Document Sample
67-71 Powered By Docstoc
					lems, or both. Of course, it is possible    tive, Dr. Waxman notes that though           home-based lifestyle, since they will
that a young adult who “flipped” is not     peers are a significant influence on         shape the lives of their children—the
in the throes of a rebellion or an emo-     adolescents, relationships between           next generation.
tional crisis masked by an intense focus    parents and children play the most im-           Finally, the book lacks suggestions
on Torah study and religious ritual.        portant role in the adolescent develop-      on how to best help families of children
Nevertheless, any extreme changes in a      mental process. The level of parental        in the throes of “flipping.” What advice
teenager’s behavior and beliefs should      religiosity, or the lack of it, appears to   can be offered to families as they face
be taken seriously and examined care-       be the most reliable predictor of a          strong shifts in their child’s personal,
fully. Psychotherapy is an important re-    child’s religious commitment. In my          religious and educational choices?
source that can help in this area.          practice, I have observed that when          While no single book on this subject
    It is important to respect the          children feel a serious lack of spiritual-   could possibly deal with all the issues
choices our children make as adults,        ity and religion at home and sense an        “flipping” raises, some practical ideas
and to allow them to recognize and ap-      emphasis on professional and material        would have been appropriate. Perhaps
preciate the ramifications. By rejecting    success, they tend to be more receptive      a sequel will include a guidebook for
a parent or child, one creates a power      to their yeshivah teachers in Israel in      parents on developing and maintaining

How do parents strike the right balance between staying involved in their children’s lives
and not being intrusive or controlling?

struggle that prevents an honest as-        an effort to achieve a more spiritually      relationships with adult children who
sessment of the conflict. Longstanding      meaningful life. Others may “flip” to        chose a different path in life. Change is
expectations may be replaced with           avoid the pressure of competing in the       threatening to all of us and must be
new realities as children reject Ivy        academic or business worlds, while           processed carefully, with sensitivity
League colleges (or college at all), and    still others “flip” to separate from ex-     and respect, even during times when
finding new ways of maintaining a con-      ceedingly controlling or intrusive par-      the feelings of rejection, anger, confu-
nection between parent and child may        ents. These are all extreme cases.           sion and guilt may be at their peak.
be necessary. Honest and respectful         However, these explanations highlight            The year in Israel can result in sub-
conversations will allow and ensure         that the phenomenon of “flipping” de-        stantial emotional and intellectual
growth and harmony.                         fies facile generalization.                  changes. Open, honest and respectful
    The first section of Flipping Out,           A significant omission in the book is   communication will help young adults
written by Dr. Berger, describes the        a serious study of the effects of the year   solidify their gains in the context of
history and progress of the year-in-Is-     in Israel on young women. One cannot         their own lives, in their relationships
rael phenomenon. He notes that de-          help but be struck by the picture of a       with their parents and in their future
spite the intensity of the yeshivah         large black hat on the book cover,           relationships in the years to follow.
experience, most students, when re-         clearly conveying the message that the
turning home, do not embrace radically      book addresses conflicts specifically        Reb Shlomo: The Life and Legacy of
different life goals and do not abandon     related to young men. Worse, perhaps,        Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld
their college plans, although they do       is the implication that if young women       By Rabbi Yisroel Besser
become more committed to Jewish law         “flip” it is less consequential than if      Judaica Press, 2008
and Jewish learning and to considering      young men do. Though Dr. Jacobson            332 pages
aliyah. He also cites varied reactions      acknowledges that his statistics focus
from parents, ranging from those who        on young men, and he refers the reader       Reviewed by Michael Sanders
are horrified at the prospect of their      to the work of other psychologists for
child changing his way of dressing to       information about young women, he
those who embrace the changes in            also suggests that one can extrapolate
their child as they are grateful he is no   about young women in many of the
longer the rebellious teen he was in        cases. This may sometimes be true, but
high school.                                there are many differences between
    Significantly, Dr. Jacobson does not    young men’s and young women’s expe-
try to offer a single explanation for       riences in yeshivah in Israel that
“flipping.” One must recognize the vast     should have been acknowledged. In
differences among “flipping” students       fact, I would suggest that the effect of a
with respect to motivation, emotional       year’s study in Israel may have more
and psychological realities, family         repercussions for women than for men,
background and personal hopes and           especially in those cases where young
fears. Providing a sociological perspec-    women adopt a more traditional and

