Category Archives: Archives 5766


Teves 5766 – Coming Down From The Clouds

15 Teves 5766
Coming Down from the Clouds

Dear Chana,

I’ve been back from seminary for 3 years and counting and for the most part I am still on the same high I left seminary, with a few minor changes here and there. To my friends I’m still up there and have yet to come down, something I try very hard to keep up with. However, I’m finding that at times I push myself to stay shtark and keep that seminary inspiration with me,and at other times, I look at all my friends who have already come down from the clouds, getting married. They are all g’shmack, frum girls, they just have come off the boat and settled in America. My question is, is it possible that one has to come down from the clouds in order to find their bashert? Should I be taking a deep breath and relaxing a bit, letting go some of my shtarkness? No, I’m not a tzadeikes or a great, amazing girl, but I’m still holding where I left seminary, and I look around and wonder, why am I the only one here, and still not married. Are they connected, or is it as simple as just not the right time yet? Thank you for this amazing website and opportunity for girls back from seminary. We appreciate all the time and effort you put into answering our questions.

Name and Seminary Withheld upon request


Dear JemSem Reader,

I hear your quandary And I feel for you. It is hard for me to objectively answer your question because I don’t know exactly how you are using the term of ‘shtarkness’ or what it means that your friends have ‘come off the boat and settled in America’. However, what I do know is the more of a relationship you have and build with Hashem, the more Siyata Dishmaya you are zocheh to.

What I can do is to give you some guidelines for how things should be and you can see how this fits in with your current life.You should be surrounding yourself with the right people and the right environment. People who are growing and striving in their Avodas Hashem, who will admire you for your earnestness with mitvos and not make fun or belittle you. People that you feel comfortable discussing hashkafa with. You should be going to shiurim that you really like that have topics that are interesting to you. You should be learning things on your own and with others. Always be in the middle of a great English Judaica book and listen to Torah tapes often. Constantly be working on your T’fillah, for it’s koach is inestimable. The idea is to keep your headspace and your actions very much in line with what you learned in seminary. Chesed is a really important thing to be involved in. It’s very inspiring to give of yourself and it helps you to be a role model to others, which helps you keep growing. You need to make sure that you have a Rav for halachic questions that come up and either a Rav or teacher/ Rebbitzen person to speak things over with concering life and general eitzas. You should still be within the vicinity of most of those geddorim that you may have set for yourself upon leaving seminary. Places where you’re not going and things that you’re not doing because it is beneath who you are trying to be. In general to be striving and growing in both Mitzvos Bein Adam L’chaveiro and Bein Adam L’mokom. All of the above is true for anyone, anywhere. Being an Eved Hashem is what it is all about.

There’s a beautiful idea that the Yalkut Shimoni brings down concerning B’nos Tzelofchod. In the midbor, much of Klal Yisroel was pining to go back to Mitzayim ‘where they had it so good’. Here, you have five astonishing women who have no more male relatives left through which to aquire a portion of land in Eretz Yisroel, who are screaming at Moshe “Tinu Lanu Achuzah!!!” The Yalkut Shimoni says that the worth of a persons’ deeds are judged under what conditions they are done in. So the nation is shouting to go back to Mitzrayim and these fabulous girls are bucking the vast crowd and showing their firm desire to be in and own land in the G-d given place they are headed for. The Yalkut goes on to say that if you strive higher than those around you even though it may involve alot of stamina and difficulty, you can get the reward of the whole generation.This is a tremendous chizuk! So if you can stand up for yourself and not be drawn into the sickening pull of society at large, you are “Zocheh Litol Sechar Kulam”.

Haba L’taheir M’sayin Oso. You just keep doing your part and Hashem will work things out the way they are supposed to be. Things should be for you B’hatzlacha and B’zman Karov!

With Warmest Wishes,

Kislev 5766 – Struggling With Chessed

4 Kislev 5766
Struggling with Chessed

Dear Chana,

I came back from seminary with a love of mitzvos and a yearning for chesed yet i feel that there are things holding me back. I look for different forms of chesed everyday yet i feel embarassed many a time to approah the situations. Back in high school we were expected to fulfill hours of chesed in order to pass the grade. I used to follow the crowd and go to the hospital on Shabbos afternoons to fulfill the quota yet I NEVER felt comfortable being the one to initiate things. I used to be the shy type. Although I have blossomed and become much more outgoing, when it comes to venturing out into the world by myself I feel that i just can’t quite make it.

There are so many opportunities for me to reach out to others, yet I pass up many of them because i just feel strange. Is it possible that some people just don’t have it in them to open themselves up to strangers so easily? Does this mean I’m not a giving person? At times I feel like I’m only a taker and not a giver because I feel that i can’t give of myself as well as others.
Growing up my parents never exposed me to the real mitzva of chesed. It was never an issue or interest in my household. Could this be a reason why it is so hard for me to take time out of my own life and give to others?

I’ve really been struggling with this issue because it makes me feel like a selfish person. I so want to change this part of me but i don’t know how.
Do you have any advice?
Thank you!


Dear Jemsem Reader,

The middah of giving is obviously a very important one. We are required to emulate Hashem as we observe how He has given us our very life and this amazing and beautiful world that we live in. Some people are able to give inherently more easily, and others must put in more effort to inculcate it into their beings. The driving force and the thing that makes the mesh in a marriage is giving to each other on many varied, small, medium, and large ways continually. So you are correct to be concerned with it.

It is possible that you are not so strong in this middah because you grew up in a home that never much stressed its significance. It may also be that this is just something that you need to work on more aggressively. The good news is that it is possible to change and develop these things within ourselves! You have to find the kinds of chesed that feel right to you. Perhaps chesed with many at the same time is too overwhelming for you, maybe you should seek out one to one situations that are more comfortable for you. You said that many opportunities come your way to do chesed, so find those that are more ‘warm’ to you. There are really so many ways to help others. More formal types as in organizations that help the elderly, pack tzedaka food packages, help special children, or even do Partners in Torah which is a one on one on the phone that is kiruv also! Then you have ways of giving that come up in a day. To run an errand for someone, do a favor, give advise, or just be a good listener to someone who needs your ear at a trying time in their life. To help out your parents and siblings, and in the future your spouse and children.

The way I would suggest to work on this is similar for any middah. Find two or three times in your day that you give to someone on some level over and above what is just normal for you. Do this consciously, telling yourself that by doing this you are directly working on the middah of giving and patterning yourself after your Creater. When it gets diffiucult for you sometime and you really don’t feel you can accomplish what you’d like, remember that you have what we call ” a gem in your pocket”, which means that you have successfully done this before and you can draw on your cochos to do it again. This is a wonderful and poweful incentive!

Another good thing to add to this program is to keep a journal. Just spent about 5 minutes a night quickly jotting down how you reached your goals that day of giving. Some have found it helpful to jot down their feeling of easiness or difficulty about the various acts of chesed that they did, or even to chart what you had wanted to do and didn’t, and write down why. Make sure to read this over every few weeks so you can see your progress and continually refine it.

By actively “taking the bull by the horns”, in time you will be able to make great strides in this area, and then move on to something else that needs alittle straightening up. As we know, we are all “work in progress” until 120!

With Warmest Wishes,

Tishrei 5766 – Our “Fortified Steel Walls” Must Come Down In Dating

9 Tishrei
Our “Fortified Steel Walls” Must Come Down in Dating

Dear Chana,

I think I am having a problem with some form of communication in dating. Sometimes it happens that I am going out with a guy and we are talking but the conversation doesn’t seem to get anywhere. This is fine for the 1st date or 2 when things are more or less on the small talk level – but the problem is that it just stays that way even after a few dates, and since the relationship isn’t getting anywhere, either me or the guy will end it. How can I help to make the conversation get more real and deep? What am I doing wrong? Why don’t I seem to be connecting?

Thanks so much for your help! The Jemsem website is awesome!

Name and Seminary withheld upon request

Dear Jemsem Reader,

I am so glad that you asked this question, for the issue is quite widespread and can make a relationship fizzle [as you have seen!].

The key to connecting with a person is to open up to each other. You see, we all have fortified steel walls that we erect around ourselves so that no one get through to us. If we don’t start taking down those walls slowly during the process of dating, what happens is what I call “parallel dating” which means I’m a girl and you’re a boy, so we’re dating but we aren’t necessarily connecting to each other in a significant way.

If, as Rav Dessler tells us, ‘giving breeds love’, how do you ‘give’ on a date? By sharing of yourself. It is a process. Obviously, ou don’t share your deepest darkest secrets on a second date. But, slowly, you begin to let the other person into your life, what makes you tick, what has impacted and had great significance to you in your life, what events have molded you, etc. You’re right, the first date or two is more small talk and a bit superficial, because after all this person is a stranger and you have to get to know him. After that, you should think out ahead of time that at this point in the dating, what I would share with him, and then tell him. After a third date or so, ask yourself, What would I share with a close friend, and tell him. As it gets more serious, perhaps, bring pictures of family and friends, a journal that you’ve written that you can share parts of it with him, poetry, or anything that will let him more into your life. In time, if the relationship is taking off, you will see that you are learning to trust him, confide in him, and enjoy sharing aspects of yourself with him.

Along the way, don’t forget to ask him significant questions, that get him talking and opening up, and make sure to be a good listener and pay attention to what he is saying and question him on it to make sure that you understand.

By opening up, you’ll benefit is several ways. a] It’ll help him open up more. b] You can see how his reactions to what you are saying make you feel. c] You’ll be on your way to making a mesh between the two of you and building a real and meaningful relationship. Why isn’t this a totally natural thing? Why do people find it so difficult? The answer is because in essence you are making yourself vulnerable. In general, people don’t like to make themselves vulnerable – that’s why we put up those ‘steel walls’ in the first place!

So it’s not easy and it involves a bit risk – after all, you may not marry this person. It is in fact, a double edged sword, but if you don’t try to do it, you’ll never get anywhere in the relationship, as you and so many others can bear testimony to.

FYI some of the walls come down while you are dating, a few more after the committment of engagement, but, important for you to know, the rest of the walls will come down a while after you are married, as I said, it’s a process.

Wishing the entire Jemsem readership a G’mar Chasima Tova! You should all be blessed with a lifetime of health, Arichus Yamin V’shanim, endless brachos, and finding your basherts z’man b’karov and b’sha’a tova!

With Warmest Wishes, Chana