Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I’ve been reading your column since it first appeared in The Jewish Press years ago. At that time I was trying to get my get – I have, boruch Hashem, been remarried to a wonderful woman for the past nineteen years – and you provided a lifeline for me, even though I belonged to the “enemy camp.” Your empathy for anyone in a state of suffering and pain was in evidence from the first moment and you offered up unbiased, fair and helpful advice. I was one of the first submissions from a male and you were of great help. Now, however, I am writing for reasons that are troubling me greatly.
I am very upset at what has appeared in you column as the years have passed and find it hard to believe that so much “tarfes” has invaded our midst. Your column appears to have taken on a tabloid format highlighting every kind of misery that exists in the secular world. How is this possible when we lead such a pristine and Torahdik life? We keep a keen eye on our children to make sure they are shielded from the wrong influences, and we live in communities of our own kind to minimize the hashpaos of the outside world that could pose a threat to our way of life. I don’t own a computer (I only use one at work but not at home), we do not have TV nor did we allow any kind of electronic playthings for our children and, hodu Le’Hashem, they grew up be’derech hayashor. How then is it possible that so much misery has been allowed to grow in our midst? Which begs the question: Are all those letters in print really real? I am not implying that you would in any way knowingly showcase these for their shock value or to feed into a readership that looks for exposure to, such reading material, but its just beyond the scope of my understanding how we can suffer from every machla that exists in the outside world.
Every so often I receive a letter that is both respectful in its content and in recognition for the service provided, while questioning whether the writers and the subject matter addressed are printed expressly for diverse and adverse entertainment purposes. Many of the letters I receive in this category are somewhat mean-spirited and accusatory. Sadly, many people would like to think that the world is composed of people and situations exactly like those of their neighbors and the street on which they live. These are the readers who find it impossible to believe that their insulated, safe environment is not the one that represents the world in which we all live, and that there is a vast difference in the lives of Yidden living on other blocks not a stone’s throw away from their own. We would all love to live in that bubble, but the truth is that we live in that world.
Every letter that appears in print is scrutinized by myself and two other professionals. Every problem is addressed because it represents not just the immediate writer, but many others who may be experiencing a similar situation and could benefit from some guidance. What started out so many years ago as a platform for women in abusive marriages who were held captive by husbands refusing to give a get, mushroomed to include children of those unions who were suffering silently without anyone to speak out to or speak for them. Grandparents who were denied visits with their grandchildren came forward. Letters on issues such as substance and behavioral abuse, work and school related problems and so forth, arrived by the bagful. So we changed the heading and made it a platform for all the issues that have arisen with the advent of modernity, the age of electronics and permissiveness.
Every letter that has an e-mail or snail mail address is answered in as timely a fashion as I can muster, and anyone requesting specific assistance in the way of resources or references is accommodated to the best of my ability. Those that I have no way of reaching because of their request for anonymity and confidentiality are the only ones who may miss out on a personal response. Just so you know, every problem addressed in print is real and every issue is pertinent to many others as well as the letter writer. We have enough issues in our real life journey that there is no need to manufacture any problem for the purpose of sensationalism. Whatever the secular world is afflicted with has made its way into our daled amos. You are indeed blessed, baruch Hashem, that you have never encountered anything adverse to our Torah way of life, in raising your children and in your home life. Please be benevolent and non-judgmental about the plight and suffering of those who are not as fortunate.
I do remember your letter back in the day and am extremely happy that I was able to offer you some verbal solace at that time. I hope I was able to do the same in response to your current letter and pray for the coming of Moshiach so that there will no longer be a need for this column.