                                                                                                Summer 5769/2009 JEWISH ACTION 67    I
                                                   olam (at the apex of the universe), and      sunshine. But all life is a trial, and the
                                                   he could also scrub the floor of a           great are tried with the small. Our rebbi
                                                   makom Torah.                                 was not spared his own tribulations.
                                                        When I first heard that The Life and    One of the greatest of these was the
                                                   Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld was          search for his bashert.
                                                   being written, I thought: “It can’t be            Looking back on that time in his
                                                   done. How do you capture Reb Shlomo          life, he once told me he had been con-
                                                   Freifeld between the covers of a book?”      founded to see all his friends happily
                                                   I, who knew him for forty years, would       married, while he remained alone. One
                                                   have found it a daunting task. It is all     match after another had been pro-
                                                   the more astonishing to find that Rabbi      posed, to no avail.
                                                   Yisroel Besser, who knew him not at               Years passed—he became twenty-
                                                   all, has indeed succeeded in this en-        four, twenty-five, twenty-six.…He told
                                                   deavor—and has caught him to the life.       me he had become despondent, and
                                                   The author’s vast study and research         had despaired of his future. But, finally,
                                                   (he has written Warmed By Their Fire         at the age of twenty-seven, when he
                                                   [Brooklyn, 2007] and is a contributor to     found his bashert in Sara, the tzaddekes
                                                   Mishpacha magazine and to the Yated          from Yerushalayim, it all became clear:
                                                   Ne’eman) have enabled him to produce         how could they have been wed any
                                                   a marvelously broad picture of Reb           sooner, when she was just seventeen?
                                                   Shlomo. He has, too, the literary gift:           One of the last chapters in the
                                                   there is not a dull sentence in the book.    book is devoted to the rebbetzin. We
                                                        The Life and Legacy is replete with     used to say that her feet did not touch
                                                   instances of Reb Shlomo’s indomitable        the ground. A moment in her com-
                                                   spirit. He never despaired of a Yiddishe     pany was a privilege. In The Life and
                                                   neshamah (a Jewish soul), wherever it        Legacy, Rabbi Besser has provided but
                                                   may have been and whatever it may            a glimpse of the rebbetzin from
                                                   have been through. The most beautiful        Yerushalayim; she really needs a book
                                                   expression in the English language, he       of her own.
                                                   once remarked, is “And yet.” However              Another chapter should be titled
                                                   bleak the prospect, however dark the         “The Rebbetzin from Costa Rica.” [Reb
         In the depths of memory, there            future, for him there was always re-         Shlomo remarried after his first wife
     abides an image vouchsafed to me              deeming hope.                                passed away.] Who could have foreseen
     alone. I see him now as he was then—               No book is perfect. Though The Life     that a woman from a far-away land,
     more than half a century past—a man of        and Legacy is organized in chapters          Sarah Etel, would so long afterward ar-
     stature in the full bloom of life. Rabbi
     Shlomo Freifeld, my rebbi, scrubbing
     the floor on his hands and knees.                 Rabbi Besser has the literary gift: there is not a dull
         His rebbi, Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner,             sentence in the book.
     had asked him to prepare the building
     on President Street in Crown Heights,
     Brooklyn, for the inaugural of Kollel         around specific themes, various people       rive, crowning a great life journey of
     Gur Aryeh of Yeshiva Rabbeinu Chaim           and ideas keep returning to its pages.       her own, to join Reb Shlomo in his last
     Berlin. Reb Shlomo asked me to lend a         The richness of this work calls for the      years, and be for him and for us a rock
     hand, and there we were, all alone on         aid of an index. You could search the        of strength and devotion? “A woman
     our hands and knees.                          book—some 330 pages—for the story of         beyond pearls”—much as Rebbetzin
         Not long ago, I mentioned this            Reb Shlomo and the eggplant, or for          Sarah Etel, shetichyeh, would call it
     episode to a rosh yeshivah—and                what he learned from the Mona Lisa or        nonsense, the phrase fits none more
     watched his eyes light up. “I always          how he got to wash the hands of Reb          than she.
     sensed in that kollel an overwhelming         Moshe Feinstein; they are all there—             Talk of the two rebbetzins high-
     feeling of kedushah; now I know where         but an index would make them easier          lights an aspect of Reb Shlomo’s per-
     it came from,” he said.                       to find.                                     sonality that seems on its face
         But that was Reb Shlomo. He could             We would have been gratified to          absolutely remarkable. What could be
     weigh issues that stand berumo shel           learn more about Reb Shlomo’s per-           more disparate than Yerushalayim and
                                                   sonal history. In our reverence for great    Costa Rica? They are a world apart.
     Rabbi Michael Sanders served as a day         men, we tend to hold them immune             One, an ingenuous young girl of the
     school principal and as a kosher supervisor   from the pangs and heartbreaks of            Old World of the Holy City; the other, a
     at the OU under former Rabbinic Kashrut       daily life. They sail along, in our fancy,   cosmopolitan professor of the new
     Administrator Rabbi Alexander Rosenberg.      trailing clouds of glory in perennial        world of the academy. And yet, singular

