web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘reaction’

Not The Jewish Way

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Those of you who have heard me speak or who read my columns and books know that whenever I opine on a subject I try to base what I say or write on our Torah and the teachings of our sages. There are so many things taking place so rapidly in front of our eyes that before we can absorb one event, another one unfolds. This rapid succession is so overwhelming that it allows us no time to think.

Nevertheless, all global and personal events, major or minor, are orchestrated by Hashem. “All that befalls us in the world, the good as well as the bad, are tests…” (Mesilas Yesharim). Consequently, there is always a Jewish way of viewing things. There is a huge difference between seeing events through secular eyes and through Torah eyes.

Consider, for example, the overwhelming jubilation that reigned throughout the United States when the news of Osama bin Laden’s death was announced. Undoubtedly, he was the incarnation of satanic evil, and every freedom-loving person has cause to be grateful he is no longer alive.

There is, however, a vast difference between being grateful he is no longer among us and actively celebrating his death.

Before we proceed, I wish to make it quite clear that not for a moment do I compare the reaction in our country to the vile, obscene frolicking in Muslim cities and villages when Jews are killed – as we saw in the wake of the recent carnage in Itamar where the savage killing by Muslim terrorists of members of the Fogel family was followed by frenzied dancing and carnivals in Arab areas. Children were given candy. The insane rejoicing knew no bounds.

Such a response – celebrating the barbaric murder of a father, mother, children and an infant, making the killers “holy martyrs” – can only emanate from savages, yet no one raises a voice.

Consider what would have happened if the reverse had occurred. If Israelis had perpetrated such a barbaric act, the entire world would have descended on the Jewish state in fury. The UN would have been called into special session. Sanctions would have been enacted. Every Internet site, every newspaper, would have declared their abhorrence.

But when Muslims perpetrate such satanic acts, when they celebrate Jewish blood being spilled, there is hardly a murmur.

The elation we witness in our United States over the death of bin Laden is a far cry from the savage rejoicing in Arab countries when terrorists slaughter innocent men, women and children. Nevertheless, as tempered as our celebration is, it behooves us to ask, Should this be our reaction? Is it right to rejoice in someone’s murder even if he be evil?

We, the Jewish people, who from the genesis of our history have always been targeted for annihilation, have tragically had much experience in dealing with this question. While we have encountered persecution and pogroms and Inquisitions and Holocausts in every generation, we have also seen our killers crumble before our very eyes, but- and this is a big but – we have never danced or rejoiced in reaction to their deaths. Rather, we humbly thanked G-d for having saved us and asked Him to help us continue our mission of kindling the light of Torah in a dark world. I do not speak theoretically. As a survivor of the Holocaust, I witnessed this with my own eyes.

Just recently we celebrated the festival of Pesach, which marks the birth of our nation, our exodus from Egyptian bondage. At the Seder table, when we recall the ten plagues that destroyed that tyrannical nation, do we dance? Do we clap our hands? Do we exult? None of that. Instead, we take a full cup of wine and with the mention of each plague we spill out a drop, for our cup can never be full when we witness the destruction of others -even if those others were our oppressors and killers.

This teaching is reinforced throughout our holy writ. In Psalm 104, King David, the psalmist, the sweet singer of Israel, proclaimed: “Let sin be erased and the wicked will be no more” – meaning, we beseech the Almighty to obliterate evil deeds, not human beings.

When we wish to utter the most horrific curse at those who are totally evil, we do not ask that they be savagely slaughtered. We do not pray for bloody carnage. Rather, we say, “Y’mach shmo” – May his name be obliterated may his evil mission be wiped out.

Perhaps this can be summed up through a powerful story involving Bruriah, the brilliant rebbetzin of Rabbi Meir. We are told they had a miserable neighbor who gave them no end of trouble and grief. One day Bruriah overheard her husband praying, asking G-d to remove the neighbor from this planet.

Upon hearing her husband’s words, Bruriah said, “Rabbi Meir, instead of praying that our neighbor be removed, why don’t you pray that G-d remove his malicious ways. And if you do that, not only will you have peace from him, but we will gain a good neighbor.”

Just think about it and you will realize with awe that it is only G-d who could have taught us that.

