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Inbox: Issue 1007

“I can’t stress enough how hard it is to be single when you’re older. And by older I don’t mean 22”


Choose Your Battles [As They Grow / Issue 1005]

I read with interest the letter to Rabbi Greenwald about whether older single children should be expected to move out of their rooms to accommodate a married couple. In a similar, yet very different vein, I waited a few years for children. And yes, the marrieds with little ones always received the “better accommodations.”

It hurt, watching younger siblings with multiple kids of their own get preferential treatment, but at the same time, I knew that Yom Tov was not the time to be sensitive about this. Bottom line, it’s a time to be practical and give everyone the accommodations that make the most sense for their families. And yes, it was unbelievably enjoyable to spend time with everyone and share the simchas Yom Tov.

Name Withheld


Singles Have It Harder [As They Grow / Issue 1005]

I think that anyone who hasn’t experienced what it’s like being an older single really doesn’t understand the struggle. The mother asking the question understands the struggle of being newly married with little kids, the need for space and how hard it can be not to have it. What she doesn’t recognize is the pain of being an older single living at home, without a husband, without children, without knowing when she will actually be able to have children.

It can be very painful to watch other siblings who have what you want. And while one single may not mind giving up their room for Yom Tov (perhaps they don’t need as much personal space, or they can’t imagine Yom Tov without their married siblings joining…), when your child makes it very clear that she needs her space you MUST respect that. There can be so many reasons they feel this way, that you don’t necessarily understand.

Maybe having her own room is her way of holding on to her dignity. Maybe she cries herself to sleep every night. Maybe Yom Tov is stressful for her because it’s family time, and she doesn’t have her own family. There are so many reasons that a single woman might say that she won’t be giving up or sharing her room.

I can’t stress enough how hard it is to be single when you’re older. And by older I don’t mean 22. But when your friends are raising big families and their kids are already in school, being single gets a lot harder. It’s not just about the fact that you’re not married. In the frum world, being married is what earns you a place in society. I had a boss tell me straight up that he pays me less because I’m single. I was giving my all to the job, but he didn’t care because I was single. A 20-year-old with a kid is given more respect than a 30-year-old without a sheitel. So aside from being lonely and not having everything that marriage comes with, singles also have to deal with being seen as nebachs who simply can’t pull it together and just get married.

When the mother in the question says that her daughter-in-law isn’t comfortable with the kids sleeping with her daughter, she’s conveying that the daughter-in-law’s needs are more important than her daughter’s. And for someone who’s already in a vulnerable space that can be very painful.

Personally, I didn’t live at home so it was a bit different, but I do remember being asked to do things simply because I was single, with the assumption that therefore I must have the time/energy available. I was also asked once to sleep with my nephew. I really didn’t want it but my parents insisted.

By now I’m married and have kids of my own, so I can understand the dilemma here. Having your kids sleep in your room is really hard. In general, taking care of kids is hard. But being single is A lot harder! So yes, the couple might need a break and feel they need to have their kids in a different room, but the solution can’t involve ignoring the fact that single women need their space as well.

Name Withheld


He Served until the End [Royal Blend / Issue 1005]

I was excited to see my second cousin, Rav Lipa Yisraelson, featured in your article about the royal lineage of Rav Elyashiv and Rav Chaim Kanievsky ztz”l.

I must, however, take issue with your writer’s description of our mutual great-grandfather, Rav Tzvi Hirsch Gutman, as someone who merely “voluntarily assumed responsibility to procure the food needed for Rav Elchanan Wasserman’s talmidim in Baranovitch.” He was so much more than that. A prime talmid of the Alter of Novardok and Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzenski’s Kodshim Kibbutz in Vilna who knew the four chelkei Shulchan Aruch with their nosei keilim (prime commentaries) by heart, Rav Gutman served as the devoted menahel of Rav Elchanan’s yeshivah until the very end.

Rav Tzvi Hirsch and most of his family members were murdered by the Germans on the day after Yom Kippur, 1942. His only surviving descendants are the progeny of his three daughters: Bluma (Rav Lipa Yisraelson’s martyred grandmother); Chana Rochel, the matriarch of the venerated Felman/Paleshnitzky families of Bnei Brak; and Sarah Baila, who married my grandfather, the legendary Rav Mendel Kaplan.

Interestingly enough, the Gutman-Kanievsky family connection has its roots in prewar Europe, when Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s father, the Steipler Gaon ztz”l, learned in Novardok as a bochur and was a ben bayis in the Gutman home.

Yasher koyach for bringing the stories of the giants of our nation to light.

Moshe Benoliel

Far Rockaway, NY


How Can We Sing? [Perspective / Issue 1004]

When I began reading Rabbi Ginzberg’s article, I immediately recalled the first class given by one of my seminary teachers over 20 years ago, which was called “Tardeimas Hahergel,” and discussed the danger of complacency caused by habits.

Although at the war’s start, I, too, immediately joined a Tehillim group to finish the sefer each day as a zechus for our brothers in danger, I felt I needed a more concrete reminder that would stay with me throughout my day. Then I remembered how when Reb Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin was released, I’d read about a woman who stopped putting sugar in her coffee to concretize her empathy for the pain of him and his family.

It made a real impression on me, and so now, as someone who loves music, I decided I would, bli neder, refrain from turning on music until the hostages are released. In this way, I am “awakened” multiple times a day to the suffering of Klal Yisrael. I feel like this might be a good suggestion for someone who is falling into the deep sleep of hergel.

M. S.


Let’s Not Waste an Opportunity [Child of My Prayers / Issue 1004]

The article about the baby born to Rav Tzvi Kushelevsky was such a chizuk for all us, on so many levels, but one line disturbed me. Being that words are so powerful, I wanted to point it out.

