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Inbox: Issue 939

“Challenging as it is to watch, once a child gets married, the couple’s ruchniyus is none of a parent’s business”


The Dayan’s Three Rules [Crown of Halachah / Issue 938]

I arrived home from Shacharis on Thursday last week to see the face of the late Dayan Ehrentreu smiling at me from the cover of the Mishpacha magazine on my doormat.

A special thanks to Yonoson Rosenblum for his insightful and in-depth review of the Dayan’s life. Dayan Ehrentreu was the Dayan to so many of us living in North West London. It is amazing that so much of what was included in the article was not known to many living in the area!

The Dayan may likely be most remembered for setting up the eiruv in North West London. This changed the atmosphere for thousands who could now venture out on Shabbos with small children to go to shul or to visit friends and relatives.

I recall that the week before the eiruv went live, the Dayan gave a shiur about it to hundreds who had gathered in Finchley (Kinloss) Synagogue. It was an extremely erudite shiur explaining why the eiruv was halachically acceptable (even though the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations rule that it is not valid).

At the end of the shiur, the Dayan mentioned three rules that everyone had to follow if they were to use the eiruv. First, you must follow the ruling of your own rav regarding the kashrus of the eiruv. Second, you had to make yourself aware of the halachos pertaining to the use of an eiruv (for example, it is not acceptable to wheel a buggy in the street carrying yesterday’s grocery shopping). Third, you must double-check the eiruv’s status every week, before Shabbos begins. Many in the area use the eiruv, and thank the Dayan for setting it up, but how many still follow his three rules?

There is a story about the Dayan and the eiruv. It seems to be well-known that on the first Shabbos after the eiruv was up, the Dayan was seen on the street carrying a sefer. The next Shabbos someone met the Dayan and, noticing that he wasn’t carrying anything, said: “I see that the Dayan is not using the eiruv.”

All the Dayan had to do was to tap his pocket and the jangling of keys could be heard.

Yehi zichro baruch.

Henry Ehreich, Hendon, London


Each One Is a Miracle [The Moment / Issue 938]

First of all, thank you for my oneg Shabbos each week. I particularly enjoyed reading Rav Meilech Biderman’s quote this week about Leah thanking Hashem after the birth of Yehudah. I heard almost the exact same words from my non-Jewish pediatrician.

After giving birth to five daughters kein ayin hara, I had my first son. When Dr. Fortin walked into my hospital room, I said to him, “Look, Dr. Fortin, miracles do happen, we finally had a boy!”

He answered me, “You already have five miracles.” And he was right. Should I only thank Hashem this time?

Thank you for the reminder.



Hearts Full of Chesed [Spreading the Wealth / Issue 938]

Having the merit and zechus of knowing Rabbi Miller for a number of years, the article about his life blew me away — just for the fact that Rabbi Miller agreed to share his story with the world. I’ve personally witnessed him doing countless acts of chesed quietly, and I can attest that he does much more behind the scenes than in his public roles.

His love and inspiration for and from his mother is a story for itself. Her mesirus nefesh in raising her sons is legendary. It would be hard to find another woman who sacrificed so much so that her kids would grow up as erliche Yidden. (A biography of this special woman would be an inspiration and true mussar sefer.)

The name of the organization he co-founded with his equally reserved brother, Shmuli, is called Chasdei Lev. This in two words sums them up best: hearts full of chesed.

Back when Chasdei Lev was still in its initial years and struggling to get more items to distribute to the rebbeim, I helped arrange a meeting with an organization that was capable of donating a large volume of food products.

After months waiting for the meeting, we finally got there, and Rabbi Miller passionately made his case, pleading for a donation of products. When the host questioned some of the guidelines of Chasdei Lev, Rabbi Miller replied that every decision regarding the distribution was determined by a certain well-regarded rosh yeshivah. In response, the host made a light-hearted, disrespectful comment.

I remember Rabbi Miller’s face turned red. The usually relaxed, always-smiling person became enraged at the bizayon haTorah and the meeting ended right there. Rabbi Miller didn’t care about the donation he stood to lose; kavod haTorah stands above everything.

