“Please, as long as there are single girls (and boys) in the world, keep Rochi Kichel single”
Otherworldly Delight [Enduring Bond / Issue 945]
As a talmid of Rav Brevda (I hope I’m worthy of that title), I read with keen interest the article published in honor of his tenth yahrtzeit. It was a very well-written and informative piece about the life of this gaon and tzaddik. However, there is an important aspect of his life’s work that cannot be left unmentioned: his phenomenal shiurim.
Rav Brevda’s koach hatziur was remarkable. He was a master of descriptiveness and depiction. He literally transported his listeners back to the world of our avos hakedoshim, illustrating how they dealt with all their life’s challenges and adversaries and showing us how it applied to our lives. He seamlessly wove a tapestry of Chazal, Vilna Gaon, Arizal and his own incredible chiddushim, interspersed with his trademark sense of humor. What emerged was an in-depth central theme of the parshah. It was an otherworldly delight.
One frigid, unforgettable Friday night he was scheduled to speak from eight to nine o’clock. There were only about ten of us, due to the inclement weather. Rav Brevda himself made the long trek all the way from 17th Ave. and 53rd St. to Ave. F and East 2nd [Rav Ashkenazi’s shul] with his faithful son Reb Ahron. His dedication to us as he spoke was palpable.
In the middle of the shiur he suddenly caught himself, after noticing the clock behind us, which was facing him. Realizing it was already 9:45, he apologized to us that he wasn’t aware how late it was and that he would end momentarily. All of us begged him to please continue, so mesmerized were we by his words.
His shiurim on Megillas Esther were legendary. He breathed new life into the Yom Tov of Purim, teaching us the eternal lessons of “refuah kodem l’makah” and the true power of tefillah.
As a rebbi in a yeshivah and maggid shiur in our community, it is a great zechus for me to perpetuate his Torah. Every so often I listen to his shiurim as I drive, and I cannot help but smile to myself as I wistfully wipe away a tear, reminiscing.
He is sorely missed but his legacy lives on through his classic seforim and through recordings of his brilliant shiurim.
Yehi zichro baruch.
Yosef Chaim Tisser
Of Foxes and Lions [Enduring Bond / Issue 945]
I very much enjoyed reading the last two weeks’ editions of the Mishpacha, as both related directly to my childhood in Golders Green.
I grew up playing in Judge Morris’s house with his daughters Esty and Aviva, and the article brought back such happy memories of that time.
The article about Rav Brevda ztz”l was also a flashback to my childhood, as my father (Reb Yisroel Dov Fagil) was very close with him during the time he lived in Craven Walk in London. Rav Brevda spent many Shabbosim in Golders Green, where we joined him regularly for Shalosh Seudos in the Kruskal home on Bridge Lane. The davening and singing would go on for hours, well past nacht.
We also have a family tradition to call my father every time we or my grandchildren see the lions at the zoo, due to the following story.
One day, during a period when Rav Brevda was undergoing painful medical treatment, he asked my father to drive him to Whipsnade Zoo. When they got to the lion enclosure, Rav Brevda stopped and said, “What do you see?” to which my father answered, “a lion cleaning his tail.”
They moved on, and when they reached the fox enclosure, Rav Brevda asked the same question, eliciting the same answer. He then pointed out that when a lion cleans his tail, he brings it up to his head, whilst a fox lowers his head to reach the tail. We should always aim to emulate the lion as a symbol of royalty, to be people who elevate the low to a higher place, rather than lowering ourselves to engage with them on their level. A mussar lesson in true Rav Brevda style.
Thank you for an article that accurately reflected the essence and greatness of Rav Brevda.
Mrs. J. Porush (nee Fagil), Manchester
Your Child Isn’t Better [Inbox / Issue 945]
There were quite a few passionate letters published last week in response to the Double Take about the two cousins. It seems a lot of buttons were pushed.
This is such an emotional issue for us as mothers. It’s so incredibly painful for us when our children are hurt, excluded, or disappointed in life by their peers or by institutions. I’m pretty sure that we also have our own wounds, buried but still there, that get triggered.
When reading the original story, it seemed to me that both mothers could have done a much better job of communicating and working together for the good of both cousins. These girls were only 13. Girls of that age can do a lot of damage, but they are also still fairly open to parental influence.
The two mothers in the story seemed predisposed to distrust each other, and determined to see each other negatively. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the two cousins don’t give each other the time of day.
One last point. I had real concerns about some of the things written in the “Let it Unfold” letter. This mother wrote that, “a couple of parents couldn’t accept that my daughter was better than theirs.” She also stated, “after years of my... perfect parenting, a couple of parents could tear down everything I’ve built.”
At the risk of sounding unempathetic, your child is not better than other children. And if your parenting is perfect, you are the first mother in the history of mankind to achieve this feat.
I have a child who was bullied and excluded her whole childhood, and is no longer frum. She’s a lovely young adult, busy with college and work and good friends. I’ve noticed that some of the girls who were really horrible to her when they were kids and teens, don’t actually seem to be all that frum now either. It’s sad. Sad for my daughter, and sad for those former less-than-kind peers.
To the “Let it Unfold” writer: I don’t know you or your daughter. But it’s possible the other parents who “told on her” were not in error about her actions. If your “perfect parenting” led you to give her a message that she was better than her peers, you didn’t do her any favors.
As mothers, let’s work together for the good of all our kids. Let’s work on our blind spots about ourselves, our daughters, and their classmates. Let’s help them all to grow to be their best selves, able to accept others who are different from themselves. And let’s work on ourselves in the same way.
Never Turned Down [Mutually Exclusive / Double Take — Issue 945]
I usually enjoy the Double Take column immensely. It is always interesting to read both sides of common situations. Unfortunately, I was extremely taken aback at the serious affront to the plethora of wonderful chesed organizations in our midst (Mekimi, Kapayim, Kochovim, RCCS, Bein Ish, and Tantzers, to name a few).
As a family that has been on the receiving end of these wonderful organizations, I must say, we were never asked if we were receiving help or services from any other organization. On the contrary, each one kept on reaching out to us to offer more and more help.
When we turned down offers (not wanting to take more than was absolutely necessary), they always reached out to us a second and even third time to make sure we hadn’t changed our minds about accepting the help.
Are guidelines needed for major events, such as Shabbatons and winter or summer retreats? Absolutely! Are babysitting services and meals from another chesed organization a valid criteria to reject an applicant? Unfortunately, no!
Please be respectful of the many volunteers who give their heart and soul to those in need. And please be equally respectful of the many recipients who are placing the calls for help with tears streaming from their eyes, not as those looking to party on yenem’s cheshbon.
Been There from BP
Tell Her from the Start [Mutually Exclusive / Double Take — Issue 945]
This edition of Double Take is truly a case of both sides being right.
I understand that this mother found herself in an extremely challenging time, trying to take care of her children, her sick husband, and still hold down a job. She needed a lot of community support. For whatever reason, her family was not able to provide the help she needed.
The first organization, Ezra V’Simchah, was able to help this family with day-to-day needs such as hot meals and child care. The second organization she contacted, Chasdei Ahuva, provided the extras that a family in crisis would love.
As a volunteer administrator for a chesed organization in a large community outside the tristate area, I totally understand Chasdei Ahuva having to turn down the family. Every chesed organization has a mandate they need to follow or they’ll find themselves unable to fulfill their most basic role.
Perhaps the solution would have been to let the woman calling know from the beginning that once she accepted help from an organization, she would be unable to avail herself of other organizations. Chayala would then have to make the decision whether to have day-to-day help or extra perks.
A Chesed Volunteer
We Need to Work Together [Mutually Exclusive / Double Take — Issue 945]
Reading this week’s Double Take story left me with considerable emotion, compelling me to write my first-ever letter to the editor. As an employee of one of the great chesed organizations, just one of many that exists today, allow me to share my thoughts.
I can unequivocally say that the rule regarding getting help from one organization only, which was described as “pretty standard in the non-profit world,” is Baruch Hashem not true.
The organization where I work frequently collaborates with others, and I am often left with tears in my eyes and a big mi k’amcha Yisrael on my lips to see how nicely Klal Yisrael comes together to help a family in need. Each organization brings to the table a unique approach and helps in the best way they can to ensure that the family is supported from every possible angle.
I do believe that strong guidelines need to be in place to ensure that fundraised money goes to those who truly need it (especially when giving something of monetary value), but a rule limiting families to just one organization is just cruel.
I have been in the position of guiding families who were confused between the many referral organizations they reached out to. While it definitely makes our work harder, how can one be so selfish to say that their advice is the only good advice? You are talking about their loved one’s health here! They want to ensure that no stone is left unturned in their quest for an ultimate refuah. We can be a sounding board, guiding them, researching options, and facilitating care when they ask for it. But it is ultimately the family that makes the decision.
Regarding the disgruntled donor – kamayim hapanim lapanim, if you will be egotistical and narrow-minded then your donors will be, too. But if you open your heart selflessly and help those who need it, you will attract selfless donors who won’t mind that a child who is going through such a hardship gets some extra pampering. Each family you assist will open new fundraising channels and if you do good things, the donors will stand behind you.
