I just completed a three-year stint at a Cleveland Bais Yaakov teaching English Literature and Public Speaking. Since the school has neither internet access nor a secular library, I struggled in setting expectations for the girls’ requirement to do research for an informational speech. Eventually, I decided to assign a “biography speech.” Each student was asked to choose an ArtScroll or Feldheim biography of a gadol (Torah giant) and select three traits of this gadol as her focus. Despite the fact that my students’ speeches relied on a single source and were therefore one-sided, each year they came out rather good – at least according to my adjusted standards. The speeches were structured, organized, and well delivered. And as an unexpected bonus, I walked away feeling inspired by the stories of mesiras nefesh (self-sacrifice) and kavod haTorah (honor brought to the Torah) of these great Torah giants.
A story is told about a father who wanted to name his son Pinchas. Both his father and his wife’s father were named Pinchas. His father was a bank robber and his wife’s was a horse thief. The couple went to the Rav and asked, “Since both of our fathers have the same name, how will we know whom he is named after?” The Rav, said, “Don’t worry, when you see how he turns out, then you will know!”
My children are mostly grown up now, but I can still remember the tension I felt when I had to work on Chol Hamoed and my children had school vacation, or the times when my son cried bitterly when I dropped him off at the daycare center. All day I was torn between doing my job and worrying about the kids. Most working mothers can identify with this stress. Often we think, am I doing the right thing or the wrong thing for my family by going to work? What can I do differently so that we can all benefit?
Since many young women work today, I decided to explore some of the choices they make about their working lives. Why do women work? How do they maintain a balance between their home and work lives? Why do some women chose not to work? How does family support help? What impact does working have on the children?
My article, “How to Be Married to a Man,” recently published in the Where What When, earned me a lot of head nods and a couple of high-fives from male readers. It also led some women to indicate that perhaps I could offer some comparable tips to the other gender. (That would be the male gender. I am spelling that out for the men, who, of course, need things made explicit for them, because they don’t do things like “infer” from what you said.) In recognition of the great need, I present you with this article about how to be married to a woman. And this time, I can claim a lot more credibility, since I (a man) am married to a woman
I was walking past Mr. K, last week, at an assisted living home, and he told me the news: “Menachem, I’m the president.”
“Really?” I said.
“Yup, the first Jewish president.”
How to respond to a statement like this is a quandary that confronts me regularly in my work. After all, the Torah tells us to stay far away from sheker, lies. Yet we social workers, in the course of helping people in all kinds of settings, are often faced with such ethical dilemmas. In fact, the Maryland Board of Social Work Examiners, which licenses and monitors all Maryland social workers, requires every licensed social worker to take ongoing education classes in “Ethics.”
I’m sure you’re all familiar with the classic Chol Hamo’ed what-should-we-do syndrome. It’s not easy to find an activity or trip that satisfies an entire family of different ages and stages while at the same time satisfying the parents’ financial considerations. Growing up, our family went through the same debate every Chol Hamo’ed. At one point, my mother made a rule that the children had to discuss it and agree on a trip the night before. I don’t remember it ever really working. Usually, at some point, my father would just tell everyone to get in the car, and he’d start driving. We’d eventually find something interesting – or we wouldn’t.