A Tisha B’Av Message from Zvi Gluck

Our thoughts turn somber as we count down the last few minutes until Tisha B’Av and with all of the deaths we have experienced in recent weeks, it isn’t all that difficult to feel the churban in our own generation. While it is convenient to compare the destruction that we experienced centuries ago when both Batei Mikdash were destroyed to the epidemic that is currently sweeping through our community, it seems to me that the two situations are not at all alike.

In the churban of both the first and the second Beis Hamikdash, there were foreign forces that swept through our land, as our enemies wielded swords and killed with no remorse. In the plague that we are experiencing today, the forces that murder our children come from within our own community.

Yes, it is clear that our children are dying of abuse and addiction, but those behaviors are the symptoms of a deeper underlying problem. It pains me to be the bearer of bad news but I firmly believe that there are two entities in our communities that our killing our kids: our yeshivos and our parents.

Allow me to explain.

While our chinuch system has evolved in numerous positive ways over the years, thanks in a large part to the efforts of Torah U’Mesorah, most of our yeshivos have shifted from being community schools to businesses. Schools used to contain a healthy mix of students of a variety of academic abilities and they all learned from and supported each other. But today? Today schools are for-profit entities and all too many are caught up with finances, kavod or both, leaving the weaker students to fall through the cracks. Lacking confidence and craving positive reinforcement of any kind, many turn to the streets in their search for something that will chase away the darkness.

But it isn’t just the schools that are the problem. Sadly, all too many parents are failing their kids, refusing to seek the help that they know their children need because they are afraid that it will have an adverse affect on potential shidduchim. They are so focused on finding the “right kind” of match for their children that they completely overlook the fact that their child is in pain and in need of serious help. Those same parents would never think twice about taking their child to the emergency room if they were in physical pain, but once we venture into the realm of emotional pain, everything changes. Noooo, we can’t get help for our son or daughter. It will mess up future shidduchim for the entire family.

Shidduchim – I hate that word. How many lives have been lost because parents have been focused on shidduchim? More than you can possibly imagine. Far too many of our beautiful children have been sacrificed on the altar of shidduchim, or brought as a korban to ensure the sterling reputation of a particular mossad.

We need to face facts. Sexual abuse happens in our community. Drug abuse happens in our community. It’s time to stop burying our heads in the sand and to get those who are suffering the help they need.

Each of our children is a Mikdash Me’at and this year alone we have seen the Beis Hamikdash destroyed again and again, dozens of times. So when you sit down to hear Eichah on Tisha B’Av, and when you try to connect with the words of kinos, think of the lights that have been extinguished. The children that will never be born. The tears that continue to flow in rivers, not just during the time of the churban, but today as the destruction continues unabated.

Cry for the Batei Mikdash that we lost centuries ago. Cry for the beautiful lives that ended all too soon, both then and now. And then take those tears and put them to use. Let us demand of our educators to do right by all of our children, even those of lesser academic ability. And let us gather our courage and embrace our children, accepting them for who they are, supporting them in their journey through life and getting them help when they need it.

This Tisha B’Av I beg of you. Take a moment to put yourself in the shoes of those who are suffering. Feel their pain. Cry for them.

And then do everything you can to prevent yet another churban from taking place, today, tomorrow, next week or next month.

Because we can’t afford to lose any more of our precious children.

Zvi Gluck is the director of Amudim Community Resources, an organization dedicated to helping abuse victims and those suffering with addiction within the Jewish community and has been heavily involved in crisis intervention and management for the past 15 years. For more information go to www.amudim.org.

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  1. Take a step back please Mr. Gluck. It’s not quite so simple as blaming the schools for not admitting slower students, and the parents for not taking their children to social workers and to the “expert” mental health people who went to school for a couple of years and now know the answer to all of life’s problems (most of whom are also in therapy for their own problems).

    Our communities have become extraordinarily judgemental; you, me, everybody. We’re so quick to decide this one is right, that one is wrong, this one is rich enough, that one is middle-class, this one is smart enough, that one is challenged, this one is pretty, that one is a toad, this one is cool, that one is nerdy, and on and on and on.

    We spend our days judging everyone around us L’chaim or the opposite. If they don’t fit our standards, we don’t have anything to do with them. If they don’t agree with us, they’re automatically stupid, archaic, uninformed, uneducated (or worrying about shidduchim for their kids).

    And our children are quick to pick up on this. They too become judgemental at a very early age. That girl doesn’t have the right bow in her hair (she doesn’t belong), that boy doesn’t know his Aleph Bais (he must be dumb). That kid goes out to the resource room (B”H Morah/Rebbe doesn’t send me . . . that’s for the slow kids). And then the bullying starts. (And this is in the schools brave enough to accept different levels of children!!!)

    Our children are learning from US to judge others, and to act accordingly based on their judgements. How many wealthy people stop to say Gut Shabbos to the guy with the polyester suit? How can one possibly talk to people who don’t vacation in Switzerland or go to a 4-star hotel for Pesach — what can you possibly have in common? What does the Rosh Yeshiva have in common with the plumber who fixes his leaky sink? If I wear a $3,500 sheitel, what would I say to someone who wears an out-of-the-box? If my daughter is going to BJJ, what would I have to do with you, whose daughter is going to community college straight out of high school? My son is in Brisk — he can’t go out with your daughter — your sons learned in the Mir. We’re Skeverer Chassidim, you are Satmar. Your wear white socks, I wear boots. Your children read English books, my children only ready Yiddish ones. And on and on and on.

    It’s not our fault. We’re just different.

    It is our fault.

    We have to stop judging others for being different. And then those who are different won’t feel judged, won’t feel less, won’t feel worthless, and won’t have to take their lives to escape the pain.

    • Beautiful. Let’s stat seeing everyone as Yidden who have precious Neshamos. When someone is killed R”L in Eretz Yisroel, we feel for them regardless of their religious association. Let’s feel for everyone when they are still alive and appreciate them as Yidden.

  2. 100 percent on the mark. Ha Kodesh Baruch Ho made 12 tribes each given different tasks but all important. G-d doesnt make dummies!!! Even though your neighbor might look different from you, say good morning or good Shabbos. If they don’t reply then you modeled the appropriate behaviors for your children. We all count!! Have meaningful fast. May next Tisha B Av be a yom tov!!

  3. Not an epidemic not a plague not a disease. These ppl are suffering yes but from a self induced situation. To call them sick with a disease or other such terms is offensive to ppl who are really sick

  4. Reb Zvi you are 100% on target. If only the so called mechanim. Would understand this. Wo to our generation wo. To our children. And wo. To the next-generation

  5. Thank you Zvi for saying it as it is. I personally have seen the truth in every single point brought up. This is especially powerful coming from someone who gets all the calls AFTER the damage is so far done. Let’s stop burying our heads and pretending these issues will “go away.” No one should read this post and think it doesn’t apply to them, myself included.

  6. you’re so busy screaming don’t blame me! So if the parents and the schools and everyone says that then our flawed systems will never get fixed. How about instead of saying don’t blame me, everyone takes a little piece of responsibility and asks, how can I do my part to make this town, community, family, and neighborhood a better place.

  7. I agree with the author, but even more so with Lakewood Mom who commented above. The judging is killing us from within. And to add – as adults we are not immune to the pain of being judged either. It’s very real that school principals and administrators judge (mothers for some perceived tznius infraction) openly and without mincing words. It stems from either tactlessness or pure arrogance. And quite possibly it’s both. Torah and school rules shouldn’t mix. And school rules do not automatically get overlaid onto parents.

  8. How is a 15 year old in such pain from abuse at the hands of a rosh mosad who through him out like a dog on to the streets. And then was offered drugs, and became An addict, called “self inflicted”??

  9. Yodayah adom moras nofsho.Each individual should make a cheshbon hnefesh and follow chazel kshot atzmecah.Any charedi family without a Morah Horah is acting recklessly and responsible for the results.
    Btzpiah lyeshoua bkorov!

  10. come into Lakewood and strongarm the principals to accept all kids at one shot…its the summer and many are still out of school for no reason! Don’t blame tsnius please! These kids are good but in a few years of this rejection they might not be!

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