May 29, 2015

Two Views on Family Time

Rabbi Bender, rosh yeshiva of Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway, and renowned mechanech, strongly promotes spending time with family.  He writes, "Keeping a close kesher with relatives is very important.  Chazal emphasize to us how we should value our relationships even with distant relatives.  Hashem found fault with Avrohom Avinu for abandoning Lot."

Regarding children attending family simchos, for example, a son coming from yeshiva in Eretz Yisrael and parents wondering whether he should stay through the Shabbos sheva brachos or immediately return to yeshiva [note, the question is not whether he should fly in for the wedding; that's a given], R' Bender wrote, "It is my feeling and very strongly so, that parents are entitled to have all their children at each and every family simcha.  All members of a family belong at the simcha of an immediate member of the family.  It is simply the right thing. 

"Boruch Hashem, we are living in a time when we have grandparents and great-grandparents.  Why shouldn't your son from Eretz Yisrael spend time with them, be meshamesh them, gain from their elder wisdom, hear about past simchos, and just be in the atmosphere of mishpacha? ... There is so much to be gained from interacting with all parts of the family, even distant cousins.  I am forever grateful to my mother for teaching us the importance of keeping a very close connection with all our relatives.  I will never forget how she was determined to travel very long distances when she was elderly and frail, to attend family simchos."

Rabbi Avigdor Miller z'l, on the other hand, thinks spending time with family is mostly a waste of time and takes away from Torah study.  Here's a quote:

"Motzoai Shabbos is an opportunity, don't just run around visiting relatives; forget about relatives. You have one relative you have to visit, that's yourself. It's not selfish, because life is only for the purpose of making something out of yourself. So you have Friday night, all day Shabbos; remember Shabbos morning before davening should be utilized. Shabbos afternoon, Motzoai Shabbos. If you don't work on Sundays, be a kollel man on Sundays. "Oh!" your wife will say, "at least one day a week you have to be home!" Answer is, say, "My dear, I am not in the yeshiva now, yeshiva people are going full speed ahead every day of the week, I have one day and that one day I should waste?" So Sunday morning say good bye to your family, take along lunch and you spend the day someplace else, don't go home until nighttime."

Rabbi Miller certainly did not "waste time" attending simchas and rarely attended them.

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