Finally, there is yet another consideration of which we, the Jewish people, are keenly aware: “Vayokom melech chodosh” – and a new king arose over Egypt,” which teaches us that there is always a new, malevolent person to replace the one who is gone, and this new one may be even worse than his predecessor. So while bin Ladin is gone, there will, sadly, be others to take his place. And thus it will be until Mashiach comes.

But we must not despair. We must remind ourselves of that which we proclaim on Seder night: “In every generation they arise to annihilate us, but the Holy One, blessed be He, is always there to save us.”

And so it shall be until Messiah comes speedily in our own day.

(To be continued)

The Adventure of a Jewish Photographer: Miriam M?rsel Nathan’s Photo-Paintings

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

“Miriam M?rsel Nathan: Memory of a time I did not know…”

Curated by Steven Cushner

Through Dec. 17, 2010

Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery, Washington D.C. JCC

1529 16th Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

http://www.washingtondcjcc.org/center-for-arts/gallery/

 

 

In Italo Calvino’s short story “The Adventure of a Photographer,” part of his collection Difficult Loves (1985), the “non-photographer” and bachelor Antonino Paraggi, finds himself increasingly alienated from his married friends who go out with their families and cameras each Sunday and “come back as happy as hunters with bulging game bags,” their photographic catch of the day.

 

A philosopher by “mental attitude,” Paraggi loves discussing current events with his peers. He has no particular anemic reaction to the here and the now, but he annoys his more sentimental friends by insisting that photographing events-particularly when those photographs are staged-inevitably sacrifices the true present for the possibility of enjoying the photographs in the future.

 

Paraggi notes that photographing children is one of a parents’ first instincts. “Given the speed of growth, it becomes necessary to photograph the child often, because nothing is more fleeting and unmemorable than a six-month-old infant, soon deleted and replaced by one of eight months, and then one of a year; and all the perfection that, to the eyes of parents, a child of three may have reached cannot prevent its being destroyed by that of the four-year-old,” Calvino observes. “The photograph album remains the only place where all these fleeting perfections are saved and juxtaposed, each aspiring to an incomparable absoluteness of its own.”

 

This is precisely what confounds Paraggi, who cannot realize that his bachelorhood places him in far graver danger of being forgotten than his married peers playing the amateur photographer capturing their children.

 

Eventually, Paraggi takes the photographic plunge, but he decides his craft must represent a throwback. He scavenges for an old camera (the kind with a bulb to squeeze) and accessories in flea markets and other “cemeteries of objects no longer serviceable” and manages to create an anachronistic studio, where he photographs a particular model, who becomes his wife. In the end, Paraggi can find just one photographic project that is not contrived and staged-photographing a pile of torn-up staged photographs, a deconstructionist composition if there ever was one.

 

 

Portrait of Miriam M?rsel Nathan by David Nathan

 

Since photography was popularized in the early 19th century, it has had many opponents who, like Paraggi, have viewed it as a destructive medium. Several chassidic masters were rumored to have shunned having their pictures taken for fear of violating the Second Commandment, and there are Muslims today who make faces when posing for their driver’s licenses for similar reasons. But Jewish artist Miriam M?rsel Nathan, whose work is on exhibit at the Ann Loeb Bronfman Gallery in Washington, starts from the opposite premise.

 

Where Calvino was troubled by photography’s artificial response to life and prescribed destructive photography to overcome that design problem, M?rsel Nathan’s project starts with a single posed photograph of her aunt Greta and tries to create Greta’s world.

 

 

Miriam M?rsel Nathan. “Greta in green.” 30″ x 22″ monotype. 2008

 

 

M?rsel Nathan, a former director of the Washington Jewish Film Festival, created all the works in the Bronfman Gallery exhibition based on a series of pre-World War II family photographs she found in a small box.  She has been fascinated by these pictures her entire life. “I have become an interpreter of these images, piecing together a story of people who look like me and my children and my grandchildren,” she says.

 

Making monotype prints of a photograph of her aunt Greta, M?rsel Nathan realized she had no idea what color dress her aunt was wearing in the black-and-white picture. “In fact, I didn’t know what colors she liked-a detail that points to a much larger issue, which is that I don’t know much about my aunt at all,” she says.

 

In a series of screen prints of the photograph-each of which includes a different colored dress-M?rsel Nathan imagines the content of the image in a manner reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s series on Marilyn Monroe, self-portraits and Campbell’s soup cans.

