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Dear Dr. Respler:

I am worried about the world I am leaving to my grandchildren. When I was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s things were difficult, but the world didn’t seem to be upside down.

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Once upon a time there used to be morality and respect. Today it seems as if all of that has fallen to the wayside. We see it creeping into our own community as well. It is permeating our homes, schools and even our shuls. I’m concerned that even though we try to insulate ourselves as much as possible, eventually the bad influences could wear through that insulation and affect us. What concerns me even more is that there are people who seem not to be concerned. They go about their business in a joyful mood oblivious to our surroundings.

Another issue that bothers me is that simchas today seem to require a minimum standard of extravagance. The music has to be so loud you can’t hear yourself think. The price of housing is going through the roof, tuition bills are increasing rapidly, food bills are higher than ever, and our brothers in Eretz Yisrael face ominous dangers on a daily basis.

So you ask me: What are we supposed to do, sit in a corner and cry? That would be a good start. We could also do more chesed. And then, how about a voluntary tax on simchas with the funds going to the local yeshivos so they can pay their teachers’ salaries? Impose a voluntary tax of 20% of what is spent on the simcha and the yeshivah can issue a plaque acknowledging their generosity to display at the affair. Of course, those who can’t afford the tax and are making a modest affair are exempt.

We are the Chosen Nation and if we don’t serve as an example, who will? If we don’t save the world with our tefillah, tzedakah and chesed, who will?

Dr. Respler, you specialize in intimacy issues. How do we rekindle that intimacy we used to enjoy with Hashem? How do we go back to a time when we felt His presence and His love for us? We need that love now more than ever. And if we do not seek it out, who will?

We are witnessing trying times in America, Eretz Yisrael, and all over the world. How can we turn the tide, connect with Hashem and reconnect with our lost brothers? Can we make a real difference, and where do we start? Thank you.

Concerned Grandfather

 

Dear Concerned Grandfather:

First, thank you for taking the time to write and share your concerns. While I agree that there are many problems in the world, I also know that there are many amazing people and organizations devoting time, energy and money to make our world a better place – physically and spiritually.

There is so much chesed in our community. Don’t focus on the negatives, that’s the easy thing to do. In the years after the war, our parents and grandparents devoted themselves to making things better. If all they did was focus on the negative, where would we be today?

Once upon a time it was hard to be a shomer Shabbos Jew in America and impossible to be a living Jew in Eretz Yisrael. There was poverty, lack of work and in Eretz Yisrael poverty and Arab violence. But they persevered and went on to build the beautiful communities we have today.

While I am concerned about the issues you raise, I also think we are living with a tremendous amount of religious freedom and generally have good lives here and in Israel. I hope you can focus on the positives our world has to offer. Hatzlocha!

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to deardryael@aol.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.