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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘rav’

Q & A: Shemini Atzeret

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Question: I seem to see a lack of uniformity regarding the mitzvah of sukkah on Shemini Atzeret. What is the proper procedure to follow?

Via e-mail

Answer: The question revolves around the festival status of Shemini Atzeret. This is not to say that there is a question as to whether Shemini Atzeret is a festival. Rather, is Shemini Atzeret, which immediately follows the last day of the festival of Sukkot [Hoshana Rabbah], part and parcel of that festival, or is it a separate festival to itself? We find three references to Shemini Atzeret in the Torah: two explicit ones and one hinted at that we derive by way of exegesis. The first reference is in Parashat Emor (Leviticus 23:36): “…bayom ha’shemini mikra kodesh yi’h’yeh lachem…– …on the eighth day there shall be a holy convocation for you….” The second reference is in Parashat Pinchas (Numbers 29:35): “Bayom haShemini Atzeret tihyeh lachem kol melechet avodah lo ta’asu – The eighth day shall be a restriction for you; you shall not do any laborious work.” The third reference is by way of a hint in Parashat Re’eh (Deuteronomy 16:15): “Shiv’at yamim tachog la’Shem Elokecha …ve’hayita ach sameach – A seven day period shall you celebrate before the L-rd your G-d …and you will be completely joyous.” Rashi cites the gemara (Sukkah 48a) that this is a reference to Shemini Atzeret. This last verse seems to single out Shemini Atzeret as a separate festival in that it clearly states, “seven days shall you celebrate” – meaning that if there is any celebration on the eighth day, it should be deemed a separate festival.

Yet the very following verse (Deuteronomy 16:16) seems to be saying otherwise: “Shalosh pa’amim ba’shanah ye’ra’eh kol zechurecha et penei Hashem Elokecha ba’makom asher yivchar, b’chag hamatzot, u’b’chag ha’shavuot u’bchag ha’sukkot… – Three times a year shall all your males appear before the L-rd, your G-d, in the place that He will choose [Jerusalem]: on the festival of Matzot, the festival of Shavuot and the festival of Sukkot….” Note that there are only three times a year to appear – the three festivals enumerated in this passage. Obviously, then, it would seem that Shemini Atzeret is part and parcel of Sukkot.

Now, regarding the mitzvah of sitting in the sukkah, the Torah clearly tells us in Parashat Emor (Leviticus 23:42): “Basukkot teshvu shiv’at yamim kol ha’ezrach b’yisrael yeshvu ba’sukkot – You shall dwell in sukkot for a seven day period, every native in Israel [to include both a Jew from birth and a convert] shall dwell in sukkot.” The Torah then goes on to give us the basic reason for the commandment to sit – or rather, to dwell – in the sukkah. As stated (Ibid. 23:43), it is “Lema’an yed’u doroteichem ki vasukkot hoshavti et Bnei Yisrael be’hotzi’i otam me’eretz Mitzrayim, Ani Hashem Elokeichem – So that your [future] generations will know that I made the Children of Israel dwell in booths when I took them out of the land of Egypt, I am the L-rd, your G-d.”

We thus see that the command to dwell in the sukkah excludes this last day. Yet we, in the Diaspora, should view Sukkot and this last day no different from Pesach and its last day, where it is clear that due to safek yom [the doubtful day] we abstain from all melachah [prohibited labor] and abstain from eating chametz as well [even though it is doubtful whether this day is even Yom Tov at all].

The answer lies in the one difference: Pesach and its last day, Shemini safek shevii (the eighth day which may be the seventh day), both have the same name – Chag HaMatzot, the Biblical name for Pesach. But Sukkot and its last day, Shemini Atzeret, each have a different name.

