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August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Rachel Chronicles’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 9/16/11

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Dear Rachel,

I’m not sure this subject qualifies as a chronicle of crisis, but in the interest of all the people affected by this syndrome, I am hoping you will view my letter as worthy of publication.

I am B”H a mom and grandmother and so now have the leisure of observing nuances that may be missed in the course of child-rearing by an overwhelmed mother.

As I sit at the Shabbos table and delight in my extended family, I am reminded of my childhood and recall my younger sister being endlessly badgered by our father to eat with her right hand. I remember thinking at the time that it was a bad-luck habit my poor sister had picked up and apparently got stuck with, since she seemed to revert to using her left hand again and again, though she had to know she’d be scolded for doing so.

It is none other than my son-in-law who triggers my déjà vu recollection, by his insistence that his young son eat with his right hand, even as my grandchild demonstrates favoring his left.

My sister today blames many of her ills on the trauma she suffered as a result of being hounded in regard to her left-handedness. She is convinced that her natural inclination being messed with has left her physically and mentally impaired. She says, for instance, that her entire left side suffers from weakness and is more prone to achiness, pain and injury.

My point is that there seems to be quite a number of successful individuals who are by nature left-handed and that favoring left over right or vice-versa is not a choice. Education and a better understanding of the makeup and nature of the human being has enlightened our generation, but that nagging preference for right-handedness is still prevalent — especially when it comes to our own children, as indicated by my otherwise astute son-in-law.

Any light you can shed on this subject would be much appreciated and I’m certain would serve to further educate young parents who turn to your weekly column.

A Concerned Grandma

 

Dear Concerned,

There is no question that throughout history favoritism has leaned towards right-handedness across the board. To begin with, a left-handed Kohen was disqualified from serving in the Bais HaMikdash for his left-handedness was considered a blemish that would interfere in the carrying out of specific duties.

Among our people, even the father who would not necessarily be bothered by his child’s tendency of favoring his left over his right hand still needs to ascertain the actuality of such an inclination early on due to the effect this will eventually have on his son’s performance of certain mitzvos. Some examples: the placement of Tefillin (always on the weaker hand); the order of the three steps taken upon the start and conclusion of the shemoneh esrei (left-handers starts with the right versus left foot); the way the lulav and esrog would be held; etc.

In addition, ambidexterity (equal proficiency of left and right) needs to be ruled out or confirmed in order to make the proper determination as far as religious rites are concerned.

Statistically, about ten percent of the population is believed to be left-handed. In view of the fact that nine U.S. presidents fit the bill (James Garfield, Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama), there may be something to the test results arrived at in one study at St. Lawrence University in New York that found higher IQs (over 140) in left-handed people.

The fact is that some of the world’s greatest talents and intriguing personalities happen to be members of the left-handers league. To mention just a few: Queen Elizabeth; Queen Victoria; Winston Churchill; Julius Caesar; Napoleon; Alexander the Great; Benjamin Franklin; Mark Twain; Albert Einstein; Charlie Chaplin; Jerry Seinfeld; Art Garfunkel; Paul Simon; Danny Kaye; John Lennon; Dick Van Dyke; Paul McCartney; Vincent Van Gogh; Bach; Rachmaninoff; Sandy Koufax; Babe Ruth; Benjamin Netanyahu; Nelson Rockefeller; Colin Powell; Oprah Winfrey and Michael Bloomberg.

The following are some fascinating tidbits on the topic of left-handedness: Women are more likely than men to be right-handed. The left-handed may be more allergy or asthma prone.

Older mothers (past 40 at her child’s birth) are much more likely to have a left-handed child than a woman in her 20s. Left-handers have a flair for math and architecture, while right-handers tend to be verbally talented. Left-handedness runs in families, as manifested by the British royals, which include the left-handed Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Prince William. Left-handers are seen as pushier, more dominant, manipulative, and self-centered individuals (the makings of a good politician).

Research links an increased chance of being left-handed with trauma during gestation or birth. Connections between the right and left sides of the brain are faster in the left-handed, making them more efficient at using both sides of the brain more easily and in dealing with multiple stimuli.

