Category Archives: Archives 5760

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Sivan 5760 – Baalei Teshuva Moving Beyond Their Families

Sivan 5760

Dear Chana,

I am a Ba’alas T’shuva. My family isn’t frum – but thank goodness – for strange and unusual reasons, I ended up going to frum schools for most of my life. I was zocheh to go to a very good seminary and have now been back about 2 years. Issues with my parents come up and we grapple and deal with them, but many times it is not so easy. It is really rough having a family that just isn’t frum. My parents are wonderful people, but they obviously don’t understand where I am coming from. Here is my problem. Even though I have ‘arrived’ and in all regular ways – I am as frum as the next person, deep inside me, I feel this stigma – of having parents that don’t know too much about the ways of Torah, and I feel that this somehow has a negative impact on me. This is a real deep internal feeling, that somehow inhibits me to an extent. I mean it does and it doesn’t. I am always striving to learn and do more, but somehow it affects me. This is obviously hard for me to describe. Can you understand even a bit of this? Do you have any advice which can help me with this issue so that I won’t feel hindered internally anymore? Thank you so much, I really appreciate your time.

[Name & seminary withheld upon request]

 

I think that I get the gist of what you are saying. As much as you push forward in all the right areas – there is still something very deep inside which feels to you as if it is making you hold back. This is actually a common feeling among many who have surpassed their family religiously. On many levels, it is hard to ‘make the break’ from your family – and be who you really need to be. People manage to do this – but this doesn’t always feel right on the inside – to be so different from those whom you came from and whom you love.

Realize that this is your personal Nisayon. The keys to unlocking some of your potentials may be found therein. The friction that you feel while struggling to strive, may very well be exactly the boomerang effect that you ultimately need for your growth.

Being aware of this is, of course, good. But, it should never handicap you from continuing with who you are truly trying to become. We have some fabulous and amazing role models in this area! Sorah, Rivka, Leah, Rachel, Rachav, and Rus [just to name a few]. What a deep limud it is for us! Look who each of these ladies came from and look what they became! This is not to equate your parents with who these women came from – but the point is – that these wonderful ladies exceeded what their families were.

I can’t help but focus on Rus because the timing is too perfect to pass up this opportunity. There are several answers to the question of why Rus is connected to Shavuous. One answer goes like this: Of all the questions that Nomi asked Rus, none of them had to do with where she came from. Most of them had to do with where she was going [‘B’asher Tailchi Ailaich’]. It doesn’t so much matter where you came from that is important for Kabbalas Hatorah, but which direction you are going. [Like the Miraglim were up and going down, and Rachav was down and going up.] Rus wasn’t even on the 1st rung when she started, but look where she went to…… great-grandmother of David Hamelech……… Now, forever sewed into the fabric of what will be Moshiach. Spiritual Rags to Riches. Wow. Rus is strapped onto Kabbalos Hatorah to teach us this very idea. That Torah is for everyone. It is available to all – it doesn’t matter who or what we came from, Torah is open to the public, standing ready to be taken in by each of us. Each of us is empowered with a chailek in it. We may feel deep within us that we are entitled to spiritual or emotional baggage, but through the lessons of these womens’ lives, we must break through the shackles that chain us down, and soar. Many times it is we who are holding ourselves back. Through realizations such as these, perhaps we can unstop the blockages, and let the Brachos flow.

What comes to mind is a quote from Reb Yosef Yoizel of Nevardok [who has an amazing life story]. “Always, I never thought if I was able to do something or not, But, only if I need to do something or not. If I need to, so with Hashem’s help, I will be able to do it.”

Everyone should have a meaningful Shavuous as we tap into those Kochos of reaccepting the Torah and rededicating ourselves to surrounding our lives with the Torah.

Sincerely,
Chana

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Iyar 5760 – Dating and Rejection

15 Iyar 5760

Dear Chana,

I just don’t know what to do! I was going out very seriously with this boy, and everything looked so great, I indeed thought he was really ‘the one.’ Well, things just didn’t work out. I feel so alone. I know that this must happen to others – but right now, I feel like I am the only one. Can you please tell me how I am supposed to date anyone again and take him seriously? The way that I am feeling now – almost doesn’t seem fair to the next guy. I really liked this other guy – his personality, his middos, his goals etc. – I’m afraid that I will be comparing everyone else to him and no one will measure up. All this + the fact that I was very emotionally involved. How can I really get over him? How am I supposed to forget him? Help!

