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June 27, 2016 / 21 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘parents’

Honoring Abusive Parents (Kiddushin 31a)

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

Damah the son of Netinah, the same man who turned down a fortune rather than wake his father for the key of the treasure box, was once sitting in state among the noblemen of Rome, dressed in a gold embroidered silk cloak. All of a sudden the door flew open and in walked his mother. She strode over to him, ripped the gold cloak from his shoulders, banged her fists on his head, and spit in his face. And Damah remained silent.

The sages asked Rabbi Eliezer, “To what extremes does Kibbud Av V’eim oblige one to go? To the point that if your father throws your money into the sea, you should remain silent?” Rav Hunah used to tear up his son’s precious silks in front of him and then watch to see if his son became angry. The mother of Rav Assi demanded the impossible of him. Find me a husband,” she demanded, “who is as young and handsome as you are.” Being unable to fulfill her impossible requests, Rav Assi left his mother and traveled to another country.

All of these cases have one feature in common. The parents, by straining the tolerance of their children to the breaking point, pushed them to the brink of disrespect.

A parent may not beat his grown child because this may lead the child to react and beat his parent, an action that in Jewish law carries the death penalty. Similarly, a parent may not abuse the privilege of Kibbud Av V’eim because by so doing the parent is violating the biblical prohibition of lifnei iver lo titein michshol, which means one should not cause the unsuspecting to sin.

The Shulchan Aruch cautions: “A parent should not overburden their children and should not be fastidious in their insistence on respect but should rather be forgiving and turn a blind eye, for a parent may waive the duty of respect.” If the great Abraham could wait over his nomadic guests and if God himself could lead His people through the desert and waive His honor, surely, parents can find it in them to do the same.

If one finds oneself a victim of such abuse, one may, rather than run the risk of reactive disrespect, take action to prevent the abuse from occurring, or at least to remove oneself from the situation. Accordingly, the Rema rules that one may prevent one’s parent from throwing one’s money into the sea and one may even sue them for the return of the money if one was unable to prevent it.

The Aruch HaShulchan rules that if one finds oneself in a situation where, like Damah the son of Netinah, one is about to be publicly embarrassed by one’s parents, action may be discreetly taken to bar their entry. And the Lashon Riaz rules that if one’s parents are people of evil ways, who abusive and torment their children, one may avoid contact with them and even leave for another country as Rav Assi did.

Indeed the Torah does not command one to love one’s parents as it commands one to love God. Loving God is an emotion that wells up inside us in reaction to the love God has for us. Where there is love there is automatic respect. If parents show love for their children, respect will automatically be part of the love children return to their parents. Some people however, are not blessed with parents who love them like God loves his children. Such parents are still entitled to respect but they must not abuse the privilege.

All of this is perhaps inherent in the order in which the Talmud proscribes the duty of parents toward children and the duty of children toward parents. First the Talmud discusses the father’s duty to teach his child Torah, help the child marry, and teach the child a profession. Only then does the Talmud discuss the duty of the child to honor the parents. Perhaps the lesson is that the parent who puts his or her child’s welfare before his or her own earns the love of the child. And where there is love, there is respect.

Raphael Grunfeld

Honoring One’s Parents

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

There are three partners in the creation of man. According to the Talmud, the father contributes to the formation of the child’s bones, sinews, nails, brain, and the white of the eye. The mother provides the skin, the flesh, the hair, and the black of the eye. God provides the soul, the facial countenance, eyesight, hearing, the power of speech, the ability to walk, insight, and understanding. Accordingly, in this triangle of creation parents are to be respected and revered in the same way that one respects and fears God Himself.

One demonstrates reverence, morah, for one’s parents by not standing or sitting in their place, by standing up when they enter the room, by not contradicting them, and by not addressing them or referring to them by their first names.

One demonstrates respect, kavod, by providing for their physical needs, including feeding and clothing them and taking them places when they can no longer take care of themselves. The expenses involved in providing for the physical needs of one’s parents should be defrayed by the parents if the parents have the means or by their children if they have the means and the parents do not.

If one cannot afford it, one is not required by the halacha do go into debt to defray the expenses. One is required, however, to do whatever one physically can to make one’s parents comfortable, unless this would involve loss of work required for one’s daily existence. As part of the duty to honor one’s parents, when we talk about them after their death we should refer to them as “my parent for whom I should be an atonement,” and after twelve months, “my parent of saintly blessed memory – zecher tzaddik livrachah.”

