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In last week's column I wrote about the sincere Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur resolutions that we make year after year - the commitments we make to change, to become better, kinder, people, and the promises we make to become more devoted Jews, more loyal to Torah and mitzvos.
As the coordinator of the Domestic Abuse Program at OHEL for the past 10 years, I have seen many very special women come forward with their painful stories. I am proud to say that our program has made a significant difference in the lives of these courageous women.
Many parents admit they yell too much, but do not know how to avoid exploding when irritated. It takes effort and discipline to defeat any addiction, whether it's overeating or cigarette smoking and the screaming addiction is no different. Thankfully, when we really want to grow spiritually, we are given Heavenly guidance.
In my previous column I noted how the great sage Hillel, when asked to teach the entire Torah in the time it took for a man to stand on one leg, stated without hesitation that people should not do to others what they wouldn't want done to them - and that the rest was commentary on that point.
It is a testament to the authenticity and devotion of the staff at Our Place - a group of drop-in centers in Flatbush that cater to what most people would simply term "at-risk" teens - that none of them wanted to be mentioned by name in this article. In fact, the majority of them were even cautious about speaking with a reporter, so protective are they of their children, whom they consider very nearly their own.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: For the past few weeks I have followed your articles, which focused on the pain and trauma of widowhood. Only someone who has been there can understand the loneliness. Additionally, there is guilt that the widow or widower has to deal with. As your last letter-writer indicated, we who are left behind, tend to second-guess ourselves with three haunting words - could've, should've, would've. I know because I have been, and am, still there.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: I am overwhelmed by pain, have no peace and cannot sleep. Every night I lie in bed thinking, and all my thoughts cause me anguish. Please, Rebbetzin, I know how busy you are, and I apologize for the length of this letter, but in order for you to understand my suffering, I have to tell you my whole story.
There is an old joke that describes a passerby who sees a man repeatedly hitting his head against a wall. Each time his head hits the wall, the man yelps in pain. Concerned, the first man runs up to him and asks why he keeps banging his head when it obviously hurts when he does so. The man answers, "Because it feels so good when I stop."
What does it mean to be validated? In what areas of life can one expect to be validated? What attitude, behaviors or actions convey a message (or feeling) to someone that s/he is being validated? How does one validate, or invalidate? What benefits are there to validating and being validated - in the short term as well as long term?
Special Note: It appears that my articles on the pain of a family torn apart touched sensitive nerves. Sadly, too many of our families have become fragmented; too many are suffering from a lack of shalom bayis. The e-mails and letters that I received are all painful testimony to this breakdown of traditional family life. The following is just one of these letters.
When I was considering making aliyah, I was aware of how challenging the move might be, especially since much of my family stayed behind in the U.S. But the deep longing to be in Israel was too strong. It was like a giant magnet pulling on my soul, until I finally let go and came home.
The other day, while schmoozing with a friend, the conversation (as chats often do) turned to food. My friend talked about a delicious dish she had eaten as a guest during Shavuot. She mentioned how she planned to replicate it in her kitchen, but hadn't gotten around to it yet.
For most women, care-giving means taking on many of the roles that were routinely filled by their husbands, in addition to those things they were already responsible for. For many of these women, this has been hard to deal with. Not just because of the difficult physical nature of these new, additional roles, or even the tremendous emotional burden that has been added to the women's daily routine.
About 2,500 years ago, the prophet Jeremiah, having predicted Nebuchadnezzar's imminent destruction of the First Temple, composed the famous line, "Why did I leave the womb - to see toil and pain - that I may live out my days in shame?" About 500 years later, Joseph ben Matthias, also known as Josephus, observed and recorded the destruction of the Second Temple by Roman emperor Titus, claiming in Book VI of the "War of the Jews" (chapter nine) that 1.1 million Jews were killed and 97,000 were enslaved in the siege.
I spoke with a group of former well spouses. They began the support group as caregivers and helped each other navigate the difficult practical and emotional minefields through which they all traveled. As the years passed, many were widowed but stayed on in the original support group to help others. Over time, as more of them lost their spouses to chronic illness, they began to realize that they were now all coping with a different set of emotions.