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Inbox: Issue 916

“At the risk of invoking groans, I sincerely mean it when I say that the accompanying written words mean more than any gift”


My Go-To Source [Linked to a Lost World / Issue 915]

Many thanks for your delightful article about Rabbi Mandelbaum. You only fleetingly mention his sefer Daf al Hadaf. I can say that as a daf yomi maggid shiur with an office day job, the sefer Daf al Hadaf was a spiritual lifeline during my daf yomi shiur-giving days.

With no time to look at hundreds of seforim, the Daf al Hadaf was one of the three go-to-seforim I had (the others were Margolias HaShas on Agadatta and Rav Zilberstein’s Chashukei Chemed). It has a wonderful bekius, and I ended up buying each volume as they came out, with 26 in total, including the Hadran volume and Mafteach. Indeed, one of my chevreh went personally to pick up a volume from Rav Mandelbaum, who was most gracious. The volumes are still lent out to maggidei shiur on a regular basis.

You mention he was involved in some of the masechtos. I can only say that his name is printed in the front of every volume of the entire set, so whether his humility has reduced his admitted involvement I do not know. The other main contributors were Rav Avrohom Noach Klein a”h, who was niftar just a month after the series finished, and Rav Yehoshua Lefkovitz.

Rabbi Mandelbaum was also involved in Yerushalmi,  in line with the Lev Simchah’s promotion of Yerushalmi.

Many thanks again for your article.

Rabbi YCD Cohen, Manchester


The Timing Was Perfect [Shul with a View / Issue 915]

My beloved grandfather was niftar this week. I was very close with him and did not think I would manage being happy come Shabbos. I tried. But it was too hard. I kept turning inward, to my grief and sadness.

Then I read Rabbi Eisenman’s “Shul with a View” column about the Skverer Rebbe, and later Mrs. Chaya Pery Brailofsky a”h, putting their pain aside. Wow! I now had something to distract me and put me into a more Shabbosdig mood.

This Shabbos, even though my zeide was just niftar and I won’t be seeing him any more until Mashiach comes, I tried very hard to be like the Skverer Rebbe!

Thank you, Rabbi Eisenman, for publishing the article davka this week, so I could get chizuk at the precise moment for me!

A grateful reader


She Deserves No Less [Party Pooper / Double Take — Issue 915]

Thanks as always for a wonderful publication. I don’t usually write in but I’d like to comment on the Double Take story about the sheva brachos for the older niece.

First off, all the aunts are right. Life is busy — crazy busy sometimes — and that’s a fact that’s not going to change. So it’s a good idea to make a decision that all family sheva brachos will be held in a restaurant from now on.

What was wrong, in my opinion, about the decision is that a) this particular kallah was older than her cousins who had those beautiful family tons-of-time-and-effort-put-into-them sheva brachos, and she herself put in a lot for them, and b) she likes that type of thing a lot.

Getting married after younger siblings or cousins is not the end of the world. She’s happy she’s married, she knows that everyone has their own personal right time and right person, baruch Hashem. But she should have been “the last one” to have that wonderful-planned-out-themed-sheva-brachos that her cousins had, and not the first to have the formal restaurant idea.

All those years of waiting she had been a giborah and had swallowed her worry/personal feelings/sadness, and went all out for her cousins, to be mesameiach chassan and kallah. Now, when she herself is the kallah, she deserves no less.

So, for all those aunts who are maybe thinking and rethinking how are we going to do this? — think again. Don’t make a kallah feel bad that Hashem had a special plan for her to wait until after her cousins to get married.

There are many ways to reduce the stress around making simchahs. In our family we usually make a decision together — either hold a catered event (or half catered like the bubby suggested — ordering the desserts and stuff that take up the most amount of time) and put all the time and effort into an amazing personalized program, or the opposite — serve homemade food that everyone loves and put together a basic, simple program — a song or two and a game created by the cousins, not the aunts.

We usually make the decision based on who the niece/nephew is and what’s important to them. Sometimes we check with them directly: clear, upfront, honest communication is often the solution to many of the Double Take dilemmas.

Wishing everyone lots of nachas and simchahs,

Another stressed-out, overworked, but thoughtful aunt


Cowardly Process [Party Pooper / Double Take — Issue 915]

The Double Take columns are often an impressive tool for illustrating the types of conflicts and conundrums that we find ourselves in, and frequently lead to spirited discussions about which side is “right.”

Here, my comment is not about which side is right or wrong. Rather, I believe that the author focused on the incorrect point, in two respects.

First, the conflict here should not have been between the kallah’s grandmother and aunts. What the grandmother wants, or expects, is entirely irrelevant. It is not her party. If she enjoys the type of affairs they have had in the past, she is free to request one for her birthday or anniversary. The relevant conflict is between the needs of the aunts and the desires of the kallah herself.

This brings me to my second point. It is clear to me that if the aunts collectively decided that due to their circumstances they were unable to plan the type of event held previously, they are 100 percent within their rights to do something lower key. Full stop. But what was completely unjustifiable is the, dare I say, cowardly way they went about it.

What they needed to do was to speak with the kallah and explain the decision they made, well before the actual sheva brachos. Perhaps then the kallah would have requested one particular activity that she was looking forward to the most, and that could have been incorporated in the celebration. Perhaps not. But open dialogue as adults, between the two affected parties, was sorely missing from this entire episode.

Yehoshua Duker,

Ramat Beit Shemesh


We Couldn’t Make It Happen [Party Pooper / Double Take — Issue 915]

Rochel Samet has written many thought-provoking stories. This time it was as if she knew our family.

My niece got married a week before Pesach. Just like the fictional Chava, she had been in the parshah for quite a while, she had younger married siblings, she was always there for everyone, and she helped organize some of the lovely sheva brachos events for her cousins.

Due to the timing, a home sheva brachos was out of the question.

I tried to organize a picnic sheva brachos outdoors. But some of the cousins really have a tough schedule, even without Pesach a few days away. One even thought that a picnic is not mechubadig and might insult the kallah and chassan. We ended up not doing anything.

Sometimes people who are important to you deserve a lot, but you can’t give them what you wish you could.

Y. H.


Always Appreciated [Ballot Box / Issue 915]

I am a teacher and I was appalled at the Ballot Box responses.

Yes, when I was a young new teacher, I might have rolled my eyes at the fourth initialized cookie jar that I received as a gift. But now that I’m older and have more life experience, even if I get 14 gift card registry cards, seven candy sectionals, and three Cookie Corner cinnamon buns, I am genuinely touched and appreciative. No, really!

Each one means that a parent is grateful enough for what I invested in their kid that they: a) thought about buying me a gift, b) spent time deciding what to buy, c) bought it, d) wrote a card to go with it, and perhaps the most impressive, e) remembered to send it to school with their kid, or took the time to personally deliver it.

Shout out to my own children’s teachers that I never got to — I always meant to get to e) — you more than deserve it, but... you know a teacher’s life, I hope you understand!

At the risk of invoking groans, I sincerely mean it when I say that the accompanying written words mean more than any gift. I’m not saying I keep every single “thank you for teaching our daughter” note, but there are many, many that I have saved in a special file.

I think and hope that I speak for all teachers. I know that I speak for many.

Laya Goldberg


Seeking Community [Corrosive Connection / Issue 914]

Thank you for a wonderful publication. Our family truly enjoys it, there is something for everyone to read. The recent article on Internet use piqued my interest.

I agree — Internet and social media have replaced and filled our natural need for belonging and community. What happened to community? How can we reestablish a place of belonging and connection for women, especially those who work from home, or are stay-at-home moms?

I wish I could think of an answer. I have yet to come up with one. For the record, I have volunteered for the school, for the shuls, for various organizations, cooked meals, and driven extra carpools. None have given me that sense of belonging.

I am willing to put forth effort to change things. I am at a loss for what to do. I hope that someone reading these pages has concrete ideas.

Hoping for Change


A Minchah Message [Inbox / Issue 914]

The recent article and letters in Mishpacha about Minchah in the workplace remind me of an incident that occurred some years ago when I worked in an office that had a Minchah minyan.

One day, when I was at the minyan, my Jewish boss came looking for me. “He’s at the prayer meeting,” a colleague of mine told my boss. Then the colleague added, “Why aren’t you there?”

Eddie Steinberg, Teaneck, N.J.


Well Worth the Trouble [Second Thoughts / Issue 914]

I eagerly look forward to each issue of Mishpacha. Though there are many columns I like and read regularly, my very favorite column is Rabbi Emanuel Feldman’s “Second Thoughts.” His last column seemed to speak to me directly. Please, Rabbi Feldman, know that your efforts to earn a university degree were well worth the trouble — then and now!

I have in my hand a copy of Rabbi Feldman’s book published in 1977 from his dissertation: Biblical and Post-Biblical Defilement and Mourning: Law as Theology (NY: Yeshiva University Press/Ktav Publishing, 1977). I acquired it not only to complete my collection of Rabbi Feldman’s published works, but also to help me with a project on end-of-life care. The Rabbi’s column, “Living in Two Worlds: True Confessions,” reminded me that I had his book and ought to look it over again.

Thank you, Rabbi Feldman, for both your column and your dissertation.

Thank You, HaKadosh Baruch Hu — only You could have known the many benefits of Rabbi Feldman’s efforts, far into the future!

Nancy Weisman, Bethesda, MD


Ideals, then Income [Inbox / Issue 914]

I was perturbed by the inbox letter titled “Teachers, Don’t Get Trapped.” Teaching is most certainly not a profession one goes into for the money. Simply put — it’s not a job, and if one looks at it like that, perhaps it’s not the right fit for them.

Teaching is an avodas hakodesh reserved for the superstars who want to impact, mold, and inspire future doros. It is reserved for the elite class of individuals who understand there is so much more to life than the dollars in one’s bank account.

To see a letter pretty much urging our best and brightest, our most cherished assets, to leave because the money isn’t good, was chilling for me as a reader.

We can understand that learning in kollel isn’t a dead-end job... because it isn’t a job. We’d be outraged by a letter titled “Yungeleit, Don’t Get Trapped,” urging people to exit kollel while they can before they get stuck. The reason is simple: We understand the infinite value a life of Torah brings. Being a mechanech or mechaneches is the same, and we need to look at it the same way.

While certainly a morah needs to look closely at how to make ends meet (as does everyone), and it goes without saying that she needs to be a part of a school that values and invests what she is doing (as is true in any workplace), there are ample ways to make things work out financially. It has been my experience, if one is driven by the ideals to make an impact, they usually can figure out the necessary streams of income.

If one is too focused on not getting “trapped” in a job that doesn’t support their lifestyle goals, chinuch probably isn’t the right thing anyway. If you want to make a difference, I urge you to join in this avodas hakodesh. Nothing gives one more sipuk and you are desperately needed.

Rabbi Yerachmiel Kalter

Menahel, Maayan Torah Day School (which has the most incredible, talented, and dedicated team of moros)


Shadchanim, Too [Inbox / Issue 914]

The Inbox letter “Teachers, Don’t Get Trapped” described a really challenging situation where  teachers feel trapped in a job that doesn’t value them enough to compensate them properly but feel too old to learn or try their hand at a new profession. It also mentioned that a person is required to take care of their own children and family first before taking care of the extended community.

It seems to me that the message to the community is that if your current job and financial compensation is not working for you or your family’s needs, then address it and find a way to increase your income in a way that works for your family.

I do want to add that I was confused why the letter-writer put shadchanim at the top of their list of well-compensated jobs. Most shadchanim have really never been compensated properly for their time, effort, or expertise.

I am speaking as a relatively successful shadchan. I worked as a shadchan for over 16 years. During that time, I met as many people as I could (not always at convenient times), I tried to set up as many people as I could and I tried to support and care for our community.

There was no concept of paying for a shadchan’s efforts and most of the time I was only paid if the match actually made it to the chuppah. Even then, I was making less than a secretarial or even teacher’s salary. Eventually, like a lot of shadchanim, although I loved being involved in this amazing mitzvah, I became a little exhausted and most importantly, as my expenses grew, I needed to find a way to increase my financial income as well. So that is when I decided to go train in another field (in my mid to late thirties) and work in a different area that still used my experience.

In the last few years, incentive programs and small salaries are starting to be offered to select shadchanim as well. Even with these new programs in place, the salary does not provide most shadchanim with a luxurious lifestyle, to say the least.

I hope more people are able to find the balance of working in the community and at the same time meeting their own family’s needs. It’s tough work, but taking time for cheshbon hanefesh and seeking guidance (and even financial assistance) from mentors along the way, will hopefully enable more people to work in jobs that meet their own financial needs, happiness, and peace of mind while doing what they can to help the community as well.

Ilana Brown, Toronto


The Support to Thrive [Inbox / Issue 914]

We’d like to thank the letter-writer who commented on the feature about our real estate venture. You definitely raised very valid and important points, which deserve a full response.

As you mention, buying a property without seeing it is indeed a challenging venture. However, it’s entirely possible if you have a professional boots-on-the-ground team. Part of our system is to learn how to find the right people locally to assemble your team.

Our mentor program is built by doing while learning. Our mentors train you and help you to understand whether your analysis for each deal is correct, and help you come to the correct decision.

As you write, it’s impossible to do a real estate deal without money, but it’s entirely possible to do real estate deals without your own money (i.e. owner finance, wholesaling, etc.). There are numerous ways to raise funds, and we as a community of investors have many investors who will fund your deals if the numbers add up.

We give you the tools to become a real estate investor; you choose to do with those tools as you wish, whether fulltime or part-time — but even a part-time player can achieve very impressive accomplishments.

Part of the method is to pinpoint the right market to invest in. Clearly it will not be in the primary markets like New York, Miami, and Los Angeles. We focus on a micro-market after dissecting and understanding that it’s a growing market. Our system teaches about all kinds of deals, flips, and rentals, etc. Even in today’s market, we teach how to find off-market and other attractive deals.

As far as the high-pressure factor, there is no occupation without pressure. We lead people by providing a supportive community and personal guidance through action. Every new road is challenging; however, we focus on the goals, which are financial freedom and peace of mind.

The Project X Team


The Bigger Picture  [Man of Action / Issue 913]

The article entitled “Man of Action: The Life and Times of Rabbi Leo Jung” was a masterpiece.

In addition to providing insight into the life and thinking of giant of this man, the well-researched article provides a very critical historical context of American Jewry at the time. A very important and underlying message is that Rabbi Jung was truly a man of “Klal” Yisrael: He used his resources and relationships to help everyone in the frum world. He clearly saw the bigger picture.

A cute anecdote about the reach of this article. At the close of Minchah following a long Yom Tov, I and my congregation were sharing stories. I brought up the story of Arnold Rothstein and Rabbi Jung’s letter regarding his eulogy for him. I was surprised when a not-yet-frum member in our shul told me that he just read that story in Mishpacha magazine over the weekend…

You never know.

Rabbi Yehuda Shemtov

Senior Rabbi and Executive

Director, Lubavitch of Bucks County


Rav Nota’s Cry [The Humblest Mountain / Issue 912]

I enjoyed the excellent article about Rav Nota Greenblatt, which beautifully represented a man who was at once the most public and most hidden major posek of our time.

I had the privilege of attending one of his special shiurim on Succos a few years ago. After the shiur and Minchah, he schmoozed with the group until Maariv. One particular exchange stands out, and I think it would be fitting to broadcast his call.

An attendee from out of town said he would miss the Hoshana Rabbah shiur because he planned to return home, and Rav Nota asked him where he lived. He named a major frum city. Rav Nota unexpectedly burst out with obvious pain, “Who needs you there? What does the city gain by you living there? People call me all the time from Birmingham, from New Orleans, from so many places — they have no people, no community! How can you live in a major frum area, when you are so badly needed elsewhere?”

When I said, in defense of the “minhag,” that it’s hard to live in a small, struggling community, he responded, “True, it is hard! Your wife won’t have friends, she won’t have a sheitelmacher — but they need you!”

I’m sure there are many good reasons, I hope good enough, why we are so concentrated in a few places. But as one who gave his entire life to Memphis and endless resources to individual Jews and small communities around the country, Rav Nota at least deserves that we hear his cry.

Dovid Lederman


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 916)

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