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Monday, June 5, 2023
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Once Upon a Thyme – Chimichurri Steak Salad

This steak salad is a great dinner for a warm summer night. Don’t feel like turning on your oven? Minute steak cooks even better on the barbecue. The intoxicating aroma and rich chlorophyll hue of the chimichurri pulls the dish together in more ways than one. First, it is used as a base for the salad dressing, and then as a steak topping. I highly suggest making double the chimichurri and storing it in the freezer to use all summer long!  



2 lb minute steak split 


Black pepper  

1 tbsp lemon zest  

2 cups various green herbs like basil, parsley, or cilantro 

½ cup olive oil  

6 garlic cloves  

½ cup mayonnaise 

½ cup lemon juice  

1 bag Romaine lettuce 

½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved 

½ red onion, sliced thin  

1 bunch scallion, chopped  

2 Persian cucumbers, sliced  

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Place the minute steak in an 8×13 tin or baking dish. Season both sides with salt and black pepper. Seal with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes. If cooking on the barbecue, cook 5-10 minutes each side.
  3. Make the chimichurri by placing the lemon zest, green herbs, olive oil, garlic, and 1 tbsp salt in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. 
  4. Remove half the chimichurri and reserve for later. Add mayo and lemon juice to the remaining. Add salt to taste. This will be the lettuce dressing. 
  5. To assemble, place romaine lettuce in a large bowl or platter. Add the tomatoes, red onion, scallions, and cucumbers. Toss with the basil mayo dressing. 
  6. Remove the steak and let it rest for five minutes. Slice into thin strips and place on top of dressed salad. Generously brush reserved chimichurri over the steak. Serve immediately.

Passover Saved!

Pnina Souid

Feivel was becoming frantic. He was handicapped, lived all alone, and was anxiously waiting for his package of provisions to arrive from a hesed organization on erev Pesach. The hour was getting late. 

That afternoon, the Mitzvah Man was focused on the upcoming holiday when at 4pm his hotline rang. Despite the late hour, on the busiest day of the year, the Mitzvah Man answered the call. 

On the other end of the line was a rabbi who runs a hesed organization. He was distraught.  

“There seems to have been a glitch in the delivery system of the organization that provides the Passover packages for the needy,” the rabbi started. “Their client, Feivel, did not receive the order made for him. He lives in the Mill Basin area, which I know is not around the corner from you, but you are my last resort. 

“He has absolutely no food, no seder meals, no meals at all! All Feivel has is matzah. I tried ten different organizations with no success and now it is only two hours before the holiday. I tried a hesed chat, and several people on the chat suggested that I call the Mitzvah Man hotline.” 

The Mitzvah Man took a breath and asked just what Feivel needed for the holiday. 

The Rabbi replied, “Feivel needs all the items of the seder plate, grape juice, chicken, and gefilte fish. He really is not picky, but he has nothing. And I must tell you something else. Feivel is a religious man, but he is beginning to lose his faith. Especially, after this incident, Feivel is questioning how this could happen. How could Hashem let him down?” 

The Mitzvah Man promised to get back to the rabbi. After hanging up, before putting out the word to his volunteers, he put in a prayer. He asked Hashem to please send help for Feivel. He pleaded Feivel’s case, citing how worried and horrible Feivel felt. The Mitzvah Man beseeched Hashem to act with His eternal kindness, to remember one of His most vulnerable children, and provide a shaliach to bring his Pesach provisions. 

The Mitzvah Man put out a call to his team of volunteers. He knew that they had their own families to care for and their own last-minute errands to run. Even so, he asked them to find a way to also fit into the waning hours before hag this special errand for Feivel, citing that Feivel was unable to get the food package himself, and on top of that he was in a real state of distress and was feeling quite alone. 

By 6pm, Feivel had everything he needed to celebrate this holiday of redemption. In addition, his faith was revived. He was amazed, and so very thankful. He felt that Hashem cared for him after all. And what a kiddush Hashem these selfless volunteers performed! 


The Danger of Envy

When my wife and I were first married, we lived in a small rented apartment.  I was learning in Kollel in Lakewood, and our income was minimal.  We were happy to have a small apartment in which to live. 


One day, in July, the landlord called, and said, “Hi!  I have good news and bad news.   The good news is that I sold the apartment. The bad news is that you need to leave by Labor Day.” 


For us, of course, none of this was good news…  


I argued that we had signed a contract which guaranteed longer notice.  The landlord responded by daring me to take him to court. 