Stuttering and dyslexia occur more often in left-handers (particularly when they are forced to change their writing hand as a child).

Last but not the least intriguing: Four of the five original designers of the Macintosh computer were left-handed.

In the course of gathering data for this column, I puzzled over being unable to unearth the trait of left-handedness in any of our eminent tzaddikim — and was duly informed that such detail was considered too insignificant to highlight or pay heed to.

The consensus is that a parent should not unduly force a child to use his or her right hand when it becomes apparent that s/he has an innate propensity for left-handedness. It is for sure a shame to create friction between parent and child over something the latter has no control over.

And, Grandma, if I were you, I would stay out of it where my son-in-law is concerned. If your daughter is a JP reader, she can show him this column.

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 9/09/11

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Changing Winds Among Genders

 

Dear Rachel,

I’d love to have your take on the various aspects of women in the workplace today, and the changing roles and attitudes of the genders.

For instance, I’ve noticed that many of the women in fields like business and law have become more stressed and somewhat masculine, i.e., more aggressive and less gentle, while those women who work in traditionally female fields, such as teaching and occupational therapy, have retained their femininity and Jewish warmth.

In the secular world, more and more fathers have become the primary/stay-at-home caregivers to their children because the mothers are making a better salary. I’ve now seen a number of men in the frum community do this. It also seems to me that some men develop self-esteem issues when women do better in the workplace, and some men find it hard to find their desired jobs because of the many women who now fill the job market.

Yet I’ve also read about how some women respect men who have more income than they do. This is even when the women are professionals, setting up a scenario where some single women will only consider such men, even though they may not be what each really needs, and even though this limits the number of potential partners.

On a similar note, though not as big a deal, I now see frum married women using hyphens to connect their maiden names to their husbands’ last names.

Just Observing

 

Dear Observing,

Are you simply a keen observer or do I detect more than a hint of nostalgia for the days when man was the sole breadwinner and woman retained her femininity and was adept at homemaking?

In actuality, this scene may have been more prevalent in the secular world than in ours, where women – especially the wives of Torah scholars or those involved in chinuch at minimal pay  – actually earned a livelihood or supplemented the family income by using their skills in various ways without having to leave the home.

Fast forward to today: although many wives/mothers do double duty by assuming a job outside of the home, a good number contend that the juggling is well worth it — not only for its financial benefit, but in helping them maintain their sanity. As one young working mother, who recently had a couple of days off and looked forward to spending quality time with her 3-year old, sheepishly confessed: when the gig was up her nerves were more frayed than when she needed to rush through the breakfast routine, get her toddler off to school, rush out to make it to work on time and rush home to bond with her little one before his bedtime.

Besides having grown accustomed to her daily routine, she feels that getting out and immersing herself in a whole different environment offers her a fresher perspective of the home front and makes coping with her duties at home much more manageable.

As for woman’s femininity vis-à-vis her vocation, does the latter really influence her womanliness? Or is it vice-versa — her particular nature ultimately determining her career choice? The attorney-in-the-making, for example, has habitually shown him/herself to be the assertive kind; the occupational therapist was always known as gentle, patient and loving, etc., etc.

Respect is a huge factor in any relationship; respect is earned; yet it can unfortunately be allowed to disintegrate. Needless to say, maturity and growth (in the right direction) ensure a deepening of respect, whereas a lack of maturity can have the opposite effect. Take the struggling husband who is unable to bear his wife’s out-earning him; he gripes and sulks until he succeeds in losing her respect; or the lazy hubby who takes full advantage of his wife’s career success and makes no effort to pull his own weight. Her respect for him will corrode (unless a mutually satisfying arrangement defining their respective roles is negotiated; e.g., he takes on the role of Mr. Mom while she plays the part of breadwinner).

Singles who won’t settle for anything less than a professional or well-to-do marriage partner may or may not have a good argument for their “picky” preference. One can’t blame the professional woman (who worked hard to get to where she is) for being wary of the freeloader.

Neither can one take issue with the career woman who dreams of taking an extended hiatus down the road to devote herself to motherhood and/or sets her sights on early retirement and wants to assure the viability of her options.

