Thursday, Feb 22, 2024

Oy, Poor You…

When it comes to middos, being nosei be'ol is one of the basic attributes of a truly caring Jew. Literally, it means carrying someone else's burden. Practically speaking, if we can't actually help the person, we should at least feel and share in their pain. Especially at this time of year, during the days of Sefirah when we seek to improve our interpersonal relationships, this is an area in which we should all be seeking to improve. For starters, the least we can do is to recognize - at the minimum - who are the unfortunates amongst us, so that we can begin our work of being nosei be'ol.

Towards this end, we undertook a project, wherein we sought the input of various community members, askonim, photographers, bicyclists, shaitel machers, business owners, life coaches and home decorators. After an inordinate amount of research and analysis of data, we were able to put together a composite list of those who’ve earned other people’s true sympathies. We do not necessarily agree with any or all of the items on this list. Rather, we share it with our readers for illustrative purposes only.
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(Note: To protect the identity of those interviewed, only their initials are used.)


A.S.: There are families in our community who were not blessed with a large number of children. Perhaps they have four kids, maybe five.


Do we feel their pain? Do we realize what a rachmonus such a family is, especially when living in a community like ours?


S.A.: Some families have lots of children. Say 15, 18, or even “just” 12. You see them, wherever they go, pushing double strollers with a bunch of other kids hanging on to the sides.


Surely, these families are barely managing. Who can cope with such a large and unwieldy brood? Do we feel bad for these families? Do we feel bad for their neglected kids? Do we recognize what a rachmonus they are?


R.G.: In some families, the husband – nebach – is a “lo yutzlach,” a failure, to put it mildly. These guys are married for years, their friends are all working or teaching, yet they have no job and no shteller – no teaching position – so they’re still trekking off to kollel year after year. It’s not necessarily their fault. Some people just don’t have what it takes. It’s a rachmonus, but they simply don’t know how to do anything with their lives.


Do we feel bad for these guys? I sure do.


G.R.: Some men have no zitzfleish. They don’t know how to buckle down and learn. They’re handeling all the time, investing, shvitzing and making money. If they’re lucky, they get a job, either in a secular profession or as a rebbi. The bottom line is, they simply couldn’t hack it in kollel.


What a rachmonus on these fellows. I sure feel for them.


M.T.: Think about how and where people live. Some people have no privacy. They can ill afford a private home on a quiet block, and they must buy cheaply in some crowded development. Their house is a clone of everyone else’s, ditto for their schedules, and their homes are a reshus horabim, with kids of all ages entering and leaving at will. Competition is fierce, with chinuch and shalom bayis suffering severely as a result.


Do we think about how difficult these people have it? Do we feel for them?


T.M.: Let’s not forget those poor families who are, nebach, social outcasts, or who simply never quite managed to connect or develop meaningful relationships with the rest of normative society. These families find themselves left out every time a nice chevrah comes together to buy and develop a warm, close-knit community. They’re forever left living on a solitary street, with neither close neighbors nor friends for their children, alone and adrift.


It can’t be easy for these people, knowing what a rachmonus their situation is. As caring Jews, we must share in their pain.


Y.B.: Let’s not forget the wives. Some of them really don’thave it easy. There are many busy wives and mothers who shop where we do and send their children to the same schools as us who are barely coping. Their husbands, who should be sharing in their burden, are happily away most of the day, either learning in yeshiva, or at work or with their night-seder chavrusos. While the wives scrub and cook and launder and feed and soothe and shop and slave away, their husbands are away in their nice and cozy comfortable bubbles, doing their own thing, blissfully uninvolved in their poor wives’ daily struggles.


You gotta feel bad for these women.


B.Y.: We shouldn’t overlook those pathetic wives whose husbands constantly hover nearby, always looking to lend a hand, do the dishes or take out the garbage. The poor wife turns crimson with shame as her friends – whose husbands are all away doing something real and constructive with their lives – see her own husband slacking off, going out late and coming back early, as if she couldn’t manage on her own. This lady would give anything to struggle with the never-ending multi-tasking demanding of today’s wives and mothers, if only her husband would actually be away and do something with his life.


What a rachmonus. I hope people sufficiently empathize with these women’s suffering.


L.C.: Singles don’t necessarily have it easy. How many young ladies are out there – great girls from beautiful families, with amazing middos and terrific hashkafos – who are still single simply because their families lack the bloated monetary funds demanded by today’s top boys? Girls sit and cry near their phones – which don’t even ring – not due to any imperfections on their part, but solely because they’re not rich or the direct descendant of a long line of roshei yeshivos and rabbonim.


How sad! How pathetic! Do we commiserate with their woeful lot?


C.L.: Some girls have the misfortune of being born into a wealthy or renowned family. These girls know, from the very beginning, that no boy even cares about who they are or what they feel. All anyone sees is their father’s bank accounts or the position as maggid shiur they hope the girl’s father will eventually give them in his yeshiva. The girl herself feels like a nobody. Boys are lining up to go out with her. Great, she thinks to herself, and not one of them gives a hoot about who Iam, about me, as an individual, a person with my own dreams and aspirations. All I am, and all I ever will be, is So-and-so’s daughter.


This is truly a pathetic situation in which to find oneself. A rachmonus. I so sympathize with these girls.


D.V.: The elderly aren’t spared from sad situations either. Nursing homes and hospitals are full of people whose normal bodily functions have long left them. They can barely see or hear or get around. They are in constant pain and take a never-ending stream of medications to keep them going.


They’re a true pity in their old age. Do we sincerely feel for their sorry fate?


V.D.: Some people never reach that stage where they have all these aches and pains and constant complaints. Their bodies never really aged. They simply passed away before ever getting that old.


Nebach. They never merited to reach their golden years. Can we ever sufficiently share in the sorrow of such people?


– – – – –


As the reader has surely caught on by now, before we look at anyone else and think their situation is, perhaps, a bit “rachmonusdik,” we should bear in mind that we’ll never know just how many people may be thinking the same exact thing about us!


Moreover, the person you might be trying hard not to envy may be having an equally difficult time not envying you! While you might think, “Okay, but if he would only know…,” he’s almost surely thinking the same exact thing to himself!


Ultimately, Hashem knows what is good – actually perfect – for each of us, at the present moment, in our current situation. As long as Hashem will be running the show – and that doesn’t seem to be expiring anytime, uh, ever – we all have perfect, even if perhaps challenging lives. While we may not understand how that is, we must recognize – and take pride, if necessary – in knowing that it is that way.


This knowledge will bring us immeasurably closer to living our lives with a more positive, and less worrisome, outlook.


Hmmm. Living without worries. How would we ever manage? I mean, if that’s not a rachmonus



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