“Life is not fair; life stinks; I quit; time for me to become depressed; I am feeling suicidal; leave me alone, expect nothing from me; I didn’t ask to be born.”
“We actually hear this from young people: I didn’t ask to be born. So unless there is some really important mission for me to do, my existence is unjustified,” Rabbi Manis Friedman writes in his latest article in the upcoming Kislev issue of the N’Shei Chabad Newsletter. “The eternal question of why are we here has become more desperate and society offers no answers,” Rabbi Friedman continues.
“The media in our society promote narcissism by convincing people that they deserve to have every pleasure and every luxury, to the point where if you don’t have it you are being cheated and denied something important and valuable. So people destroy their marriages, destroy their children, destroy their families, give their parents heartache, because they cannot accept not having the ultimate experience of pleasure that they feel entitled to!”
Rachel Krol, another contributor to the upcoming Kislev N’Shei Chabad Newsletter, experienced frightening narcissism and abuse firsthand. At ten, Rachel witnessed her non-Jewish alcoholic father murder her Jewish mother. It was the 1950s in the deep South, and Rachel explains what happened next:
“My father should have gone to jail, but my mother’s attending physician warned my maternal grandmother that if the death certificate showed the actual cause—a fatal blow to the head—her five grandchildren, ages three to eleven, would be placed in foster care and more than likely, sent to separate homes. Strangely, she agreed, believing that splitting up the family was worse than staying with a man who had brutally taken the life of her only child. So the doctor wrote that the cause of death was essential hypertension. My maternal grandparents, who lived over 100 miles away, left after the funeral, and we all went home with my father, the murderer.”
Yet the result of staying with their violent alcoholic father caused almost irreparable damage to the children. Rachel, now in her 60’s and happily settled in Beit Shemesh, writes, “I know that everything is hashgachah pratit even if we don’t understand it at the time. I couldn’t have dealt with the pain if not for a vital truth gently brought to mind; that every moment of pain and upheaval is, in reality, another opportunity for spiritual growth. I try to value every day of life I’m given and make each day count for something good.”
Rabbi Michoel Green did not set out to take up the cause of igun as part of his Shlichus in Westborough, MA. His sensitivity to agunos started in yeshiva when he was called upon by the Rosh Yeshiva to help facilitate gittin. Yet it wasn’t until he found out “by accident” that one of his congregants, Stacy, had been chained to her wealthy ex-husband for over 20 years (while he had remarried a non-Jew and even had children with her) that he began to ask all divorced people in his community if they had a get. While most people agree to the process, there have been several cases over the years where obtaining the get has been difficult.
Rabbi Michoel Green describes in the Kislev N’Shei Chabad Newsletter how a bright blue man’s down jacket helped achieve the goal of a get for Stacy.
In another case, Rabbi Green describes a couple that had divorced civilly, and then the husband rejected Yiddishkeit and refused to give his ex-wife a get. The ex-husband demanded full custody of their two-year-old and money concessions in exchange for issuing his ex the halachic document.
At first, the young man claimed his ex-wife was vindictive, immoral, and dishonest. Rabbi Green replied, “Perfect! So now you can do what the Torah tells you to do in exactly those circumstances.” The ex-husband countered that his ex-wife deserved punishment for what she had done. Rabbi Green explained, “It’s not your place to punish her. You just do your mitzvah, your Torah obligation. She has to answer to Hashem for any wrongdoing.”
Although his ex-wife had proven that she would not only allow visitation for her ex-husband with their two-year-old son, but would drive hours to make it happen, David told Rabbi Green, “I want to always wield control over her for the next 16 years, until our son’s 18th birthday, so that she will not be able to keep my son from me. I want to make sure I will always have something over her.”
David was not moved by Rabbi Green’s reasoning. Rabbi Green asked David what his only son would think when he found out his father was a “deadbeat lowlife who had tortured his mother,” to no avail. Read the next N’Shei Chabad Newsletter to find out how Rabbi Green eventually was able to obtain a get from David and several other men. Rabbi Michoel Green concludes, “In retrospect, I regret that Esther had to make any concessions at all. It was absurd enough that she had to go to school by day and work a night job while trying to care for her son as a single mom, without any assistance from her wealthy ex who was dating a Muslim woman. The Torah does not place any price tag on a get. It is the husband’s duty. Period.”
Also in the upcoming nsheichabadnewsletter.com, Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie writes about “The Menorah Wars,” the battle our Shluchim have been fighting since 1974 to protect our right to hold public menorah lightings on public property. It’s not the non-Jews who are the problem; it’s the liberal Jews and the religious-but-not-Chabad Jews. As recently as January of 2015, Eliezer Stein wrote in an op-ed in the Orthodox newspaper Hamodia: “You see, it isn’t about what we can get or can’t get in court. It is about what is an important fight and what is not. An important fight is one that helps safeguard our religious practice — if it does, we cannot worry about whom it would antagonize. An unimportant fight is one that serves no such purpose; why, then, should we antagonize anyone?”
And yet, explains Rabbi Eliezrie, “What Stein does not comprehend is that it is far from ‘unimportant’ to bring Yidden back to Yiddishkeit, one mitzvah at a time. It is far from ‘unimportant’ to practice pirsumei nisa, publicizing the miracles of Chanukah, and to do so as publicly as possible! Nor does he grasp that it was not the broader community that opposed the public menorah lightings, but rather Jews who did not want such a public display of Judaism. Stein feels that ‘an important fight is one that helps safeguard our religious practice.’ The Rebbe saw, as other Jewish leaders did not, that safeguarding Yiddishkeit would not be accomplished by limiting our scope of activity to people who were already religious. Rather, we need to expand our focus outward, bring our brethren back to their roots and their inheritance, and in that way we strengthen Judaism for everyone.”
Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie is the author of the recently published “The Secret of Chabad—Inside the World’s Most Successful Jewish Movement,” exploring how the Rebbe transformed modern Jewish life. It is currently number one on “new books in Jewish history” on Amazon.
Subscribe today in time for home delivery or pick up your copy of the Kislev N’shei Chabad Newsletter in stores soon to find out Rabbi Friedman’s cure for narcissism, how Rachel Krol overcame her traumas, Rabbi Green’s agunah adventures, how “The Menorah War” were won, and much, much more! Visit us online at www.nsheichabadnewsletter.com to subscribe; we are also available on Amazon and Apple’s iTunes.