The Gold Digger, on the other hand, has always been on the shidduch landscape and, one suspects, will always be.

The reasoning behind the frum married woman’s connecting her maiden name to her husband’s last name is usually purely PR-related rather than an assertion of her independence. For the accomplished woman who has earned her degree, established a career, and put her name “out there” before marrying, adopting a hyphenated surname is a no-brainer.

You mention stress as a downside to woman’s advancement in the corporate world. The fact is that demanding circumstances can produce stress in any environment, the home included, in both male and female. That said some individuals are better able to handle stress than others.

As far as women replacing men in the workplace, only a man who feels inadequate believes himself displaced by woman. The bright and quick-witted (in Yiddish geshikt) male or female is always in demand.

In summation, a mature couple revels in one another’s successes. Oh, and about those idiosyncratic singles that “limit their number of potential partners,” let’s keep in mind that after all is said and done, G-d runs the show — and He manages to catch us by surprise quite frequently.

Thanks for sending your intelligent comments our way.

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 9/02/11

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Dear Readers,

Back in July, Lonely at the Core (Chronicles July 22) let us in on her cold, empty existence due to her husband’s obsession with other women.

A reader reached out and encouraged Lonely to view her husband’s shenanigans as an addiction and to try, as this reader did herself, to understand and support him as he gets professional help. (Chronicles 8-19)

The following two letters – one submitted by a woman, the other written by a man – remind us of a husband’s duty to be true to his wife and to his G-d who sees everything, and encourage this wife to help her husband see the light.

 

Dear Rachel,

I got much chizuk from knowing that some other woman out there feels as I do. My husband does not view pornography, but my situation is not any less painful.

We raised a very large family and I gave it my all. The loneliness from the lack of appreciation, attention and affection was and is very painful. I too get nachas from my children and grandchildren, though I have often been blamed for my husband’s problems.

The few moments of true caring over the years of criticism and coldness pale next to his need to privately hurt me. When I react negatively, it all suddenly becomes my fault and he ends up looking like a tzaddik.

I was the one who brought fun, frumkeit, Hashem, love, talent and joy of life into the home. I do not know how he was raised, but I tried to build him up and he rejected my love and support. For it to be a happy home, the love needs to be returned.

Next to my husband who is meek, I am seen as a powerful woman, capable of making or breaking this “gentle soul” of a man. I turned to counseling and consulted with da’as Torah, and yet my children believe that I was able to brainwash all rabbonim and counselors with my brilliance.

I was raised with the old school thinking that a bad marriage is a challenge and a divorce is a wife’s failure, and unlike Lonely at the Core I still have a few to marry off. My advice to her is to be kind, gentle, but to maintain her self-respect and be proud of having raised such a wonderful family.

I feel that when the truth will eventually be exposed, it may humiliate her children, their spouses and their children, and she will suffer even worse anguish. It may therefore be better to bear the pain privately, while making it clear to her husband that his life is on video and will be played after 120 years before the entire world.

She should not for a moment doubt, like I did, that the children will not blame her; they may very well resent her for hurting their family image and stay close to their father because he is the breadwinner. Then her loneliness at the core will worsen.

But privately, she can and should let him know that every lie and putdown is recorded and will be replayed. Words spoken gently, with truth and clarity, and without bitterness or anger, may make him find the inner strength to do personal teshuvah.

I have learned to build myself up with happy successes. My husband is aware of the truth today, but if I were to slide into being “ma’avir my middos” (overlooking my virtues and achievements) for his sake, he would just see it as a sign that he was right all along; this approach is a sign of weakness and does not work with husbands with personality disorders. I am consistent in stating the truth and work on not feeling guilty.

Hashem knows that wives of such men do tremendous chessed in raising Torah’dik doros and in helping them stay on track, preparing for the ultimate Yom HaDin. In my humble opinion, the damage your leaving will cause will be more difficult than the approach of using his parnassah to do good things for yourself. Just keep remembering that he is exposed to Hashem and that his past, present and future are recorded in the Book of Life.

We all must work on ourselves and polish our neshamos. You can help him by not exposing him. You are not to blame and have no power to change him. Be firm in not accepting his behavior and in letting him know that Hashem wants us to control our evil inclination  – our yetzer hara.

No yelling. Just truth, stated calmly and gently, that you wish him to choose to do right. Life as a divorcee is a major adjustment. There is no escaping hard work either way. Give yourself the chance of being a role model to the kids.

You would be surprised that the children, at least some of them, may already know the truth. Act with self-respect. You certainly have done well.

Coming from a similar place…

 

Dear Rachel,

I am writing to you about the case of the woman who is married to a man who likes the company of other women. I was once asked by an adolescent yeshiva boy, “Where does it say that you’re not allowed to hang around with girls?”

I took out the Shulchan Aruch and showed him black on white where the issur is made very clear. It is located in the Ebn Ha’Ezer, siman 21. “Tzarich adam l’hisracheik m’hanashim meod meod” – man must distance himself from women very, very much.

Other sources of the Talmud that advise men with a strong desire for women: Gemora Shabbos 152a and Kiddushin 82.

This husband should be rebuked, with love and a peaceful approach, and reminded of the quote in Pirkei Avos 1.5: v’al tarbeh sicha im ha’isha – do not converse at length with a woman.

He should be made aware that he is destroying his family and that he must make every effort, even if painful, to make amends.

He claims that there is nothing wrong with his behavior — an indication that he hasn’t done much learning. As it states in Kiddushin 40b – gadol talmud ha’meivi lidei maaseh  — great is study for it leads to action.

Rabbi of a Congregation (preferring to remain anonymous)

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 8/26/11

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Dear Rachel,

The letter by “Concerned in Brooklyn” (Chronicles 08-05-2011) dumbfounded me. These past few weeks have brought forth a sea of emotional outpouring from our various communities in response to the sudden demise of a precious little boy in such a horrific way.  It has left most of us speechless and feeling overwhelming helplessness in trying to piece together any kind of “logic” that could help anchor us in the face of depraved evil.

The fact that the “depraved” in this instance was among us has further thrown us into something akin to a crisis of faith. While we get together to discuss safety awareness in our schools, yeshivos and neighborhoods at large, who of us does not loathe telling our children that malevolence might lurk right around the corner? How do we begin to infiltrate their protective and wonderful domain and somehow teach them that not every man they come across is good and can be trusted?

Far too many individuals are “soap-boxing” their inane, daily moments of angst on the back of Leiby’s tragic death. Leiby Kletzky, a”h, reached the levels of the kedoshim whom we read about in shul during the Yomim Noraim. How do you take the memory of this child and display it to the world by writing about the mundane nuisance of double parking and the random uncouth behavior at the supermarket? Then what?

Learn as a result how to be more polite?? Neither you nor I have the right to use this pure soul, someone else’s child, for a petty agenda of trivial annoyances. Sure, we have each experienced these irritants and cringe at the lack of common sense some people demonstrate, but these are hardly issues that should be thumb tacked to a child’s eternal memory.

My suggestion is that we not cloud Leiby’s memory with bunk but rather maintain that level of kindness, unity and love we showed towards one another in those horrible first days for one intense purpose: the protection of all of our children.

We teach our children from infancy, “kol Yisrael areivim zeh l’zeh” (all of Yisroel are responsible for one another); I believe Rabbi Eisenman of Passaic actually mentioned this in the early days of this tragedy, when he wondered out loud why not one frum individual thought to bend down and ask this child if he was lost and if he needed help. I would like to propose that our complacency be permanently replaced with a highly vigilant eye towards the safety of ALL OUR CHILDREN.

A couple of weeks ago, the evening news regurgitated the fact that the perpetrator of this atrocity had no police record. Yet we became aware that he had previously approached another child in the neighborhood with an offer for a ride. This child’s mother apparently “scared him off” but failed to call the authorities to report the incident. Though no one can know whether such vigilance would have saved a child, it would have certainly been the right thing to do.

It is crucial that we build safety consciousness in our schools where many children are way too naïve, coming from large families with overworked parents or growing up in very sheltered homes where talk of the “boogeyman” lies pretty much within the pages of their story books. It is up to us to see to it that our children are aware of the dangers that may lurk right outside their doors.

