| Calligraphy: Pesach 5784 |



Gratitude List

1) kids devoured supper

2) it didn’t snow enough to make driving scary and school canceled

3) Sarah had a girl — and I don’t have to wake up early to go to a bris

Can I make an Ungrateful List, or a “thought I was grateful but now I’m not” list? It’s confusing. I feel like Someone Upstairs is messing with me. Switching Gavi’s class seemed like the best thing since a Shabbos nap but now I feel like an old sheitel that looks like a bird’s nest.

He came home yesterday and asked me for football gloves — clueless me has no idea what he’s talking about.

“It makes you catch the football better — it has grippy things on it.”

First, I’m thinking, since when does he play football? Then, why does he need accessories, what happened to just balls and imagination? Apparently everyone in his new class plays football. His old class played dodgeball and basketball. Fine, not sure why they need gloves, but whatever. I checked on Amazon at work today for football grip gloves; I didn’t even know what I was searching for. There was a price range — and sue me, I bought the $15 ones.

I told Gavi when I got home, thinking I’d get a mother-of-the-year prize, but no, instead he asks me, “What team?”

“Team?” I was so confused.

“Yeah, what team is on the gloves?”

“There’s no team on the gloves. I think it has a black and white swirl design.”

“I wanted the one with the Giants!”

That was a jaw-drop moment. Did he just name a professional sports team, and not just say it, but that he wanted a product of theirs?

I could ask in clutch-my-pearls shock where my darling son picked up these shtusim from, but I knew the answer: I put him there.

“Do other boys in your class have teams?” I tried for nonchalant, but I don’t think my voice is ever in that pitch range.

“Yeah, everyone.”

“So, like four kids?”

“No, everyone.”


Gavi looked at me and then started counting on his fingers.


Ouch, that’s out of like 23.

“But I already ordered gloves for you.”

“Can’t you cancel them, or return them?”

Yeah, but…. That really wasn’t the point. I made myself take deep breaths and tried to escape. I gave him a vague, “We’ll see.”

I would have talked it over with Yussie when he came home, but he came home so late and so tired, it was not worth trying to have a conversation about anything real, or that we might argue about. That dumb I’m not.


Gratitude List

1) I stopped at 1 cookie today

2) I had enough lens solution for tonight, and I didn’t have to go into the storage closet for a new one; it can wait for tomorrow

3) Maria showed up

Ok — let’s try this journaling for real. ’Cuz Gavi asked me if I ordered the right gloves again. And I said no. He asked why, and I didn’t really have an answer for him. I was like, “I’m not comfortable  getting you gloves with a sports team on them. It’s not appropriate for a ben Torah.”

To which he answered, “Rabbi Reuben has a pair with the Jets on it. We all make fun of him, ‘cuz they’re the worst — Aaron Rogers was injured the first game of the season, like four plays in.”

I literally just blinked while my nostrils vibrated like a shul table at Haman during Megillah leining. So not only does he know teams, he knows play-by-plays, and I’m only finding out about any of this in a roundabout, obvious, duh kinda way. I didn’t know what to say. Flabbergasted, yes, I think that’s the word. I always wanted to use the word, but I don’t think I’ve ever been flabbergasted in my life.

“I hear. I need to think about it.”

He stomped off.

I think offering to think about it is a huge concession, but now I need to think about what I need to think about. Why am I flipping out? I know why I’m flipping out; the question is, is my reason valid? So let’s journal, they tell you, let’s discover what you’re thinking and feeling.

So first, we’re like a good frum yeshivish house, my boys play sports, it’s healthy, but we’re not like into it. Or at least I’m not. I don’t encourage it. Like yes, go play basketball with your friends, but a serious competition, or to stand outside practicing the perfect shot — no.

And then there’s the next level: professional sports. Goyish, that’s it.

And then to endorse it commercially by bringing their shtus into my house. It’s so clear-cut. Why couldn’t I tell that to Gavi?

