Category Archives: Archives 5759


Tammuz 5759 – Kibbud Av V’Em

1 Tammuz 5759

Dear Chana,

I recently graduated from college and now I’m working and living at home with my parents. B”H, there is nothing unusual about my family situation, but it’s hard living at my parents’ again full-time for the first time in almost four years after having gotten used to dorm life. Could you please give me some practical tips regarding Kibud Av Va’Em?

[Name withheld upon request]
Michlalah 5756

It is definitely a hard thing to be an adult – and yet to be a child at the very same time. On the one hand, you are a mature and capable person – on the other hand, you are your parent’s child. How to balance the two? The 1st thing that I would tell you is to keep the lines of communication open. It is important to continually try and express your thoughts and feelings. When an argument could possibly be brewing, if you are open about how YOU feel [the famous ‘I message’], your parents will really be able to hear your position.

Although parents mean well, very often they are critical of us. Criticism can make us angry, hostile, and defensive. It is important to know that being defensive and defending our position, will usually bring about more criticism and prolong the confrontation. According to Halacha [Yoreh Deah 240:11] a child [no matter what age] must respond respectfully to a parent even if the parent is violating Jewish law in his own behavior. It is however permisable to question a parents statement politely.

Here are several ways to deal with criticism:

1] Don’t say anything at all. Just take it in and tell yourself some positive things at the same time.

2] Agree with your parents. Although they may be making the comment in a bitter tone, think about it, perhaps it’s a true statement, and something you could work on.

3] Tell your parents straightforwardly how the comment makes you feel. [ Mom, it really hurts me when you say……..]

When parents come down hard and make you feel like a child again – reframe the message into something good. Though what they are saying may come across in a yell, [ WHY ARE YOU COMING HOME SO LATE!!!!!! ] the bottom line is that they care and are concerned for you. It is important to acknowledge that in your mind.

Don’t forget to show gratitude to your parents for all that they do for you. When we are younger this unfortunately slides right past us and we take things for granted, but when we are older we can indeed truly appreciate our parents and show it. This concept of thanking them can bring terrific realizations into our heads, and give us an extra helping of love and patience in our dealings with them.

Interactions, especially in a case like yours, where you have been away for awhile, within the parameters of Kibud Av V’am, really give us a chance to work on our Middos and be better people, This flows from meeting the challenges that living at home again presents in our lives.

Lastly, remember that even though parents actions and words don’t always come across in the right way, ultimately, parents want us to succeed and excel as human beings.Though they have funny ways of demonstrating it, most of their actions stem from their love for us. Without their guidance in the many forms that it takes, just think…………who would we really be?



Sivan 5759 – Potentially Long Engagement

1 Sivan 5759

Dear Chana,

I have been dating someone seriously. Having just started dating – I did not expect to find someone so soon. One of the biggest fears I had was finding someone who could appreciate my uniqueness [He felt this as well], and it appears that I have found that someone. Everything seems great – so what is the problem?

He and I are both in the middle of lots of schooling. Between college and graduate school – for both of us – we won’t be finished for another 3 1/2 years. I know that this would not be appropriate at all -[to wait that long!] so the earliest time would seem to possibly be June of 2000. Moneywise as well as being able to spend time together [and not inschool] it just doesn’t seem to work out any other way. I am very aware that Hashem did not create man and woman to be together and not married for an extended period of time, Nonetheless we also want to marry at a time that we’ll best be able to focus on “us”.

Do you have any advise to make this situation the least challenging for us? Also is length of time of engagement important? I have heard that many rabbeyim say a long engagement is difficult on the couple and that 6 months is ideal. Does this take into account our situation, where we are committed to each other, official or not? What is the recommended procedure for a couple in our situation?

I would appreciate your insight.

[Name withheld to protect privacy]
Michlalah 5758

How wonderful and what a special Bracha to have found your ‘Bashert’ so soon!! That really does feel terrific!!

Many girls run up against this problem. I should state at the beginning [for all you other girls out there] that one should only decide to date – if there would be a possibility of getting married in the near future. But what to do – in a case like yours?

I will give you a few options as I see it. 1] Get Married!!! Get engaged now and plan a wedding for the early winter. You are correct about a lengthy engagement. Seldom will you find an Adom Gadol who will allow for a long engagement. It puts the couple under tremendous stress, and because you already feel ‘attached’ to this person, the yetzer hara has free reign. So why place yourself in a situation where there is much room to be nichshal? Halachik’ly being engaged and being married are horses of very very different colors. The Rabbeyim say that several months to put the wedding together, and begin to set up for life is ample time! A longer engagement will only backfire against you.

