Fresh Bagel

I heard a story once of a group of scholars who had gathered together and all but one had an illustrious rabbi for a father. As they went around the table each one said over a dvar torah in the name of his father. When they finally got to the one without a rabbi for a father he said the following, “My father was a baker, and he taught me a very important lesson: Sometimes a fresh bagel is better than a stale challah.”

It can’t be overstated how important it is to know that nothing is an accident. This is a portion of belief in God. It is the first commandment. The Almighty runs the world and there’s a reason for everything. If He wanted you born into a traditional family He would have. Why did you grow up the way you did? What benefits of your upbringing can you share with the society you are now a part of?
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Maybe We’re Supposed to Have Bad Manners?

I was sitting recently with a BT who mentioned that he noticed how many frum people lack the “manners” of secular Jews. After a few moments discussion he finally said, “But maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Maybe all this stuff about manners isn’t right.”

Although I had heard attitudes like this in Yeshiva many years ago, I was still surprised to hear him say it now. It’s been a long time since I’d heard statements like this.
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When the Bloom is off the Rose: Joining a Community

When the Bloom is Off the Rose

One of my students, a BT couple, has an adopted girl who was recently asked to leave the “frum” Jewish day school in town. The girl has issues with yiddishkeit, learning difficulties, and some behavioral problems. The father is very disillusioned with the “frum” community because of the way the whole situation was handled. I personally don’t agree with the way the school handled the issue, but that is not the main aspect of the entire event.

In counseling the father, I tried to make a few points that I felt were most important. Firstly, his anger is a sign that he’s a good father. He should be upset that his daughter has been rejected. But lets put things in perspective. Secondly, we always need to judge others favorably. Even if the school administration handled things poorly, they mean well, they have everyone’s best interest in mind, and they have constant difficult decisions to make that affect numerous neshamos. Thirdly, as a fellow Jew, you have the right and probably the obligation to go to the person most responsible for the way the decision was carried out and speak to them one on one and say, “I’m angry with you for treating my daughter and us this way.”

The fourth point, though, is what I think is the most important.
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