 

“The series of screen prints is of the same dress but in many different colors, as if to say to my aunt Greta-which of these do you like?” she says.

 

 

Miriam M?rsel Nathan. “Which One?” 15″ x 11

Confederacy Of Dunces

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
The indispensable Media Research Center never lacks for material when compiling its “Notable Quotable” listings of stupidity, bias and malfeasance on the part of journalists and other media types.

Here are some recent howlers:

 
Obama Is President, But Blame Bush

Arianna Huffington: “George, the truth is that right now we have precisely the regulatory system that the Bush-Cheney administration wanted. Full of loopholes, full of cronies and lobbyists filling the very agencies they’re supposed to be overseeing the industry.”

George Will: “So, it’s Bush’s fault? Just clear this up.”

Huffington: “It is absolutely a thousand percent Bush-Cheney’s fault.”

- Talking about the oil spill on ABC’s “This Week,” June 6.

 

“This is more Bush’s second Katrina than Obama’s first . Because it was the Bush regulations, it was Dick Cheney’s deregulation, and lording over the Minerals Management [Service].”

 - Time’s Joe Klein on “The Chris Matthews Show,” May 30.

 

“The oil spill is the perfect metaphor for Obama’s presidency so far. It’s been cleaning up a lot of the messes left to him by his predecessors, whether it was bank bailouts, auto bailouts, Afghanistan – which turned out to be a much bigger mess than anybody anticipated – preventing a depression that, you know, began to happen on George Bush’s watch. So this is more of the same.”

- Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown,” June 10.

 

Cutting Helen A Little Slack

“[Helen Thomas] is a bona fide icon and she is also nearly 90-years-old…. Some have argued that Thomas deserves a break, given her status as a journalistic giant and a trailblazer for women, and given her age. After all, many of us have elderly relatives who have lost their verbal filter.”

- ABC’s Dan Harris on “World News,” June 7.

 

“I have known her for a long time, and she held many presidents’ feet to the fire. At a time when nobody in the Bush press room would say ‘boo’ about George W. Bush after 9/11, she was already asking the tough questions. And I just, you know, I like to see people be judged in the largest context of their career, not in their senility.”

 - Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter talking about Helen Thomas on CNN Headline News’s “Joy Behar Show,” June 7.

 

One Last Rant Against Israel

Hearst White House columnist Helen Thomas: “Our initial reaction to this flotilla massacre, deliberate massacre, an international crime, was pitiful. What do you mean you ‘regret,’ when something should be so strongly condemned? And if any other nation in the world had done it, we would have been up in arms. What is the sacrosanct, iron-clad relationship where a country that deliberately kills people and boycotts – and we aid and abet the boycott?”
Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: “Look, I think the initial reaction regretted the loss of life as we tried and still continue to try to gather the relevant-”

Thomas: “Regret won’t bring them back!”

- June 1 White House briefing.

 

Tea Partiers Are Terrorists
Author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, talking about radical Muslims: “Somehow, the idea got into their minds that to kill other people is a great thing to do and that they would be rewarded in the hereafter.”
            Host Tavis Smiley: “But Christians do that every single day in this country.”
Ali: “Do they blow people up every day?”

Smiley: “Yes. Oh, Christians, every day, people walk into post offices, they walk into schools, that’s what Columbine is – I could do this all day long…. There are folk in the Tea Party, for example, every day who are being recently arrested for making threats against elected officials, for calling people ‘nigger’ as they walk into Capitol Hill, for spitting on people. That’s within the political – that’s within the body politic of this country.”

- PBS’s Tavis Smiley, May 25.

 

Reagan An Actor – Obama Real

“Can you understand why the president, though, is frustrated when people say, ‘Be madder’? If I could channel Obama for one moment, I think he would say that he’s surprised that this is even an issue…. You know, ‘You want me to act madder?’ You know, ‘I’m not acting. I’m actually the president, you retards’ – ooh I’m sorry – ‘you people who are not that bright in America. You have been used to people like Bush and Reagan who acts like the president. I’m not acting. I’m actually the president.’ “

- Bill Maher talking about the oil spill with Democratic operative Paul Begala on HBO’s “Real Time,” June 4.

 

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 3/05/10

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

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, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215. 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.

* * * * *

Fast and furious reaction to “Unfaithfully yours ” (Chronicles 2-19-10)

Dear Rachel,

I was floored by the sheer chutzpah of Unfaithfully yours.