This is basically the discussion of the gemara (Sukkah 46b-47a): though the eighth day is doubtful and may be the seventh day, since it flies in the face of all the verses that relate to this last of the three festivals – Sukkot / Shemini Atzeret – our sages instituted that we indeed dwell in the sukkah, however we do not recite its blessing. The minhag is to eat in the sukkah on Shemini Atzeret, but that the last meal in the sukkah is the seudat shacharit [i.e.,the daytime meal] and then to depart the sukkah. Thereafter, any food one wishes to eat for the remainder of the day, one eats in the house. Others have a minhag not to eat in the sukkah at night – the eve of Shemini Atzeret – but make Kiddush in the sukkah in the morning, and then continue their meal inside the house. However, on the following day, Simchat Torah, which shares the same “name” Shemini Atzeret, as the previous day, we surely do not eat in the sukkah since it is teshi’i safek shemini – the ninth [day] which may be the eighth [day].

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

The Secret of Turning Misery into Happiness

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Dear Dr. Respler:

By writing this letter I hope that my pain and frustration will cease.

While growing up, my mother had a tough and determined nature and always had the whip in hand when running the family. Contrary to her, my father was always kind, giving and forgiving.

My family was moderately Orthodox, but gradually my mother became more haredi. She changed her style of dress in conformity with the haredi dress code. She then forced all of us to become haredi.

I was about the age of 12, not too old (but still not too young) to willingly change. In all due respect to my mother, she impatiently forced and tortured me to change. She labeled me as the modern, “goyish” one. Her strictness, hitting and threats made me cry. I once felt like I was about to have a nervous breakdown but, baruch Hashem, it did not happen. All this led me to begin despising what I considered to be a lifestyle of frum meshugasim.

At 14 I was sent to a well-known yeshiva in Israel where I got some relief – but only a little. Whenever I called or came home, I was heavily criticized. My mother constantly saw me as a non-Jew.

In my mind, I hoped that life would sparkle when I got married. At least then I’d live my own life. When shadchanim started calling, I made it clear to my mom that with my greatest appreciation to her, I had a duty to outline my own independent future that was not parallel to hers. I begged her to please bring forth love and peace to my life and to find someone with whom I had more in common. I wanted a wife that would not dress or act as frum as my mother. As you can expect, she immediately refused, telling me that this was not an option. She decided that my wife would be just like her – including n the way she dressed.

Feeling like a prisoner, I went along with a shidduch she wanted for me. Baruch Hashem, the girl was sweet and beloved. But I held out hope that after the wedding I’d be able to ask my wife to gradually change. I knew this could cause problems, but I was hopeful.

Sadly, after 12 years of marriage and six children, my situation is the same; my wife is unwilling to change. As a matter of fact, contrary to what I had hoped for, the opposite is happening: my wife wants me to change. She says that I am too modern and should become more frum.

On the positive side we both understand each other’s position. I appreciate her for her good middos, and she appreciates me for studying Torah. But arguments about our differences abound, and our lives are so miserable – filled with darkness and seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel.

Dr. Respler, please help me. Thank you.

Dr. Yael and Dr. Orit reply:

Dear Anonymous:

Despite our best intentions to help bring an end to your pain, it is unrealistic for you to expect us to do so based on an anonymous letter. Nonetheless we will do our best to deal with the issues you raised in a general manner, while at the same time suggest that you seek professional help and speak to a rav that you trust.

The fact that your wife has good middos is probably more important than you realize. You appear to have many correct values and it seems that much of what you are upset about revolves around other issues that have little to do with your inner feelings. Are these issues really important to you? Do you think that you can reach some sort of compromise with your wife, where you meet somewhere in the middle regarding the other issues?

You write about being miserable in your marriage, but that does not come from disagreements about “some issues.” When did the way people dress and act become everything we stand for? Do you and your wife share any of the same views? Of course you will have challenges if you want to raise your children differently from each other and if you have different views on Yiddishkeit, but if you want to remain frum (which seems apparent from your letter) and both of you are willing to compromise there is no reason to allow these issues to make your lives miserable.

