Better Advice Next Time!

Dear Rabbi

I read your response to Moss in last week’s Jewish Weekly. I am saddened and surprised at your advice. As the 72 year old father of four daughters with six grandchildren and seen many times the struggles of teenagers surely whether his letter was tongue in cheek or not, kindness and direction rather than cynicism would have been right. A more appropriate response would have been to point out that dreams can be muddled and are often your brain processing random thoughts from your day and if you are concerned do discuss this with your Rabbi. A Rabbi means a teacher – first.



Dear Dennis

Yours was one of several letters I received. I admire the sensitivity everyone seems to have towards the teens of today. Your letter implies, had it been a grown man or woman my response would have been more acceptable, but that’s another matter.

My reply to you will be encapsulated within the following anecdote. A woman whose husband ran away was waiting outside a saintly Rabbi’s study to ask for a blessing for his return. The shamas (Rabbi’s attendant) took her letter into the Rabbi. The Rabbi read the letter then read it again. He closed his eyes for a few moments then looked to his attendant: “Please go back outside and tell her, her husband will be coming back.” The shamas just stood there: “No, he won’t.” The Rabbi is somewhat miffed: “Please go back outside and tell her I said that her husband will come back to her.” The shamas still stands there and repeats: “No, he won’t.” The Rabbi is livid: “I’m the Rabbi,” he bellows. “I give the blessings! Tell her, her husband is coming back.” The shamas replies, “Rabbi, with the greatest of respect. You saw the letter. I saw the woman. Trust me, the husband is not coming back!”

Dennis, you saw the letter – or at least the published parts of it. I saw the rest of it and full context. You and all others will have to trust me on this one.


I Love Your Style!

Dear Rabbi

Your reply to the question on Feb. 13th about Aishet Chayil was extremely interesting and informative. The first page I look at when I get the “Jewish Weekly,” is your column. I love your style and your answers.

This one was especially educations. I am of Sephardic origin (Iraq) and we sing the Aishet Chayil with great gusto. It is the highlight of the Friday night Kiddush. The words are beautiful and the explanation you offered in this paper was to say the least, exceptional.

I don’t know if Ashkenazim sing it. I have been in homes where they don’t which is so sad.

Please stress in your column, if you can, how wonderful it is to recite this special prayer. In fact, the women in the community should demand that their husbands include it in the Kiddush prayers.


Dear Solomon

I need to introduce you to Dennis above. He’s not such a fan. Still, thank you for your kind remarks. My column is the first page I turn to in the paper as well. I don’t know why you might turn this into an Ashkenazi/Sephardic issue. For the record, the composer of the song, King Solomon, was, to all intent and purposes, Ashkenazi? And yes, it is included in every Ashkenazi Friday night liturgy just as it is in Sephardic. If some friends of yours give it a miss, then either they don’t appreciate their wives as they should or, they are hungry and want to get to their meal quicker. Either way, the next time one of them invites you over, show them my response from the other week. If they don’t invite you back, at least you will have tried. And their wives will be eternally grateful.


Who Does The Cleaning In Your Home?

Dear Rabbi

Is it true that in a Jewish marriage, cooking and cleaning are primarily the woman’s job?



Dear Stacey

I asked my mother this question. She gave me an emphatic no. She also told how my father would encourage her to leave the house once a week for some “me” time while he assumed the chores.

I asked my wife this question. She gave me a look that said simply, “and what makes your work any more important than mine?” By definition, if we are both committed to broader responsibilities, why must the cooking and cleaning become any more her problem than mine when we return home? To be sure, I can only get as far as frying eggs – but my hands are just as capable as hers in washing dishes or mopping a floor.

I asked my daughter this question. She told me in no uncertain terms that she would not want to marry someone who actually thought so.

I heard a Rabbi, many years ago, tell his group of married students that were in a Kolel: “If you’re busy studying Torah at the time, then it is your wife’s duty to deal with certain particular chores (assuming she is not also working). If however you’re merely reading the paper or doing something else less relevant, then it is your equal obligation to help in whichever way you can.

I think the most appropriate response to your query is summed up in the following anecdote. A man came home from work one day and found his kids messing around look a wreck. There is no supper on the table and the house is a monumental mess. He navigated past the toys and made his way up the stairs and found his wife lying down, relaxing. He looks to her: “What is wrong? Are you OK?” “I’m absolutely fine,” she replies. “But the kitchen, the kids, dinner, the mess?” he cries. To which she replied: “Do you know how you come home from work and often give me that look that says, ‘what on earth did I do all day?'”

“Yes,” was his incredulous reply. “Well today I didn’t do it!”

The message is self-explanatory.