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Inbox: Issue 1009

“The pre-Pesach Stealth Mom secretly throwing out old socks matched my current mood perfectly”


The Real Cover Story [Making Seder in Orlando / Issue 1007]

I was quite saddened (and a bit disappointed) to see your cover story about Pesach in Orlando. What happened to teaching children the value of working hard, scrubbing, cleaning, kashering, cooking, and then having the beautiful feeling of sitting down to the Seder together with the satisfaction of a job very well done?

In the same issue, you had the most inspiring article about Rabbi Hillel Zaltzman — a man who sacrificed for decades in Communist Russia to preserve our mesorah and pass it on from generation to generation. Now here we are living in a country that allows us religious freedom and we don’t even sacrifice for it.

In my humble opinion, the cover story belonged to Rabbi Zaltzman — a man who represents everything that Pesach stands for, someone who would never trade the beauty of our Pesach mesorah for a week with Mickey Mouse!

M. Stern


Avoid the Pitfalls [Will My Bochur Be Drafted? / Issue 1007]

I was grateful to see last week’s The Explainer designed to help American-Israeli bochurim and their parents navigate the process of sorting out their military status ahead of time, in order to avoid potential trouble dealing with the army once they’re already learning in Eretz Yisrael.

As an Israeli citizen living in the US who has sent multiple US born-and-raised children to yeshivah and seminary in Eretz Yisrael, I would like to spare others some of the avoidable agmas nefesh that we encountered during the process of registering our children as Israelis and obtaining their “bnei mehagrim” status.

It is difficult to get an appointment at the Israeli consulate, and uniquely distressing to finally arrive there only to discover that you don’t have the requisite documentation to register your child and take care of arranging his or her army status. Obtaining this documentation takes months and must be done in the correct sequence. (The process should be started at least a year before the student intends to go to Eretz Yisrael.)

Step one: Obtain a long-form birth certificate with a letter of exemplification (this can be ordered online and takes weeks to arrive).

Step two: This document must be authenticated by the County Clerk in the county in which it was issued.

Step three: Obtain an apostille from the State Department (by mail or in person).

Step four: Visit the Israeli consulate with the apostille in hand.

(If the Israeli parent is the father, there may be additional requirements, such as an authenticated marriage license and the appearance of both parents at the consulate.) Perhaps all of these bureaucratic hurdles fall into the category of Eretz Yisrael nikneis b’yissurin.

Hoping your experience will be smoother than ours was.


Kew Gardens, NY


They Want Their Year in Israel [Open Mic / Issue 1007]

Regarding the Open Mic by B. Cohen regarding changing the English system with regard to boys going to learn in Israel, I could not agree more with every word written. For many years, I myself have been making similar arguments, but all one needs to do is to speak to almost any yeshivah bochur or girl to understand why the system has little chance of changing. The simple facts are that the vast majority of boys and girls want to spend their yeshivah and newly married years in Israel and very few parents will tell their children that they are unable to pay for them to be in yeshivah.

Permit me to make one potent point that I have learned from personal experience. While I am by no means a mental health professional, nor do I have any professional experience in the field of mental health or marriage counseling, there seem to be invaluable professional resources in Israel for both singles and couples, and for that reason alone it may be worthwhile for us not to do away with the concept of learning in yeshivah or beginning married life in Israel.

It also might be healthy for our boys and girls to get some experience outside of our English system. That’s why I think that our children who go to Israel and confine themselves to the “ghetto” aren’t doing themselves a favor.

I do not mean that we cannot repeat the American yeshivah success story on English soil, but these points should be an important part of the conversation.

Name Withheld


Accomplishments of a Lifetime [Ordinary Greatness / Issue 1007]

It was heartwarming and comforting to see my good friend’s son, Ariel Eliyahu Hy”d, written about in Gedalia Guttentag’s article this week as an example of ordinary greatness. Ariel was a special soul who accomplished in his short time here more than what many do in a lifetime.

The article mentioned that he used his English classes in high school to finish Shas Mishnayos. That is incorrect. He used his Hebrew classes in elementary school in New York to finish Shas Mishnayos and his English classes in high school in Israel to finish Shas Gemara (and that’s in addition to the many times he went through Tanach).

He had a true love for Hashem, His Torah, His people, and His land. He had a drive, maturity, and sense of commitment well beyond his years.

Name Withheld


I Was a Stealth Mom [The Kichels / Issue 1007]

I love the Kichels, which is always the first thing I look at when I open my Mishpacha. Some speak to me more than others, but the pre-Pesach Stealth Mom secretly throwing out old socks matched my current mood perfectly. And when the poor unsuspecting little kids find their projects in the garbage (Stealth Mom, you have to either take the garbage out of the house immediately, or do a better job putting other not-so-sensitive garbage on top), oy va voy.

Honestly, I used to be the one who saved random puzzle pieces, Legos from unidentifiable sets, sheva brachos outfits, etc. Then I took Yael Weisner’s organizational course (I’m not being paid to write this, just trying to help any other mothers who are drowning in clutter) and her approach to clutter has freed me from the clutter! Instead of the three-month, six-month and three-year waiting periods before tossing, those non-essentials go directly into the garbage.

May we all have a Pesach in which we’re freed from all our forms of bondage — including the clutter!


Baltimore, MD


I’m Sentimental, Not a Hoarder [The Kichels / Issue 1007]

I know the Kichels was intended as a joke, but it triggered the ongoing conversation that repeats itself in our house several times a year, especially before Pesach.

I believe the world is divided into two types of people: sentimental, and non-sentimental. I am the former; my husband is the latter. Our children are split pretty evenly among the two camps. After decades of living with a member of the Other Half, I’m fairly certain: When it comes to certain things, there is simply no way for us to understand each other.

Non-sentimental people might label the Other Half as hoarders — and they might be right in some cases. But by jumping to that extreme, they completely overlook what really lies at the core of non-pathological saving. Meaningful mementos are tangible references to precious slices of life that, when preserved properly, can be so valuable to the next generation.

My husband and non-sentimental children laugh at the top shelf in our guest room closet, which is a curated collection of items that I save. They can’t relate to the idea that one day, someone — maybe even they! — will appreciate having something to hold on to that brings up warm memories of family connection and wholesomeness. I treasure the few items I have from my parents and grandparents, and wish I had more from the non-sentimental ones.

To be honest, I try to relate to their legitimate objections to my curating process, which I also wish was more efficient. It’s not ideal to have drawers of “items to sort” that are absolutely forbidden to anyone besides me… but isn’t that a small price to pay for a connection to our future progeny?

A Proudly Sentimental Mommy and Bubby


Yes, Hashem Does Punish [Guestlines / Issue 1003]

I’m writing in response to Rabbi Sklare’s Guestlines column some weeks ago decrying the idea that G-d punishes sins and that being afraid of punishment is idolatrous.

This is a great chiddush! Now that I know that this idea is idolatrous, of course I need to burn my Chumashim, all of which speak about this, particularly in the two tochachos. I suppose my Shas needs to go, as well, as it’s also full of it. The same idea is in Krias Shema, found in the siddur, so I’ll throw that on the fire. Mussar seforim like Shaarei Teshuvah, Mesillas Yesharim, Reishis Chochmah, and the various seforim of the Chofetz Chaim talk about this at length. To the flames with them, idolatrous works all!

Or... maybe I shouldn’t be quite so hasty as to burn kol haTorah kulah in order to reconceptualize HaKadosh Baruch Hu as a celestial teddy bear. Maybe a magazine that spreads such ideas is the thing that needs to be gotten rid of instead....

Yehoshua Kahan

Ramat Beit Shemesh Alef


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1009)

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