The Real Solution to Broad Communal Harmony

I am writing this for myself as well as anyone else that could benefit from it.

Several years ago, someone approached Rav Mordechai Schwab, zecher tzadik livracha, and asked him to comment on a statement of Rav Shach regarding the Chabad movement. (This was before the Rebbe’s petira.) Rav Schwab’s response was a complete refusal to comment. Rav Schwab (although he was a Yekke by yichus) was clearly a strong Litvak, and much more aligned with Rav Shach’s derech ha’avodah and hashkafos. And yet his response was “dumia”, complete silence and refusal of any involvement in the discussion.

I was once at a JEP dinner in Monsey. The guest speaker was of a somewhat more modern orientation. Since Rav Schwab’s son, Rabbi Yehudah Schwab is the director of JEP, Rav Schwab attended and sat at the dais. His seat was facing forward toward the general seating. The guest speaker was behind him at the microphone. Being the incredible baal middos that he was, he could not turn his seat around so that his back would be toward the tzibbur. He also could not fail to treat the guest speaker with less than the ultimate kavod. So, he turned his seat a bit, and sat with his (80 year old) neck crocked around at an uncomfortable looking angle for the entire length of the drasha, never removing his eyes from the speaker.
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Often Overlooked Internet Issues

Michoel, a regular contributor on Beyond BT, posted a comment on Kressel’s Cutting Connections post which we felt deserves attention.

I am, bli neder, going to take a haitus from personal web use. If anyone sees me on this site in the next 3 months, please tell me to get off immediately. I am going to list here some problems with web use as I see it. Understood, many don’t see these things as problems or manage to deal with the problems easily. So please don’t post to upshlug all my kashes. If you have advice as to how to deal with the kashes, please post them. Thank you to Mark and Dave for hosting a site where I have learned a lot and hopefully shared a few ideas that others have benefitted from.

1. Bitul z’man. A very big subject with lots of implications
2. Feelings of depression or mental sluggishness resulting from the media of interent use, regardless of content.
3. Weakening of gidrei tzinus in male – female communications
4. Reading apikorsis which weakens emunah
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Looking for Suggestions to Breakdown Communication Barriers

Below is an email exchange with my sister. She is two years older than me and has called me “Ugs” since I was 5 years old and she thought I was cute. Lashon sagi nahor, I guess. I have always been very close with her but we don’t see each other often since she still lives in the NY area and I have relocated to Baltimore.

It bothers both of us that we are not able to share in each others lives more. The situation is complicated by the fact that my nephews have severe food allergies. For the last few years she has hosted various Thanksgiving dinners, and birthday parties that we have declined to attend. I wanted to convey (more) clearly to her why we decline. In the past she has said something like “What’s the problem? When my kids go to a birthday party, they know that they cannot eat whatever they want because it might have peanuts etc. So why can’t you just do the same thing with your kids? We’ll bring in some kosher food for you and some other food for everyone else.” Obviously, there are halachic ways to cook kosher in a non-kosher home.

I’d appreciate some feedback as to the emotional / communication element at work.

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Appreciating Parents as a Foundation for Growth

One of the meanings of Yisrael is that it is a contraction of the words yashar (straight) and G-d’s name, kEl. I once heard this explained in the name of Rabbi Rosenberg z”l, the founder of Machon Shlomo, that one can only truly draw close to G-d by traveling in a straight path. This can be accomplished only when one has a clear recognition and appreciation of where they are starting from. Kibud av v’eim (honoring parents) is a mitzvah of great importance and a foundation of the Torah. It is also a good way to minimize friction in one’s family life. But somewhat aside from that, when fulfilled properly, kibud av v’eim, is actually a great means to succeed in one’s internal journey toward Torah observance. When there is a lack of feeling of kavod (honor) for an individual’s parents, it is impossible that they will be able to proceed through emotional challenges of the t’shuvah process and develop a healthy sense of belonging in the Frum world. (I don’t mean a failure to uphold the halachos in the Shulchan Aruch, but rather a feeling of disdain for one’s upbringing or lack of gratitude to one’s parents.)
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