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July 2, 2016 / 26 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Yael’

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Dear Dr. Yael,

I was recently asked to redt a shidduch on behalf of a coworker’s son. It had actually been thought of by one of the young man’s friends who had gone out with the young lady. My involvement came about because the young man being redt was more comfortable dealing with an adult than a friend.

I spoke with the young lady’s mother and gave her information about the young man. When she said they were interested, I facilitated the first date. After that, the couple made their own arrangements. Within a few months they were engaged and I was invited to the l’chaim.

I introduced myself to the kallah and her parents and wished them mazal tov. I was surprised when the mother simply said, “Thanks for helping out at the beginning.”

Well, I thought, doesn’t every shidduch have a start? If there’s no beginning, there can be no end! And that is when I realized that she was making it clear that the family did not consider me to be the shadchan. Throughout the engagement period neither side displayed any gratitude, even with a simple a thank-you note.

To make matters worse, I was told by another coworker that a young person suggested the shidduch, but it had been given over to a professional shadchan to facilitate. It seems I got promoted to professional status; only professional shadchanim are usually acknowledged. I was not interested in tooting my horn, so I never mentioned it to them directly. I also felt my presence at the wedding infringed on their simcha, as the kallah‘s mother acted very awkward around me. I can only assume that she knew she had acted improperly and was therefore uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, this behavior is more common than I thought. I recently heard a number of similar shidduch stories. In one case, the shadchan only received the shadchanus money eighteen years after the couple got married. Another woman told me that a couple came five years after the wedding to say thank you. It seems after several years of infertility, a rav asked them if they ever acknowledged their shadchan. After making amends, they had a boy one year later.

I’m not the type of person who makes shidduchim for money or presents. However, I would hope that people who have been helped in any situation would express gratitude.

In addition, while I haven’t found a source, I do believe it is an inyan in halacha as well.



Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for bringing this important issue to our readers’ attention. Let me first address your last comment: paying a shadchan is a halachic obligation. While I am not a rav, the Rama (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 185:10) makes it clear that a shadchan is considered a broker and further (ibid. 87:39) says, “If a matchmaker claims the matchmaking fee and the other denies and says that he was not his matchmaker, or if there is any other dispute between them, the law is the same as any other monetary claim and they take oaths about it.”

Chazal tell us that making a shidduch is like Krias Yam Suf – it’s difficult and it takes a lot of work. I know some very successful shadchanim who are busy day and night on the phones. At the same time, we have a serious shidduch crisis and anyone who spends his or her time trying to alleviate it deserves our thanks.

I can only imagine the pain you felt at the lack of hakaras hatov. You were specifically asked to help set the couple up and, yes, there can’t be an ending without a beginning. Your involvement should have been acknowledged with a gift.

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, June 17th, 2016

Dear Dr. Yael,

I am writing in regards to the letter written by the person who had recently sat shiva for her father (5-27). I sat shiva about 15 years ago, and experienced some of the same insensitivity. People talking among themselves as if I were not sitting on a low chair right in front of them.

In case you think I am exaggerating, three different people called me to apologize for how they acted or what they said when they had come to be menachem avel. There have been insensitive people around for a while. Perhaps the difference is that I received apologies, and today people may not even have the awareness to do so. Another difference is that individual caring has been institutionalized. When I sat shiva, someone went to a chair gamach and bought over the shiva chairs – remember those sawed-off plastic chairs? – another neighbor arranged for the Sefer Torah, while a third made sure there was someone to layn. When we were short for a minyan, a friend made it his business to encourage people by supplying goodies for after davening, and another actually stood outside to gather in those on their way to daven. Nobody picked up the phone and called an organization or sent out a group text or email. We did not have a water cooler, coat rack or mechitza, but we did have caring friends and neighbors. Everybody pitched in using his own ideas and in his own way. This is what we are missing nowadays – the individual approach. People cooked and brought over. Yes, it was chop plop and not so organized, but it was filled with love.

Today, no personal effort is needed or exerted. Recently, someone told me that she goes to a shiva house to fulfill the mitzvah – to go in, give some tzeddakah and say HaMakom. She is not interested in talking to the person sitting shiva.

When the writer mentioned people texting and making calls while sitting in front of the avel, I felt you tried to rationalize their behavior by blaming it on technology, yeridas hadoros and saying that you “don’t think people realize they are being insensitive.” It almost seems as if the onus is on the person sitting shiva to be more understanding!

There is another point I would like to bring up.

A “party” atmosphere has invaded our celebrations. Instead of dignified celebrations of Jewish milestones and yiddish nachas, everything has become a party. Weddings, bar mitzvahs need to have themes, decorations and crazy music. These days you see specially-made hats, t-shirts and other party gizmos – including hip scarves complete with bells and fringes for the kallah and her friends to wear during dancing. A bris must now have balloons and teddy bear centerpieces, plus three types of hot dishes.
As a result, the essence of both simcha and tragedy have been lost and people are slowly forgetting how to behave.

Please Dr. Respler, let’s address this issue and remind people that when a couple gets married a bayis ne’eman is being set up, at a bar mitzvah a boy is accepting upon himself ol malchus Shamayim and when we pay a shiva call it is because someone has experienced a great loss.

Sign me “Tired of Parties”



Dear Tired Of Parties,

Thank you for raising this important issue.

Let me first say that I did not intend to rationalize any inappropriate behavior. Rather, I was hoping to raise awareness and sensitivity among those taking part of an important mitzvah.

There is no excuse for texting while talking with someone who is sitting shiva. Phones should be turned off or placed on vibrate when you walk into a shiva home or, lehavdil, during a chuppah. While many people may feel the need to always be available for elderly parents or young children, we need to be mindful of where we are and act in an appropriate manner.

I also agree with you about the party atmosphere, but I am not sure what can be done except to keep reminding people that the most important thing to do at a simcha is to be misamech the baal simcha.

I appreciate your ideas and insight and thank you for sharing them with our readers.

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Dear Dr. Yael,

I am so upset and don’t know what to do about it. My son has always been a great boy, never giving us any problems, did well in yeshiva, etc. He got married about eighteen months ago and recently became a father.

Why am I writing to you? My husband and I found something that really shocked us – it seems he has gotten three speeding tickets in a short amount of time. Did he go crazy? I would have thought a person would be more careful after receiving one speeding ticket. Is this immaturity or total lack of responsibility?

My husband spoke with him calmly about points and having his license suspended. I think he was very surprised that we found out about the tickets, but he didn’t apologize and say he’d be more careful.

Dr. Respler, we are concerned that he does not realize his wife and child can also be in danger. Also, this is so out of character for him. He has always been a very cautious person, even a little bit of a scaredy cat. He seems to be happily married and a proud father, and yet…

I’d appreciate your insight on this.

A Concerned Mother


Dear Concerned Mother,

Since I do not know your son or your family’s specific situation, I can only make some suggestions.

Is your son under pressure and feeling in any way stressed? If so, speeding can be a way of feeling free and powerful.

He may have not apologized since he is embarrassed that you know about these tickets. Is it possible that your husband’s inquiry took him by surprise and that is why he did not respond?

Perhaps his wife is very upset and your knowing only added more stress to the situation.

Was your son very young when he got married and became a father?

Did your son know that getting too many moving violations would cause him to accrue points on his license and that it could be suspended? And can facilitate an increase in insurance rates?

Does your son have problems with time management and did the speeding occur when he was late for something? Was he driving from somewhere and needed to get someplace in time for Shabbos or Yom Tov? Did he hit a lot of traffic and then needed to speed in his mind to make up the time?

Having a baby is a huge adjustment and everything just takes longer. New parents need to adjust from being able to just jump into the car and go, to packing up the baby, feeding the baby, changing the baby, etc. We don’t always allow for the time it takes to learn how to do all these things efficiently.

These are just thoughts that come to mind as possible reasons for his behavior. The bigger concern is that he does not impact his young marriage in any negative manner.

There are some people who become different behind the wheel of a car. I have seen the nicest and most polite people assume a different personality when driving. Speeding is a form of adolescent behavior that you may not have realized your son could exhibit. This may be his form of rebellion.

Since you already confronted him about the tickets, perhaps you can just reiterate how much you love and care about him and his family and ask if there is anything you can do to help. I don’t know what your relationship is like, but if you are close he may be willing to share whatever is going on his life that may have precipitated this happening. Even if your son prefers not to open up to you, being warm and loving will help him feel safe in his relationship with you and, in time, he may feel more comfortable speaking with you.

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

Dear Dr. Yael,

I know that rabbanim are against texting and I always thought it was a bit narrow-minded. However, I recently realized how right they are. You see, I saw the text my daughter wrote to her friend. My daughter is a sweet frum Bais Yaakov-type girl who is a senior in high school. Her cell phone does not have internet access, but it does have texting. While her principal was not thrilled, my husband and I work long hours and she is our youngest. We felt the need to be able to reach her, so we explained to the school that we were getting her a simple phone, not a smart one. It would have no features other than texting. The principal told us that texting was dangerous as well. However, as she has to have her phone off in school and she did not always check her voicemail, we felt that texting was the best way to stay in touch. She could respond when she turned on the phone after school.

To us it sounded like a reasonable plan and though her principal thought we were being naive, she acquiesced to our wishes.

So what is the point of my letter? My daughter forgot her phone one morning and, as I was bringing it to her, checked to see if my husband had texted her a reminder we had discussed. While doing so, I saw a text that shocked me. I would prefer not to share its contents, but I was incredibly disturbed by what I read. There was nothing said that indicated my daughter and her friend were doing something wrong, but the language they were using was highly inappropriate for a frum girl.

Honestly, I have never heard my daughter speak this way, even on the phone to her friends. The more I thought about it, the more I started to remember the lectures I had heard about how people feel free to say things in a text they would never dare say in person. How it creates an atmosphere where inappropriate becomes acceptable. I started to feel that maybe we had been too open and lenient.

This is not even including the horrific stories we have all heard about driving and texting and the accidents that can result.

Dr. Respler, the rabbanim really do know what they are talking about and my daughter’s principal was right. Our young children are facing a most difficult challenge – that of living in a generation where technology can literally kill you physically and emotionally.

We took away our daughter’s cell phone. She is upset right now, but we lovingly explained that we had made a mistake.

I hope people read my letter and realize that even simple technology can be harmful.

A Loving Mother


Dear Loving Mother,

I truly agree with you and understand your need to be sure your daughter has a means of being in touch with you. However, I also know how difficult it is for a teenager to have limits set for him or her; I know how difficult technology makes it for all of us. Couples sit together but spend the time texting others on their cell phone. Often you walk on the street and see mothers walking with their young children and not even paying attention because what is on their phone is more important. It is very sad.

And as you said, texting while driving is incredibly dangerous, as well as illegal. And yet, this knowledge doesn’t seem to stop people.

There are no clear answers to your dilemma. However, for now, it seems like you made the right choice for your family, even though your daughter is having a hard time understanding. Hopefully your daughter will come around, but for now you may have to give her some extra love and patience.  It’s also important for your daughter to understand why you are upset and why you took away her phone. While she may not agree, at least she will see your side of the situation.  I appreciate you writing about this challenging issue and I wish you hatzlocha in raising your family in a generation challenged with technology.

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Dear Dr. Yael,

I have been going through a very difficult time as my father recently passed away after a long illness. I have to say that your recent column on how one should act when making a shiva call was right on the mark.

Some well-meaning visitors came to pay their respects, while others acted like it was a social event! People were kind enough to provide meals, but some thought it was acceptable to sit and eat with us. Others wanted all the details of my father’s illness, even if they never came to visit him when he was in the hospital.

People actually commented that it had been inconvenient for them that we held the funeral graveside instead of in a chapel which had been easier for them. And believe it or not, some complained about where I was sitting shiva.

Those were annoyances, as opposed to the hurtful, “Don’t mourn for too long; he lived a long life. Who expected him to live that many years? It’s not a tragedy.” The loss of a loved one is always hurtful no matter how old he or she is at the age of passing.

If people can’t be kind, and say the right thing when paying a shiva call, then don’t go. We are more insulted by hurtful talk than by the lack of a visit.

I do have great gratitude to those involved in burial preparations and the selecting of a matzevah for their help and caring and for those who came to pay a shiva call and knew how to conduct themselves.

It has been 30 years since I sat shiva for my mother and, as I thought back, I noticed that things had changed. We have to stop making every ritual in Jewish life a social event – even a simple seudah for a Shloshim has become a banquet! I was made to feel uncomfortable, and ignored, because I decided to make a special memorial in honor of my parents in shul, rather than waste money for people to eat at a so-called party.

Thanks for giving us a place to voice our opinion on such a difficult issue.

Grief Stricken


Dear Grief Stricken,

I am sorry for your loss and hope that you find comfort in the knowledge that you took good care of your father.

I think the difference you noted between people’s behavior 30 years ago during a shiva call and now has to do with what Chazal refer to as yeridas hadoros, a decline in the generations.

As we have discussed many times in this column, this current generation really struggles with technology.

Technology is wonderful; however, Smartphones, iPads, texting and social media have had a negative effect on our community. People are so tuned into “socializing” that they sometimes “socialize” at inappropriate times and in inappropriate places.

At the same time, this technology actually isolates people because there is no longer a need to talk to another person. The other day I called in my grocery order and they told me I could email it to them. I told them I like to call the order in and have the opportunity to discuss what’s on sale.

That’s not to say that texting and email don’t have a place; this column was emailed to my editor. And I have texted with clients to confirm appointments. But the more we use this technology, the less we need to have one-to-one conversations and the more it seems that we see each other only at simchas, or at shiva houses.

I am so sorry that with your grief you were made to feel uncomfortable. I honestly think people don’t realize that they are being insensitive. It is ludicrous for people to think that they were comforting you by saying that your parent was old.

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, May 20th, 2016

Dear Readers:

Last week we featured a letter of chizuk from a woman who first found her bashert at the age of 37. She discussed some of the challenges she faced on her journey and shared some pointers for those who are still searching.


Dear Anonymous,

Thank you so much for your heartfelt and important letter! Your story is extremely inspiring and gives hope to those still struggling to find the right person to marry. You are absolutely correct that age and nuances in frumkeit are not as important as basic middos and an overall frumkeit match! Being open-minded is integral when you are in shidduchim.

You mentioned that the hardest part was other people’s pitying stares. If all anyone walks away from your letter with is an extra sensitivity to this issue, it will be worth it. No one likes to be pitied and we must remember that most people are doing the best they can in the situation they are in and we should always treat people the way we would want to be treated.
A large part of the “shidduch crisis” is age. As you noted, this is an area in which men would benefit from being open-minded. Men generally start dating at an older age, so right away there are about three times as many eligible women, which makes things more difficult. If men were more willing to date women who were older, they would be introduced to many amazing girls and women.

While it is important to think out of the box, we must also be cognizant of people’s wants and needs. Try to think of appropriate people for the singles you know to date, this will keep them from feeling as if they were wasting their time and getting burnt out and frustrated. It’s not fair to set someone up with a person who does not have a single characteristic that he or she is looking for.

That being said, those who are single need to remember that most people have their best interests in mind and are not trying to hurt them. Frumkeit and hashkafa have become so pigeonholed that many people in my generation do not even know what all of the different “types” and “levels” mean! Yes, it is important to find someone who is on “the same page as you,” but when we get specific to an extreme we are limiting people’s choices. You spoke about the different labels that dating websites use, some of which seem unimportant. It was sweet that you and your husband ultimately found each other because he wrote that his “category” was shomer mitzvot!

Shidduch resumes have also gotten out of hand. When we were “in shidduchim” there was no such thing as a shidduch resume and although people did inquire about possible matches, there was no “FBI checking” the way there is now. This type of checking is detrimental as many times people do not get to meet because of something that was said during the investigative process – and would not have been an issue if the couple had actually gone out once or twice and liked each other.

Shidduch resumes also highlight people’s age and height, which can be an issue. As you noted in your letter, age is relative and although most men want to have children, this is not something dependent on age. There are many young couples struggling with infertility, while there are older couples who have children easily. Additionally, while some people have strong preferences when it comes to height, it isn’t generally something that will make or break a marriage. It’s important to look for a spouse who will be good to you and a good parent to your children. Statistically, age and height do not have any correlation with those variables. These are areas that people should consider being more flexible in as it will not impact their marriage in a significant manner.

As individuals can only work in the parameters that have been already set up, we must try to do our best to think of all of the singles we know and try to help them network. After all, it is Hashem who decides who is bashert for whom; we just need to do our hishtadlus to help them come together!

Thank you for sharing your story with us. Hatzlocha with your marriage and your new journey!

Dr. Yael Respler

Dear Dr. Yael

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Dear Dr. Yael,

At the ripe old age of nineteen I decided I was ready to begin a new and exciting life for myself. I was newly graduated from seminary, had just begun my path towards a college degree and felt it was time; the world was at my fingertips. It was time to embark on one of the bumpiest trails known to any Orthodox single… the shidduch scene. At the time I naively thought, “How hard can this be? I am a good person with solid values, have a good family established in my community, am attractive, have a bubbly and outgoing personality and many friends who would vouch for all of my positive attributes.”

The calls began coming through as soon as word got out that I was “on the market.” Intimidating at first, I was incredibly exhilarated at the prospect of what could come with each potential match.

Weeks became months and months became years. I graduated from college and landed a great job at a well-known institution. I knew it was just a matter of time… I was officially settled. I thought I hadn’t found my match until then because I needed to graduate from school. Over the years I came up with many “logical” reasons why I was still single. It gave me a sense of comfort, even if it was short-lived.

A piece of that dream crumbled after my dad passed away when I turned twenty-three… the image of both my parents walking me down the aisle was no longer possible. I felt that I had let him down.

So I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands and signed up for an online frum dating site. I told myself that for sure this would be the ticket to finding my bashert. There were so many potential matches with just the click of a mouse. As online dating became more and more popular, I signed up to any new website that I discovered. With time I began to think there must be something about me that’s holding me back. My friends and family reassured me that it’s all about timing and that I was doing every possible hishtadlus.

By the time I hit my mid-thirties I began doubting their words. How could I still be single? I had already met with numerous matchmakers, gone to different singles events and was open to dating guys of varying ages, hashkafic backgrounds and professions.

When you first start dating, you have a laundry list of qualities for your “perfect” man. With time, however, I began to consolidate that list and choose what was most important to me. I knew I needed a man with a big heart, a good sense of humor, who was non-judgmental and matched me in four religious areas: being shomer Shabbos, keeping kashrus and taharas hamishpachah and covering my hair. I also knew I wanted to be happy and married to my best friend and soul mate.

Being an older single is a huge nisayon. People who believe they have the best of intentions will candidly tell you that you’re just being “too picky,” and that you “need to get out there more.” Others discuss behind your back what a shame it is that you’re still single and question whether or not you really want to get married. And there are the looks of pity on people’s faces. I got them a lot once my nieces and nephews began to get married. I was the “nebach older single aunt.” I cried over my status too many times to count.

My dates were no walk in the park either. I can count on my fingers how many normal and decent guys I actually went out with. I went through my share of heartbreak as well. Each time I was ready to throw in the towel.

By the age of thirty-seven I resigned myself to the fact that I probably would never get married, as agonizing as that thought was. Many of my friends already had children in their upper teens. At one point, I even considered freezing my eggs or perhaps adopting a child on my own. Despite all of my blessings and accomplishments, I felt hollow. There was a huge hole that weighed down on me like a ten-ton boulder. There was nothing I could do to alleviate the intense frustration and pain.

Although I had removed myself from most dating websites, I remained a basic member on Frumster which was now called “JWed.” I thought at least I was still doing some hishtadlus, although I had little expectation of meeting anyone on there at that point. Each week JWed sent me an email with five or six featured members who met the basic criteria I had entered when I first signed up. I usually ignored and deleted these emails.

On one December evening in 2014 I received another batch of featured members. I hesitantly opened the email. My eyes immediately went to a picture of a member I had never seen before. I noticed that he was listed as “Shomer Mitzvot,” a hashkafic category I never considered throughout the years on the site. I generally browsed profiles of members who were listed as either “Modern Orthodox Machmir,” “Modern Orthodox Liberal” or “Modern Yeshivish.” There was something about this particular member, though. I knew I needed to click on his profile and find out more about him. I noticed he was the same age as me. From my experience, guys did not want women their own age, another ridiculous standard that is holding back so many from meeting their basherts and getting married. I took a leap of faith and sent him an email. To my astonishment, he wrote me back a short while later and within one week we were on our first date. From the second I laid eyes on him in the back of a crowded Starbucks (yes, it is acceptable and not a turn-off to go to a coffee shop on a first date), I knew there was something different about him. He was real! I felt that I had known him for years after an hour of talking. We had so much in common. After our date, my mom had asked me how it went. I remember telling her, “If I end up with this guy I will consider myself a very lucky person.” I always said I needed at least three months before getting engaged. Well, after six weeks we became unofficially engaged, and were married four months later.

I promised myself that I would make sure to write my story as it might give chizuk to so many out there who need it. I am begging every single person to reevaluate his or her list and not get hung up on the smaller, unimportant factors.

To all the men out there, please consider dating women your own age or even a year or two younger. What will it matter when you’re both pushing your walkers that she is eighty-eight and you’re eighty-seven? Men who believe marrying someone younger guarantees that they will be able to have children are not only ignorant, but are demonstrating a lack in bitachon. Ultimately it is in His hands. I know so many couples who got married in their early twenties and struggled with fertility while other couples who got married in their upper thirties and into their forties had children ten to twelve months after their wedding. Hashem presents us with so many opportunities. We have bechirah to choose, but sadly people’s stereotypes and rigidity prevent them from seeing what’s right in front of them. Shidduchim is all about timing, but you have to remain alert to see it when it presents itself. Time goes by way too fast and you can never get it back. What I’ve learned is if you keep your eyes wide open and focus on what matters, the reality is so much better than the fantasy!

May all the singles find their basherts soon.


Our response next week.

Dr. Yael Respler

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/dear-dr-yael-70/2016/05/13/

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