I am writing to you about Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein, zt”l, a special person that I was zocheh to know. Rabbi Wallerstein’s petirah was a huge loss to our community. Rabbi Wallerstein was helpful to me in many cases where parents were concerned about how to handle teenagers that were acting out. As therapists, we, ethically, should not directly tell clients what to do. I remember having a case where a mother found some non-kosher wrappings while cleaning her child’s room. She was very upset and was not sure how to handle the situation. Although I felt a softer approach with questioning was appropriate, I told her that I would call Rabbi Wallerstein. Rabbi Wallerstein agreed with my approach and told me to relay this to the mother. Thus, I was able to guide my client appropriately. She felt confident with this approach as she knew Rabbi Wallerstein had vast experience with teens who struggle with yiddishkeit.
I was also honored to have Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein as a guest on my radio show several years ago. I will never forget a question that he raised to me. Rabbi Wallerstein asked me, “Tell me Dr. Respler, what is the one thing that a human being can’t live without for even one second?” I thought of air, water, etc. However, I knew that we can live without air or water for a second. I told him that I really did not know. Rabbi Wallerstein answered me, “We cannot live without time. When your time is up, Hashem takes your neshama. There is no choice.”
These deep statements got me thinking after the show, “do we make the best choices of how to use our time wisely?” Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein used his time sagaciously. He created programs, schools, and institutions that have helped hundreds of people. He particularly worked with troubled girls to find a productive life filled with Torah and meaning. In addition, he reached out to older single girls to provide classes and healthy activities for them. He was an example to all of us how to build others up and how to use our time to help people.
Personally, I was in such shock to learn of the petirah of Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein at such a young age. He was such a caring person, always motivating others with his inspirational speeches. His charisma catapulted these girls and others to transcend beyond their limited perspectives to greater religious heights. May Rabbi Wallerstein be a melitz yasher for his family and for Klal Yisroel. Yehi Zichro Baruch.
Dear Dr. Yael,
I read your column this week and I could really relate to the writer. I also have a difficult and critical mother-in-law. I try hard to please my mother-in-law, but she always attempts to find fault in me. Even when I attempt to do positive things for her, they are not appreciated. I try to buy my mother-in-law gifts, but she always exchanges them. Now if I want to be nice, I buy her gift certificates from Amazon. I am not writing to complain. I just wanted to give your writer chizuk. I think I figured out that my own mother-in-law is simply jealous that I am younger and that her son loves me. Perhaps the writer’s mother-in-law has similar jealousy and the negativity has nothing to do with what she does or who she is. Sometimes just knowing that you did nothing wrong can help minimize the pain. Seeing this issue from another perspective may help this writer not feel bad and help her deal more effectively with the negativity that may come her way. I hope that she gets the strength not to allow her mother-in-law to affect her marriage negatively. I thought my letter would be helpful.
Thank you for your insightful letter. I am publishing your response in order to help others who may be suffering with a similar issue. Kudos to you for rising above a difficult situation. May Hashem give you strength to be positive with everyone in your life and to continue to be successful in managing this relationship. Hatzlocha!
Dear Dr. Yael,
I was reading the column about a reader wanting to adopt/foster a Jewish child. FYI there is an organization called JAFCO – Jewish Adoption and Family Care Options. I am aware of this organization because I go to their annual fundraiser on Long Island. They do amazing work JAFCO.org.
Thank you for your recommendation. I am printing your response to help others who want to adopt/foster a Jewish Child. I am not familiar with this organization, so I cannot recommend it, but I hope others will do their research. Your letter is much appreciated! Hatzlocha!