| Inbox |

Inbox: Issue 1005

“Let’s help our girls grow up without the yardstick of perfection looming over them”


You Moved Us to Tears [I’m Sorry / Issue 1003]

We were remarkably moved by the beautiful piece about Yishai Green in last week’s issue. Yishai’s words brought us to tears more than once. If only all of our nonreligious brothers and sisters knew how much we love them. There is no division between us; we are one people.

Yishai is remarkable for having the courage to see truth and act on it. We should all be so courageous. Thank you, Mishpacha magazine, for publishing such an important and uplifting story of unity.

Dan and Rivka Segal,

Brooklyn, NY


Close to Home [Direct Transfer / Issue 1003]

Shul with a View by Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman is one of my absolute favorite columns. As I once lived in Passaic and attended some of his classes, I hear his voice as I read. The people he writes about are real to me; I’ve socialized with them. I have laughed and cried at some of the events he writes about.

The story about the man who made sure to honor his mother’s last wishes really hit home for me. My own mother was nifteres just eight months ago, 24 years after her husband, my father, passed away. I believe what kept her going all those years was the desire to have a great-grandson named for her husband. Eighteen months ago, her dream was realized, and once she got to meet and hold him, she felt she could leave us peacefully.

I hope that Rabbi Eisenman has many more stories to tell.

Phyllis Mandelbaum,

Teaneck, NJ


Pain Relief [Smoke Screen / Issue 1003]

Thank you for the important account describing of some of the potential dangers of vaping. As a pharmacist, one part stood out to me, although this wasn’t the central part of the story. “Levi was in so much pain from the tube that he could barely eat or sleep. They tried morphine, Toradol, IV Tylenol, and oral oxycodone by this point, but nothing seemed to ease the… discomfort of the chest tube.”

I’d like to point out to Mishpacha readership that if you or someone you know suffers from pain that is not alleviated by common opioids, this may be due to a genetic variation of the CYP450 2D6 enzyme involved in the metabolism of many opioids. Poor metabolizers of this enzyme would not be able to convert those opioids to their active metabolite in the liver and hence wouldn’t experience analgesia. A genetic test could determine one’s 2D6 metabolizer status and enable the health care team to utilize opioids not metabolized by this pathway.

S. Blum (PharmD, ASHP pharmacogenomics certification)

Lawrence, NY


On Wheels [The Moment / Issue 1002]

I was excited to see Amram Linder featured in your magazine. I’d like your readership to know that Amram is not just a bus driver, but a person who exemplifies the mitzvah of kibbud av. Amram takes care of his elderly father with so much love and devotion. He walks “Zeidy Linder” in a wheelchair through our neighborhood and is mechabed him with such love. It is a zechus for us to live near him.

Thank you for featuring such a special man.

A resident of Bluefield, Monsey


More on the Menorah [Fragments from Fustat / Issue 1001]

Regarding your article and the follow-up letter about the shape of the Menorah in the Beis Hamikdash, I have yet to hear a convincing explanation for the fact that all the ancient depictions of the Menorah, most famously the image on the arch of Titus, and also on the coins of the Chashmonaim, show curved branches. True, Rashi says “slanting,” which explains how they all end up as high as the center, but that doesn’t necessarily exclude the curves.

Binyamin Yablok

Teaneck, NJ


We Need More Yossies [Screen Safer]

The serial about Yossie Strickman and his work helping young people manage phones and technology struck a chord with me. Technology has advanced at lighting speed, and while my older children were spared all the issues and temptations that go along with having the world at one’s fingertips, my younger children weren’t as lucky. They were brought up with access to cell phones at a much earlier age, and the difference between my own children is startling.

I commend Yossie for making it his life’s work to help so many people. The issues are real. Technology spreads like wildfire. Social media is dangerous. Kids have access to sites and information that their young minds cannot compute. We need a small army of Yossies out there battling the danger of technology access to our young children. I love reading about Yossie’s belief that people want to do better and grow and not be drawn into the world of cell phones, computers and gaming.

I only wish that Yossie Strickman had been there for me when I was raising my children.

A Mother of Six 


Take a Reality Check [Double Take — The Best Policy / Issue 1001]

I read the Double Take story about seminary acceptance, along with all the subsequent reader responses, with much interest. As a 12th-grade mechaneches and seminary advisor who has also sent five daughters to seminary, I found the story very realistic, from both sides. The reader responses were understandably and predictably indignant, and I’d like to try to provide some wider context and hopefully some perspective that readers can use to avoid some of the pain that the mother and daughter in the story experienced.

Teachers, principals, and seminary advisors want nothing more than for your daughter to get accepted to the seminary of her choice. We want you and your daughter to feel that she has reached the goals she set for herself. We want her to come out of this complex and grueling process happy and with her dignity intact. And frankly, it doesn’t look good for the school when students don’t get accepted to seminaries! Every principal, mechaneches, and advisor I know spends countless hours on the phone advocating for their students and presenting them in the best possible light. Many also travel to Eretz Yisrael to establish relationships with the seminary principals, all to benefit our students.

