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Inbox: Issue 972

I often grapple with people advising me to just give in to her all the time. But I feel that it’s important to set expectations and boundaries for her, just as I do for all my children.
Place of Fulfillment [Works for Me / Issue 971]

I was intrigued by the career question sent to Shaina Keren about the woman who realized that her full-time job was probably what was keeping her husband from being more career driven since he took over more responsibility at home.

I enjoyed Shaina’s answer, particularly the wisdom about “staying in your own lane,” and waiting to see what opens up for her in the space previously held by resentment. But I wonder if she was just dancing around the real issue at hand — the conundrum of the modern frum woman, the choices we have between our marriage, children, and self-actualization, and realizing, ultimately, that with every choice we make, we win some and lose some.

This woman has correctly realized that if she wants her husband to become more career driven, she will need to either give up hours of her own job or perhaps give up on some of her parenting goals so that both she and her husband can devote more time to work. It’s true that if she decides to take over those hours her husband is doing child care, there is no guarantee he will fill them with advancing his career; but she will at least be doing her part by giving him that time back.

One thing to consider is that there are ways to make motherhood — specifically being home with children — more fulfilling. Ironically, our frum lifestyles — between supporting a husband in kollel, and the costs of frum living — are making women feel like the place of fulfillment is at work.

Lunch dates with friends, buying more crafts, hiring a mother’s helper in the afternoons, or putting a little more thought into home decor are a few ideas that can increase a woman’s sense of fulfillment beyond the workplace (all of which also might motivate her husband to make more money and become career driven).

Of course, any major life change must be done carefully, with responsibility and thought, but this is just one thing to consider.

Name Withheld


DIY Instead [Free Ride / Double Take – Issue 971]

I read this past week’s Double Take and what bothered me more than the issue of payment was why the women of the bungalow colony felt the need to hire outside help to entertain their children.

I spent 18 wonderful years in a bungalow colony, and one of my warmest memories was when my father ran an end-of-the-summer bonfire and the whole colony came. There was nothing fancy about it. The kids collected wood for the bonfire, and we roasted hot dogs and marshmallows.

If the women feel their children need more entertainment, they need not look further than themselves to provide it. Why not split up the summer so that each mother takes one night to arrange a kids’ activity? (It could be once a week or a few times a week depending on the numbers.) Some ideas could be... capture the flag, human Stratego, hide and seek, cops and robbers. There could be a mother-and-daughter Machanayim, baseball, soccer, or basketball game. Mothers who are more into art can arrange an art activity for the kids or have a talent show. The ideas and opportunities are endless.

Let’s stop paying for activities that our children won’t remember, and instead let’s create memories that will last a lifetime.

Tzipporah Moskovitz, RBS


Parent Your Children [Free Ride / Double Take – Issue 971]

In last week’s Double Take story, one parent allowed her children to take part in activities for which she was asked to contribute but refused. Because she showed that she wanted the activities (as much as she protested, she still said yes to her children), she might have been obligated to pay for them afterwards, especially if her children’s use took away from others. A halachic authority should be asked.

After the Choshen Mishpat question, it seems that both sides are somewhat right. Gashmiyus standards these days are out of control, but you also need to parent your children and give them a firm no, even if they call you names like “the worst mommy in the world.”

Who is the parent here? Even if the children were allowed to join, the mother should have been there herself, made sure they didn’t interfere with others, and asked permission from all of the families who paid.

Finally, the family should go to a bungalow colony that is more in line with their values. Picking a colony is no different than picking a school, and the hashkafos have to align, whereas here they don’t.

Eli Blum, Lawrence, NY


Whose Territory? [Shifting Ground / Issue 970]

I read your feature “Shifting Ground” with great interest. However, it left me feeling unsettled. Not because of the significant uptick in anti-Semitic rhetoric, not because of the increase in hate crimes, and not because of the changing feelings toward Israel, but because each of the responses were the proverbial Band-Aid.

No discussion of anti-Semitism is complete without first understanding the root cause for the phenomenon. HaKadosh Baruch Hu built anti-Semitism into the world as a message to Klal Yisrael. When Yitzchak blessed his sons, Yaakov and Eisav, Eisav was given this world, the gashmiyus, as his portion, while Yaakov was given Olam Haba. When Yaakov’s descendants encroach upon Eisav’s territory, Eisav becomes jealous and despises them. That, in a nutshell, is anti-Semitism.

