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Inbox: Issue 844

"Life is not about getting the best, it’s about getting what’s best for our children"



Keep Your Eye on the Real Goal [Double Vision / Double Take — Issue 843]

I have several married daughters, and all of my sons-in-law are still in kollel, so I can certainly appreciate the bochur who got inspired by his rebbi to focus more on ruchniyus and less on gashmiyus. However, I feel that his rebbi’s relative youth and inexperience caused him to not use the best judgment when suggesting a potential shidduch for this bochur. He should have realized that this girl would not appeal at all to the parents and would just make it more difficult to accomplish his real goal — getting the parents to agree to a shidduch with a long-term kollel arrangement.

The bochur needs a girl who is idealistic in her appreciation of limud haTorah, is not very high maintenance in her gashmiyus needs, and has excellent middos — yet comes from a similar background. This will make it much easier for his parents to accept the change. There are many such girls who graduate from Bais Yaakov schools every year, all from families which his parents would be more comfortable with.

Truthfully, the parents’ experience and love for their son are also to be valued. Marriage has many adjustments, and if a couple moves to Eretz Yisrael there are even more adjustments. If the couple come from similar backgrounds, they are more likely to have similar expectations. It will also be more comfortable for him when he spends Shabbos and Yom Tov at their homes.

Additionally, the rebbi also mentioned in the initial conversation that the boy’s parents would need to provide all the support. Regardless of the fairness or unfairness of the current system, since this is not the typical arrangement, the rebbi should have realized that this would make the suggestion even less appealing to these parents.

If the rebbi wants to help this bochur in a realistic way, he should strengthen the bochur’s resolve to look for a girl who shares his commitment to long-term kollel and maintain the relationship with him when he returns to America to start dating. He should encourage the bochur to show his parents tremendous respect and tell them that his commitment to long-term kollel is an extension of the dedication to Torah learning that he saw from them. This way they can proudly support his choice instead of feeling that he is implying that they are not good enough.

A Mother with Experience

Compatibility or Pride? [Double Vision / Double Take — Issue 843]

As a mother with two married children and one child in shidduchim, I was slightly uncomfortable with the recent Double Take story. I found it hard to agree with Mendy and Minna’s perspective as they did research for their son in shidduchim. It seems their main focus was the family of the girl, and they were looking for perfection, yichus, money, you know — the “right type.” Perhaps the main focus should be on the girl herself: her hashkafos, middos, she’ifos, and most importantly, her chashivus haTorah.

Of course it is true that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Most children follow, more or less, in the path their parents have set for them, and there is a concept of family compatibility. However, is it possible that we are getting a bit carried away with family compatibility? Are we too quick to write off a wonderful shidduch because the family doesn’t sound quite my “type”?

While we make calls for our children’s shidduchim, are we too caught up in what others might say about the family we marry into? And when we take a call from a shadchan, why is it that we reject a prospective shidduch based on what we hear about the family while asking nothing about the suggested boy/girl? Is it really because the match is unfit, or is it our pride that’s compelling us to say no?

Life is not about getting the best, it’s about getting what’s best for our children.

May we be zocheh to many more shidduchim in Klal Yisrael!

Name Withheld

Don’t Sacrifice the Country for Us [Second Thoughts / Issue 842]

In “Balancing the Balance,” Rabbi Emanuel Feldman writes: “The Lieutenant Governor of Texas feels that to reopen the economy we might need to consider a tradeoff between the lives of people who are over 70 versus the possibility of losing our ‘whole country.’ The implication is clear: The lives of the elderly are expendable and can be traded off for the common good.”

In fact, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick was not coming from that perspective. His actual words were expressed in a Fox News interview with Tucker Carlson 3/23/20, where he noted that he was about to turn 70 and in a high-risk category, but prefers that older people take care of themselves: “Those who want to shelter in place can still do so…  But there are lots of grandparents like me who care most about their grandchildren. I want to live smart but I don’t want the whole country to be sacrificed. We are having an economic collapse. My message is, let’s get back to work. Those of us who are 70 plus will take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country.”

His point was not that the lives of people over 70 don’t matter, but that people with health risks should protect themselves and keep safe, while young people who face almost no risk should go back to work and keep the economy going, to avoid the misery created (for young and old) when an economy collapses and millions of people lose their livelihood, and the destruction of societal norms that lead to chaos and violence.

This country’s Judeo-Christian foundation is the reason it is a “medinah shel chesed.” It faces an unprecedented assault by forces of secularism determined to undermine that religious foundation. If this country will survive, it will be because of the moral values of leaders in Texas and other conservative states, who have a North Star and are desperately seeking to bring the country back to the religious values it once held.

Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt, Dallas, Texas

Plan Ahead or Fail [Still a Doctor in the House? / Issue 842]

The December 23 issue of Mishpacha did a great job explaining the critical issue of the shomer Shabbos residency. The reality is that Shabbos observance in a hospital is virtually impossible without a solid halachic background and tremendous determination to resist overwhelming pressure to conform to hospital norms that often cannot be reconciled with proper Shabbos observance.

The reason to pursue a residency that agrees in advance to accommodate one’s religious requirements is that without such an understanding, it is unrealistic to believe that one will be able to meet the expectations of a standard residency program. Negotiating workarounds on the fly may be possible in some jobs, but doctors care for sick people. They must function within a tightly regulated system to ensure that care for patients will not be compromised.

The potential resident who does not plan ahead and matches into a program that may not be reconcilable with halachah is likely to wind up disappointed and frustrated when finding him/herself in a very awkward and impossible position requiring choosing between continued medical training and Shabbos observance.

The reality is that not every medical or surgical specialty may be compatible with Shabbos-compliant training (or practice), and therefore not every specialty may be a viable choice. Nevertheless, there are many opportunities for medical training that do not require Shabbos desecration if one is steadfast and determined about finding such training (even at the expense of personal preferences such as location).

It is vital to prepare far in advance by learning the extensive pertinent medical halachos and finding a qualified rav to whom ongoing sh’eilos can be asked. It is also crucial that one be able to cogently explain to a residency program precisely what one’s needs are and how they are obtainable within the program at which one is interviewing.

My website (jewishmedicalethics.com/shomer-shabbos-residency) explains some of the halachic issues involved in shomer Shabbos residency and gives advice on how to prepare for interviews that may be of help to interested medical students and programs seeking to understand the issues involved.

Daniel Eisenberg, MD

Doctors in Every Specialty [Still a Doctor in the House? / Issue 842]

I was the first shomer Shabbos resident in emergency medicine. What I mean by that is, the first resident to match in an official EM residency. This was not a handshake and vague verbal agreement of “we will work it out to the best of our abilities.” No, this was an actual spot in the match, and the first time it was offered to emergency medicine.

Back when I was considering residency options, I was offered positions in areas with larger frum communities, but no one was able to guarantee an official Shabbos-observant spot. When the offer opened up in the match, I consulted my mentors and although it was at the University of Arkansas, it was a guaranteed position and I chose to do my residency there.

However, I got lucky. I was fortunate that an unprecedented Shabbos spot was created in emergency medicine. The real question was, if that spot would not have materialized, would I have given up my passion for emergency medicine and chosen another specialty?

We need frum specialists in every field. Take, for example, our current pandemic. Can you imagine if there were no emergency physicians and ICU physicians to help guide communities through COVID-19 in a halachic and calm but accurate fashion?

And that’s only one small example. We need frum neurosurgeons, frum Ob/Gyns, frum ENTs and the list goes on. These fields do not accommodate shomer Shabbos positions — but we need frum specialists to help guide our rabbanim and guide the Jewish communities.

I appreciate the article very much and overall agree with the sentiment. However, I do not think people should give up on their passion to practice another specialty just because they cannot get a shomer Shabbos residency. Rather, they must learn the halachos and help contribute to the frum community in every single field of medicine out there. Hashem will help guide us if we show initiative and that we care about Shabbos by consulting with a rav whenever questions arrive.

Thank you, Mishpacha, for your excellent and informative articles, and may Hashem continue to spare us until we overcome this plague.

Dov Frankel MD, MSc FACEP

Greater Baltimore Medical Center Department of Emergency Medicine

The Rav and the Payphone [Primary Source / Issue 842]

I very much enjoyed Yehuda Geberer’s excellent article on Rav Dovid Kamenetsky’s new Hebrew biography of Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzenski. It was particularly meaningful to me as I had the zechus, some 30 years ago, to author an English biography on Rav Chaim Ozer (published by ArtScroll). I did not have access to the treasure trove of documents and letters that Rav Kamenetsky made use of, but I was able to interview some people who had actually known Rav Chaim Ozer. Among them were the Suvalker Rav, Rav Dovid Lifshitz ztz”l; Rav Shmaryahu Karelitz ztz”l, a nephew of the Chazon Ish who grew up in Vilna; and Rebbetzin Rashel Krawiec a”h, wife of the gaon Rav Mendel Krawiec zt”l. She was a daughter of Rav Aharon Berek ztz”l, a confidant of Rav Chaim Ozer and one of the heads of the Vaad HaYeshivos, which was founded by the Chofetz Chaim and Rav Chaim Ozer.