So you’re concerned about money? It doesn’t take all that much when you are just starting off. A shifting and readjustment of what is available may be all that is needed. As far as spending time together… Many people have super busy lives and wonderful marriages. If it is important to you, you both will make the time to spend together to work on your relationship. It is not necessarily quantity time but quality time that counts. What I mean is – it doesn’t have to be that planned evening out which will take hours when neither really has hours to give. For some it is a late night cup of coffee [or tea!] spent in earnest conversation and reconnection, for others it is a walk around the neighborhood [aerobic or leisure!] I even know of a couple who are both quite busy and have several kids – and do you know what they do?! Once a week or so after the little ones are asleep, and an older child is around – they go out to their garage and sit in their car and talk! It is private, they can reconnect some, and then get on with other activities that they need to do for the evening. Sounds crazy? It isn’t at all. Like I said, it can be done if you make it a priority.

2] Your not going to like this one – but here it is. Either don’t see each other for a year or keep it on a super minimum burner.It will be very difficult -to be sure – but by being together so much when halacha says there are still plenty of bounderies, well, as I said before……. not a good idea at all!

If you opt for the second part of the second option [ minimum burner ] [my first choice is of course #1!] it would be a good idea to ask a Rav that you are close with to help you set geddarim for exactly how oftern to see each other, talk on the phone etc.

I know this must be so very difficult for you. Together, think carefully about it – perhaps turn the situation a bit – and try to think about your circumstances in a different light, shift it some – and maybe new possibilities that you hadn’t thought of will pop up to your suprise! Maybe just maybe it is all more attainable that you originally had thought!

I really hope everything works out very soon, and that married life can begin for you! [hectic as it may be!!]



Iyar 5759 – Rush Dating

15 Iyar 5759

Dear Chana,

I really get a lot out of your answers on jemsem and I welcome your advice.

I am seeing someone right now and I feel that things are getting serious fast. Our personalities match, we share many of the same interests and life goals, he learns every day and I believe that we each have what the other wants in a life partner. I am grateful to Hashem, but I don’t know how to slow down. How often is going out too often? My Rav doesn’t understand why I should limit my dating, figuring that the more I see the person I’m dating, the more I will see of his midos. My parents are very helpful, they keep encouraging me to take deep breaths and think things through, but I’m finding myself very excited, very happy, and not able to think clearly. Is speaking and then dating once a week enough of a distance? Is it better to go out more often and see his midos in different instances? I would like to set down some ground rules, set up some gedarim, and I don’t know how to say them to him without insulting him.

Thank you for your help.

[Name withheld to protect privacy]
B’not Torah Institute 5753

Gee, it sounds like you may have a terrific thing going on there!! Alot of the important stuff certainly does seem in place!

Now you have to see if you really do like him and enjoy spending time with each other, get to know him more, get more comfortable with each other, and really think if this can be the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with!

No big deal ………. right!!???? Wrong!!! Of course it is a huge deal, one that takes alot of thought and analysis from many different angles. So you are right to want to put a pace on it. I am not sure what you mean when you say things are “getting serious real fast”. The time factor is a relative issue. Different in each case and with each person. I know of some girls who say they need lots of time and want to go very slow – which can mean a matter of weeks or several months – to girls who aren’t necessarily in any rush- but all goes quite smoothly and fits into place rather quickly, and they can be engaged in a matter of dates!! It is a very individual thing.

So if you are worried about what is a ‘proper’ amount of time – there is really no average. What I can tell you, is that if you are uncomfortable with the way it has been going and it feels like a rollercoaster – then it is important to listen to your internal self. It is a good idea in between dates to have some time to come down off of the cloud [just for a bit!!] and think with your head [and not go on autopilot with your heart!]. You know, to reflect and keep weighing things out and have one good ‘sounding board’ to talk with [preferably someone older with experience]. Some people will go out about 2 times a week and maybe have a phone conversation thrown in every now and then. This does allow time to back off a bit and think. Of course as things escalate and intensify 3 times a week may be ok also. It really all depends on YOU! But after everything really seems to be in place [which includes many things in many different areas] there is no sense in pushing off an engagement – just for the sake of ‘more time’ [which can lead to ‘problematic situations’]. And the next step is not to have a lengthy engagement, and to, yes, set gedarim during the engagement, but that is a discussion for another time!

