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Inbox: Issue 996

Halachah yadua sh’Eisav soneh l’Yaakov. This level of hatred, this willful distortion of facts is so blatant that it can only be from Hashem”

Futile Battle? [You Have to Speak Out / Issue 995]

Mishpacha’s interview with Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein was a fascinating piece, giving readers an inside look into life in South Africa, the Hague trial, and Rabbi Goldstein’s admirable work in rabbinic leadership on both a communal and global level.

I would like to question one point made in the article: “Hasbarah needs help.” Rabbi Goldstein states that, “It is a matter of national security to win the battle of ideas… if we don’t win the battle of ideas and public opinion… that has a direct impact on the ability to win the war.” I would like to respectfully challenge that assertion.

At this point, we’ve all seen the videos, heard the chants, read the op-eds levied at Israel. We’ve all also seen and read devastating, thoughtful, intellectual, convincing, pointed rhetoric that completely decimates and disproves these claims. Has any of it helped?

We’ve seen newscasters and journalists twist themselves into mental contortions to justify their accusations against Israel. We’ve seen pundits and politicians blinding themselves to decades of history to produce a one-sided narrative of oppression. We’ve seen crowds of people already denying the atrocities of October 7 — and this with filmed evidence supplied by the perpetrators themselves.

It’s not going to help. Nothing we can say is going to change things. There is no magic word, no one penetrating insight or clever online comment or witty clip that will change the mind of someone who’s already made his up. Halachah yadua sh’Eisav soneh l’Yaakov. This level of hatred, this willful distortion of facts is so blatant that it can only be from Hashem.

Our job is not to engage in a futile battle to try to undo this reality Hashem baked into the world, but to accept it and to fight in in the way Hashem wants us to — with Torah and tefillah. We also need physical hishtadlus, which takes the unfortunate form of a grueling war that, with Hashem’s help, will hopefully defeat Hamas. But until then? Let’s lay off the hasbarah. It’s not going to help.

Moshe Baum


Common Cause [Neighborly Gifts / Issue 995]

I was blown away by the vivid description of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Horvitz’s work in Tel Aviv, and how they got to this place. Here is a couple whose sense of mission literally drove them from their comfort zone, straight into a life devoted to creating a setting where Hashem’s lost children can have the opportunity to experience Torah and mitzvos firsthand, without any pressure, in a way they would never otherwise encounter.

At a recent Agudah convention, Rav Elya Brudny was asked to name the biggest issue facing Klal Yisrael in America today. I think the questioner was expecting to hear about one of the trending social issues that are prevalent in the 21st century. But Rav Elya’s immediate response related to the sheer number of Jewish people across the country who have no idea what being Jewish means, have never met a Torah Jew, or been taught anything about mitzvos.

Since the beginning of the war, I’ve thought about this a lot. The horrors perpetrated in the South affected mostly secular Jews, whose personal life stories have now become common knowledge as we struggle to process the tragedies, connect with the victims, and daven for them — so much to daven for! Throughout this time, I found myself commenting several times a week about how unbelievable it is that Rav Elya’s words apply equally to many Jews inside Israel, who have been tragically deprived of the spiritual riches that should come along with their Jewish identity. This became yet another thing to daven for during these confusing times.

Which is why it was so heartwarming to read about the Horvitzes. They knew this, and they were taking steps to counteract the sad reality, even before it became trendy to do so. I hope that the shifting dynamics triggered by the tragic events can turn the tide of the status quo, with initiatives guided by daas Torah and implemented by the people with the kochos to make an impact.

Baila Rosenberg


Where Everyone is Welcome [Neighborly Gifts / Issue 995]

Your comprehensive article on the work of the remarkable Rav Zvi Horvitz and his wife Rivi accurately describes their amazing work and energy, and their successes with all different shades of the Jewish people. However, your initial implication that Tel Aviv is totally secular and anti-religious is equivalent to describing Yerushalayim as populated only by far-right, anti-State anti-Zionists. Yes, they do exist, but they do not define the city.

Tel Aviv has over 500 shuls, multiple places of learning, and a mix of far-left secular, dati-leumi, and yes, chareidim, both Sephardi and Ashkenazi. The last ten years has also seen an explosion of good kosher restaurants.

Similarly, your simplistic description of the Chasalat community implies it is a shul mainly for chozrim b’teshuvah or those who have left the Orthodox way of life. This undermines the strength of Rav Horvitz and the community, which is made up of the entire cross-section of Klal Yisrael.

His shul is run on strictly Orthodox lines and includes strictly Orthodox members, but it’s a place where everyone, whatever their ethnic background or level of observance, is made to feel welcome, and more importantly, valued. Rabbi Horvitz has shown this in so many ways, especially now in a time where displaced families and survivors have been attracted to the warm atmosphere he’s created.

The uniqueness of Rav Horvitz is his ability to encompass all these different strands in a completely nonjudgmental way — a tremendously important approach that should act as a model for all of Klal Yisrael.

David Bender

Member of the Chasalat Community


Chassidish Advantage [The Missing Link / Issue 995]

Regarding the fascinating article about the chassidishe son-in-law of Rav Chaim Brisker, I heard many years ago from a reliable source, that Reb Chaim answered the question of why he took a chassidish son-in-law with the explanation, “Zey hot ungerirt Haskalah vinegar vi untz,” they were less affected by the Haskalah than the Lithuanian yeshivah world.

This also explains why many of the Brisker children married into families with chassidish backgrounds.

Yankel Abramczyk

Montreal / Yerushalayim


Faithful Protector [For the Record / Issue 994]

While it is true that the influence of Baba Sali still protects Netivot, there is another tzaddik buried there who was not mentioned in your article. I am referring to Rav Yissachar Meir, rosh yeshivah of Yeshivat HaNegev. He spread Torah throughout the south of Israel and was held in high esteem by gedolei Yisrael.

In fact, it was his presence and the presence of the yeshivah which were some of the determining factors in Baba Sali’s decision to settle in Netivot.

Yehi zichro baruch.

Eleazar Durden

Talmid Yeshivat HaNegev, 1981-1987 


Subconscious Source [Just Say the Word / Issue 994]

I read with interest the article on stutterers. I am not a speech therapist and was not trained in this field. But I do have experience helping a stutterer from a very different angle.

I am a social worker who is trained in Internal Family Systems (IFS) and I think out of the box. When I met a yungerman who struggles with a stutter, I suspected that I might be able to help him.

IFS is a newer modality of therapy that helps the client access their subconscious, get a deeper understanding of it, and ultimately enable them to make changes in their life from the inside-out.

In a nutshell: The subconscious is composed of many different “parts,” each of which has a job to protect you from a physical or emotional pain. For example, if a child answers a question in class, gets it wrong, and his friends mock him, a part of the subconscious is charged with the mission to ensure that he does not encounter this pain again. That part uses whatever emotional or physical method is at its disposal. It can make the child feel a lack of confidence, make him feel meek, or give him a social inhibition to ensure that he will not attempt to answer another question in public. Often these parts continue their mission for decades, although the defense is no longer needed.

IFS has tools to access these parts and find out their agenda. The therapist then helps the client get to an emotionally healthy place where this protection is no longer necessary. He will then communicate with the subconscious and negotiate change.

I suspected that a stutter was not merely a neurological condition, but rather an issue that involves the subconscious. During my first session with this client he was able to access the subconscious part that was causing the stutter and was able to hear its motive. Since then, we have had several sessions where we worked on overcoming the underlying emotional needs that the stutter was protecting him from. There has already been much improvement in his stutter. Most situations that used to trigger his stutter no longer do.

IFS is a newer modality and the scope of its power has yet to be ascertained. Can this method help every stutterer? I do not know, but within a few sessions with a competent IFS therapist they will be able to ascertain if this method would work for them or not.

I see this as a new horizon for helping stutterers and am excited to share it with the Mishpacha readers.

Yosef Chesny, LMSW

Waterbury, CT


Distorted Focus [Voice in the Crowd / Issue 994]

Rabbi Besser’s charming article about crowdfunding campaigns was, as always, an engaging and enjoyable read.

Rabbi Besser notes how we are all besieged by links, videos, and calls from pretty much everyone we’ve ever met, asking us to sponsor their shul’s building campaign, their kids’ school, this organization with a place close to their hearts. And I know I speak for all of Klal Yisrael when I say that I so much wish I could donate to all of these campaigns — there is so much good in Klal Yisrael, and so many needs. We do what we can, but unfortunately, for most of us, our money is indeed a limited resource.

I think it’s worth examining how these campaigns have become a subtle form of social pressure. We give to the people we want to impress. We give to the people we have gratitude toward, even if that gratitude is completely unrelated to the campaign they’re shilling for. We start bean-counting: “Well, he gave $360 to Shmuly when he called for his yeshivah campaign, so I’d better give at least $250 to the community tzedakah he’s posting for.”

