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Inbox: Issue 924

“As a retired family physician, I have been concerned to hear that many people seem to feel that once they have had Covid they are ‘done with it’” 


Shudders Down my Spine [Long Covid / Issue 923]

Just seeing the title of the article in your magazine sent shudders down my spine and made my heart race.

I had a pretty mild case of Covid. Ten days later my nightmare began, and b’chasdei Hashem, ended eight months later. In the interim I saw 13 specialists and took at least as many medications. The strongest pain meds would not relieve the pain I endured. I had enough physical and emotional symptoms to take up this whole page. MRIs of my brain and spine and blood work all showed nothing. Finally, after eight months with the help of Hashem, the symptoms slowly dissipated.

To all those who are suffering, I wish you all a complete refuah sheleimah!

T.K., a Covid long haul survivor


Elevated Risk [Long Covid / Issue 923]

Thanks very much to Mishpacha and Barbara Bensoussan for the article on long COVID-19.  As a retired family physician, I have been concerned to hear that many people seem to feel that once they have had Covid they are “done with it.” Recurrent infections do not seem to worry people because they tend to be mild and even those at high risk get through them well, due to availability of treatment during the first few days of symptoms.

Preliminary data suggests, however, that the risk of serious long-term complications and death is significantly elevated in people with recurrent infections in a large study done through the Veterans’ Administration system. Although this population is not necessarily representative of our people, being mostly male and averaging about 60 years of age, the magnitude of the risks within six months of a recurrent infection is quite concerning.

I hope that Mishpacha will continue coverage of this sort to encourage frum Yidden to take the risks a little more seriously.

Shoshana Snyder, MD


Beating Long Covid [Long Covid / Issue 923]

I am sure that there were several readers who, like myself, have suffered from ME (Myalgic encephalomyelitis), otherwise known as CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), in the past, and couldn’t help but notice that almost all the symptoms described in the article about long Covid are the exact same symptoms of those who have CFS.

I myself would sleep sixteen hours straight, and wake up more tired than when I went to sleep. I would have trouble climbing stairs, had unbearable headaches and constant brain fog as well as muscle pains.

CFS is almost always triggered by long periods of stress or by a virus (known as post viral fatigue). Which means that long Covid is really nothing new.

There are several schools of thought as to what causes CFS but one simple and logical explanation is that when the body goes through a period of stress or is fighting a virus, it goes into fight-or-flight mode. This causes adrenaline to be pumped around the body to fight the virus or stress. Sometimes the brain can get caught in this mode, especially if it continues for extended periods of time.

During this mode, sufferers only manage to sleep lightly (REM sleep) and, as was the case with me, may have a lot of nightmares during sleep. Flight-or-fight mode channels all of one’s energy to specific limbs, causing other limbs to experience pain. It can cause one’s muscles to tense and heartbeat and respiration rate to increase.

This is all very useful when one needs to run away from impending danger, but if the brain is stuck in this mode, it is understandable why one will experience all of the symptoms of CFS (and long Covid).

There is much written on the subject of CFS as well as possible cures. I personally found three methods to be very effective, none of which were mentioned in the article on long Covid.

1) Graded exercise — to slowly increase how much exercise one gets every day in tiny increments (for example, take a walk for three minutes more than the day before, and after a while start jogging), and reduce sleep in tiny increments at the same time.

2) Dr. Sarno’s method of TMS, which has been discussed in Mishpacha in the past. Dr. Sarno himself recognized that this method could help cure CFS.

3) Phil Parker’s lightning process, which was designed specifically to cure CFS. I know several people who used this method effectively for CFS.

I hope this information is useful for some readers who feel like they are caught in long Covid with no end in sight.

Besoros tovos,



Ben’s Great Ideas Are Still Man-Made [Inbox / Issue 922]

I applaud Mishpacha and Gedalia Guttentag for pointing out an issue within our community in regard to politics, specifically the admiration for Ben Shapiro’s brand of ideology. I would like to address the two letters to the editor that responded to the piece.

We can debate the politically conservative and liberal ideologies. We can also debate if Ben Shapiro possesses the “sole proprietorship” of intelligence and logic. We can debate if he is a mensch, and if he believes in basic middos that are the nature of Yidden. And we can debate if his ideologies are moral and ethical according to the standards of modern civilization.

However, we as frum Yidden ought to look into the Torah and our mesorah to find our ways of life, rather than to a man-made intellectual and political ideology.

We should be especially careful not to fall into buying into the man-made doctrine of a certain political party just because its ideologies have some similarities to ours, or because it may be more friendly to us.

When it comes to Ben Shapiro, whether or not you believe that he’s the sole proprietor of intelligence, that doesn’t make his ideology Jewish. The fact that he is an Orthodox Jew has us automatically assuming that his ideas are true to Torah. But his ideas don’t stem from extensive Torah learning or mesorah, nor are they based on Choshen Mishpat or Pirkei Avos. His ideas are the making of man, based on worldly and secular ideas.

There may be many similarities to our mesorah; however that doesn’t make the core of the doctrine or all of its details Jewish. In our admiration of one man’s intellect, let’s not forget our core beliefs.

Z, Brooklyn, NY


Accept the Joke [Inbox / Issues 922]

I had to smile at the defensive hysteria caused by the cartoon perceived by some as diminishing (maligning?) the value of Jewish life “out of town” — out of Brooklyn, NY or Lakewood, NJ.

This is what happens when there is a cultural disconnect. The original premise was presented in one of the most iconic New Yorker cartoon covers, in 1976 by Saul Steinberg. The perspective of New York vs. the World (i.e. anything west of the Hudson) was a laughable joke on New Yorkers themselves.

Please, readers, accept the joke as it was — a riff on Saul Steinberg’s well-aimed funny barb against parochial, self-aggrandizing New Yorkers.

Barbara Lehmann Siegel,

an “out-of-towner” in Silver Spring, MD (formerly of Lawrence, NY)


Detaching to Heal [Inbox / Issue 922]

As stated in a recent letter, it seems that an increasing number of adult children are breaking off ties with their parents. I have worked with many clients who have taken a break from regular contact with their parents; sometimes only from one parent, sometimes both. Although I know this is not universally true, every client that I worked with consulted daas Torah before making any decisions. In some cases, the break was actually suggested by the rav.

Whether the rav advised limiting contact to a brief, weekly phone call or to complete disconnection, the goal, in each situation, was never the detachment, nor was it meant to be long-term. Rather, distance was needed in order to create a safe space (from an unhealthy parent, parenting style, or family dynamic) in order to heal.

Once that healing journey was far enough along, every single one of these adult children resumed some degree of contact with the parent. Instead of repeated painful and damaging interactions that served to reinforce the adult child’s unhealthy patterns, the break gave them space to take ownership of their issues, and to stop living with unrealistic expectations that their parents would undergo a magical transformation, so they could accept them as is.

I am not advocating for anyone to jump on the no-contact bandwagon. I would, however, like to point out that when a mental health professional and a rav advise a relationship time-out, one shouldn’t assume they are blaming or punishing the parent.

This is equally true in “intact” families. People often bear hidden scars, and they carry the additional burden of guilt and fear about tarnishing their family’s perceived perfection.

Shoshana Schwartz

Addiction & Codependency Specialist

EFT Advanced Practitioner

Equine Assisted Therapist


Instant Lubavitcher [The Moment / Issue 922]

Joey Newcomb puts into practice what he preaches or rather sings (“No, you don’t have to be Chabad to help people put on tefillin”). In 2014, when the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise funds for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) took the world by storm, my cousin Rabbi Chaim Bulua, who is a Lubavitcher, dared me to put tefillin on another Yid within the next 48 hours or have a bucket of ice water dumped on my head. Always up for a challenge, I accepted, notwithstanding the fact it was way outside my comfort zone.

The following day my wife and I traveled to Monsey for a chasunah. While my wife went shopping at the Shops at Nanuet, I said a silent tefillah to Hashem. After a few minutes, a 40-something athletic man passed by in my direction. I stopped him and asked if he was Jewish. When he replied in the affirmative, I took a deep breath and asked him if he would like to put on tefillin.

“What are tefillin?” the man asked. When I described them, the man told me he had never heard of them in his life. When I told him I had a pair in my car, he got very excited and said “Just do it!”

He asked for my name. When I told him, he replied that he hadn’t heard his own Hebrew name since his bar mitzvah. After putting tefillin on him, we recited the Shema together, both in Hebrew and English. After removing them, he told me he had never felt that way before. “You don’t know what you’ve done for me,” he said, to which I responded, “You don’t know what you’ve done for me!”  I told him about kiruv organizations in the area and we went our separate ways.

When I called my cousin to tell him “Mission Accomplished,” he quoted the Lubavitcher Rebbe ztz”l that a Yid can attain the World-to-Come by wearing tefillin just once.

At the end of our conversation, my cousin asked me, “Do you know what you are?” I had no idea what he was talking about, but before I could respond, he blurted out “You’re now a full-fledged Lubavitcher!”

Mordechai Bulua


Why Give Him Credence? [Inbox / Issue 921]

In your Inbox, the formerly frum father writes “I was once a successful frum Yid, with a devoted wife and beautiful family, but for reasons that are irrelevant here, I no longer follow halachah.”

I am not sure why Mishpacha, a Torah-true publication, would quote this statement and give the impression that “not following halachah” is just one of the several equally legitimate life choices that a Jew can make. Why are we giving credence to someone who is living a life contrary to Torah?

Furthermore, he says “I keep my lack of faith a secret.” Who exactly does he think he’s keeping it a secret from? Does he believe that his children, family, and friends don’t see through his facade? If he truly believes, as he titles his letter, that “Children Need Two Parents,” doesn’t he realize how much he is damaging his children by not being the role model that his children deserve to have? His lack of observance is a great source of confusion and hurt to them. In addition, the type of marriage that he and his spouse can build, which is not based on a shared value system, must be far from ideal.

If this dad really cares about his children, let him get the help he needs to overcome whatever obstacles are causing him to choose his current lifestyle.

M. Schoenblum


Missing Nuance [Take a Stand / Issue 921]

It is fascinating to me how most weeks, in the Take a Stand column, the responders often do not “Take a Stand.” Instead they “Agree, except…”, “Disagree, sort of” or say “It’s complicated.” But a couple of weeks ago, the responders all agreed — no exceptions — that parents do need to be concerned about the message they send to their children when signing false statements to the school.

I’d like to suggest that this issue is just as complex — or perhaps even more so — than whether or not young couples should start their marriage in Israel or if the kavod we give to Jewish music stars goes too far.

I personally have tremendous respect for the choshuve rabbanim who replied, and do not wish to disagree with any of their statements. But I would like to add a bit of nuance to the subject at hand.

Believe it or not, some schools know their clientele and yet they make rules that are above the standard of many families in the student body. Their thinking is that once the rule is in place, there will be some “shame” and concern regarding the particular rule, and it will not be blatantly disregarded. For example, if a school says “Parents may not own smartphones,” then the parents who do own these devices will be much more careful not to bring them to school functions, and to even limit their usage of them at home, than if the rules said “Please try not to use your smartphone too much or in public.”

On top of that, if an institution makes a rule that they know is not being followed, and they choose not to enforce that rule, this can have halachic significance as to the meaning and power of that rule. Signing the documents then becomes more of a formality than a binding agreement.

All this being said, it is clear that any parent should be concerned that if their student is reading the handbook, and the family knowingly does not keep the school’s standards (which will probably also be discussed by classroom teachers and administration), they could be sending a confusing message to their children. And if they got the psak of a rav allowing their family to sign documents, even if they are not fully adhering to the policies, they will need to think about how to (and if it’s even possible to) help their children understand such a concept. But that lies within the responsibility and cheshbon of each home,  their reasons for the standards they have, and the school they send to.

To simplify this issue by presenting it as a matter of lying and dishonesty alone does not do it justice.

Name Withheld


The Man Who Never Said “Tomorrow” [Outlook / Issue 920]

As Mr. Rosenblum so beautifully wrote, Kurt Rothschild was an incredible Yid. Knowing him was a privilege and an obligation. A privilege, because his enthusiasm, energy, work ethic, and positivity were inspiring; and an obligation, in the sense of the way Chazal mentions individuals such as Rebbe and Hillel who set standards of behavior commensurate to their life’s circumstances, obliging their peers to excellence in following G-d’s commands.  Kurt was mechayev all askanim  — for him, nothing was “tomorrow,” or “later;” what needed to be done was done now.

He was close to 90 when I met him, and the encounter left me in awe. I came to Toronto with the chairman of Mesila, my brother Shmuli Margulies, to introduce Mesila’s groundbreaking program for financial responsibility to those who might be able to support it.  Kurt was welcoming, focused, and supportive of our mission, taking action on the spot and calling many influential Torontonians to set up appointments, despite calls continuously coming in from organizations as diverse as Toldos Aharon, Yeshivat HaKotel, Bais Yaakov HaYashan, and Shaare Zedek Hospital. When Kurt called, suddenly everyone was available, no meetings, no appointments, no excuses. Calm and composed, he was yet a whirlwind of activity and accomplishment, leaving many younger men in the dust.

He spent over 60 years as a community askan on the local and global Jewish scene.  Retirement from work was the starting gun increasing the pace of his askanus.

His devoted secretary, Elka, fielded his calls and commitments with speed and incredible aplomb. She had a full share in his activity, to the point that at Kurt’s shivah, a full room of rabbanim rose in deference when she arrived.

Despite the myriad commitments he undertook on a regular basis, he was a devoted family man who prioritized spending time with his nearest and dearest. His wife was a full partner in his endeavors, and he had the utmost respect, deference, and care for her. His children learned and emulated his positivity, his askanus, and his quiet efficiency. He regularly visited his parents’ graves in England on their yahrzeit, despite the difficulties of travel.

When I met him again a few short months before his petirah, just after his 101st birthday, I asked him for a brachah. Though weak, he smilingly replied “Yes!” I bent before him and, resting his hand on my head, he recited Bircas Kohanim loudly and clearly.

I am eternally grateful for having been exposed to such greatness and take inspiration from his memory.

Dovi Margulies, London UK


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 924)

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