Mister, H.W. Longfellow had some choice words for you: “Though the mills of G-d grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.”

You act the wise guy now, but your day of reckoning will come. None can escape it. All of your swagger and bravado will not save you then.

Aizehu chacham, haroeh es hanolad – Who is wise? He who can foresee the future

Don’t have to be a Navi

Dear Educated, (aka Unfaithful)

Congratulations! You have officially graduated and you have received your “B.S.” degree. I am “beyond baffled” that someone with your intelligence actually can write that you are happily married yet cheat!!

I wonder if your spouse feels the same way – or do you have a mutual understanding that you are happy with each other as long as you turn a blind eye to your respective separate lives? Eventually there are going to be slip-ups and only then will you first know what the word “branded” means.

If you care at all about your kids you would get your raging hormones under control and seek professional help and maybe go to an S.A. meeting. There is no excuse or room for blame for cheating. Marriage is sacred, Jewish or not!

You are so in denial that it is frightening! Remember that the one you are cheating with is going to cheat on you too, or don’t you care? Do all your like-minded café friends have a schedule of who gets to be with whom at designated times?

By the way, the piece of paper that legalizes your marriage does not identify you as “marriageable material” so that should be completely irrelevant to you when choosing your next fling.

The community and “Rachel” are not naïve; that Jewish people in our community can succumb to their impulses does not escape us. Your reasoning, though, does.

Just for the record, I personally do not agree with the Chassidish way (of one sit-in and then engagement). But, though I dated my “Chossen” for a while and thought I knew him so well, guess what? You don’t really know someone until you live with him or her – a concept that is an entirely different discussion.

What planet are you living on?

Dear Rachel,

I can’t believe what I’ve just read. “Unfaithfully yours” comes across like someone void of any conscience or feeling. Heaven help the people he comes in contact with. He sounds like a real menace to society and in particular to the lonely and vulnerable people whom he manages to charm and mislead.

As I write this, your answer has yet to be printed. I sincerely hope that you will remove your kid gloves and be forceful in your condemnation. This man deserves nothing less.

Many years ago my son married a girl who we felt was not for him. All of our other children followed family tradition in meeting with their zivugim (the Chassidish way – not exactly as described by Unfaithful)), but this one son had somewhat of a rebellious streak; let’s just say he was not serious about his religion or his learning and seemed interested only in “having a good time.” Someone somewhere introduced this girl to him and he informed us that he had “fallen in love.”

My husband and I tried to reason with him but in the end we had to go along with his choice. It was either that or placing distance between us, something we would never have considered risking. Sometimes parents must allow their children to grow up at their pace, even if it might mean watching them suffer from their mistakes somewhere down the line.

To condense a long story, the marriage was rocky almost from the start. She was not a bad person but her background differed drastically from his. Whereas our son was raised in a heimishe, Chassidic environment, she came from a moderately observant one. Their differences, not insignificant ones, gradually wore down their “love” for one another.

As they grew apart, the constant friction between them created feelings of animosity that didn’t do their children much good either. As a mother and shvigger, it was certainly not in my place to interfere. The world says that no girl is ever good enough for the boy’s mother, but I must say that I truly wished for her to be. It is heartbreaking to see your children hurting and unhappy.

Over the years my son matured, became more serious and “outgrew” his wife, by which I mean to say that while they may have been on the same level when they first met, my son bypassed her in growth somewhere along the way.

After years of enduring a miserable marriage, they divorced. I say all this to make the point that “Unfaithful” is either very ill-informed or is playing dumb. In his letter he asks, “Why be loyal to your husband if you know another man just as well or even better than your husband?” Can he really believe that you can get to know someone’s true colors by sneaking dates on the sly? Everyone knows that the only way to get to know someone is by living with him/her. My son “dated” his future wife for several months before getting engaged, all the while mocking “our way.” Today he freely admits that had he gone the traditional route, he’d have had a much better chance at happiness and a long-lasting relationship.

Unfaithful though seems to be suffering from more than simple immaturity. If he meant everything he said in his shocking letter and did not intend it as a Purim shpiel (if he did, it was in very poor taste), then he is an oddity – or better yet a freak. Maybe the best thing is to ignore him and he’ll go away. We don’t need his kind among us.