Tzedakah was never meant to be this way. There are halachos governing whom we give to, how much to give, and how to disburse and prioritize limited funds. None of these halachos focus on pressure or social tit-for-tat, nor should they. In the face of these ever-present campaigns, though, how can we bring the focus back to where it’s meant to be?

Yehoshua Stein

Lakewood, NJ


At What Price? [Voice in the Crowd / Issue 994]

I’ve been following the discussion about fundraising campaigns with interest.

It’s certainly a special opportunity to be part of initiatives outside of our daled amos, and help impact Klal Yisrael on a larger level. I love the experience of just clicking a few buttons and knowing that my dollars are having a big effect without much effort at all (especially when it’s doubled!).

But there are some points that I think aren’t getting enough attention in the public debate. Aniyei irchah kodmim — are these international campaigns diverting tzedakah funds from local organizations? In the past, people donated to the yeshivos or Tomchei Shabbos in their city, but now they’re being asked to spread their tzedakah further, which will inevitably affect how much they’re able to donate to the local institutions that still need their support.

Second, are organizations running campaigns without considering whether they are really necessary? I’ll never forget the campaign of a certain organization that ran during the second Covid shutdown, which read along the lines of, “We’re doing great, we’re meeting our targets, but we’d love to build an extra wing for our current building.” It felt so tone deaf, at a time when people were suffering heavy financial losses. I hate to admit this, but at this point I think twice about each campaign that asks for my money.

There are also hashkafic questions about the extravagant events that are thrown for potential donors. I’m more than happy to attend an evening event for a smorgasbord of premium meats and donate my maaser money to whatever cause it’s in support of. But something feels wrong about donating to an organization that is also spending thousands of dollars on whiskeys and dessert bars to encourage people to donate.

I completely understand how organizations feel they have to, as it’s become the standard. But where did it start? And how can it stop?

I absolutely do not have the answers to these questions. I wonder if someone else does.

Chaya M.

Baltimore, MD


In Defense of Jewish Libraries [Voice in the Crowd / Issue 994]

I’m sure that Yisroel Besser’s put-down of frum libraries’ fundraising options was meant in jest, but I’d like to clarify that the issue is a serious one. I run a Jewish library in the New York Tristate area with 350 children as patrons. We may not be fundraising for the front lines in Israel, but our patrons are certainly davening for Eretz Yisrael’s success.

I work in the library field and see many alien influences, subtle and not so subtle, permeating even the most innocuous secular children’s books. Alternatively, our Jewish lending libraries are proudly offering kosher reading materials and shielding our children’s neshamos.

By providing accessible, appropriate and fun books, Jewish libraries help our children retain their kedushah and taharah as they daven for our soldiers, hostages, and all of Klal Yisrael.

A Frum Librarian


Competence vs. Confidence [The Kichels / Issue 994]

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry at the Kichels’ depiction of that dating scene where Rochi is unsure whether her extensive and impressive training merits a decent job, in contrast to her date, who is sure he’s a future rosh yeshivah and keynote speaker despite his paltry experience.

I work in the HR department in a corporate setting and I see this dynamic playing out all the time. Too many women are hesitant to ask for raises or promotions. When I gently raise the idea of a promotion with some of these women, they seem genuinely surprised that they might be a fit for a position with more responsibility and authority.

The men seem to operate differently — even if they don’t have all the qualifications and experience, they will often ask for more demanding jobs with higher status and salary.

I’ve seen this dynamic described as the “competence vs. confidence gap.” The basic theory is this: Take a man and a woman, each of whom possesses 80 percent of the skills needed for a certain job or assignment. The man is likely to jump on it, fully confident that of course he has what it takes, while the woman is likely to decline, explaining that she isn’t fully qualified. What the man lacks in competence, he compensates for with confidence.

The troubling thing is that even when a woman is fully competent and qualified — even if she possesses 100 percent of the necessary skills — she still may project less confidence and lose a job or opportunity to a man who’s less competent, but more confident.

As we all know, appearances matter and impressions count. An employee who projects confidence will often get that job. How can we encourage women to be more secure with the skills, talent, and expertise they bring to the table and project the confidence to win the jobs and salaries they truly deserve?

Rachel K.

Brooklyn, NY


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 996)

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