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Inbox: Issue 870

"Kids have to know that there are rules in the house. The Torah is a guideline from Hashem, Who has the real unconditional love"


Change Can Be Private [Era of Hidden Faces / Issue 869]

Thank you for the beautiful article by Rabbi Ginzberg. He never fails to inspire me.

The changes Klal Yisrael made since Covid are outstanding and very beautiful. There is something else that could describe a lot of them: Private.

A kabbalah is something between me and Hashem. Sometimes I share them with others, sometimes I don’t.

Perhaps we haven’t made significant change in areas that certain askanim were hoping would be different. But many people I know have shared beautiful ways they have become closer to Hashem since the outbreak.

Personally, I have a much stronger sense of Hashem’s power. But this is something that even close family and friends wouldn’t be able to see.

A number of my family and friends have still kept up the kabbalos they took on at the start of the pandemic. How beautiful is that? And I’m sure that there are so many more I don’t know of, who are doing the same.

I have set up an email address, howcovidchangedme@gmail.com, and I would love if every reader could send me an email, even one or two sentences, anonymously if desired, explaining how Covid changed them or describing a kabbalah they are still keeping to. (I won’t share names without permission.)

Keep growing!

Name Withheld

Don’t Give That Beer [Still Our Children / Issue 869]

As a mother of a son who has been struggling for several years, many aspects of the article spoke to me and I nodded my head as I read. However, there was one line in there that had me practically in tears. It was written in a very matter-of-fact manner but was anything but that for me. “Say your brother, or your neighbor, has a kid at risk, you know exactly what to do… you give him cholent and a cold beer and a hug.”

This cold beer from my “neighbor” was the start of my son’s painful journey to alcohol, then drug abuse and rehab. What my neighbor didn’t know was that my very sensitive and wonderful son had an invisible predisposition to substance use disorder (which is more prevalent than you would believe, especially among teens with brains that have yet to finish developing). This beer introduced my 16-year-old to the concept of alcohol and how it made him feel.

Don’t give your neighbor’s child a beer.

There is an even more dangerous phenomenon that is truly unfathomable — when “gvirim” make big kiddushim and serve alcohol and booze to other people’s teenagers. It’s so accessible and the kids know exactly where to go to get it every week.

I beg you, my neighbor! I beg you, my brother!

Do you realize you are causing so many children to need rehab? Do you know how much pain you are inflicting on parents like us? Where does chesed play into this? Our nation is one that is known to care so much for each other. Please care enough to think of the home these teenagers are going back to after your kiddush. Please care enough to think of the mother who will spend the rest of Shabbos crying because of how her son came home after your kiddush. I beg you to stop.

This is not matter of fact. This is a matter of life and death. Alcohol kills. Let’s work as a family to protect each other’s children.

Your “sister” in terrible pain

Is This Really What Hashem Wants? [Still Our Children / Issue 869]

I was thrilled to read the article “Still Our Children” — not because I was happy with all contents but because at last I can voice my opinion in public about the controversial topic of so-called “unconditional love” to our at-risk children, specifically the point of keeping these children at home.

I understand these kids are in pain and they are not out to hurt anyone. It’s definitely a nisayon from Hashem. But, as the Zera Shimshon writes in his sefer: “The nisayon comes from Hashem but if the parents support this kind of behavior, for that, the parents will be accounted for.”

A TV in the house, treif food, and the like are not what Hashem wants of the parent. If the child sees that the parent is giving in to all his nonkosher needs, he does not feel loved. He feels just the opposite — like a lost case.

Kids smell the truth. If a sick patient wants a particular food or medicine that’s detrimental to his health, then the loving parents and dedicated doctor will obviously refuse the patient’s request. The doctor will only relent if there’s nothing else with what to save him anymore. Giving in to things that are assur to the neshamah is like giving fatal medicine.

You question, what does the sibling think when he sees his brother or sister no longer living at home. To which I question, what does a sibling think when this brother or sister remains in the house? Answer: He sees that it’s okay to have and do forbidden things in the house. He sees that wrong behavior has no consequence.

Kids have to know that there are rules in the house. The Torah is a guideline from Hashem, Who has the real unconditional love.

Rabbi Miller admits that siblings may be influenced by a child like this in the home. From what I see, they are almost always influenced. Look around...  so many of these homes have more than one child who’s been affected. Yes, the troubled child needs help, therapy, or whatever is needed, but not on the account of the rest of the siblings.

I am writing this letter because I understand all the pain that all these parents are experiencing. I am in the same shoes... waiting, like all of you, for our daughter to come home. We love her, all her siblings love her, and we miss her immensely, but with prayer and hope and by following Hashem’s Torah, we look forward to seeing her coming back very soon.

Remember, Hashem loves all His children unconditionally, but He too has conditions.

May we all celebrate our yeshuos speedily in our days.

A mother who loves her daughter with emes

Can I Ask Why? [Still Our Children / Issue 869]

It’s Leil Tishah B’Av and we’re attending a communal Eichah followed by a kumzitz. Between each song there is 20 seconds of silence, 20 seconds where anyone can share thoughts of life, or pain, of their year. In one of these silences, a participant shares something I had never heard before. “The whole year,” he says, “we need to say gam zu l’tovah, it’s all good, we know it’s good. But on Tishah B’Av, on the day we read Eichah, on that day we are allowed to ask ‘why.’ On Tishah B’Av Hashem understands when we ask why.”

I sit there, in silence, looking at the boys I had brought with me — and at the boy who came on his own, the boy who was the reason we were there. Sitting and listening, sitting and singing. Do I have the right to ask why?