There is no “magical formula” here – But following what your inner self is telling you, having someone to really talk to about it, and really analyzing the situation, should all be components in the dating process.

Wishing you wonderful things for your future!


[P.S. – Let me know what happens!!]


Iyar 5759 – Shadchanus

1 Iyar 5759

Dear Chana,

There is an issue which has been bothering me recently: If people are asking me about setting people up for shidduchim, how much can I tell them? Is it inappropriate for me to set up girls who I know with boys who I do not know anything about? I feel like I am playing with very important emotions and issues and I am only 19. How do I know what good or bad effects my attempts at shadchanut will have?

Devora Rubin
Darchei Binah 5757

Dear Devora,

Wow! What a lofty thing it is that you want to help in setting people up! I commend you on this! But, as you know, Shidduchim is a very sensitive issue, and one must tread carefully in this. There are a few points we need to address. Generally speaking, because of the heaviness of the matter of dealing with peoples lives, it is best to let people who have experience in this area, deal with it. Also the idea of having possibly involved conversations with a guy that you yourself aren’t going out with………. well you get the gist! The generally accepted custom is that if you think you have a good idea for someone – give it over to a married couple to handle. These situations come up all the time – and marriages can definitely be made from a ‘lighbulb’ that turns on in someones mind. So if this happens, and you tell your idea to your married friend, and then it works out – make sure all involved know that it was YOUR idea!!! [We wouldn’t want you to lose out on an all expense paid trip to Acapulco, would we!!!!]

Best Wishes,


Nissan 5759 – Maintaining Spirituality in Chutz Laaretz After Sem

1 Nissan 5759

Dear Chana,

I am writing to you on behalf of those who are suffering spiritually in Chutz La’Aretz. It seems that I, as well as others, go about our daily lives, be it learnig as well as secular studies, but yet, there is still something missing. How do we incorperate spirituality to our lives so it becomes a part of us, and not just routine?

Thank you.

Shana Better
Michlelet Mevasseret Yerushalayim

Dear Shana,

It can really be such a big change from being in Sem in Eretz Yisroel, to going to Anywhere, USA. Without the environment of school and those magnificent teachers and classes, all seems so distant, and it certainly can feel like one has plunged into a spiritually absent abyss.

So how can we help ourselves?

We are all schizophrenics of sorts. What I mean by this, is that we are always having a conversation with ourselves, whether we are aware of it or not. We can very much focus what we tell ourselves, and through that work on our thoughts as well as our attitudes.

The Rambam in Hilchos Da’os [Chap. 3] talks about the wonderful idea of Laida Es Hashem, to know Hashem. This is the concept that we should have Hashem in mind with all that we do. For example, if I go to sleep with the idea in my mind that I need sleep so that tomorrow I can function as an Eved Hashem, so therefore my sleep is now also in the service of Hashem. This can of course be done with all Mitzvos, which can really enhance our Kavana of whatever Mitzva we are doing, as well as with things that aren’t Mitzvos per se. Such as with eating and exercizing [ to be healthy and, and keep our body running smoothly ] or recreation [ to clear my mind some ] so that I can be the best Eved Hashem possible. Not only will we infuse Spirituality into our day constantly, through this mindset and focus we will really be continually thinking about Hashem and working through our day with Him in mind. This can also be a terrific ‘yardstick’ for helping us decide what to get involved in and what not to. If we can’ t come up with a good thing in terms of our Avdus of Hashem [without rationalizing] about whatever we are contemplating doing, then perhaps this is not a thing to be doing!

This takes alot of practice – but it is well worth the effort. It is a mindset, an attitude, a focus, an awareness of what our existence is for, and a consciousness of Hashem. Go through your day and ‘say’ these things to yourself. “I am now going to work [or class] and I will really work on my bein adam l’chavero skills because this will make me a better Eved Hashem.” ” Now I am going food shopping – I need to buy healthy food, because this will keep my body healthy, because it is hard to be a good Eved Hashem when I am sick.” ” Now I’ll play piano for a bit, so that I can relax [I’m too tense now!] and then I can continue my day and gain perspective in being a better Eved Hashem.” I know this sounds almost silly – but this really works! Hashem is literally included throughout your whole day, and you’ll also be happier because you’ll realize how important every single thing you do during your day really is.

So, learn how to do this, repeat it, reiterate it, and soon you’ll see the results, the Ruchnius that your Neshama is so desperately seeking will really be infused in your day! Be creative but real in your quest to put meaning and purpose into life!

I truly hope this helps! Let me know how it’s going! It is really a worthwhile thing.