After a quote from Rav Tzvi about not stopping to daven and believing in Hashem’s ratzon to give, the article said, “Words from a different time, for a different generation.”

I found that very disconcerting. The Rosh Yeshivah himself clearly stated that after this amazing story, people will have an easier time believing that Hashem can perform miracles that are beyond natural, even today!

Klal Yisrael so badly needs that chizuk. As individuals and as a nation, we are all dealing with very formidable challenges that can really knock the wind out of sails. What better way to give ourselves a healthy injection of emunah than to imbibe the message from this article? Why should we discourage our emunah from soaring, from really believing that Hashem can and wants to do everything for us?

The time is so ripe to let our emunah soar to heights we haven’t yet explored or experienced. There is so much achdus in the air, so much promise for improvement, so much magical connectivity in the air. The time is ripe for connection to Hashem, to ourselves, and to our brothers and sisters. Why would we want to put a damper on the gifts that we can receive from such a beautiful story?

We can all use the chizuk, and it’s up for grabs. Let’s not squander the opportunity and relegate it to a “gedolim story” — but not for me.

Faigi Weiss

Beitar Illit, Israel


Please Tell Us More [I Need Fear No Evil / Issue 1003]

I’d like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Mishpacha for featuring Rabbi Sklare’s enlightening article, as well as its subsequent follow-up piece. Rabbi Sklare, a revered talmid chacham, possesses a profound understanding of contemporary challenges confronting our communities. His lectures and shiurim consistently reflect a deep grasp of Chazal and halachah.

I deeply value the courage he exhibited in addressing fundamental aspects of our faith and relationship with Hashem. In an era fraught with distractions and constant challenges that often threaten to weaken our bond with Hashem, his insights are more essential than ever. It takes considerable bravery to delve into subjects concerning principles of basic emunah, and I commend Rabbi Sklare for his dedication to fostering a deeper connection with Hashem in our generation.

I would love if Rabbi Sklare would continue writing on this subject and further explain how to practically strengthen our emunah and focus on the good that Hashem gives us.



Where Are the Sources [I Need Fear No Evil / Issue 1003]

The magazine recently featured two Guestlines columns by Rabbi Yonah Sklare, a new contributor whose erudition is apparent and whose vibrant writing style brings his profound thoughts to life. However, while his messages leave me feeling uplifted, I am concerned that the weighty assertions being made about topics that are omeid b’rumo shel olam are often inadequately sourced.

I wasn’t going to say anything when I noticed this issue in his column discussing the appropriate way to relate to Hashem (Issue 991), as it was only one article. But now that a follow-up was printed stressing this point again, this time based solely on a couple of diyukim in parshas Lech Lecha, I think it’s worth calling attention to this concern.

The other Guestlines authors tend to focus on more traditional themes, which they illustrate with inspiring stories and relevant divrei Torah. As much as I enjoy Rabbi Sklare’s novel approach and willingness to discuss fundamentals of Yiddishkeit, I would expect claims that we’ve all been misled about Hashem’s relationship with mankind to include supporting statements from Rishonim like the Rambam and Chovos Halevavos, or from later baalei machshavah such as the Maharal and Rav Dessler. Instead, he brushes aside an explicit Gemara (Shabbos 31a) about a person’s posthumous judgment based on what “I intuitively believe,” a dangerous slippery slope that we would certainly not accept from many other authors, and rightfully so.

To be clear, I am not disagreeing with his basic position. I certainly hope that (as Rabbi Sklare asserts) Hashem’s first message after death will be “I love you,” but as I grapple with the important ideas that he raises, I would appreciate more mareh mekomos from reliable sources that explicitly support his thesis. As comforting as feel-good speeches and articles may be in these challenging times, we are still a nation of mesorah, and I hope that all future Mishpacha columns will clearly base themselves on our rich tradition.



Rabbi Sklare responds:

Baruch Hashem! My rebbi told me that I will know that I was matzliach when someone criticizes my article, and now that has come to pass.

I welcome the letter writer’s passion and courage to question. Questioning and respectful shakla v’tarya are a cornerstone of the learning process.

Let me share an off-the-record conversation I had with a prominent rosh yeshivah whom I frequently engage in my shiur preparation and writing. “Rav Yonah,” he asked, “do your really believe that your trademark incisive divrei hashkafah should appear in a popular magazine, alongside news stories like Trump vs. Biden? There is a reason why magazines generally feature light vertlach. Contemporary Yiddishe media does not allow for the systemic development of sugyos b’machshavah that you are accustomed to give in your shiurim.”

When the editors explained to me in their expert professional judgment the constraints of keeping the 21st century reader engaged and the limited writing space, the rosh yeshivah’s words rang true. Indeed, the ikarim of Torah, including topics such as emunah, ahavah, etc., cannot be addressed by quick soundbites, or by “one and done” citations from kadmonim. Subjects of such gravitas call for iyun — for us to delve deeply into the mekoros, and “turn them over,” b’middos shehaTorah nidreshes bahem — all of which are beyond the scope of this forum.

So is the answer to settle for the vertlach and stories of the common genre? Many Yidden seek so much more in their quest for meaning, and they crave a spiritually substantive public discourse.

The solution I discussed with the rosh yeshivah was to present concepts in a generalized fashion, emotionally resonant and driven home by fresh insights, al pi haderech shekibalti m’rabbosai. Following the article’s printing, numerous individuals reached out to me personally asking for further elaboration and were treated to pilpula d’Oraisa of the highest order — addressing a wide range of issues from their source sugyos.

Ashrecha Yisrael that so many Yidden thirst for depth and are open to talk about the ikarim from a fresh perspective. May the breakthrough of compelling machshavah continue to spur a tzibbur so eager to expand their horizons.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1007)

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