And how do we encroach upon Eisav’s lot? As the famous Kli Yakar in Devarim (2:3) writes, while in galus, a Jew’s place is “hidden” — i.e.,  to remain inconspicuous, specifically in the realm of expensive clothing and opulent housing, so as not to arouse the envy of the non-Jews.

I come not to offer an alternative solution to the ones you featured — which I’m sure are based on advice from rabbanim and gedolim; only to suggest that each potential solution should be evaluated through the lens of our role in galus.

It behooves each and every Yid to first understand what created this situation, and only then can a response be proposed.

Perhaps we all need to take a long, hard look at our lifestyles, our homes, our cars, our clothing... and honestly assess which territory it belongs to: Yaakov or Eisav.

And as the Kli Yakar concludes: “And one who is wise will understand this fundamental concept and apply it to himself.”


Monsey, NY

Valuable Bylaw [Shifting Ground / Issue 970]

In the article “Shifting Ground,” Rabbi Yaakov Menken states, “Our schools and organizations should revise their bylaws to require fealty to Torah law.” In addition to the defense against legal battles covered in this article, this proposal has another important benefit, which is applicable to synagogues as well.

Sometimes, people who donate money to an institution use this as leverage to pressure the institution into actions that are not appropriate; for example, such a phenomenon was the driving force behind the Double Take story “Principle of the Matter” (Issue 966). By requiring fealty to Torah law, and including in this the supremacy of daas Torah on matters related to Torah law, such pressure can be counteracted.

Due to such a bylaw revision playing such a valuable role against dangerous pressure from both within and without, it might even be appropriate for large organizations such as Agudath Israel to consider making it a requirement in order to receive any form of aid (monetary or otherwise).

Yitzhak Kornbluth


Igniting Hungry Souls [Outlook / Issue 970]

Yonoson Rosenblum led us through an intimate reflection of what Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein has achieved.

A leader of such a small community in South Africa, he has proven himself worthy of outstanding success throughout the entire world. Everyone has that spark that can ignite the Jewish neshamah... his spark caused flames of commitment from hungry souls.

I remember after the first Shabbos Project, he modestly exclaimed that he never thought it would be so successful. And the rest is history.

However small the kehillah remains in South Africa, they are privileged to have a giant chief rabbi who knows the needs of his flock.

Michael Goldstein (no relation)

Karmiel, Israel


Extending the Partnership [Voice in the Crowd / Issue 970]

As the director of Camp Dina, an all-girls camp with over 450 campers, I feel compelled to share my perspective on the recent debate surrounding Visiting Day. While some camps consider abandoning this longstanding tradition due to inconvenience and disruption, I want to express how Visiting Day personally gives me chizuk as director.

Running a camp is an immensely rewarding but demanding undertaking. Our staff invests considerable effort and dedication to ensure the well-being, happiness, and personal growth of every camper. The positive feedback we receive from parents, especially on Visiting Day, serves as a powerful morale booster for our staff. When parents share their appreciation for the positive experiences their children are having at camp, it reinvigorates our efforts, and motivates us to continue with even greater enthusiasm.

Visiting Day is not merely an event on our camp calendar; it is an extension of the partnership that exists between parents and the camp. It provides a unique opportunity for parents to witness firsthand the growth and development of their children in the camp environment. It reinforces the trust they have placed in us, and strengthens the bond between parents and staff.

In the camp environment, children have the space to explore, learn, and grow in ways that may not be possible in a traditional educational setting. Witnessing the personal and social growth of their daughters in camp can be an incredibly fulfilling experience for parents. We are proud to play a role in providing this growth opportunity and consider it a privilege to share these achievements with parents during Visiting Day.

So while I fully understand that Visiting Day involves long drives, schlepping coolers and snack boxes, and navigating a maze of parking ribbons, know that we appreciate you visiting us!

Rabbi Natan Farber

Director, Camp Dina


Stressful and Damaging [Voice in the Crowd / Issue 970]

The way Rabbi Yisroel Besser connected his thoughts on camp Visiting Day to the Three Weeks and Hashem’s longing for us was beautiful and moving. However, as an administrator in a camp that doesn’t do Visiting Day, I must address the first part of the essay.

Reb Yisroel’s children go to sleep the night after Visiting Day missing their parents, but secure in the knowledge that they have a loving, stable home waiting for them in just two weeks. Halevai all the children in our camps would feel the same way.

Unfortunately, Mashiach still isn’t here, and there are a large number of kids who don’t have that warm, stable home to wistfully visualize after their parents leave. For those children, Visiting Day can be stressful and damaging.

Because their parents don’t live together, and they don’t know if one or both are coming. Because their parent or sibling looks or acts significantly different from their friends’ parents or siblings. Because their family’s financial situation doesn’t allow them to splurge on a trip to the Catskills. Because their parents just don’t care enough to come visit them. Because the parent coming to camp is also their abuser.

The kids like Reb Yisroel’s, who are baruch Hashem the majority, can sail through four weeks of camp without seeing their parents, precisely because they have the security of knowing their loving parents are waiting for them at home.

For the kids who don’t have that security, camp is a lifesaver. It’s the great equalizer — you’re all away from home, sleeping in the same wooden bunks, using the same lukewarm showers, eating the same institutional fare on benches and folding tables.

And that’s why we don’t have Visiting Day at our camp. We see how the kids from difficult home situations blossom and thrive during the four weeks they’re with us. And we won’t take that away from them.

A Camp Administrator


Like Any Other Child [Waiting with Yaakov / Open Mic – Issue 970]

I just read Stephen Glicksman’s article, “Waiting with Yaakov.” I loved it! I have a daughter, let’s call her Gitty, with a disability. I often grapple with people advising me to just give in to her all the time. But I feel that it’s important to set expectations and boundaries for her, just as I do for all my children.

When my daughter-in-law first joined our family, she was horrified by how we treated Gitty, and that we weren’t nicer to her. Two years later, when she was at a family wedding with her, my niece — who had lent Gitty her phone — asked for it back. When my Gitty wouldn’t give it back, my daughter-in-law told her sternly that she needed to give it back or she would tell Mommy. And then she laughed. She realized that she had joined the family in treating Gitty normally and properly.

More recently, we were in a bungalow colony. One evening Gitty ran to get her bathing suit because she claimed there was night swim. I told her it wasn’t for her bunk. But of course she didn’t listen and in a flash she was back outside all dressed for swimming and on her way to the pool.

All the women sitting in the colony circle had different advice for me. I ran after her to see what would happen. We went into the pool area, and I told the lifeguard the story, asking if it was okay if Gitty joined the swimmers. She said haltingly, “I guess so, but it isn’t really for her bunk.”

I told Gitty that she couldn’t go in because this activity wasn’t for her bunk. She started to wail, and I told her that it wasn’t fair to the bunk that was swimming to be disturbed like that. She was quiet, recovered after about five minutes, and just sat there watching them for the next 45 minutes.

I told the women in the circle what happened, and we debated whether I had acted properly. Should I have held her back, or advocated for her to join? Since the lifeguard had hesitated, I felt that she shouldn’t go in, and it would be a good lesson for her. One person asked me if she actually learns from these incidents and acts differently the next time. I couldn’t answer because I honestly wasn’t sure, and I do grapple with it.

But Stephen Glicksman’s piece felt like a pat on my back. It was definitely the right thing to do.

Name Withheld


In It for the Long Term [Waiting with Yaakov / Open Mic – Issue 970]

The piece about teaching social norms to kids with special needs reminded me of an incident that occurred during a family simchah.

My nephew married into a family blessed with many grandchildren. One granddaughter had an obvious physical disability. As the evening went on, it grew clear that along with her physical disability, she also had trouble interpreting social norms.

One of the aunts on “our side,” who surely meant only well, lavished extra attention on this girl, bringing her into the middle of the circle, setting her up to dance with the kallah multiple times while other relatives were left waiting, and inviting her to sit with the adults during the dinner.

I saw the mother of this girl biting her lip every time this happened. When the simchah ended, the do-gooder who gave this little girl extra attention and made her feel like a VIP would just go back home to her own life. But the mother of this little girl is in it for the long term — and she needs to raise a future adult who understands her place and her boundaries. From that perspective, the special treatment she enjoyed at that simchah was a hindrance, not a help.

Malky M.

Brooklyn, NY

The Downside of Our Safety Net [Waiting with Yaakov / Open Mic – Issue 970]

I’m a therapist who has worked with many people who won’t necessarily qualify for a diagnosis under the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. However, they may possess a laundry list of dysfunctions that aren’t obvious to the average person. While most of us hopefully wake up asking what we can do for others, these individuals externalize their problems and expect other people to automatically do for them.

We are the children of Avraham whose tent had four doors to welcome guests; yet the same Torah says, “hakeim takim imo,” help him load his donkey along with him. Rashi tells us that if someone asks you to load his donkey while he watches, you are exempt.

In the non-Jewish world, when someone acts dysregulated, he hits rock bottom and hopefully learns to take responsibility (depending on his invisible disability). Addictions therapists understand that the way to help some clients is to bring rock bottom up so they can hit it faster.

We, in contrast, have a community safety net, which I fear can prevent some dysregulated individuals from learning achrayus. I call it the “Mi k’amcha Yisrael syndrome.” Should we intervene to save people from their own manufactured messes and dangers, thus rewarding their bad behavior? I don’t have the answer.

Even among the population with documented developmental disabilities, it can be hard to identify some individuals’ deficits. I can see how it might hurt a father’s feelings by asking him, “Is your son’s humming part of his disability or can I ask him to stop?” (This questioner will likely be featured in the next “ten things to never say to a parent of a child with a disability.”)

In sum, I agree that teaching responsibility to people with disabilities is a chesed. I have no idea how to do this in practice.

A Social Worker in the Trenches


Sharing Our Journey [Waiting with Yaakov / Open Mic – Issue 970]

I have never been prouder to be a member of the Mishpacha magazine family than when I turned the page and saw Dr. Stephen Glicksman’s warm smile. Dr. Glicksman had a dream as many of us do, but he pursued it and created a program that fulfilled the dreams of so many young men and their families. I speak from personal experience.

When my son Saadya a”h came back from the Darkaynu program in Israel, an inclusive program for young men with specialized needs within the halls of Yeshiva Gush Etzion, he would reply without hesitation that he was coming back to “get his semichah from YU (like all the other chutzniks in “Gush”).” A chance encounter at a Yachad family shabbaton late one Friday night led me to pursue this possible fulfillment of Saadya’s dream.

When we met with Dr. Glicksman at his offices at Makor to discuss the newly formed Makor College Experience, Saadya was overjoyed but not surprised. I told Dr. Glicksman that Saadya had just been waiting for them to get their act together so he could get on with his life plan!

On a stunning fall day that September, Saadya left home to make the journey to Yeshiva University by subway from Brooklyn to Washington Heights (this daily commute would continue until a dormitory program was in place). His adventure was recorded and shared on the pages of Mishpacha magazine (“Letting Go,” Family First, Issue 583.) It was to be the beginning of a glorious three years.

Saadya grew in so many ways. He walked the halls that his father a”h had walked as a faculty member. Saadya greeted everyone who entered the second floor beis medrash. (His warm welcome of two Associated Press reporters would lead to his being featured by them in a piece that would go viral, being picked up worldwide, and, in fact, was part of an award-winning journalism prize for the reporter and videographer.)

Saadya cherished the sefer he received at the yeshivah-wide siyum recognizing his accomplishments in Torah. The photo taken for the YU yearbook — taken just weeks before the outbreak of the Covid pandemic — captures his glowing smile, topped by his cap and gown. That photo now sits proudly on our piano.

Just one month before that graduation exercise that would mark the completion of three glorious years, Saadya succumbed to Covid.

Dr. Glicksman’s dream had enabled Saadya to become a cherished member of the Yeshiva University student body. His loss was recognized by the president of YU, Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, who delivered a eulogy at the (Zoom) levayah, as well as by the student body.

Mishpacha magazine shared Saadya’s challenges and triumphs throughout his lifetime, impacting, I have discovered, so many readers. When Saadya contracted Covid, I asked for my fellow staff members to daven. Mishpacha shared my request with all our readers, multiplying the tefillos for his recovery. In fact, the very last thing we desperately attempted was to get a copy of the Mishpacha issue into his isolated hospital room for him to see his picture and the words that so many people were davening for his recovery. And then they shared our mourning (“Mishpacha in Mourning,” Family First, Editor’s Letter).

Mishpacha’s sharing our journey, I believe, greatly increased Saadya’s impact on the world for the benefit of so many individuals and their families. The outstanding piece by Dr. Glicksmam continues that impact, the critical importance of inclusion and the welcoming of all individuals into the mainstream life of Klal Yisrael.

Ahava Ehrenpreis

Brooklyn, NY


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 972)

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