’Cuz then I’m putting down his rebbi, who I don’t know WHY has Jets gloves. I’m also putting down three-quarters of his new class, saying he’s holier and better than them, and he was just starting to make new friends, and this year felt so much different from last year, it’s throwing me off my values.

But what’s a bigger value — my kid’s friends and self-esteem, or upholding principles? If my kids make friends who have values that are so not ours, what good is that???

I really need to talk to Yussie, but I don’t want to. He comes home late and tired and he doesn’t get these things. He also has a blind spot when it comes to sports — he’s such an out-of-towner, he thinks it’s fine — like he doesn’t get that we’re against these things not because we’re uptight in-towners, but because sports is actually a step-down out-of-town allowance. I just think in-town is better on these types of things.

We used to talk about this all the time when we first got married, but we just ended up fighting over something that I had no control over. Like, I would tell him to not follow sports, and then what??? It’s not like it actually affected my life. It was more the principle back then. But now I wished I’d gotten through to him years ago, ’cuz now, it’s so entrenched, and it’s my KID we’re talking about… I don’t know.

Need to talk to someone… who?


To: YehudisG613@gmail.com

From: Amazon.com

Subject: Your order football super grips have been delivered!


To: RabbiSchwartzberg@KhalTorah.org

From: YehudisG613@gmail.com

Hello, Rabbi Schwartzberg,

You don’t know me, but I’ve been listening to your parshah shiurim on TorahAnytime for years. I really appreciate the hashkafah you weave into all your vorts. I was hoping you could give me some chinuch guidance.

My son wants football gloves with a professional sports team logo on it. We’re a yeshivish family, we don’t do organized sports like this. My son picked this up from his new class (we switched him out of his old one due to bullying). What would you advise, to get the gloves or not?

Thank you in advance,

Mrs. Yehudis Gordan


From: RabbiSchwartzberg@KhalTorah.org

To: YehudisG613@gmail.com

Hello, Mrs. Gordan,

Thank you for your email and compliments.

I understand you’re dealing with a sensitive chinuch question, and while I’d love to help, I don’t really know you, your son, the school, etc. There are too many factors I’m not aware of to even suggest a direction.

Sorry I can’t be of more assistance. Wishing you much hatzlachah,

Rabbi E. Schwartzberg



Yussie: Running late

Yehudis: again? Thanks for letting me know


Gratitude List

1) At least Rabbi Schwartzberg answered right away

2) Mindy slept through most of the night

3) My headache went away with Advil

I don’t even know who to ask. Am I ridiculous for emailing a random rabbi? He doesn’t feel so random to me; I’ve been listening to him weekly for the past five years at least. But I guess I’m random to him. But there’s no one to ask. The shul hasn’t found a rav yet and Yussie’s rosh yeshivah passed away two years ago… not that we asked him that much before, but at least it was someone in our back pocket. We spoke to him when Esti invited us for Pesach and she and Shloimy weren’t so machmir on stuff.



Esti: Sorry I hung up. My boss kept on walking past my desk.

Yehudis: It’s fine, you heard the gist of it, but I didn’t tell you the kicker.

Esti: ?????

Yehudis: Gavi came home yesterday and I see he has new football grip gloves things, with the Giants logo, and I asked him where he got them and he said that Yussie bought them for him.

Esti: WHAT????

Yehudis: I don’t know what to think! Did Yussie realize he was going behind my back? Also, like, he doesn’t think it’s a problem???

Esti: Ummm… maybe talk to him?

Yehudis: Ye Ye

Esti: Not my business — but you’re the one who called me. I think you’re overreacting. It’s just a pair of gloves with sports teams on it. He doesn’t think he’s the next Tom Brady.

Yehudis: I don’t even know who that is. Also, we kinda see these things a little differently.