From the use of the word tira’u, which is written in the plural form, the rabbis derive that the duty to revere and honor one’s parents applies to both sons and daughters. A married woman is, however exempt from the duties involved in honoring and revering her parents if her husband objects to their performance.

When performing the duties of kibbud av va’aim in front of one’s parents, one should do so with a smile, not begrudgingly. The attitude when providing is more important than the monetary value of the services provided.

The duty of kibbud av va’aim applies also to one’s stepparent during the lifetime of one’s biological parent and, if possible, thereafter. The duty also extends to one’s older siblings and to one’s grandparents, but to a lesser extent. One is not obliged to perform kibbud av va’aim duties for one’s parents-in-law. Parents-in-law should, however, be given the same deference given to all one’s elders.

If one witnesses a parent about to transgress a Torah law, one should be careful not to embarrass him or her. One should couch one’s language in a question form, like “Father, doesn’t the Torah say one should not…” If one receives competing requests from one’s mother and one’s father and it is impossible to fulfill both simultaneously, the order, according to the halacha, is father first and then mother. If, however, the parents are divorced, one may decide for oneself which request to fulfill first. If one is busy with another mitzvah, such as going to a funeral, and one’s parents require one’s attention, one should try to find somebody else to go to the funeral (unless no one is available, in which case one should go oneself).

There are extreme examples of kibbud av va’aim. Perhaps the most famous example is the incident with the jeweler Damah the son of Netinah of Ashkelon. One afternoon, the rabbis urgently needed two jewels for the shoulder straps of the high priest’s garment. So they came to his door with a fortune in hand. But the key to the chest that contained the precious stones was lying under his father’s pillow and Dama’s father was sleeping at the time. Rather than disturb his father, Damah sent the rabbis elsewhere.

Raphael Grunfeld

Aliyah and Keeping Young with Yisrael

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

As an education writer for the nonprofit organization, Kars4Kids, and as someone who made Aliyah from Pittsburgh 34 years ago, I decided to write about the challenges of Aliyah from western countries with school age children. See the previous piece in this series, Fully Absorbed, Coming Through to the Other Side.

As a teen, Randi Lipkin spent three consecutive summers working at HASC, a camp for Jewish children with special needs. Randi’s husband Michael spent his nineteenth summer as a counselor there, and the couple both worked at HASC one summer after they were married, never knowing that someday, they would have a special needs child of their own.

The Lipkin family made Aliyah in August of 2004, with four children from Edison, New Jersey. After they made Aliyah, Randi discovered she was pregnant with Yisrael, who has Down syndrome.

Michael serves as senior editor of financial articles at a local company, Seeking Alpha. Randi is an occupational therapist who works at a “Gan Safa,” a Beit Shemesh nursery school for children with developmental language delays. The Lipkins live in Beit Shemesh.

Proud father Michael Lipkin holds newborn Yisrael Simcha (photo credit: courtesy Michael Lipkin)

Proud father Michael Lipkin holds newborn Yisrael Simcha (photo credit: courtesy Michael Lipkin)

V: Tell me a bit about your children and their adjustment to your Aliyah.

Michael: We had 4 children when made Aliyah. They were 19, 17, 14, and 3 when we moved. Our oldest, one year post-seminary, was our big Zionist and would have moved here even if we hadn’t. Her adjustment was very smooth. She married a year and half later and is now living in our neighborhood with her husband and 3 children.

Our next oldest was borderline interested in moving. As she was entering her senior year in a Flatbush Beit Yaakov the year we made Aliyah, we decided it was best for her to finish high school there while boarding with Randi’s sister who lived nearby. She subsequently came here for seminary, married soon after, and is living in Bet Shemesh with her husband and 3 children.

Our older son had the toughest adjustment. Even though he wanted to move he had a difficult time adjusting to dorm life at Maarava high school. However, he is now our most integrated child having married an Israeli girl and is currently serving his country.

Our youngest at the time adapted very well because of her young age and smarts.

V: How old were you and Randi when Randi became pregnant with Yisrael?

Michael: I was 47 and Randi was 45. We had just had our first grandson and our second daughter was married during Randi’s pregnancy.

V: How did you and Randi feel about the pregnancy? How was the level of obstetric care here compared to the care Randi received in the States during previous pregnancies?

Michael: I was ecstatic, very excited, but nervous for her. Getting pregnant at that age was nervous-making, and of course, we worried about Down syndrome.

Randi: The overall care here was fine, but I found it very weird that you develop a relationship with a doctor and then he has absolutely nothing to do with your delivery. The experience was totally different than in the states. In certain ways the doctors seemed very laidback and in other ways hyper-nervous.