[Name & seminary withheld upon request]

I am not a beginner to dating. I have been dating for almost two years now, searching for my bashert. I have dealt with rejection, both on the side of the “rejector” and “rejectee”. I have just gone through an experience, which I’m sure, is not unfamiliar to you, and unfortunately, at times all too common, however, when it happens, it still seems as if I’m the only one who must go through this. I went out with a boy for about a month, (a substantial amount of time, in my eyes). From about the second date already, he was dropping hints allowing me to believe that he really liked me, and my feelings for him were the same. I really thought that I’d finally found the “one.” My dreams of walking down to the chuppah, dancing at my wedding, and finally being zocheh to build a bayis ne’eman, were finally going to come true! And then, the phone call came. Being totally unprepared for what I was about to hear, I was thrilled to be hearing from him. With absolutely no explanation at all, he told me that although I was a “great girl, with middos, blah, blah, blah,” he just didn’t think it was going to work, and hung up. Yes, I understand it was not bashert, I understand that no, he was not the one, but how do I deal with the emotions? The hurt, the feelings of inferiority, the PAIN?!! I also just feel so stupid that I didn’t see it coming, and allowed myself to be so vulnerable to him. How does one pick up the pieces and just go on after an experience like mine? How is someone supposed to start from scratch, allowing themselves again to hope against hope that maybe this next one will be the ONE?

[Name & seminary withheld upon request]

The 1st thing that I would like to say to you both – is that no, you are not alone. Things like this do happen all of the time. Each circumstance may be a bit different – but the issue is ultimately the same. There are feelings of hurt, pain, rejection, guilt, discouragement, and a whole slew of other difficult emotions. Feel the pain. Acknowledge it. The fact is that it is quite real, it is very much there, and it hurts! Dating can be an incredibly tangled ordeal.

Letter #2, you said that you allowed yourself to be so vulnerable. Of course you did! You can’t build a relationship without stepping into those shoes. Part of making a real relationship is being honest with the person and getting a hammer and taking those ‘walls’ down one by one. This means that we have to expose our inner selves a great deal as the connection deepens. This is very scary stuff – and not so easy to do. So the fact that you were so successful in dong this is terrific, even if this aspect doesn’t feel too good right now. You were doing exactly what you were supposed to be doing.

This Nisayon is certainly a big and bruising one. Guess what, as you know, it was tailor made just for you. You must utilize this distress and anguish for your own personal growth, because that is most probably why it happened to you. Analyze it. What did you learn from this experience? Did you learn things about yourself, What elements of personality, middos, lifegoals, hashkafa, etc, appealed to you in this guy? Take note of them – perhaps you need these things more than you realized before. Perhaps, when the right one comes along you will appreciate it and be thankful on a much deeper level than you would have, had this not happened. You’ll be able to be a much more sensitive person because of what you have gone through; this is one of the beautiful aspects of yissurim.

All is Tov, or else it wouldn’t have happened. Hashem is running the show. Use this as an opportunity to really deepen your Emunah. Your Bashert is out there, Hashem will bring him around at the right time.

As far as how will you get over this guy, and how you can go on, I want to tell you something that you must be very careful about. Don’t idolize this former guy. Many girls have this same scenario happen to them and they begin to put the guy on a pedestal. No future person they date [in their mind] comes even up to the big toe of the former one. In their mind he becomes larger than life. This also makes it much harder to move past the situation.

I want to share an interesting story with you. There was this 25 year old girl who was a madricha in a seminary. The girls in her school loved her dearly and one day just blurted out [to her] the fact that they wanted to see her married. She told them – that as upsetting as what she was about to tell them was, it was the sad truth. About a year prior to this particular conversation with the girls, the madricha had gone out with a boy and they were almost engaged. It was more than quite serious – and all of the sudden, the guy decided she wasn’t for him and broke it off. Well, she was of course devastated [as y’all can understand] and she definitely didn’t give any other guy a fair chance – because no one was as good as this former guy and no one was as right for her as this guy. She tried to get past all this and was having the hardest time. The girls said some Tehillim for her and the most amazing thing happened the next week. A shadchan called her and said that the boy from a year ago had changed his mind and wanted to go out with her again! A dream come true! Who really gets a 2nd chance like this! She was beside herself with joy. She was painting a glorious future for the 2 of them in her mind. So, they went out. Do you know what happened? She couldn’t imagine what she had seen in him a year ago! The person that was before her now was not at all the person that she wanted to marry! She had built up this image of him in her mind that had nothing whatsoever do with reality! It happens to be that the very next boy that she went out with afterwards was Mr. Right! She is now happily married.

Most don’t get that second chance – But if they did they would see that 9 3/4 times out of 10 the boy wasn’t right for them in the 1st place.

Don’t let your discouragement lead to inertia – there is someone out there who is really the exact match just for you. Learn from the past and give the next guy your full attention. There IS a canopy in store for you…………

Sincerely,
Chana

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Nissan 5760 – Crying At Friends’ Engagements

1 Nissan 5760

Dear Chana,

Some of my friends have gotten engaged, and just yesterday, one of my closest friends got married. Everytime I hear the news that someone is engaged, or someone I know gets married, or there is dancing in the Neve library for a Kallah, I feel like crying – and sometimes I do. When it happens, I try to figure out why, and I can never come up with a plausible reason for my tears. Is crying in this situation a normal response? Please help me.

[Name withheld to protect privacy]
Michlelet Esther 5758
Neve Yerushalayim 5759

Crying is certainly an interesting phenomenon. We cry for many different reasons and because of different emotions. The answer to your question of whether this is a normal response is a relative one. The key to knowing what is going on here is to really and truly get in touch with your emotions. To contemplate on what is going on in your head.

Here are some thoughts to help you.

Are you happy for the girls? Sometimes sharing in someones joy can lead to tears. Perhaps you are a very sensitive person and you are absorbing their happiness in a real way. Therefore your tears are really tears of jubilation. This is often the case in situations like engagements and weddings.

Or, perhaps, seeing this scene played out again and again upsets you in some way. Are there some sad or negative emotions involved here?

You have really got to think it through and figure it out. You are definitely crying for a reason – the question is, what is it? Once you understand more of what you are feeling then you can begin to deal with it. I would suggest after you think about it some and understand it a bit better, find someone that you can talk to and confide in. They can perhaps help you ‘organize’ your thoughts and emotions so that you are better equipped to handle this issue in the future.

Take Care,
Sincerely,
Chana

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Adar I 5760 – Bad Things That Happen to Good People

15 Adar I 5760

Dear Chana,

How can it be a Jewish idea that everything is really ‘gam zu l’tova’? I see so many things around that certainly don’t look ‘l’tova’. So many bad things happening to people. How can we truly view these things as good? It just doesn’t make any sense to me. Thanks for your time.

[Name & seminary withheld upon request]

The whole question of suffering in all of the different areas, is a difficult one. We see many things that don’t make any sense to us. The bottom line concept of ‘gam zu l’tova’ is that what is ‘l’tova’ for me doesn’t aways feel great. As a matter of fact, sometimes ‘l’tova’ for me can hurt terribly. L’tova doesn’t mean ‘peachy keen’ hurray! It means that this is what I need to develop my potential. So, as difficult as it may be for me, it is in fact good for me. The word yissurim is closely related to mesorah. All of the types of yissurim that occur to us, should teach us, they are instructional. The proper response to the traumas, tragedies, difficulties and hardships that we face [generally speaking] is to grow. To better ourselves and make a closer relationship with Hashem. So, somehow IT IS all good. Hashem wants us to be the very best we can be, and through afflicting us,[by our choosing how we react] we can truly develop into amazing people.

Sometimes, we actually get to see the outcome and the ‘l’tova’ is clear to us. Like that gemarrah with Rabbi Akiva and the townspeople who wouldn’t let him lodge the night. Alone in the forest, no candle, rooster, or donkey, things seemed pretty bleak and ‘ra’ – but upon awakening in the morning, he discovered the whole village had been massacred and killed.

When I was 15 years old, I was in a car accident which nearly took my life. Of the many injuries that I sustained, the most serious was a four inch long gash across the right side of my chest which came within in 1/8 of an inch from the main artery that led away from my heart. Had it nicked this artery, I would have bled to death in a matter of seconds. This accident was 2 days after Yom Kippor. I had many questions and no answers. During my long recuperation, there were some wonderful Rabbis from my community who came and helped me work through these kind of issues. Now looking back, I have to say that I am actually thankful that I had that accident. Mind you, I wouldn’t want to go through that kind of pain and trauma again, but the lessons that I learned and the direction that I chose to go in, are all a direct result of that accident. So, even from such a horrid event, in retrospect I can see very much good in it.