Esti: I’m your sister, not an idiot, I know we have different hashkafos, but even so, even for your type I think you’re overreacting. What’s the actual damage here, other than the principle of the matter?

Yehudis: Principles count!

Esti: Ye ye, like texting your sister when you’re supposed to be working. I’ll ttyl.


Gratitude List

1) The Sun

2) The Moon

3) The Stars

I spoke to Yussie today. Was more useless than I thought it would be.

“Sports is not a big deal — women never get it,” he said. “Anyway, why is it any different from when you bought Lieba the airplane-something sweater? That was an expensive piece of designer influence. Clothing is way more materialistic and problematic than sports.”

When I didn’t argue back, he ate in silence, which is better than making fun of me. I don’t think I don’t get it; I actually think I’m an outsider who can see things clearer. Just like he’s an outsider to women’s fashion. He has a point about the Aviator Nation sweatshirt — I never thought about it like that. To me it seemed liked a small price to pay for self-esteem and acceptance; it’s not right but it’s not wrong either. But maybe it is more nefarious, like sports. I have to think about it.

At least I know that he didn’t do it to spite me. Gavi just asked him at the right second, and he ordered them on his phone. Why he has Amazon as one of his allowed apps, I don’t know. It’s not worth fighting over these days. What is worth fighting over? I don’t know.



Yehudis: He doesn’t want to be Tom Brady, but he wants to watch him!

Esti: First of all, Tom Brady retired. Second, explain yourself, woman.

Yehudis: one of his new friends invited him and a bunch of classmates to a Giants game. His uncle works in ticket reselling, I don’t even know what that means. And he got a suite, and he invited his nephews and their friends to come for the nephew’s birthday party.

Esti: That is so cool! Can Shloimy be this kid’s friend, too?

Yehudis: Ye, well, Fate is funny and had the tickets offered to my kid instead.

Esti: You’re not gonna let him go????

Yehudis: Are you crazy? No way! It’s like going to the movies!

Esti: It is NOT like going to the movies. Football games, especially the ones here, where it’s cold, are not pritzus, and if he’s in a box, then he’s not even sitting next to anyone questionable, it’s just his friends.

Yehudis: Why do I even ask you — you’re on a totally different wavelength.

Esti: Ye, why DO you ask me?

Yehudis: there’s no one else. Who do you ask your questions to? Besides, you’re my sister.

Esti: Your favorite sister. Say it!

Yehudis: My favorite sister.

Esti: Say that I’m your favorite sister, a full sentence.

Yehudis: Fine… Esti, you’re my favorite sister.

Esti: Perfect, you’re my favorite sister and second-favorite sibling.

Yehudis: What???

Esti: Ye, I like Binny better, you can be judgy judgy.

Yehudis: And you can be dumb-bee. Anywho back to the question — who do you ask your sh’eilahs to?

Esti: No one really. Who’s there to ask? Sometimes I’ll ask parenting questions to a social worker I follow online. She’s much more modern than me, but she’s really smart. Always on target.

Yehudis: What’s her name?

Esti: My frum sister is gonna go on social media?!

Yehudis: I have a business account for MonCher for product marketing, you know that. Don’t make me feel like a piece of schmutz.

Esti: Lol, right, MonCher Kids is totally kosher because it’s strictly business, but I’m the schmutz who goes on social for pleasure.

Yehudis: Always twisting. What’s her name.

Esti: ParentingFails.

Yehudis: Dumb name.

Esti: It’s marketing. It works. I like her.

Yehudis:  Whatever. Gonna work now. TTYL

Esti: And look who bails on the conversation.

Yussie: Running late

Yehudis: Again? Thanks for telling me


To: YehudisG613@gmail.com

From: Info@YeshivaShaarChaim.com

Subject: PTA Schedule Enclosed


Dear Mrs. Gordan,

The following is your schedule of appointments for PTA tomorrow night:

8:20 – Mrs. Shore

8:40 – Mr. Vandell

9:00 – Mrs. Breezei

We are reminding all parents to please be courteous of the teachers’ and other parents’ time and adhere to the schedule. If you need to have a lengthy conversation with a teacher please make a follow-up appointment at a later date.