Dr. Yael Respler

My Machberes

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Chief Rabbi Of Israel At
14th Igud Siyum HaShas

Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger

On Wednesday, September 5, more than 150 congregational rabbis, roshei yeshiva, chassidishe rebbes and leaders of Jewish religious and social organizations gathered to celebrate and glorify the study of Torah at the 5772 Siyum HaShas Convocation of the Rabbinical Alliance of America-Igud Horabbonim. The event was graced with the presence of Israeli Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger, who was the keynote speaker.

Rabbi Avraham Amar

The Siyum HaShas took place at the Sephardic Home on Cropsey Avenue in Brooklyn, the unique glatt kosher facility that serves the Jewish community in superlative fashion with Rabbi Avraham Amar as mara d’asra and Michael New as executive director.

Rabbi Saul Eisner, zt”l

The first session of the convocation opened in the synagogue sanctuary with Chomer L’Drush Homiletics – homiletics for the Yamim Noraim, dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Saul Eisner, zt”l(1932-2011), Igud executive vice president. The dedication was made possible by the generous contribution of Motty and Shoshy Vegh of Staten Island. Motty is chairman of Yeshiva Reishit Yerushalayim, where Rabbi Jay Marcus is chancellor. The dedication was shared by Rabbi Yaakov Lehrfield, rav of the Young Israel of Staten Island.

Rabbi Yaakov Spivak

Rabbi Yaakov Lehrfield

Rabbi Yaakov Klass, Torah editor of The Jewish Press and rav of Khal Bnei Matisyahu, served as chairman. Speakers included Rabbi Yaakov Lehrfield; Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin, rav of Congregation B’nai Abraham of Brooklyn Heights; Rabbi Eli Greenwald, rav of the Ohel David and Shlomo Congregation Torat Israel; and Rabbi Michoel Chazan, rav of the Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, each of whom delivered an emotional address in preparation for the Yamim Noraim.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Rabbi Yonason Y. Lustig

As Rabbi Abraham B. Hecht, Igud president, was escorted into the shul to hear the speakers. Rabbi Hecht was flanked by his son Rabbi Eli Hecht, rav of the South Bay Congregation in Lomita, California. Moments later, Rabbi Shaul Kassin, chief rabbi of the Syrian community, entered, accompanied by his son Jack Kassin and greatly respected community activist Jack Avital.

Rabbi Abraham B. Hecht

As the first session came to a close, Minchah was announced and led by Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president emeritus of the National Council of Young Israel. Meir Levy, beloved longtime chazzan of the Syrian community, added his melodious voice to chazaras hashatz.

Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht

After Minchah, the Siyum HaShas and dinner banquet began in the large social hall, catered by Grunwald Caterers of Pavilion 39. The Siyum HaShas and dinner were dedicated to the memory of Rabbi Meir Shapiro, zt”l (1920-1998), chief rabbi of Buenos Aries and chairman of the Igud Horabbonim, who launched the yearly Siyum HaShas by members of a national rabbinic organization. Regrettably, Rabbi Shapiro did not live to share in the joy of the Igud’s first Siyum HaShas. Rabbi Shapiro passed away on Shiva Assar B’Tammuz, 1998, the very year of the siyum’sestablishment.

Rabbi Eli Greenwald

Rabbi Herschel Kurzrock

The Siyum HaShas and dinner was made possible by the generous donation of the Shapiro family, led by Rebbetzin Pearl Shapiro and her son, R’ Pinchas Shapiro.

As the assembled washed for bread and sat in their seats, joyous song erupted as Chief Rabbi Metzger entered. The singing continued until the chief rabbi was seated on the dais.

