Aug 31, 2016

Rabbi Glatstein's lectures

Rabbi Daniel Glatstein is a wonderful rabbi and teacher whose lectures constantly get posted on  There are over 1400 lectures here  You can get on his email list for source sheets.
He has a pleasant manner, he researches interesting topics, and he teaches clearly and enthusiastically.  I particularly admire his unassuming manner.  No ego comes across.  He does not talk about himself.

Aug 30, 2016

Full Time Working Foster Parents

There was an article about a frum couple whose children were grown, who decided to become foster parents.  Both husband and wife work full time.  That made me pause.

If they went on to foster school aged children, okay.  But their first fostering experience was a two year old.  What is the point in having a two year old placed in daycare all day in a fostering situation? Is it because there are not enough frum foster parents that this was done?

All two year olds need mothers to care for them and not work full time.  All the more so does this child, who was pulled from his home for reasons of neglect or abuse, need extra care! All day daycare is detrimental for two years olds from normal homes; for a foster child, who needs extra nurturing, it's even worse.

But since it's taboo to say that all daycare is bad, that is what the foster child will get.  Because that's what many (most?) two year olds are getting.

Aug 17, 2016

Pills are Easier

A letter writer once irately wrote to a frum magazine, saying that of course, no parents want their children on ADD/ADHD medication unless it's absolutely warranted and all other options are explored.  She was quite adamant about that, though one could wonder how she knows that and whether she might just have projected her feelings onto others.

Mrs. B Grama writes a column for Hamodia's Inyan magazine.  She repudiated this view.  She writes:

"It has become quite common nowadays for us to open our weekly community magazines and find as many as a dozen ads for different therapy centers for children and adults, each one with a full staff of therapists ... Should we ooh and aah about it, or should we wonder why we are raising (or have ourselves become) a helpless, crippled generation that cannot seem to 'swim' on our own? Never before has there been such vast numbers of children who need outside help just to grow up (and vast numbers of parents who need assistance to raise them)."

She goes on to describe a woman who was diagnosed as suffering from "social anxiety" and thinks the woman is simply shy by nature.  Then she wrote about a man who was diagnosed with depression following his father's illness and watching his father suffer and fade away.  She wonders, isn't it normal to feel dejected under those circumstances? He needed support and encouragement from family and friends, not a medical diagnosis.

Worst example of all is about "Shaya's" mother who had a baby and whose father got a promotion so he came home later at night.  Shaya greatly missed all the times he used to speak to his parents after school every day.  "He became restless and unfocused in class and his behavior became problematic.  A psychologist was consulted and Shaya was put on medication to help improve his concentration and behavior."

When Mrs. Grama was consulted she asked the mother, "Wouldn't it be much simpler if you'd just make talking to and spending time with Shaya for about a half an hour at night your first priority?" To her shock, the mother said, "I know, but it's too hard; pills are easier."

So much for parents medicating their kids only as a last resort.

Aug 14, 2016

Relative Sorrows

Writer Leah Gebber puts it this way:
"I have a moral objection to the game of one-upmanship some play when faced with difficulty.  I once covered a story about a woman who had three children and was unable to have more.  Her sorrow touched upon more than her dreams of having a large family; she questioned her role in life, the core of her femininity.  Some of the letters we received astounded me.  One such missive, I have no children - how can she complain when she has three? What gives her the right?
"I mentally played with many responses to this question.  That no one has a patent on suffering.  That sorrow, no matter the root, is sorrow ..."
So it's all the same - a teenager agonizing about a pimple and a teenager hearing bad news from her oncologist? I have a moral objection to that!
It's one of the many lessons children need to be taught that problems and suffering need to be viewed within a context, with a sense of proportion.  Breaking a toy and breaking's one back are not equal, no matter how beloved the toy was.   
It seems that just as the trend for some time now has been to futilely try to eradicate differences among children, telling them they are all winners when they are not, so too, even some adults refuse to acknowledge that there are matters of lesser and greater importance.  The old gauge, what is it on a scale of 1-10 is very helpful.  See here

Back to the example that Leah Gebber gives.  The woman with three children can be asked to contemplate where on the scale she is.  If she says she is a 10 in sorrow, she can be asked to think about where then, a woman with no children, would fit on the scale.  Her response might be, the woman with no children is a 10 of sorrow on her scale, and I'm a 10 on my scale.  Hmmm.  And would she say the same when asked, where would the Israeli, Mr Hatuel, whose pregnant wife and all four daughters were murdered in one day be on the scale? Then we, society, have a problem.

It's not to say that the feelings of the woman with three children who can't have more should be dismissed.  They can be acknowledged.  A child who is sad about his drawing that was ripped by the baby should also have his feelings validated.  Maturity is needed to regard the disappointments in life with the proper perspective.

Aug 12, 2016

Same Old

In the mid 1960's:
Race riots in Cleveland
The Vietnam conflict intensified
The president of Argentina deposed by a coup
The prime minister of South Africa assassinated
A sniper shooting at the University of Texas that killed 13 people and left 31 wounded
In Chicago a mass murderer killed eight student nurses
In an upscale Chicago suburb the daughter of a US senate candidate was murdered in her bedroom

When people say, look at the world around us, it's gone crazy. We haven't seen anything like this before, I say - really? Isn't that what is said every decade?

Aug 7, 2016

How Independent are You?

Someone in a shiur referred to a social experiment that sounded very interesting.  I looked it up and it is here.
After watching it, the question for you is, what would you have done?
I think I would have asked what they are doing, or gone over to the receptionist to ask.
The Rambam talks about the positive aspects of peer pressure and urges us to live among good people. 
There are many ways in which peer pressure is used in a good way in our frum society. 
Responses to appeals in shul are announced so that other people will be encouraged to make donations too.
When shemiras ha'lashon has become something we are all aware of, it is less likely that someone will feel comfortable sharing derogatory gossip.  In communities that dress a certain, tzniusdik way, it is less likely that people will go against the community norms.
Of course, we have our frum social pressures that are not that wonderful too.
I think this video should be seen by high school aged students, maybe even younger.  It provides a great introduction to a discussion about what we do because other people around us are doing it, for good and bad.