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Inbox: Issue 913

"We have a status, albeit not one on WhatsApp. Our status is modest and honest servants of Hashem"


Why We’re Here [Screenshot / Issue 911]

I know that there are some Arabs who are good people and helpful. Rabbi Feldman bore witness to one who assisted him, and I feel gratitude to my doctor for the wonderful care he provided when I had Covid. Even so, I think it’s actually more correct to say that “many of our neighbors just want a quiet life,” to be allowed to go about their business, rather than “most of our neighbors,” as Shoshana Friedman chooses to believe.

And I think most of us Anglos living here — perhaps even most Ashkenazim — don’t really understand the culture and society of our neighbors. A native Israeli advised my husband years ago that the best attitude to have is “kabdeihu v’chashdeihu — respect him but be suspicious of him.”

Last summer’s riots in cities like Lod were a wake-up call, if we needed one. These were Israeli Arabs rioting, not Palestinians. Jews living in mixed buildings reported their neighbors shouting down to the rioters and pointing them toward the cars that belonged to the Jews, urging them to destroy them. So I don’t delude myself. I believe most of them do want to see us gone.

Then how do I manage to live here? I remind myself that HaKadosh Baruch Hu watches over us wherever we are — be it Brooklyn or any other place in the world — but especially Eretz Yisrael. Just look at the miracles He has performed for us in the last three-quarters of a century.

And I keep in mind why we’re here. This is our homeland. It was given to Avraham Avinu by Hashem. I feel privileged to be living in this beautiful, holy land. Especially in this shemittah year, we can feel it. I’m getting a mitzvah with every bite of my Otzar Beit Din banana! I was just reading that the Sfas Emes explains in parshat Behar that after every shemittah, the Ribbono shel Olam once again gives us the gift of Eretz Yisrael, allowing us to work it.

And let’s be real. Do you honestly think that Brooklyn or New Jersey, or Paris or California is any safer for a Jew?

So you may as well live here because, Kichels joking aside, yishuv ha’Aretz is a big mitzvah.

Srif Cohen


Very Relevant [Voice in the Crowd / Issue 911]

Yisroel Besser writes that “when you see penimiyus, then chitzoniyus is irrelevant — it’s false.”

Acutally, chitzoniyus can never be irrelevant in Yiddishkeit. Many of our mitzvos, such as leaving peyos, wearing a yarmulke, and hair covering, involve chitzoniyus. Let’s not give the message in the name of acceptance, tolerance, diversity, and equity that all this is unimportant.

L. Rosenberg


A Seat at the Table [Inbox / Issue 911]

I’d like to respond to the Inbox letter that suggested a “majority of Mishpacha readers” do or don’t use certain types of technology.

Mishpacha does not ask us our degree of frumkeit, what kind of filter we have on our phones, or whether we wear colored shirts when we subscribe. There is no such thing as “the wrong hands,” or not the type of reader that Mishpacha is meant for. By its own admission, stated many times, its columnists, the editors and contributors are very much aware that political leaders, Jews who are far from the typical reader, and non-Jews also read this publication.

Not all of the readers are from a typical yeshivah background, nor are they all involved in chinuch. We may face our internal struggles and have questions that we face alone. I’ve adopted some minhagim to achieve that, even if at times it feels as if I’m throwing lawn furniture in the way of an Abrams tank.

But I keep reading this magazine because I feel as if I have a seat at an important discussion, and it involves me, even if I don’t entirely identify with or understand it. I like to keep in the loop, in my small way. Mishpacha is part of my armory.

P. M.


Status Check [Inbox / Issue 911]

After seeing the responses in the Inbox to Yosef Wartelsky’s “Open Mic” piece on WhatsApp usage, I felt like I too wanted to join the conversation, even if minimally, and respond to two writers.

One expressed frustration about the fact that the article seemed to indicate that using WhatsApp is now a standard everywhere in the frum world while only a few of us are holding out not to use it (and smartphones/iPhones altogether, if I may add). The other made an emphatic point that a lot of this discussion seems to “normalize” the yetzer hara for matters like this, and it should never be that way.

I find that when someone struggles with their yetzer hara, or has adopted a modern trend that runs contrary to Torah beliefs (i.e., watching an occasional secular movie, reading secular material, going on vacation without planning to daven tefillah b’tzibbur, hosting or listening to podcasts that discuss controversial topics that directly or indirectly demean and ridicule others in the process, etc.), they rationalize with the following sentiments:

1) I’m not so yeshivish/chassidish/etc.

2) Everyone is doing it so why can’t I?

These sentiments allow them to pacify their guilty conscience (if they have one) and get on with whatever they’re doing. They then tend to look down their noses at people who have not slipped, branding them as “extreme,” “insular,” “old-school/old-fashioned,” and more. They no longer consider this type of person a normal erliche Yid who simply wants to guard his neshamah and maintain a robust and healthy relationship with Hashem, but rather a thorn and eyesore of the new “modern-frum” Jewish society of the 2020s.

The message of these two letter writers resonates not only with me, but with all erliche Yidden who are privy to such scorn, silently or verbally expressed. And it’s not just a “yeshivish” thing (whatever that means) not to use WhatsApp or smartphones/iPhones in general, as the author seems to indicate. Anyone who answers to a gadol b’Yisrael, of any denomination, for the most part doesn’t utilize such a phone unless it is necessary for parnassah.

No one hears from those of us who don’t have a WhatsApp status because you won’t. We are trying to lie low and serve as a good example, and just make Hashem happy with our gedarim and seyagim that we take on with the counsel of our respective spiritual mentors. We don’t need a status to show that we exist.

We have a status, albeit not one on WhatsApp. Our status is modest and honest servants of Hashem.

And yes, we are normal and we are functioning just fine without WhatsApp, and may Hashem give us the koach to continue to be just that. Normal mevakshei Hashem v’choshvei Shemo.

Moishey Ney


Unclear Affiliation [From Property to Prosperity / Issue 911]

Last week’s article about real estate investing was interesting, and the aspect of learning a trade directly under a mentor sounded intriguing. But I felt one part of it was unclear and when asking around, it seems like it was unclear to my friends too. It says that the Bennets asked Mishpacha to help spread the word. Is Mishpacha affiliated with the company?

Zevi K.

Mishpacha responds:

Thank you for your email. The business is run day-to-day by Zevi and Simcha Bennet, but as you may have seen from The Owners Class ads, which include the tagline “A Project of Mishpacha,” Mishpacha is a partner in The Owners Class brand. We regret the lack of clarity.


Lifted Me Up [With Perfect Faith / Issue 910]

I suspect I’m not the only person who felt dread in the pit of their stomach as Lag B’Omer approached. I live in Eretz Yisrael, where the countdown to the big day begins immediately after Pesach, as the parking lots and alleys fill with little boys dragging wood, branches, furniture, to build their bonfires. It’s a sight to bring a smile to anyone’s face... but this year, I winced. The sounds of little boys gleefully singing the “Bar Yochai” song had me feeling physically nauseous.

Then I read Rachel Ginsberg’s magnificent profile of Reb Shloimi Steinmetz. The article describes him as a “self-proclaimed poshete Yid,” while making it clear that he’s anything but. The Steinmetzes faced crushing, unimaginable, unendurable loss when their son Dovi was killed in Meron — and yet they reacted to the tragedy with strength and faith. And I realized that my mindset was all wrong.

As a nation, yes, we suffered an unfathomable blow. But the way we react to that shouldn’t be with feelings of dread. And instead of allowing those choruses of “Bar Yochai” to send me spiraling into a whirlwind of despair, I could instead allow them to lift me to a place of renewed connection and strength. As Reb Steinmetz quoted: “We don’t say ‘Ani meivin.’ But we say ‘Ani maamin.’ ”

Dovi’s life was short — but its echoes impacted hundreds of thousands of people. I’m grateful to be among them.

Yehei zichro baruch.

Rivka Steiner


It Does Hurt [Inbox / Issue 909]

I am writing in response to the “older single” who wrote that being single is the farthest thing from misery, and the responses in agreement. As a 30-year-old single woman, I don’t presume to speak for everyone in my age group, but I have thoughts.

I found the tone of the writer to be very, “I don’t even care if I get married or not because my life is so terrific as is, what with my disposable income and long, restful Shabbos afternoons.” That isn’t the experience of anyone I know who’s single.

We do care very much, and we do feel a lot of pain. We are fulfilled and able to maintain perspective (of course, it could always be worse), but it does hurt often when we’re around married friends and siblings. And it isn’t comfortable when everyone around us is wearing maternity clothes. We would trade our flexible schedules and nice shoes in a heartbeat for a husband and babies.

We can and do fill our lives with meaning, purpose, pleasure, richness, and joy. Yes, we can host beautiful Shabbos meals in our apartments and we can call a rav and ask our own sh’eilos. At the same time, it is the most human desire in the world to want to be found, to be partnered, to be connected. It is not pitiful or weak to cry alone in your basement apartment that all you want is a husband. It is the most beautiful, truthful thing.

It’s okay to relish singlehood. I just don’t think we need to conflate independence, fulfillment, and happiness with the absence of longing.

A Happy and Hurting “Older Single”


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 913)

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