“Kibbud av v’eim, as my rav states, is a mitzvah we are obligated to do when parents act like parents”
Far From the Easy Way Out [Inbox / Issue 925]
To the letter writer of “Disposable Parents,” who questioned the decision of children to cut off ties with their parents, I’d like to share a perspective from the other side of the table, if I may.
I am an adult child who has temporarily detached from a parent in order to heal. I repeat — to heal, not in order to get even with, hurt, or cancel her because of inconvenience.
Growing up in an environment of trauma is not for the faint of heart. My relationship with my parents was, shall we say, rather complicated. I’m married for a number of years now, but was in essence married to my mother. My world revolved around her and my desperate need for her approval (of which I got none). Every interaction was laced in fear, and my general wellbeing severely compromised. Dissociation was the only way to survive it.
Creating boundaries is easier said than done. For five years I’d been trying to do just that. Every interaction unraveled my equilibrium. Unfortunately, my spouse and children bore the brunt of it all. It took months of working with a 12-step sponsor and working my program to see things for what they were. Temporarily disconnecting was obviously not the first choice.
There’s no human being I know who wouldn’t want a relationship with his/her parents. Disconnecting is extreme, unnatural and it hurts badly. It took me weeks to work up the courage to do what was right for my family. I cried before and I cried after. And still it hurts. I can’t see why anyone would choose to do this. It is far from the easy way out of the problem, as you claim it to be. It is a painful decision that I do not take lightly.
Kibbud av v’eim, as my rav states, is a mitzvah we are obligated to do when parents act like parents. I am grateful for the guidelines that my rav and sponsor have helped me create. And I look forward to the day when I can connect again from a place of serenity and acceptance.
Yes, I’ve spent thousands of dollars in therapy. Money that I didn’t always have. But money worth spending. What have I achieved, you ask? I am unearthing my battered parts and brushing off the layers of dust that have covered my spark to live. I am giving my family the gift of healing. And for that I am grateful.
Thanks for listening,
Some Humility is in Order [Inbox / Issue 925]
I found the letter “Disposable Parents” distasteful. Not the main content, which was written either in ignorance or bias (probably both). That is perfectly understandable.
What bothered me was the opening statement, and I quote: “There goes another therapist justifying… every single situation where a child decides with the input of a rav or therapist [emphasis mine] to cut ties with a parent.” Basically, the therapists are wrong, the rabbanim are wrong.
And what, if I may ask, are your credentials?
The letter writer’s suggestion would seem good in theory, except that in reality it likely won’t work. No parent, much less an unhealthy parent, would take kindly to an individual (as well-meaning as they may be) informing them that they spent 20+ years harming their child.
Be it as it may, as long as you haven’t tried it, some humility to those in the field is in order — especially rabbanim. While we’re working on kibbud horim, let’s not trample kibbud morim!
The Dream that Didn’t Die [Works for Me / Issue 925]
The question posed by the frum single girl regarding whether or not to go to medical school before marriage against the advice of her parents really resonated with me.
In the mid-1960s, while a junior in college, I told my father that I wanted to go to law school. He responded, “You can’t do that because no frum boy will date you. Become a teacher instead.”
I listened to my father and enjoyed teaching in NY Bais Yaakov high schools for the next 25 years while raising my children.
However, my yearning to go to law school did not subside. When I reached the age of 43 and my children were no longer at home, I turned to my husband and said, “It’s my turn now. Take me to three rabbanim of your choice and let’s see what they have to say.” He took me to a chassidishe rebbe, a Litvishe rav and an Israeli mekubal visiting Monsey that week. All three agreed that I should go, and the Litvishe rav offered to teach me Hilchos Yerushah.
Five years later, one week after taking the bar exam, I was sitting at a wedding next to a woman who was speaking about her son, a lawyer. When I asked her, “In which area of law does he practice?” she responded, “He’s working for someone in Trusts and Estates but wants to go on his own and do it halachically.” I called him and we’ve been working together since then.
In my mid-60s, my husband and I made aliyah. Two months later, I woke up one morning and realized that I had been used to working full-time and was at a loss as to how I would spend my days. I perused a newspaper and noticed an ad about a reputedly brilliant rav who was speaking in English that day to women. I took a bus to hear him and, when he was finished, I ran up to the stage and said, “Your clarity of thought and power of articulation reflect a legal background.” He responded affirmatively and asked me, “What’s your name?” When I told him, he said, “I’ve heard of you. Would you like to do a panel discussion with me on the Jewish laws of inheritance?”
Two months later this event took place and four days after it, I answered the phone to a male voice that said, “I’m a chareidi attorney and my rav told me to learn Hilchos Yerushah because Jews are not writing halachic wills. My mother-in-law was sitting in the audience when you spoke on this subject. Will you teach it to me?”
We have been partners for the past 10 years.
I’ve told you my story to encourage you to pursue your dream (if, as the career coach wisely advised, you honestly “own your decision” and after much reflection and consultation with daas Torah.) I wish you much hatzlachah.
Tirtza Jotkowitz, Esq.
Even if You Don’t Show Up [Shul with a View / Issue 925]
I would like to thank Rabbi Eisenman for once again sharing an absolutely moving piece, reminding us of the beauty that lies within each individual.
As one who has delivered a stillborn baby, I was of course moved to tears by this unreal story. Basya is truly not only remarkable, but did what many of us in that very situation cannot even fathom doing.
I want to validate any woman out there who has been through such a nisayon, and say that even if you cannot fathom doing what Basya did, even if you crumbled into a million pieces (that perhaps you have yet to pick up), you too, are a hero.
You are a strong, beautiful woman for going through one of the most painful experiences I don’t wish upon any mother. Even if you cannot find it within you to “show up,” you have already become the greatest person, fulfilling the hardest mission there is.
Keto Champions at the OU [Keeping a Full Plate / Issue 924]
I read the article about Rabbi Moshe Elefant and the OU from a unique vantage point. In addition to all the services the OU provides to the klal that are described in this article, the OU has been an incredible resource for another group of people — those with children on medical ketogenic diets.
Medical ketogenic diets are highly specialized diets used for seizure control in individuals for whom medication hasn’t been effective. These diets fall under the category of “Don’t try this yourself at home” — they can only be used under the supervision of an experienced neurologist and registered dietician.
The OU has been there for our families for years, researching ingredients, facilities and supply chains. In particular, Rabbi Doniel Nosenchuk and Rabbi Gavriel Price have left no stone unturned in their quest to make things easier for our families. Never once have we been told, “I’m sorry, that’s not our product — why don’t you call their hechsher?” or “Why don’t you just try to make do without it?” And while they graciously make themselves available to us year-round, they go into overdrive before Pesach.
Most of us start thinking about Pesach a few weeks ahead of time, but the pre-Pesach season for this effort starts in the middle of the winter, as the OU researches and works through many knotty sh’eilos for our children. Despite putting in weeks of effort on our behalf, they make themselves available to address all our last-minute questions up until candle-lighting on Erev Yom Tov and answer our calls on Chol Hamoed.
The article describes the OU’s relationship with other hechsherim. We can personally attest to this teamwork. I remember one emergency sh’eilah that arose at 11:45 p.m. on the night of Bedikas Chometz involving a crucial thickener certified by another hechsher. By 12:30 a.m., the OU had gotten in touch with the other hashgachah, reached the mashgiach for the product on his personal cell, and had gotten back to us with the information that was needed to get a psak as to how the product should be used and handled over Yom Tov.
With the tremendous assistance of the OU, our families have been able to celebrate a chag that is truly kosher v’samei’ach each year. May Hashem bentsh Rabbi Elefant, Rabbi Nosenchuk, Rabbi Price and all the others involved in this tremendous chesed.
B.G., on behalf of the keto families
(The letter writer runs a support group for keto families and can be contacted via Mishpacha.)
In Small Packages [Keeping a Full Plate / Issue 924]
Yochonon Donn, in his masterful article “Keeping A Full Plate,” recounts the efforts of Rav Shlomo Zev Zweigenhaft (head of the Vaad of Shochtim in prewar Poland and later rav of Hanover, Germany) to preserve the mesorah of shechting quail. The article then proceeds to quote Rabbi Moshe Elefant’s assessment of quail: “It’s a small bird, mostly bones, not that great-tasting…No wonder nobody wants it.”
Rabbi Elefant’s assertion is akin to saying that nobody wants sardines because they are small and full of bones — because while quail do have small bones, they are in fact tender and edible. Yes, a single quail only suffices as an appetizer, but that doesn’t prevent it from being incorporated into gourmet meals in the secular world. Quail meat is a staple in French, Italian, Indian, Mexican, Polish and Portuguese cuisine. One merely needs to google “quail recipes” to find it is actually considered a delicacy.
I myself had the pleasure of eating it many years ago in a kosher Manhattan restaurant, which if I recall correctly, was under the supervision of the OU. To this day, kosher quail meat is readily available online at aaronsgourmet.com under the hechsher of Rabbi Yisrael Mayer Steinberg.
While the OU may deem it not financially sound to oversee quail shechitah in today’s kosher market, food trends are constantly changing. In the near future, quail meat may become trendy among kosher consumers and the OU is primed to resume shechitah because of Rav Zweigenhaft’s perseverance to perpetuate the mesorah.
New York, NY
Loved and Revered [Keeping a Full Plate / Issue 924]
We always enjoy reading about mashgichim and their kashrus adventures. We know firsthand how hard they work and how often they are away from home, as Rabbi Chaim Goldzweig ztz”l was my father’s cousin. His name was inadvertently written as Rabbi Rosenzweig, but he was loved and revered as Rabbi Chaim Goldzweig to many factory managers all over the world. I spent many a summer traveling with him around the U.S.
Ramat Shlomo, Jerusalem
Note: Last week’s edition of “For the Record” inadvertently omitted mention of a prominent son of Rabbi Charles Kahane. Rav Nachman Kahane is a rosh yeshivah, rosh kollel, and rav of Beis Knesses Chazon Yecheskel in the Old City of Yerushalayim for more than 32 years. He is also the author of an extensive commentary on 130 chapters of Tosafos in Shas entitled Mei Menuchos. We regret the omission.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 926)
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