Thank you,

Rabbi Horowitz

General Studies Principal


Gratitude List

1) Eyes

2) Ears

3) Beating heart

Went to PTA tonight for Gavi, and waited in line with the mothers in the class, ’cuz of course these things never run on time. They were all new to me. There were five of us waiting, they were all different types. Two looked like me, one wore a fall with a band and a drop of hair in the front, the other came in a mitpachat. All nice women really. They seemed like they all knew each other, like the class is a chevreh and the mothers are in on it. And they were so happy to meet me, they’d all heard of Gavi, even though I’d never heard of them. And I’m just real awful, ’cuz they’re so nice, and I’m judging them — ’cuz I’m assuming all of them would let their kids go to that football game. As I left the actual PTA one of the mothers said in a low voice, “Was a pleasure meeting Gavi’s mother, we’re so happy he joined the class, and I really hope he’ll come to the Giants game.”

So I guess she was the mother of the kid inviting. Why do I feel so clueless. Should I know all these boys’ names and stuff?

And PTA, it was strange. There was the usual, “He doesn’t like to be called on randomly.” And, “He should come to school more prepared.” But there was also, “He’s really well-liked in his class, I see leadership qualities in him. He’s so kind at recess, but also fun — really getting into the games.”

I just feel like the worst mother ever. Like I don’t know my son. He’s the unknowable, untraceable crumbs in his briefcase.

And he’s happy. I’ve seen it at home. His teacher and those mothers confirmed it. And I’m upset about football gloves, and a football game. And I still think I’m right. This is my family, my meluchah, and yet… I just feel like I ate a piece of galleh.



Tehila: Hi, this is Tehila Berkowitz, Eli’s mother. Was just checking in, is Gavi planned on coming to the game? I’d appreciate if you could let me know either way. Yoni would offer the ticket to another boy, obviously he wants Gavi first, but would hate for it to go to waste.

Yehudis: Thanks for texting. He won’t be coming. Really appreciate the offer.

Tehila: What a shame. I’d say next time, but with this, it’s unlikely.

Yehudis: I know. Thanks.


Gratitude List

1) Heart

2) Lungs

3) Teeth


I can’t bear to write it, because if I write it, then it’s true, and if it’s true then….

First, I told Gavi he couldn’t go. And he was a mix of complete crying and overwhelming rage — each version was a complete meltdown. I’ve never seen him blubbering and crying like that. Will he hate me forever for this? I can’t give my kids poison — will he understand that when he’s older?

I spoke to Yussie tonight about sports and stuff and he said, “What’s the worst that can happen to Gavi, that he ends up like me? That’s not too shabby.”

And I caught myself before the words left my mouth — Yes, that is the worst thing, that Gavi would end up like you.

I don’t even know where that came from. I’ve never thought of that before. It feels so true, but I don’t want it to be. How can my kids being like him be the worst thing? That’s so dramatic, and cruel. So what if he’s a little short-tempered, and stays at work later than I’d prefer, and hocks in shul a bit late. But he mostly does everything he’s supposed to, has a good job, is kovea itim seriously, helps around the house when he’s home, we have fun together, we mostly get along, except I don’t know what’s been up lately… Is that not enough for me?

Every time he oversleeps, I roll my eyes. As if I had the luxury of not getting the kids up and ready. And then some days he davens at home. I’m supposed to be okay with that? Want my kid to do that, too?

They say being your husband’s mashgiach is like breakdancing in a shivah house. But how can I not see? Even if I don’t say anything. And what kind of example is he setting for our kids? And coming back to Gavi — I guess I’m so firm on this ’cuz I don’t want him to end up like his father. That’s a terrible thing to think about your husband.