68   I JEWISH ACTION    Summer 5769/2009
                                          as they are, Reb Shlomo found in each        other rosh yeshivah tells his talmidim
                                          a unique life companion.                     to take a nap Shabbos afternoon in-
                                               The wonder is actually to be found      stead of learning? To break the “nasty
                                          in a fundamental aspect of Reb               habit” of teetotaling and to drink a
                                          Shlomo’s personality. He strove in so        lechaim? To tell a little girl the stories
                                          many ways to emulate his own rebbi.          of Jesse James and Little Red Riding
                                          One of Rabbi Hutner’s maxims was             Hood? To go on with his college edu-
                                          “We have room in our beis midrash for        cation rather than drop out and return
                                          everyone, from [the] shomer Shabbos
                                                                                       to the yeshivah full-time? To not grow
                                          to Eliyahu HaNavi.” This broad ampli-
                                                                                       a beard because it might displease his
                                          tude was realized in Rabbi Hutner’s
                                                                                       wife? To not give up his career as a
                                          beis midrash at Mesivta Rabbi Chaim
                                          Berlin, and, as the book attests, was in-    doctor in order to learn at the
                                          herited by Reb Shlomo.                       yeshivah? No doubt Reb Shlomo ad-
                                               His own beis midrash at Sh’or           vised each individual according to his
                                          Yoshuv Institute in Far Rockaway,            needs, but it takes breite pleitzes to
                                          New York, had room for everyone              prescribe such contrarian remedies.
                                          too—for he had room for everyone. He             At the same time, it is remarkable
                                          was broad enough to “talk with               to find the rebbi berating himself for
                                          crowds … or walk with kings—nor lose         eating breakfast once without ka-
                                          the common touch.” And for Reb               vanah, “without any chiyus penimi
                                          Shlomo there was no contradiction in         [inner vitality].” He felt it was “not the
                                          finding a life partner in the distinct in-   eating of a human being; it was more
                                          dividuality of each rebbetzin.               like an animal, lacking in contempla-
                                               It is a striking testimony to the       tion.” One of his hallmark beliefs was
                                          comprehensive vision of the rebbi, and       that the human potential is without
                                          to the exhaustive nature of Rabbi            limit; that people have the capacity to
                                          Besser’s work in portraying it, that the
                                                                                       be big and that the aim of life is to ac-
                                          book can serve as a handbook for cop-
                                                                                       tualize one’s full potential. For Reb
                                          ing with the ups and downs of daily
                                                                                       Shlomo, to eat a breakfast without ka-
                                          life. Full of Reb Shlomo’s approach to
                                                                                       vanah is to miss a golden opportunity.
                                          so many varied life problems and
                                          crises, The Life and Legacy might well           Sh’or Yoshuv attracted all manner
                                          have been titled “How to Live a Real         of folk who came from far and wide to
                                          Jewish Life.” The book recounts the          learn the rebbi’s secret: how he had
                                          story of one of Reb Shlomo’s talmidim        managed the marvel of building—and
                                          (students) who suddenly loses his job.       rebuilding—the hearts and minds of a
                                          Devastated, broken, he calls the rebbi,      lost generation.
                                          who is already ill at the time. “Stay            The gemara in Yevamos cites a
                                          right there—I’m on the way over,” says       verse from Mishlei: “As water reflects
                                          Reb Shlomo, who arrives after a two-         the face, so one heart reflects another.”
                                          hour journey. He fortifies the talmid,       This is explained by (what the rebbi’s
                                          giving him much practical advice.            devoted talmid Reb Yosef Lieber calls)
                                               At the time I read this story, I had    a Mega-Rashi: “If his rebbi gives him a
                                          just heard of someone else who had           smile, the talmid grows wise.”
                                          lost his job. I picked up the phone and          Rashi doesn’t say that the rebbi or
                                          read it to him, for which he was im-         talmid has an IQ of 160. Nor does he
                                          mensely grateful. Countless others
                                                                                       say that the rebbi learned with the
                                          will no doubt be cheered and inspired
                                                                                       talmid for many years. What counts is
                                          as they traverse the pages of the book.
                                                                                       the smile; from that, all else flows.
                                               It’s always easier to forbid than to
                                          permit, and it’s common nowadays to              As Rabbi Besser shows in The Life
                                          call for greater and greater stringency      and Legacy, Reb Shlomo was the living
                                          in religious behavior. Our rebbi, how-       incarnation of this truth. The ordinary
                                          ever, was not named Shlomo—“the              teacher says: “Jump through this hoop,
                                          wisest of all men”—for nothing. He           and I will love you.” Not Reb Shlomo.
                                          knew that the path to the Light is a         He knew the secret of the heart: “I al-
                                          gradual one, and that those new to the       ready love you; let’s jump through the
                                          path must not lose their way. Which          hoop together.”

70   I JEWISH ACTION   Summer 5769/2009
                               LEADERSHIP OF THE ORTHODOX UNION
      Stephen J. Savitsky               Harvey Blitz                     OF GOVERNORS                  BOARD OF DIRECTORS             BOARD OF GOVERNORS
                                                                          Mark Bane                    Seymour J. Abrams               Dr. Mark Hasten
                                                                                                          Morry Weiss                Jay L. Schottenstein

      SENIOR VICE PRESIDENTS                                        NATIONAL VICE PRESIDENTS                                      ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENTS
        Emanuel J. Adler                            Fred Ehrman                     Rabbi Moshe D. Krupka                               Max Berlin
           Allen I. Fagin                       Dr. Michael J. Elman                     Gerald Schreck                              Behnam Dayanim
          Yitzchak Fund                           Martin Fineberg                  Dr. Shimmy Y. Tennenbaum                          Stanley Hillelsohn
         Dr. Steven Katz                           Charles Harary                     Michael Wimpfheimer                                Gary Litke
        Dr. David Luchins                       Aaron C. Kinderlehrer                     David Zeffren                                Jonathan Mell
        Martin Nachimson                                                                                                                Paul Pinkus
         Henry Rothman                                  TREASURER                              SECRETARY
         Joseph Stechler                               Roy Spiewak                     Stanley Weinstein

                       HONORARY PRESIDENTS                            HONORARY CHAIRMEN,                             HONORARY VICE PRESIDENTS
                                                                      BOARD OF GOVERNORS
         Julius Berman             Harold M. Jacobs*                                                       Howard Tzvi Friedman         Joseph Macy
                                                                    Samuel L. Brennglass*
      Moses I. Feuerstein*          Joseph Karasick                                                           Elliot P. Gibber          Donald Press
                                                                       Marcel Weber
     Mandell I. Ganchrow, MD     Prof. Shimon Kwestel                                                           Gus Jacobs             Joel Schreiber
                       Sheldon Rudoff                                                                       Dr. Bernard Lander        Harvey Wolinetz

                                                                BOARD OF DIRECTORS

         Seymour Adler               Elizabeth Diamond                   Mordecai Katz                    Stuart Panish                    Gary Weiss
        Mitchel R. Aeder              Dennis Eisenberg                   Shulamith Klein               Dr. Harry B. Peled               Heshy Wengrow
          Susan Alter**             Dr. Stanley Frohlinger                (Southern)***                     Barry Ray                     (Chicago) ***
         Yitz Applebaum                    Ari Fuchs                     Seymour Kraut                   Howard Rhine                 Esther Williams **
       Hyman Arbesfeld                (New Jersey) ***               Dr. Benzion Krupka                Stanley Rosenberg                (Long Island) ***
     Terrence Augenbraun                  Eli Genauer                      Cheryl Leon                 Steven Rosenberg                  Jerry Wolasky
      Joseph Bensmihen                  (Northwest) ***                  Morey Levovitz              Dr. Howard Rosenthal           (Atlantic Seaboard) ***
       (South Florida)***               David Gerstley              Dr. Marian Stoltz-Loike               Eric Rothner                   Howard J. Wolf
       Hon. Daniel Butler                  Alan Gindi                    Vivian Luchins               Zvi Sand (Israel) ***              Larry Zeifman
        (Central East)***            Marvin Herskowitz                 Irwin Nachimson              Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld                (Canada) ***
         Adam Charney                Lorraine Hoffman**                 (West Coast) ***              Dr. Howard Shapiro                  David Zimble
            Daniel Chill            Rabbi Emanuel Holzer                   David Nagel                  Steven H. Sholk               (New England) ***
          Pace Cooper                 Dr. David Hurwitz               Avery E. Neumark             Barbara Lehmann Siegel**
        Dr. Ben Chouake                  Shira Kandel                   Isabelle Novak**               William Tenenblatt
         Cindy Darrison           (NCSY National President)                Steve Orlow                  Jacob Weichholz

                                                                BOARD OF GOVERNORS

          Daisy Berman                 Eugen Gluck                   Rabbi Haskel Lookstein               William Rapfogel            Rabbi Allen Schwartz
       Marvin Bienenfeld           Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt                  Moses Marx                   Dr. Marcel Reischer              Dr. Israel Singer
      Rabbi Hershel Billet           Rabbi Marvin Hier                Mrs. Joseph K. Miller             Julius Rosenzweig                Franklyn Snitow
           Larry Brown               Malcolm Hoenlein                 Rabbi Michael Miller                Kurt Rothschild            Dr. Edward L. Steinberg
        Donald B. Butler              Richard M. Joel                     Jack M. Nagel                      David Rubin            Dr. Chaim M. Wasserman
          Laurie Cooper               Rabbi Zev Leff                Rabbi Sheftel M. Neuberger               Lee Samson                  Rabbi Berel Wein
        Leon Eisenberg               Gerald F. Lerman                      David Novak                Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter              Zev Wolfson
      Dr. Abraham Freilich             Nathan Lewin                      Terry Novetsky                  Eli W. Schlossberg                David Woolf
           David Fund                   Alan Lipman                   Rabbi Ralph Pelcovitz            Rabbi Max N. Schreier

                                                  Enhancing Jewish Life
*Deceased ** Executive Committee *** Regional Representatives
                                                                                                                      Summer 5769/2009 JEWISH ACTION 71       I

Shared By: