s absence from davening, and sat with him as I went into our room to get extra gauze and bandages should they become necessary.

When my father-in-law stormed into the house yelling that no one stayed till the end of davening and that he had to walk home alone, we were stunned at his lack of compassion for his own son.  He insisted that my husband put on his kittel and shtreimel and sit at the table for the Seder.  My husband made it to the table on rubbery legs, sitting down heavily in his chair, but when it came to putting on his shtreimel, the pain was unbearable.  My eldest son, almost eighteen, took it out of his shaking hands and said that he would not allow his father to suffer.  My father-in-law roared that in his house everyone will do what is expected of him and demanded that my husband put on his shtreimel. He even came over to put in on his head. My son stepped between them to block him and, my father-in-law, without thinking, raised his hand and slapped first my son and then my husband, saying he was the patriarch, this was his house and he would be obeyed.

Rachel Bluth

Life Chronicles

Monday, May 9th, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

Three years ago, I married a wonderful bochur, who was everything any young girl could have hoped for.  I was overjoyed to have found my zivug so early on in the dating parsha and all of my friends were a little green with envy that it had been so easy for me.  My parents and future in-laws also clicked and a mutual bond of deep friendship developed as my chosson and I got engaged and shared joyously in the wedding plans.  It was a magical time and we couldn’t wait for the five months to pass until the wedding to start our life together.

Our wedding was a community event, everyone was invited and came to be misameiach, and the pictures bore witness to the revelry, dancing and merrymaking that carried us into our married life.  My parents had rented a beautiful apartment for us and agreed to pay the rent for the next four years so that my husband could learn and my in-laws agreed to pay the bills. So, shanah rishona was a beautiful time in which we were able to set down deep and loving roots without worry or care.

I soon became pregnant and our first child was born just before our first wedding anniversary; our joy was complete and our future set.  Living close to our parents offered abundant babysitting services whenever I felt tired or simply overwhelmed and I welcomed the loving support and sincere advice my mother and mother-in-law lavished on me whenever I was in doubt about my parenting skills.  I felt tired quite often and so we would spend Shabbosim with either family. Everyone said that the tiredness would pass and that all first-time mothers felt fatigued.  Even my married friends who had newborns concurred, and told me it would get easier.

But it didn’t.  By the time I was pregnant with my second child, I had to drag myself out of bed.  My husband became alarmed when he came home from kollel and found me sleeping on the couch as the baby screamed in her crib.  He insisted I make an appointment with the doctor for an intensive exam and blood work, and while we waited for the results, I suffered a miscarriage and lost the baby.  At this point the fear for my health was very real, and I had to have someone come and stay with me during the day to help with my daughter’s care as I was now too weak to manage on my own.  My doctor sent us to a specialist for more tests and my worst fears were realized.  I was diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis), a disease that affects the nervous system, leading to loss of motor ability and, ultimately, in severe cases, complete dependency and early demise.

We clung together, my husband and I, we wept together at what had befallen us just three short years into our marriage.  What would become of our life together?  Although he promised never to leave me, and the doctors said that with medication and treatment, I stood a good chance of slowing the progression of the disease, dark clouds were already forming over our horizon.  My in-laws began to work on my husband, telling him that it would be best for him and the baby if he would divorce me and remarry someone who would be able to care for both of them.  My parents were devastated and shocked that these people whom they had become so close with and thought of as loving family would stoop to such tactics behind our backs, with the intention of ripping their grandchild away from them and deserting their daughter at such a crucial time.  After much soul searching to find a way to forgive them, I found a way to understand why they were acting that way.  What parent wants to see his or her child tied down to an invalid wife whose health will assuredly deteriorate with time?  I almost convinced myself that this would be best for my child and for my husband, as I never wanted to become a burden to them.

Rachel Bluth

Life Chronicles

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I am a young mother of two little children who lives in a walk-up apartment building next to a family who shares their apartment with their grandmother.

Unfortunately, she is very disruptive to all of us on our floor. She has been known to urinate and defecate in the hallway; one tenant even found this filth in her baby stroller after having forgotten to take it in at night.  All the children are frightened of her, as she roams around aimlessly during the day, or until her family comes home in the late afternoon. She screams at everyone who passes and it is impossible to avoid her.

We have spoken to her family and, although they seem sympathetic and understand our predicament, they say she is senile and they have no means to get outside help and cannot afford to put her in a home. We have also approached the management about the unsanitary conditions resulting from this lady roaming the halls unattended, but they brush us off and say this is really not a management problem; it’s more of a family issue.  We are at a loss at what to do.  Is there anywhere we can turn for help without causing the family harm?


Dear Friends,

I truly empathize with everyone involved – the family of this afflicted lady as well as the tenants who have to suffer the visages of her illness.  You, certainly, should not have to live with the stench of human waste at your doorstep, or feel threatened when you walk out of your apartment.  Although this poor old soul most certainly is not at fault for her behavior or actions, you should not have to fear for your safety and that of your children.  This woman should definitely be under some form of mental care and not left unattended.

