| Inbox |

Inbox: Issue 891

"Her assertion that the Rambam’s method is 'the only way to achieve' a 'beautiful, harmonious marriage' is beyond arrogant"

Who If Not Us?  [Voice in the Crowd / Issue 890]

Rabbi Yisroel Besser put it down just the way it is. Tefillah is surely something we can all do for our older singles.

After 10-plus recent years of singlehood, I did not have to dig too deep to feel the depth of the pain in the questioner’s words that he quoted. Singles are often in “no-man’s land” — we can’t take on certain positions, and our opinions and suggestions are often second best, even when our thinking is often deeper and more thorough than that of our married counterparts. We are viewed in a certain way, quite often negatively. I am sure that there are many like me out there who know this pain and have felt it (even if they are married today).

Thus, I put down my magazine, picked up a Tehillim, and just davened and cried for a few minutes. Because if not for us, who have been on a long journey to get married, who else should feel that pain of older singles and daven for them from the depth of our hearts?

A former older single


Proper and Necessary to Budget within Means [Inbox / Issue 890]

Last week you published a letter from “H. M.” suggesting that household budgeting is unnecessary and even harmful.

Undoubtedly there are exceptional individuals on the loftiest spiritual planes for whom budgeting is indeed inappropriate, but this does not reflect the normative Torah perspective for the rest of us. For example, the Chofetz Chaim writes explicitly (Biur Halacha, Orach Chaim 529:1) that a person should regulate his expenses according a cheshbon based on his income.

More recently, in a special Succos supplement published by Mishpacha on this very topic, Rabbi Yisroel Reisman wrote: “We always have HaKadosh Baruch Hu in the picture, but it’s a basic fact that a person shouldn’t spend money if he doesn’t have it. Rashi makes this clear in his commentary on the Gemara in Beitzah (16a). The Gemara says that a person’s Shabbos expenditures aren’t deducted from his allotted yearly mezonos (the money Hashem provides to cover foodstuff). Rashi infers that therefore one may spend as he wishes on his Shabbos expenses. The clear implication is that this freedom is reserved for Shabbos alone and that otherwise a person is not supposed to spend beyond his budget….

“In general, it’s proper and necessary to make financial decisions based on the money you actually have. You can’t figure everything out to the penny, but nevertheless, basic fiscal responsibility is not a contradiction to bitachon.”

Mordechai Kushner,

Wesley Hills, NY


Is This His Will? [Inbox / Issue 890]

I would like to respond to a letter that was published in last week’s magazine about why we Jews have very high expenses such as summer camp for kids and expensive clothing.

The writer claims that the reason for this is because that’s the ratzon Hashem. I found this pretty disturbing. Why is sending kids to summer camps the ratzon Hashem? Why is buying expensive tzniyusdig clothing the ratzon Hashem?

I personally think that our shopping habits are out of control. Why do we think that the more expensive the beged is, the more tzniyus it is? The clothing worn to the most Orthodox shuls these days is very not the ratzon Hashem. And the grocery bills that are astronomically high — really? Is it the ratzon Hashem that we should have very big kiddushim and bar mitzvahs?

I think we all have to look at the way we are leading our lives in our homes and communities and ask ourselves the following: Is this really the way a Jew should be living? Is this the ratzon Hashem?

Binyamin M., Beit Shemesh


Shalom Bayis Always Comes First [Inbox / Issue 890]

I was very pained to read last week’s Inbox letter accusing “Basya” from the Double Take story of enabling her husband’s irresponsible spending habits.

Poor Basya…. Of course she knows that being judged by others is the least of her problems! It’s exactly as the letter writer states, that she’s “married to a child.” That is her reality, and it’s an awful, painful nisayon of a reality to live with.

A very close person to me is married to a man whose spending habits are similarly irresponsible. He gives tzedakah generously, buys nice things, leases new cars, buys nice gifts, shares his money — but also owes tuition, and his home is in foreclosure.

