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Inbox: Issue 884

"There are never enough children, no matter the family size, when a parent deteriorates"



Don’t Look Down [Inbox / Issue 883]

As a father of children currently learning in a well-known yeshivah, I feel compelled to add my piece to the conversation in these pages regarding bochurim’s behaviors.

First, I wanted to point out that drinking and vaping/smoking are very different. While both contain inherent health risks, alcohol and all its side effects are a serious interruption to the zeman and a normal day of learning, while smoking and vaping — albeit potentially dangerous — don’t come close to the bittul zeman that alcohol poses. I don’t believe any rebbi would condone drinking, whether during the zeman or not.

That being said, I wanted to question why no one seems to have a problem with an adult taking a cigarette or vaping after a stressful day of work or the like, yet bochurim who do are now relegated to the bottom of the barrel. The “workday” of a yeshivah bochur is like no other. From 7 in the morning till 11 at night, with small breaks here and there, they learn. Would they rather do anything else? No. Do they love every moment? Yes. But is a bochur to be looked down upon for taking a cigarette before shiur, or vaping bein hasedorim? In my humble opinion, I don’t believe so.

Every teenager goes through “stages.” That theirs is smoking is a cause for simchah, not for refusing to marry them. We should be dancing that they’re still in the beis medrash, holding up the world, with all that’s going on outside.

S. M. P.


Vaping Not Required [Inbox / Issue 883]

I was surprised that the only responses to the “Grateful Bochur” were from girls in shidduchim. Perhaps it would be possible to hear a response from a mechanech or rav who interacts with bochurim to gain perspective about this important issue.

And to the girls in shidduchim who are reading this exchange of letters with concern, please know that there most certainly are boys who are erlich and menschlich and stay in the beis medrash until midnight, and take seriously their responsibilities to their families, and don’t vape or drink as an outlet in the manner described in the original letter.

To “Name Withheld,” the distinction you draw between “boys who are in school earning degrees, working, volunteering... taking care of their health” versus the “good bochur” who “stays in beis medrash until 12 every night” and who therefore should be excused for his vaping is surprising. There are plenty of “good bochurim” who “stay in beis medrash until 12 every night” who do not vape or drink. These boys show that there is no need to vape or drink just because they’re going beyond their physical limits to hold up the world with their learning.

May we see more shidduchim throughout Klal Yisrael.

Name Withheld


Couldn’t Tell a Lie [A Yeshivah Bochur Like No Other / Issue 883]

Avraham (Allen) ben Moshe HaKohein Moskowitz and I were close childhood buddies, classmates at Yeshiva Rabbi Israel Salanter located on Webster Avenue in the East Bronx, and shul mates davening in the Young Israel of Mosholu Parkway headed by the paragon of middos tovos, mori v’rabi Rav Zevulun Charlop shlita.

Having lived in Eretz Yisrael for approximately 50 years, I have not had extended contact with Allen for many years and was shocked to learn of Allen’s passing when reading the testimonial on Leil Shabbos. Though we parted paths more than 50 years ago, I feel I can add an important facet to the phenomenon that was Allen Moskowitz.

During our high school years, Rav Charlop once related the following story in praise of Allen. When Allen was about five years old, he sustained a severe head injury in a playground accident caused by negligence of a construction crew that left a playground construction site unguarded by fencing. His parents demanded a high amount of compensation and after a decade of delays, the issue went to trial.

Allen’s lawyer told Allen that on cross examination the defendant’s attorney would likely ask him if the area under construction had been fenced and that the verdict depended upon Allen’s answering unequivocally that there was no fencing. Allen related to Rabbi Charlop that when asked, his body shivered at the thought of telling a lie and he answered truthfully that he did not remember. Allen lost the case.

Perhaps Hashem rewarded Allen’s honesty by blessing his investment portfolio. This conjecture is supported by thought appearing in the Ramban on parshas hashavua. The pasuk says “and had blessed Avraham bakol, with everything.” The Ramban expounds that the term bakol alludes to the middah of Hashem in which He bestows brachos on the inhabitants of the physical world, and that this middah is the eighth of the Thirteen Middos of Hashem appearing in the pasuk “Hashem, Hashem.” I checked to see which word of the pasuk Hashem Hashem alludes to the eighth middah. According to the Ramban, the word “va’emes (and truth)” alludes to the eighth middah of bestowing brachah in the physical world. Mesirus nefesh for truth seems to be intertwined with Heavenly brachah.