There are a few options available to the family; I would suggest reaching out to a community-based agency for more information.

  * * * * *

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I read your column as soon as I get The Jewish Press on Wednesday; you offer a little something for everyone, even if the problem(s) of the week does not pertain to us in general.  That is why I want to ask you what your thoughts are about my situation.

I am in my late seventies, well preserved and full of life and a recent widow. Many of my well-meaning friends and family have tried to set me up on dates, but most of the gentlemen are in their eighties and are simply looking for a nursemaid, not a wife with whom to share whatever time that’s left to them.  Can you imagine, one gentleman brought along a bag of his medications and asked me if I was familiar with any of the doctors he sees each month? Then there was the man who came in his Cadillac (with a driver) and didn’t stop talking about how wonderful his deceased wife was, how she ironed his underwear and trimmed his eyebrows and beard!  And these were two of the better dates. So I stopped accepting blind dates and started going to singles events.

I recently met Zelig, a spry and lively 69-year-old retired proctologist, who had me rolling with laughter.  We had a few amazing dates and are sure that we are right for each other.

I broke the news to my children and asked them to meet him.  Sadly this meeting did not go well as my sons think it’s too soon and my daughters are aghast at our age difference.  Poor Zelig tried so hard to lighten the mood but a heavy cloud of disapproval hung over the evening.  My meeting with his children was wonderful.

Rachel Bluth

Life Chronicles

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I am in so much trouble, I just don’t know how to make it go away.  I am writing this to you from my married sister’s house, where I have been staying for the past week so as not to have to face my parents’ wrath and anger, but I know I will have to do so soon.

About two years ago, after finishing school, I got a job with a chassidishe firm in Manhattan. I was so excited to be working in the city, because I had only been there once before and it represented another universe to me, one in which I could see more of the world. My parents let me take the job because they assumed I would be engaged after a short while.

My first two weeks at work were wonderful; I made friends with the other girls in the company and looked forward to each day. One morning, as I rode the elevator up to my floor, I noticed a very nice young man wearing a kippah sruga; he got off on the same floor as I did and went into the boss’s office.  I made mention of him to some of the girls on our lunch break and they laughed at me as I blushed, knowing that he had caught my eye.  They said he was the son of the COO of the company’s Israeli division and he came to America a few times a year. They jokingly said that he probably has more than a few girlfriends at home and I shouldn’t get my hopes up; they had all tried to get his attention.  I told them that my parents would be the ones to choose the person I would marry and they were all being silly.

Yigalrode the elevator to work with me almost every morning for about a week and a half before our friendly nods evolved into light conversation in the reception area before we parted ways.  A few weeks later Yigal asked me to join him for coffee at the office cafeteria and I agreed.  I had the best time; he made me laugh with stories of his family in Israel.  I envied his freedom to explore so much of life, while the little I knew was from books and other people.  In turn, I told him of my home life and the close-knit family I come from.  We shared quite a few more such breaks for lunch before he asked if I would like to go to a concert with him. I told him that I would not be permitted to go, especially with a young man.  Although he said he understood, I could see the disappointment in his eyes and I felt my heart break because I wanted to go with him.

So I made up to stay with a friend from work for Shabbos and on Sunday afternoon, without my parents knowing, I met up with Yigal. We walked around the city and then went to the concert.  It was a night that changed my life.

Many lies followed and by the time someone from my community saw us together and told my father, it was way too late to turn the clock back – my heart already belonged to Yigal and I knew that I could never share my life with anyone else.  That night my parents confronted me; my mother wept, my father called me all sorts of names, and they insisted that I quit my job and never see Yigal again.

I told my parents that I regretted having lied to them; however, there could never be anyone for me other than Yigal, so the choice would be theirs to make.  My father told me to go stay at my sister’s house and to not come home until I came to my senses.  I called Yigal as soon as I left home and we talked well into the early morning hours.  He told me he felt the same about me and that he was ready to marry me immediately.

So here I am, torn between the love of my life, who wants me to be his wife and my family, whom I love as well.

Please help me see what path to take.



Dear Friend,

I have found that, most often, we are the perpetrators of our own misery, by virtue of the risks we take, the decisions we make and the lies we tell.  Truth is such a sparse commodity as to be almost non-existent when we are caught in the throws of what we want, giving no thought to how it will reflect on ourselves and ourselves in the future.  All that matters is that we must have what we must have now.

I think it’s a bit late to find a way to appease everyone and certainly no way to redeem yourself after the deceit and the lying.

It seems to me that you have already made up your mind as to what you want to do; that your parents blessing to you and Yigal will not be forthcoming is also quite evident.  So I think you are mistaken when you say the ball is in your parents’ court. If you decide to follow your heart and marry Yigal, know that you are probably going to forfeit most or all of your family – at least for now.

As Yigal seems to be shomer Torah u’mitzvos, it is probable that given some time and outside intervention, your parents will yet come around. But you will have to be patient.

Rachel Bluth

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/life-chronicles/life-chronicles-66/2016/04/25/

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