The wife was told clearly by more than two poskim that her husband’s spending habits are not her responsibility. He works? He sees the bills? Then stay out! Make sure you and the kids have what you need and are safe. It is a sickness. It’s a type of personality disorder. It comes along with other issues.

If the wife in this scenario is not demanding or irresponsible, then yes, according to a rav, a posek, and a frum therapist, shalom bayis comes first. Trying to control him would be futile and cause much more damage. A woman cannot control her husband’s spending or earning. She won’t get him to change; he needs to reach out to get help to change himself.

True, her life is a mess. But not of her doing. She is his life partner, but she’s not an “enabler,” and his irresponsibility is not her fault. Don’t blame her!

A woman who knows


It’s Gotten Completely Out of Control [Inbox / Issue 890]

After reading Elisheva Appel’s letter in the Inbox addressing Rabbi Shafier’s article, and then the responding letter from Margaret Retter, Esq. and Mrs. Appel’s letter in response, I’d like to point out that if you read the letters carefully you’ll see that these women are trying to make the same point.

Ms. Retter’s letter, while appearing to take issue with Mrs. Appel’s point, just served to solidify what Mrs. Appel was in fact saying: that the emphasis on looks and externals and matching accessories ad nauseam has gotten completely out of control. Ms. Retter, you actually brought fantastic examples to back up Mrs. Appel’s original letter, but instead of from the first-grade fall out, from the perspective of how it implodes 20 years down the road.

Well done, ladies. You agree with each other that this is an insane and toxic problem. Now, what are we going to do about it?

S. G., Lakewood, NJ


Picture-Perfect Pressure [The Kichels / Issue 890]

I’m writing in response to this week’s Kichels comic, where Chaiky goes racing around the house cleaning up for a long-lost friend.

I read this comic and laughed at how spot-on it is. (Which is my usual reaction to the Kichels!) But then I went back to read it from the beginning and realized the absurdity of the situation.

Here we have a young woman — wife, mother of three babies, housekeeper, and probably working many hours, running around to make sure her house looks “picture perfect.”

This “super-woman problem” is very real with real repercussions. When a woman juggles too many balls and is expected to be perfect in every area, something will have to give. It’s a scary thought and something we as a society should be doing something about.

Is it coming from lack of self-esteem? From overexposure from social media? Or maybe from external pressures? Is it something that’s subconsciously taught in schools?

Whatever it is, I believe we owe it to the heroic young women in our community to figure out how to lessen their loads while empowering them to occasionally say NO.

S. K., Lakewood, NJ


Reinstating Our Trust [The Unassailable Yeshivah Bochur / Issue 889]

I would like to represent many in thanking Mishpacha for featuring Rav Yaakov Bender’s piece in praise of yeshivah bochurim.

Reb Yisroel Besser’s article about yeshivah bochurim spurred a wide discussion within Mishpacha’s pages, as well as beyond them. Some of which, I can attest, really knocked the wind out of a lot of bochurim, who reacted in different ways — many with outright confusion and doubt in the yeshivah system, others with outrage.

Along came Rabbi Bender, a choshuve rosh yeshivah and well-respected mechanech, and finally stated in very clear terms, confirming and reinforcing what we yeshivah bochurim have heard from our rebbeim all through the years: that the overwhelming majority of bochurim are doing significantly better in yeshivah than they would in the alternative. All this reinstates old-time trust in a system which, although needing some small improvements as does every system, is still held in a place of kodesh kodashim in Klal Yisrael.

On behalf of many a yeshivah bochur, thank you.

Eli Chaim Neuman,

A bochur in the trenches


Tip of the Iceberg [For the Record / Issue 889]

Your excellent article on Rav Zev Tzvi Vorhand was just a tip of the iceberg of the Hatzalah activities he was involved in during and after the Holocaust.

Many years ago, I was speaking to Mr. Herbert Tenzer, a former congressman and prominent attorney who, upon learning that I davened at Rav Vorhand’s beis medrash in Manhattan, shared with me that in his opinion, Rav Vorhand was a saint.