It seems appropriate that the testimonial to Avraham HaKohein Moskowitz appear the week when we read “and Hashem Blessed Avraham bakol.”

D. H. B., Petach Tikvah, Israel


An Enigma Explained [A Yeshivah Bochur Like No Other / Issue 883]

I would like to thank Mr. Shloimy Hoffman for his excellent cover article featuring Mr. Al Moskowitz. When my brothers — and then my own sons — were in yeshivah, I heard so much about this incredible man who has remained an enigma to me all these years. Is there anyone in our generation who is so frugal when it comes to his own personal needs, yet so generous when it comes to assisting yeshivos and yeshivah bochurim? The thousands of hours that were learned thanks to his donations (including the incentive programs he sponsored) will undoubtedly serve as an eternal zechus for him.

And of course, one cannot help but appreciate how the invitation of one gracious individual (Mr. Jerry Joseph) led to millions of dollars being dispensed to yeshivos, and so many hours of Gemara being studied.

Yehi zichro baruch.

Genendel Krohn


Our Inspiration [Guestlines / Issue 883]

Rabbi and Rebbetzin Ginzberg never cease to inspire me with their new initiative “Simchas Sara.” They were the impetus behind the global initiative we’ve started in the last year, Tehillim for shidduchim. As Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita so aptly said, the hishtadlus for shidduchim remains rooted in tefillah.

With our program, every member commits to say one perek of Tehillim once a week and submits a name for tefillah. With over 2,000 names, we’ve been zocheh to celebrate over 200 shidduchim, due to the power of Tehillim b’achdus. May these zechuyos continue so that every single in Klal Yisrael can find his or her right zivug b’karov.

To join: email: tefillahanon@gmail.com or Whatsapp: +972548415993

Faigy Peritzman


Spiritual Benefits [Made in Heaven / Issue 883]

In Rabbi Shafier’s excellent column he discusses how women accord great importance to their appearance. Not to disagree with Rabbi Shafier’s great advice, but there is an additional aspect likely at play.

Many seminaries today teach young women that looking good and making sure the family looks good is part of the duty of a ben Torah’s wife. It helps her husband cope with the nisyonos of our generation, when even walking down a street without seeing immodest sights is hard.

It also means that teenage girls that see her equate tzniyus with a respectable look. Not only that, many people judge Judaism as a whole by the fist chareidi person they meet and you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!

As for spending a lot of time on beauty routines, a talmid chacham with a sense of humor was once asked by a worried husband how he should react when his wife spends six hours in a beauty parlor.

The talmid chacham exclaimed, “Only six hours? In the Era of Megillas Esther they spent six months soaking in aromatic oils then another six months in perfumes. Now technology has come such a long way that everything is over and done within six hours. How we must thank Hashem for disbursing wisdom to mankind!”



The Clean-Challenged Perspective [Made in Heaven / Issue 882]

I got up from the Friday night table (not pushing in my chair), sat down in my comfortable La-Z-Boy chair (not really helping clear the table), and picked up Mishpacha for a relaxing read. For some reason, it was Rabbi Shafier’s article that I opened up to first. As soon as I read his description of the slobby husband, my first thought was, “Oh, no! This is about me!” I silently davened he wasn’t going to tell me I needed to change my habits.

I felt so relieved after reading his answer. I could not agree more with his response. After 20 wonderful years of marriage, below is how I approach this issue:

Knowing that a post-breakfast messy kitchen upsets my wife, on the very rare occasion that we may be in an argument, I will make sure I clean up after myself. How much depends on how badly I messed up… small fight, dishes goes into sink; moderate fight, I wash the dishes; something major, I dry and put the dishes in the cabinet. The upside is that 99.99-plus percent of the time, I can leave my coffee mug and breakfast bowl on table. It demonstrates we are in a good place. (See how I turned making a mess into a sign of loving endearment?)

If by chance my wife forgets to push in her chair or by accident forgets to put something away, I make a big commotion about it and dramatically push her chair in for her or put away what she forgot to. I try to make sure my wife realizes it isn’t just me who forgets to be neat. (Pro tip: Bringing the kids into the drama makes it a family bonding event!)

For bigger jobs (like cleaning up an office that has gotten beyond messy from 18 months of working from home), I try to negotiate for something in return. How do you think I got my La-Z-Boy chair? (Caution: don’t set your request too low, since once she does her part, you are now stuck keeping your end of the bargain.)

When I know my wife is simply having a hard day, I do what we affectionately call a “mommy clean-up.” I then mark the location of everything I put away or clean up with a sticky note. No crumb location is too small for a sticky note. I need to maximize the credit for my effort!

On a more serious note, to all the husbands out there who are also clean-challenged and married to someone who constantly picks up after them, a few additional thoughts that were not included in Rabbi Shafier’s article:

Realize the positive impact on your life having a clean and neat home. You are never looking for your shoes, jacket, sefer, etc. since it is exactly where it should be. That is, not where you left it, but in its proper place in the closet or on the shelf.

Realize you are never embarrassed when friends or family come over, especially if the visit is unexpected. The house is simply never a mess.

Realize that just because your wife is good at something doesn’t mean she enjoys doing it. It is a chore for her just like it would be for you.

Realize how lucky you are to not have to do the cleaning up.

If you cannot change your habits, you can at least help on Erev Shabbos or before the cleaning inspector, oops, the cleaning help comes.

Regardless of the division of house chores, at the very least, please remember to say a meaningful “thank you” to your wife and perhaps a present every now and then.

A Thankful (and Clean-Challenged) Husband


Help is Available [Walking Mom and Dad Home / Issue 882]

Barbara Bensoussan’s excellent article “Walking Mom and Dad Home” covered many aspects of caregiving for an elderly parent. There are never enough children, no matter the family size, when a parent deteriorates.

The unremitting strain of safety issues, medical needs, and paperwork that extends for years is driven by practical needs that take an emotional toll. It may be alleviated in some ways by paid caregivers, case workers, aging-in-place specialists (who advise on home modifications, especially important for dementia patients) and geriatric care managers.

The latter are licensed social workers or nurses who have received special training. They can not only manage administrative tasks for the senior but get services into the home. The other advantage is that they are trained to mediate family issues. Some home care agencies offer the services of a geriatric care manager to their patients.

As the subject of caregiving and the workforce crisis in this sector continues to occupy center stage in Washington and Albany now, let us urge our legislators to allocate payments to family and professional caregivers for the elderly and disabled as most Western countries do.

Faigie Horowitz, MS,

Certified-Aging-In-Place Specialist


Plan While You Can [Walking Mom and Dad Home / Issue 882]

Barbara Bensoussan’s article describing the challenges of aging parents covered such an important topic and was delivered with excellent insight. Those who have experienced being a caretaker for an elderly or ill parent understand the importance of advance planning, but for many others, confronting these issues does not happen often before it is already late.

As an elder law attorney, it is my mission to help elderly clients and their families plan properly to address their long-term care needs, but to also make sure that they have the right documents and strategy in place should they lose the mental capacity to manage their own affairs. Often when a parent’s health and cognitive function declines, families find themselves in stressful situations not knowing what their parent would have wanted — or even if they do, hampered by an inability to take action due to poor legal planning, ill advice, or no planning at all.

I cannot stress enough the importance of being prepared. It is critical to become educated early and specifically for each individual situation, not by a neighbor or friend, but by an elder law attorney that specializes in this area. That is the only way a person can make sure that he or she will be properly taken care of in the way they would choose. Wanting it or talking to family members is not enough. During a crisis or when the situation is already stressful, the value of prior family communication along with proper legal planning in place is immeasurable.

Esther Zelmanovitz, Esq.


A Privilege, Not a Burden [Walking Mom and Dad Home / Issue 882]

Thank you to Mishpacha magazine for highlighting this important obligation of kibbud av v’eim. Barbara Bensoussan’s article was well written, well researched, and — most importantly — substantive emotionally and in every other way. The comment about the “hamster wheel” was right on the mark.

