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Response to: Thank you all, Seriously, for listening (Chronicles, February 24, 2023).



Note to readers: Last week’s column featured a letter from a woman who was clearly frustrated over the barrage of charity solicitations (specifically in the form of Robocalls, e-mail and postal mail) inundating her “private space.”

Due to our tight scheduling and timing constraints, the letter-writer graciously acquiesced to having her arguments addressed “next week.”

How quickly “next week” arrives…


Dear Seriously,

As I sit behind my keyboard and try focusing my concentration on the intricacies of the wide-ranging topic you’ve raised, I must concede to almost feeling your exasperation.

You ask if anyone today still owns a landline phone, referring to them as “those klutzy ancient contraptions that come with individual cordless handsets.

Ironically, mine is ringing as I write, instantly interrupting my train of thought. My interest piqued, I make some inquiries. You’ll be happy to hear that plenty of households not only carry on with their antiquated landline phones, but do so efficiently, while showing absolutely no inclination to give them up.

These same families concur that Robocalls are somewhat of a nuisance, but most have learned to ignore their incessant ringing. Some of the moms disclosed that their cell phones serve as a secondary means of communication; hence, they don’t feel they’re missing much as they go about their day. That said, there are circumstances where ‘wireless only’ is the more suitable option.

About those deceptive IDs that display “names such as Moshe Schwartz, David Weiss… or names of cities, familiar or far-flung…” – I am quite certain many readers empathize; they are indeed frustrating. Yet, as maaminin bnei maaminin (believers and children of believers), we believe that everything happens for a reason. Can this perhaps be Hashem’s way of conditioning us to be wary on all fronts? There’s no denying that we’ve become much more attentive and attuned to our surroundings in these turbulent times.

Let’s address the “mail part, the postal kind” of your ire. You write “No sooner have Leeba’s parents mailed out a check to one of the chesed organizations they’ve proudly supported for decades, than a colorful auction brochure of same is wedged into their mailbox…. she sets aside all their tzedaka solicitation mail… until forced to make that guilt-inducing decision: to donate or to ignore…” All I can say is, I feel her pain. And yours.

The email part of your list of grievances is a bit more of a challenge to get into – partly due to some confusion in your letter as to whose email had a “…staggering 200 plus charity solicitations” over the course of “a weekend away.” You talk about a neighbor you call Leeba, and her elderly yet independent parents who live close by. Are you referring to Leeba’s email account? Her mom’s? If mom is the one experiencing difficulty with navigating her emails, how fortunate for her to be living in close proximity to an adult and attentive daughter. Problem solved; huge mitzvah gained!

There are various solutions to organizing one’s incoming and outgoing email, a subject that is ideally dealt with in a “tech” column (and most likely has been).

All told, there’s no such thing as “perfection” in this world. While you do raise many salient points, they are all petty annoyances when viewed through a positive rather than negative lens. Let’s take a deep breath and count our blessings.

Speaking of focusing on the good, I couldn’t help but marvel at the way you began, and concluded, your laundry list of complaints. In the spirit of Adar, here’s a reprint, worth a re-read. Your conclusion:

Leeba confided a big family secret to me the other day: She and her siblings plan to kidnap their parents from their home for the entire Purim. Their dad, more the laid-back type who is content with immersing himself in a Sefer or scanning the pages of a “kosher” newspaper, won’t be too resistant. Their mom, however, is a different story. She enjoys staying home, puttering with the pretty mishloach manos they receive, and loves doling out the single dollars and shiny coins she prepares for this special day – along with her homemade hamantaschen and banana cake she has individually wrapped, all ready to go from their compact freezer. Not to fear. “Kidnap” actually means the “Royal Treatment.” Like, “This time it’s our turn to wine and dine our dear parents; this year you will be our honor guests at our Purim Seudah for a change. No worries, you will be enjoying Purim in luxury – no fuss, no mess. It’s on us. And of course you won’t deprive us of this huge mitzvah.”

Your intro: Our communities are baruch Hashem flourishing… Wonderful chesed organizations, their vibrancy palpable in our midst and beyond, are doing what they do best: heeding the calls of Yiddishe neshamos in pain… round the clock… 24/7… Thank You Hashem!

Seriously now, couldn’t improve on that if I tried. Thank you.


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