web analytics
August 21, 2014 / 25 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Rachel Chronicles’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 7/15/11

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

READERS REACT TO COLUMNS PAST

Over the last few months, the subject of borderline personality disorder (BPD) was a recurrent theme in this space as readers let us in on their personal struggles with afflicted loved ones. The most recent of these letters (Chronicles June 10) revealed one woman’s remarkable strength and perseverance in tackling this unsettling ailment. The following is a response to that letter.

 

Dear Supporting Spouse,

I read your letter with great interest and was struck by the empathy and patience you exhibit towards your spouse. I wonder how long you have been married and how you can be so superhuman as to endure the kind of treatment borderlines dish out.

For my part, I was kind and patient in the beginning of our 17-year marriage despite all the abuse and not even knowing what was wrong with my now ex-husband. I think back to all the lies, the cognitive distortions, the false accusations, the destructive behavior, and so much more, and I wonder how I survived.

But I didn’t. I went from being a happy, calm, confident and capable young woman to one who developed physical and mental ailments, one whose self-esteem went totally downhill and one who is in dire need of mental health services.

I got out to save my sanity, my children and myself. What I do know is that as I started asserting myself, I began to protect myself. Had I not stood up to the abusive behavior, I would have drowned long ago.

I wonder how symptomatic your husband is as there are degrees of borderline behavior. Some are extremely vicious and abusive, while others may present with more mild symptoms. My ex was definitely not extreme in his behavior and still I had to run for my life.

I marvel at your endurance and tolerance and feel that I must be missing a piece of the puzzle. But then I look back and recall the sheer madness that I lived with.  It was horrible. Even though in many ways I am a basket case now and in need of help, I feel a sense of relief and freedom and am hopeful that I will be able to build myself back up.

Quite honestly, I’m not sure what to make of your account. Perhaps your husband is not so abusive towards you. Perhaps you have a rescuer personality. Perhaps you are desensitized to destructive behavior. Perhaps you are in the early stages of your marriage and still hopeful.

I think each one of us has a limit, and then we can take no more. Ultimately it becomes an issue of survival. I hope you never get there.

An intrigued admirer

 

Dear Intrigued,

You have it right — there are many “perhaps” in the picture (as in any situation we are not privy to). Besides, what may prove effective for one may not work for another. You did the best you could and were fortunate to get out when you did. You are a survivor and sound like you’ve got it together and are on your way to a full recovery. We’re rooting for you!

 


 

Readers will recall “A focused husband and father” who deplored his wife’s lack of femininity and notion of romance. “A focused wife and mother” took him on in a subsequent column (see Chronicles June 3 & 17) suggesting he earn his wife’s love and respect by pampering her and thereby improving their relationship. Another husband (below) takes issue with “A Focused Wife…”

 

Dear Rachel,

I am part of the frum community and want to say to “Focused wife and mother” that she is correct from a female perspective but totally incorrect from a male point of view. Many of my male friends find their wives boring, unexciting and unwilling to take the relationship to the “next level” of intimacy.

This is why some of my friends, even though they are frum, look elsewhere to make up for what they are lacking from their wives.

We love our wives and families, but ironically it is that relationship on the side that keeps the marriage intact and allows us to tolerate the wife’s lack of responsiveness.

The unwillingness of the Jewish wife to become adventurous is well known in the frum community. I don’t know the answer to this, but perhaps the “focused wife and mother” can improve her level of intimacy with her husband and give him the loving he craves.

A Frum Husband from Brooklyn

 

Dear Frum,

There is no easy answer to this universal dilemma. No two people are alike, and though it is said that opposites attract, this certainly doesn’t hold true when it comes to intimacy in a marriage.

Be that as it may, the frum married man who feels he has a serious personal-relationship issue with his wife is advised to take it to his Rav who can counsel him accordingly. (No need for hesitation – a competent Rav has heard it all…)

Shyness is a desirable trait in a Jewish woman, her refinement a natural part of her essence. This tends, however, to hinder some women from accepting that “openness” with one’s other half is not only permissible, but preferred and appropriate.