I propose that leaders of our communities reach out to the NYPD and ask for their participation and guidance. With the help of our councilmen and community leaders who have a respectable dialogue with members of the larger community, I guarantee that the NYPD would jump at the chance to hand pick courteous and respectful individuals on their force to come into our schools and speak to our children.  They would surely give them a clear and powerful message of safety awareness and guidelines that will help them make correct decisions when necessary.

Walking down 55th Street in Boro Park the other day, I saw two chassidishe little boys walking towards me, hand in hand. They seemed to have a fairly good sense of direction about them, but the tragedy was just too fresh, and so I stopped and asked them if they were lost. They shook their heads with a wary look on their faces and silently moved on. I may have felt foolish but I am going to move with the message that we shatter our sense of complacency and the metaphorical “bubble” we reside in and find a sensitive and Torah-appropriate manner in which to communicate to our children that monsters don’t necessarily exist only far away.

As I pen this on erev Tisha B’Av, I ask that we refrain from demonizing individuals we encounter in our everyday lives who happen to irk us. Let us not hang our paltry aggravations on the memory of a child whose life and death will haunt us for a very long time to come.

 

Saddened but wiser…

Dear Saddened,

With all due respect to your passionate call and vital message, each of us has faults and we need to work on ourselves both in our interaction with one another and with our G-d. Undertaking teshuvah, both in a big or small way, as a result of the shocking blow dealt to us by the recent tragedy in our midst, is praiseworthy. Ahavas chinam and ahavas Yisroel go hand in hand, but we cannot achieve ahavas Yisroel by conducting our daily lives with a total disregard of those around us.

For that matter, who is to say what constitutes “paltry” or “significant” in the eyes of Hashem? While guarding our children should certainly be a number one priority, improvements in our social behavior serve to strengthen us as a whole and will enable us to realize success in our noble pursuits.

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 8/19/11

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

A Reader’s Response to Lonely at the Core and Finally Free To Do Something About It

(Chronicles 07-22 and 07- 29)

 

Dear Lonely at the Core, and Dear Rachel,

With all due respect, I want to chime in with my take on this very heartbreaking story. With great sadness, I too am in this boat, albeit with some differences. A few months ago, after eight years of marriage, I discovered that my husband has been involved with the filth you have presented (massage parlors, meeting people from Craig’s list, trying to engage total strangers). I was shocked, horrified, disgusted, and as angry as can be.

I could not eat, sleep or drink for a week. Although I had no prior experience with addictions, I somehow came up with the idea that he is addicted to this “stuff.” At the time, my husband thought he was going to get into big trouble at work, and I guess he felt his life was crashing down around him.

Unlike many others, I did not completely isolate myself and promptly told two people  – whom I chose with care – letting my husband know in advance. Not that he agreed, but I told him it was not his choice and it was something I needed to do.

Somehow we found “Guard your Eyes” (a network of religious Jews struggling to break free of inappropriate behaviors rooted in lust addiction. [See Family Issues 03-25 and 04-20-2011]) I also had a strong instinct to approach our rav and have my husband tell his story. I believe it was crucial for him to verbalize the wrongs he had done, and to feel a sense of embarrassment in doing so.

I am grateful that my husband did not deny what he had done and did not blame me. Thankfully, neither did I. (This problem had started way before me and if I understand it as an addiction, it is beyond me and my control.)

One very important part of what I want to say is that this problem must be addressed as Sexaholism and/or Sexual Addiction, which needs outside intervention to be conquered. My husband now attends SA meetings (and I go to SANON meetings). As I was told early on, people with this sickness are usually coming from a place of very deep pain, and all the years of addiction certainly doesn’t help.

My husband also said he did not realize that anything he was doing would hurt me or affect our relationship, so long as I didn’t know. As erroneous and unwise as this logic is, he really believed it. The faulty thinking becomes a part of the problem. By deluding their brains and consciences, they allow themselves to justify their actions and inactions; it is their “Addictive Thinking” (see Understanding Self-Deception, by R’ Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.) that allows them to lead such a hypocritical existence.

