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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 15, 2007 / 1 Elul, 5765

To raise a man

By Andrea Simantov


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | A lot has been written in recent years about male/female ways of thinking, i.e., right/left brain stuff. Most of these pieces use a lot of numbers, abbreviations for scientific terms I don't understand, and are adorned with pictures of latex-swathed lab workers holding test tubes. For me, these are scary articles, and I quickly turn the page, searching for laundry-soap coupons. Considering that I'm a very smart woman, I can play dumb-in-a-flash and not look back. No apologies, no guilt.


I was born female and hope to remain that way until I draw my last breath. Not because I claim any moral or spiritual superiority. I just like things to stay the way they are and try avoid dramatic change if possible.


I'll just keep doing that girl-thing if you don't mind. Being Torah observant as well, I thank G-d every day for creating me according to His will and consistently refuse to be drawn into anti-religious debates born from lack-of-knowledge that claim that G-d is, clearly, anti-woman.


She isn't.


Point being: Women are more emotional. We don't necessarily need "solutions" as much as we need "contact" and intercommunication. Not only isn't it a "liability"; it's good stuff. Makes us different, which, methinks, is excellent. I like analysis and hashing out dilemmas with my gal-pals and co-workers who, in time, leave me smarter and better informed. The men I know have little patience for this kind of introspection and over-examination and will rarely entertain this pressing need in me and others of my gender unless there is even a slight possibility for romantic entanglement later on.


Which is why I was so moved when my very Israeli, very macho, counselor son came home to tell me about a little boy who cried in camp because the beach sand was scalding hot beneath his feet.


Why I was so moved when my very Israeli, very macho, counselor son came home to tell me about a little boy who cried in camp because the beach sand was scalding hot beneath his feet
It seemed that his bunkmates had walked ahead too quickly for the little boy and he lagged behind. Seeing him screaming in pain and fear with nowhere to turn and even more frightened at having seemingly been abandoned, Ariel dropped his bags and ran back to where the terrified youngster stood. He scooped him into his arms and ran toward the sea in order to dunk the child's feet. In telling me this story, Ariel was crying.


"He was so scared, Mom. He was screaming and all I could think of was how to make it better and stop the panic. The crazy thing was, I knew exactly how he felt."


Lest one thinks that my sons are New Age Sensitive types, be reassured. They have little patience for my personal need "to emote."


"Gosh, Mom, you've said that a hundred times. No one cares about your friend's sick poodle." Or, "Why are you telling us this, Mom? Don't you have a girl friend or something?" These exchanges usually take place at the Shabbes (Sabbath) table from where I won't run and must, instead, blink back tears of embarrassment coupled with self-righteous rage. This is a scene that repeats itself week after week.


My boy-children are selective about which life issues deserve compassion. For example, when I recently decided to put our house up for sale and mused aloud about how "Change is good" and "Let's not be so quick to take the first offer" (what offer???), they both varfed themselves and shouted, "Are we going to talk about this all the time? Can't we talk about anything else???" Naturally, I did the gasp-and-blink-back-tears thing but to no avail.


When I came home from a stunning 25th anniversary party down the road, however, and described how I was the ONLY single person there and how uncomfortable I felt while searching for an extra seat at any of the tables, there appeared a teeny, empathetic glint in their eyes. Pouncing upon this opportunity, I described the Guest of Honor's speech that extolled the rewards of marriage, causing everyone in the room to nod in quixotic agreement. I reported to the boys that as difficult as this was for me (despite agreeing with every word he uttered), I held my dignity, and nodded along with others — hoping for a few extra moments of dim light so I could regain composure and not call attention to my aloneness. But this poise was shattered when a well-meaning woman sidled over to me and squeezed my shoulder. It was an understanding squeeze. But it broke me. Broke me in shame. I was crazed and desperate for a few moments of invisibility, and this was wrested from me by someone's well-meaning but ill-timed concern.


Aargh!


In sharing this story with my sons, they grew pensive and, for a brief moment, saw me as less of a Borscht-Belt caricature than a real, flesh-and-blood human being. They exhibited uncharacteristic patience and concurred that it would be good to move from this perfectly fine neighborhood where I've gradually come to feel out of place. They simply agreed that I need a more varied community where I might find more "people like me." I saw in their faces that they felt secure, safe in the belief that if it is good for me, then it will be good for them. That I would never put the Me before the We. Yep, it was a good moment.


And just as quickly, they switched from Dr. Phil mode and back to Fred Mertz. But never mind. For one short-lived moment I held their kindness in the palm of my motherly hand and recognized that inside the hearts of my male offspring lay a quality called rachmanus — "mercy."


It should be pointed out that the word rachmanus comes from the word rechem, or "womb." It can therefore be deduced that, according to holy-tongue, a man who is merciful is a man in touch with his "feminine-self." Because, in truth, only those in possession of a physical womb can truly "own" this quality. And we can further infer that G-d meant for all of us to take the best from one another. That there are things for women to glean from their tender dealings with men. And men who are lovingly connected to women can achieve greater depths from their relationships.


For a woman alone, raising boys to become men is oftentimes daunting. Self-doubts seize me at the most inconvenient times, and I often hurt for them, anguished that I cannot slay their dragons for them instead of feebly standing by while they respectively wrestle with inconveniences such as hormones, social insecurity, and looming military service. I want for my boy-men what I want for myself: Love, laughter, comfort in one's own skin.


I suppose that all He is really asking from us is our personal best, even if it isn't great at a given moment in time. That somewhere in Heaven sits a Roll Book filled with gold-and-silver stars, attesting to expended effort.

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JewishWorldReview.com contributor Andrea Simantov is a Jerusalem-based columnist and single mother of six. Comments by clicking here.


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© 2007, Andrea Simantov. This column first appeared in Orange County Jewish Life