I had gestational diabetes as I’d had before in my previous pregnancies. The doctor transferred my entire case to an obstetrician that handles gestational diabetes and I at one point said to the doctor, “Can we listen to the heartbeat?”

They were too focused on the diabetes. There was far less connection to me as an expectant mother compared to what I had experienced in the States. Of course, I’d had tremendous relationships with my doctors in the States, because I’d known them for 25 years. It’s just not what you have here.

Since I was having an elective, planned C-section, we paid for a private doctor instead of showing up at the hospital and just getting whoever was on duty that day and we felt very comfortable with that decision.

V: I know you gave Yisrael the middle name “Simcha” because you wanted him to always know he brought simcha, joy, into your lives. Was that immediate? Or did it take some adjusting to the idea?

Varda Meyers Epstein

Hamas Admits: We Dug Up the Tunnel to Kidnap Israelis

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The Hamas organization accepted responsibility on Sunday for the digging of the “terror tunnel” exposed by the IDF a week and a half ago in the area between Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha and the Gaza Strip border.

It turns out the Hamas has a “military arm,” which is responsible for doing the bad things, while the “civilian arm” continues to receive donations from the nice folks in Europe. This way they make sure that the money donated to Hamas is only used to feed orphans and widows, all of them 100 percent victims of Israeli genocide.

On Sunday, a spokesman for the bad Hamas, a gentleman nicknamed Abu Ubaida, after a medieval Muslim language scholar (on account of the talking, you get it, right?), told the Hamas radio station in Gaza that the Hamas military force “dug the tunnel and were responsible for it.”

Abu Ubaida stated that the tunnel was dug in an attempt to kidnap an Israeli soldier or civilian, and use them to force Israel to release the remaining thousands of Palestinian prisoners in its jails.

Israel has established many times in the past that not only is it happy to negotiate with terrorist, but that it’s willing to give away the story. The going rate for 1,000 jailed Arabs is one captured Israeli.

In 2011, 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, who were collectively responsible for 569 Israeli deaths, were released in exchange for Gilad Shalit. The campaign to release him (see the girls below painting his portrait on the pavement) reassured Hamas that they don’t need to ever give up anything in negotiations, or recognize, not even on paper, the Jews’ right to live. All they need is to get them a succulent Israeli with good, middle class parents.

Free_Gilad_Shali

It should be noted that the IDF blamed Hamas for the tunnel as soon as it was discovered. It also blamed winter for rain, and summer for those long, hot days in August.

It should also be noted that the tunnel required some 500 tons of cement, which was produced in Israel and provided to the Arabs in Gaza for the explicit purpose of rebuilding their neighborhoods following the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense.

It appears that the Arabs went ahead and used that precious cement to aggressive ends, rather than to construct their homes. In fact, the IDF estimated that an astounding 20% of Hamas’s annual budget goes into building terror tunnels.

This is astonishing, in light of the fact that they’ve never done anything like that before, and no one in Israel could have imagined this kind of treachery. This is a moral failure on the part of the bad Hams, and we certainly hope the good Hamas will give them a sound rebuke!

The tunnel, incidentally, was 45 feet deep in places, and looks like a mini subway tunnel, complete with a track and a small car that could be used to whisk away the kidnapped soldier, even as his or her parents are being called and urged to start organizing a mass grassroots movement to release a thousand murderers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the IDF for the discovery, saying it’s all part of Israel’s new, aggressive security policy, which is the reason why we’ve had the “quietest year in a decade” in Gaza, despite the rise in terrorist activity in recent years.

Of course, it could be that the reason the Arabs have been so quiet is that they’re all underground, digging up tunnels.

It’s interesting to note that the Egyptian Army has found a very effective way of securing its own border with the Gaza Strip: they caved in all the tunnels with bulldozers, then used the same bulldozers to raze a swath of several kilometers worth of buildings, creating a no man’s area where Arabs who dare to enter will be shot.

Could we contract the same Egyptians to fix our Gaza problem?

Yori Yanover

School Starts in Israel

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Millions of adults in Israel are unusually happy today as 2,129,562 children return to school for the start of the school year.

1,700,535 children will be going to grade school, and another 429,177 will be going to nurseries and kindergartens.

A whopping 148,774 children will be starting first grade.

The breakdown of students in each of the major, recognized school system streams is as follows:

Public School:   678,161

Religous Public School:  217,137

Private School:  248,364

Talmud Torah:  50,470

Non-Jewish Schools:  437,503

There are 4,561 schools with  62,962 classrooms, and approximately 15,000 kindergartens/nursery schools in Israel.