I know that after each Chasdei Lev distribution, some of the rebbeim and their rebbetzins send thank-you letters. Rabbi Miller reads every single letter, and many times he’s read them aloud to me and I hear how emotional he becomes. This is his biggest sechar, knowing that he was zocheh to help another family, another fellow Yid.

Rabbi M. Hoffman


Don’t Interfere  [Ask Rabbi Greenwald / Issue 938]

I’d like to offer my own perspective on the question posed in last week’s Mishpacha regarding the daughter in Eretz Yisrael who seems to be living it up at her parents’ expense.

From my own personal experience, I can tell you this: If you want to maintain a good relationship with your daughter, don’t say anything.

Why not?

Before children get married, parents invest all they’ve got in education, chinuch, trying to mold them into the people they want them to be. But once children get married, it is too late to educate them. Challenging as it is to watch, once a child gets married, the couple’s ruchniyus is none of a parent’s business.

When people get married, it is the first time in their lives that they are truly free to make their own decisions without parents or teachers looking over their shoulders. As solid or yeshivish as the girl and boy may be when entering shidduchim, it will still take them time to figure out the married-kollel-yeshivish-on-my-own thing. They are not going to be exactly like you, but their own brand as a couple, and this takes time to figure out. (It is quite likely that by the time she has her first baby, both she and her husband will have settled down).

Still, you’re probably wondering what harm there could be in having a conversation with your married daughter, especially if you have a good relationship with her. I can only tell you that from my own experience, I do not think it will go over well.

I too, had a great relationship with my parents before I got married. Then, shortly after my wedding, my father decided he was unhappy with how yeshivish my husband was acting. He had a really nice and friendly conversation with me — or at least that’s what he thought. I, unsure what to do with the information, suddenly viewed my husband as less than. After all, if my father thought so, then he must be.

This loss of respect was not lost on my husband, and after pressing me to tell him where these new feelings were coming from, I finally relented. Needless to say he was hurt and furious, and the relationship has never been the same.

My point is that young couples are extremely vulnerable and sensitive, and crave their parents’ approval of them as they build their new home. Any criticism is highly likely to be taken out of proportion, and the hurt felt will never go away.

In the event that your daughter does agree with you, what exactly should she do? Tell her husband the next time he suggests they go out, “No, I’ll stay home and you go out and learn”? Getting involved in a husband’s ruchniyus is never good for a marriage and will only lead her to disrespect him.

When your daughter calls to share her day, just enjoy it for what it is, and stop reading into the lack of what she is not telling you, when you want her to say anyway. You cannot fix her ruchniyus anymore. If you can give the money, give it wholeheartedly, without looking back to see how they are spending it. If you cannot, then tell them that, but the decision should be a purely financial consideration.

May you enjoy a wonderful and close relationship with your children for many years!

Name Withheld


Where the Gabbai Went Wrong [Not Black and White / Double Take – Issue 938]

In Yiddishkeit, we serve Hashem, and follow halachah and rabbanim who help us understand what Hashem wants from us. In the most recent Double Take, the gabbai Levi followed none of those, and is now facing the fallout.

First, halachah. While this may call for a larger discussion, the assumption of the situation is that wearing a hat is chumra, not halachah (though some maintain it is halachah). Mixing the two is as old as Adam (literally), and that was one mistake. You can expect and require individuals to follow halachah, such as not talking in shul. Once you add chumra, people tend to disregard the entire package and ignore the halachah.

Second, rabbanim. Levi says “I also included” the hat requirement, and “I figured.” Where is the agreement or advice of the rav? Or at least the gabbai should have been sho’el eitzah mei’acherim, who may have told him that tafasta merubah lo tafasta? That was another mistake, not deferring to daas Torah or at the very least asking others.

