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Inbox: Issue 883

"The recent Kichels episodes about real estate really pushed a button for us, as I’m sure it did for many"



Providing a Needed Service [Inbox / Issue 882]

With regard to a letter published last week, I would like to share some thoughts. Firstly, the column Made in Heaven, though written in response to one questioner, is obviously relevant to a much wider base.

Unfortunately, people do not always realize they need help, and therefore won’t reach out to a “professional in a private manner.” Additionally, I think many would agree with me that it is a service to others just to advise what is in the range of normal, for many would not have the resources or knowledge as to why, when, and how to reach out, without some type of exposure to others’ dilemmas. We are not talking about intimate details here, rather tips and ideas that would help those married and in other relationships as well.

Sometimes it is better to have a pareve forum than let problems stew in private. Perhaps this column would not have been published years ago, but that is not necessarily for the better. Perhaps kids should be reading this type of material, which will make them more prepared in future relationships more than reading about finances, politics, or other topics… or perhaps they should stick to the Teen Pages?

Tali Rosenfeld


Don’t Take Away Torah [Inbox / Issue 882]

I am writing in response to “Hoping for Change,” who wrote about not excusing bochurim for habits such as drinking and vaping. I do agree with her points about not excusing these behaviors for someone because he is a “top bochur,” that learning in the beis medrash until late at night does not make these acceptable middos, and that healthier coping skills do need to be acquired.

However, I would like to comment on the following quote from her letter: “What is the point of all the learning that was done during the zeman?” Just like learning Torah does not excuse these middos, these middos do not invalidate the Torah that is learned. It isn’t right to take credit away from someone’s accomplishments because of his shortcomings in other areas.

Are these middos something that society should continue to treat lightly? Absolutely not, but one of the beautiful things about Torah learning is that it is accepted by Hashem from all Jewish people, regardless of who they are, and it isn’t fair to take that away from someone who makes certain mistakes.

I hope that we can all make smart choices for the future of ourselves and Klal Yisrael and also realize the value of Torah no matter who is learning it.

Y.S., Far Rockaway


Leave Them for Us [Inbox / Issue 882]

Dear Hoping for Change,

“Most of the girls I know are in school getting degrees, working at least one job, balancing volunteer work, and attending shiurim. No, it’s not a walk in the park for them, either. However, just imagine what the reaction would be if you heard that a girl you knew was smoking or drinking.”

Based on your concerns about bochurim in shidduchim, I will assure you that there are plenty of boys out there that you can consider — boys who are in school earning degrees, working at least one job, volunteering, etc. Also, boys who are taking great care of their health.

Please leave the “good bochur” who “stays in beis medrash until 12 every night” to us girls who actually value and appreciate him, and realize that we can never ever compare our own struggles and “nisyonos” to his.

Name Withheld


Winners Never Quit [School of Hard Knocks / Double Take – Issue 882]

I was quite interested in this week’s Double Take, because I really relate to Simi’s difficulty in the classroom. I just got home from seminary and accepted a teaching job in an elementary school. Like Simi, I did ask for the job, and I really wanted it. I was given an extremely difficult class for a new teacher like me.

Many of my students are struggling academically or have behavioral issues, and two of my students have issues that are extremely hard for a young inexperienced teacher to deal with. The problem is, I was not aware of these facts before I walked into the classroom the first day. It is quite a difficult and draining job.

However, I am nothing like Simi, and my mother is nothing like Simi’s mother. I understand that a commitment is a commitment, and quitting on a job is not okay. This is something my parents have ingrained in me since I was a young child. When you commit to something, you do it. You don’t give up when the going gets tough. My mother encourages me and helps me however she can, as well as reminding me that I have so many hours for myself.

I have a support system of people that are there for me to complain to and to give me a helping hand. I spend tons of time with my friends in person and on the phone and doing activities that I love doing. I think that as long as you realize your job is not your life and you keep doing things that make you happy, then you can keep doing your job and honoring your commitment.

I think that to quit on a job that you committed to, you would have to have an extremely drastic reason or be in an extremely abusive situation. How can you expect to do well in the teaching field if you can’t push yourself through the first difficult year, especially when you begged for the job? Everyone’s first year is hard! “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”

Simi would know that you shouldn’t give up when the going gets tough if she went to the amazing seminary I went to.

They Call Me Miss


Typical American Mentality [School of Hard Knocks / Double Take – Issue 882]

I’m willing to bet that most of the feedback on this Double Take scenario will be around the classic topics of parental over-involvement, teacher responsibilities, resilience, and the like. A more subtle but still crucial topic that comes out in the story is that of the Western value to make sure, at all costs, never to be “taken advantage of.”

The typical American mentality is, only help others if you can get something out of it. A good Jew does chesed even without personal gains. But then comes the “self-care” trap; make sure, if you want to do something good, not to do it unless it is completely comfortable and convenient for you. Oh, and remember that you have rights, and you’re entitled to claim your rights — at whatever expense that may come.

Simi’s mom is just another misguided individual whose goal is not to “get stepped on,” and by telling Simi that she’s been taken advantage of, she’s perpetuating the chain of sullied chinuch that’s infiltrated our system. She would do well, instead, to have an honest discussion with her daughter, giving her chizuk in bitachon and hishtadlus, some practical advice and ideas, and encourage her to introspect on her own, as well.

Simi can then decide — like a mature, responsible adult and thinking Jew — if and how she can push herself to rise above her nature. Only then can she conquer the struggle that she will hopefully realize is G-d-given, resulting in a lesson learned about the benefits of an act done in discomfort.

Leba Friedman


Pushing a Button [Kichels / Issue 881]

The recent Kichels episodes about real estate really pushed a button for us, as I’m sure it did for many.

Prices are rising everywhere at an alarming rate, with many families watching on helplessly. Families in the frum community want to live together, so houses are a precious commodity, and that’s understandable.

What seems so wrong are the investors who grab them off the market before anyone can get a chance to even put in an offer, and then flip them, raising the price without even touching the homes.

Erliche business is providing a service. That is, not buying all the milk off the shelf and selling it for double, because, hey, everyone needs milk, what are you going to do…

Wanna make money? How about by some milk, and make ice cream? That would make sense and be fair to all parties.

How can investors go to sleep at night, knowing they’ve raised the prices for the whole community, which could mean taking the bread off people’s tables, so they could pocket a few (or not so few) dollars?

Your children need rebbeim and mechanchim, your community needs a kollel, let’s not make their lives harder by making it close to impossible to afford a house on their salaries.

Want to make your parnassah with real estate? If that’s where your talents lie, how about buying a whole bunch of houses a little outside the area and selling them to the frum community so they can expand their borders without falling into debt? You’ll make a nice profit, and you’ll be helping people too. What could be better? Or, perhaps act as shadchan between the buyer and the seller, as many realtors do, without unnecessary inflation.

Do the investors think they will see brachah from the money they are taking out of people’s pockets?

I’m interested in hearing people thoughts on the matter.

C. I.


One Shabbos at a Time [Perspective / Issue 878]

Thank you for addressing the topic of Kiddush clubs. It’s an important one that affects so many families. I just wanted to clarify some points.

  1. Abolishing Kiddush clubs, or even toning them down, of course, won’t solve addiction. Nobody would ever say it will. Addiction is its own problem, and usually it isn’t caused by Shabbos Kiddush, Purim, or Simchas Torah… Toning down Kiddush clubs would just solve the multiple issues that come along with the out-of-control Kiddushes going on in many communities. Among them:

-drunk men aren’t present the entire Shabbos for their families;

-wives and children are home waiting for hours alone;

-men can lose themselves in these atmospheres and act inappropriately;

-men aren’t hungry when they come home for the food their wives prepared.

-men have so much fun at Kiddush; they then come home to crying toddlers, fighting kids, cranky newborns, and wrung-out wives, which seems and feels out of place for them, and they aren’t interested.

Obviously not every issue would be solved, but it’s time to be less idealistic and more practical and realistic. Toning down the Kiddush clubs would help one family at a time, one Shabbos at a time. A family who has a nice Shabbos can have a productive week. I think that’s enough of an accomplishment.

  1. While the article was written by a rabbi in Baltimore, I’m just wondering if he knows what’s going on weekly in many neighborhoods in the Tristate area. Yes, it’s out of control, and something needs to change. One rav at a time, one shul, can change one family for one Shabbos. That’s all we women are asking for — a calm Shabbos with a present husband.

A Kiddush club daughter

A Kiddush club wife


Advice for Abba [Spare Change / Calligraphy Succos 5782]

Thank you for the abundant Yom Tov reading material. Regarding the story “Spare Change” by Rivka Streicher, I have some advice for “Abba.”

Abba: Asking Shifra to contribute a bit to the family finances was extremely uncomfortable for both of you, straining the father-child relationship to the extent that you feel you have to mumble or speak in a small voice when offering her your fatherly opinion. If that is how you feel, then please, please, find another way to make ends meet for the time being. Go without a house phone line if need be. Ask a relative, if you can, for help with Yom Tov dresses. Do whatever you would do if Shifra was not available to help out.

At the same time, you should know that many parents are very confident asking their grown-up children to contribute, and it does not hurt their relationship. I will explain. You are still providing for her room and board. You can expect her to fund her own wardrobe, transportation, and luxury expenses. Until recently, you were probably giving her at least $100 monthly for these items, so the savings is profit for you. If she is using your car, she could pay for some of the gas. If she wishes for new carpet in her bedroom, she can buy it. These contributions will help her mature and become independent.

In addition, some families use a portion of their daughters’ earnings to pay for the wedding, household goods, or chassan gifts. If you plan to use her earnings in this way, it is preferable to tell her before she starts working, or before she makes a career change. Some families with somewhat older daughters use those earnings to help “support” the couple. The daughter should be consulted about this: for example, “Shifra, the Schwartzbaums are asking for $1,000 per month for five years, but as you know, we can only commit to $500. Would you like to to go ahead with the shidduch if it means using some of your savings for ‘support’?”

Abba, in one way you scored. Give your daughter an occasional $20 to buy a treat... just because you love her.

Shifra: You are a sweetheart and a loyal daughter, but what’s this? “A man who can’t provide is not a man”? Your father is engaged day after day, year after year in avodas hakodesh, teaching Torah to the children of Klal Yisrael. He is not a man — he is a malach!

Ma: You chose this lifestyle. It’s very rewarding and sometimes hard. You keep sighing and spacing out. Maybe you need a support group of like-minded women so you can chap ideas and encouragement. Maybe you can take a part-time job so you can afford a few of the extras. You can do it!

Name Withheld


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 883)

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