May 20, 2024
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May 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

We were discussing the other day how as we get older many things that had disturbed us in the past are now just little ripples in our everyday existence. Life is so much better when we are able to drop the anxiety about things that are inconsequential. We remember so well our early days of marriage when problems such as who would take Mordechai’s shirts to the laundry and who would bring the garbage down to the basement of our building caused us great angst and anger towards each other. One of the most remarkable stories that we can remember is the day when Nina was standing in the kitchen preparing food for Shabbat and a mouse ran out from under a cabinet to another one of its hiding places. Screams were probably heard all over Washington Heights and for days Nina refused to walk naturally in our apartment. She walked on tip toe in fear that she would step on the intruder at some time. When his brother, cousin or other family member appeared a few days later, it took an army to convince her that she should go back into the apartment. Her mother was threatening to call the Board of Health, as her concern was for her daughter who was many months pregnant. Every time a closet needed to be opened or she entered the apartment she would first check all around to make sure that she would not see “it” again.

Several weeks ago on Shabbat morning as Nina was entering our kitchen here in our home on New Bridge Road, she suddenly became aware of something scurrying across the room. When she realized what it was she took a can of beans and threw it directly across the room in an effort to abort the visitor’s foray. Surprising as it may or may not seem, she missed. Without even blinking an eye, she maintained most of her composure, ran and got dressed and walked to shul. It only took about five seconds for her to tell the first person that she met what type of visitor we had in our home that morning. We returned home and everything was quite normal. We did not even care (sort of) about our furry visitor. It had lost its enormous threat. (Yes, we did call an exterminator after Shabbat.)

What about those car scratches? We have realized after all of these years that they are inevitable. Is it worth it to blame someone when they come home and meekly report that they scraped the side of the car and it left a “slight” scratch mark. Did they do it on purpose? Of course not! Yes, there were days long ago when the anger was definitely there. Especially with a new car: Ouch, does that hurt! Then after awhile you say to yourself, It is only a car. Let it be. He loves her, she loves him, the kids didn’t do it on purpose. Chill out.

At what point does one realize that their mother-in-law, sister-in-law or brother-in-law, who are definitely thorns in one’s side every once in a while, are going to be around a lot longer than you would like? What they say is probably not malicious or intended to be hurtful, and most likely is just showing their ignorance regarding how to say things in a way that is not offensive. Those types of people may never change. We have learned from experience, however, that we are able to change. We are able to make ourselves feel as though it is the other person’s problem. We can choose our friends, but family is something else. Nothing is worth alienating our children and ourselves from family members. As the adults in a family it is our responsibility to teach our children that it is imperative to show respect to everyone. Certain things, if they need to be said, should be done when a couple is totally alone. We have been present when couples denigrate family members directly in front of their children. Just what type of values are we passing on? It is obvious that the same notion applies to speaking negatively about our children’s teachers, administrators or school in front of them. They hear and absorb everything and in the long run we are doing no one a favor. Generally one learns, as we have, that if a child is having difficulty in school it may have more to do with the child than with the school.

Why is it that we continue to make a big deal about things? When will we learn that some things are simply not worth wasting our time on? When will we learn introspection, rather than blaming others? We promise you that upon looking back on things that might have seemed huge at the time, we have found that in the scope of things they were only large because we made them so.

What baffles us is that these lessons are obviously meant to be learned. But why? Wouldn’t it be easier for us to be forewarned that some things are just not worth stressing over? Wouldn’t it save so much mesiras nefesh? We guess that it is just part of our continual learning in life. Trust us, though, when you reach the stage of life when you can actually look back and chuckle about how not important some of the “major” issues were, you will know that you have attained a great place to be in life. We wish it on everyone.

By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick

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