On the other hand, resorting to extra-marital flings as a fix is reprehensible, and no amount of justification by you or your friends makes it right. For one, you are living a life of deceit, which in itself renders your marriage a sham. (Imagine your wife adopting your philosophy and reasoning that what you don’t know won’t hurt you.)

And if you’re thinking you’re safe for as long as you don’t get caught, think again. The threat of communicable disease (among other surprises) is very real, to which you selfishly expose your wife as well.

Instead of sneaking around and investing precious time in empty antics, consider imbuing more meaning into your daily existence by attending an extra shiur; learning Torah is known as a remedy for what ails you and will furthermore help educate you as to the real purpose of your life here on earth.

* * * * *

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 – 7/08/11

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

TZNIUS – one more round…

 

Dear Readers,

The topic of tznius has dominated this column’s space in the form of passionate debate for the better part of the month of June and into July. Though the letters kept coming, the same theme seemed to be replaying itself over and over, and so we finally saw fit to wrap it up (in last week’s column).

But then along came a reader whose message we could not bring ourselves to relegate to the bin of unpublished letters. The following is her eloquent articulation, which we found to be a refreshing departure from sentiments expressed by most on a volatile subject. Her perspective is one that is difficult to quarrel with; each and every one of us needs to hear it, absorb it, and live it.

 

Dear Rachel,

The letter written by A Fashion Isha saddened me. She describes herself as a beautiful, frum, spiritual Jewish woman, who loves fashion and dresses herself well… and seems to feel that as long as she is spiritual, she is entitled to dress as she pleases.

It is clear that no one has ever explained to her, and to so many others like her, what the purpose of creation is and what her role in this world is meant to be. Hashem, our Father in Heaven and the Creator of this universe, created this world in order to give. He is a giver, and He created us to be the recipients of His bounty. And He wants a close relationship with us.

In order for us to be able to truly enjoy His munificence, we need to earn it. Working to earn something is much more fulfilling and satisfying than being the recipient of a handout or charity, which does not feel very good.

Giving is what breeds love for another person. Parents love their children because they are constantly giving to them. Hashem, our Father who loves us so much, more than any human being could ever love us, is constantly giving to us, even more than we really need. He has given us a world so beautiful, so amazingly complex and breathtaking in order to give us much pleasure in this world, and transcendent pleasure in coming ever closer to Him.

But what can we give Hashem, Who has everything and needs nothing? We can follow the 613 mitzvos, thereby coming closer and closer to Him, forming an emotional connection to Him. That is what He wants from us. Avoiding something that is forbidden, sacrificing for Hashem is what makes us feel closer to Hashem.

We need to fear doing anything that could, chas v’shalom, damage that relationship and cause distance from Him. We are obligated to be meticulously careful to obey even the minutest command of our Creator, our Father in Heaven, Who created this entire world only to have a close relationship with us — which will, ultimately, result in the greatest transcendent pleasure for us.

The neshama is so much more sensitive than the body. We need to be so careful with what we fuel it. It is forever. There are real consequences for everything we do.

And everything that Hashem requires of us is actually for our benefit! He is omniscient and knows what is in our best interests, even when we don’t understand or agree.

No parent is going to tell his child, “Oh, you don’t want a vaccination because it hurts? Okay, you don’t have to have one.”

The child sees only the immediate consequences – an injection hurts. But the parent sees what the child does not. He sees the long term benefits of the vaccine and is willing to subject his child to the short-term pain and discomfort for the long term, far-reaching benefits of protection from debilitating and deadly diseases. The child sees candy and wants more and more. The parent, however, recognizes that too much will lead to tummy aches and cavities.

We are the daughters of the King of Kings. We need to dress with refinement and modesty, as is befitting daughters of royalty. This is what our Father, our King, requires of us. And He knows, in a way that we cannot understand, why this is what is truly best for us. How can we not follow His directives?

Not perfect but trying my best wrote, “I see plenty of ultra-religious Jewish women who wear seamed stockings and are dressed more than tznius’dik yet gossip about others, humiliate people and are closed minded and judgmental… And I see people who are dressed more provocatively and daven every day, go to shiurim, are careful with their speech, are welcoming and have open homes to all Jews. How can we decide who is more frum?”

The short answer is we can’t; it is not our place to decide who is more frum, and it is totally irrelevant. Each group is doing some things right and some things wrong. Hashem has two sets of requirements of conduct for each of us, and complying with one set of requirements does not absolve us from the requirement to comply with the other set as well.

To have a relationship with our Creator, to whom we owe everything, is not optional. We need to perfect ourselves in both areas of bein odom l’chaveiro (between man and man) and bein odom l’makom (between man and G-d.)

(Anyone wishing to gain more clarity on the purpose of creation and our relationship with Hashem can visit thesixconstantmitzvos.com online. This website’s collection of articles and video clips are very enlightening and well worth one’s time and effort.)

A daughter of the King

* * * * *

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 – 7/01/11

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Tznius: Wrapping It Up

 

Dear Rachel,

I had no intention of contributing to your column’s most recent debate — until this week, when I attended the graduation of my kindergarten-aged son. Rachel, I am still in shock. Mind you, this is no hick-town modern day school but a well-known yeshiva run by a recognized, well-respected rabbinical head, in a sizable orthodox community.

No, it is not Lakewood I refer to; most families here happen to be middle of the road Modern Orthodox. Of about twenty mothers in attendance, a mere six of us were decently dressed. The others ranged from untznius’dik (cap sleeves with arms completely bare; own hair exposed without even an attempt at head-covering), to outright coarse (skintight tops that leave little to the imagination and… you get the picture).

My heart ached for the Rosh Yeshiva who must have been pained to the core of his being, and for the innocent little boys whose futures are being compromised by none other than the parents they look up to.

To be candid, I grew up in a very modern home where females wearing pants was the norm. (I stopped the practice when I later discovered such attire inappropriate for a Torah-abiding Jewess.) And yet I have to say that for all of our modernity, I never dressed in the crude fashion that some religious women seem to have no problem with.

As I’ve learned it, tznius is a mandate, not an option. In light of the fact that our future generations are being detrimentally affected, I find the blitz of criticism leveled by readers on the original letter-writer unwarranted. Since when has it become “wrong” to take a stand for our principles and to defend Hashem’s laws?

Where is the outcry from influential sources?

My heart is bleeding

Dear Heart,

For weeks now this column has deferred to readers who have had plenty to say about a volatile issue that, as you indicate, affects all of us.

Though many letters were indeed critical, others echoed sentiments and opinions similar to yours. In fact, readers have done such a remarkable job in addressing the topic that what remains for this column at this time is to re-emphasize the importance of guarding our manner of dress (as well as demeanor) and to stress the gravity of being lax in the inyun of tznius (which in actuality encompasses the traits of modesty, humility and restraint).

Needless to say, not all letters made it to print. One reader (submitting his comments to the editor of The Jewish Press) fiercely decried the publication of the tznius column as it originally appeared in Chronicles of June 3rd. The following is an excerpt of his letter:

I wonder how Rachel considers this a crisis in the community? Unless she is talking about the xxxxx community, in which case I would understand because there it is socially acceptable to equate transgressions of halachic law with criminal abuse… I wonder why a woman not covering her knees is considered by Rachel to be a crisis on the level of an agunah who can never remarry, or a young child being repeatedly molested by his Rebbe or a woman battered by her husband. 

I myself am a “black hat” Jew, who adheres to the strictest interpretation of the law, and I am very, very offended by this article… equating a religious “transgression” with molestation and abuse is intolerable.

Sir, with all due respect for your religious convictions, your remarks are most baffling, on many counts.

1) This column tries its best not to discriminate; when a fellow-reader is in distress, we consider it a crisis. Others are equally welcome to disagree, to commiserate or to debate the sufferer…

2) It is not for us to determine the magnitude of one mitzvah over another; we refer you to the words in Pirkei Avos that forewarn us not to judge one mitzvah more (or less) significant than another. Thereby the out-of-control lack of modesty in our midst most certainly qualifies as a Chronicle of Crisis.

3) We do know that among the numerous mitzvos in the Torah, only one – the theme of tznius – is linked to the presence of the Holy Shechinah in our midst. We are warned specifically (in Devarim 33:15): “Ki Hashem Elokecha mishaleich b’kerev machnecha l’hatzilcha; v’haya machanecha kadosh…” – For Hashem your G-d walks among you to save you and deliver your enemies before you; your camp should therefore be holy … to not cause Him to turn away from you.

4) The Jewish nation is considered a “lone sheep among seventy wolves.” But our Creator watches over His children, as long as we maintain our modesty. One should shudder at the thought of our vulnerability should we chas v’shalom turn Hashem against us. (For that matter, do we know why tragedies – such as the molestation and abuse you speak of – fall upon us?)

Several years ago, as readers worldwide will recall, the topic of shmiras halashon was being confronted in every community and on every level, via live shiurim, tapes, pamphlets and workshops, in order to shake our people to the seriousness of its transgression and awaken us to the dangers we place ourselves in with carelessness of speech.

Many people may not be aware that the same Chofetz Chaim who has brought the laws of lashon hora into our living rooms for our own protection in this world and in the next, also wrote a compendium on the laws of tznius. Titled Geder Olam, this work clearly outlines the laws of tznius, as well as the hazards in flouting them: parnassa issues; shalom bayis difficulties; children going off the derech; etc. This volume belongs on the sefarim shelf of every home library.

To “My heart is bleeding”: You speak of your own “modern” upbringing and subsequent growth. Perhaps the mothers (you encountered at the graduation) are yet to embark on their own journey into the wonderful and immensely satisfying world of our religion and heritage. Let us hope and pray for them all.

* * * * *

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 – 6/24/11

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

Readers’ divergent views regarding (the lack of) tznius: Tolerance versus Tongue-Lashing

 

Dear Rachel,

I have been reading your column for years and have learned much from the challenges that people face and the advice that you and other readers offer. Over the last several weeks, I have been quite disturbed by the tone that some of your readers have adopted — from the letter writer of “Community (lack of) values” who made sweeping judgments without knowing her neighbors’ motivations, to her responders (some of) who were vicious, without giving any thought to what the young lady might have been dealing with.

Attacks were ridiculously levied against an entire Jewish community based on a few or even many anecdotal incidents, with writers suggesting that all of New York’s Jewish citizens are rude and unkind.

Then, just as the issue quieted down, along comes the judgmental indictment of “For shame!” For shame, indeed; again, an indictment of an entire group of people without knowing anything about them. How does the writer know what these women have gone through in their lives? Maybe they fight the yetzer hora of tznius with every ounce of their free will and are doing the best they can. Until we’ve experienced everything that they’ve experienced in their lives, how can we judge them?

I would hope to see the writers to your column return to trying to help people rather than trying to belittle them. We each have a unique set of challenges that Hashem has custom tailored for us, for our own good. No one can fully (if at all) understand the challenges faced by another. Let’s try to focus on overcoming our own tribulations and provide comfort and encouragement to others, rather than give ourselves a false sense of superiority by condemning those we know nothing about.

Remove Din, Be Empathetic!

 

Dear Rachel,

The conflicts and disagreements sparked by the issue of tznius turn it into an endless and painful debate.

While it may be true that in today’s Jewish society some women may be a bit more lax in their tznius or more affected by the fashion trends all around us, I take offense at giving validity to a letter writer with such obvious anger and hate, a person who completely represents the antithesis of what a Jewish person’s middos should be.

For whatever reason, the letter writer is extremely angry about something. I cannot fathom how women who want to dress stylishly and beautifully can cause so much animosity, unless a) this is an extremely jealous woman whose husband is not showing any interest in her, or b) this is an extremely frustrated man whose wife makes no effort to be attractive for him.

The last paragraph, “It is my wish that these women will one day be given the cold shoulder and be made to feel unwelcome…” put me over the edge. The writer is not even ashamed of his/her blatant sinas chinom and sadistic urge to cause another Jew pain.

I am a beautiful, frum, spiritual Jewish woman who always felt judged and ostracized by the chareidi community from the time I was in high school. I have struggled with my self-esteem and always felt inferior religiously because I love fashion and dress myself well. May Hashem bless us to have peace with one another instead of trying to change everyone else, and to have the achdus needed to bring Moshiach!

A Fashion Isha

 

Dear Rachel,

The anger that was so evident in a reader’s letter in your column on tznius did not shock me in the least. In fact, her frustration is shared by too many of us whose parental roles are challenging enough in today’s climate of moral corruption without having to explain to our innocents why the married woman next door wears her snood halfway down the back of her head with her naked arms visible through her transparent blouse.

While it is true (as you pointed out in your response) that we have a responsibility to one another, you must also be aware that, as a rule, others don’t take kindly to unsolicited advice, especially when it is more convenient to go about life with their heads buried in the sand (as opposed to facing the truth).

This is where your column, known for its outspokenness, plays an important role. Rachel, please don’t stop setting people straight by telling it like it is. You have the advantage of reaching out to thousands of readers, a privilege not granted to many and not to be taken lightly.

A grateful reader

 

Dear Rachel,

I am sure not too many readers took For Shame’s letter sitting down and were plenty miffed at her strong words of condemnation. The sad truth is that while this generation has seen a tremendous baal teshuvah movement, there are far too many women/girls in our orthodox circles who seem to be completely oblivious to the laws of tznius and the repercussions of flaunting them.

I, for one, applaud the reader’s gutsy stand on such a vital matter. Hers may be a lone voice in the wilderness, but I hear it as a cry of pain and a championing of G-d’s word.

Rachel, it’s time to take a tough stand on an issue that in the long and short of it affects all of us.

Make no apologies

* * * * *

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 – 6/03/11

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Dear Rachel,

I am writing this out of my soul-piercing anguish at the epidemic of married “frum” women who dress provocatively. They shamelessly dare to flaunt their failure to observe halacha at every simcha these days, even yeshivsh ones, and in certain orthodox neighborhoods they are unfortunately the rule, not the exception.

You know who they are — they are hard to miss with their enormous, garishly styled custom wigs, which they obviously spent a fortune on, wigs which to an unschooled onlooker could not pass for the wearer’s natural hair for their sheer size alone. They wear tons of makeup, usually favoring lots of gothic dark eye makeup, and their clothes are so tight it is a wonder they breathe.

They clunk around suggestively in shoes so uncomfortable it hurts to look at them. To top it off, there is a growing trend among these women not to even pretend to cover their knees. Short, panty-line accentuating pencil skirts are everywhere, often with details like huge, inviting zippers and slits that reveal everything when the wearer bends over. Adding insult to the injury these abominable women cause to the dignity of Orthodox Jews everywhere are the flashy designer labels these women usually sport, as if to boast with pride that they have abandoned Judaism for the values of the television.

These women are a disgrace to Orthodox Judaism and should not be tolerated. They paint the most obnoxious, insulting and degrading anti-Semitic caricature of Jewish women – that of materialistic, religiously hypocritical wives. Their values are those of the sewer, of the porn industry: attract sexual attention at all cost.

They are going to burn in Gehenom for every lustful glance their garishly flaunted bodies attract from frum men, and are a pischon peh to the yetzer hara of every non-orthodox woman considering embracing tznius (Why be orthodox? The rabbi at your Reform temple dresses more modestly than that!) or for any financially strapped couple struggling with the idea of sending their children to Jewish day school (Why kill yourself with tuition? Look what trash comes out of those schools!). What these women are essentially saying through their attire is that they care so little for Torah and mitzvos that they do not even want to be publicly identified with it.