Living in Reality

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 1/15/10

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Dear Rachel,

I think you missed something important in your response to In need of some TLC (Chronicles 12-18-09). By waiting until the end of the day on her birthday to ask her husband if he knows the significance of the day, she is setting him up for a “gotcha” situation. It is not abnormal, nor is it an indication of a lack of caring, for busy people with many conflicting priorities to lose track of or to forget significant dates, even with the best of intentions.

As a mother, I certainly care about my [married] children, and I’ll remember a week or two in advance that a birthday is coming up. However, when the day actually arrives, I usually have so much else going on that the birthday temporarily drops off my radar screen and I end up calling my son/daughter a day or two later excusing myself for my lateness.

Why shouldn’t In Need’s husband react negatively when she expresses her contempt for him in such an open manner? No one likes to be put down.

She would be a lot wiser to start dropping comments a week or two before the event, to the effect that her birthday or their anniversary is going to be “next whatever day”. This will give him a heads-up so that he can be adequately prepared and ultimately feel good about himself, and she can then be pleased by his efforts and the fact that he remembered. She should further express her appreciation to him. That is what one would call a win-win situation. Both end up feeling good about the outcome and about themselves, instead of each of them feeling unappreciated.

People have a tendency to live up to expectations. If the message her husband receives constantly is her contempt for him and her lack of confidence in his ability to please her, he will fulfill that expectation. On the other hand, if she can convey a positive message, that she believes in him and knows that he wants to take good care of her, then he will want to live up to that expectation and belief.

She would be wise to give him some TLC and she may be surprised to find that she will receive it from him in return.

A Wise Granny

Dear Rachel,

I don’t have the problem In need of some TLC has. (The writer complained about her husband’s lack of attentiveness in remembering special days.)

In fact, I recently had a birthday and my husband secretly planned to surprise me with a piece of jewelry. He enlisted our teenage daughter to pick out a necklace and they went to much trouble and expense to acquire it.

Rachel, this may sound petty and mean-spirited of me, but I hated the necklace. And I let him know it! It was totally not my taste and I was peeved that he went to such lengths to get me something I wouldn’t be caught dead in. Besides, I neither wanted nor needed one to start with.

Suffice it to say that he was not exactly thrilled by my reaction. Who in his place would have been? But what was I supposed to do under the circumstance – fake it and tell him how beautiful it was and wear it? Or gush and then stuff it in the back of some drawer and never wear it?

I think he should have asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I would have told him that I didn’t need a necklace at all and would have preferred an iTouch iPod instead.

I wonder how other women in my shoes would have reacted?

Men, use your brain!

Dear Brain,

Oy! I have a feeling that Wise Granny (above) would have liked to give you an earful right about now, if only she could! Talk about expressing contempt for him “in such an open manner” and putting someone down.

Your mention of a teenaged daughter makes this whole thing even more incredulous: You’ve been married for a number of years and yet you haven’t been able to get your message across so that it wouldn’t come to this? And your daughter, a teenager yet, is so utterly clueless about her mother? Hard to believe!

Hate is a strong word. You could have exercised some restraint by expressing your appreciation at his thoughtfulness and then eased the conversation gently to “but you really shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble and expense!”

Before he would have had the chance to delve into the implication of your reaction, you could have cozied up to him and sweetly tried, “I really have my heart set on blah blah blah and don’t want to overburden our expense account. Would you mind terribly if I returned the necklace for now and took a rain check on a jewelry item?”

Not that you wouldn’t have disappointed him regardless, but at least the slap would not have been as stinging. Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you go about conveying your thoughts.

I can’t help wondering which aspect drove you to verbalize your disappointment so outspokenly: Was it the fact that the necklace was not to your liking, or was it your penchant for the latest in the electronic gadget craze?

When have we become so spoiled as to place a higher value on non-essential materialism than on the sensitivities of others, let alone our loved ones? Aren’t we losing track of our priorities?

How indeed would our other readers have reacted? I’m almost afraid to find out.

Punish Us All

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

       Every time a Muslim terrorist commits an atrocity, the insane reaction of our liberal societies is to punish everyone collectively. Several years ago, a terrorist tried to detonate an explosive hidden in his shoe. As a result, every airline passenger is now required to remove his shoes and pass them through an x-ray device. It is common in airports to see long lines of passengers walking barefoot or in their stocking feet, queued up and waiting to have their shoes checked. Instead of forcing all Muslims to fly barefoot, every single passenger is inconvenienced to avoid racial profiling. 

 

      Now that a Muslim terrorist has hidden explosives under his trouser legs, we will most probably witness a demand in the near future that men remove their pants before being allowed to embark on an airline flight. The Muslim terrorist also went to the bathroom for an hour before the flight landed. Will we now all be restricted from going to the bathroom one hour before the end of a flight? We are lucky that the Muslim terrorist did not go to the bathroom three hours before the end of the flight!  

 

     The terrorist carried a pillow as he left the bathroom. As a result, all pillows and blankets will now be removed an hour prior to the end of a flight.  

 

     At a recent family gathering, my three sons, my wife and I met for our monthly family cream cheese and lox fest. We began to explore alternative solutions to this need to punish all airline passengers for the crimes of the Muslim terrorists. Hopefully, the airlines will not take our suggestions too seriously, but if they do, please remember that you saw them first here in The Jewish Press.

 

   The first rule, of course, will be that men (maybe also women) will no longer be allowed to wear long pants on flights. Kilts will become fashionable. Shorts in every style and color will become required attire for the international jet set, especially on flights from Florida and California. I wonder if trousers will also be forbidden on Air Force One and private flights.  

 

     Transparent slacks for men and women may become the next big seller and may be a good investment for someone with money to burn. The limits of the transparency will  have to be determined by airline officials in consultation with TV comedians.

 

     A steward or stewardess will be stationed in each public restroom and closed-circuit television will be set up in each restroom to be monitored by the pilots and airplane crew.  

To avoid the possibility of the terrorist blowing up the plane over densely populated areas, all flights between New York and California will be routed south over the ocean to Panama, over the Panama Canal, and north to California.

 

     No flights will be allowed between American cities and large population areas. Buses and trains will be allowed, until a Muslim terrorist threatens to blow up a bus or train.  

 

Special handholds will be glued above every seat in the aircraft and passengers will have to sit during the hour before landing with their hands above their heads. 

 

      The most effective solution and the most peaceful is to fill a plane with sleeping gas instead of oxygen, and to require all passengers to be in a deep sleep until the flight is over.

 

         I am sure that many of you can come up with your own innovative solution to punish the entire traveling public instead of, G-d forbid, profiling terrorists, as the Israelis do. Everyone knows that a little old lady in a wheelchair can be dangerous, especially if she is the tenth check-in passenger.

 

      Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com

Im Yirtzeh Hashem By You…

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Dear Young and Not Pressured:

I am responding to your letter from two weeks ago. I take issue with both your general message and with many of its specifics.

 

The general message you sent is to put your energy and focus into whatever intrigues you, i.e. your career, socialization, etc. And then when your time arrives, your bashert will fall from the Heavens and land at your doorstep. As someone who has successfully found her bashert, is very involved in shidduchim, and considerably older than you, I feel qualified to vehemently object to the aforementioned notion that many young people share. I will explain with a mashal (an example) of sorts.

 

When my favorite store advertises a big sale starting next Monday at 10 a.m., I am standing outside the store at 9:45 to make sure I’m one of the first shoppers. While many people wear my size, I’m not the only one looking for that size. So I arrive early, find myself a real metziah, and leave the store happy.

 

Conversely, those waking up at noon and rolling into the store at 3 p.m. are certainly exercising their right to shop at a convenient time for themselves. But they shouldn’t complain when there’s nothing left in their size because, as the saying goes, the early bird indeed catches the worm.

 

Now to the specifics you mentioned. I also have a career, including graduating summa cum laude from a prestigious masters program. When I completed my schooling, I was already married with two children. While it’s certainly easier to conclude your schooling without major responsibilities and obligations, it can certainly be done. Nobody expects every young, frum girl to follow the exact same timeline, nor is frum society as simpleminded as you portray.

 

Further, I just don’t believe that “people constantly tell me I am old and should get married soon.” While you may have encountered a few (at most) such blatantly rude people, the use of the word “constantly” seems to be rather extreme. This is particularly true, as the population seems to have more and more older singles – and a 21-year-old would hardly merit that sort of reaction.