Maybe I’m just tired and in a foul mood.

This can’t be reality, because if it is, I don’t know what to do. There’s no one to sort any of this out with.

Maybe a good night’s sleep will fix everything. It often does.


Keywords: Family, Communication, Decision, Chinuch


Speaker 1 (24%), Speaker 2 (55%), (Yehudis (21%),

Yehudis 1:25

Can we pause this meeting a sec, my husband is calling, and that’s usually urgent.

Speaker 1: 1:30

Sure sure, take your time.

Yehudis: 1:34

Hi, what’s up?

Speaker 2: 1:36

I don’t have time for a long conversation.  I just dropped Gavi off at yeshivah. I wondered why he needs a mental health morning — he’d been doing so well in school. And he told me about missing the game. HOW COULD YOU DO THAT TO HIM? Did you not get what it meant? And how could you do that to me? Not tell me about it, ask me my opinion. How could you make a unilateral decision? You took away a chance for me to be mechanech my kids. What am I to you? An ATM? Gavi is miserable, he feels like the biggest loser, all his friends are talking about how amazing it was. So besides wanting to know what you were thinking, I’ll be the one to communicate here. I’m taking Gavi to a game. Me and him.

Yehudis: 2:28

What? No!

Speaker 2: 2:31

Who are you to say no? You made decisions by yourself. I can do that too. And I’m the father, the one officially in charge of chinuch.

Yehudis: 2:39

What do you want your meluchah to look like?

Speaker 2: 2:42

My meluchah? What are you saying?

Yehudis: 2:46

You’re looking at today, his social life now. I’m looking at the future, what I want our family to be.

Speaker 2: 2:53

Exactly — what YOU want. Did you ask me? And where, besides your gut, are you even getting the idea that sports is incompatible with “meluchah”?

Yehudis: 3:08

Binah yeseirah is real.

Speaker 2: 3:12

It is, and so is communicating with your husband… I gotta go, just pulled up at work.

Yehudis: 3:21

Hi, so sorry about that. Something just came up, is it okay if we reschedule to go over the ad options tomorrow?

Speaker 1: 3:30

Sure, Yehudis, just pick a time in my Calendly.

Yehudis: 3:33

Thanks, take care.

Speaker 1: 3:35


Yehudis: 3:37


Rate Transcript Quality



Esti: Can’t talk — boss is around, texting only.

Yehudis: Yussie is fuming at me and Gavi hasn’t spoken to me in two days.

Esti: What happened?

Yehudis: I didn’t let Gavi go to the game and then Yussie found out after the fact.

Esti: Wait, you never discussed this with Yussie? For real?

Yehudis: No, he doesn’t get these things.

Esti: I don’t get you. How did you even decide? Who did you talk to?

Yehudis: I knew what the right answer was, mothers have intuition, I just had someone confirm what I already knew.

Esti: Who? You found an elusive mentor?

Yehudis: No — someone on Social. Family Melucha, Malka Kingson. She totally got it.

Esti: You’re kidding.

Yehudis: No. Why?

Esti: She’s nutso.

Yehudis: Whaddya mean, I like her content. And I saw you follow her too.

Yehudis: I also checked out the parenting fails person — she’s just a cynic who makes you feel bad for having values.

Esti: I follow Family Melucha as a joke. She’s crazy. We all just laugh at her.

Yehudis: But why, you don’t see your family as a meluchah?

Esti: I do. But not her dictator model masked as mother-knows-best mixed with the apocalypse is nigh.

Yehudis: You really think she’s crazy?

Esti: Off her rocker. You’re not on Social, you don’t get the culture — the vibe, how it works. She’s off. Like seriously off.

Esti: Wait, so you didn’t send Gavi ’cuz she agreed with you?

Yehudis: Yes.

Esti: Oh, Yehudis… I’m sorry.

Yehudis: You think it was the wrong decision.

