On “Advice Without Consent”

by Chaya Mermerstein

…I would like to join the chorus of readers who were touched by this piece…It was only the day before I read this article that I quietly absorbed a “friend’s” verbal abuse, and thought I did the noble thing by not responding.  Many people in our small world lack a sense…of what to say, to whom, and when.  In light of this very sad reality, it seems to me that the quotes of the Sefer Hachinuch and Rabbi Pliskin cited by Ms. Mermerstein in her article are extremely important sources towards self-defense, self-esteem and survival…

Rabbi Neil Fleischmann

New York, N.Y.

…While it is true that there are individuals within the Orthodox community who are not tactful and who make inappropriate remarks to singles and childless couples, as a member of the Orthodox community, I cannot accept that it is the community at large that is cruelly insensitive and hurtful to people in this painful situation.

…The writer claims that the Orthodox community is traumatizing her in much the same, though in a “less dramatic” way, that Holocaust victims and Vietnam veterans were traumatized…However, Holocaust and Vietnam victims suffered…every day countless atrocities and untold horrors inflicted by the most vicious and inhuman of people…It is inconceivable that the Orthodox community as a whole can possibly have harmed anyone in a way that is just as “real or intense.”  This is an unjust comparison…

…Let us look at the other side of the coin.  Sadly enough, there are arrogant and inconsiderate men and women who parade as rabbis and rebbetzins; they are obviously not “the real thing”…There are many rabbis and rebbetzins who are compassionate, sensitive, wise and caring and who know how to give good, solid advice.  It was simply an unlucky quirk of fate that the writer met with the wrong ones.

…I do firmly believe that the public should be made aware of the singles problem and the insensitivity issue related to it, because only through awareness can something be done to ameliorate the situation.  Even so, I would like to point out that the Orthodox community — and with this I include every type of religious Jew from one end of the spectrum to the other — is the best that exists; and indeed we must be careful not to slander it in any way.  And I must add that I am proud and thankful to be a member of it.

Dina Polatsek

Monsey, N.Y.

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This article was featured in the Fall 1995 issue of Jewish Action.
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