 

I also want to address the notion that when you are ready, your bashert will arrive. You may pass up your bashert repeatedly while you study, travel, socialize, or do whatever else intrigues you. Heed my advice and grab life by the horns. Don’t sit around waiting for others to bring you your bashert – and thus your future.

 

Your concluding few sentences are indeed correct, however. Do not feel stressed. You should certainly enjoy your life, as you put in reasonable hishtadlus. And certainly have bitachon that your bashert will come at the right time, even if this has yet to happen. Hatzlachah.

Sincerely,

Not so Young, and Hoping to Light a Fire

Letters and/or questions/comments are appreciated, and can be sent to IYH@jewishpress.com or c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11215, Attn: Im Yirtzeh Hashem.

My Answer (Part 3)

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

       The last few articles have dealt with advice that an experienced caregiver can pass on to someone who is new at it. The articles were prompted by a letter I received from a former caregiver who was trying to help out a friend who recently found herself in a similar caregiving situation.

 

   Some of the issues she raised and which I addressed in the last weeks were:  How best to support her friend, what she can say, the lack of availability of a religious support group, dealing with clinical depression, reluctance to burden children, financial worries and where to get outside supports from agencies, etc.

 

    Today I’d like to address some of her other concerns.  The experienced well spouse was reluctant to make some suggestions to her friend, feeling that though they worked for her they might be inappropriate in the friend’s situation  - or worse, cause further depression. She was also concerned about the abuse, emotional and verbal, that was starting to emerge at the hands of the ill spouse.


 


Making Suggestions


 


        “I am reluctant to send her a book I liked very much (Taking Care of Mom, Taking Care of Me) because although it’s so upbeat, all the relatives were “end-of-life”!    My friend B”H, seems totally at a different point,” was what Mrs. D. wrote in her letter.

 

    It is very difficult to know how someone will react to our suggestions. Everyone brings their own experiences to whatever they engage in. That experience determines whether they will react positively or not about what you are suggesting. There is no way for you to predict their reaction. That is why I feel strongly that we always let adults make their own decisions about everything in their lives and never make decisions for them.

 

    Well spouses are powerless in so many ways because of the illness of their spouses. To make decisions for them about caregiving just takes away what little power they may have left. What you can do is to share your reasons for your recommendations, (whether it is a book, an action plan or even a specific doctor). Tell them why something may have worked for you and share why you are hesitant to recommend it to them. And then step back and let them decide what they will do.


  


Emotional And Verbal Abuse


 


     Unfortunately, it is quite common for well spouses to experience abuse at the hands of the loved ones they are caring for. This should never be allowed or even tolerated and must be nipped in the bud. The first time we experience abuse and just ignore it, we are giving it license to escalate. And it will escalate. Illness does not give anyone the right to be mean or nasty to those around them. Illness is not a license to mistreat another person. If you allow the abuse because “she is sick,” or convince yourself that “he really didn’t mean it,” the abuse will only get worse and become more frequent.

 

      It is OK, under such circumstances, for well spouses to be angry with those they are caring for. It is important that you express that anger at the inappropriate behavior. If you’re visiting your spouse in a facility and she becomes emotionally abusive, that is your cue to leave immediately. Make sure to tell her why you are leaving and that abusive behavior is simply not going to be tolerated.


 


    If you are at home, leave the room or the house if possible. Do whatever you need to (short of being abusive yourself) to make it clear that you will not just stand by and allow yourself to be treated in an abusive manner. 


 


One Last comment


 


     The letter writer said, “Actually what I had tried to tell her was that once you arrive at a certain acceptance of your spouse’s illness, that itself opens possibilities for good things to happen that arepossible.”  How true that comment is and how important hearing it is – for all of us on this journey of chronic illness. Whether you are an ill spouse or her caregiver, acceptance of the situation marks the beginning of getting on with your life and opens the possibility for positive things in the future.

 

    You will not be open to seeking solutions or trying them if you have not accepted “what is.”  Wishing illness away or grieving for the life you lost is a necessary part of the adjustment to a spouse’s illness, but those feelings must eventually be left behind if you want a future. You cannot look at how to make your life better or happier until you have accepted the problems that surround you. Whether it is modifications to your home, to your relationship or to your lifestyle, acceptance is indeed the first step to any positive experiences in the future, whether individually or as a couple.


 


You can reach me at annnovick@hotmail.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/my-answer-part-3/2009/02/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: