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December 11, 2016 / 11 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Yomim Tovim’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 6/02/06

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

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Dear Rachel,

Regarding the letter from “No Son of Mine” (Chronicles April 14) that raised the issue of bochurim who devote their lives to learning only Torah – resulting in their inability to support themselves and their families, I sympathize with those parents who would prefer that their children do otherwise. In fact, I would suggest that such parents tell their children not to get married until they have worked out some plan or method to support a family – and remind them that at their wedding they will be making such commitment via the kesubah. How can one honestly make such commitment without being ready to fulfill it?

I take issue, however, with the author who blames the roshei yeshiva, rabbeim and their wives for this tragic situation. The heads of yeshivas who devote their lives to Torah and succeed in turning your son on to learning and devoting his life to Torah do not deserve to be condemned for doing a good job and being a role model for your son to follow. Teaching your son a profession or a method by which to make a living is not their responsibility – it is yours. I don’t believe there is a rosh yeshiva alive who will tell your son that earning a living or learning a profession is prohibited. Their goal is to instill in their talmidim the importance of having Torah take prominence in their lives.

Suppose your son went to college and had a dynamic teacher who devoted his life to a science and related research. What if the professor’s love and dedication for his field had rubbed off on your son, who would then acquire a burning desire to emulate his professor? Would the professor deserve to be accused of brainwashing your son or ruining his life and chances of making a living? More likely, the professor would be commended for his superior teaching abilities. The roshei yeshiva are no less worthy of respect.

There are various ways to help young couples focus on the concept of support and its reality in life. No yeshiva bochur has the right to ignore his impending responsibility to support a family. The Bais Yaakov and seminary girls could be of great help in alleviating the problem. I am amazed at the number of girls who say – without the slightest notion of what they are letting themselves in for – that they are looking for a learner. In addition to taking care of the children, the house and multiple other burdens that accompany marriage and motherhood, they will be required to provide the financial support for the family. Is this decision being made with yishuv hadaas, with sincerity, with love and devotion to Torah and a conscious effort to make sacrifices for the sake of Torah? The Herculean effort to create a home and a proper environment for nurturing a happy marriage and superior atmosphere to bring up children can lead to frustration and depression and take a devastating toll on the entire family.

One wonders whether it is the yetzer hara rather than the yetzer tov that encourages youngsters to be idealistic and enter into marriage waving the banner of Torah with no regard to the consequence of being unprepared. Perhaps the young ladies should inform the shadchanim that as much as they are truly committed to a marriage with a mate who is devoted to learning, he is also to have a sense of responsibility for taking care of his family – so that they can have, maintain and sustain a long-lasting happy marriage and proper home environment.

I would also suggest that the young men and young ladies approach their mechanchim who encourage them to commit to a life exclusively dedicated to Torah and request a reciprocal commitment: If they (the students) take on a life dedicated exclusively to learning Torah and, as a result, end up living in poverty, their children will be accepted into the Torah institutions tuition-free. This should give the decision-making process a jolt of reality.

Speaking of reality and responsibility, does the year in seminary (for a cost of $15,000-$20,000) really enhance the talents and further the goals of marriage and motherhood for our young ladies? The particularly disturbing fact is that they are expected to appear for Elul as well as arrange their own accommodations (eating and sleeping) for the duration of the Yomim Tovim. Mothers should arise and demand of the mechanchim that they personally care for these children as they would their own. Remaining home with their mothers to help with the preparations for Yom-Tov would be of greater benefit to the girls than the pirush of the Ramban on Chumash that they will be missing in Elul.

Everyone seems to be following a path geared toward creating an appearance of a superior candidate for shidduchim – instead of a derech that will mold a truly superior person. Our boys and girls go to yeshivas/seminaries with the best reputations, regardless of whether they belong there or not. Reality and responsibility get buried under the institution’s philosophies – resulting in the crisis we presently experience.

May we all be blessed with the wisdom and vision to guide our children in the proper derech.

Mama Sorah

Dear Mama Sorah,

Your comments are insightful and informative. Hopefully all those in a position to affect the shape of our children’s future are paying heed.

The holiday of Shavuos is upon us. As we commemorate the most significant event in the history of our people, let us not lose sight of the fact that, it is the tribe of Zevulun (merchant/parnassa seeker) that has the distinction of being divinely associated with the month of Sivan.

May we all be granted hatzlacha in appreciating and mastering the word of G-d. transmitted via His precious gift to us on Har Sinai.


Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 5/20/05

Wednesday, May 18th, 2005
Dear Rachel,

What a different world we live in today. My mother would so look forward to our coming home, especially for Pesach. (See Chronicles Apr. 8) The only thing that made her sad was the end of Yom Tov, when we would be getting ready to leave.

As much as we helped out, my mother would be up until the wee hours of the morning making something special for us and our children. Her reward and nachas was seeing us happy and watching our children grow. When we made our own first Pesach, she failed to understand. Had I only known then that we would have but a few more years with her.

I ask Hashem to grant us a long and healthy life so that my husband and I can be with our children and grandchildren during these special times, when our home will be filled with the nachas of little ones playing at our feet.

Yes, it is more work, but the gift of giving has beautiful rewards. Let’s go back to the ways of our parents, when our families meant the world to us. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I hope that my words change the views of many bubbies preparing for the Yomim Tovim.

Savoring Bubbyhood


Dear Rachel,

With all deference to grandmothers of inconsiderate families, I for one am sick and tired of all the complaining associated with Pesach. It seems that every column I read is filled with letters from poor abused parents bemoaning their fates and dreading the holidays because of the awful reality that, gasp, the children are coming to visit!

I completely sympathize with the hardship involved in preparing for Pesach. But we make it much harder on ourselves with all the insane cleaning and measures that are extreme according to even the strictest poskim. A perfunctory cleaning along with the removal of all chometz is all that is necessary. Spring cleaning by way of eliminating every cobweb from the attic and every last dust bunny from behind the boiler wasn’t in the plan.

As for the tremendous amount of cooking that some people insist on doing, lighten up. There are endless kosher for Pesach products available on the market today. And if minhagim prohibit you from using them, appreciate not having to chase a chicken around the backyard in order to prepare a decent meal. As for the endless work in setting and clearing the table, most of us would prefer a relaxed hostess serving a simple meal on paper plates than have a nervous wreck dishing out roast capon with stuffed truffles on Wedgewood.

When I reminisce about my childhood sedarim, I recall my grandfather’s words of Torah and my grandmother’s beaming face. Besides the unique aroma of borscht and the distinctive tickle in the nose from a spritz of seltzer, I can’t recall what was served on what type of dinnerware. I do remember the warmth and intense appreciation I felt at being part of such a special occasion.

Yom Tov is essentially about family and – yes, those noisy little creatures with dirty hands and sticky faces. Where if not at our own table are we to impart our unique minhagim? The entire seder is meant to encourage the questions of children. Is your idea of the perfect seder table a pristine white tablecloth set with sparkling crystal, gleaming silver, a perfectly appointed kaara, and a 52-year-old woman asking a 53-year-old man the ma nishtana?

Family is our link to the past, our hope for the future. Yom Tov is about cousins loving, fighting, sharing and learning to deal with each other and build priceless memories. Granted, Pesach is hard. But what in this life worth having isn’t? Attitudes need to be adjusted. Families should be enjoyed. For a few days out of a long year, disregard the dirty fingerprints, look past the runny noses, and get to know your grandchildren. If you want to attack a mitzvah with sacrificial zeal, try shmiras ha’lashon. The world would be a better place! May you never know a day without the pitter-patter of little feet and the distinctive whine of an overtired toddler.

All you kvetchy bobbies
– get over it!


Dear Readers,

Please forgive the lateness of this response. Your letters came in close to Pesach, and there was much left to be done. For, you see, sticky little fingers made the rounds all year round leaving behind a trail of cookie crumbs. While sneaky spiders in hidden corners may have feasted well, couldn’t chance leaving leftovers languishing behind the boiler, the couch, the refrigerator, in the attic, and in bedding – where sleepy little crumb-encrusted forms were set down for the night. Scrubbing chometz’dike fingerprints off window panes, vertical blinds, door handles, curtains, etc. hardly constitutes spring cleaning.

Forgive me, again, but what if not the seder table deserves to be bedecked bekavod’dik with a “pristine white tablecloth, sparkling crystal, gleaming silver, and a perfectly appointed kaara?”

Shall we tell our husbands, who eat only in-house created edibles on Pesach, that there’s no time nor stamina left to bake the cakes they rely on as nosh for the duration of the holiday? Maybe we should just serve plain chicken broth and skip the home-made lokshen, and conserve our energy for catering to our grown children and grandchildren who converge on their good old parents – not “to visit” but to move in, deeming themselves to be “on holiday.”

To the best of my recollection, the letter writer who prompted your ire did not at all express a desire to be alone with her husband for Yom Tov. She merely craved to be spared the incessant racket that is part and parcel of multiple families and numerous “cousins” coming together for an extended stay – hardly the stuff of “pitter-patter.” I remember when my own mother’s debilitating back and shoulder aches spurred her to finally insist that only one family “move in” per holiday. Our disappointment was momentary and self-serving. We graciously acquiesced – and learned how to conduct our own beautiful sedarim. Our nachas was to know that mom’s physical discomfort gradually subsided (may she continue to live pain-free and happily with our dad till 120).

Write me again in 20 to 30 years from now. Until then, reserve your judgment of those in whose shoes you do not walk. There is no set rule that applies to all situations, but consideration for parents applies at all times.

Thank you for writing to share your views with others. May you continue to be healthy devoted parents, and may your children grow up to be appreciative of your dedication.


When Sharing A History Isn’t Enough

Wednesday, December 15th, 2004

(Names and situations changed as requested)

As we go through this journey called life, we meet many people and make many friends. Over time, we have different experiences that cause us to change, to perhaps grow in different directions. Soon we make new friendships, align ourselves with new acquaintances who have had similar experiences, or perhaps see things the way we now see them.

Our old friends are still there, tied to us by history or fond memories. We may only exchange Rosh Hashanah greetings or touch base for simchas or, G-d forbid, tragedies, but we stay connected for old time’s sake. We stay connected, unless we are given a reason not to.

The chronically ill and their spouses are no different than the rest of us. Before illness, they went to school, made life-long friends, stayed close, made new friends, grew apart but generally kept those old friends – the ones with whom they shared a childhood history – close to their hearts. But as chronic illness takes its toll on relationships, so too does it takes its toll on friendships.

The chronically ill and their spouses have needs that are incomprehensible to those who haven’t experienced them. Their need for support and emotional support is paramount. When time goes by, and crisis after crisis occurs, and old friends do not even give a few words of support, then even history is not strong enough to preserve the friendship.

More likely than not, the couple with the illness will let the friendship go, not even bothering to send a Rosh Hashanah card, because the hurt is too great. More likely than not, their friends have no idea why they have been dropped.

Yehuda was chronically ill. His disease progressed steadily in a downward spiral. As he became worse, his needs for support increased. Unfortunately, his friends who were busy with their own lives. They visited and called less and less. Yehuda tried to reach out to his friends, but they either didn’t hear his cry for help or felt unable to deal with it.

Over the years, Yehuda accepted the situation and moved on. When Yehuda’s son was to be married, he and his wife agonized over whom to invite. They decided against inviting those “old friends” whom they felt had deserted them. As Yehuda put it, “What if they decide to come? I really don’t want to see them there. The emotions I will have will ruin the wedding for me.” And so they were not invited. The friends could not understand what happened.

Bracha’s husband had recently been placed in a nursing facility. He had been in and out of the hospital constantly over the last few years and life seemed to have been filled with one crisis after another.

Having no other choice, his family decided on a nursing home. It had been a very long time since Bracha had gotten a call from an old friend of hers and so she was glad and surprised when one came. This time Bracha decided to let her friend know just how bad things were for her instead of responding with the usual “I’m ok.”

Appropriately, her friend asked what she could do for her. “I could use a few kind words about now,” was Bracha’s response.

Much to Bracha’s horror, her friend began to yell at her, “Well, why do you think I made this call, and what do you think I’m doing?!” Bracha quickly ended the conversation, felt worse for having had it, and wrote this friend off her list.

She had no idea why the friend had reacted as she had. Was it guilt for not having been there, or her own problems? Bracha wasn’t sure. What she was sure was that she couldn’t handle a friend like this right now. Even a common history didn’t entitle one to months of silence during a crisis and then a screaming tirade. No amount of history or friendship allowed for that.

Racheli was lonely. Since her husband’s placement in a residential rehab facility almost a year ago, she had been alone. Shabbos and Yomim Tovim had become something to dread instead of celebrate as she came home from shul to her empty house, made Kiddush for herself and spent the day alone.

It’s not that Racheli had no friends. She had many people who called themselves her friends. There were many people with whom she shared a history, but somehow everyone seemed to have forgotten about her since her husband’s placement. Though depressed, Racheli had gotten used to being alone and expected little else. She was shocked and angry when an old friend stopped her one day to say he had had a new grandson, and during the bris, the Mohel told them to keep in mind anyone needing a refuah (recovery). The friend just wanted to let Racheli know that he had two very special friends in mind that he cared so much about ? she and her husband.

Racheli thanked him coldly and walked away. She wondered why this old friend had never called or visited? She thought she would like to be less special and more cared about.

A common history is what holds most old friendships together, especially when distance and life changes get in the way. But history is not enough to keep a friendship when you desert your friends during their time of acute need.

If for some reason calling is too difficult, an occasional “thinking of you” card might do the trick. Cards can now be sent by e-mail and require less than minutes. If you can afford it, everything from pizza to cheesecake can be ordered and sent long distance. Flowers, of course, can be sent anywhere.

But what is most important to remember is that it is not what is sent that makes the difference. It is the few minutes you take to let someone know you care about them. Those few minutes will probably help them get through the next few days more easily. Now you will not only have a common history on which to base your friendship, but a common present as well.

Ann Novick


Wednesday, December 1st, 2004

While recently riding on a private local bus, I couldn’t help but overhear two elderly, balbatish ladies talking. What caught my undivided attention, however, was the pride in one woman’s tone as she announced that she and her husband would boycott their granddaughter’s wedding because they did not approve of the young man.

Apparently, the young bochur did not meet the grandmother’s stamp of approval even though, from what she described – he seemed like a rather acceptable fellow. He was in college, pursuing a graduate degree, working part-time and had attended a modern Yeshiva. His parents were first generation Americans and spoke with accents. These facts of his life – as far as she was concerned – placed him on the “wrong side of the tracks.” Simply put – he was not good enough for her granddaughter.

She insisted that she deserved at the very least a boy who was Rosh Yeshiva material, one who had graduated from a “yichusdik” yeshiva, and who would make learning his priority. Such a grandson-in-law she could be proud of – not some “modern” college boy whose parents were unknown outside their immigrant community.

“Bubbi” had given her grandchild the ultimatum – either break up with the boy ? or she would not attend the wedding.

It took all my self-restraint to avoid shaking this pitifully narrow minded lady who actually felt that she had her grandchild’s “best interests at heart.”

What she was truly looking for was in-laws who would impress her chevra.

I fervently prayed that the girl in question would have the gumption to stick to her convictions and remain loyal to the young man and go ahead with the wedding.

There are many stories that have crossed my path similar to this one, where close relatives put undeserved pressure on a young person to pick between them and their zivug. The excuses are superficial and often based on snobbery or a desire to maintain control over an adult child.

In the former scenario, a potential spouse is rejected because of pettiness and sinat chinam: the boy/girl is from a different culture (Sephardi or Ashkenazi, Chassidish or Litvish); wants to learn/or wants to earn; is too frum/not frum enough; comes from a ba’al teshuva family, or from the wrong community in Europe. The excuses are endless, and for the most part, without real merit. And worst of all – this pressure causes so much discord, aggravation, and anguish at a time that should be joyous and full of appreciation to the Ribono Shel Olam.

To the grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts and close family members who insist “him/her or us” – I say shame on you!

I personally have been to so many weddings, including two of my own, where the mothers and/or fathers of the chossen or kallah are newly minted adult orphans, having lost a beloved parent or both in recent years. Day to day life has become bearable, but Yomim Tovim and simchas are still challenging emotionally.

As we marched our children to the chuppah, most of us valiantly but unsuccessfully tried not to cry, but tears of supreme joy spilled down our cheeks, alternating with tears of supreme grief because our mothers/fathers could not physically share in this ultimate moment of nachas in our families.

To have been able to embrace and be embraced by our parents as the glass was broken and the young couple excitedly emerged for the first time to build a bayit ne’eman b’Yisrael would have been the crowning moment in our lives and theirs. This is especially true for elderly Holocaust survivors. Witnessing their grandchildren getting married, many named after their own murdered mothers and fathers and siblings – would be the superlative validation of their survival and the rebuilding of the fragile family tree.

I personally know of grandparents who have been blessed with the health and years to participate in the simcha of their oldest grandchild. They have declared their “principled” intention of not attending her wedding if she doesn’t break off the engagement because they “don’t approve” of the groom.

Instead of thanking the Creator for His benevolence in granting them life and allowing them to reach this tremendous milestone in their lives – of seeing bnei banim – children of children – getting married and establishing a new home – they willfully and self-righteously turn their backs on this merciful gift from Hashem.

It makes me wonder who to pity more: the grandmother, or her granddaughter. 

Cheryl Kupfer

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/stupidity/2004/12/01/

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