Category Archives: Dear Chana


Gratitudes of Friendship

Gratitudes of Friendship Chanukah 5773
Gratitudes of Friendship
by Mrs. Chana Silver


Dear Chana

I have been friends with a certain girl for a long time. We have really been there for each other through thick and thin and we really connect in a deep and meaningful way. But there is one area that I feel on her part is just lacking. She doesn’t really acknowledge much of what I have done for her – from the smallest things to the very big and life kinds of things. Obviously a major part of any friendship – is the concept of giving – which, as I understand, ultimately connects people. So we both do give in varied forms to each other – but what bothers me is the fact that she hardly ever acknowledges the things I have done for her. In the past, I have thanked her many times for what she has done for me etc – and when I do this, I mean it in a heartfelt way – even the tiniest of things! But she doesn’t seem to reciprocate in this. It seems to me that she feels she has just done so much for me – and whatever I have done for her – just isn’t even worth mentioning. It is like she is so haughty! [in this area] This is unfair and untrue – and I have certainly done a lot for her in so many ways. I do resent this a lot – while at the same time – I care so much for her – and as I said, we are very close friends.

I’m not ‘counting’ who does what for who – but it would be nice to have the acknowledgment.

What should I do? Is gratitude sooo important? Please help me to gain some insight into this and how I should be looking at it.

Thank you!

Michlalah 2010


Dear Jemsem Reader

You bring up a very pertinent and important issue! Hakaras Hatov is really a big deal in the realm of Bein Adam L’chaveiro.

It is also a very connected topic to Chanukah – as that is the Hallel and thanksgiving that we praise Hashem with for saving us in the dire situation of the events during the Bayis Sheini and Yavan.

If we learn to appreciate the things that people do for us – so that is a stepping stone to having gratitude to Hashem for every single minuscule thing that He does for us in our lives.

Why is it so difficult for us to thank someone who has done something for us? Because it means we were needy in some way. We weren’t self sufficient. It takes a humility. Not everyone has that in them. Acknowledging that you were deficient in some way and that you are indebted to someone else can be very hard for some people. It is probably rooted in a lack of self esteem, and not haughtiness, as you mentioned.

Hashkafically speaking, from the giving end of things, you should know that [as Rabbi Pliskin says in Gateway to Happiness] that the less gratitude you receive for doing a kind act, the greater the value of the act. True kindness is when we do not receive anything in return for what we do. Instead of feeling resentment and hurt toward the person who is ungrateful, focus on how your kindness towards that person is more altruistic. Your extending toward that person – no matter on a small or large scale, then becomes a great opportunity to do a true act of kindness, and Rav Yechatzkal Levenstein says in Kovetz Inyamin, that the merit of good deeds done without acknowledgment is far greater than good deeds done when you receive honor for them. So, it is important to keep this mindset open when your friend doesn’t seem to thank you for the things that you have done for her.

And also to know, that every single small and minuscule thing that you do for someone – no matter how utterly tiny it may seem to you – counts infinitely in shamayim! Even a small greeting to someone or things worded carefully to give a bit more kavod to a person help gain eternity for you in the grand scheme. All things count and matter before the Ribono Shel Olam even when they don’t get acknowledged by others. This is so important to keep in mind, especially when others don’t come through in the ways that we want them to.

As far as a persons obligation of gratitude to those who have helped them in one way or another – well, it is a very big deal. Don’t be remiss! Express your gratitude in words and deeds. It shouldn’t be just lip service, but a deep inner feeling of how this person has helped you. You should be grateful to those who have helped you in the biggest of ways – to those who have only helped you slightly – and everything in between. Train yourself to meaningfully express it. Build this middah up with in yourself. You will only be a bigger person for it!

I want to share a personal story:

Many years ago [like in the 70’s] My parents [who were ba’alei teshuva from the South] had someone over who was in college at the time and very secular who didn’t know anything about his Jewish roots. My parents home was an open, warm, Southern, and at this point, frum home. This young man had a wonderful and meaningful time in my parents home. Because of this, he eventually went on to Yeshiva, became wonderfully frum, and is raising a beautiful family of Bnei Torah today.