The mechaneches in the Double Take story was depicted as doing all that. Yet when she was asked directly about a student’s past history, she had no choice but to respond honestly. She framed the information in a way that made her student look best, but when one is asked a direct question when giving information, as in shidduchim, one is required to say what she knows.

What could have changed the outcome of the story, and what can change the outcome for so many real-life girls who face seminary-application season with a pit in their stomachs, would have been had Malky applied to a selection of schools that included at least one that her mechaneches and principal felt reasonably certain that she would get accepted to, knowing her, her past, and the ways in which she had grown through her high-school journey.

There are over 25 Bais Yaakov seminaries in Yerushalayim, and about seven or eight full-time Bais Yaakov seminaries in North America. All of them do an excellent job being mechanech their students. All of them are run by mechanchos who are devoted to the true chinuch of bnos Yisrael. Many, many of them share teachers. Nearly all of them have the same tiyulim and seminary Shabbosos. The significant majority of all their graduates come out having had the proverbial “amaaazing” experience.

Obviously, they are not all the same, but there are many seminary options that are not as “glittery” as the popular schools that would be a wonderful, growth-filled, substantive and fun place for your daughter to spend her year. This holds true at all points on the Bais Yaakov hashkafah spectrum.

Anyone who deals with seminaries learns the character of different schools and what is important to them. The mechaneches in the story should have known which seminaries insist that their students come from insulated environments and anticipated that this girl would have a hard time getting accepted there. She also should have been able to identify seminary choices that would appreciate a girl who has grown through struggle and directed her student to apply to at least one place like that. She could have directed her student to apply to at least one less popular choice, where it would be easier for a girl who is a solid, thinking Bais Yaakov girl to get accepted even with a more complex past.

But in real life, as in the story, what often happens is that students and their parents are only interested in the popular places. That creates enormous pressure for all applicants, as seminaries have a finite amount of space. And the smaller places, who have so much to offer (and are so similar to those popular choices) remain small and less popular.

Seminary application season for the 5785 school year is over. But looking toward the future, if you are an 11th-grader or the mother of one, having an open mind to less “glittery” seminaries, and being honest and realistic about your own strengths can change your own application experience dramatically.

Mrs. R. Biberfeld, Mechaneches, Director of Seminary Guidance, Kosloff Torah Academy/ MBY

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 


Real Girls Are Flawed [Double Take — The Best Policy / Issue 1001]

I thoroughly appreciated the most recent Double Take column. As always, Rochel Samet presented us with an excellent portrayal of a contemporary, controversial dilemma within the frum world. This past Double Take was even more thought provoking and conversation-worthy than many others, because of the reality-based topic it presented and its serious ramifications.

While I could easily comment on the mother and mechaneches’s perspectives in the story, I would instead like to address another main character — the seminary principal. She is the one who most baffled and disturbed me in this unfortunate episode.

Here’s what I would like to understand from her:

Are seminaries today only accepting perfect girls? If so, are you going to get up before the Yamim Noraim and teach the perfect students you accepted about the importance of teshuvah? That doing teshuvah means that you have what to klap al cheit for?

Are you going to explain to your students how our nation is called Yehudim, davka after Yehudah, because he made a mistake and was able to own up to it and rise above it? We aren’t named after Yosef, a perfect tzaddik who never was nichshal, because we cannot possibly be like him and live up to his name.

Will you be the one to explain to your students that “money and yichus” are what matters most in our frum world, more than growing in our Yiddishkeit and becoming better versions of ourselves?

Will you bring your students to the awareness that getting into your seminary was only the first of the many pressures and hurdles in their life, as they haven’t even started shidduchim yet?

Will your students come to understand that they should never open up to anyone with their inner conflicts or questions, to avoid any chance that the teacher or advisor is asked about them in the future and may potentially ruin their seminary chances or future shidduchim?

Will you continue to perpetuate this travesty under the guise of Torah-true Yiddishkeit?

On behalf of all mothers of girls out there, I leave you with one request: Please put an end to this ongoing pressure on our daughters. If these practices continue, what will be with our bnos Yisrael? Are we satisfied with raising a generation of anxiety-ridden girls, who have to live their lives within a tiny daled amos for constant fear of their future?

Let’s help our girls grow up without the yardstick of perfection looming over them. Let’s give them the tools to make their own good choices and determine the life that’s right for them — not only to get into the popular schools, but because it’s what Hashem wants from them.

May our leaders heed this call to do what’s right for our bnos Yisrael — their futures depend on it.

A Concerned Mother


Your Secret Is Safe [Second Thoughts — Return to Sender / Issue 996]

Dear Rabbi Feldman,

As a resident of the Jerusalem area in which you reside, we, too, share your frustration at the recent closing of the post office and all mail-related difficulty. Although your apt description of the situation is comical, it can be challenging to say the least. I join you in finding solace and calm behind the back of “85 Emek Street.” I’ve visited myself and agree it’s the place to go for one to release tension in today’s bustling world. Fortunately, I was successful in retrieving my mail there as well.

Thank you for an enjoyable read. I specifically appreciated the brain twister that had me deciphering your undisclosed location. Don’t worry; your secret is safe with us.

RMY, Jerusalem


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1005)

Oops! We could not locate your form.