"Saying that because WhatsApp can be misused the entire thing becomes assur is taking things a little too far"
Avoid the Real Estate Pitfalls [Inbox / Issue 914]
As a criminal defense lawyer who has seen a fair share of criminal prosecutions both in and out of the frum community, I feel compelled to write in response to “Saying It Straight” (SIS) who wrote in to the Inbox seeking to educate readers about the real estate market.
In an effort to set the record straight, the letter writer may have led his readers off the “straight” path and into potential legal troubles. According to SIS, he recently closed on a number of properties that resulted in a liquidity problem. To satisfy his bank’s concerns, he “was forced to call a close relative to ask him to deposit [a huge sum of] money [which I didn’t have] in my account temporarily.”
While there may be more to the story, the process of parking assets in an account to inflate the borrower’s net worth in order to take out a loan could be very problematic, and likely would be considered a violation of the federal bank fraud statute.
Many may be surprised by this, since they “do it all the time” and “the bank officer suggested I do that” — neither of which are necessarily defenses (although the latter may make the bank officer complicit).
There are other common pitfalls in the real estate investment arena. For example, if you are purchasing a property for investment, but take out a loan as if you are going to be living on the property, you have likewise committed a fraud. Similarly, helping a friend to avoid foreclosure by buying his house in a short sale, and then renting it back to him, is likely violating the terms of the agreement and would also be viewed as bank fraud. People have gone to jail for all of these scenarios.
Many also don’t realize that even if the loan is repaid, it does not mean that the bank was not defrauded (although if it’s paid back before an investigation starts, there is a good chance no one will have an interest in prosecuting the offense). Moreover, in response to the saving and loans crisis in the 1980s, Congress extended the statute of limitations for bank fraud to ten years, making it one of the longest limitation periods in the criminal law.
The advice I’d give to both wannabe and seasoned real estate investors is to read the fine print concerning the representations you are making to the bank. If anything is not accurate, or is only questionably so, you may want to think twice before you go ahead with the deal.
And in determining whether it’s accurate, don’t approach it with a Gemara kup. An FBI agent, prosecutor, or jury will not understand why “anochi Eisav bechorecha” is an accurate statement.
Also saying it straight,
Yitzchok (Steven) Yurowitz
Dollars and Scents [The Kichels / Issue 914]
This week’s Kichels brought a smile, depicting how everyone runs out of cash after giving it away to the kids for their “everyone-else-is” expenses.
Might I make a practical suggestion to the Kichel family that we’ve implemented in our home? Perhaps others will find it useful as well.
First, children under bar or bas mitzvah don’t handle money on their own. Al pi halachah (see CM 188:2, and as always AYLOR), one should not be sending money via a non–bar daas. Instead, Zelle the parent who’s collecting for the morah’s gift, or the school for the nosh.
Second, for those who are over bar or bas mitzvah, have an envelope with cash available for use. Each time a child removes cash, they document in a ledger the date, amount, reason why they need the money, and sign.
This allows us, the parents, to not only track spending, but to also teach the older children how each small “everyone-else-is” expenditure adds up to a huge amount. It is likely they would rather spend the overall large sum on something meaningful and permanent, instead of these small items that are only bought because they see some of their friends spending the money. It can also help show you how unreasonable the total amounts may be, and budget if needed.
May Hashem provide to all Klal Yisrael,
Bias, Not Journalism [Text Messages / Issue 914]
Although I frequently find myself out of step with Eytan Kobre’s political views, I never skip his columns. I admire his thoughtful, well-articulated observations, usually buttressed by solid facts and presented in a moderate, well-organized way like a good defense lawyer who marshals all the salient facts to make his case.
However, he does not make a good case for the New York Times. The newspaper of record’s palpable anti-Israel — and, quite possibly, anti-Jewish — bias make it difficult for an educated Jewish reader to feel about the Times as does Mr. Kobre, no matter how much he qualifies his words. This, despite the token “Jewish” and “Israel-friendly” features he cites that the Times runs from time to time, which skeptics see as designed to offset its persistent prejudice against the Jewish state.
Mr. Kobre grants that the Times’ biases are voiced “in its editorials, the predominance of left-wing commentators, in the choice of stories to cover or ignore, the emphasis given them and the way they are written, and its overall orientation,” and also that “more subtle” bias “creeps into all news coverage too.” Mr. Kobre’s defense: Everybody does it. “That’s just journalism — and human beings — at work,” rationalizes Mr. Kobre.
No, Mr. Kobre, that’s not journalism at all. That is egregious bias masquerading as journalism. Whether done by Fox News — blatantly — or more subtly by the Times. The editorial pages are for opinion; the news pages are for news. Reporters’ biases are not to be disguised as facts, unless the report specifically states that they are presenting their own “take” on the news.
The columnist’s allusion that the Times’ biases may not be so different from that in frum publications — whose raison d’être is to provide the frum world with appropriate content with a Torah orientation for our families — is infelicitous at best.
Just three examples of, literally, thousands to ponder. In July 2020, the Times’ exceptional Opinion staff editor and thinker Bari Weiss, who was hired to bring conservative thought and contributors to the newspaper, felt compelled to resign because, in her words, “stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences.” By the way, Ms. Weiss, who is a proud Jew, was constantly bullied by her overwhelmingly leftist and cancel-culture colleagues at the Times, who called her a Nazi and a racist.
In April 2019, the Times ran a virulently ant-Semitic cartoon in its international edition portraying Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu as a dog wearing a Magen David, leading a blind President Trump — who was wearing a kippah — on a leash.
During World War II, the Times virtually ignored the Nazi extermination of the Jews of Europe, except for some occasional small pieces at the back of the paper. In the book Buried by the Times — The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper, journalism professor Laurel Leff provides details of this horrendous, intentional policy. In a Times piece in November 2001 titled “A Horror Unexamined — Turning Away From the Holocaust,” the paper’s former executive editor Max Frankel writes that there is “no failure greater than the staggering failure of the Times to depict Hitler’s methodical extermination of the Jews of Europe as a horror beyond all horrors... [It cries] out for illumination... the annihilation of 6 million Jews”!
It is one thing to concur with the Times’ “progressivism.” It’s quite another to uphold the paper’s inclusion of the Times’ pernicious anti-Israel bias into its news columns as factual news. Israel’s enemies applaud the Times’ biased reporting. Should we?
Beyond Ideology [A Sanctuary for Sarala / Issue 914]
I want to thank Mishpacha for printing the beautiful piece about the shul that was built on Har Hazeisim in memory of Sarala Ginzberg a”h.
When I began reading it, part of me tried to resist. I live in Eretz Yisrael, and have strong ideological differences with this group of people. Some may roll their eyes, but when lives are on the line, these differences can be very real and painful. But being a native Five-Towner, I respect Rav Ginzberg tremendously, and was interested in seeing how he took on this project. So I persisted past my biases and I read on.
People often speak of ahavas Yisrael; yet putting it into practice is another story. The term is also sometimes misapplied and misunderstood — disagreeing with another Jew’s way of life is not the opposite of ahavas Yisrael. Here the Ginzberg family crossed the cultural and ideological divides to demonstrate what true ahavas Yisrael is about — showing the same love and support, and here in a measure above and beyond what is expected, for all Jews and their virtuous endeavors.
I am grateful for being able to learn this lesson of achdus so powerfully. May their actions being the Geulah closer.
An Inspired Reader
One of Thousands [Screenshot / Issue 913]
After reading Shoshana Friedman’s Screenshot about complaints outnumbering compliments, I had to take the time to stop the laundry and sit down at the computer before that “fleeting moment,” as she so rightly said, slips by!
Do I finish reading the Sister Schmooze, enjoy a good hearty laugh and tell myself, “Oh, are they amazing,” and quickly tell the authors how much I enjoyed it? No, I don’t!
Do I finish reading the serials each week, the Double Takes, Off the Couch (thank you Dr. Freedman, I will miss your column tremendously, it was something else to get a sneak peek into your world, which is never discussed openly in our world), Shul with a View, or Voice in the Crowd. (A particular thank you to Yisroel Besser for his outstanding piece this week. I was so thankful to see it printed and spoken about in the most beautiful pointed way.)
I am certain I am only one of thousands of readers who share these sentiments. So I would say it’s safe to assume that for every negative letter you receive, there must be at least 100 positive ones, albeit not sent!
So keep that in mind while reviewing the negative comments — there are thousands of readers enjoying week after week the incredible publication we call our “Mishpacha.”
Kiruv Without Compromises [The Moment / Issue 913]
Mishpacha’s brief tribute to Rabbi Pinchas Stolper z”l leaves the reader begging for more.
We will certainly hear how he turned a collection of local youth programs into a mighty kiruv machine that snatched thousands of committed Torah Jews from the jaws of assimilation. Along the way, we will learn of his devotion to his rebbi, Rav Yitzchak Hutner ztz”l, and the latter’s genius in shaping so much of the American Torah landscape, far from Yeshiva Chaim Berlin. Someone will remind us of the esteem that so many gedolei Yisrael had for NCSY, testified to by their presence at its National Conventions.
One subtle point shouldn’t wait. Halachic issues arise in the world of kiruv that strain the usual boundaries of halachic practice. Good mekarvim receive strong guidance from poskim who know when to be lenient, and when not to be. In the early years of the “teshuvah movement,” some very sincere individuals came to believe that everything is permissible for kiruv. (They meant it, of course, as an exaggeration. But at times — not so much of an exaggeration.)
Rabbi Stolper left a lasting imprint on kiruv activity. He showed that it was possible to be hugely successful without sacrificing an iota of halachic integrity. One must know when it is a mitzvah to be lenient, and when it is impossible. Kiruv was a responsibility, not a license.
Maybe that is why Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky ztz”l reportedly once said, “I am an NCSY-er.” While other organizations embraced practices like co-ed events as part of an ideology, NCSY wanted nothing more than to make itself obsolete, by raising a future generation that would have no need for such activities.
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein
Depth and Breadth of History [Man of Action / Issue 913]
I am blown away by the Shavuos edition article “Man of Action,” on the life of Rabbi Leo Jung. I feel like I am walking through the depth and breadth of the last century, with a most detailed and well-researched description of Rabbi Jung’s illustrious life story.
He was a true visionary who continuously put his words and ideas into action. His openness and acceptance of the many walks of Jewish life was truly admirable. We are all beneficiaries of his contributions and tireless efforts on behalf of Klal Yisrael.
Thank you to Dovi Safier — you clearly put many hours into the gleaning of info and details and into the writing of this magnificent piece.
I hope Mishpacha continues to shed light on these crucial historical and spiritual figures in future issues. To learn about our history and what came before us is critical for us as Jews in today’s world.
Boca Raton, FL
Rav Schwab’s Trial Run [Man of Action / Issue 913]
Congratulations to Dovi Safier on his wonderful and important article on Rabbi Leo Jung. His contributions toward the resurgence of Torah-true Yiddishkeit in the first part of the 20th century have almost been forgotten. With this article, Rabbi Jung has been given his rightfully earned recognition by the present generation who may not even have heard of this great man.
On a personal note, as Dovi states in his article, Rabbi Jung was responsible for saving our family’s life from the clutches of Nazi Germany when he recommended that my father, Rav Shimon Schwab ztz”l, apply for the vacant rabbinical position at Baltimore’s Congregation Shearith Israel.
However, I need to make one small correction. The congregation did not hire my father “sight unseen.” Rather, after applying for the position to Mr. Nathan Adler, a member of the board, my father was invited to come to Baltimore to apply for the position in person.
Father wasted no time, and traveled to Baltimore for Shabbos parshas Ki Setzei, 1936. He addressed the congregation in English (albeit a very rudimentary English), and gave various shiurim and lectures over the course of that weekend. He then returned to Germany to be with his congregation in Ichenhausen for the upcoming Yamim Noraim as he had promised them. After Yom Kippur, he received a telegram from the president of Shearith Israel, Mr. Samuel Rauneker, that he had been “unanimously elected.” And the rest is history.
Thank you again for your wonderful and well-deserved article on this great man, Rabbi Leo Jung, who was responsible for saving our lives — as he had done for many others.
Ahead of the Science [Man of Action / Issue 913]
Thank you so much for the article about Rabbi Dr. Leo Jung. I had the privilege of serving as assistant rabbi at the Jewish Center for a wonderful four and a half years, and I sat in the seat occupied for six decades by Rabbi Jung. I always felt a sense of responsibility and awe to be seated in the place where this remarkable man presided.
A few facts I’m sure you learned about Rabbi Jung that didn’t make it into the article.
- It is possible that he lived such a long and fruitful life because he took a two-hour nap every day, without exception. His wife zealously guarded his naptime and would not allow him to be disturbed. He apparently recommended this to others, as well — and was way ahead of contemporary science that now recommends napping.
- He also had a vigorous exercise regimen that involved daily walks around the Central Park Reservoir. He often used these walks as opportunities to meet with younger congregants.
- The rules for sitting on the bimah at the Jewish Center — a congregation whose main minyan is committed to a decorous davening experience — are legendary. Aside from wearing formal wear (a morning suit and top hat) on Shabbos and Yom Tov, it was, and is, forbidden to cross one’s legs (Rabbi Jung felt this was unhealthy and undignified) or wear brown shoes, ever.
Melodious Memories [EndNote / Issue 913]
In Reb Abish Brodt’s reminiscences about the tenth Siyum HaShas, he says, “Something spontaneous happened at that Siyum, which later became a fixed custom in the program. After the mazel tov rang out, I began to sing ‘Siman tov...’ followed by ‘Achas Sha’alti.’ At this point, the rabbanim on the dais stood up and danced, followed by the crowd, who also stood up, joined hands, and danced in the aisles.”
Reb Abish was busy singing and didn’t notice the details. I remember it like yesterday. It was Rav Dovid Cohen shlita who was the first to stand up. He was sitting at the end of the table and grabbed hold of Rav Aharon Feldman, who was sitting on his left, and pulled him up to dance. It was this initial act that caused the rest of the crowd to follow and get up to dance.
Reb Abish also mentioned the ninth Siyum in 1990, which was held during Sefirah and therefore featured a choir. The conductor and arranger of that choir was Rav Dovid Cohen’s son, Reb Eli.
Thank you, Reb Abish, for the nice memories.
He Shaped Torah in America [For the Record / Issue 912]
As a talmid of Rav Mendel Kravitz, it was meaningful to see an article about my rebbi ztz”l.
I and many talmidim feel that the Rosh Yeshivah wasn’t appreciated for his colossal achievements in harbatzas haTorah. As you mentioned, the roshei yeshivos that learned under him currently are the gedolei hador in America and Eretz Yisrael. There are dozens of rabbanim and dayanim all over the world who got semichah from the Rosh Yeshivah. The hundreds of erliche balabatim whose children are maggidei shiur and rabbanim are a testimony to the influence the Rosh Yeshivah continues to have on today’s generation of bnei Torah.
Every bochur in yeshivah knew you could speak to the Rosh Yeshivah in any sugya in Shas. He knew Bavli and Yerushalmi almost word for word; no one ever “caught” the Rosh Yeshivah on any Tosafos in Shas.
The Rosh Yeshivah’s love for every talmid was felt by us all: How many times did the rosh yeshivah marry off bochurim, how many winter coats and suits did he pay for from his meager salary?
Perhaps in the future you can write a full-length article about a gadol hador who more than any rosh yeshivah shaped Torah in America, probably more than most people realize.
Yehi zichro baruch.
Missing the Forest for the Trees [Open Mic / Issue 912]
I have been reading the responses to the Open Mic piece about WhatsApp, and I was disappointed to see that many of them were focused on the trees without seeing the forest.
While I believe that it is more than just a select few who choose not to use smartphones, the reality is that many of the people whom Mishpacha magazine is geared toward do use them. (And by the way, among those who own these devices, there is a tremendously wide range of how such phones are used, so that even people who appear not to may still have limited access to a smartphone — for example, people who only use WhatsApp as a desktop app.)
There is always a balance to be struck between negative exposure and honest evaluation. An open discussion about responsible use of technology, and even technology etiquette, could have tremendous benefit. (I know of someone who read the recent article and immediately decided to limit their use of statuses.)
Unwarranted forwarding can be humiliating, misunderstood texts can offend, and misplaced emojis — like a crying face for a baruch Dayan Emes — can be degrading. But the same issues that arise with WhatsApp can be found in emails and “kosher phone” texting. Articles like this one should help us to stare our own practices in the face and ask where we are using or abusing.
It would be unfortunate to miss the opportunity and use it to stand on a pedestal, only to tell others where they have erred.
Why Assume? [Open Mic / Issue 912]
The original Open Mic article discussing WhatsApp usage was well-written and respectful, and highlighted some very real concerns that are important to discuss. Thank you for a well done and informative article.
I want to respond to the Inbox letter that describes WhatsApp as “contrary to Torah beliefs” and believes that “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.”
Every time you see someone take out their (likely filtered) smartphone to send a picture via WhatsApp to their family, you automatically assume they have no daas Torah?
I want to blow your mind: I asked my rav (a prominent rav who guides hundreds of families) about getting WhatsApp. I don’t need it for work, but I had several reasons to consider it, and my rav said.... yes.
And in fact there are many people who use WhatsApp to communicate with family and friends and are very erliche Yidden who care very much about kedushah.
Saying that because WhatsApp can be misused the entire thing becomes assur is taking things a little too far. Can we say it’s assur to use fire because you can use it to burn down someone’s house? Is it assur to use a knife to cut vegetables because it can be used to hurt people? I acknowledge that there are dangers of using WhatsApp, but it is also possible for it to be an asset with appropriate boundaries, which is why the original Open Mic article was so important.
A kollel wife in Ramat Eshkol
We Got Our Day School [The Humblest Mountain / Issue 912]
We were excited to read the article about Rav Nota Greenblatt, who came frequently to Kansas City to take care of a get when needed. The pictures from years ago brought back nostalgic memories of how he looked when we were growing up.
The side bar entitled “The Tenth Man,” however, brought us a bit of consternation. It leaves the reader hanging, and not knowing the rest of the story.
True, the city was unfortunately not ready for a Jewish school in 1958, yet the Hebrew Academy of Greater Kansas City was later opened in 1966. Although it is the only day school in the city, and caters to all streams of Judaism, many choshuve rabbanim and frum women passed through its doors over the years. They now are grandparents of cheder yingelach and Bais Yaakov girls around the globe. The school is still open today.
Just setting the record straight,
A native Kansas Citian
Anything but Regular [The Humblest Mountain / Issue 912]
Thank you for your coverage on Rav Nota Greenblatt ztz”l. The title of the article, “The Humblest Mountain,” captured him perfectly. There is one thing I would like to add if I may.
My aunt grew up in Memphis and gave much of the credit to the Greenblatts for her being shomer mitzvos. She said that when Rav Nota came to Memphis, he was a highly eligible bachelor. He could have married the daughter of any rosh yeshivah of his choice. He chose Miriam, and those who knew him from his yeshivah days wondered why he would settle for a “regular girl from Memphis.” Rav Nota’s response was that a girl who grows up in Memphis and remains a shomer Shabbos is anything but regular. Of course, he was right.
May we all be zocheh to find shidduchim and have marriages like the Greenblatts.
Give Us Our Dignity [Inbox / Issue 912]
As someone in shidduchim, I’ve found the recent exchange of perspectives regarding singles to be very interesting. I was initially surprised by the first letter writer who said she’s perfectly happy being single, but then I realized there may be a subtle message underlying her letter.
Maybe the real message of that letter is that people don’t want to be viewed as nebachs. That people have a need for dignity and self-respect, and that they may feel uncomfortable when they feel they are being portrayed in print as wretched, piteous basket-cases.
People don’t want to be defined by their lack (the lack of a marriage partner) but rather by what they are: smart, talented, successful, and happy people.
Yes, singlehood can bring a lot of pain, it can bring longing and loneliness and lots of longing and loneliness, and we definitely should validate and empathize with the pain in ourselves and others — but do we want the pain to define us? Do we want to be titled by ourselves and others as “older singles,” or rather as wonderful, happy, successful people whom marital status happens to be single? At the risk of putting words into other people’s mouths, this is what I personally saw as the underlying message of that letter.
I know some will say, and many more will think, that if we make people too comfortable being single, they may not invest as much in getting married. However, I personally believe the opposite is true — a place of dignity and self-respect is far more conducive than a place of inferiority for people to make the decisions they have to, if and when it is relevant for them.
Perfect Conclusion [Light Years Away]
I was saddened that Ruti Kepler felt like all she got was negative feedback for her Light Years Away serial. Unfortunately, reality is that when we have a complaint we are quick to let the other know, but we are not as forthcoming with our praise. I’m sure that there were many who enjoyed Ruti’s serial immensely — including the conclusion — but just didn’t take the time to let her know.
That said, I want to let Ruti know that I found her conclusion to be beautiful. It left me feeling like the various characters came far enough in their communication skills and maturity to figure out their lives and to get back on track if they derailed. I was left with the feeling that they will be okay wherever life takes them.
Thank you for a beautiful read and journey.
You Read My Mind [Light Years Away]
Thank you, Ruti Kepler, for an amazing read. Not only did you capture some real-life struggles from various perspectives, you presented them in a thought-provoking way that was also an enjoyable, not-too-heavy read.
But more than that — there were many weeks of Nechami’s struggles that I thought to look over my shoulder to see if you had snuck into my house and were reading my mind. I thought I was the only one... Thank you for the validation and for taking us through the steps of the process.
Another kollel wife trying to find the right balance
It Opened a Window [Light Years Away]
I am writing in regards to one of the most fantastic pieces of writing I have ever had the pleasure to come across in a frum publication. Namely, Ruti Kepler’s fiction serial, Light Years Away.
Kepler’s writing is nuanced, evocative, subtle, and a delightful read. The way her passages are subtly laced with layers of deep meaning, her utilization of haunting metaphors to intimate those deepest, most delicate of thoughts, feelings, and passions that are better left unsaid directly, for fear of them dissolving into nothingness when examined directly, makes her writing simply irresistible.
Kepler has the vaunted ability to show us issues, rather than describe them. To bring us into a small kitchen in Yerushalayim where a mother is struggling not with pots and pans, but with her own perception of right and wrong, of where altruism and ego indiscernibly intertwine, and our heart aches for her — and our own — crushing lack of clarity.
She manages to transport us to a quiet beis medrash where a young man cleaves to his Maker with all his strength, and we are surprised to sense a longing for some of that simple purity well up inside an old, almost forgotten part of us.
She opens a window to the confused disappointments of a straight-laced, line-toeing mother whose love for her children is sometimes clouded by her own insecurities and needs, though she doesn’t realize it — and we are astounded as we are filled with perhaps equal measures of pity for both sides of one of the most fearsome battles, that of a mother and her son.
But the most attractive part of her writing is the content. Kepler takes issues that scare us, that we’d rather shy away from — and, under the guise of a sweet story, subtly positions our minds and thoughts until we are staring the problem in the face.
I could write for paragraphs more, but for being literally wrenched away by life’s demands. I would just like to thank Mrs. Kepler for writing such a necessary piece, bringing awareness to many of the subtle issues of living a frum life today, and causing many individuals to examine pressing issues from a more sophisticated and penetrating perspective.
A Grateful Reader
Rules of Thumb [None of Your Business / Double Take — Issue 912]
I thoroughly enjoyed this past week’s Double Take regarding frumkeit in the workplace. The story immediately reminded me of a class Rabbi Dovid Heber gave in WITS/Maalot of Baltimore on working in a secular environment. He shared an article titled “Making It in the Workplace, and Creating a Kiddush Hashem in the Process” by his brother Rabbi Yosi Heber.
Rabbi Y. Heber writes that in a secular workplace, a Jew can either be liked and respected for his status as a Jew, or disliked and looked down upon, but one will never be viewed neutrally, or in his words, just “one of the boys.” He shares “six rules of thumb” to make a kiddush Hashem at work.
Bend over backward to be nice to people.
Do outstanding quality work.
Be consistent in your religious conduct.
Be frum, but show them that you are a “normal” person.
Be someone whom people enjoy being around.
Strengthen your ruchniyus levels at home.
These points can be used to address both “Danny’s” and “Yanky’s” sides of the story. His article is a valuable guide for both those working in the outside world, and those who work in a frum environment, to be mekadeish Sheim Shamayim.
S.T., Baltimore, MD
Danny’s Fears [None of Your Business / Double Take — Issue 912]
Let me try to explain to you the position of Danny and others like him. Now, I don’t expect you to agree with this, but perhaps you could understand Danny’s feelings.
Klal Yisrael has been in galus for many years. We have been tossed from country to country. Sometimes the experiences have been pleasant, but many eras have not been pleasant, to say the least. But in all times, we remain guests to foreign hosts, and we have a responsibility to be cognizant of that.
Imagine, if you will, a guest coming to your house for an extended stay. Suddenly, he begins to ask you for a variety of strange favors.
“Can my friends come and stand in the corner of your living room for 15 minutes a day?”
“I don’t like your fridge. Can I bring my own?”
“I know we all eat together. But I have my own diet. I’ll bring my own food. Not that I don’t appreciate your hospitality or anything, but, you understand…”
“Okay. (No — I don’t understand).”
This attitude is compounded by the innate antagonism toward us Yidden that is in the hearts of many people. Esav sonei es Yaakov is a fact.
Now, Yanky, you may say, if they don’t like us anyway, I may as well do what’s best for me as a Yid. That’s a great point. But the answer to that is that just as there is a pintele Yid, who, when approached by a frum Jew will inevitably be reminded that he has a Jewish spark, so too there is a “pintele goy” whose animosity is hidden way down there beneath the surface waiting to be ignited by the practicing anti- Semite.
Just wait for the day that Mr. Smithson’s CEO friend comes to the office and sees the Minchah minyan. “Whoa, Smithson — what’s with all the Jews?”
Or how about the day that the regular fridge is on the blink, but the kosher fridge is still working? Will the office mood remain the same? Danny is not so sure. And Danny is not sure if you thought about that.
Now, Yanky, you might just say, well — if that’s the point, then how can we even wear our yarmulkes in the office or leave early on a Friday? Good point. But there is a difference between actions that are required for a halachah and actions that are a convenience. Of course we will not compromise on halachah. But davening Minchah in the office, as opposed to with a perfectly good minyan down the block, is a convenience. Discreetly not eating treif at the party and drinking water is a halachah. Fressing with the crowd because they were able to get you kosher food is a convenience.
This is why the Dannys try to stay below the radar, so to speak. We all daven for the day when we will no longer be guests in a foreign land. After the geulah, you will able to daven Minchah wherever you want with pride, and you will be kind enough to let the non-Jews have their treif fridge in the office cafeteria (with their very own combination lock), but until then, hatzneia leches im Elokecha.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 915)
Oops! We could not locate your form.