Esti: I dunno. The way you went about it is definitely off.

Yehudis: Whatever. I gotta get back to work.

Esti: We’ll schmooze later. 💓💓💓


Yehudis: Yussie just spent over $500 on two ticket for him and Gavi to go to a game. He feels like he has to make it up for Gavi.

Esti: That’s a lot of money.

Yehudis: I know! And to do something I think is terrible.

Esti: I hear.

Yehudis: How do I undo this?

Esti: You sure you want to? You’ve already made such a mess. You want something bigger to clean up?


Yehudis: Hello? Where’d you go??


To: YehudisG613@gmail.com  email sent 5 days ago reply?

From: EstiS89@gmail.com

Subject: Love you

Hey, Yehudis,

Sorry I stopped responding to your texts. Texting doesn’t work for this conversation. I should call you, but I’m not good at saying what I need to in a live conversation — so I’ll stick to an email. And I want to start by telling you how much I love you. You are my sister, my best friend, and I always love you.

I’m watching your situation now, and it’s killing me to stand back and watch you self-destruct your world for no reason other than you think you’re right.

Is sports the best thing ever? No. Is it the devil? No either. It’s a distraction that many people need and as far as distractions go, it’s fairly harmless. What you’re doing is not harmless — what are you doing to your relationship with Gavi and with Yussie??

I’m sure you know the story of the big rosh yeshivah who made a kiddush and when asked why, he said it’s ’cuz he heard the Yankees won and he finally didn’t care at all. Are YOU on his level? Can you expect a ten-year-old to be?

I just think you’re being a bit dramatic for something that’s just not that big a deal.

And I know you — you’re thinking, well Esti’s my “modern” sister and everything she says is tainted with some krumkeit. Ever think that how I live my hashkafic and halachic life has been very carefully considered and just because it seems like it’s to the left of you — doesn’t mean it is?

Get out of your judgy box and find someone to talk to who will screw your head on right.

I love you more than anything.

Love, Esti



To: RabbiSchwartzberg@KhalTorah.org  DRAFT

From: YehudisG@613@gmail.com

Subject: Please advise

Dear Rabbi Schwartzberg,

I emailed you previously about a chinuch question that you deferred to answer because you don’t know me. I understand that and appreciate you taking this seriously and you’re not going to dole out advice to a nameless, faceless person.

It’s just that the whole thing has become such a mess, much bigger and complicated than it was originally, and I don’t really know who to turn to to figure it all out.

Is there any way you can meet with me, get an idea of the situation, and point me in the right direction?

Thank you,

Yehudis Gordan


Gratitude List




This is dumb. It doesn’t work, I look desperate, it makes me sadder when I’m scrounging for things to be grateful for when it feels like all the kreplach I worked so hard to make explode and leak the second they hit boiling water.

A few weeks ago, my life was fine. The whole mess started with a stupid pair of football grippy gloves. It was a small chinuch question that somehow avalanched into a shalom bayis issue, and sister quasi-fighting, quasi-judgy, I don’t even know what.

How and why?

I keep trying to do the right thing, and I’m just floundering, trying to salvage my kreplach, but the dough is shredded, half sunk, half floating, the meat has disintegrated, and there’s just ground beef debris all over my pot, and yet I’m convinced that with a slotted spoon and some patience I can patch this up.

There is no patching. It was a bad recipe in the first place, and I still don’t know what I did wrong. And I keep trying to talk to someone, anyone, and it’s just crickets — and then some yatzmach looks in my pot and tells me my kreplach are falling apart. Thank you, I know.

How to do it better next time — no one has that advice. How to fundamentally understand the chemistry when you’re making kreplach so you can do it yourself, and troubleshoot yourself — nope to that, too. People can only point out the obvious. Shkoyach.

Ok, gratitude doesn’t work, but I don’t think ranting is good either. It’s like all this righteous pent-up rage that goes nowhere.



(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1008)

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