Jan 31, 2016

Different Approaches to Emuna

In a shiur by R' Doniel Katz, he says:

"Emuna is feeling Hashem as a reality and this informs my actions, it's stronger than my fear or ego.

It's not dependent on how much Torah you learn or how many mitzvos you keep.

An ignoramus can, in certain situations, deeply connect to G-d.

Emuna is not something taught; it has to be revealed.

It is not something external but something inherent within us that needs to be awakened. It wells up in us like sap in a tree.

It says Mordechai was 'omein es Hadasa,' the word for raising her is omein. Emuna is something developed, nurtured, drawn out."

All this made me think of those who are working on "teaching emuna" with proofs that G-d exists and the divinity of Torah.

We are "maaminim bnei maaminim" - believers, children of believers.  That needs to be the acknowledged starting point.

Jan 25, 2016

A Modest Proposal

A few weeks ago there was an article and a follow-up letter in Mishpacha by a kollel wife in which she explains how she supports her husband's learning.  Among the details, she writes that she pays for full-time childcare since she is out of the house ten hours a day.  Without skipping a beat she goes on to write about other expenses and how she manages.

One second! Ten hours a day out of the house?

How long are her children awake and what part of that time is spent with their mother? She's not talking about school aged children who are not with their mothers because they are old enough to attend school for many hours of the day.

There are frum couples who are don't have children of their own, and even those who do, who would love to adopt and raise Jewish, healthy children not their own.  Perhaps this couple, and all those who live a similar lifestyle, should consider giving their children to a woman who will actually mother them, to someone who is not a paid employee (as wonderful and loving as those employees might be).  A formal adoption will free the birth parents from the expenses and difficulties in raising their children and will enable the woman to work and the husband to learn in peace, while providing their children with a normal home.

Jan 24, 2016

A Parent's Influence

In a passionate talk given by R' Meisels, he tells the story of someone who contacted him to learn with him.  By now, this man he calls Barry, has learned through half of Shas, puts on tefillin daily, keeps Shabbos most of the time and kosher most of the time.

R' Meisels believes that to become frum nowadays is so outlandish that it can only happen with zechus avos and he usually finds out what it is.

In this case, this successful attorney Barry told him what happened.  He was raised by communist-atheist parents who observed nothing, not Yom Kippur, not a Pesach seder.  When he went to college, he met a girl he liked.  When he told his parents about her, his mother said, that's not a Jewish name!Barry said, she isn't Jewish.

His mother said, you're not marrying a shiksa! He said, what's that? She explained and he said, who cares? We don't do anything Jewish anyway.  His mother insisted it was out of the question.  He thought she'd come around and he married the girl.  His father attended the wedding and his mother did not.

He thought she'd come around when he produced grandchildren.  When he had his first, he sent a picture of her to his mother.  What grandma wouldn't melt? She sent it back to him torn up.

She did not answer the phone in her house.  It was the days before caller ID and she did not want to pick up if her son called.  He only spoke to her husband.

There was a simcha which they both attended and he heard someone say to his mother, "Marilyn, Barry is here!" She said, "He had better not say hello!"

They resumed contact when he divorced his wife twenty years later.

And this, R' Meisels thinks, is what made an impact on Barry so now he is taking an interest in Judaism.

I wonder what would have happened if the father would have been united with the mother on this and also did not attend the wedding and refused to speak to his son.  Would Barry have married the girl? Would he have divorced sooner?

Jan 19, 2016

Self-Contradictory Views

I've noticed the following.  People want it both ways.  They will say that children grow up just the same whether they have a stay-at-home mother or are babysat.  The very same people will say that the mother or grandmother are best for the baby.

So which is it?

They seem to realize that under normal conditions, the mother or close relative are best for the baby.  At the same time, they don't want to concede that children at babysitters are at a disadvantage!

In psychology, cognitive dissonance is "the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, performs an action that is contradictory to one or more beliefs, ideas or values, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values."  But they don't see they are espousing contradictory views!

Jan 18, 2016

You Deserve It!

Three ads in frum publications:

"Every patient deserves a masterpiece" - cosmetic dentistry to improve your smile

"Because you deserve it" - a wig

"Every girl deserves a shadchan who cares" - shadchanim for girls ages 23-30

Each of these ads rubs me wrong, even the shadchan ad.

Jan 17, 2016

It's Just Too Hard

R' Daniel Gross spoke in Yiddish at the Keiravtuni Shabbaton.  He said he saw a bunch of guys hanging out, drop-outs.
One of them said, it's a pity I was born a Jew.
If I was born a goy I would have only 7 mitzvos.  Taryag mitzvos are a pressure for me, I always have a guilty conscience.
A goy gets olam haba for doing his seven.

So it's not the kid did not believe. He believed and wanted olam haba, but felt it was just too hard.  A friend of mine thinks this comes from "affluenza," which includes the idea that life should be easy.

R' Gross presented the issue to chassidishe bachurim, of why be a yid, what's good about it.  The best answer they could come up with was olam haba.  They viewed Torah and mitzvos as an ol (burden), and saw the point as just olam haba.

It's a great essay topic to assign 12th graders.  Describe the scene, repeat what the guy said about it being a shame he was born a Jew and why, and ask them to write their response.


Jan 12, 2016

Thoughts About Remaining Anonymous

I know there are people who feel strongly opposed to anonymous letters to the editor.  Someone recently wrote a letter to Mishpacha magazine complaining about anonymous letters containing personal opinions and criticism (as opposed to understanding unsigned letters about personal matters) letters and putting forth these reasons:

1) It is unfair to the target of the criticism
2) It is difficult to take anonymous views seriously
3) They seem to avoid charges of hypocrisy as though the authors express one view to their community and another, anonymous view to the public
4) Anonymous rebukes and criticism lack authority and sincerity and are of little value.

Are you convinced? I am not. 

1) Why is it unfair? Is the criticism valid or not? Why does a name attached to it affect its validity?
2) Why is it difficult? You are welcome to skip those letters but again, if the content has validity what difference does it make?
3) And let's say the author has a view for the community and a public view, how does that affect you the reader?
4) If you think those letters are worthless, don't read them! As for me, I think, “kabel es haemes mimi sheomro” (Rambam, intro to Shmone Perakim) - accept the truth from the one who says it.

In short, I do not see the logical imperative in the declaration: unsigned letters have little value.  And anyone can make up a name so the letter looks signed. This complainer would reject all letters signed by people with common names: Schwartz, Cohen, Goldberg, even if those are truly their names!

As for me, my letters to the editor are usually, but not always signed.  This blog is not signed!