Category Archives: Archives 5762

Tammuz 5762 – Avoiding the Mixed Social Scene After Seminary

1 Tammuz 5762

Dear Chana,

I have just returned from a terrific and uplifting year in Israel. The Matzav was frightening – but for me, it served to heighten the real reasons for why I came [even though I wasn’t so in touch with those reasons initially!] and I find that I feel that I have grown in many and varied ways.

One thing that I can already see that will be a problem for me is the after shul social scene kiddush. All during high school – this was one of the highlights of my week. You know, dressed in your Shabbos finest and myriads of boys just waiting to say hi and shmooze. Well, what I was met with after shul this past week [my 1st one back] were those same myriads of boys – just waiting to say hi and see how I am after my year. Help!! What do I do? I mean, I really didn’t know how to react. I don’t want to just snub them and seem Holier than Thou, and get all of the ‘brainwashed’ comments – but I don’t want to get sucked back into that either. I did a lot of thinking this year about the boy – girl thing – and I really do want to separate myself from all of it until I am officially ready to date for marriage. It all makes sooooooooo much sense. The mixing and shmoozing and group and separate dating was me then – it isn’t me now. Oh, I’ll admit – it does lure me – I’m not a perfect Tzaddeket – but I have really worked on getting my head on straight this past year and I DO know what I want and how I want to live my life – and I have to slowly pursue my goals – and this stuff doesn’t fit into the picture. Can you Please give me some advice as to how to weather this storm??!! It will crop up every week!! Thanks so much for your time.

Oh, by the way, I LOVE the new book “Jerusalem Jems”!!!! It’s awesome! I think practically everyone in my seminary bought one – It has such great stuff in it! Thank you and all the other contributors!! I’m really looking forward to being part of the Jemsem site- it is such a great idea – especially for those of us just coming back!!

Name & seminary withheld 5762

Dear Newly-Arrived Jemsem Reader,

It certainly sounds like you had a great year in Israel! You seemed to have utilized the time there quite well. It is so wonderful to hear this! The issue that you bring up about the after shul Kiddush is one that many young women face upon their return. On the one hand it would be easy to slip back into this because you knew it so well before. On the other hand, as you said, it “doesn’t fit into the picture” of what you are becoming. So, what to do? Well, if there are other shuls around that might be better in this area and your parents wouldn’t mind – maybe you could make a switch. But, if that isn’t feasible I think the most Mentchlach thing to do is to say hello to the guys who may come up to you [to avoid them totally would be rude] but to keep it to a very minimal amount of SMALL talk – all the while making it clear [in a nice but firm way] that you won’t be in the “shmoozing mode” [not necessarily saying it with words – but with body language and a clear message of this is just a small and superficial and “arms length” conversation] and be on your way. Excuse yourself [from the conversation with him] and go over and say hello to that family you haven’t seen for awhile, your friend, or that lady in the community that you wanted to chat with.

On a certain level you will have to be willing to take the flak of “Oh she’s brainwashed”, because to them it does seem this way. Though your growth was most probably done in baby steps over the past 10 months – to those who see you now – it may seem like presto-chango – here’s the new you – all seemingly done so quickly. You have to believe in yourself and know that what you are doing is 100% grand! Others may find fault with it for a variety of reasons, but don’t let that stop you! You can be who you need to be and it may not always please everyone, but you see the Emes more clearly now and you are certainly entitled to go for it!!

The best thing is to be ” HaRoeh es Hanolad” in every situation. You need to sit and think out what you may face – and figure out a plan of action that “fits into the picture” of who you are now. There will be many things that come up and each one takes thought how to approach it and do things differently than in the past. Of course, you need to get that Rav for Halachic questions and the Rav or Rebbetzin or married Role Model for the Aitzos and advice, [you know, the ones that your seminary teachers were most probably talking about at the end of the year!].

Hatzlacha Rabba to you! May Hashem give you the Kochos to successfully face all of the challenges that will pop up!

With warmest wishes,

Sivan 5762 – Dealing With Crisis

1 Sivan 5762

Dear Chana,

I have been feeling so edgy and tense lately. After 9/11 – things in the states feel very unsafe. I walk around with a lot of fear, and more often than not I feel overwhelmed. I used to be able to handle my schedule and now there are many times when I just feel like I am falling apart and I can’t seem to handle things in the same way as I used to. I was able to take a small vacation so I went to Israel, thinking that this would be a safe haven for me as it felt for me when I was in seminary. I did feel much comfort in being able to daven at the kosel and pour my heart out, and the sense of Kedusha there is certainly palpable, but there were several bombing/shooting incidents while I was there. B”H I wasn’t in any of those incidents, but being entirely familiar with the areas that they were in, and seeing how those people were hurt and being in Israel at those times… well, this just added to everything that I am feeling.

I don’t feel like I am in control of myself and I don’t feel safe anymore. Please help me!! Can you give me some advice as to what to do? Am I normal?