Having no other choice, my wife and I put some money together, overextending ourselves, to buy a home.  It was a very stressful two months, but by the end of the summer, we had closed. 


The day before Labor Day weekend, the landlord called me back. 


“Guess what?  The deal fell through.  You can stay.” 


I told him that it was too late, as we had already signed on a new home… 


Nobody Gets in Gd’s Way 


This story provides a classic example of the Gemara’s timeless teaching in Masechet Yoma (38): “They will call you by your name; they will have you reside in your place; they will give you what is yours.  Nobody infringes upon that which is assigned to his fellow, and no kingship infringes upon that of another, even a hairsbreadth. 


The Gemara assures us that we will always have the precise assets, positions, and honor that we are supposed to have.  Gd decides which titles by which we will be called, where we will live, and what we will have.  And these decisions always materialize.  Nothing will ever get in Gd’s way.   


In His infinite wisdom, Gd decided that my wife and I should live in that home.  So He arranged that somebody would almost purchase our apartment, forcing us to scramble and put ourselves under a great deal of pressure to buy that home.  The deal that almost happened but then fell through was only the mechanism.  The true cause was Gd’s decision. 


Another humorous personal example is the time when I attended a wedding, and, during the huppah, after the people were called for the recitation of the first six blessings, a certain rabbi was called to recite the seventh, but he was not present.  The person making the announcements then invited a different rabbi, but it turned out that this rabbi, too, had not attended.  A third rabbi was called, but he had stepped out.  Somebody informed the person making the announcements that Rabbi Mansour was present, and so he called my name and invited me to recite the blessing. 


I had been sitting next to a prominent Israeli rabbi, who turned to me and whispered in my ear the Gemara’s words: “They will call you by your name; they will have you reside in your place; they will give you what is yours.”  I do not need the honor of reciting a berachah under the huppah, but Hashem, for whatever reason, decided that I should be given this honor on that particular occasion.  And so He saw to it that the other rabbis would be absent at that moment. 


Nobody and nothing gets in Gd’s way.  When He decides that we should have something, or lose something, then it will happen, no matter what we or anybody else does. 


Korah’s Foolish Mistake 


This month, we read the tragic – but so very instructive – story of Korah, a cousin of Moshe and Aharon, who mounted an audacious revolt against them.  He cynically accused them of seizing their positions and imposing their authority over the nation out of a lust for power.  With his rhetorical skill, Korah succeeded in winning the support of much of the nation, and brazenly challenged Moshe and Aharon.  This uprising had catastrophic consequences, as Korah and the other leaders of the revolt were devoured by the ground, and 250 of his followers were consumed by fire. 


The Rabbis explain that Korah was driven to launch this ill-fated rebellion by the appointment of his younger cousin, Elitzafan, as leader of the Kehat family of Leviyim.  Korah felt entitled to this coveted post, and his younger cousin’s appointment irked him.  He decided to challenge Moshe Rabbenu – the greatest prophet who ever lived, and the humblest of all men, who led Beneh Yisrael out of bondage, brought them the Torah, and interceded on their behalf on numerous occasions, including after they worshipped the golden calf.  Korah made this foolish mistake – which ended up costing him his life – because he failed the learn the lesson taught by the Gemara.  “Bimkomcha yoshivucha – They will have you reside in your place.”  He did not recognize that everyone holds the precise position that Gd assigned for him, and there is thus no reason to envy or try to usurp anyone else’s post.  If Korah had understood that “they will give you what is yours,” that Hashem gives us all the precise amount of wealth, power, and prestige that is right for us, and that “no kingship infringes upon that of another, even a hairsbreadth,” nobody can take that which does not belong to him, he would not have made this mistake, and his life would have been spared. 


There is, however, one puzzling element of Korah’s uprising – the timing.  Already the Ramban raised the question of why Korah did not launch his revolt immediately after Elitzafan’s appointment.  Why did he wait until now, after the sin of the spies, to challenge Moshe’s authority? 


The Ramban explains that Korah waited until Moshe’s popularity waned.  After the Torah was given, and after Moshe pleaded to Gd to forgive the sin of the golden calf, and Beneh Yisrael built the Mishkan, the people felt great respect and esteem for Moshe.  However, once Beneh Yisrael left Mount Sinai, they complained about the conditions of travel, and then the spies returned with a frightening report about the Land of Israel.  The people were punished for listening to the spies, and they felt disappointed with Moshe.  Korah now saw his chance for mounting a revolt. 