Caring for a parent is not a burden but a privilege.

If you are blessed to have your parent live within your intimate environment, you are given true insight into the person they once were and even as they lose their independence, know that the changes are definitely more challenging for them than for the caretaker.

When families face difficult situations, they are tested — and that’s when you really see who “steps up to the plate.” Having all family members involved cannot be taken for granted and truthfully, everyone benefits from it. I could not have taken care of my mother without my husband who really took care of her neshamah — equally as important as the daily physical needs or paperwork we attended to. My children also had an innate sense of responsibility, decency, and menschlichkeit when it came to caring for their Bubby in that manner. It was a positive, enlightening experience that I know will stay with them forever.

I allow myself to use this forum to share with you a lesson I learned from this heartrending/heart-warming journey: You should never underestimate the power of a phone call, or a short visit, to an elderly person who is alone or homebound. It revives their spirit and is an added comfort and release for those who take care of them. If you have a half an hour to spare, spend it with an older person who is stuck in the house.

Sally Levine, Cleveland, Ohio


It Was Real Bullying [School of Hard Knocks / Double Take — Issue 882]

The Double Take story regarding a young first-time teacher struggling to maintain proper control over her class really struck a chord with me.

When most people think of bullying in the classroom, they probably think of student-on-student bullying. Many people don’t realize that teachers are victims of bullying as well.

Like Simi, my first year of teaching was a nightmare. I was passionate, driven, and very aware of the arduous work that teaching entailed. Yet nothing could have properly prepared me for what lay ahead.

Every single day I would walk into my classroom hoping that somehow today would be better. Every single day those hopes were cruelly, purposely, and heartlessly crushed.

Sure, I was expecting some behavioral issues to crop up here and there. Maybe even a persistently challenging student or two (or three). Instead I was given the most problematic class in the school. And just like Simi, it was the most powerful and popular girls in the class who made me miserable.

Chalking up Simi’s desire to throw in the towel as a lack of commitment, or a sense of “being taken advantage of,” is a gross misunderstanding of the situation at hand. If someone is in a toxic or abusive working environment, nobody would chide them for quitting their job. Yet somehow we expect our teachers to take the abuse, as we shrug our shoulders and lecture them about the importance of following through on prior commitments.

The trauma I endured from sticking out the school year is real. The bullying and abuse was real. The emotional scars are real. This has nothing to do with a weak generation who feels entitled and needs to “claim their rights.” Commitment is a value that all teachers hold in the highest regard. I can tell you this personally as I continued to teach for the duration of the year despite the fact that I was being abused day in and day out. Yet despite my choice to remain teaching, I would never judge someone who chose to call it quits.

Some people think it takes strength to push ahead and persevere. But sometimes it takes even more strength to shut the door and walk away.

E. B.


Where Credit Is Due [Inbox / Issue 881]

In a letter printed in issue #881 of your magazine, H. Vogel wrote about visiting Rabbi Hill a”h when he was unwell and thanking him for his wonderful rendition of the story of Hillel on “The Mitzva Tree.” Unfortunately the letter writer has made a mistake.

“The Mitzvah Tree” projects were the innovative work of Morah Blanka Rosenfeld tichyeh, a woman who was a loving kindergarten teacher well into her very senior years. In fact the last school where she taught retained their kindergarten class only because of the exemplary middos she inculcated into her students.

“The Mitzvah Tree” series of recordings are still available today, many years after they were produced. The story about Hillel Hatzaddik was narrated by a master storyteller and mechanech who was famous for his storytelling in Camp Agudah and Pirchei Agudas Yisroel for many years, Rabbi Yankel Rosenbaum a”h, who resided in Monsey. Also featured on the recordings was Mrs. Chana Tabak a”h famous for, among other attributes, her dramatic talent. Mrs. Rochel Chapler a”h rendered the musical accompaniment.

“The Mitzvah Tree” ushered in a new era of kosher entertainment for children that was fun to listen to while teaching children important Jewish values.

Mrs. S. Rosenbaum, Monsey


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 884)

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