Sometimes we cannot at all see the outcome as ‘l’tova.’ These are the times that we have to strengthen our emunah and understand that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is running the show, and He very much knows what He is doing. There is reason and purpose in all that occurs, though it may not make any sense to us. I have a very good friend who lost her first baby to SIDS when he was 4 months old. The devastation and grief were enormous for her and her husband. Many people came to be menachem avel – but they were in a pain-filled pit – not really able to be comforted at all. One Rabbi told them a story that is brought down in a sefer. There was a brilliant young talmid who died at the age of 18. His Rebbi cried out to Hashem that this young man had such promise into the depths of Torah – why did Hashem take him away so early?! The talmid came to his Rebbe in a dream and said, “Rebbe I cannot share with you why Hashem took my neshama at this time, but all I can tell you is that in the Olam Ha’emes, there are no questions.”

No questions?! That’s right, that means that in the next world there is no need to ask the ‘why’s’ – because all is brilliantly and blatantly clear. Do you know that this is one of the few things that consoled my friend during the week of shiva? The fact that there is a purpose, a rhyme and reason for all that happens, even if she will not know that reason now, is enough to keep her going. This doesn’t mean that all is fine for them now, but this gives them something to hold onto and grow from. So even in this situation, yes, it is also ‘l’tova’- we can’t see it but if we look through our spirtual glasses, we can sense it.

I hope this gives you a bit of insight into this area. ‘L’tov’ for us can be a difficult struggle. It is of course well worth the effort, or else Hashem wouldn’t be sending it to us. As Kohelles tells us, we can’t really ever understand Hashem’s ways, but what we can do is take the challenges that we are given in this life and do the very best possible with them. We can perservere and push ourselves to truly become the wonderful person that Hashem knows we can be.

Is it worth it? You bet!

Sincerely,
Chana

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Adar I 5760 – Dealing With The “Green Eyed Monster”

1 Adar I 5760

Dear Chana,

I have been grappling with this problem for a long time. It has to do with the ‘green eyed monster.’ Although my life has been ok, I guess, sometimes I find myself being so jealous of others. Their family, their material possessions, even their middos! I know that all this is so wrong and that I should be ‘happy with my lot’ – but, I just start thinking how ‘the grass is greener on the other side.’ Do you have any advice as to how I could go about helping this situation? I would really appreciate it. I need to face this already and deal with it, because I know it is only hurting me. Thank you!

[Name & seminary withheld to protect privacy]

I commend you for wanting to deal with this issue – it really isn’t easy to truly face the things that we need to work on, but as we know it can certainly be very worthwhile! I feel that this is something that lots of people contend with on various different levels.

In Parshas Yisro [great timing] the lo sa’asei of ‘lo sachmod’ is stated. It is really an interesting idea that Hashem actually commands us on an emotion. I can understand a commandment of an action or a non-action [give tzedaka or don’t steal], but how can Hashem command me on an emotion? The Even Ezra gives a brilliant answer which essentially shows us that we can even control our thoughts, and that is what Hashem is trying to teach us through this mitzva. Here is the basic gist of what he says – but, I would love for you to see it inside in his words.

His example is that of a plebian, a peasant. He may think a princess is pretty, but he would never actually desire to marry her, because plebes [in those olden day kingdoms] just don’t marry princesses. It is outside his reality. It is not a possibility for him. This is the key. We need to drive home in our minds the idea that what we don’t have in our lives, is not a possibility for us, it is outside of our reality to get. If a person can really gear his thoughts in this direction, it will help his desire for the object, to go away. The other concept involved here is the idea that this thing [whatever the other person has] is not what I need to fulfill my role in life.

So, a way to achieve being same’ach b’chelko is really a psychological thought process, an attitude. What I don’t have in my life, I don’t need! Hashem literally gives me everything that I will need to accomplish what I am supposed to in this world. In other words, I already have in my life what I need. I have to figure out what I am supposed to be doing with what Hashem has given me. If Hashem hasn’t given it to me, then I don’t need it. If my family situation is difficult [and theirs looks so ideal], then this must be a nisayon that I should utilize for growth. My life and all that is in it is tailor-made for me! What they have isn’t for me.

There is one catch here. You mentioned that you are jealous of other peoples middos. Reb Moshe Aaron Stern Zt’l once told me that when it comes to ruchnius things, you are allowed to not be mesame’ach bechelko. If you see something wonderful on someone else that is tied to ruchnius, your jealousy in this area should motivate you to try to attain it. You can daven and beseech Hashem to help you in acheiving these ruchnius goals. You can always desire to raise yourself in spiritual matters.

So try to channel these kind of thoughts into your head, when that ‘green-eyed monster’ starts coming around the bend. Focus on what you do have in your life, and work on not taking for granted all of the amazing gifts that Hashem lavishes upon us. The challenge is a big one, but the payoff is certainly worth your efforts.

Sincerely,
Chana