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Family First Inbox: Issue 759

"All of us have the fortitude to turn these outrageous comments into something positive in our life"


The Comment That Changed My Life [Editor’s Letter / Issue 757]

I always look forward to reading Bassi’s insightful column but the one she wrote this week really resonated with me. Oh, my, the inappropriate “zingers” people say; I can truly testify that those really happen!

In a nutshell, I was sitting shivah at the ripe old age of 38 for my first husband, Dovid. (At the time, I had four children ranging in age from six to two.) The room was packed when one of Dovid’s friends, obviously bereft, asked me, “Are you sure you got Dovid a good doctor?” Everyone around me was shocked at his question and I truly feel Hashem put the words in my mouth when I answered, “The very best.”

That comment was the impetus that literally changed my life. That very evening, I started writing a list of what to say and not to say when a person is menachem avel. It took a few years, but that list snowballed into a manuscript guiding people on how to be helpful when a family is going through a serious illness or the loss of a loved one. The manuscript eventually turned into two popular books (one also published in Spanish), to publishing many articles, such as the one I wrote for Mishpacha magazine titled “You Are So Lucky,” which led to my giving inspirational, uplifting speeches to many different types of Jewish women’s groups, to having one of my speeches put on Torah Anytime, to being interviewed on different programs, etc…

I am not advocating making insensitive comments, chas v’shalom. But, people should just know that all of us have the fortitude to turn these outrageous comments into something positive in our life.

Rebecca (Feldbaum) Steier

If There’s Anything I Can Do… (Feldheim)

What Should I Say, What Can I Do? (Simon & Schuster)


What Do You Value? [Friendship Fix / Issue 755]

I applaud the woman who was disturbed by her friends opening up a little too much in their comfortable park bench setting. I have witnessed this all too often — in bungalow colony groups, porch chats, coffee dates and shared meals, where things that should not be shared among friends are delved into and discussed deeply, violating the privacy we should respect as wives and mothers.

While the majority of peers would do as this woman’s did, calling her the “Rebbetzin” and completely dismissing her feelings, she is right. There is a fine line between discussing more private things with a close friend for the validation and opinion a husband sometimes simply cannot offer, and making those topics totally public property.

I’m a more private person because I choose to be, not by nature, and I am shocked sometimes by the things my friends discuss so freely. Even with parents. When a healthy girl gets married, the things she discusses with her mother should change.  Marriage means many aspects of a person’s life become intimate and reserved. This is a good thing, a beautiful thing, a privilege — not a restriction.

When the people around me share things I would never, I almost feel bad for them that certain areas of their life aren’t special enough and kept to the four walls of their home that they feel a pressing need to bring it outside to the snoods-and-carriages forum.

Hats off to this woman who truly values her discretion — which means her marriage, children, and home as well.


Lakewood, NJ


Timely Tune [Inbox / Issue 755]

Thank you, Miriam Liebermann, for reminding us about the beautiful niggun from Rav Mayer Horowitz, the Bostoner Rebbe of Har Nof, for the powerful words in Devarim 4: 35, “Atah horaisa ladaas.”

I (Moshe) recall waiting for the Bostoner Rebbe ztz”l in Yerushalayim, when “someone” walked in and asked if we bochurim would like to learn a niggun. Of course, we said yes. It was only later, when Rav Mayer walked in with his father, that we realized that it was the humble composer himself who had been teaching us!

And I (Sara) recall working as a counselor in the Bostoner Rebbe’s day camp in the early ’70s, when Rav Mayer taught us his newly composed niggun.

With the Yamim Noraim, and Simchas Torah in particular, on the horizon, the timing for recalling this moving tune is perfect.

Davar b’ito, mah tov.

Moshe and Sara Brejt

Baltimore, MD


Beautiful Bomb Shelters [All the Broken Roads / Issue 754]

A big thank you to Ariella Schiller for her excellent story “All the Broken Roads.” Having grown up in a home that unfortunately lacked shalom bayis, I related very much to Mali in the story, and her description of the “beautiful bomb shelter” Mali used as a survival strategy. Thanks for bringing awareness and validation to all of us children who suffer in silence!

Name Withheld


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 759)

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