There is no one organization in this world that can possibly cover all the needs of a family going through a medical crisis. Let’s all work together to support these heroic fighters and let us see the coming of Mashiach soon so we can all close our doors.
A Chesed Collaborator
He’s Still Motivating Me [Hour by Grateful Hour / Issue 944]
Thank you for the absolutely amazing article on Mendy Rosenberg.
I went into this past Siyum HaShas unsure if I wanted to start daf yomi. But after watching the spotlight moment of Reb Mendy at the siyum it wasn’t a question anymore of if I should, rather a question of how can I not. I took a screenshot of Reb Mendy from the siyum, made it into a placeholder plastic, and it is now my daily daf inspiration.
May the zechusim of all the inspiration Reb Mendy gave in his lifetime, and continues to give even after his petirah, bring him higher and higher in the Olam HaEmes.
Above and Beyond [Hour by Grateful Hour / Issue 944]
Bayis. That was the opening word of your article on Mendy Rosenberg. And yet the reporting of his akeres habayis’s mesirus nefesh only touched the tip of the iceberg.
Normal ALS life expectancy, as reported in the article, is between three to five years. Yet Mendy persevered for 14 years! Yes, he had an inner reserve of strength. But where does that come from? Who makes that happen? Anyone who witnessed the level of simchah in the house knows it’s only because of Malky. She was determined to make her house a joyful home, full of life and activity. It was due to her dedication and care that Mendy survived every ailment, bedsore, cough, and yes, Covid.
Malky did not sleep a single continuous night (barring a rare exception) for 14 years. Rarely did she attend a simchah, and even when she did, it was for a short period of time. For the past few years she did not trust the competency of Mendy’s aides and therefore rarely left her home, unless one of her just-as-dedicated children subbed for her.
Mishpacha’s readers simply cannot comprehend how she treated her husband, above and beyond what would be called humanly possible in any other situation. And while Malky surely deserves all the accolades bestowed on her, her humbleness will not allow her to accept that. She will simply say she did what any other wife would do in the same situation.
I’m sure Mendy is sending his brachos downwards from right near the Kisei Hakavod to his well-chosen akeres habayis, his devoted Malky.
It’s Not About You [EndNote / Issue 944]
There’s a nice “root for the hometown” feeling seeing somebody from our wonderful out-of-town community featured in Mishpacha. It’s great to see someone from Cleveland grace your pages.
Featuring anyone from Cleveland would have been nice, but when you featured AY Nakdimen, you picked someone who has a great impact on our already fabulous community.
For several years now, AY has provided the musical entertainment at most of the bar mitzvos in Cleveland. The boys love him; the parents love him. He brings the summer camp joy that the boys need, along with the maturity and respect that the parents and grandparents need.
To provide entertainment at a simchah is a huge responsibility. How many people have (rightfully?) voiced their complaints that the music is too loud or has in some other way lost its Jewish flavor? The debate on what music is or isn’t appropriate will likely not be settled before Mashiach comes, but it’s safe to say that if it’s “just” about displaying your musical talent or singing all of the new hits, something is amiss. You are bringing a huge component to a holy day in the life of a boy oleh l’mitzvos or to a couple beginning the journey of their life together in avodas Hashem.
If you make it about you, you’ve taken away more than you’ve given to the baalei simchah and attendees. AY Nakdimen clearly loves what he does, but it comes not from focusing on himself, but focusing on the baalei simchah and all those in attendance.
May Hashem bless him and his endeavors with continued hatzlachah!
Thank you Mishpacha, and thank you AY.
An Anonymous Friend, Repeat Customer, and Fan
She’s Our Voice [The Kichels Survey / Issue 943]
It’s clear to me from reading the responses to the Kichels survey that most people want Rochi to get married. I’m here to respectfully ask that you please keep her single.
Baruch Hashem I got engaged last week, but over the past few years while I was single, every shidduch strip about Rochi was so validating and just plain funny.
My favorite was the strip where Rochi hadn’t even gone out on a first date yet, and the family’s already planning the wedding, with her two younger brothers singing Abie Rotenberg’s “The Shadchan” at the top of their lungs, with the ending being an awkward first date that goes nowhere. This strip was therapeutic and also laugh-out-loud funny, as were all the other shidduch related ones.
So please, as long as there are single girls (and boys) in the world, keep Rochi single. I’m not being cruel because she doesn’t exist, but she’s a voice for a huge part of our community, and I think she should stay that way ad bias goel haMashiach when we won’t need it anymore, hopefully very soon.
Rochi’s Former Comrade-In-Waiting
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 946)
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