For many Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox), the school year started 3 weeks ago, on Rosh Chodesh Elul. It’s estimated that Haredi students make up approximately 30% of the students in Israel.

More statistics can be found on the Ministry of Education’s website.

As one parent told this reporter this morning, “We’re meeting in the park at 10 to throw a party”.

I’ll be there.

Shalom Bear

Honoring our Parents: Can We Learn from China?

Monday, August 26th, 2013

It is well known that millions of elderly Americans are neglected at their most vulnerable time. Jewish law, however, requires multiple times and in multiple ways that we honor our parents (Exodus 20:11, Exodus 21:15, Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 19:3, Deuteronomy 27:16).

The ancient exhortations to honor one’s parents endure into our age. As of July 1, 2013, China has required that adult children take care of their parents. The amended Law for the Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly states that adult children must visit their elderly relatives, and they are prohibited from insulting, mistreating, or abandoning them under pain of lawsuit. Wu Ming, the deputy department head in China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs said, “Family members should not ignore and isolate the elderly. And they should come often to visit.” Today, millions of Chinese workers live thousands of miles away from their parents, families are limited to one child per family, and the tradition values of filial piety have become more challenging to put into practice. But those who fail to take care of their parents will now be fined. This act may be in recognition of the aging of the Chinese population: There will be 221 million elderly (age 60 and older) in the country in 2015, and the percentage will reach about a third by 2050.

In Japan, another country with the longstanding value of filial piety, modern legislation assists families in paying for hired caregivers (although they cannot be family members). Elsewhere, many nations mandate some level of care for the elderly. While the Soviet Union no longer exists, some of its policies survive in the areas it used to control. For example, in much of the former Soviet bloc, the elderly can sue their children for child support, and siblings can sue each other to make sure the money is raised and the burden shared. In Western Europe, eldercare is typically ensured through social insurance programs. The most inclusive policy for the elderly can be found in Norway, where all of the elderly are guaranteed long-term care.

How does the United States, which has traditionally been reluctant in implementing social welfare policies taken for granted in Europe, compare with rest of the industrial world? Currently, nearly 10 million adults age 50 and older care for elderly parents, with little governmental assistance. This number has tripled in 15 years, so now about 1 in 4 adult children provide personal or financial care for their parents. A study conducted by a group of insurance, caregiving, and policy think tanks concluded that, taking into account wages and Social Security and pension money, the average adult who becomes a caregiver for an aging parent spends nearly $304,000. In addition, caregivers undergo tremendous stress, and suffer higher rates of cardiovascular disease and alcohol abuse, among other illnesses. On top of this, Social Security benefits here do not increase when personal care costs rise, as they do in some European nations.

One bright spot is that many adults can now take up to 12 weeks off from work to care for an ill parent (or any other family member) without losing their job under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. Unfortunately, this does not go far enough, because this leave is without pay and therefore an unaffordable option for nearly all working Americans. Medicare may help pay for some short-term care, and Medicaid can cover expenses for those with in adequate resources, although these are dependent on individual state requirements, which are constantly under attack today. Currently, as the Medicare website notes, private funds are used for eldercare: “About half of all nursing home residents pay nursing home costs out of their own savings. After these savings and other resources are spent, many people who stay in nursing homes for long periods eventually become eligible for Medicaid.” In other words, if you want nursing care as an elderly person, be prepared to lose all your resources. Other programs, such as Meals on Wheels, are also dependent on state funding (with some federal aid that is also under attack), and we cannot assume that it will continue as is in the current atmosphere of austerity. Other options usually rely on independent insurance or health plans that require additional payments.

While the United States remains a wealthy nation, and many can afford their own care, we should heed Jewish law and truly honor our parents. The rabbis tell a story which is codified as law (Shulkhan Arukh YD 240:3).

They inquired of Rav Ula: “How far does honoring/dignifying parents extend?”

He said to them: “Go out and see what one [non-Jew] did in Ashkelon. His name was Dama ben Netinah. Once the Sages sought merchandise for a price of sixty myriads, but the key was resting under his father’s head, and he did not disturb him…. When Rav Dimi came, he said: Once he was wearing a gold diadem and sitting among the greats of Rome, when his mother came and tore it off him, and hit him over the head and spit in his face, but he did not humiliate her” (Kiddushin 31a).

Even when mistreated and shamed by a parent, many demands to honor parents still remain. To be sure, there are limits too!

