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Jewish Thinking

No Children, No Job, Single: a Bit of Sensitivity!

Published on Sunday January 12th, 2020

Rebecca Rosen carefully examines the cereal shelf in her local supermarket. Bran flakes or Kellogg's? Routine helps her momentarily forget the difficult times that she and her husband are going through.

For three years they have been trying to have children, but unfortunately, G-d has not yet blessed them with a child. It is particularly difficult for her to live in a neighborhood where so many young couples have already been blessed with several children. While examining the ingredients on the cereal box, she experiences a brief respite and forgets her anxious thoughts. Until she is interrupted by her thoughts.

Still No Children

"Rebecca? Hello, how are you?" The voice was that of a former friend from University, although in recent years they had lost touch with each other. "So ... how's life going? she continued. Rebecca smiled. "Great, thank you. I have finished my studies, and my husband works in a high-tech firm.'' Rebecca knew full well that this was not the answer expected by her friend. "But other than that... [forced pause] ... how are things, how's everything else?" Rebecca found it increasingly difficult to keep smiling. "Good, really good. "
"I know you and Josh are having a hard time trying to have children," his old friend remarked. Rebecca felt a knot forming in her stomach. She knew the turn the conversation was about to take. She was not sure what was bothering her more: an ex-friend asking too many personal question or the indiscreet place for such a conversation that should be held in the privacy of a living room, and certainly not in the isle of a supermarket. As her friend continued, Rebecca forced herself to carry on smiling, bowing her head in front of the barrage of unsolicited questions and solace. "It must be so hard ... Are you really trying? ... Do you and your husband get on? I know a Rav who... Anyway, have a good day! And she abruptly ended her monologue.
Rebecca smiled. The most difficult moment has arrived. Rebecca turned to her friend who was eagerly awaiting a reaction to the wise advice she has just given; and she mumbled: "Thank you very much to you too."

Professional Chess

Baruch had a wonderful wife and was the father of four children. Everything had gone well for him, but he has just been fired from his job and he was now accumulating debts. He has been unemployed for almost a year and the longer he remained unemployed, the more the job prospects seemed to diminish.

A close friend, Simcha, had just joined an excellent firm. Baruch was pleased for his friend's promotion, but Simcha's promotion emphasized Baruch's precarious situation. Simcha planned to hold a small Kiddush in the synagogue on Shabbat to celebrate his new position. Baruch was nervous but determined to join his close friend to rejoice with him.

Baruch felt uncomfortable at the Kiddush. He imagined that everyone around him was thinking, "Wow, I cannot believe he came! It must be so hard for him.'' Honestly, they were right. It was not easy. After congratulating his friend, Baruch was about to leave. His hope to leave discretely was destroyed as he was stopped by many different people.

"I'm yirtzeh Hashem by you soon... if G-d wants, soon for you too..."

He had the impression that a platoon in charge of comforting him had been appointed. An old acquaintance took him aside.

"Baruch, know that the situation you are in is really a blessing. Do not worry."

Frustrated by his friend's lack of sensitivity, he looked at him and murmured: "Yeah, if G-d wants, by you soon."

Even in the Synagogue

At the end of the Shabbat morning prayer, Yoni sat in his usual place, listening to the announcements. After having finished announcing the Shabbat program, the gabbai, a jovial and humorous man began to list all the happy events of the members of the synagogue. Yoni began to apprehend this part of the service. Although he had only been married for two years, he and his wife did not yet have children.

"Mazal Tov to the Berkowitz family for the birth of a girl! "

Some members sitting at the back exclaimed, "Lechaim! Yoni chuckled, and although it was difficult, he was happy for the Berkowitz family. The constant sarcasm of his friends and members of the synagogue greatly aggravated his pain. As the list of community simchot continued, comments inevitably begin to spring forth.
A friend sitting on Yoni's table turned to him. "So, Yoni, what are you waiting for?'' Yoni's chuckle faded into a forced smile. "Yeah, we are trying," he replied. Another member of the synagogue, sitting right in front of him, addressed Yoni: "We are all waiting to hear good news, bekarov!'' Yoni nodded, pretending to agree. He knew that his friends and neighbours meant well, but he wanted that they should focus their attention on the other simchot, and not on his own tsarot. He was happy to know that everyone was waiting for his Simcha, but he wanted that they should show this more discreetly and more calmly.

A Little Sensitivity!

The purpose of this article is not to establish which life challenge is harder, but rather to encourage thought and to develop sensitivity when it comes to the difficulties of others. When we start engaging in the game: "For whom is this really more difficult for? We have freed ourselves from the responsibility of considering the problem of each individual from a unique and personal angle. Allow G-d to give the prize to "whoever is in the most difficult situation''. Meanwhile, on our side, we can try to make these difficult situations less painful.

Everyone experiences setbacks in life. Everyone takes different paths throughout a productive and successful life. Some people are fired, others have difficulties to have children, others take more time to get married. Everyone deserves our sensitivity, and everyone has the right to their own privacy and a reserved conduct on our part. This is possible with a good dose of common sense and thinking briefly before speaking.

Do not hasten to judge others: if he is single, it is his fault. In the same way that couples try to have children, but without success, some try to find their soulmate  but struggle to find a suitable partner. Some people get married at a more advanced stage and are happy, and the only thing that kept them from finding a partner earlier was only their mazal, not a personality disorder, a problem of commitment or a pathological disorder. Make sure your words of encouragement are solicited (explicitly or implicitly) and try not to make the conversation constantly revolve around the setback experienced by your friend/ acquaintance/ person encountered at the supermarket.

Contrary to what you may think, sometimes a person may simply not want to talk about it. Do not tell someone that it is a bracha unless you really want that it should happen to you. Indeed, we should all have friends and acquaintances who treat us with the same sensitivity and respect they want for themselves. Please G-d by you soon.

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