I can so relate to the message in the words “Lonely to the Core…” As human beings we crave connection and intimacy. Though I had no clue about what was going on, I did know that my husband and I were not “best friends,” that a connection was missing. Even “sick” spouses yearn for intimacy but sabotage their chance of finding true intimacy by immersing themselves in an illusionary existence. And though we “well spouses” may suffer from some level of difficulty with intimacy, it in no way justifies our spouse’s despicable behavior.

In conclusion, I’d like to reiterate the part about sex addiction being at the core of the problem. Often addicts need to hit “rock bottom” before being ready to seek help. For my husband it was the thought of losing his job and being exposed. At times this bottom is reached when a wife establishes her own firm boundaries, adamant in not allowing herself to continue in such an unmanageable situation. These boundaries are not meant as a threat as much as to empower the woman so that she can set up her core values and be true to them.

I am learning that the better way to communicate is to first understand what it is that I want, that I think and that I feel. Communicating with my raw feelings and emotions (of pain, but not necessarily anger) enables me to set my limits.

Try not to destroy your spouse with your words. As difficult as this may sound, he may actually benefit from someone who believes in him and who feels him worthy of being rid of this horrible affliction.

You may say, for example, “I am hurt to my inner core; the behaviors that you have partaken in go against my definition of marriage and I will not allow myself to be in a situation that disregards my core values of marriage, morality, etc. I do appreciate all the good you have done to sustain our family life. I believe that if you get the right kind of help we can address the true root of this problem. But I will nonetheless have to do what is right for me, if you are unwilling to do your part.”

Thank you for allowing me the chance to use my own dreadful experience to possibly help another member of our beloved Klal Yisrael. May we all be zoche to grow towards “true intimacy” with our loved ones and with our loving G-d.

Reaching Out to the Core

 

Dear Reaching Out,

This column has addressed the topic of sex addiction in the past, but as real as this sickness may be, in our society today it seems we are habitually attaching a name or excuse for every deplorable act perpetrated by humankind. Adults are no longer held responsible for their detestable misdeeds inevitably blamed on “something or someone in his/her past” or an addiction of some sort, which is “out of her/his control.”

What, pray tell, was the thinking before the “addiction” took hold? Should a grown man or woman not be held accountable for his/her conscious choices?

Your husband, you state, felt that as long as you were in the dark about his extramarital activities they wouldn’t hurt you. Unlike you, Lonely at the Core had it out with her husband years ago, yet he deliberately chose to ignore her pleas and her pain, continuing to lavish attention on women outside of their marriage while withholding affection from her.

Moreover, as we have read, all the years of unbearable suffering has left this woman devoid of any feelings for her husband. Though damage to a relationship is often repairable, sometimes the harm done is so devastating as to render the relationship irreparable.

Hopefully, you will continue to make progress. Thank you for taking the time to “reach out…” so that others may learn from your experience.

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 8/12/11

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Dear Rachel,

I would like to write about a subject that affects many people who give tzedakah. As you are aware, Chinese auctions have become a very popular way for all types of organizations to raise funds. I confess, I am a Chinese auction junkie and put tickets into all the auctions that come my way.

Recently, however, I have been very turned off by some of these very worthy organizations. You see, because these are not-for-profit charities, they do not fall under the auspices of the “do not call list.” Thus, I am inundated with phone calls from many different charity organizations at all hours of the day.

Lately, some of these organizations have taken to using an automated phone system so that calls ring in our homes without letup.  This is what prompted me to write to you. One organization that ran an auction recently called me EVERY SINGLE DAY of the week leading up to the drawing, once even as late as 11:00 pm. But they didn’t stop there — they called my house phone and cell phone and continued to call even after I removed my name from its call lists.

I consider this type of solicitation abusive, aggressive, totally uncalled for and bordering on harassment. These people are also taking advantage of their not-for-profit status. I am so turned off that I have decided that any organization that calls me will be put on my “black list.”

I imagine I am not the only one annoyed by all these phone calls. Please print this letter so that administrators in charge of these fundraisers will hopefully be made aware that they are irritating the public.

Repeated automated calling, especially when one has already donated, will have the opposite of the intended effect. It’s a shame to lose donors on account of these bothersome reminders of “the big drawing.”

No longer donating to telemarketing charities

 

Dear No Longer,

This column cannot speak on behalf of organizations that resort to automated fund-raising in achieving their goal. But should someone reading this qualify as a spokesperson for one, we would certainly welcome his or her input.

There are plenty of opinions, however, at the other end. While reactions vary from person to person (some people can deal with automated calls better than others), too many to count feel victimized and are as peeved as you are at this uncalled for intrusion into their lives.

I’ve personally witnessed homebound senior citizens, both male and female, married and widowed, hounded by phone solicitors. Even a personal voice can be exasperating (sometimes more so, as the automated call can be more easily terminated), when an elderly man living on a fixed income is pressured into making a pledge against his will and better sense (and then eats his heart out about it).

Speaking of pledges, I know of one married homemaker who simply can’t say no to a pleading voice and, as a result, had a rude awakening. When she tried to make good on all her outstanding pledges before the onset of a new year, she realized that their budget was stretched beyond its limit and that their ma’aser (required percentage of income set aside for charitable contributions) had more than maxed out.

Her husband, in a quandary and none too pleased with his wife’s zealous generosity, sought advice from his Rav — who ruled that her pledges need not be honored. The well-respected community leader furthermore emphasized that a woman dependant on her husband’s income is not to dole out tzedakah on a whim, and that any woman finding herself alone when a solicitor comes-a-calling is not obligated to make any donation, period. (If she can and wishes to, the amount should not exceed the sum of $5.00.)

To expand on this last bit of sage counsel, if we may: a woman finding herself alone at home should best not heed the ringing doorbell altogether, especially after dark. If need be, an unexpected visitor can easily identify him/herself via a simple cell phone call.

As for this couple, the wife was additionally advised to make a hataras nedarim (annulment of vows). It would be surprising if all of this didn’t impact negatively on this household’s shalom bayis.

Where Chinese auctions are concerned, there may be a question as to whether the “shopping” one is coaxed into doing by the lavishly illustrated brochures actually qualifies as charity. It may all depend on whether one is browsing the catalogue with the sole aim of giving tzedakah, or merely surrendering to a desire to own some of the featured luxurious items. (Obviously, this is something one must discuss with one’s own rav.)

Back to the automated caller, let’s face it: if this hasn’t proven to be a worthwhile gambit, the practice would be waning by now rather than picking up momentum. Those who cannot tolerate this nuisance can simply choose to ignore the ringing phone when the ID display is unfamiliar (or familiar as one of those annoying callers).

Eleven o’clock at night is outrageous and inexcusable. A practical solution to this would be to silence the ringer for the duration one wishes not to be disturbed. (Generally speaking, it is prudent not to place calls to others past the hour of 10:00 p.m.)

Those of us who don’t have a money tree growing in our backyard can compile a list of charities we consider worthy of our ma’aser, and of course we always have the option of tossing those fancy auction catalogues in the recycle bin directly upon receiving them.

Above all, let’s keep in mind that “charity begins at home.” Our children’s (or grandchildren’s) schar limud counts as legitimate ma’aser expenditures, and alleviating the burden of close kin suffering an economic meltdown takes precedence over other causes.

Thank you for offering us the opportunity to discuss this matter which is of no small significance.

May we be worthy of Hashem’s compassion in providing us with the means to be self-sufficient, as well as to help others.

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 7/29/11

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Reply to Lonely at the Core and Finally Free To Do Something About It…

 

Dear Lonely,

In last week’s column, your riveting depiction of your marital relationship no doubt left readers reeling from the sheer chutzpah your husband has displayed over the many years of your marriage.

Keeping in mind that G-d gives each of us no more than what we are capable of enduring, your meticulous rendition of the wretchedness you have tolerated for years on end paints a picture of a strong, resolute and composed woman who has sacrificed tremendously in order to provide a solid upbringing for the children she gave life to and spare her Holocaust-surviving parents the heartache of a break-up in the family.