One whose mother or father breaks down mentally – He must make the effort to behave with them in accordance with their condition until [Hashem] has mercy on them; but if he it is not possible for him to stand it, because they have become greatly insane – he may go and leave them behind, so long as he commands others to treat them properly (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 240:10).

Jewish law wisely and prophetically notes the mental and physical strain that an elderly parent with Alzheimer’s or dementia can have on a family. However, the law also mandates that we provide some degree of proper care for them. We should not force families to go into bankruptcy in order to avoid placing their parents in virtual warehouses where their parents will be neglected and mistreated.

The thing is that this is not only an ossified, unrealistic demand based on an idealized or no longer extant religious society. We see models for contemporary implementation around the world today, in China, Norway, and beyond. Our parents sacrificed so much for our well-being throughout their lives, when we were not able to fend for ourselves. As a society, we must recognize this and provide for them when they are no longer physically independent themselves.

Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz

A Closer Look at Bill de Blasio’s Record

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Bill de Blasio, the current frontrunner in the Democratic primary for mayor, has been running his second television commercial of the campaign, titled “Dignity,” since Monday. Fact checking the ad, Michael Barbaro of the NY Times found it quite misleading. Mr. de Blasio argues he’s the only candidate pledging to end the way the Police Department carries out the stop-and-frisk tactic. The problem with that claim is that his opponents have all, in one way or another, pledged to reform it, too.



Nor is Mr. de Blasio, per his claim, the only candidate proposing an income tax on the rich to pay for education. John C. Liu, the city comptroller, has proposed raising the city’s marginal income tax to pay for after-school programs, among other things.

“Dropping the misleading word ‘only’ from several of his claims, or using it more carefully, would do wonders for the accuracy and credibility of his commercials,” Barbaro concludes.

Bill de Blasio’s exaggerating his role as an advocate for the issues he believes are at the top of voters’ concerns is nothing new. In fact, his record of representing the outer-boroughs, as he now promises not to let down any New Yorker, is far from exhilarating.

Back in 2001, when he first ran for City Council in the 39th district, Mr. de Blasio was examined for mismanagement and controversial ties that had put in question his credentials at the time. “[Bill de Blasio] carries a lot of baggage as well,” The Village Voice wrote in a profile on the race for council.

“De Blasio was elected to School Board 15 in 1999, and his tenure has been rocky. Many public school parents charge that de Blasio was stubbornly supportive of Frank DeStefano, the former superintendent of District 15 who resigned in the winter amid allegations of overspending and mismanagement. Reports first surfaced in the fall of 1999 that DeStefano had begun to run up big deficits, taking himself and other school officials on several expensive junkets costing a total of more than $100,000. One year later the school deficit topped $1 million, leading to the cancellation of a popular after-school reading program while DeStefano maintained an expensive car service.

“De Blasio still defends his decision to stick with DeStefano for as long as he did. “He was a visionary and a great educator, but he was a horrible communicator,” de Blasio says of DeStefano. “I was deeply concerned, but I was not going to make a final decision until I saw the evidence.” In the end, de Blasio says, “he could have made better decisions, but I don’t think the spending was wildly excessive. Both of my parents were victims of the McCarthy era. I do not take lightly the idea of ousting someone. You have to have the evidence.”

“De Blasio has also been linked to the flap over New Square, the Hasidic village in upstate New York that has been mired in pardon scandals. Candidate Clinton assiduously courted the small Rockland community last year, winning the town by the whopping margin of 1400 to 12. Six weeks after the election, Israel Spitzer, New Square’s deputy mayor, met with the Clintons at the White House, where pardons for four New Square civic leaders convicted of fraud were discussed. In January, Bill Clinton commuted their sentences, leading to a probe by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in which several Hillary Clinton campaign aides were called in for questioning. At a Manhattan fundraiser for de Blasio in December, Spitzer made a $2500 donation, the largest permitted under the city’s Campaign Finance Board. De Blasio refused to comment on that matter, including the issue of whether he was questioned by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. De Blasio would only offer this comment: “I’m waiting to hear what’s going to happen with that.”

in 2007 as councilman, Mr. de Blasio was lambasted for not living up to his promises and for a lackluster performance as representative of his district.  In a hard hitting piece by a local blogger named “Parden Me For Asking,” Mr. de Blasio was criticized for running a dysfunctional office and keeping himself distracted from the issues that mattered to the neighborhoods he represented, going back to his time he served on the Board of Education before his run for council.

Jacob Kornbluh

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/a-closer-look-at-bill-de-blasios-record/2013/08/21/

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