. Starting from the very next year [He first came over on Pesach] Erev Pesach, he called my parents to thank them for opening his eyes to Judaism and his new life. He did the same with a Dvar Torah on Erev Pesach the year after that, and every single year since then. Every time it was a heartfelt, sincere thank you, with a new Dvar Torah of Hakoras Hatov. Well, My Father died 20 years ago, but he continued each year to call my mother with a deep feeling of appreciation. My Mother died 15 years ago. 14 years ago, I got a call from him on Erev Pesach! [We speak in between as well – and I am close with his family] But this is his official Hakaras Hatov phone call. He continues to call me Erev Pesach every single year to this day – and the story 1st happened in the 70’s!!!! Don’t think that his words are stale and old – They are fresh, heartfelt, and meaningful. He continues, even after all these years, to deeply acknowledge what my parents did for him. He is an absolutely enormous individual! I have the utmost respect for him.

Lifnim Mishuras Hadin? Perhaps. I certainly don’t know too many people like that. But here is a person who understands just how important gratitude is, and he takes it to heart [ as well as all other things in his life, as you can imagine!]

So, my advice to you is to become a role model for your friend and others in the area of gratitude, try not to choose a mindset of resentment to her for what she hasn’t expressed. By you, coming through and showing your feelings of Hakaras Hatov, you’ll not only be fulfilling the mitzvah of bein adam l’chaveiro by praising her and giving her kavod [as the Rambam brings in Hilchos Da’os], but you will also be building yourself in the finest of ways.

A challenge to all of you:

Think of someone who helped you in some way even if it was years ago, that you never thanked, or perhaps they didn’t know how much something they said or did had such a big impact on you, and contact them in some way – by phone, text, email, snail mail – and thank them! Will you feel a bit silly, maybe, but get over it – because YOU WILL MAKE THEIR DAY, OR THEIR WEEK OR PERHAPS THEIR MONTH! We all want our actions to be meaningful to others, so just imagine how this will make them feel, especially, if the incident happened a while ago………


Wishing the Jemsem Readership a Lichtig Chanukah!

With Warmest Wishes,

Kislev 5771 – Attraction & Affection

Attraction & Affection Kislev 5771
Attraction & Affection
by Mrs. Chana Silver


Dear Chana,

I feel so confused! I have heard so many different opinions about attraction in dating – and I just don’t know what to think! Can you please shed some light on this issue? Is it important? [There are those that say not.] If it’s not there – how should one go about it? Can it develop?

Thank you! And thanks for this incredible site!
Name and Seminary withheld upon request

Dear JemSem Reader,

Thanks for bringing up an important and much talked about issue. I hope I can give a bit of clarity to it. Of course, it is an important concept in dating. The problem is that everyone has conjured up in their imagination who their prince charming is going to be and what he is going to look like. And in walks your date and this doesn’t seem to fit in with what is going on in your head. What to do?

The truth is, you may have noticed that at school or work, when you meet people you may not think that they are so attractive, but as you get to know them they get nicer looking to you. This can happen in the dating world as well; it just may take a bit of time. Often attraction and affection grow through emotional connection, so the more you get to know each other, the better you look to each other.

So how does one navigate this? Emotion, attraction, excitement don’t usually increase by leaps and bounds. What you are looking for are small increments of change. If your feelings are even in a ‘baby step’ fashion heading in a positive direction, it’s worthwhile, to keep going out and see what happens. You may be utterly surprised to find your feeling of attraction and fondness for the person have changed [for the better!] as you begin to connect with and see the depth of the person you are dating.

If after three or four dates it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere – either there’s no change whatsoever or there are some things you are feeling negative about – then it’s time to end it. But you do want to feel that in each case you truly gave it the effort it deserves.

The general rule about many issues in dating when you are uncertain about things, is to go out a bit more, and it will usually bring some form of clarity. Either you will see that your gut instincts were right and now you feel more sure that whatever it is – is in fact an issue, or you will see that there is much more that meets the eye and you want to continue and pursue it and see what will develop.

I feel that in today’s frum dating world people discard others in a flippant and hasty fashion. We live in such an instant, impatient, and disposable world that often people just don’t give a relationship the proper time to unfold.

If, on the other hand, you are very attracted from the get go – so your work is to, as best as you can, put that on the back burner.You need to truly see who this person is on the emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels and build a real and dynamic relationship and not let the attraction overshadow everything. For as important as it is, there are so many other really important things that go into the creation of a deep relationship. One has to find the balance.

I hope this helps you in your journey in finding your bashert!
With Warmest Wishes,


Teves 5771 – Dating Queries

Dating Queries Teves 5771
Dating Queries
by Mrs. Chana Silver


Dear Chana,

Can you please give your opinion about several dating issues? I have been having debates with my friends about these important things – and we really need to get some clarity about it – because they come up all the time.