While the vast majority of survivors had already left blood-soaked Europe after the war to America or Israel, Rav Vorhand remained for several years afterward in his position as chief rabbi of Prague, assisting the remaining survivors.

Mr. Tenzer recalled that the Vaad Hatzalah had sent Rav Vorhand a telegram ordering him to leave Prague and immigrate to the USA as the Soviet Union was lowering down the Iron Curtain, and he and his wife would soon be trapped in Eastern Europe.

Rav Vorhand sent back a telegram saying he would not leave Prague until he was able to confirm that all Jewish children hidden in gentile homes were found and brought back to the community.

This selflessness and concern for fellow Jews defined who Rav Vorhand was, both during the Holocaust era and also during the decades Rav Vorhand spent as a prominent rav on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where his beis medrash remains a beacon for Torah, tefillah, and chesed, under the dynamic leadership of Reb Zev Tzvi’s son, Rav Moshe Vorhand.

Mendy Pollak, New York, NY


Give, Then Let Go [Charitable Allowance / Double Take — Issue 888]

Every single Double Take story is brilliant, but with her story about the couple who used much-needed funds for a trip to Eretz Yisrael, Rochel Samet outdid even herself.

Part of raising a healthy family is making sure that your children are not in the “have-not” category to a dangerous extent. While each couple needs to clarify with their rav, parenting mentor, baal eitzah, or therapist what this means for their specific children (and sometimes it will vary from child to child), one thing is clear: Children need to feel like they fit into the mainstream of the society you’re raising them in.

I wonder, to those who are bothered by how their financial help is being used: Are the recipients of your money doing things that are in the normal range of their community, or are they blowing it way over the top? I understand, you’d rather the dad drive a beat-up minivan — the optics are better — but what if he’s driving an ’18 Odyssey like all his neighbors? Are you okay with that, or is he mechuyav to drive a 15-year-old Ford?

Admittedly, the choice to take the kids to Eretz Yisrael might have been a poor one, because that’s not considered standard, but I suspect that even had the niece taken her kids on an all-out vacation to Miami or Orlando or even the Poconos, the pushback would have been the same. How do I know? Because I see it every day.

It’s happened to me, it’s happened to my friends, it’s everywhere. Tzedakah money, according to the prevailing wisdom, should only be used for diapers and the electric bill. Everything else is a “luxury.”

I have a good friend who struggles financially, notwithstanding their double income. She had never sent her kids to camp, because they couldn’t afford it. At a certain point she realized that for their specific circumstances, her mesivta-age boys needed to go to camp for the three weeks of bein hazemanim. Yes, needed. Within a week of their acceptance to camp, an older relative who helped them financially on occasion commented, “You know, if money is tight, why are you sending your boys to camp? In the early years of our business my boys worked; we couldn’t afford camp, so they didn’t go….”

I have friends who have had relatives comment judgmentally on purchases they made (a scratched piano bought in a thrift shop for a struggling child is one outrageous example that comes to mind), which makeup artist or hairdresser they used for a wedding, or which gown places the kallah and her sisters went to, all because they were being helped financially. Again, we’re not talking about taking tzedakah money to buy a high-end custom gown, but simply the same gowns her last six friends rented. The standard.

A friend told me that she was cooking most of her son’s aufruf (for 115 people) because a rich brother-in-law told her husband, “I hope you’re not doing full catering on our dime. We’re helping for necessities.” When I asked why she was having 115 people, she explained that in that family, all the chassan’s aunts and uncles expect to be invited, and when they’re helping you pay for your simchah, you can’t offend them by not hosting them with all their kids.

Bar hameiah, bar hadeiah. I help you out? I make the rules about how you spend your money.

To those who help out: If you feel the people who you are helping are so dysfunctional that they can’t be trusted to make the right decisions, give the money to a rav who will allocate it for something specific. If they can’t be trusted with money, it may be assur to give it to them.

If, however, they are regular, normal people who are struggling, back off once you give the money. If you can’t give it without opinions (even in your head!) then please don’t give it! You have no idea what’s going on in their home, with their kids, with their own personal issues. If they take their kids on vacation, fargin them. It might very well be the only vacation those kids ever experience.

Yael S.


Far from the Only Way [Inbox / Issue 888]

Mrs. S. Malka endorses the Rambam’s formula for an ideal marriage. That formula, by her description, calls in part for the husband’s “fear” to be upon the wife. Who am I to deny someone the right to use a marriage prescription that works for her? If she, a 21st-century woman, subscribes to a system that may have worked 900 years ago, more power to her.

However, her assertion that the Rambam’s method is “the only way to achieve” a “beautiful, harmonious marriage” is beyond arrogant. She is assuming that Torah hashkafah cannot adapt to changed circumstances. In today’s world, at least the Western one, the idea of a man dominating his marriage via fear is odious.

Does Mrs. Malka stay in her home all but one or two days a month? This, too, is prescribed by the Rambam! Does she believe that a husband has the right to hit his wife? Well, the Rambam writes that a husband may do just that! Does she seriously think that if the Rambam were writing today, he would not have adjusted to the changed social circumstances?

I can speak for my marriage and the successful marriages of my friends. I cannot imagine that any of us believe that our wives should “fear” us. Today’s woman, even in yeshivish circles (and yes, even in much of the chassidic environment), is way more worldly and independent than were the women of the Rambam’s era. Today’s wives expect, and are entitled to have, an equal partnership in their marriage.

Avraham M. Goldstein


Straight to the Heart [Hear My Voice / EndNote — Issue 888]

The article about Reb Moshe Goldman’s music was very well done and very much appreciated.

I grew up with one or another of his CDs always playing and know most of the songs by heart, complete with the intro, harmony, music, and which song comes next in his CD. In fact, when we were little kids, my mother would sing with us every night during Krias Shema his compositions “Hinei” and “Mimini Michoel.”

When my brother was a little boy in cheder his class had a contest / game with the parshiyos, the goal being to know the order of all the parshiyos by heart. When my brother won and was asked how he knew it so well, he said it was because of the parshiyos song on Moshe Goldman’s Shirei Chinuch 2 (V’ahavta L’reiacha Kamocha).

This story demonstrates how good quality erlich music does go straight to the heart even for little kids. And of course I keep those songs playing in my house too!

Thanks for a wonderful article,

C. F., Monsey


At What Cost? [Hear My Voice / Endnote — Issue 888]

I would like to respond to the woman who wrote that when her kids hit each other, she would play them the song about the neshamah who asked to be born without hands because during a previous gilgul, he had hit others. She writes that with this song, the fighting was effectively put to an end.

I have no doubt that the fighting was indeed put to an end; instilling intense fear is generally effective in getting the results you wish for. However, although her motives are pure, this method is not “chinuch” at all. Rather, this is manipulation, or perhaps even abuse.

Obviously, I am not condoning hitting. But please understand the long-term consequences of this method. As a victim of this type of emotional abuse, I can say from experience that trying to make your children feel guilty for normal child behaviors will cause them to grow up blaming themselves for things that go wrong, mistrusting their emotions and reactions, and doubting their right to exist. There’s a very good chance you’ll never see the scars, since they will also learn to hide their true feelings and fears from you.

I wish I could say I am exaggerating. I am not.

So yes, you may have stopped the hitting — but at what cost?

L. C., Jackson, NJ


Damaging Expectation [Made in Heaven series]

As is well-known, your magazine is read by people from all walks of life ranging from chassidish to Modern Orthodox and everything in between. It therefore left me frustrated when you began running a series of articles by a renowned expert in marriage counseling answering common questions.

There’s no doubt that many couples have improved their marriage in direct result of these articles. But it remains your responsibility to acknowledge that in some communities, the marital relationship is vastly different from the one described in your magazine.

It would be very wrong and potentially dangerous to instill in a girl an expectation for a relationship she is never going to have, without her spouse even knowing of her silent dreams.

I appreciate your openness to criticism and hereby express my sincere thanks for providing such a full magazine that is actually applicable to many areas in life.

Jack Wein


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 891)

Oops! We could not locate your form.