At the end is my youngest, eyes half-closed, tired, too young to appreciate the power of the evening. Then my 14-year-old, then my 18-year-old, then my son-in-law, all of them tall, thin, with velvet yarmulkes on their heads, white shirts, black pants, slippers. And on the other end is my 16-year-old. Out of place. Red shirt. Tiros. Leather shoes. Months since his last haircut. No tzitzis. No yarmulke. My handsome, smart, strong boy, who left yeshivah overnight and who told us he needed to move out, needed time to himself, needed space.

I sit here, wondering whether this is the “why” we are allowed to voice. And I remember a time when I thought I understood what it meant to have a child leave. Eight years earlier, I was sending my oldest off to seminary. It was a dream I was so happy to be part of, the culmination of so many hopes. After dropping my daughter off at the airport, I went back to work. In the parking lot I met my friend. I mentioned that I had just left my oldest at the airport, and I shared how I felt. “Even though she’s the oldest of ten, and the house is very busy, I feel an emptiness already. I miss her and her place in the house.”

And my friend said, “I imagine this is how Hashem feels. He loves each of us so much. And he misses each Yid so much when a Yid leaves His house.” I agreed, and walked away, naively thinking I knew what it meant to miss someone, to understand the pain of having someone leave.

Back to Eichah. The boys are singing again. Arms around each other. Swaying. Im Eshkacheich Yerushalayim sung over and over. Can I ask why? Or can I just daven and remind myself, my heart is open, my home is open, my eyes are open.

Hashiveinu Hashem Eilecha, venashuvah, chadeish yameinu k’kedem.

I don’t want to ask why. I just want him to come back.

A mother who’s waiting

Like Any Other Mitzvah [We Need to Talk About Voting / Issue 868]

I just saw Maury Litwack’s piece “We Need to Talk about Voting.” The way to solve this problem is to get every rav, rebbe, rosh yeshivah, etc. on board. They have to tell their mispallelim and their talmidim that it’s as important to vote as it is to do any other mitzvah — like buying a lulav or selling one’s chometz.

Just as we find the time to do those things, we need to take the time to go vote. Every boy or girl in beis medrash or seminary should be required to register to vote. And obviously, it’s just as important for the women to vote as it is for the men. Maybe before an election, every rebbetzin should call or at least email each of the women in her kehillah and remind them to vote.

Who’s going to speak to the rabbanim and all other leaders in our communities and make sure that this message is conveyed to all of their constituents?

Larry Nussbaum, Brooklyn, NY

She Changed the World [For the Record/ Issue 867]

In Issue 867, the “For the Record” column shared the story of Mr. Joseph Rosenberger (1911–1996), who started shatnez testing in America. However, what people don’t know is the story of the woman who was behind it. Let me tell you the story of that woman, my great grandmother, Edith Neumann (Née Steinhauf).

My great-grandfather, Mordechai, was in Vienna before World War II, when he met Edith. They soon got engaged, but with the onset of the war, Mordechai fled to New York and Edith escaped to her relatives in England. Both did not know if they would ever see each other again, let alone if they would ever end up marrying. Eventually, Mordechai was able to obtain a visa for Edith. Before leaving England, Edith received wedding gifts from her parents: a brand new coat, wig, and other items.

Upon Edith’s arrival in America, she told Mordechai she would love to wear her new coat but couldn’t until it was checked for shatnez. Who in America checked shatnez? Mordechai did not know of anyone, but he knew that Mr. Rosenberger from Vienna was then in America and was involved with the textile business. Therefore, my great-grandparents asked Mr. Rosenberger if perhaps he knew of anyone who would check my great-grandmother’s coat. He did not.

Mike Tress got wind of the fact that people were inquiring about shatnez and he told Mr. Rosenberger to study the halachos and to go into the shatnez field.

Thus started shatnez testing in America.

When Edith died, Mr. Rosenberger’s daughter came to my great-aunt to be menachem avel. My great-aunt then asked her to relate the story of the person who started shatnez testing in America. Mr. Rosenberger’s daughter confirmed that, indeed, it was none other than my great-grandmother, Edith.

At Edith’s shloshim, my grandfather mentioned that very few people can say that they know of someone who changed the world. But my family and I can. We can say that about Edith, our Oma. Edith and her coat started shatnez testing in America, which led to shatnez awareness around the world.

May this be an aliyas neshamah for Feiga’la Malka bas Dovid.

Upholding his Legacy [His Secret to Success / Issue 865]

Kudos to Yonoson Rosenblum for his inspiring article about Rabbi Meir Schuster ztz”l and the strength of an individual.

I want your readers to know that the tremendous siyata d’Shmaya that Reb Schuster merited still lives on in the Women’s Heritage House in the Old City. I have been fortunate to spend some time with Rabbi Mordechai and Chaya Weisberg, who took over the Heritage House when Rabbi Schuster fell ill. I have seen firsthand the Hashgachah that this couple are showered with on a daily basis.

On one of my visits, I commented to one of the Weisberg sons about an incident that was clearly min haShamayim, and he looked at me and said, “These things happen to my mommy all the time.”

The Weisbergs got married shortly before Rabbi Schuster was niftar. Chaya was the eim habayis at the time while Rabbi Weisberg was learning. When Rabbi Schuster became ill and the Weisbergs realized that the Heritage House may close, they stepped up and took over the running of the women’s hostel. This was a young couple with no experience or financial backing who have nevertheless, with unbelievable siyata d’Shmaya, continued the legacy of Rabbi Schuster and are changing lives, one Jew at a time.

Name Withheld


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 870)

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