Others, however, explained differently.  In the Land of Israel, Gd’s providence is manifest more overtly than outside the land.  There it can be seen far more clearly that “they will call you by your name; they will have you reside in your place; they will give you what is yours,” that Gd assigns everyone precisely what he is supposed to have.  In fact, the land was divided among the people based on a lottery, which was controlled by Gd.  The people saw and heard very clearly Gd allotting each person his piece of land.  In Eretz Yisrael, it is unmistakable that we all receive what we are supposed to receive, and there is thus no reason to envy others or to try to take their share. 


After the sin of the spies, Gd decreed that Beneh Yisrael would wander in the desert for another 39 years before entering the land.  Until the sin of the spies, the plan was for the nation to cross into Eretz Yisrael immediately.  Now, they were told that they would be traveling in the wilderness for decades.  And so it was only now that Korah launched his revolt.  Beforehand, the nation anticipated their imminent entry into the land, and this connection to Eretz Yisrael gave them a heightened awareness of Hashgahah (Providence), that everything is given to them by Gd.  Therefore, Korah did not feel envious of his cousin.  But now that the connection to the land was severed, Korah lost sight of this fundamental precept, of the fact that Gd gives each person the position and the level of prominence which is right for him.  He therefore felt jealous, and mounted his ill-fated campaign to unseat Moshe and Aharon. 


Stop Ruining Your Life! 


A famous Mishnah in Pirkeh Avot (4:21) lists jealousy as one of the three flaws that threaten to “remove a person from the world” (the other two are lust and the desire for honor).  Jealousy can consume a person to the point where, like Korah, he ends up ruining his life for the sake of competing with other people and trying to have what they have. 


The safeguard against this destructive tendency is emunah, the belief that Hashem gives each person precisely what he or she is meant to have.  We can save ourselves so much anguish, so much anxiety, and so much grief by internalizing this concept.  Once we understand that each person is different, that what one person has is not necessarily right for somebody else, that Hashem gives every individual his unique blessings and places him in his unique situation, we can avoid jealousy and the self-destructive need to be like other people. 


So many people ruin their lives because instead of accepting the life Hashem chose for them, they struggle in futility to live like their friends, neighbors, relatives, or folks they see on social media.  Instead of cultivating their uniqueness, they waste their time, and sacrifice their happiness, trying to be somebody who they are not meant to be.   


This is the lesson we must learn from the tragic story of Korah.  “Bimkomcha yoshivucha.”  Hashem gives us whatever money and whatever prestige we were meant to have.  We don’t need anymore.  Of course, we are entitled to try to improve our lives, to earn more and to climb the corporate ladder.  But there is no sense in envying or resenting those who rise higher than we do, because Hashem gives us all precisely what we’re supposed to have. 


Let’s stop allowing jealousy to ruin our lives, to take away our joy.  Let us instead trust in Hashem, and feel satisfied with the life that Hashem has given us. 

Never Ever Stuck

Several years ago, I received a call from a principal, who we will call “Mrs. S.,” to work with a boy named David whom every teacher and therapist had given up on.  

The Challenge – A Student Considered Beyond Hope 

Mrs. S. asked me a question I had never encountered before. She said, “Tammy, we have tried every method imaginable with this child, and nothing works. He continues to scream and hurt people whenever something doesn’t go his way. Is there such a thing as a child who is just incapable of behaving?” She continued to describe this child as extremely intelligent and socially capable, which led me to believe there was probably nothing developmental going on.  

I did not have an immediate answer. I said, “I’m not sure. Give me a day or two to think about that and get back to you.” 

After I hung up, I realized that I did not need a day or two, or even a minute or two, to know that this misbehaving child is a beautiful soul who wants nothing more than to bring goodness into the world, like every other human being. Since he has not done so yet, there were only two causes. Either he did not have the skills, or he did, but was not performing. If he did not have the skills, we would have to teach him skills. If he did have skills, but just was not using them, we would have to set up his relationships and environment in a way where he would.  

About an hour later, I called the principal back and told her I was confident that her student can indeed be helped. She asked me if I was willing to set up a behavior plan for him. Excited to embrace the challenge, I said yes.  

