Category Archives: Archives 5761

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Elul 5761 – Response to “How To Properly Fill Free Time”

1 Elul 5761

Dear Chana,

I am a frum girl who went to a co-ed Jewish high school. After being in Israel for a number of months I realized that modern orthodoxy is not exactly where I need to be. Being raised in it – but now, having seen a different twist on things through seminary I understand that it’s going by the “letter of the law” instead of keeping with the spirit of the Torah. I have been trying to stop doing things that distance me from Hashem and Torah. Sometimes though, people get bored when they can’t watch music videos or talk to boys. Giving up these things is not the hard part. I know that once you stop doing “bad” things you have to replace them with good things. The problem is figuring out positive things that can fill my time instead. What would you suggest?

Thank you,

Name & seminary withheld upon request

It sounds like you have done some wonderful changing in seminary and you are smart to take steps to not fall back into your old patterns! Consider yourself quite blessed if listening to music videos and talking to boys is easy for you to stop doing!! I know many, many girls out there that are certainly grappling with these things! But, everyone must start on their own level and go up from there. Hashem is very interested in the direction that we are moving. That is indeed the important thing. This question is quite appropriate for printing in Elul – because it certainly is a time when we want to re-evaluate our lives and make some changes.

So what can you do to reschedule your days and live your life doing different things than you did before? Well, there are lots of things that you can do! Let’s brainstorm a bit.

The first things that come to mind have to do with areas of chesed:

You can look up the chesed organizations in your neighborhood – and see what interests you and how you can be of help to them. They are usually looking for more volunteers. You can think of chesed that isn’t being done – and start something yourself. You can start a G’mach of some sort. Visit an old age home [cheering up the elderly is such a wonderful thing!] Start a big sister -little sister program [or if you’re not quite that industrious – you can still become someone’s big sister and help her out.] You can start some sort of a Shabbos afternoon program for girls in your neighborhood. You could tutor kids. Start an afternoon program for kids [baking, arts and crafts, music, dance.]

Have a Tehillim group in your house [where you meet once a week – and everyone says some kapitlach, and all of Tehillim is completed during that time.] This is especially a significant thing to do in these trying times. Learn with another girl. Go to a shiur that really interests you. Learn some on your own. Have an English Judaica book of the week that you read [this can get expensive to buy – see if there is a Jewish library in your neighborhood or borrow books from someone.] Perhaps you be the one to start a class or shiur. Either give it yourself [which would be awesome for you to take the time to prepare] or else arrange the speakers. Pick a topic that really grabs you.

Learn to play an instrument. Not only is it really fun, but it can be very good for your Menuchas Hanefesh. Go to aerobics classes/exercise classes [Great for the mind/body – spiritual/physical.] Take up a new hobby.

Think how you can help someone that is in some sort of need. Get together with friends. Have each one of you prepare a dish and bring it all together for an easy meal and good time with friends. Even have each of you prepare a d’var Torah or something interesting and growth related to share with each other. Sharing time with friends that are where you are hashkafically is really a great thing! It gives you chizuk, and helps you continue on the path that you want to be on.

These are just some of the ideas that I came up with – there are many more. Be creative! The sky is the limit! The important thing is to make the most out of everyday. To really ‘Seize The Day’ and do the things that will bring you closer in your relationship with Hashem. Remember that each day lived properly and in conjunction with what Hashem wants, is truly a day that we will bring with us to eternity.

With warm wishes,
Chana

Archives

Elul 5761 – How To Properly Fill Free Time

1 Elul 5761

Dear Chana,

I am a frum girl who went to a co-ed Jewish high school. After being in Israel for a number of months I realized that modern orthodoxy is not exactly where I need to be. Being raised in it – but now, having seen a different twist on things through seminary I understand that it’s going by the “letter of the law” instead of keeping with the spirit of the Torah. I have been trying to stop doing things that distance me from Hashem and Torah. Sometimes though, people get bored when they can’t watch music videos or talk to boys. Giving up these things is not the hard part. I know that once you stop doing “bad” things you have to replace them with good things. The problem is figuring out positive things that can fill my time instead. What would you suggest?

Thank you,

Name & seminary withheld upon request

It sounds like you have done some wonderful changing in seminary and you are smart to take steps to not fall back into your old patterns! Consider yourself quite blessed if listening to music videos and talking to boys is easy for you to stop doing!! I know many, many girls out there that are certainly grappling with these things! But, everyone must start on their own level and go up from there. Hashem is very interested in the direction that we are moving. That is indeed the important thing. This question is quite appropriate for printing in Elul – because it certainly is a time when we want to re-evaluate our lives and make some changes.

So what can you do to reschedule your days and live your life doing different things than you did before? Well, there are lots of things that you can do! Let’s brainstorm a bit.

The first things that come to mind have to do with areas of chesed:

You can look up the chesed organizations in your neighborhood – and see what interests you and how you can be of help to them. They are usually looking for more volunteers. You can think of chesed that isn’t being done – and start something yourself. You can start a G’mach of some sort. Visit an old age home [cheering up the elderly is such a wonderful thing!] Start a big sister -little sister program [or if you’re not quite that industrious – you can still become someone’s big sister and help her out.] You can start some sort of a Shabbos afternoon program for girls in your neighborhood. You could tutor kids. Start an afternoon program for kids [baking, arts and crafts, music, dance.]

Have a Tehillim group in your house [where you meet once a week – and everyone says some kapitlach, and all of Tehillim is completed during that time.] This is especially a significant thing to do in these trying times. Learn with another girl. Go to a shiur that really interests you. Learn some on your own. Have an English Judaica book of the week that you read [this can get expensive to buy – see if there is a Jewish library in your neighborhood or borrow books from someone.] Perhaps you be the one to start a class or shiur. Either give it yourself [which would be awesome for you to take the time to prepare] or else arrange the speakers. Pick a topic that really grabs you.

Learn to play an instrument. Not only is it really fun, but it can be very good for your Menuchas Hanefesh. Go to aerobics classes/exercise classes [Great for the mind/body – spiritual/physical.] Take up a new hobby.

Think how you can help someone that is in some sort of need. Get together with friends. Have each one of you prepare a dish and bring it all together for an easy meal and good time with friends. Even have each of you prepare a d’var Torah or something interesting and growth related to share with each other. Sharing time with friends that are where you are hashkafically is really a great thing! It gives you chizuk, and helps you continue on the path that you want to be on.

These are just some of the ideas that I came up with – there are many more. Be creative! The sky is the limit! The important thing is to make the most out of everyday. To really ‘Seize The Day’ and do the things that will bring you closer in your relationship with Hashem. Remember that each day lived properly and in conjunction with what Hashem wants, is truly a day that we will bring with us to eternity.

With warm wishes,
Chana

Archives

Av 5761 – Choosing a Spouse More Or Less Frum?

1 Av 5761

Dear Chana,

When looking for your bashert, is it better to look for someone more frum or less frum than you? For example – if I was looking for a boy that would be learning one or two years and all of the sudden someone is suggested that will be in kollel for five years. Or maybe I didn’t want a guy that was learning at all – and someone is suggested that will be learning several years. Or if I don’t go to the theatre, and the boy cannot possibly understand why.

How important is all of this? Do these things really matter?

Thank you,

Name & seminary withheld upon request

There is a general rule in shidduchim that it is important to go out with people that share the same Torah values and level of observance as you do. This makes for a much better compatibility between the 2 of you. The questions that you are basically asking are ones that deal with lifegoals and hashkafa. They are very important and matter a great deal! I preface my remarks with the concept that you certainly should be well thought out about who you are and what type of home you want to have. This is why we say that the pre- dating time in a person’s life is one of self analization. You have to know where you are headed in life so you won’t hitch up with someone and go in circles!

Also, people tend to think in more black and white terms of what is more frum or less frum. It is really a relative issue and cannot be measured. He may be very shtark in his desire to learn for several years and she may have really worked on her T’filla. There are many different indications of ‘frumkeit’. Together – with him being heightened in certain areas and her having devoted energy in other areas – they can find that balance – that hashlama. This realization can better open up someone’s eyes to seeing the things that she could be looking for.

As for your first question. It would not be fair to go out with a boy who is interested in learning for any amount of time if you do not value the concept of him learning. You really do need to be on the same page here. Your second question concerning the amount of time in Kollel…. The important thing here is if you in fact are looking for a boy to be learning during the first few years. Specifically as to the amount of time that he would be learning really depends on so many factors that play themselves out once you are married. [I.e.: money issues, his sipuk in his learning etc.]

The point is that if you want a boy that is learning at first – you should go out with a boy who says he wants to learn for some period of time, and not go out with boys who are already working, or someone who says he wants to be learning for 10 to 15 years. There are many boys who fall into the category of wanting to learn for some amount of time during the first few years of the marriage. There are some boys who want to learn much, much longer than this – but these would be the exceptions. Again, the idea is to know if you want someone learning or not – this is part of your lifegoals.

Concerning your third question about the theater – This raises a bunch of other issues. Do you want a TV or VCR in your home? Would you be willing for both of you to go to a movie? What about English music? What kinds of things do you want to bring into your home? What do you definitely not want you your spouse and your children exposed to? Again, be well thought out here and know what is acceptable to you and what is not. You have to know yourself and honestly know where you are holding in these areas before you go out. These issues have a lot to do with how your home will be set up, and what kind of a guy you will be looking for.

Every marriage is very individual and a mixture of many factors. As you date and get to know the person, you will see lifegoal- and hashkafa-wise if he is in your ballpark. As to the specifics and minute details of who you each are, the more you get to know each other the more you will be able to tell if this can be a mesh or not. If you both bring to the marriage strengths in some of the same areas as well as strengths in different areas, this can be a very great thing.

Keep all this in mind as you date – May Hashem send you your Bashert soon!!!

Caringly,
Chana

Archives

Tammuz 5761 – Finding A Derech

1 Tammuz 5761

Dear Chana,

I have been having a lot of hashkafic issues lately, this goes back well into high school, about the time I stopped being active in NCSY, sometime in 11th grade. I have had a lot of different religious influences in my life ranging from NCSY to Bais Yaakov, to my vast array of teachers in high school to Breslov chasidim, to Bnei Akiva to Lakewood. Trying to find the medium of all of these is very difficult and very confusing – do I wear socks or stockings? Do I even wear socks at all?? Do I marry a guy who wears a kippah sruga or a black hat even though it shouldn’t make a difference as long as his head is covered? How much longer should I wait before I start dating? I change my mind every day! Today I’m ready to start dating, tomorrow I may not be. I am a very confused individual. Any advice would be extremely helpful.

Thank you,

Name & seminary withheld upon request

Firstly, I would like to welcome home all of the seminary graduates of 5761! We at Jemsem certainly hope that you had a successful and growth filled year in the HolyLand! We welcome you to Jemsem and look forward to your correspondence. I would also like to inform everyone that you will find a wealth of information on the actual website. In each of the columns you can look up the archives which are labeled by topic. Look there first before sending a question in to see if this question has already been answered. Jemsem has addressed many issues that you might find yourself facing upon your return, as well as many hashkafic ideas and Halachic questions. The archives of the Chizuk letters are always a treat and a boost! So spend some time looking up what interests you – it’s well worth the effort!

To the writer of this letter, I feel for you. It is a confusing world that we live in and a person must get a derech. Things can certainly seem very blurred and murky and it can be hard to know what to do. You certainly have been influenced by many different types of people, this one telling you one thing and that one telling you another. You need to talk to a Rav that you feel you can really communicate with. As we have stressed in the past – it is so very vitally important to have a Rav that you feel comfortable with, and whom you can go to for Halachic questions as well as Hashkafic ideas and Eitzos. Again, specifically a Rav for the Halacha, but it may be a Rebbetzin or family that you are close with for the other things. It sounds like you have a lot of issues which need to be worked out and resolved and it may take several meetings to help you map things out. Another idea that I would give you is, if it would be feasible to come back to Eretz Yisroel for a period of time to learn. This may help you a lot. [As to where for your specific case, I’ll email you privately]. The main thing to keep in mind as you are going on your quest for answers and hadracha is this: What is the way that I can be the best Eved Hashem? What does Hashem want and expect from me. We each need to be a kli for HKB”H, for that is what we are doing here in this world. Everything that I do, all my decisions, all of the d’rachim that I take, need to incorporate this question. If that is the focus of your life, then the information that you will glean in speaking things over with someone will truly help you clarify where you need to be going.

