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Inbox: Issue 1000

“You cannot shove your growth and your chumras down other people’s throats. Make sure that your chumras affect only you”


Unfair Request [As They Grow / Issue 999]

In his Q & A column, Rabbi Greenwald touches on the topic of entitlement and whether a mother, who is already working more than 30 hours a week while running a busy household, should take on even more just so her daughter can go to an expensive traveling camp.

He suggests that the parents teach her responsibility by telling her that they will pay for half of the expenses but she must raise the other half. This sounds like the way to raise children who can make mature, responsible decisions when they become adults.

I was quite dismayed, however, with his first suggestion of how the teenager could raise money: by asking her grandparents. It is not fair to grandparents to put them on the spot like that. It can leave the grandparent and the grandchild both feeling hurt.

If the parents feel that their parents might be able and willing to help fund such a request, they should ask their parents first. If the grandparents say they are okay with the idea, then the grandchild can ask directly.

Parents of married children try very hard to be fair to them. On one hand they do not want to cause resentment; on the other hand, they realize that different families have different needs and resources. They try to decide what they can reasonably give each grandchild for birthdays, Chanukah, graduation and bar/bas mitzvah.

Funding requests like traveling camps for grandchildren could become a very expensive precedent. They should not feel pressured into doing it because “how could they say no to their grandchild?”

A Grandparent Who Tries to Be Fair


The Tzibbur Has Rights, Too [Open Mic / Issue 999]

Thank you for last week’s Open Mic piece about people pressuring a sheliach tzibbur in his year of aveilus to fit the davening to a certain timeframe. As someone who, baruch Hashem, has never been in that situation, I speak not from his point of view, but from the point of view of the gabbai.

For starters, I wholeheartedly agree that no one apart from the gabbai has any right to make comments or complain to the baal tefillah directly. Any comments should be directed to the gabbai, who has to decide whether the points are valid and then talk to the sheliach tzibbur in a sympathetic manner.

However, there are a couple of additional things to bear in mind.

The writer does not state whether he is a regular mispallel in that shul. In our shul, for instance, we have a core group of steady weekday mispallelim. When a member who doesn’t daven with us on a regular basis becomes an avel and wishes to daven at the amud in our minyan, he must adhere to the timing of the tzibbur and can’t daven at the pace that suits him.

This holds true even for regular mispallelim during the year of aveilus. If they happen to daven a long Shemoneh Esreh, they do not have a right to continue to do so when davening at the amud; this is clear tircha d’tzibbura.

We do have general timings at our amud,  and if a chiyuv turns up late to davening,  we will not wait and will we start without him (allowing him to take over at Pesukei D’zimra). It has also happened that he turns up a minute or so before the start and rushes to put on his tallis and tefillin and ends up starting a bit late. This is unfair for the tzibbur and shows a lack of respect for the amud.

Wishing everyone who is in this situation arichas yamim.

A Gabbai


Time It Right [Open Mic / Issue 999]

Regarding the avel who was criticized by fellow mispallelim for not keeping to an exact time frame, aside from the bein adam l’chaveiro issue, there is also a matter of bein adam l’Makom.

Chazal extol the importance of davening k’vasikin. But I have read in more than one place that, while the Chazon Ish davened k’vasikin every morning, he specifically did not time his davening so that he was up to Shemoneh Esreh at the exact moment of sunrise. He aimed to be up to Shemoneh Esreh at sunrise, but sometimes was off by a little. He is reported to have said that to time one’s davening to a specific moment is in the category of oseh tefillaso keva, making one’s tefillah a fixed procedure, rather than an avodah shebalev (see Avos 2:18).

In Rav Chaim Kanievsky: Living a Life of Halachah (published by ArtScroll/Mesorah), Rav Chaim quotes the Chazon Ish as telling someone not to rush his davening in order to fulfill tefillah k’vasikin. It also says there that Rav Chaim davened k’vasikin but did not always reach Shemoneh Esreh at sunrise.

Every vasikin minyan in which I have davened does time the davening down to the precise minute of sunrise. But that is for the mitzvah of vasikin, and I should add that the vast majority of vasikin minyanim daven at a rather slow place. They leave plenty of time for tefillah b’kavanah. Minyanim that daven quickly, do not daven k’vasikin, and demand that the baal tefillah adhere to an exact time frame might be considered osim tefillasan keva according to all opinions.

Name Withheld


They Make Our Loads Lighter [They’re All Our Children / Issue 999]

As the mother of a special needs child, I have accessed Yahalom’s services numerous times since their recent inception.