Rabbi Yehoshua Hecht, rav of Beth Israel Synagogue, Norwalk-Westport, Connecticut, and son of the Igud president, served as dinner chairman. He called on Rabbi Yaakov Spivak to make a special presentation. Rabbi Spivak is rav and rosh kollel of Ashyel Avraham in Monsey, New York. On June 24, Kollel Ashyel Avraham held its sixth ordination celebration. Chief Rabbi Metzger was scheduled to participate but was called abroad for emergency rabbinic intervention. At the Siyum HaShas Rabbi Spivak presented the chief rabbi with a plaque in recognition of his blessings conveyed to the kollel’s new musmachim. In addition, Rabbi Avraham Hecht was given a presentation in honor of his decades of rabbinic dedication and heroic leadership. Chief Rabbi Kassin then gave his blessings to all who participated in the Siyum HaShas.

Rabbi Michoel Chazan

Rabbi Pinchas Shapiro

Rabbi Herschel Kurzrock, Igud rosh beis din, was called to be mesayem haShas, formally closing the study cycle. Rabbi Kurzrock made some introductory remarks, saying that he wished to defer the honor to the chief rabbi. In turn, the chief rabbi warmly thanked Rabbi Kurzrock and praised Rabbi Kurzrock’s leadership of the Igud’s universally respected beis din.

Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum

Degrees Of Rejection

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael:

I am a 20 years old and dating. While I know that people consider me to be an attractive young woman, I have been getting rejected – quite a lot. This might be happening because I am painfully shy. For the most part I clam up while on a date; I become very anxious and don’t know what to say.

Then there are the times when I do speak and end up saying something that makes me look stupid – all that does it make me feel insecure. On the other hand, I am comfortable speaking with my friends who are girls.

I’m confident that I will make someone a good wife, as I am a loving person and enjoy cooking, baking and cleaning – and I adore children. I am just not good at the dating game. What can I do about my dating problem?


Dear B.T.:

It is unfortunate that in our dating “system,” people sometimes have a hard time getting married since they find it difficult to relate to someone from the opposite gender. At times we wonder to what extent being a “good date” relates to being a “good marriage partner.” An individual can have a hard time with dating, but still be an excellent marriage partner.

Clearly, chassidim have found a way to resolve some of the dating issues and are generally more successful in marrying off their children. This is because they do a lot more in-depth research about the prospective mate and his or her family. They certainly do not face the crises with older singles that those in the more litvish/yeshivish groups face. With that in mind, here are some social skills tips that will hopefully help you during your dating experience:

1) Don’t put yourself down! Self-deprecating remarks can be your own worst advertisement.

2) Accept compliments graciously. A simple thank you with a smile will suffice.

3) Compliment your date subtly and specifically. Comments like “that idea sounds very interesting,” or picking up on a comment by your date and building on it will make him feel that you were truly listening and that his idea helped you come up with another point.

4) Prepare interesting material for your dates – stories, jokes and interesting accounts of your life experiences that you can access when you feel as if you are freezing up. Spend some time practicing doing this; you will have an easier time relaying them when you are anxious. In all likelihood, you will feel calmer because you will not feel pressured to immediately come up with something.

5) Make your date feel like you care about his life by asking questions – then listen enthusiastically to his answers, commenting on them with interest. These questions can also be prepared and practiced in advance so as to enable you to feel calmer and more ready. Also, try some deep breathing techniques before a date in order to calm yourself.

If after implementing some of these ideas you still find it difficult to connect with your dates due to your shyness, you should seek professional help. Social-skills training, part of cognitive-behavioral therapy, can be most effective in ameliorating your difficulty. I hope these ideas are helpful. Hatzlachah!

Dear Dr. Respler:

My wife and I disagree on a crucial point regarding the issue of childrearing. I believe in discipline but not in hitting. My wife, however, becomes angry and hits our children. Thankfully she hits them on the behind and not too hard, but I believe she does this too often. The children listen to me more than to her, and I even overheard my eight-year-old son say, “I don’t care if Mommy hits me; it doesn’t hurt anyway.”

My wife is also inconsistent. After she hits the children, she kisses them and buys them gifts. I feel that I am strict but loving and fair, and believe that the children respect me more than they respect my wife. My wife agrees with my assessment, but she says it is because I spend less time with them. I believe that it is her inconsistent methods and the fact that she hits them that leads them to disrespect her. I know that she loves our children, but I am upset with her relationship with them. What do you think?