Within a few days, I observed him in class and at recess and saw exactly what the principal had described to me over the phone. It was his way or the highway. Poor child, I thought. He looks like he thinks he is bad, and he is stuck in that terrible role 

The Game Plan 

I sat with Mrs. S. and David’s teacher, and together we devised a behavior plan. It consisted of the following:  

Place the Numbers 1 and 2 inside a colorful icon or shape. 

  1. Employ specific subtle strategies that would prove to David that we do not believe that these behaviors are a part of him in any way. The behaviors were nothing more than poor choices at worst, and that does not cause us to think any less of him. The strategies would make David see that we believe that, like every human being, he has tremendous value and special things to accomplish.
  2. Create a plan for holding David accountable. We told him that we care about him so much that we wanted him to grow up knowing that we fully believe in his ability to be kind and cooperative. The rules and methods of holding David accountable for his behavior were very specific and were discussed with him. We told him that it would likely feel awkward at first, as change always does, but that within a few days, he would actually appreciate it, since we all feel better about ourselves when we are doing the right thing. 

As you can guess, within a week or so, thanks to the teacher’s and the principal’s strong commitment to implement the plan, and many heartfelt prayers from Mom, David started to show up to life as his true self, following class rules and routines without disturbing anyone around him. It is not magic. It is just the way children (and all people) are wired. They perform optimally when they believe that they are good (despite their history), and are taken seriously and held accountable for their behaviors. 

Everything Is A Test

Once we recognize Hashem’s involvement in every aspect of daily life, we can understand the following comment of the Mesillat Yesharim (Chapter 1): “All matters in the world – whether good or bad – are tests for a person.”

Anything that happens to us, any situation in which we find ourselves, is a handpicked test with which Hashem chose to test us to see if we will respond the proper way. Sometimes we end up in places through unexpected and unforeseen circumstances, or bump into somebody unexpectedly, and it seems as though it happened randomly. But in truth, it is a ‘setup’ orchestrated by Hashem to test us if we will do what we are supposed to do in the given situation.

The purpose of a test is to elevate us. The Torah says regarding Avraham’s test of akedat Yitzchak, “Gd tested Avraham” (Bereisheet 22:1). By reacting properly to tests, we become better, more complete people. For this reason, Hashem brings us tests each and every day throughout our lives.

As David HaMelech fled Jerusalem during the rebel­lion mounted by his own son, Avshalom, he was confronted by Shimi ben Geira, who pelted him with rocks and hurled insults at him. David’s servants wanted to kill Shimi, but David instructed them to leave him alone, because Shimi’s assault was sent by Hashem. Chazal (as quoted in Chafetz Chaim, Shaar HaTerumah Chapter 8) comments that when David said this to his servants, at that moment he earned the privilege of being the fourth leg of Hashem’s chariot, together with the three patriarchs. This was his reward for recognizing that the test he confronted was sent to him by Hashem, rather than losing himself. We must keep this in mind at all times, every day, and realize that all the difficult situations we face are tests from Hashem.


My relative had an appointment in the city, and as she made her way to the car after the appointment, she noticed a ticket on the windshield. At first, she was quite upset, as she had made a point of ascertaining that the spot was legal. But then she told herself, “I did my hishtadlut [effort], I did what I had to do, and if this happened, then this is a test from Hashem, and I am not going to let it disturb me.”

When she got to the car, she read the ticket, and couldn’t believe her eyes. It said, “TEST; this is not a ticket – do not pay.” It was unbelievable; it was though Hashem was speaking directly to her, informing her that this was really just a test. Since that day, my relative has kept the ticket as a constant reminder that Hashem is behind the scenes testing us and hoping that we will become better people as a result

Is There a Third Parent in the House?

There are so many things to consider when talking about this crucially important topic. One of them is that before we look at our kids’ use of technology, we have to first look at ourselves and the example we are setting for them.  

Of course, this is easier said than done. We don’t want our kids to spend as much time on screens as we do, but what can we possibly expect when they see our faces in our phones day in, and day out? 

Recently, my daughters’ school invited the parents to a talk by Rabbi Joey Haber titled, “Tech Talk.” His speech really got me thinking,  and I’m sure every parent in the room took something away from it, too. The school urged us to put something into practice already that same night while we were inspired, as we otherwise may never get around to it. They even brought a rabbi from TAG to filter phones right there and then.  