Tova Wacholder, wise beyond her years, has an incredible binah yeseirah when it comes to special needs families — and a sparkling smile to match. What sets Yahalom apart from many of the other organizations is that they do not have access to government funding because they aren’t servicing the children directly.

I have attended a few absolutely magnificent mothers’ nights out and my younger daughter signed up for sibling support groups. None of this is billable, which is why the other provider agencies couldn’t do it.

A major yasher koyach to the superpowers behind the organizations that make our loads a little bit lighter by being there for us b’lev shalem and l’Sheim Shamayim.

R. Levy


Trio of Superheroes [Before It’s Too Late / Issue 999]

Many thanks for your wonderful article about the Kindertransport. Our mother, Mrs. Ushi Ettlinger (née von Halle), was one of the Shefford children. While not shomer Shabbos when she first arrived at Shefford, she now stands proudly before the Kisei Hakavod and can proclaim that each of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and now great-great-grandchildren all are following the derech of Hashem.

This was the result was not only of our mother’s self-identifying the right derech, but significantly due to the love, care, and chinuch shown by Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schonfeld, and his wonderful partners Dr. Judith Grunfeld and her husband Dayan Isidor Grunfeld, to a young girl searching for the truth.

There is one story not mentioned in your article that reflects who they were. Toward the end of the war, with Pesach approaching, the children started to leave Shefford. There was a young girl who approached Rebbetzin Grunfeld and said, “I have no place to go for Pesach.”

The Rebbetzin immediately responded to my mother, “you will spend the Sedorim and Pesach with us.”

The Rebbetzin was mother, friend, and comforter to the hundreds of children who no longer had parents or did not know if their parents had survived.

The true legacy of this trio of superheroes, and others, lies beyond the printed page and unbelievable work that they accomplished. Their legacy is our families and the Torah and mitzvos that are now being performed because they refused to accept the inevitable.

Ben and Alan Ettlinger

Washington Heights, NY


Call of the Hour [Before It’s Too Late / Issue 999]

Kudos for publishing the article on Rabbi Dr. Solomon Schonfeld. My father, Tovia Preschel, was on the first Kindertransport to London in December 1938, after his father arranged this with Julius Steinfeld, the prominent Viennese Agudist.

Rabbi Schonfeld, with his blue eyes and reddish-blond beard, was considered a legend by the children who had heard numerous stories about him. However, not long after they reached the north of London, the Viennese children began to revolt against him. Rabbi Schonfeld did not understand why all the children were jumping and screaming against him and the transport.

My father, who was one of the oldest — he was 16 and one of the leaders of the “revolution” — became the spokesman for the group. They were of Eastern European origin and therefore had to wait six hours after eating fleishig before eating dairy, my father explained. They were shocked to be given milchigs after only three hours, and worried that they were being “converted” to a different kind of Yiddishkeit.

Fortunately, Rabbi Schonfeld understood their concerns and promised them this “mistake” would never take place again. Since then, my father had a very close relationship with Rabbi Schonfeld, who was known as “the Rav.” Possibly because of my father’s leadership role in the “revolution,” my father was chosen to say a few words at an Agudist conference that took place at Woburn House in January 1939. He spoke about the tragedy of the refugee children who had been brought to England by other committees and had been denied a Jewish education. Sometime later, on Purim he acted in a play performed by the refugees at the Stoke Newington Town Hall.

My father described that once Rabbi Schonfeld received an urgent call for help on a Friday afternoon; he immediately drove to the Home Office in Westminster to urge the immediate issuance of visas for certain refugees. By the time he had finished his business at the Home Office, Shabbos had already begun. So Rabbi Schonfeld made his way back to North London on foot, a walk of three hours.

The Rav cleared his house to make room for the refugee children. Once it happened that a little refugee girl could not fall asleep. The Rav took her and another little girl into his big black car and drove them around the city until both of them had dozed off.

The refugee committees of the Establishment called him “irresponsible” for bringing refugees to England without having the means for their maintenance prepared in advance. He in turn criticized them for not caring enough for the Jewish education of their wards.

It is true that often he did not have accommodation and board ready for the children until after they had arrived in England. But the Rav knew then what others still did not understand; that the command of the hour was to save lives, no matter how and by what means.

On Shabbos Hagadol, Rabbi Schonfeld would give derashos at several shuls in London at different times, walking from one shul to the next to address the different kehillos.

In the early summer of 1940, after the fall of France, when the Germans stood at the gates of Britain, the British authorities interned all enemy aliens, including some Kindertransport children. The first Jewish communal leader to visit the internees was the Rav. He took a special interest in their spiritual and religious needs.

“When the news spread that Rabbi Schonfeld had arrived at the camp,” my father once wrote about him, “we all turned out to greet him. His imposing stature and dignified bearing inspired respect in everyone. The British soldiers who served as camp guards stood at attention as he passed them. As for us, the mere sight of the Rav gave us new hope and courage. We knew that we had not been forgotten.”

Yehi zichro baruch.

Pearl Herzog

Lakewood, NJ


Not at the Neighbor [Hijacked Connection / Double Take — Issue 999]

If I could tell Aidel one thing, it would be: You cannot take on a chumrah that inconveniences other people. End of story.

One of the most valuable things I learned from seminary was at the end of the year, when the principal told us, “You cannot shove your growth and your chumras down other people’s throats. Make sure that your chumras affect only you.”

If you don’t want Internet in your house, that’s amazing! But when you need it — and you will — go to an Internet cafe, go to Starbucks, stay longer at work if your boss lets you. Don’t go knocking at your neighbor for all your Internet usage.

Ahuva Elkovitch


Not the Only Danger [Hijacked Connection / Double Take — Issue 999]

Last week’s Double Take was incisive as always.

Prishus from Internet is a beautiful and worthy goal, but I would like to bring up a different angle to Aidel’s technology approach.

By her own admission, Aidel is not computer savvy at all. That is a point of pride to her — but should it be?

That level of innocence — thinking that the only danger of the Internet is a risk to kedushah — is a dangerous level of naivete. Aidel could easily have fallen for a phishing attack posing as an Amazon email. Nina is extremely lucky that Aidel did not accidentally compromise her computer’s security. Her card details could have been stolen, private documents made accessible, identity theft — the possibilities are endless to experienced hackers. A good antivirus program is not foolproof.

And besides, children nowadays will be exposed to Internet at some point, however much parents try to shelter them.

Is it responsible for a parent to have no idea about the devices that their children will be using? Or will a responsible parent pay attention to the trends, so they can spot the dangers and help their children navigate the online world safely?

Dina L.


The Beauty of Boundaries [Hijacked Connection / Double Take — Issue 999]

Thanks to Rochel Samet for always doing a beautiful, artful, and realistic job on your Double Take stories.

I wonder why the characters often say “if I could tell so-and-so one thing, I would say….” Why not actually say it, directly?

Why can’t our community trade in the currency of relationship boundaries? Why can’t we respectfully set clear and transparent boundaries instead of bearing grudges, saying lashon hara to our husbands (mutar but avoidable with better boundaries), and then ghosting people?

If I were Nina, when Aidel starts coming over all the time, I would say “my computer is available on Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. for 15 minutes” (privately budgeting 30 minutes because I know it will take longer). Then I’d sign out of all my other accounts, enjoy her company, and stop cleaning my already clean counters while waiting for her to finish.

If I were in the middle of a work project with client sensitive information open in another tab, I would tell her “the computer is not available this week.” Were she to accidentally use my email, I would tell her: “I’m sure you didn’t realize this, but you put down my email mail as your contact. I really need you to avoid doing this in the future.” (If she does it again, no more computer.)

If she complains that she is making a wedding and needs the computer more than once a week, I would say, “Oy, I hear. What are you going to do?”

If she asks me directly for more than one computer “rental” per week, I’d say: “I wish I could be more helpful. We use the computer during the week. Would you consider getting your own device?”

Then, when Aidel asks for favors I am comfortable with, I could say “My pleasure!” and really mean it.



Around the Globe [Cleared for Publication / Issue 998]

The profound impact of Rav Baruch Rosenblum, as highlighted in your revelatory article, transcends geographical boundaries. His weekly shiurim have a widespread international following via live and recorded video and are now also available in English print.

Nearly two years ago, I had the zechus of connecting with Rav Rosenblum and embarking on a journey to help spread the Rav’s Torah and amplify his voice among English-speaking communities. In a project dedicated to the memory of my father z”l, I take part in publishing the weekly Thursday night “grand finale” shiur in English and digitally share it with over 1,000 recipients, as well as several shuls that place it on their literature racks. To further Rav Rosenblum’s mission of zikui harabim, the project and archives are available at RavRosenblum.org, and there is a talented team also working on translating his seforim to English; an effort that will im yirtzeh Hashem reach bookstores soon.

Since starting the initiative, the feedback, whether from Israel, North America, the UK, Australia, France, Mexico, or Brazil, has been overwhelming. I’ve had the privilege of connecting with a rebbi in Brooklyn who studies the shiur with his high school talmidim each Friday morning, a group of women who learn it together in Ramat Shlomo, and several chaburahs who study the shiur together on Shabbos afternoon in New York, New Jersey, Toronto, and London.

There is one recurring theme in the feedback: Rav Rosenblum’s shiurim deepen one’s thirst for Torah and open one’s eyes to a world of magnificent sources and ideas.

While attending the live shiur in Bnei Brakcapped off by a hot Vizhnitz Bakery challah and bowl of cholent, of course — offers an irreplaceable experience, the words, emotions, humor, and ever-so-timely mussar and chizuk of Rav Baruch Rosenblum are becoming a cherished ritual and source of spiritual nourishment around the globe.

Judah Aspler



Mirror Images [Leaning into a Miracle / Issue 998]

I have just got up from sitting shivah for my precious 16-year-old daughter, Tehilla Devora bas Naphtoli. The emotions are obviously raw and we are still living in a shocked, surreal haze.

Tehilla was our long-awaited firstborn, born after five long years of waiting and infertility. She always was everything a parent can dream a child to be: beautiful, talented, refined, and clever. She excelled at many things, including dancing, singing, gymnastics, art and more. Teachers used to sing her praises all throughout school. Her siblings adored her and regarded her as a mother figure. Her middos were exemplary, impressing all who met her, and she had many friends.

Tehilla was diagnosed on her 14th birthday with a highly aggressive rare form of cancer, osteosarcoma. She went through two and a half years of unimaginable pain and suffering, yissurei Iyov.

She underwent a ten-hour operation to replace the bones on her leg with a metal prosthesis, followed by four complex, high-risk, painful lung surgeries. She experienced the trauma of losing her long beautiful hair, and subsequently lost her hair an additional four times, as there would be regrowth each time there was a pause in treatment.

She experienced side effects from treatment such as fatigue, discomfort, mouth sores which prevented her from even opening her mouth, stomach paralysis, fevers, and infections. She even broke her leg below the prosthesis, which required her being in a cast for five months. She spent 300 nights in the hospital in a one-year period.

Despite all of this, she never complained and was never bitter or angry. She was always sweet and kind and maintained her emunah, standing and davening despite her pain, wanting to wash netilas yadayim even while being bed-bound from chemotherapy.

Her rabbanim in Beis Chaya Rochel Seminary called her “the Alexander Rebbe” (our last name is Alexander). Rabbi Sipper shlita said she was his Rebbe, and she inspired him to come teach even when he was also suffering side effects from treatment. Tehilla pushed herself to go to sem even two days before her petirah, despite excruciating pain and difficulties breathing. Her class Kabbalas Shabbos was the last time she left the house; she dragged herself there in terrible pain.

Tehilla opened the door for the rabbanim in sem as they entered the classroom, despite the fact that standing up was very difficult and incurred terrible pain. She made a tremendous kiddush Hashem and the hospital staff adored her. Her friends were in awe of her and the flocked to see her when she was home. Despite how different her life and challenges were from theirs, she related to them and they loved spending time with her. Everyone who knew her mentioned her smile, and how she made everyone feel at ease, and as if they were her best friend.

I could go on and on retelling stories of Tehilla’s greatness, but the point of this letter is to relate to the story “Leaning into a Miracle,” about Rivky Gefner’s cancer battle.

We recognized many of Rivky’s middos in our Tehilla. But more than that: Tehilla came home a few months ago and told us that a fellow student in seminary had arranged for her to receive a sheitel that had belonged to her sister. I didn’t know the full story. One day she came home wearing this beautiful sheitel in perfect condition that fit her like a glove and was the same golden color as her own hair. She didn’t have to do a thing to this sheitel, it was as if it was custom made for her. She never took it off, as it was so comfortable, and even in the north of England’s terrible weather — rain, snow, and wind — the sheitel always looked perfect and fresh.

Last Shabbos, during shivah, I read Rivky’s story. On Sunday night, her sister came to the shivah and told me that Tehilla had been wearing Rivky’s sheitel.

Two beautiful holy neshamos, both too perfect for this world. They were both niftar on a Tuesday, on the 27th of the month. They both had the same rare diagnosis, and both went through stories that mirrored each other.

There are no answers to any questions. Our only wish is yehi zichronam livrachah, and may they be melitzei yosher to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, and may Mashiach come as soon as possible so no more families experience what we just went through.

Thanks to her family for lending us the beautiful sheitel, which made Tehilla feel confident and herself.

Family Alexander

Gateshead, UK


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1000)

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