Dr. Yael Respler

L’Zera Yaakov Tizkor

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

(Editor’s note: In contemplation of the yamim nora’im, we would do well to focus on proper liturgical expression in our tefillot. The topic that my good friend, Rabbi Nosson Dovid Rabinowich, rav of Beis Hamedrash Ahavas Torah, Flatbush, Brooklyn, discusses here is one that has long intrigued me as well as many others. Therefore, with his kind permission, we present this dvar Torah that he wrote for the shloshim of his dear friend, Menachem (Michael) Gruda from Ramot, l’iluy nishmato. Michael was torn away from us so suddenly while he was in the prime of his wonderful life. Yehi zichro baruch.)

A passage at the end of the Zichronot blessing in the Mussaf Amidah of Rosh Hashanah appears to have two slightly different versions. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim, 591:7) rules that this is the correct text: “V’akeidas Yitzchak hayom l’zaro tizkor.” It also rules and those who change the words and specify “l’zera Yaakov tizkor” are mistaken and guilty of changing the text instituted by Chazal. The source for this ruling is a responsum (chapter 38) by the Spanish and then Algerian Rivash (14th century).

There are many difficulties with this ruling. The main one is that the Gemara itself asks on the verse (Genesis 21:12), “Ki b’Yitzchak yekarei lecha zera”: Perhaps, the reference is to Esav, not Yaakov? The Gemara asks this in two places – Nedarim 31a and Sanhedrin 59b. Why then is it considered so wrong to detail explicitly in the Mussaf Amidah that we are referring to Yaakov and not to Esav?

The Rambam in Hilchot Nedarim (9:21), probably to resolve this difficulty, quotes the Gemara’s drashah but makes his own addition: “If one vows to derive no benefit from the seed of Abraham, he is allowed to derive benefit from the sons of Yishmael and the sons of Esav, but he is forbidden to derive benefit from Bnei Yisrael as the pasuk states: ‘Ki b’Yitzchak yekarei lecha zera.’ And we find further (Genesis 28:4) that Yitzchak says to Yaakov, ‘Veyiten lecha et birkat Avraham.’ ”

It is also noteworthy for serious students of the Rambam that in Hilchot Melachim (10:7), the Rambam essentially cites the Gemara’s drashah, repeats his addition from Hilchot Nedarim, and writes: “Circumcision was commanded only to Avraham and his offspring as the pasuk (Genesis 17:9) states: ‘…ata v’zaracha acharecha l’dorotam.’ This excludes the offspring of Yishmael because the pasuk states ‘Ki b’Yitzchak yekarei lecha zera.’ Further, Esav is excluded because Yitzchak said to Yaakov ‘V’yiten lecha et birkat Avraham.’ From here we see that Yaakov (and his progeny) alone is considered to be the offspring of Avraham, the one who is firm in the practice of Avraham’s beliefs and proper path.”

Nevertheless, Rivash’s application of the Talmudic principle “that whoever deviates from the proper formulation is guilty of altering our sages text” is a very strong statement. One wonders if according to the Rivash we have fulfilled our obligation if we do mention Yaakov in the tefillah in Zichronot.

Even if we fully accept the proposition that “b’Yitzchak” refers to Yaakov, perhaps “zera Yitzchak” can still refer to Esav. Indeed, this question is posed by the Magen Avraham (Orach Chayim, loc. cit., sk7). And in fact, if one makes a vow not to derive any pleasure from “zera Yitzchak,” he is probably forbidden to derive any pleasure from Esav and his descendants! (Cf. the crucial emendation of the Yad Efraim (loc. cit.) on this suggestion of the Magen Avraham.) So, the question remains: Why does the Rivash so strongly frown upon adding the word “Yaakov” after saying “l’zaro”?

