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December 26, 2014 / 4 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Shemonei Esrei’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 12/16/10

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Dear Readers,

 

In last week’s column, a mother of a 15-year yeshiva bochur wrote of her exasperation with the tension in their home created by an ongoing battle between the boy and his father – over the son’s unwillingness to wear a hat. Although he wears one for davening in yeshiva (school’s mandate), he refuses to do so at any other time.

 

This mom (who signed herself Thank you for enlightening us) seems to feel that an intelligent argument in favor of wearing a hat may sway their son’s outlook and asks for help on that front.

 

Dear Enlighten,

 

Every normal father aspires to be looked up to by his children, especially his sons, and is proud to have them follow in his ways. In this respect, at least, it is not too difficult to understand why your husband is hurting.

 

To put things in perspective, however, your husband ought to reflect back on his own teenage years, when he too would have felt the need to assert his independence along his way to adulthood.

 

             In your letter you say that you want to “win your son over with logic.” Have you not heard that even the best-intentioned parents come up against a brick wall when trying to reason with their teenager? “Raging hormones” is what we used to blame all of our teens’ ills on. But now we’re being told that recent brain development studies prove that unlike adults who use the part of the brain that governs reason and forethought, teenagers tend to rely more on the region of the brain that processes emotion and memory, and that therein lies their stubbornness.

 

Besides, “doing your own thing” is in and following “like mindless sheep” is old hat (no pun intended) – which is to say that wearing one “just because Daddy says so or does so” is simply not cool. Yeah, teenagers like to believe they are all grown up, when in reality they still have so much to learn and absorb.

 

Putting all of this aside, here are some tidbits of information for your “logic” arsenal:

 

The Mishneh Berura, for one, makes it clear that a man davening Shemonei Esrei should be garbed in a manner that befits the occasion of meeting with an important official. The Shulchan Aruch cites the bigdei kehunah (the Kohen Gadol‘s attire during the avodah in the Bais Hamikdosh) when discussing suitable dress for davening.

 

There are several references in the Gemara that allude to proper attire for praying, such as in Brochos 30:b where it says that one should bow before Hashem dressed as befits one who stands before the King. 

 

             While many orthodox segments of Jews will not allow themselves to succumb to outside trends and influences, members of the modern orthodox may argue that times are not what they used to be and thus justify their no-jacket no-hat attire (when davening) as acceptable.

 

Then there is the rationalization that proper etiquette in the world at large calls for removal of one’s hat in deference to an important figure, such as when standing before a dignitary or monarch. But if that indeed holds true in the gentile world (as we know it does), it should give us all the more reason not to follow such trend in our service to G-d.

 

To readers who go all out when attending their children’s/close relative’s/ wedding/bar-mitzvah, etc., in head to toe spiffy attire (cutting a dashing figure in hat and jacket): Is it not befitting to stand before the King of kings in at least as fine a getup?

 

A fascinating bit of kabbalah that deep-thinkers may appreciate explains why Chassidim and other orthodox sects wear hats over their yarmulkes (a double covering). Each Jewish soul is made up of five levels: the nefesh (soul), ruach (spirit), neshama (soul – Hashem’s breath), chaya (living essence) and yechida (unique essence).

 

The first three, the nefesh, ruach and neshama, are the ascending levels that reside within the physical body, while chaya and yechida – the highest levels (not internalized) – are acknowledged with the jacket and hat respectively. These items of clothing are linked to the makif (encircling light) and thus have the ability to attract the divine light that protects us from the surrounding negative forces.

 

Quite compelling an argument (in favor of wearing a jacket and hat) in and by itself!

 

Nonetheless, your husband would be well-advised to give the “hat” matter a rest and to work instead on building a solid and trusting father/son relationship. To that end, Daddy should be patting his son on the back for his scholarly achievements and giving him the frequent nod of approval for his accomplishments – all the while praying to Hashem for siyata d’Shmaya, to guide you in your parental role and your children in the proper derech.

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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.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 10/28/10

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Dear Rachel,

These days we often hear the lament of the younger generation being obsessed with a sense of entitlement and of children who want, want, and want some more. Well, maybe we ought to take a second look at the adults raising them. Why should children be any different from their parents and want less?

I know a “grown-up” who is never happy with what she has, regardless of how loaded she is (and believe me, she’s got plenty). Just as soon as someone else has “it,” she wants “it” too. Her constant cravings, I might add, make her one unhappy person.

Some people are simply never satisfied and are constantly striving to attain more and more worldly goods. If only their cravings would be of a spiritual kind, they’d possibly end up gaining something of value.

We need to impress upon our children, while they are still young, that being envious of others is a trait that will leave them embittered and miserable all of their lives. Though I didn’t know this woman in her younger years, I am quite sure that her envious streak manifested itself in her childhood.

The irony is that we never really know what troubles lurk on the other side of the opulent entranceway to our neighbor’s mansion. Instead of focusing on another’s good fortune, let’s revel in our own! We’ll all be better off for it.

I’ll keep mine; you can keep yours

Dear Keep,

A man once approached Reb Meir Premishlaner to bemoan the fact that someone was threatening his livelihood. The Rebbe responded by asking him if he ever saw a horse drinking water from a lake. All the while the horse drinks it stomps the ground with his feet, the reason being that he sees another horse there that wants to drink (its reflection) and it is fearful that the other horse will drink up all the water. We all know that there is enough water in the lake for many horses, continued Reb Meir, and no one can touch that which belongs to you.

As the Rebbe told his worried visitor, the one who has faith in Hashem and believes that everything comes from Him, knows there’s no purpose to envying anyone else.

Envy (being desirous of what another has) and jealousy (additionally not farginning the other to have) not only create a state of unhappiness but threaten the wellbeing of both the person being coveted and the one doing the coveting – so much so that the Shemonei Esrei prayer (among others) includes an entreaty that we be safeguarded from being consumed by envy and from being exposed to the flawed trait in another, directed at us.

The Korlitzer Rebbe, in the sefer Chazon Ish, writes that contemplating another’s success with an evil eye can completely disrupt that success and Shlomo HaMelech (in Mishlei) puts it this way: “The life of the body is a heart at peace, while envy rots the bones.”

So what steps can we take to protect our children from the scourge of begrudging others their due? Teaching by example is number one. A calm and serene home environment will imbue our children with a healthy sense of self. (Children readily perceive a parent’s discontentedness.)

We can further instill self-confidence in our young ones by loving them unconditionally. Siblings are not created equal; their personalities differ, as do their natural talents and intellectual capabilities – which can unfortunately lead some parents to openly favor one child over the other. The overlooked child will inevitably develop feelings of inadequacy and the bitter seed of envy will take root.

Every neshama is special and has something special to offer. The big bonus of helping each individual child reach his/her potential: a satisfied and self-confident adult who is less likely to chase elusive dreams and long for what everybody else seems to have.

According to the Baal Shem Tov, a craving, a desire, in a human being is like salty water for a thirsty person. Not only does it fail to quench his thirst, it makes him even thirstier. The same applies to a desire a person gives in to; indulging the craving will only intensify it until it will do him in.

Hashem provides each of us with our specific needs. If you had your eye on a house and it was sold to someone else before you had a chance to act on your desire, then it wasn’t meant for you. If you got to the sale way past the time you had planned on getting there and still found the robe you had set your heart on, it wasn’t sheer luck – it was meant for you to own.

Appreciate what comes your way and fargin (be happy for) your friend’s acquisitions. You, my dear reader, have the right attitude. Thank you for sharing your invaluable insight.

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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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-291/2010/10/27/

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