Name & seminary withheld upon request

It sounds like you are really going through a rough time. The feelings that you described in your letter can be extremely disconcerting and confusing. From the things that you said, it seems like you may be in a form of crisis. Let me explain a little bit about it. Crisis can affect anyone. Crisis occurs when there is a dramatic change in one’s circumstances. It can happen at a very good time – like having a baby or moving to a new city or new home, or at a difficult time such as a death, sickness, or the events that are currently going on in the world. There are many, many people who are expressing similar feelings to those that you described. There is a whole gamut of reactions that people may have during a crises. These include crying, not feeling well, having anxiety attacks, being depressed, being hyper, feeling insecure, feeling incompetent, feeling panicky, feeling overwhelmed, inability to think rationally or make decisions.

For a crisis that has a beginning and an end – what might be normal time span for it to last would be anywhere from two weeks to two months. Something that is an ongoing situation can certainly take longer. So everything that you wrote in your letter is really quite normal for someone who has experienced either 9/11 or things going on in Israel. There are so many different levels of crisis. If a person was directly involved or hurt in an occurrence, the possibility of extreme crisis is high, but a person can be affected by the events even if they were not part of them

So the question is what can you do?

1) It helps very much to talk it out with people. Not necessarily for answers but to speak about what you are feeling and experiencing. Are there people around that you would feel comfortable talking to? These can be friends of yours or someone who is older that you trust.

2) Was there a time when you had similar feelings as these – or perhaps you went through a similar circumstance? How did you get through it? Part of the aspect of crisis is that for a time a person may lose some of their coping skills. If you can draw on past experiences to see how you coped then, well, that is a gem in your hand to help you to cope now. Many times we have the potential already inside us – so what we must do is to recall it and tap into it.

3) Who do you have available to you as a support system? Do you have family around you… close friends… community? Positive support systems are incredibly helpful at times likes this. They can benefit you in many ways. Become aware of who they are and ask for help from them.

4) Sticking to a routine is very crucial. When our emotions go out of whack somewhat, a routine can help to get us back on track. A predictable flow of the days in your life is comforting and grounding, and can help us get oriented.

5) Try to get some exercise or get out and take walks. This is also conducive to refreshing the mind and body.

Everything that you are depicting would be quite normal for the events that are surrounding you. If you see that these feelings persist for a long while or seem to be getting worse and affecting more areas of your life, it would be wise to seek professional help. The counseling for these types of things may be relatively short term, and the benefits quite valuable.

I hope that this information is helpful to you, and that you’ll be feeling more like yourself in a short time. Hang in there!!

With warmest wishes,

Shevat 5762 – Explaining the Shidduch System

15 Shevat 5762

Dear Chana,

I’m starting to go out on shidduch dates, and I’ve run into problems with some of my more modern family members. They can’t understand why a shadchan is needed and why I can’t just “meet” a boy. The whole process doesn’t make sense to them. Can you help me to explain to them all of the ‘pros’ of shidduchim?

Thanks for your help!

Name & seminary withheld upon request

A great question! Let’s go through some of the great points about the shidduch system and why it is such a superb idea. OK – so how do we do it? Through a shadchan, matchmaker – not as in Yenta of Fiddler on the Roof [you know, “he’s fat and she’s blind – it’s a perfect match!”]. But, think of it more like this analogy:

You are the CEO of a major international corporation. You need a business manager, but you don’t have time to interview every Tom, Dick and Harry who may be qualified. So, in the business world today you hire a headhunter [to the tune of about $12,000 – no joking!] and he finds you two people who are qualified to the bazoodle to run your corporation. Now, what do you do at this point? You interview both of them. You’re going to hire the one that you seem to hit it off better with, where the “chemestry” is stronger – but at least you’re not wasting your time interviewing many others – just two – that are really qualified.

Well, YOU are the CEO of your major international corporation [called your life!] and The shadchan is the headhunter. The shadchan helps you not waste your time, weeding out the ridiculous, and making sure that the people they set you up with are fairly appropriate for you. [If you want to backpack through the world for decades – they won’t fix you up with someone who loves living in a library.]

You can’t just go meeting boys anywhere, because if you’re a nice frum girl you wouldn’t be at places where guys are just hanging out. It doesn’t make sense. So you need a middle man to introduce you to suitable people who are in your ballpark. The shadchan also helps keep it “at arms length” during the first few dates by going through them and not asking the girl out directly, which is really a good thing – because if it’s not shayach and that becomes clear – it’s the shadchan that breaks it off and the person doesn’t have to do it directly. Which is easier for the person who wants to stop it and somewhat less painful for the person who is being rejected.

An additional point for the shidduch system: Something is done during the date which is almost unheard of in the secular world…. Talking!!! About real and meaningful things. As opposed to the third top thing to be doing on a date in the Western World [number one is eating] which is… going to a movie! There you are sitting next to a person for three hours and have no clue who he is!

Also, on the subject of talking about meaningful things – imagine going up to a guy at club who you thought was cute and you wanted to start a conversation with him – this is what IS NOT coming out of your mouth: “Excuse me, could you tell me how you would like to raise your children? What sort of community would you like to live in?” You get the point!

Plus the statistics worldwide for divorce and separation is around 62% – and in the Jewish Orthodox world it is somewhere around 8% or 9% – a vast difference.

I hope these ideas help you to get some positive thoughts accross to your relatives. It is a system that works – tried and proven!

Hatzlacha to you in finding your Bashert in the Sha’a Tova – Bizman Karov!!

With warm wishes,

Teves 5762 – Relating Past Transgressions in Shidduch Relationships

1 Teves 5762

Dear Chana,

Baruch Hashem, many of us have come a long way in our Ruchnius lives. We are Torah Jews who live by not only the letter of the law, but the spirit of the law of the law as well. For some people, myself included, we’ve had to learn the hard way about certain issues, in particular regarding the opposite sex. I know that for myself, when I was younger, I didn’t understand the meaning or the beauty behind the Halachos that prohibit relationships between boys and girls. I had a boyfriend, and we were not shomer negiah. This was a long time ago, and I feel that now I am truly a different person. I have done teshuvah and I have made peace with myself and with Hashem. However, now that I’m in the beginning stages of Shidduchim, I wonder if what I did in the past is going to manifest itself in my life today. I know that honesty in a relationship is key, but I’m wondering if there are certain things that you just don’t share. If questioned about past relationships is a person supposed to be blatantly honest, realizing that this honesty could be harmful, or is a person just supposed to disregard what has happened as past history?

Thanks for your help.

Name & seminary withheld upon request

I commend you on your Spiritual growth! It sounds like you have come very far in your journey! Your question is an important one, an issue that many young women have grappled with.

The answer is as follows. What you did in your earlier times is quite normal for teenagers and youth growing up in more modern circles to be doing. It is not abnormal or unexpected.(For better or worse – that is just the truth.) Something that is within the norm need not be told. If a shadchan were to ask you this question, (which they really shouldn’t ask) you must be careful with your answer. As you so beautifully put it, you are a different person now. By talking about it, you would be misrepresenting yourself and speaking Lashon Harah on yourself. It is not part of the You that you are presently. I would try hard not to have to answer such a question – but if you are pushed into it, you could say something like, ” It happened. It wasn’t a way of life for me, it was innocuous.”

As you said, you have done T’shuva and have made peace with yourself and Hashem. It is time to move on. You’ve put it in its rightful place and it is past, over and done with.

May you and all those who have acted similarly to increase their Ruchnius in this world be Zocheh to much much Siyata Dishmaya – because all of you can certainly be considered to be ‘Haba L’taheir’.

With warm wishes,


Kislev 5762 – Money vs Middos

1 Kislev 5762

Dear Chana,

I know that you receive many questions about shidduchim, but this is a question on which I must ask your advice. The truth is, Chana, I am accustomed to a certain level of comfort and I am having a real dilemma as to how much that should play on my future. There are many guys out there who have unbelievable midot, yet are not too financially secure, and there are those who have the money yet not the midot. Don’t get me wrong, of course there are all different types of guys, but at the moment I am actually faced with one of the above mentioned – he has the midot but cannot support me to the degree that I am accustomed. We are not involved yet and that is why I am seeking your advice. Do you think it is possible (realistic) for someone to just put their lifestyle aside and go for the guy with the midot or is it crucial to find the one who has the means to support you at your level of comfort?? I am looking forward to your response and thank you so much for your time.

Thank you,

Name & seminary withheld upon request

This is a very important question that you have asked. What you need to do is to make a real personal accounting of what you feel you honestly need in terms of level of comfort. Think back to what you were raised with, and where you are at right now. We all must ask ourselves constant questions and weigh what is a luxury for us or what is truly a necessity. It is certainly a good idea to re-evaluate where we are and to make sure to work on ourselves concerning this. Opulence and luxury seem to be the call of the hour, and with these areas left unhindered and unchecked there is no end. Perhaps, there are things that you could work toward giving up. Of course, on the flip side you must be honest with yourself and know who you are. You must be realistic. If you feel that you need a certain level of comfort in a certain area – then, to do without that may make you very unhappy. Many things are changeable, but some things are more a part of us than other things. This takes a lot of introspection, and is completely an individual and personal issue.

The Middos and quality of a person is obviously of incredible importance. This is certainly not what you would want to give up on! The bottom line is that you should look for someone who has both the financial security and the Middos that you are looking for. There surely are guys out there who will have both, as well as the Hashkafa and lifegoals that you have. The reason that you feel that it must be one or the other is probably because you haven’t met your bashert yet! The guy that is tailor-made for you will have all the pieces of the puzzle which will fit together rather smoothly.

So, do some deep thinking and analyze who you are and what you think you really must have and what you feel you can live without. Absolutely, do not compromise on the real essence of the person, for that is of the utmost relevance! These major aspects of the person that you marry must all be there – it isn’t one or the other.

May you find your ‘intended’ -in a z’man b’karov!

With warm wishes,