Although the answer to this question is not simple, this much is obvious: The Rivash, based upon the various drashot of Chazal, believed it was totally superfluous to mention the very obvious – that Yaakov alone is Yitzchak’s progeny. In fact, Rivash claims that it would be disrespectful to Yitzchak to mention Yaakov since it would imply that the merit of Yitzchak’s akeidah sacrifice is insufficient for us.

He also adds another fascinating argument: Although, he admits, it would be much simpler to add the word “Yaakov,” and not have to resort to all the various drashot to prove that Yaakov is the only progeny of both Avraham and Yitzchak, the “difficult” approach preferable. Why? Because it is obvious from the omission of Yaakov’s name that the one reciting the blessing of Zichronot is a talmid chacham: As the Gemara (Berachot 50a) states: From the blessings that a person recites one can discern whether a he is or is not a talmid chacham (see also supra 38a). And creating the impression of being a talmid chacham is a “good thing.”

Rabbi Nosson Dovid Rabinowich

Greatness Is Humility

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

There is a fascinating detail in the passage about the king in this week’s parshah. The text says that, “When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he must write for himself a copy of this Torah on a scroll before the levitical priests” (Deuteronomy 17:18). He must “read it all the days of his life” so that he will be God-fearing and never break Torah law. But there is also another reason: so that he will “not begin to feel superior to his brethren” (Kaplan translation), “so that his heart be not haughty over his brothers” (Robert Alter). The king had to have humility. The highest in the land should not feel that he is the highest in the land.

This is hugely significant in terms of the Jewish understanding of political leadership. There are other commands directed to the king. He must not accumulate horses so as not to establish trading links with Egypt. He should not have too many wives for “they will lead his heart astray.” He should not accumulate wealth. These were all standing temptations to a king. As we know and as the sages pointed out, it was these three prohibitions that Solomon, wisest of men, broke, marking the beginning of the long slow slide into corruption that marked much of the history of the monarchy in ancient Israel. It led, after his death, to the division of the kingdom.

But these were symptoms, not the cause. The cause was the feeling on the part of the king that, since he is above the people, he is above the law. As the rabbis said (Sanhedrin 21b), Solomon justified his breach of these prohibitions by saying that the only reason that a king may not accumulate wives is that they will lead his heart astray, so I will marry many wives and not let my heart be led astray. And since the only reason not to have many horses is not to establish links with Egypt, I will have many horses but not do business with Egypt. In both cases he fell into the trap that the Torah had warned about. Solomon’s wives did lead his heart astray (1 Kings 11:3), and his horses were imported from Egypt (1 Kings 10:28-29). The arrogance of power is its downfall. Hubris leads to nemesis.

Hence the Torah’s insistence on humility, not as a mere nicety, a good thing to have, but as essential to the role. The king was to be treated with the highest honor. In Jewish law, only a king may not renounce the honor due to his role. A parent may do so, so may a rav, so may even a nasi, but not a king (Kiddushin 32a-b). Yet there is to be a complete contrast between the external trappings of the king and his inward emotions.

Maimonides is eloquent on the subject: “Just as the Torah grants him [the king] great honor and obliges everyone to revere him, so it commands him to be lowly and empty at heart, for as it says: ‘My heart is empty within me’ [Psalms 109:22]. Nor should he treat Israel with overbearing haughtiness, for it says, ‘so that his heart be not haughty over his brothers’ [Deuteronomy 17:20].

“He should be gracious and merciful to the small and the great, involving himself in their good and welfare. He should protect the honor of even the humblest of men. When he speaks to the people as a community, he should speak gently, for as it says, ‘Listen my brothers and my people….’ [1 Chronicles 28:2], and similarly, ‘If today you will be a servant to these people…’ [1 Kings 12:7].

“He should always conduct himself with great humility. There was none greater than Moses, our teacher. Yet he said: ‘What are we? Your complaints are not against us’ [Exodus 16:8]. He should bear the nation’s difficulties, burdens, complaints and anger as a nurse carries an infant” (Maimonides, Laws of Kings 2:6).

The model is Moses, described in the Torah as “very humble, more so than any person on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12: 3). “Humble” here does not mean diffident, meek, self-abasing, timid, bashful, demure, or lacking in self-confidence. Moses was none of these. It means honoring others and regarding them as important, no less important than you are. It does not mean holding yourself low; it means holding other people high. It means roughly what Ben Zoma meant when he said (Avot 4:1), “Who is honored? One who honors others.” This led to one of the great rabbinic teachings, contained in the siddur and said on Motzaei Shabbat:

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

Dealing With Your Daughter’s Troubling Relationship

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Dear Dr. Yael:

I am concerned about my daughter. She is dating a boy whom she is crazy about, but I see certain things in him that make me nervous. He tries to control her and wants her to spend all her time with him. If she has plans with friends or family members, he will often become upset; as a result, she cancels her plans so she can be with him.

As I see this intense connection between them, I understand why she likes him; but to me it does not seem like a healthy relationship. I am worried that she is going to take the relationship with him to the next level – namely, get engaged – and I am not sure how to proceed. I do not want to alienate my daughter and am not sure that this boy is abusive, but I know that his being controlling is a red flag.

What can I say to my daughter and how can I get her to listen to me? When I expressed disappointment that she canceled certain plans in order to go out with him, she became very defensive. I know that her life is her own, but this kind of mistake is not one I am willing to let her make.

A Distressed Mother Dear Distressed Mother:

It appears from your letter that there are definitely some signs that this relationship is not healthy. Isolating someone from their friends and family is definitely a red flag and is usually the first step that abusive spouses take to exert their control over their wives or husbands. Once a person is cut off from her or his support system, it is very easy to manipulate the person and make her or him feel badly about herself or himself, while convincing the manipulated individual that it is her or his fault.

People in an emotionally abusive relationship become entrenched in this cycle of abuse and often do not realize what is happening. Generally it is their friends and family who are the ones to pick up on the abuse and help them out of their situations; however, if they are cut off from family and friends, an extremely dangerous situation ensues.

There are organizations that are very helpful in these matters, such as Shalom Task Force and Shalva. Shalva offers some questionnaires on their website (www.shalvaonline.org), which may help you approach your concerns about your daughter.

The first step is to evaluate what is really going on. Some signs of an abusive relationship are:

* Isolation of a partner from friends, family and community.

* Conflicts are resolved by one partner, who dictates the solution in a demeaning manner.

* Disrespect and denigration of a partner’s values and beliefs.

* Use of criticism and humiliation to reinforce the partner’s shame and guilt.

* Lack of communication is prevalent, as the partner does not feel that she or he can raise issues that are bothering her or him.

* The use of threats and coercion to solve problems.

It may be helpful to share this information with your daughter and print out a screening questionnaire from the Shalva website (see above). This must be done very gently and with much sensitivity. Perhaps you can approach your daughter when things are calm and when she is not feeling torn between her feelings for her boyfriend and those toward her family and friends. Express how much you love her and that you want the best for her. Tell her that you understand why she likes him and you can see some very nice qualities in him. Then explain to her that you see some things that are making you nervous.

Give her, and ask her to read, copies of the questionnaire and the signs of an abusive relationship. Urge her to consider whether she believes that her relationship with her boyfriend is healthy. You must ensure that you do not come across too strongly. However, it is important to remember that even if she becomes upset with you, she may be reacting to shame and insecure feelings – and may look at the paperwork you gave her later on. Show her physical affection (i.e., hugs) if she seems receptive and assure her that you will be there for her regardless of her decision. This will show her that you are not trying to take her away from her boyfriend (something that he may be telling her if he is indeed controlling and abusive) but rather that you care about her and want to support her.

Dr. Yael Respler

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/dealing-with-your-daughters-troubling-relationship/2012/08/22/

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