Finally, and most important, Hashem. By making rules that exclude other Torah Jews who follow halachah, are yerei Shamayim, but don’t dress like you, you are showing Hashem that His rules aren’t good enough, you don’t care about His children, and you know better than Him, chas v’shalom. We are brothers. If David were sick, poor, or stranded, you would drop what you’re doing to help a fellow Yid. Now you can’t let him daven for the zechus of his father?

At this point, the best eitzah would be for the two of them to talk it out with the rav, who would at most suggest that David wear a tallis over his head when at the amud. Next week the sign can be revised to remove or revise the requirement.

Eli Blum, Lawrence, NY


Choose Your Battles [Not Black and White / Double Take – Issue 938]

The Double Take story’s depiction of a conflict brewing in a shul struck a chord with me. Not because of the frumkeit level of the members, but because of the situation.

A while back, I would daven on Shabbos in a makeshift minyan located in the shul of a Jewish day school. People would come in five minutes before Minchah, Kabbalas Shabbos would quickly follow, then everybody went home. There was no time to chat, even about the sedra. I never got used to that, and soon moved back to my growing chassidish area, where davening on Erev Shabbos starts about 50 minutes after licht tzinden.

I understand that litvish shuls are not at all into this “late Minchah thing,” but Minchah on time followed by a break before Kabbalas Shabbos, say 15 minutes, would work well. Not all mispallelim see each other all day, every day, and we need time to unwind. Shushing adults is a losing proposition.

Yes, I know this story is a fiction. But like most of this series, it’s very realistic.

As far as making a hat compulsory for taking the amud, I would advise the gabbai, if he asked me, to choose his battles. David is portrayed as an erlich man, distancing himself from the noisy, chatting section. He wants to be part of this shul, and davening from the amud is a major way of showing acceptance. Simply pointing to the sign and saying “them’s the rules” is dismissive and a good way to make sure he doesn’t come back.

As for the member who volunteered to daven and then went way too fast, a gabbai would see a yellow flag if a person actually did offer to take the amud. Most people would rather duck under the shtender than be drafted for that duty. But if the gabbai is cornered, and doesn’t know this person, he just has to tell him to take his cue from the rav. Start when he starts, stop when he stops.

Peretz Mann


Live with the Rules [Not Black and White / Double Take – Issue 938]

Having served as a gabbai for the vasikin minyan in Baltimore for nearly 25 years, I’m sure that I have a bias when it comes to the Double Take in last week’s issue.

However, it seems to me that when the minyan in question is the “only one in town” (or neighborhood), there must be some room for flexibility. It may be necessary to look for kulas (wearing a hat is not necessarily a chumra, see Orach Chayim 91, Mishnah Berurah 12) while staying within the confines of halachah, although the rav will always have the final say.

But the situation described in the article seems to imply that there are other shuls in the neighborhood. In that case, it would behoove mispallelim to find minyanim that best meet their own “needs.”

Of course it can happen that there is someone who’s generally comfortable in a particular minyan, but doesn’t necessarily subscribe to all its standards. The gabbai’s job is to explain that joining a tzibbur means living with its rules (read: minhagim). This is no different from being a citizen of a country, community — or, for that matter, a family.

For David, that might mean finding himself a hat to borrow for the one time he needs the amud.

Binyomin Field, Beitar Illit


Palace of the King [Inbox / Issue 937]

Although I have never read the Growth Curve serial, as a resident of the broader Anglo community in Yerushalayim for over 20 years and a native of chutz l’Aretz, I feel qualified to address some of the points that letter writers have made and to clarify a perspective that seems to be misunderstood.

Eretz Yisrael is different. Period.

Eretz Yisrael is the palace of the king. In the palace one must be on his best behavior. In Eretz Yisrael things are different because in the King’s palace things are different.

If Yerushalayim becomes like any other Jewish community in the world, chas v’shalom, we have turned a palace into a town square. Jews from chutz l’Aretz should cherish the higher standards of Eretz Yisrael, not fight them or ignore them. Eretz Yisrael should be ideal.

This is not about image, as one letter writer mistakenly suggested. It’s about kedushas Eretz Yisrael. Yerushalayim is about real, unadulterated, authentic Torah. Living in Eretz Yisrael comes with a commitment to up one’s game and live higher.

Without a doubt, every couple who spends time in Eretz Yisrael is sacrificing — even if their stay here is short. Nevertheless, the more one is able to push himself to conform to the higher standards of Eretz Yisrael, the more his life will be enhanced by his time here.

The experience of living in Eretz Yisrael should be life changing. But to have your life changed, you must be willing to change your life. The attitude that “Eretz Yisrael needs to accept me for who I am” is not only wrong, but sabotages what can be gained by living here.

Klal Yisrael should take pride in the fact that Eretz Yisrael has succeeded — against all odds — in keeping a higher standard with regard to tzniyus, technology, materialism and more. Klal Yisrael is at its best in Eretz Yisrael.

Yes, Eretz Yisrael is the most penimiyusdig place in the world, as one letter writer correctly wrote. But I was confused by her claim that being penimiyusdig does not allow for higher standards. The opposite. It mandates them. That’s called being real. The more real it is on the inside, the more it will express itself on the outside. Yes, living in Eretz Yisrael means living a life of penimiyus inside and out.

I was more than shocked to read one letter that claimed the lower standards of couples in Eretz Yisrael does not need to negatively affect the chinuch that long-term residents want for their children. I’d imagine the letter writer does not have older children and is also not an educator.

Actually, one of the reasons why long-term residents make the decision to live in Eretz Yisrael is specifically for the chinuch of their children. If they wanted their daughters to be tempted to buy long sheitels and dress in styles or fabrics on the fringe of Bais Yaakov sensitivities (sometimes outright breaches of halachah) or that their sons daven in shuls with men whose shirts are untucked, top two buttons open, not wearing hats or jackets, and take their smartphones out when they finish Shemoneh Esreh and swipe throughout chazaras hashatz while schmoozing with their friends, they would have stayed in America. If they wanted their children to have neighbors with mixed Shabbos seudos, they do not have to live in a cramped Yerushalayim apartment to have that. They came here because they wanted more.

I ask that letter writer, if you really do not believe that surroundings affect a person, why did you come to Eretz Yisrael for shanah rishonah? Why not see the “beauty of living in a diverse community” in America for shanah rishonah? (I assume when that when letter writer moves back she will live in a community with many levels of religious observance to expose her children to “our very colorful world”?)

While it is true that it is a good middah to respect people’s growth at all levels, there is also a good middah of respecting the standards of the community you have moved to. (And by the way, no one in Ramat Eshkol expects Meah Shearim tzniyus standards.)

Hashem’s magnificent chesed has brought us to a stage of world history in which coming to Eretz Yisrael is the norm. I fear that we may be losing sight of the fact that coming to Eretz Yisrael is a privilege, not a birthright. With that privilege comes responsibilities. One who comes to Eretz Yisrael must respect its kedushah, actually contribute to it.

One more point. One of the letter writers expresses disappointment that her community disapproves of her filtered smartphone. Let me clarify. Whether or not to have a smartphone is a decision to be made with your daas Torah. That is no one’s business. However, to use it publicly, in a society in which the rabbanim are fighting such devices tooth and nail, is wrong. If you have a smartphone in Yerushalayim, please don’t flaunt it.

I think it should also be stated that some of the most outstanding yungeleit in the world live in Ramat Eshkol and are originally from chutz l’Aretz. There are many, many families whose lifestyles and sheifos for gadlus in ruchniyus should serve as models for all of Klal Yisrael in avodas Hashem and are a true nachas to Hashem. Let us not allow our discussions regarding the shortcomings of some of the chutznik couples in Ramat Eshkol overshadow the fact that many of the chutznik couples in Ramat Eshkol model everything that Eretz Yisrael is about. Both the Yeshivah and Bais Yaakov worlds should feel proud that they are producing so many of such people. I feel personally privileged to live in a community with them.

The Torah warns “v’lo saki ha’aretz es’chem b’tam’achem osah.” We must be on our best behavior while in the palace of the king. Indeed, we must always remember that Eretz Yisrael is different.

Rabbi Meir B. Kahane, Yerushalayim


Think Before You Push [Guestlines / Issue 937]

In his Guestlines piece, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg highlighted that “overconfidence causes rabbis, teachers, kallah teachers to not stay in their lane, offering advice, and guidance that are not their expertise, often hurting the people they’re trying to help.” This is something that has hurt me personally, along with many other girls I know in shidduchim.

I’ve experienced a very pushy shadchan telling me, “You don’t need a boy who’s so fun, it’s okay you’re not feeling chemistry, once you marry him, you’ll get closer and it will come later!” She said she’s had many girls thank her for pushing them to marry a boy, because he’s the best husband.

While it may be true that it truly did work out for some girls, and they are happy, shidduchim means dealing with individuals with different natures, needs, and personalities, and pushing girls into anything without knowing them personally can result in tremendous pain.

I was 19 and very vulnerable when she gave me this advice. Since the nature of shidduchim is that we can’t know when and how we’ll get married, many girls feel driven to date boys for a long time, even if they don’t truly feel they’re connecting. Another reason girls may try to convince themselves into pursuing a shidduch is that if girls aren’t happy with their home lives, or singlehood, they’re looking to take any ticket out!

I think both reasons may have driven me to keep going, but I was lucky enough to have a mentor who knew me well and said, “For you, before getting engaged, I need to see a lot of excitement, you have so much of that as a part of your personality.”

While I baruch Hashem had proper guidance, and ended up not getting engaged to this boy, and am now happily married to a guy whom I was ecstatic to marry, I’ve seen many broken engagements, divorces, and pain due to “one size fits all” advice.

I’ve heard many shadchanim say “all a girl needs as a husband is someone with good middos, and is a ben Torah, and they’ll be happy!” While this may be true for some girls, I believe that many girls with different personality traits really do have particular needs. For example, someone who’s bright may really need someone smart with whom they can have intellectual conversations, or someone easygoing may really need a guy who isn’t rigid. It is absolutely not true that anyone can marry anyone!

A popular marriage therapist shared with me that she sees many girls with one child or more who are unhappy, not because of any significant negative or abusive traits in her husband, but simply because of a lack of connection, which inevitably results in pain and loneliness.

Teachers, shadchanim, and rabbanim, please realize the tremendous responsibility in guiding young girls in this parshah, and if they come to you and say they’re feeling very nervous, don’t brush it off by saying that everyone gets nervous. If you don’t already know her well, ask her questions to understand her better, trust what she’s feeling, and take her seriously, before pushing her into a marriage and claiming if he’s a good guy, you’ll end up fine!

Name Withheld


As Basic as Alef-Beis [Soundtrack of Our Childhood / Issue 931]

I just came across your recent article about the children’s CDs from the recent and past years. I’m sure it brought back many nostalgic memories to a lot of people in the same way that it did for me.

I would like to add to your list. In 1975 “Shalom, Shalom Alef” came onto the scene. It started life as a record, and then grew up into a tape. Now it’s in its third generation in the form of a CD, with a new and more colorful cover by Shaya Schonfeld, but with the same familiar songs and story.

Over the years and in all its manifestations, today’s mothers, children and grandchildren have been hearing all about and learning the alef-beis from it.

Full disclosure: “Shalom, Shalom Alef” is my creation. But I’m daring to write about it because everywhere I go, people still keep telling me how much they (and their children, grandchildren and greats) are enjoying it. It’s almost a half century old but, as each day a new audience is born to keep on learning and enjoying it, it really never gets old.

Thank you once again for all your engaging and interesting articles in Mishpacha magazine.

Sue Arnold


Correction: Last week’s tribute to Dayan Ehrentreu incorrectly identified the posek who left Europe to lead the Eidah Chareidis in 1979. It was the Minchas Yitzchak, Rav Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss, and not Rav Yitzchak Tovia Weiss, who filled the same post many years later. We regret the error.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 939)

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