You had everyone in mind, it would seem, except yourself. Now that your youngest child has married, the misery of the loneliness that’s been eating away at you becomes more acute — to say nothing of the detrimental effects the ongoing stress unleashes on your health.

Now that you finally have a chance to do something for yourself, you wonder whether it isn’t “late in the day” to take the drastic step of ending your marriage in hopes of gaining “a measure of peace of mind.”

Surely there isn’t a therapist, counselor or religious leader who doesn’t aim to salvage a broken marriage. But positive outcomes can be realized only when each side is willing to invest the work and energy required to save the marriage. One spouse alone, without the other’s input and cooperation, cannot succeed.

Well, it’s not as though you haven’t made every effort to make a go of it. You’ve been to counseling together; you’ve called him on his misdeeds; you’ve suggested and proposed ways to spice up your marriage, and yet your other half has stubbornly persisted in his selfish, thoughtless, immature and hurtful behavior.

Your husband’s acts cannot be minimized or downplayed. One cannot even make the argument that he just got carried away in an Internet chat room (bad enough), or has simply allowed himself to seek out pornographic web sites (despicable), or has merely neglected his wife in every way a man can conceivably shun his woman (disgraceful).

The man you married over 34 years ago and had your children with has actually had no qualms about frequenting bars and strip clubs, dating and flirting with women and partying away as the mood suits him. To boot, he has the temerity to look you in the face and insist that you should not be bothered by or begrudge him his “harmless fun.”

It would be easy for me, or for anyone else, to tell you to get up and get out, as fast as you can. Realistically speaking, however, things are not that simple. In our personal e-mail correspondence, I’ve already advised you to take someone into your confidence, someone you can trust and who would be able to give you some guidance and moral support.

You ask whether you should leave “in the hope of a better marriage” or stay “in this painful but practical arrangement,” but you essentially answer the question yourself — by divulging that you are “thoroughly repulsed” by him, are ashamed to be his wife, that you “neither trust nor respect him” and consider your marriage relationship dead. Is it at all feasible to stay put in this type of atmosphere?

You did for years, true, but you were driven by a goal, a purpose that has Baruch Hashem been achieved with the help of an inner strength granted you from above.

Notwithstanding your strength of character, you should be forewarned that freedom comes at a price. Though the stigma of divorce is not what it was some decades ago, the sense of security a marriage license provides (false as that security may in essence be) dissipates with the divorce papers.

Sad to say, we live in a world where the divorcee becomes a vulnerable member of society, regardless of her courage or resilience. Not only is she prone to be preyed upon by vultures (disguised as men), but she could also find herself being snubbed by some of her married lady friends (who fear her as too attractive to be in the company of their husbands).

The divorced woman will furthermore encounter misplaced pity, as well as inevitably find herself “odd man out” at many get-togethers.

In addition, unexpected reactions from your loved ones – born of a genuine concern for your safety and wellbeing – may be forthcoming, as when mixed feelings surface regarding your decision to leave behind a “comfortable” existence to go it alone.

But all of these drawbacks are relatively minor inconveniences when placed against the heartache you suffer endlessly. To your credit and advantage, you seem to have an organized mind and golden heart, and you speak of supportive family and friends. Your husband has long ago made up his mind about how he wants to live his life; it’s now time (and about time!) for you to decide how you don’t want to live the rest of yours.

 

A message for the husband who may see himself in this woman’s letter: The words in Pirkei Avos — Kol Yisrael yesh lahem chelek l’olam haba (a portion of the next world awaits every Jew) are reassuring, aren’t they? But there’s a catch… each Jew is responsible for maintaining and nurturing that parcel of real estate that will be his at the end of his days here on earth.

The Chofetz Chaim cites a parable of a king who apportioned acreage to each of his servants; every piece of land was fertile and had much growth potential, but the fruit it would bear would ultimately be contingent on the care and input invested in the property by each new owner.

So it is with each chelek of Olam Haba prepared for us; the choice is ours — it is within our power in our lifetime to render it lush and bountiful or barren and empty.

Your self-indulgent tendencies and mindless pursuit of fleeting physical gratification speak volumes about your choice.

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-513/2011/07/27/

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