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Family First Inbox: Issue 814

“My students daven because they love to daven, thanks to Mrs. Nussbaum’s passion for tefillah”

Still a Problem [Close to Home // Issue 812]

In your real estate column, Nechama Norman writes that when she’s meeting a male client in his home, she asks that the man’s wife be there, to avoid yichud. While this would be effective when dealing with a religious Jewish married couple, if the couple in question is not Jewish (like the O’Briens), it would still present a yichud problem to be alone in their home with them.

Julie Kahan

Ramat Beit Shemesh

Nechama Norman responds:

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. These halachos are indeed complex. It’s something I’ve discussed with my rav, and he outlined the conditions under which this would be permissible, but every woman should consult with her own halachic authority


We Have the Power [Breaking the Chain / Issue 811]

I enjoyed reading the accounts of women who broke the chains of their past. I related to five out of six of them. (I grew up in a dysfunctional home.) I can proudly say that with siyata d’Shmaya and a lot of hard work, I broke away from four of them — and I’m working hard on the fifth.

One major topic that wasn’t included is breaking the chains of our emphasis on outer appearances, especially weight. I barely care anymore that I’m bigger than a size 4 (my sisters all wear size 2 and under). I can be anything I choose to be.

We have the power in us!

Name Withheld


A Priceless Gift [On Your Mark / Issue 811]

I was so excited to read “On Your Mark” about Mrs. Tamar Nussbaum.

As an experienced second grade teacher, I used her “Ani Tefillah” curriculum in the classroom, and not only can I unambiguously state that my students’ tefillah has drastically changed, but my tefillah also has taken on new meaning.

The ease of use and the rich child-friendly graphics depicting the peirush hamilim, combined with the clear and thorough teachers guide, are a rare find in the world of tefillah.

My students have mastered the “stop-think-feel” method. They daven because they love to daven, thanks to Mrs. Nussbaum’s passion for tefillah and devotion to the project. This is a priceless gift to Klal Yisrael’s children.




A Bitter Correlation [Inbox / Issue 810]

I’m writing in response to a letter titled “Left with Questions,” which was itself a response to the piece “A Bitter Pill,” about one woman’s struggle with addiction.

Of course, each person’s experience is unique. But I was taken aback by the letter writer’s lack of understanding for the woman, especially as she is a recovering addict herself.

She writes: “Yes she was abused, but the correlation between that and the addiction is what I believe was missing.”

This statement absolutely floored me. I think it’s a given that the magazine is not going to print the details of anyone’s abusive experience, for obvious reasons. But anyone in touch with the real world understands what happened to this woman — and by two different perpetrators!

Victims of abuse as a child or adolescent, who do not disclose and receive appropriate help at the time, are extremely likely to develop a substance addiction, as well as other self-harming behaviors. The woman in “Bitter Pill” writes about the self-loathing and emptiness that resulted from what she experienced. I don’t know how the connection could be more explicit.

Kol hakavod to the woman in “Bitter Pill” for eventually getting help. I’m sad for her and her family that they went through so much turmoil through her years of using, off and on. I’m in awe of her for going into treatment repeatedly. And I’m davening for her continued sobriety and emotional growth. We can all learn from her.

I think the letter writer, out of a lack of knowledge or experience in this area (baruch Hashem), is unwittingly making light of terrible abuse and the horrific ramifications felt by not only the immediate victim, but also children and entire families.

Thank you, Family First, for bringing this tragic but very real issue to light for your readers.

C. Axelrod,



Be the Change [Words Unspoken / Issue 810]

Dearest Someone Ready for Change,

It hurts me to know there’s no easy answer for those students with learning differences who are stuck without schools willing to accept them.

And you’re right — there are many others like you, so many who feel lost, alone, and different just because they were never shown acceptance from their communities. How can I explain the hurt of not being accepted?

What I can tell you is what I’ve learned: You want more ahavas Yisrael? So be the example of ahavas Yisrael, be the one who shows others real acceptance. Love others because they are Yidden, not based on how they look to you.

You worry about your sister, who, like you, has learning difficulties and cannot attend a local school. But if you and your family show her how much you love her, that no matter what she does, she’s good, she’ll be okay.

Someone who is the change


Should Your Kids Like You? [To Be Honest / Issue 810]

In one line in her piece about why today’s children have so much chutzpah, Mimi Fried inadvertently states one of the reasons for the whole problem of chutzpah.

She says that we are “so desperate to get our kids to like us that we forget we also have to make sure they are likeable.” Why is getting you children to “like you” a goal? How do you even know what will make them “like you”? Do you decide if something is the right thing to do according to how they will “like you”? Do you allow something just to make them “like you”? I could continue with the questions but if the answer is yes, it will surely lead to a serious issue with chutzpah.

As a parent, your goal should be to take care of your children’s needs, teach them right from wrong, and love them through it all. Their feelings for you will not depend on your efforts in making them “like you.”

Toby Brecher



Worth the Drive [Lifetakes / Issue 808]

Dear Esther,

On behalf of the mother who lives “out of town,” I thank you for making that long and difficult trip to bring your son to his friend. Not only did you do something great for your own child, you also did a kindness to this mother and her child.

There are a number of reasons why someone may choose to live out of town. It could be for kiruv purposes, lack of funds, or family needs. Whatever the reason, these mothers have to make that trip to bring their kids to school every single day, and sometimes many times a day. Now that you have experienced it, I appreciate you sharing its difficulties with the Mishpacha readers.

I’d just like to add the following:

  1. We out-of-town mothers really appreciate you making the effort to bring your kids. Please don’t be deterred from doing so, because of its (understandable) inconvenience for you. It is a great mitzvah.
  2. Out-of-town children often miss out on social get-togethers due to these long journeys. It would be so helpful if you (and your children) could have them in mind when making plans, to let them know in advance or invite them over before or after to make it easier for that mom to manage all those extra journeys.
  3. Perhaps you could consider inviting your son’s friend over for a Shabbos/overnight so that he could be a part of the yeshivah events. This would save the mother just one of those many journeys.

When busy mothers manage to overlook their own conveniences, put themselves in the shoes of out-of-town kids and (literally) drive that extra mile, it is truly a fulfilment of v’ahavta lerei’acha kamocha and kol Yisrael areivim zeh lazeh. The chinuch of stretching beyond your comfort zone to include those who are different is bound to be deeply impactful. May mothers like you merit to see the fruits of your chinuch and may your children learn to stretch themselves for the sake of a fellow Jew.

An out-of-town mother


The Caramelized Liver recipe in issue 812 calls for “fresh chicken liver.” This was not intended to mean raw liver, as all chicken liver must be broiled as a part of the kashering process. The recipe requires broiled liver that is fresh and has not been frozen, since the consistency of the liver is altered once it has been frozen.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 814)

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