I would tell you that it would not be wise to date just yet until you know which way you are headed. Before a person dates, they need to understand the route that they are choosing and feel confident in it. This will also help you to know what sort of a guy you should go out with. So you may want to put that off for a time and get things straight in your mind first.

Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask the questions you need to ask and make sure you get answers that you understand and have meaning for you. Each of us has intrinsic value and things to accomplish, but, we must understand about Hashem and His Torah as we get to know ourselves and our abilities and potentials. This is all tied together.

I wish you the vision of clarity.

Sincerely,
Chana

Iyar 5761 – Deciding Between Living in Eretz Yisrael and Doing Kiruv in America

1 Iyar 5761

Dear Chana,

Ever since I left Eretz Yisrael, I knew I wanted to go back there to raise a family. Now, two years back from Israel, I am heavily involved in kiruv in America, in NCSY, and am now entering a graduate program for Jewish education because I want to teach. I find myself in a dilemma…. I do want to do kiruv and teach in America, but objectively I know I want to be in Israel – I just dont feel it as much as I used to because I haven’t been back since I left seminary. And if I do go to Israel, I don’t know if I could do the same kiruv and chinuch there. Now how do I know which is right for me, to stay in America and teach and do kiruv or move to Eretz Yisrael where I know I belong?

Thank you,

Name & seminary withheld upon request

It seems like you are trying to plan things out in a very tailored fashion. You do have your basic derech – which is great! You want to do kiruv and teach. If that is where you feel your kochos are – that’s terrific! You’ve analyzed about yourself and you know yourself. But the catch is that you can’t makes super specific plans now because you haven’t met your other half yet. It depends on who he is and what he is doing as well. Once you meet him you can figure out joint plans that work well for both of you. I know girls who were adamant about living in Eretz Yisroel, who were here, going to school and only dating guy who for sure wanted to live here. Quite a few of them ended up marrying, being here for a time and then going back to the states [happily, I might add]. On the flip side, I know girls who were only willing to commit to being in Eretz for a year or two, maybe even three – and now it is 15 years down the road and they are still willingly and cheerily living in Eretz Yisroel! And still one other flip side, take people like myself who started out living in Eretz Yisroel and were very serious indeed about staying [we sent two lifts of furniture and bought an apartment]. We were in Eretz Yisroel for three years and to keep a fairly lengthy story quite short, suffice it to say that Hashgacha took us back to the States… for 12 years! We don’t regret any of it for a second because there are many many wonderful things that happened during those years and it was excellent that we were where we were, but we never gave up the dream to come back. So four and a half years ago that is exactly what we did! We returned to Eretz Yisroel after being quite settled in America, [which is definitely not the norm]. Had you asked me one year before we actually went back to the States, would I ever live in the States? You would have gotten a resounding NO!!!!

So what I am trying to say is twofold:

1) Life decisions need to made once you’ve met your mate. As long as you have your basic game plan you are doing fine for now.

2) You can’t fight the Hashgacha! You need to of course make your Hishtadlus in the ways that you know is right for you [with the help of Da’as Torah] but ultimately it is Hashem who is running the show! The trick is to make the Hashgacha work for you and make the best of every situation. One of the secrets of being truly happy is for a person to be able to make peace with the way Hashem is running his life.

So save those big time future decisions for a bit, continue on the tremendous path that is set for now and wait and see what is in store for you!

Wishing you Bracha V’hatzlacha!

Sincerely,
Chana