Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Cheshvan 5763 - October 9, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

"Reaching the age of responsibility means more than maturity; it means that one's life has achieved real significance" (R' Yaakov Weinberg, zt'l)

Celebrating a Bas Mitzva in a Meaningful Way
by Yonina Hall

Part II

Like a kalla on her wedding day, the Bas Mitzva girl stands at the threshold of a new stage in life. This occasion naturally lends itself to personal reflection and prayer.

A Time for Prayer

Mrs. E. took each of her daughters to the Kosel and Kever Rochel on the morning of their twelfth birthdays. She chose the first location for its universal significance to the Jewish people, and the latter to emphasize her daughter's link in the chain forged by the Imahos, the role models of tzniyus and middos for every daughter of Israel.

"I think it's important to teach children how significant davening is, and not let occasions go by without using them as opportunities to come close to Hashem," Mrs. E. explains.

Together, she and her daughter say a perek Tehillim; then each makes her own personal requests. "I suggest that my daughter pray for Heavenly assistance and success in the meaningful things in life, but I don't tell her what to say. I tell her, `I would say this and that, but you can say whatever is in your heart.' "

The shared experience strengthens the evolving mother- daughter relationship. "By doing things together, a mother can guide her daughter through the steps of building a Jewish life," Mrs. E. observes. "We can use the opportunity of Bas Mitzva to reframe our bond as partners in growth. With Hashem's help, our daughers will keep coming back to us for help, advice and nurturing."

Brochos from Noshim Tzidkoniyos

Little boys are taken to rabbonim for a ceremonial snip of hair and a blessing on their third birthdays. Bar Mitzva boys may be taken to the homes of elderly sages for brochos. Can we give our daughter similar chizuk from those who have achieved greatness in life?

Mrs. L. added an emotional touch to her daughter's Bas Mitzva by taking her to meet Rebbetzin Brocha Kanievsky, wife of Hagaon R' Chaim Kanievsky shlita, in Bnei Brak. Rebbetzin Kanievsky, who counsels and comforts many people in her home, received the pair with warmth and affection.

"She looks at everyone like she's the only one who came to see her today," the Bas Mitzva girl recalls. "She kissed me and gave me a brocha and then she said she had a present for me."

Mother and daughter looked on in amazement as Rebbetzin Kanievsky presented the Bas Mitzva girl with a booklet about chessed written by one of her sons-in-law. She inscribed in it a long, heartfelt blessing encouraging the girl to become a "big tzadika" and a source of nachas to her parents.

"Combined with the private family seuda we made at home, it was a very modest but meaningful way to mark her Bas Mitzva," Mrs. L. reflects. "The message was that it's her special day, yet there's little fanfare. A Jewish woman has to know that she's special, and must continue growing."



Shoe Drive Puts its Best Foot Forward

by Sheindel Weinbach

This is a story that begins in Passaic, N.J. and ends in Jerusalem, Israel. Being on the receiving end in my capacity as coordinator of three used clothing centers, known familiarily as `gemachs,' I can vouch for the warm and hearty reception at this end.

Let's get back to the other end, which begins with Miriam Weiss, an eleven-year-old girl studying in Yeshivas Beis Hillel. She and her parents anticipate her upcoming Bas Mitzva and want this to be a true initiation into Jewish adulthood, with its accompanying obligation to do good deeds with family orientation. Miriam has studied the laws of tzedoka and wants to undertake a meaningful project. When a local Jewish publication writes about podiatrists who are collecting shoes for the needy, she and her parents launch into high gear. This will be their `baby.' She wants to be involved with collecting the shoes and making sure they get to the needy of Eretz Yisroel.

Half of the problem is collecting the shoe donations, the other half, distributing. Miriam designed the flyer for local distribution and the shoes came marching in, to the school and later, some 300 more, to the Weiss home. She connected with Zichron Baila in Brooklyn, which ships off six-foot-long containers full of shoes and clothing four times a year in conjuction with Yad Eliezer, a comprehensive charity organization that underwrites the shipping and partial distribution of the clothing, collects and distributes food baskets, blankets and makes weddings at subsidized prices.

The shoes duly arrive in Israel and find their way to the proliferating open arms of clothing gemachim from Tsefat up north down to Ofakim and Netivot down south, with dozens of centers in between catering to the needs of Torah communities nationwide.


From a hop to a skip to a jump of hundreds of pairs of shoes, duly paired with plastic bands and boxed to be shipped off, the project in Passaic was off the ground and on board ship.

Meanwhile, Zisi Wachsberg, a Hillel parent, caught Miriam's enthusiasm and began a drive last month for clothing, shoes and toys to be distributed from the next shipment. Each donor was asked to give $1 for shipping and customs costs. Yes, customs must be paid at the Israeli end, even for used items.

AT THIS END: Over 100 boxes arrived, chock full of goodies, all bearing the welcome "Shalom from Passaic", intended for the needy religious-chareidi public. How thoughtful and sweet and personal! The clothing was in excellent condition, the shoes -- new or almost new, and the toys -- well this was Gan Eden for the regular shoppers at the clothing gemachs, struggling families, mothers many of who, themselves, were deprived as they grew up.

One shoe story I like to share: about 7 years ago, Beged Yad Leyad had the privilege of opening up a center in Neve Yaakov, a consolidated community of hundreds of religious families -- by and large, poor and large -- thanks to the donation of a basement apartment. It opened a week before Rosh Hashona with much of their stock incorporating Zichron Baila shoes. One blissful mother purchased eight pairs of different sized Shabbos shoes (@ about 40 cents a pair). I can only infer that she had not bought any NEW shoes for her children at this point!

Toys are one big luxury and put stars in the eyes of mothers who grew up deprived, themselves, and want their children to have more than they had, but can't afford new shoes or clothing when their very food budget is being supplemented by Yad Eliezer baskets.

So -- dear Passaic, Shalom from Jerusalem, and thanks, thanks so much! And to you, dear Miriam, we are sure that you will go on to become an Eishes Chayil, a woman steeped in good deeds!


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