Category Archives: Archives 5766

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Shevat 5766 – Internet: Is It REALLY That Bad?

15 Shevat 5766
Internet: Is It REALLY that Bad?

I’d like to comment on David Orlofsky’s article about the Internet and perhaps he can comment on this. While I definitely agree to everything he writes, and I have a lot of experience using the Internet, I’d like to mention what a useful tool the Internet is and how I would find it hard to live without it. I am a writer, and I am in constant need of researching many varied subjects. The Internet has been of excellent help to me, and I could never have done what I have done without it.

When I first started using the Internet, aged 19 (and now I’m 22), I admit I did get carried away in chat rooms, and even on porn sites. But today I never ever surf such sites, I just have no desire to do so. I think it’s something one gets tired and disgusted by and so I don’t feel it is in anyway a threat to me.

Talking about Internet dating, there have been some fabulous couples who met online, and it worked out well for them. I myself have an online Rabbi and I would say he knows me better than anyone else, because it started off as anonymous. I verified that he is an authentic Rabbi, and I even travelled eventually to meet him. He has been of invaluable help to me. So the Internet does have benefits, even if perhaps the risks can be great.

Thank you,
A 22 year old girl from Jerusalem

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Dear Friend,

What can I say? You confirm the worst experiences that I have heard from people involved with the internet! How can one treat something as serious as looking at pornography so lightly! And you are apparently one of the lucky ones who didn’t get addicted to such sites. What about the people who do? How can the convenience of a research tool justify such potentially serious consequences?

There may be some fabulous couples who met on the internet, just as there may be some fabulous couples who met at bars. But would you then recommend hanging out in bars? And what about the many people who got involved in inappropriate relationships on the internet? Again, why take a risk when there is a less convenient, but risk free option?

You contacted a Rabbi and used the internet as an opportunity to build a real relationship with a real Rav. Boruch Hashem! But there are many people who never bother to do that and instead form a relationship with an anonymous Rabbi (or Rabbi’s – some sites employ more than one) who might not even be qualified.

In summation, I am glad that you crossed the minefield and came out alive (though I believe you were injured). But can you fault me for encouraging people NOT to cross a minefield?

Thank you for taking the time to share your observations and experiences and may Hashem bless you and all klal yisroel.

Sincerely,
Dovid Orlofsky

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Teves 5766 – Carpe Diem!!

15 Teves 5766
Carpe Diem!!

I recently took a train from Baltimore to New York. Sitting next to me was a young woman who looked to be approximately my age. We started talking, and in the course of the conversation, she mentioned she is Jewish. She is from a Reform/Reconstructionist background. She is definitely aware of her Judaism–her family has a seder, she goes to High Holiday services..but has no real interest in anything further. She told me she is currently in a law school that has an active Hillel house with many Orthodox members. She even has a friend or two from there who are Orthodox. She has taken one or two classes given by the university on religion–all religions.

She was only on the train for about an hour, (she got off at an earlier stop), but in that time, we had a very enjoyable conversation. As we talked, I tried to figure out how I could use this encounter to encourage her to check out Orthodoxy a little bit more.

I did nothing.

I thought of a bunch of things I could do. I could have told her about Partners in Torah–mentioning it as a means of learning more about Orthodoxy on an intellectual level. (She took classes on religion, and has some Orthodox friends so she might find it interesting.) But she hadn’t expressed any real interest or given me any opening for that. Because I couldn’t find a good opening, I was afraid to come across too strong. I thought about giving her my name or number, or taking hers, but we were just casual train ride acquaintances…I thought it would seem really strange.

So, in the end, I did nothing. As she walked off the train, I thought to myself, there’s a reason this girl was sitting next to me. I missed the boat. But I still couldn’t figure out what I should have done. Should I have given her Partners in Torah’s name and number, even though she didn’t express any interest? Should I have asked her straight out if she’s interested in learning more about Orthodox Judaism? Should I have asked her if she’s ever in the New York area.and then given her my name and number? Should I have taken her name and number (I only know her first name) to give her a call sometime in the future? I still don’t know what would have been an appropriate response to this encounter.

Please give me some ideas of what to do next time I am in a situation like this so I can make more of the opportunity.

Thank you.
Aliza N.

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Dear Aliza,

Last year I got a call from an Israeli woman who was surprised that I didn’t remember her. Six years before she had been on an El Al flight with me and we had struck up a conversation. The discussion turned, not surprisingly, to religion. This was not that different from many such conversations I have had over the years and so when she called me, I had to struggle to remember her.

The reason she was calling, was that she had become chozeres b’tshuva. She cited our conversation as one of the reasons she had decided to become frum. Now, she had a question and she wasn’t sure who to speak to. She called me because for six years she had carried in her wallet a small piece of paper with my name, address and phone number on it.

At the end of our conversation, I had invited her to come to my home for a Shabbos and hastily scrawled the information on a piece of my placemat. She had kept this with her all those years.

One time I gave a fellow a lift. He was learning in Kollel and asked me if I remember having gone out to dinner with my wife ten years ago. Now I’m cheap, but I haven’t taken my wife out so few times that I could recall every occasion. He told me this particular time my wife and I struck up a conversation with the young waitress who was studying in Hebrew U. Again, not something I considered particularly memorable. He then pulled out of his pocket a torn piece of the placemat with my details scribbled on it. “My wife has kept this with her all these years” he said.

There have been dozens of times when, like you, I met someone on a plane or a train or in a store and after a pleasant conversation jotted down my details and invited them to come for Shabbos or just to keep in touch. I have hardly ever heard from any of them again. These stories, however, showed me that the act itself was extremely meaningful to the people I met.

You could offer your name and number to young women you meet, or ask them for theirs and offer to stay in touch. I can tell you personally that it feels a bit awkward, but our job is just to plant the seeds. Whether they grow or not is in the hands of Hashem.

Recently I was going shopping and the security guard, a young man with a ponytail, asked me a question about Shavuos. In retrospect, I suppose it was a test to see if I was really a frum person, or, chalila, a terrorist disguised as a frum person. When I called my wife and related the story she shared it with my kids. One of them called out “why didn’t Abba invite him for Shabbos?” So on the way out I went up to the young man and gave him a scribbled note on the back of a torn piece of a paper bag. I haven’t heard from him yet, but who knows?

Sincerely,
Dovid Orlofsky

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Kislev 5766 – The Challenges of Kibud Av Ve’Aim

4 Kislev 5766
The Challenges of Kibud Av Vaem

Dear Rabbi Orlofsky,
I have written previously about a few problems and I really want to thank you for being involved in this website. It truly gives me such chizuk. I have a situation which I don’t know how to deal with. I don’t have a Rav to talk to about this without feeling uncomfortable because most of the Rebe’em know my family.

I am having major problems with Kibud Av v’Eim. I have a very angry father who constantly yells and blames other people without taking responsibilities. I come home on weekends from college and the first thing I hear my father do is scream and blame and yell. This sets the tone for my coming home and causes me to become upset throughout the weekend.

I cannot bring myself to not hold a grudge against my father when he constantly treats me like nothing. I have tried speaking to him but he gets angrier and never wants to be at fault so will blame me again for why he needs to yell at me in the first place. I really don’t understand how I can treat my father with respect while not feeling respectful. My mother will also not get involved but then not understand why throughout the weekend I’ll be very, as she would call “nasty,” while in fact I’m just extremely hurt. When I have these feelings of animosity toward my parents I can’t help think how immature I am and how abnormal I am because everyone else I know has normal parent-child relationships. I also cant help but blame my parents and not myself when I know I also am at fault at certain times. It makes me feel as though I must not be ready to start dating because I cant even control my anger when I am with my family and I cant even respect my parents, so who would want to date me? It gives me low self esteem when I think badly about them and I really need help because I have no one else to help me.
Thank you so much and tizku l’mitzvos.

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Dear Friend,

Kibud Av viaim is a very difficult mitzva. But we are not even holding by discussing the ins and outs of the mitzva. You have to come to grips with a difficult situation that happens to involve your parents.

Let me tell you a secret that will make your life easier. Parents are only people. Many of them have limitations, sometimes serious limitations. I knew a young women who had been subjected to such terrible physical and sexual abuse that she developed Multiple Personality Disorder just to cope with it. One “self” couldn’t handle all that pain so she developed other “selfs” to channel the negative energy to.

Boruch Hashem, that is not your situation. But you do have a father with a temper. Now you have two basic approaches you can take: you can try to change your father or accept him the way he is.

The older I get, the more I understand the words of Reb Yisroel Salanter; “When I was young I thought I would save the world, then as I got older I thought I would save my country. Eventually I settled for my city and then my neighborhood. Finally I decided I would just save my family. Now I am content to try to save myself.”

There is a reality to life. Your parents are going to be unreasonable, your husband is going to be unreasonable, your children will certainly be unreasonable. Your boss, your coworkers, your neighbors, they will all be unreasonable. Being reasonable is defined best by a bumper sticker I saw once: “Be Reasonable – Do It MY Way!”

You have to refocus and tell yourself that your father is a nice person, but he’s limited. He will not understand everything you want him to, he will not act the way you want him to and that is reality. But just as when our children don’t listen to us, we don’t reject them (hopefully), so we don’t reject our parents for not being what we would like them to be.

Prepare yourself mentally before you go home. Tell yourself, “I am going into a makom nisayon”. Remember that your father has a problem. It is not YOUR problem, it is his problem and it is a nebech. I’m sure your father would love deep down to be a calm reasonable person. People tend to yell and scream because they feel they are not being heard or they lack inner self-control. Afterwards they feel bad about themselves. By being understanding and patient, loving and respecting your father for all that is good about him, for all the years of support that he has given you, you can see beyond the anger problem and relate to the person underneath.

It is also good to realize that we can’t always have the relationship with our parents that we would like. Some parents are cold and stiff, others emotionally overwrought. You won’t be able to share with them everything in your life because of their limitations. Acceptance of a limited relationship is an important step to dealing with a difficult person.

There is a book that my wife read that she enjoyed on the subject ( I haven’t gotten around to it yet; to busy answering emails) called “Living With Difficult People” by Miriam Adahan. You might find that helpful as well.

Hatzlacha and remember; our parents aren’t going to be around for ever. Enjoy what you can while you have it.

Sincerely,
Dovid Orlofsky