Is a second date a must – every time? What is considered normal as far as spacing the dates? How do you advise people about phone conversations during dating? What is your take about texting while dating?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Thank you so much for Jemsem – it is such a valuable site!
Michlalah 5770

Dear JemSem Reader,

Thanks for bringing up these important issues! They certainly are part and parcel of dating situations – and do need clarity. What I write – is obviously my personal opinion based on my experience, you may hear other answers to these questions, as how to go about these things is not absolutely etched in stone.

A Second Date??
Here’s the basic outlook on this all important question: Do I go out with him again? If the first date was good, obviously you’ll go out again! If the 1st date was pareve, just okay, no great shakes, it wouldn’t bother you never to see him again, go out anyway!

If the 1st date didn’t go well, you need to analyze why. If it was because of something your date said that doesn’t jive with you, or an attitude, hashkafah, behavior, or language that was used, you need to speak to the shadchan and find out if that really reflects who the person is. If it does, don’t go out again. Otherwise, give it a second chance.

Many times people aren’t themselves on 1st dates. Let’s face it: a first date is a blind date. You’re strangers to each other. In most circumstances it takes people time to warm up and open up. Many make the mistake of feeling that they totally ‘know’ the person after the 1st date and that they are sure this person is not for them. As a matter of fact, most people tell me that they are shy when first meeting people and they when they feel more comfortable, they become more outgoing. So be careful not to nip a viable situation too quickly in the bud.

Spacing the Dates
Don’t let a lot of time elapse between your 1st and 2nd date; you don’t know the person yet and there isn’t all that much to consider. A day or two perhaps. After that, the usual is about twice a week or so.

There is a concept of momentum. Once the process starts to take off, you want to keep it rolling. Too much of a break could make it feel like you are starting over each time. On the other hand, you must have time to think in between the dates, this is also very important.

Ilana* and Chaim* had a whirlwind dating adventure that was very exciting and thrilling, and everything seemed great. They went out often, and when they weren’t together, they spent a lot of time of on the phone with each other.[more on this in the next section] The day soon came when Chaim popped the big question, and, of course, Ilana said yes. They had a l’chaim and a vort, set the date for the wedding, and began making life plans. It was then that Ilana started to notice certain things about Chaim that bothered her. Things he said and ways he acted that didn’t sit well with her. After some soul searching on her part and some meaningful talks with key people in her life, she broke the engagement.

Ilana openly tells people now that had she done all this in a more serious fashion when she was dating – speaking to key people and having time to think in-between dates – she would have seen these red flags more consciously and would not have gotten engaged. These things were in fact tugging on her somewhat, but she kept putting them on the back burner because things seemed so good. It was all happening so fast, and Chaim was always there, either in person or on the phone.

This is a decision that will have an impact on the rest of your life. So make sure to have the time you need to think things through and talk it over with that significant person who is helping you, while still keeping it at a good pace.

On the Phone
Stay away from long phone conversations. The phone should be used as a pleasant bridge between dates to keep the relationship running. The conversations should be on the shorter end; deep and important issues should be discussed in person. The reason for this is that a couple can develop a ‘phone relationship’ – and hide behind the phone or a computer for that matter, and this is quite different from relating to the person directly – face to face.

Though texting is ok for quick hellos or short messages, and it is quite convenient, too much texting daily is not emotionally healthy. It is short, choppy, and shallow. People today feel that they are building deep connections through texting and computers etc., but they are not. Perhaps several texts a day back and forth could be appropriate, more than this, is just silly, a waste of time, and foolish. There is nothing at all that can take the place of being with the person and getting to know them for real.

Thanks again for being the conduit for me bringing out these important and ubiquitous dating issue!

With Warmest Wishes,


Shevat 5771 – Dating Life Issues: What To Factor In – What To Filter Out – Part 1

Dating Life Issues: What To Factor In  -  What To Filter Out - Part 1 Shevat 5771
Dating Life Issues: What To Factor In – What To Filter Out – Part 1
by Mrs. Chana Silver


Dear Chana

I have heard so many differing and confusing opinions about family issues/ divorce/ shalom bayis problems / physchological conditions/ and physical illness concerning shidduchim. In your opinion how should one go about it all? It seems so daunting when there are issues! Can you break down some of the ideas and the how tos involved and give some advice about them? How important do you think these things are?

Jemsem is so full of great info! Thank you!
Midreshet Tehillah

Dear Jemsem Reader,

Wow what a whopping important question! There are many issues that transpire in the dating world and a myriad of questions that arise about how to travel the highways of shidduchim.

It’s important to know that seldom does a person find a ‘storybook’ situation to marry into. There is always something in one area or another, a skeleton here, a predicament there.

I have found that in the shidduch world people are too quick to reject, abandon, and discard a potential idea because of these situations, and this should not necessarily be so.


Unfortunately, in today’s world there are divorces, families with much discord, dysfunctional relationships within the clan, and problems that take on many different shapes and forms in the household.

For some, these kind of family issues are not what they want; others can make peace with them.

Here are some steps to take:


Ask about it from all angles. Speak to the Rabbanim who have been involved with the family. Find out the particulars and what exactly has gone on and what is currently going on. Make sure you speak with people who truly know the facts. Talk specifically with the boy’s Rebbi who knows him well. Find out about their emotional history and if the Rebbi feels that the boy is emotionally stable. Ask them if they see any manifestations of deeper issues going on, in general, and based on the particular family issue that you are checking into.


Tell him the details of the situation and hear what he has to say. Listen carefully to the advice that he has for you. Rabbanim have much experience in these matters, and they are certainly there to guide us.

3] THINK!!

You have to figure out if you feel you can handle a circumstance like this. Think about the future. Whatever the nature of the problem, what will Shabbos, Yom Tov, family simchas be like? Will you be able to be supportive of your spouse? How will this issue possibly affect your children? Obviously, you can’t fully know the answers to these questions, but how do you feel about it now?

What if someone went to therapy to help them iron out family difficulties and life events? That’s a terrific thing! After all, think of the alternative! These people were trying to help themselves and move past their issues. It really shouldn’t be such a stigma.

Tamar* grew up in a highly dysfunctional family. When she was fifteen, her parents got divorced and she had to face the additional difficulties and stresses that came with that. When she was eighteen and in seminary in Israel, Tamar decided that not only did she want to get her hashkafic and Jewsh self together, but that she needed to complete the circle and deal with her emotional and personal self. She was in therapy for awhile and she made great headway. Today she is an emotionally healthy and stable young woman who is married and functionally raising a beautiful family. Where would she be without the therapy?

Perhaps you can reframe that fairytale image that you had conjured up and decide that this will work for you, or you may feel that this situation is just not what you want to be part of.

If you have thought this all out and done your checking etc – and you are already dating the person, one of the most important concepts is to analyze deeply about this person and your budding relationship with him. If he is stable, and you are building a great foundation and connection, and if you respect him and are communicating well with him – well, these things count a lot.

Thanks for allowing me to bring out these very important ideas!


With Warmest Wishes,


Adar I 5771 – Dating Life Issues: What To Factor In – What To Filter Out – Part 2

Dating Life Issues: What To Factor In  -  What To Filter Out - Part 2 Adar I 5771
Dating Life Issues: What To Factor In – What To Filter Out – Part 2
by Mrs. Chana Silver


Dear Chana

I have heard so many differing and confusing opinions about family issues / divorce / shalom bayis problems / psychological conditions / and physical illness concerning shidduchim. In your opinion how should one go about it all? It seems so daunting when there are issues! Can you break down some of the ideas and the how tos involved and give some advice about them? How important do you think these things are?

Jemsem is so full of great info! Thank you!
Midreshet Tehillah

Dear Jemsem Reader,

Last month we dealt with family issues which included divorce and shalom bayis, and now we will speak about psychological condition.

Psychological Conditions:

There are many different forms and degrees of psychological conditions – depression, bipolar, ADD, and ADHD, to name a few. What are the guidelines with some of these things?

You need to find out the following:

– Does the person have a therapist?

– Is he currently dealing with the problem?

– Is the psychological condition chronic or episodic?

– Was the person on medication in the past? Is he currently taking medication?

– Is the medication long- term? What are the side affects? Will this medication affect the future?

– Is this person willing for you to talk with his therapist?

– Where mild or severe is his case?

– How does it manifest and affect his life?

You may want to talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist to help you understand the problem better, or perhaps, to research it yourself. Each case is individual and very different. Some situations may be quite serious and significant – and be a no go. Other situations may not be as big a deal and with the availability of medications and treatments, the person may be highly functional and very capable of carrying a meaningful, deep, and fulfilling relationship. It’s possible that because of his difficulties, he is an even deeper and more sensitive person, maybe even more emotionally aware than other might me.

As before, speak to a Rav about your finding, and get in touch with your own feelings regarding this.

Next month – we’ll deal with physical illness.

Continued thanks for bringing out these all important things!

With Warmest Wishes,