"I wish we did not write off people with mental illness to the extent that I cannot possibly sign my name here"
Stop Scrutinizing Singles [True to Me / Issue 755]
I felt like standing up and applauding after reading Avigail Stern’s incredible article about her years in shidduchim. Perfect.
Single women are subjected to so much undeserved scrutiny and are given so little of the respect and admiration they truly deserve. We all keep hearing that “even the most successful process doesn’t guarantee an anticipated outcome,” that outcome is in the hands of the One Above, yet somehow we still judge the dating process of so many because they’re still not at the finish line.
So many amazing singles are doing everything right, in spite of no end result to prove it. And in addition to all the stress they have to navigate, many have built impressive careers and maintain strong family ties and do phenomenal spiritual work… all while trying to make the best of an impossibly difficult situation that’s beyond their control. They are models of strength and stamina and are an inspiration to us all in getting through a stage of life they didn’t want to go through with their heads held high. They deserve no shame or unsolicited advice; they deserve our utmost admiration and support. They also deserve to be seen and involved as important members of our communities with the tremendous wisdom, abilities, resources, and talents they have to offer.
Kol hakavod to you, Avigail, for giving a voice to the brave women who really shine.
Chani Juravel LCSW
Spring Valley, NY
No Free Pass [Family Reflections / Issue 755]
Dear Mrs. Radcliffe,
I love your column and usually find your words to be very sensible and helpful. The column about mental illness and middos was no exception, but I believe a firm warning was omitted. It is certainly true that people with mental illnesses can treat others unfairly in a way that is often out of their control. It is also true that many of the mental illnesses you mentioned, like depression and PTSD, are treatable conditions that do not render the sufferer permanently incapacitated or unreliable. This being said, I think it is important to point out two very important things.
While not every insult that was hurled at another person by someone who suffers from mental illness needs to be taken to heart, people who suffer from these conditions do not get a free pass to go around and harm others. They need to seek treatment and do everything they can to get better. While this is happening, they need to act responsibly in every way possible by staying away from situations where they are bound to fail and cause others harm.
It is also dangerous and unfair for people to write off every comment made by a person who is suffering from mental illness, saying that they are dealing with a crazy person who does not need to be taken seriously. This can quickly create a situation where other people are not accountable for their actions either. That is why it is so important for the healthy person involved to turn to a therapist or objective third party before passing judgement.
I say this as a person who suffers from PTSD. After realizing that I was not always acting in a way that was effective or that I could be proud of, I told a therapist that I felt I’d hurt others in ways that I did not intend to and that I needed help to make sure I don’t do it again. The therapist helped me by identifying my condition and the long-ago trauma that it related to, and by recommending a treatment plan.
Unfortunately, according to both the therapist and a gadol I consulted after, the behavior of the other people involved was a lot more concerning than my own. They felt that my being overly emotional about what should have been a minor incident, gave them a pass to respond in ways that were even more inappropriate, and dismissed the very legitimate concern that brought me to speak to them in the first place. I do not know if they suffer from anything more than very delicate egos, but it was a very sad reality that should not be easily excused.
I wish we did not write off people with mental illness to the extent that I cannot possibly sign my name here, even though I have so much to be proud of with regard to how I am handling my own personal nisayon, and it is others who should be feeling shameful here. As the midrash says, we live in an olam hafuch.
Diet for Crohn’s [Medical Mystery / Issue 755]
Both my husband and my daughter have Crohn’s disease, and I’ve had almost 40 years of experience witnessing how this disease affected them.
The best thing that a person with Crohn’s can do is to remove sugar and carbohydrates from her diet. Nowadays this is easier than it used to be. For specific guidelines, consult Elaine Gottschall‘s book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, or go online and look up The Standard Carbohydrate Diet. One is allowed fish, meat, vegetables, soup, fruit, bread, and desserts made from almond flour and other flours. Rochel Weiss in Monsey makes food that conforms to this diet. She has an excellent cookbook as well. She can even send it to your home.
Of course, medicine may be necessary. Remicaid has been helpful. I have found that many doctors do not know much about diet and nutrition. The diet may not be so easy to follow at first, but it’s much better than taking Prednisone, which can have many damaging side effects.
May Hashem heal all of Bnei Yisrael.
Less Mixing, More Nixing [Man with a Pan / Issue 754]
Thank you so much for your edition of Man with a Pan by Reb Aaron Josephs. I am an aspiring cook and husband, and it is always refreshing to see what concoctions other men can come up with.
I agreed with many of the sentiments expressed in the article by Reb Josephs. In particular, I was very gratified to see his point about chocolate chips finally voiced in a public venue. It is unfortunately a hallmark of our deprecated modern society that people feel the need to mix all manner of foreign entities into an otherwise perfectly good cookie. Sprinkles, colorful sugar, and chocolate chips all have their places in the baking world, to be sure, but there is no reason to ruin a simple cookie experience with more flavors than necessary. I am much appreciative to the Mishpacha staff for enabling the greater public to benefit from the points expressed so clearly by Reb Josephs.
Growing in Eretz Yisrael [For Love of the Land / Issue 753]
I would like to comment on Mrs. Batya Weinberg’s answers to a reader who was unsure about making aliyah.
Mrs. Weinberg claims that there are olim who lower their level of frumkeit after making aliyah. Please let’s not forget that the opposite is also true and hopefully even more common. A lot of my friends, including myself, have become stronger in our mitzvah observance since making aliyah, including improvement in kisui rosh (despite the example of women who stop covering their hair when moving to Israel).
Here in Israel, there are modern chareidi yeshivah high schools that do not encourage any particular track for their students. Some of their graduates go to full-time yeshivos and some attend hesder yeshivot, with 3 3/4 years of yeshivah study and 1 1/4 years of service in the IDF.
To conclude, I can’t think of a better place for my family and I to be religiously inspired than here in Eretz Yisrael!
Nof Ayalon, Israel
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 757)
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