It is my wish that these women will one day be given the cold shoulder and be made to feel unwelcome at every kosher restaurant, simcha hall, clothing store or shul. They should not be allowed to publicly disgrace Orthodox Judaism. And their obvious marital frustration should be addressed in therapy, rather than advertised to the construction workers hooting at them in the street.

For shame!

 

Dear Rachel,

My husband and I recently visited Europe where some of the scenery is breathtaking, and just about everywhere we went I felt proud to recognize one of our own — a frum woman.

At the same time, we recently had occasion to attend a simcha in Los Angeles, where Hollywood is the epitome of prustkeit (vulgarity) in the secular world. Again, I was proud to see the tznius of frum girls and women.

And yet – I don’t know how else to say this but bluntly – in my neighborhood, which shall remain nameless, too many of the women who walk around look more like hookers than a princess/bas Yisroel.

I wonder why they bother wearing shaitlach with the rest of their bodies barely covered!

My pride in my heritage is wounded

 

Dear Rachel,

I read your column every week and would like to thank you for helping the frum community.

I want to bring up a topic that I believe many frum married men have a problem with: while the woman we marry may be baalbatish (refined), highly intelligent, a great cook and homemaker, and excellent mother, she is not a good wife — meaning she doesn’t satisfy her husband and fails to give him what he really wants.

To clarify, most of these wives lack femininity and have absolutely no notion of romance. While good in the kitchen, they utterly fall flat when it comes to adding spice and fun into the marriage. This seems to be a major drawback of the frum couple’s marital relationship, which ends up having a negative effect on the community as a whole.

Our schools should begin expounding on the realities of a true eishes chayil (virtuous woman), the way halacha teaches and the Ramah brings down: eiza isha kasheiro hoisa ratzon balah – the “Kosher woman who does the will of her husband” and a woman who promotes sholom bayis is considered to be a true eishes chayil who will raise ehrliche Yiddish kids.

A focused husband and father

 

Dear Readers,

In these precarious times when our distinctive role as “a guiding light unto to the nations” is perhaps more critical than ever before, it behooves every one of us to do some serious introspection — for no one is immune to “outside” influence and each one of us has a responsibility to one another.

Parents cannot simply leave it up to the school/teachers to set their children on the right derech, and husbands need to stop pandering to their wives when it comes to crossing the boundary lines of tznius. (This is not to infer in any way that modesty equals dowdiness.)

The last letter is quite relevant to the context of the letters preceding it and was a deliberate inclusion, meant to draw attention to how utterly skewed the priorities of some women are.

While women (or anyone, for that matter) should never appear unkempt in any setting, the married woman especially should save her seduction prowess for the confines of her home where she is required to keep her husband happy, content and interested.

There are many references in the Torah to the virtue of tznua (hiddenness), one of the earliest among them the circumstance surrounding the second set of luchos that Moshe Rabeinu was called upon to retrieve in utmost privacy — after G-d determined that the first set met with catastrophe because they were produced with much fuss, fanfare and exposure. Hashem declared at the time, “Ein lecha yafo min ha’tznius” – there’s nothing more beautiful than tznius (that which is private and hidden).

Elsewhere in the Torah we are warned that nothing is more repulsive to Hashem than immodest dress and behavior.

May all of Klal Yisrael have an enlightening and joyful Shavuos!

* * * * *

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 – 5/27/11

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Dear Readers,

In the column before last you were led to believe that the subject of community values (or lack thereof) was coming to a close. Please bear with us for one more round of commentary as three readers sound off – including the young married woman whose letter started it all. Thus, we’ve come full circle; no more letters on this topic, please, for now.

 

A focused reader with a practical outlook

Dear Rachel,

Regarding the couple forced to move without help from neighbors: some apartments in Israel have no elevators, making moving from the 5th floor of one building to a similar floor of another building hard work. One option is to hire a handyman with a van or small truck to help load and unload.

About the friends or acquaintances who had supposedly declined to assist this couple, could it have been simply a case of bad timing? These people may have already committed themselves to other plans.

As for the relative friendliness of the large city versus the small town, in the former it is virtually impossible to keep track of who may be moving in from another city or whether someone is simply getting a larger apartment on another block. Most people that I know in large cities have guests over for meals every Shabbos, and most are involved in some sort of community activity, such as helping out in their children’s yeshivas.

While the sheer number of volunteer organizations existing in the large city is astounding, there are doers and non-doers in small towns too. Anyone habitually taking advantage of others might eventually find these others less than eager to get involved. Luckily this generation is not post-war and is not directly involved with coming to the aid of refugees or building a community from the ground up.

Generally speaking, I really don’t see the young as more selfish or less committed.

Out-of-towner from many towns

 

A levelheaded New Yorker with mixed emotions

Dear Rachel,

I’ve lived in New York my whole life and have felt the lack of hospitality here. I’ve been divorced for a while, and although I have wonderful extended family who always invite me out for Shabbos meals, I feel that the people in my neighborhood are into their own lives and don’t pay that much attention to others. That being said, I also see the tremendous chessed that goes on in our community (as the letter writer wrote in response to the reply about arrogant New Yorkers).

Despite some problems, one cannot negate the good. Though I have many neighbors steeped in chessed who don’t realize that there are people living right in their midst who can be the recipients of their chessed, it would be stupid for me to say that New Yorkers are arrogant and only care about themselves. Yes, it hurts me tremendously, but I can’t knock an entire community because of this.

When I read the letter from the original letter writer, I also felt that she came across as expecting too much. Yet, when I read the responses, I started realizing that it’s our constant judging that is the root of many problems. I work very hard at not judging my neighbors, although at times it is admittedly difficult not to do so. When Tehillim groups and various other projects are organized in my neighborhood, I feel like crying at how in tune “they” are to some problems while being completely oblivious to others. I know that this (not judging) is something I have to work on; to say this is the way “New Yorkers” are would be foolish.

Life is not simple

 

The last word from the young woman who started it all

Dear Rachel,

I thank you for publishing my letter, which seems to have generated some spiteful responses.

To the woman – a member of the older generation – who dared to take me to task: Your criticism of my “self centered attitude” makes it apparent that you missed some of the details included in my previous letter. It also demonstrates a lack of class on your part. Perhaps I was a little harsh with the younger generation after all, since it seems like the older generation can be just as cold and selfish (based on the way you’ve described yourself).

Like you, I am not a mind reader — though I do try to give people the benefit of the doubt. And why would you put people who mooch off their parents in the same category as those who ask for help every now and then? Where is the logic in that comparison?

I used to be involved in chessed projects; at the present time I host people for Shabbos, those who have nowhere else to go. Furthermore, when I host guests I make sure to give them attention and not shut them out, for that’s how I was raised. When my parents hosted people, they made it their duty to make guests and newcomers feel welcomed in their home and did not ignore them.

I happen to be from New York, and while I have met decent people I have also experienced rude behavior, selfishness and arrogance firsthand. People there seem more concerned with their level of frumkeit than with kavod habriyos (respect for their fellow-man).

I find it rather shocking that people would be so hasty to attack me rather than delve into the matter. I was not looking for sympathy nor was I asking you for an apology. I was simply trying to raise communal awareness, which ironically ruffled your feathers.

Who are you to call me out for being self-centered when you are incapable of judging people favorably? You don’t know me and are therefore not in a position to make blatant accusations against me. So excuse me for asking people to have a little propriety. You may jump to conclusions about me, but only the One Above knows what I have been through.

Community (lack of) values

* * * * *

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 – 5/20/11

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Dear Readers,

Back in February of this year we published a letter from a worn out young mother (Am I for real?) who could hardly hold her own as she tried coping with her husband’s anger issue. In a follow-up letter, a reader (A long-suffering victim) strongly sympathetic toward this young mother, suggested that the husband’s behavior was symptomatic of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Our second writer also recommended a book on the subject (Stop Walking on Eggshells by Mason and Kreger) that had helped her come to grips with her own husband’s erratic behavior.

The following letter was written by yet another of these tragic, long-suffering wives.

 

Dear Rachel,

I am a non-Jewish young woman who works with a Jewish family and happens to love reading your articles. I have been married for four years and feel like my marriage is not of G-d but of the Satan. I am writing in reference to the letter “Am I for real?” — which made me realize that no matter your race, your culture or your creed, we all go through the same problems.

I most certainly can identify with this young woman. My husband portrays the same behavior/symptoms as BPD. I have realized for a while that my husband had a problem and thought it was ADHD. I just couldn’t figure it out.

But of course he won’t admit that he has a problem and blames me for every argument or just anything he can blame me for. He’s like a child who does not take responsibility for his wrong actions. He is a very angry, disgruntled, insulting, irrational and disrespectful individual. He scares my children who dislike him immensely and are upset with me for marrying him. My daughter was happy to leave for college last September; she positively hates him and has told him that she does not like the way he treats me and makes me cry.

He professes his undying love for me and yet he treats me like a doormat. He calls me mean names and is verbally abusive. I keep searching myself for faults and wonder why he hates me, yet he says he loves me. I sometimes think of suicide just to be away from him. I ran away once, but he found me.

We have been to therapist/counselors, but it seems to help for only a little while. Then he’s back to being the big, bad, mean wolf again. I don’t even know how to cope anymore, and yes, I feel like I’m walking on eggshells in my home. I will certainly buy this book (recommended by a reader) and see if I can find help and a way to cope before I lose my sanity.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my story. This column is most helpful, and I’m glad to know I’m not the only one going through these issues, like I thought. I actually know other women out there going through this and who are scared and ashamed to talk about it.

Though my husband feels that going to a therapist is just a way for them to make money, I want to go because I need to overcome my fears of having to live like this for the rest of my life, if I have to stay in this marriage.

I am a good person, a good wife and a good mother, and I love life, but sometimes I feel like giving up.

Please daven for me… I need all the prayers for healing and happiness in my life and marriage.

Be Blessed…

 

Dear Blessed,

Thank you for your kind words. It is most gratifying to know that this column touches readers beyond the circumference of our Jewish reading circle.

An informative series on the topic of BPD specifically, authored by Simcha and Chaya Feuerman, debuted in the April 29 Family Issues section of this paper. The articles feature an in-depth analysis on a not so cut-and-dried malady. (Readers are cautioned against self-diagnosis and/or reaching a definitive conclusion without the corroboration of a professional therapist.)

My dear reader, you have availed yourself of psychotherapy and yet your agony persists unabated. Your children suffer as well, and you live with a constant fear of your “very angry, disgruntled, insulting, irrational and disrespectful” husband.

Have you ever asked yourself what this man, your husband of four years, offers you besides torment and misery? Does he possess any positive qualities to speak of? Do you still love him (assuming you once did)? Have you a shred of respect left for the man who professes to love you – yet treats you like dirt? What makes you say, “…if I have to stay in this marriage?” (Who says you have to…?)

That only you can provide the answers to these questions goes without saying. In the meanwhile, whenever your instincts tell you that the “big, bad mean wolf” is about to launch one of his stinging verbal assaults, wordlessly remove yourself from his presence. Go for a walk, go on an errand, go visit a friend, just go! Without your tears and obvious distress to feed his rage, his ire will lose its edge; with no fuel added to the ire, the fire will sputter and turn into smoldering ashes.

Living with a Jekyll and Hyde (a person who alternately displays good and evil personalities) is wearing and draining. You say you love life yet have entertained thoughts of giving up on that life. Should Mr. Hyde continue to hide behind the evil Dr. Jekyll, allowing the latter to play front and center despite all the therapy sessions meant to clean up his act, you might want to give some serious thought to reclaiming your sanity, your self-assurance, your self-dignity, and your life . . . before it’s too late.

May G-d grant you strength and the presence of mind to do the right thing. There’s certainly no mitzvah in tolerating an abusive relationship.

* * * * *

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-341/2011/05/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: