Sunday, July 15, 2007
Quandary:

Yesterday in shul there was a kiddush. Whenever this happens I'm happy: A) It means I don't have to prepare shabbos lunch and B) I get to see the other ladies in shul and socialize.

So I trekked to shul towards the end of daavening, and settled into a corner. After 10 minutes or so a certain lady - let's call her Tova - comes to me and says; "I want to talk to you about your daughters. They talk during krias haTorah and you should keep them home." She paused and looked disapprovingly at the other kids. "Believe me, I have a lot of mothers to call tonight."

She's right. It's not appropriate for kids to be noisy in shul. The mothers generally ignore their prattle, as long as they don't get out of hand.

Anyway, I know Tova and her schtick, so I just said, "Thanks for telling me." The kiddush got underway and Rav Plony started talking. Tova was flashing her eyes at the chirping kids, even lecturing one as he wriggled by her. Zalman was in my arms, making loud baby noises now again. During a break, I noticed Tova lecturing my husband over the mechitza that it's wrong that we bring our children to shul. At that moment I got angry, and I didn't like how I felt. I decided I would say something nice to her, to diffuse my negativity.

"I really like your shirt, Tova," I said, sincerely meaning it (even though I still felt annoyed). "Oh thanks," she smiled. Then Rav Plony started talking again, and she stood up to listen. He was talking more quietly than ususal, and Zalman started to get a little louder. I was just realizing it was time to take him out, but not before Tova hissed,

"When I had young children I never took them to shul! I either stayed home or sat outside! This is not fair!" Her sudden vitriol took me by surprise, and I felt tears coming on. "This isn't daavening," I pointed out, "This is farbrengen. Farbrengen is about ahavas yisroel (loving your fellow Jew). I don't mind what you said to me, Tova, but you could have said it in a kinder, more sisterly, more chassidishe way."
(Another aspect of farbrengen - chassidim help each other improve their character). With that, I left.

I stood outside in the sun, angry and sad. I hated feeling that way towards her. I closed my eyes and prayed aloud, "Please G-d let me have ahavas yisroel. Please G-d let me have ahavas yisroel," over and over again. I cried as I asked G-d for His help.

Readers, how should I resolve this? Should I call her? Wait for her to call me? Let it go?


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