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FF Inbox: Issue 901

“Without practical knowledge about the realities of today’s workplace and business environment, even the best of intentions is useless”

Eved Hashem for Life [Editor’s Letter / Issue 899]

I was surprised and gratified to read Adina Lover’s editor’s letter about my grandfather, Mr. Max Perlstein. Surprised, because my grandfather was a private person who didn’t seek any public accolades or recognition. Gratified, because the manner in which he handled his nisayon of ALS has been so inspiring to so many, and I’m grateful that more people can learn from him. I wanted to point out that my grandfather was able to serve Hashem while suffering from ALS the way he did because he had lived his entire life as an eved Hashem, focused on learning Torah and appreciating Hashgachah pratis. So when the terrible diagnosis came, he had the spiritual foundation to continue learning and growing despite his physical challenges.

Yehi zichro baruch,

Mindy (Perlstein) Kornfeld

Enabled [Second Guessing / Issue 899]

I don’t understand why the mother in this story about a couple’s dilemma over whether their daughter should be earning her own spending money or not is letting her daughter run roughshod all over her! If the mother needs her car for pickups and to get to work, why is her daughter’s desire to borrow the car to get to her after-school jobs overriding her mother’s needs? Spending a fortune on her parents’ cheshbon without the courtesy of checking first implies a lack of boundaries and respect that should have been addressed a long time ago. The daughter is out of line, but her mother has clearly long enabled this behavior.


A Balance [Second Guessing / Issue 899]

Times sure have changed.

Kids don’t work for their spending money anymore? How will they learn to budget if they have no experience? I think the parents did the right thing by having their daughter earn her own spending money. It’s not like they’re making her pay for her own clothing, just for her extras. The mother also did the right thing by offering to match whatever her daughter already made. They taught her a thing or two about saving, and now it’s their turn to help her. After all, it doesn’t sound like they’re low on money.

I had no spending money when I was in seminary. I remember searching the streets of Yerushalayim to find discarded bus cards (remember those punch cards?) that had punches left on them so I could take a bus to my chesed family. I used the money that I earned babysitting as a teenager to pay for deodorant and basic clothing. My parents didn’t pay for anything. I paid for my sheitlach when I got married and was broke by the time I got to the chuppah.

There’s got to be a balance, and matching her daughter’s efforts makes sense.


A Halachic Matter [Strictly Business / Issue 897]

Thank you for the stories you shared about the challenges people face with tzniyus in the workplace. These are just the tip of the iceberg of the realities of today’s society. But there is still a very important piece missing from the conversation: how to prevent the issues being written about.

If we take a step back, we can identify three major causes that have contributed to the situation we find ourselves in today:

  1. Lack of knowledge of the basic halachos. At Doeihu, we send out a daily email pertaining to halachah in the workplace. I have yet to meet the person who started reading our emails and has not commented that the halachos have changed the way they go about their everyday life. Our readers are men and women at every level and position and in every corner of the globe — from Turkey to France, Argentina, South Africa, and beyond.

What many people think are chumras or minhagim are actually black-and-white halachos. And once a person crosses the line, the yetzer hara is ready to drag the person down the slippery slope until they are doing things they never could have imagined.

The vast majority of people mean well and want to do what’s right. The simple problem is that they were never taught what is allowed and what isn’t. Without practical knowledge about the realities of today’s workplace and business environment, even the best of intentions is useless.

  1. Lack of knowledge about how to deal with situations as they crop up. There are so many scenarios that can crop up in the workplace: from a coworker leaning over your shoulder to share your screen, to office birthday presents, to a compliment from a male boss. Even when one knows the halachos, without guidance and chizuk to uphold them, it is easy to slip — “just this one time” — so as not to create a tumult and offend anyone.
  2. People feel they are alone in their struggles. When you’re alone, it’s much harder to fight — and it’s so much easier to succumb to pressure. And people who are struggling to maintain the proper standards often feel guilty, feeling that something is wrong with them if they fail.

Doeihu’s 19,000 readers share their daily struggles and victories, spurring each other on to have the strength to do what’s right, and to fight for it when necessary. Doeihu’s emails feature halachos, inspiration, and guidance for how to handle these situations with grace and respect. Real-life stories and best-practice advice from those in the trenches provide the tools needed to stay strong through challenges, and members can also reach out with sensitive questions. Time and again, we’ve seen the power of our community. One example: Dozens of companies, and hundreds of individuals added or upgraded their Internet filters in response to one of the stories we shared. To join Doeihu, email subscribe@doeihu.org.

Rabbi Y.M. Friedman, Director Doeihu

Including Women [Strictly Business / Issue 897]

The recent article on workplace dynamics brought up some very important points. There was a related point I wanted to make on men and women in the frum workplace. For most of my adult life, I’ve worked in the Bais Yaakov school system, which is predominantly staffed by women. Occasionally, though, there are men who teach and some men in the hanhalah or in administrative positions. Over the years, I’ve noticed some interesting trends as a result. First, the men who were teaching were often given leeway not given to their female colleagues. They were excused from staff meetings that were mandatory for the rest of the staff, or were allowed days off more easily.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that communication between men on staff and men in the higher positions sometimes bypassed their female colleagues. Sometimes important decisions — even curriculum adjustments — were made as a result of conversations between the men alone, affecting their female colleagues, who were not included in the discussions.

Likely the men, coming from the yeshivah world or the kollel world, are used to working in male-oriented places. These are people whose tzniyus is important to them, and they aren’t used to interacting with women. Their default may be just to keep it among the men, but it can result in people feeling as if they’re being treated unfairly. While Bais Yaakov schools can seem like another setting in the yeshivah world, they are also professional settings staffed by numerous women who excel at what they do, and who should be treated as the professionals they are, and not as additional pupils.

I believe this is an oversight, with no intended offense. However, any discussion regarding the workplace should include this aspect, too. We should be asking how we can overcome this hurdle while keeping people’s sensitivities in mind.

Name Withheld


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 901)

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