Permit me to share an interesting tidbit. There is a now famous story about Reb Chaim Ozer taking a young Rav Yisrael Zev Gustman on a wagon ride on the outskirts of Vilna during which he talked about how one could survive in the forests, pointing out which plants were edible and which were not, and so on. At the time, Rav Gustman could not understand what was happening; he often accompanied Reb Chaim Ozer on his daily wagon ride (which he took for health reasons) and always, they discussed Torah. Only later, when Rav Gustman and his family fled to the forests during the war, he remembered Reb Chaim Ozer’s “forest lesson,” and this was a key to his family’s survival.

I wanted to use this story in my book, but didn’t know if it was true (it had never been printed at that point). Somehow, I got the phone number of the pay phone in Rav Gustman’s yeshivah in Eretz Yisrael, called the number and asked to speak to the rosh yeshivah. (Thinking back, I don’t know how I had the chutzpah to call a gadol b’Yisrael to the pay phone.)

Rav Gustman came to the phone. I told him the story and asked, “Can the Rosh Yeshivah tell me if the story is true, and if it is true, do I have permission to use it in my book on Reb Chaim Ozer?”

Rav Gustman replied, “The story is true, you may use it, but don’t use my name. Just say it happened with a rav.” I followed his instructions. Since Rav Gustman’s passing, the story has been printed many times, with his name.

Rav Shneur Kotler ztz”l once commented, “The world has forgotten the awe which everyone, from the greatest to the smallest, felt for Rav Chaim Ozer.” I am sure that Rav Kamenetsky’s new work will give people a taste of that awe.

Rabbi Shimon Finkelman

My Shabbos Treat [The Moment / Issue 842]

I opened my Mishpacha Magazine last Shabbos and was surprised and delighted to see, on page 45, the (masked) face of my adorable einekel, Elisha Schmell, staring back at me.

The story was as printed. Rabbi Florans is an extraordinary rebbi, and to read of two generations of South Shore Yeshiva talmidim both receiving a special gift from him nearly 30 years apart, is a beautiful testament to how meaningful this gift is to both father and son.

They immediately used their respective gifts from their rebbi to say Tehillim for cholim in the family and community. Clearly my son-in-law was very much machshiv his own copy of this sefer Tehillim and is imparting this to his son.

Thank you for this lovely Shabbos treat.

Rochy Fried

Prep Yourself with Reinforcements [On a Narrow Cliff / LifeLines — Issue 841]

I was moved by the LifeLines story about the family’s near-disastrous hike.

I would like to expound on the protagonist’s very meaningful message, which was that one should fill himself with emunah before challenges strike. This is in line with the popular saying, “Forewarned is forearmed.”

This is a very powerful tool to use against the yezter hara in countless examples during the course of the day.

Before opening a siddur, why not resolve to have full kavanah for at least a specific portion of the tefillah? This will empower us to experience our davenning with heightened focus, as well as to act upon our kabbalah.

Another instance would be in interpersonal relationships. If one preps himself with reinforcements before confronting his spouse/child/parent/boss, such as pesukim that deal with anger, or sayings that he connects to, before he meets up with this person, he’s more likely to succeed in his interaction.

This is very much in line with Shlomo Hamelech’s exhortation, “B’tachbulos ta’aseh milchamah — with strategies you shall wage war.”

Athletes are constantly envisioning themselves as succeeding in their given fields. This has proven a most effective tool to actually reach success.

May we all be granted siyata d’Shmaya to face our battles and overcome them admirably.

E.R., Kiryat Sefer

In Argentina Too [For the Record / Issue 840]

Thank you as always for your fascinating and informative For the Record column. While In your list of institutions named for the Chofetz Chaim, I believe you overlooked one of the older ones, and indeed may never have known of its existence. I refer to Ieshiva Jafetz Jaim, a fortress of Torah in Buenos Aires.

The yeshivah was founded by Rav Isser Yaakov Mazal in 1943; Rav Mazal knew the Chofetz Chaim and received guidance from him. Since its inception it has been the cornerstone for vibrant chareidi life in Argentina and has trained communal leaders who serve there and throughout Latin America. It has been under the leadership of Rav Shmuel Aryeh Levin, himself an alumnus of the yeshivah and also a talmid of Ponevezh since 1972.

Rav Mazal grew up in Brisk and, at the behest of the Chofetz Chaim, founded a yeshivah in Belgium prior to immigrating to Argentina. That yeshivah still exists as well.

Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky

Congregation Shaare Tefilla

Dallas, Texas


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 844)

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