Filters aren’t a solution for people like me who use phones for business, but there was something else that I was able to do. The rabbi informed us that iPhones have a setting called “Screen Time” which can log and – if you set it to – limit the amount of time you spend on certain apps. My main goal is to give my kids my full attention when they are around, and to avoid conveying the  message that screen addiction is just fine once you become an adult… And so I decided to put in place a number of realistic boundaries. I set limits on my use of certain non-essential apps to three hours. Every weekday from 4-7pm – from around the time my kids get home until around the time they go to sleep – my apps go from their normal vibrant colors to a darker version. If I click on one of them (which is basically habit at this point), I get a reminder that these are screen-limit hours, and I am asked if I wish to exit the app, or ignore the screen limit and go ahead with the app, either for a certain amount of time or for the rest of the day. This feature has been very helpful for me and, by extension, for my children, reminding me to be present with them. From 4-7pm, my phone no longer rings with useless notifications sucking me back in when I should be attentive to my kids. 

I asked community members via my Instagram what they do to protect their kids from an abundance of screen time. Here’s what they had to say. 

Allison H. Bailey 

We’ve put several rules in place to try to safeguard our children from the technology we have in our homes. First, we have parental controls and passwords on the TV and on our phones. When they’re looking at our phones, they’re monitored; we’re looking along with them, or we make sure they’re watching something educational. We recently decided to get a Kindle instead of iPads so the  kids watch less TV and play more educational games, and so that we can place parental controls in place and monitor their use. My husband is getting to the point of wanting to eliminate all TV so that the kids don’t turn into mindless zombies.

Two weeks later: 

The Kindle with a password and parental controls is really working out beautifully. They haven’t watched TV during the week at all, and it’s really functioning nicely. We stopped allowing TV watching on weekdays because our son found out the password and began watching whenever he wanted. During the week, they play educational games on their Kindle, but it’s only games that we download, and the Kindle itself has a password that only me and my husband know, so it’s not a free-for-all.  

Freda B. Sasson 

I’m so happy you’re having a discussion this topic. For years, I’ve been searching for a filter besides TAG, and I haven’t been able to find one that I like where the parent can have control. My problem with the community filters is they don’t trust the parents to have control; if I want to buy pajamas online, I have to call a random rabbi somewhere to unlock the device. For this reason, I have no filters. On the other hand, I think kids need filters, but when I called the SAFE parenting division to see what they suggest (they’ve had some lectures over the past couple years about children and technology, so I thought they might have some advice), they recommended not installing filters, saying that the kids will just get around them, Instead, I was told, we need to teach kids what to avoid.  

I think both sides of the spectrum are not working well for the regular mainstream community family. I’ve posted many times asking if anyone can recommend a filter, and all the responses shared what I am already aware of, none of which I find to be useful, such as programs which just send the parents annoying reports about the sites that their children visit. Our community definitely needs a more parent-friendly internet filter solution!

Mollie Elbaz Briskman 

For years now, I’ve been trying to figure out how to strike the right balance when it comes to technology. I believe that screen-time should be limited to the least amount possible, but I also feel that technology can be such a useful educational tool if it is utilized properly. For example, I allow my kids to watch old shows with extensive vocabulary lessons, and simple-life situations made fun. And, considering the world we live in today, I find it disadvantageous to keep children away from technology entirely. Moreover, my home is considered a “smart home,” so tech is everywhere you turn. This has actually enhanced my son’s knowledge in some pretty fantastic ways. We have Echo devices around the home, all which have been set up to have child filters and passcodes on them, so my son is able to get general and clean information on his own. He has thus learned to navigate through the internet in the safest way available. 

I can view everything my son does from the history, which allows me to give him the space to make decisions on his own, while giving me peace of mind. Of course, this is not a perfect solution by any means; it’s still trial-and-error. I’ve had many pounds of chocolate chips “accidentally” ordered to my house…but we’ve tried to create learning experiences through it all.  

I will admit that it can be overwhelming trying to find the right balance, especially when you catch them late at night learning how to make chocolate brownies from Martha Stewart… but at least I know what to do with all these chocolate chips now! 

Ida Levy 

From the day my kids got their phones, we always charge them overnight in a public space like the kitchen. I don’t think kids – especially teenagers – should have their phones in their rooms at night, because the phones make it so tempting to stay up all hours of the night. And, it’s much healthier to put your phone away 30-60 minutes before you go to sleep, as this helps you get better quality sleep. 

Also, late at night is when kids get into the most trouble on the internet, whether it’s social media, bullying, or inappropriate activity. Giving them privacy throughout the night is just not a good idea. Furthermore, phones are very addictive, so it’s a good idea to set a “power down time,” whenever that may be, when they walk away from it. Another reason is that friends text at all hours and kids have major FOMO (fear of missing out), so they rarely turn off alerts. Overnight alerts disrupt their sleep. 

I try not to let it bother me when my kids tell me that none of their friends have these guidelines. All it means is that I’m being a better mother. 

Margo Cohen 

When it comes to technology and my kids, I can tell you this: I don’t have a computer for them to use, I don’t own any tablets, and I don’t have a TV. Instead of wasting away in front of screens, my kids are involved in creative activities such as arts-and-crafts and outdoor play. They climb trees, go on the swings, play in the basement, and call their friends using a landline… They get creative for entertainment like the good ‘ol days. When they see me on my phone scrolling through Instagram, they all huddle around me because its action, just like TV, so I purposely stopped scrolling on my phone when I’m with them.  

In my opinion, technology is the worst thing for kids. Of course, it is helpful in certain areas, but when you’re buying a small screen to shove directly into your child’s face so you don’t have to be bothered with entertaining them, it has repercussions. Kids these days don’t know how to socialize; they don’t have a social life like we used to. They don’t know how to properly communicate because of all this technology that they are bombarded with already at a young age when their brains are developing and they are learning about the world. I see such a difference in behavior between my kids who have minimal screen time and other kids who have access to screens daily. 

When we visit family members who have a TV, I allow my kids to watch along with their relatives as long as it’s a show I deem harmless. If it’s something I don’t approve of, I ask that it be changed, but I don’t demand they shut the TV because we are there. Sometimes the kids ask to go to my mom’s house, and I know that they’re asking because they want to watch TV. I don’t blame them – screens are very addictive. I have a computer for my work and they don’t have access to it; I don’t give them the password. In the past, I would show them an Uncle Moishy video on my computer, and when it was over, when I tried shutting the computer, they insisted “One more! One more!” and then they went crazy, not knowing how to entertain themselves. So I stopped even doing that. When they want music, I put Spotify on my phone. They can listen; they don’t need to watch. 

This morning, my kids were building towers with magna tiles, and it was incredible. I remember when I was young, we just watched TV until the bus came. I got the TV out of the house early on so my kids never grew up with easy access to screens, whereas my friend’s kids would watch TV and act crazy. One day, she decided enough was enough, and she dismounted her TV screen and put books in its stead. She reported that the adjustment was very difficult for the first couple of weeks, but as time went on, they not only learned to entertain themselves, but they also became generally a lot calmer and better behaved. It was very difficult at first, because they were used to completely tuning out and watching TV, and so their brains weren’t used to relaxing with books and coloring. I don’t think this is the generation we want for the future leaders of Judaism, so every Jewish home needs to have this conversation – what small steps we can take to protect our kids from technology that so desperately wants to enter our homes and influence our lives.   

Marlene H. Levy 

I truly believe that the most important way to protect our kids against technology is to have a rule that children tell you their passwords for all devices. This way you can spot check what they are doing whenever you want. Another rule is no phones or laptops in their room after bedtime. I don’t believe in TVs in their room, either, or gaming devices, of course. Movies and shows must be watched in public areas of the house so we see or hear what they are watching. Nowadays, phones and laptops turn into TV and movie screens, and there’s no end to technology. It’s here with us, so we parents need to monitor it as best we can. 


This topic is very personal – solutions that work for one family are not necessarily the right solutions for others. My primary objective in doing this article is to encourage parents to have the conversation, to consider what we can be doing better in this area. Don’t accept the status quo for our children; they deserve better.  


I believe that although there are countless detrimental effects that we already know about, the full extent of the damage wrought by technology and social media are yet to be seen. I don’t make this comment with the intention of fear mongering, and I won’t list the frightening statistics about depression and other effects of excessive use of technology. Deep down, we know what is and isn’t right for our children. The most important thing is to acknowledge that technology is a force to be reckoned with, and to make a game plan that works for you.  

Until next time, Frieda 

Check Frieda out on Instagram @friedaschwekyphoto.  

Anger Doesn’t Exist

Dr. Yossi Shafer

…or does it? 

If anger doesn’t exist, you counter, why can I tell you about 10 times I’ve gotten angry in the last week or so? 

I got angry at my son when he talked back to me. 

I got angry at my husband when he didn’t buy the one thing that I specifically asked for. 

I got angry at my coworker when he dropped the ball on an important project. 

I got angry at my sister for skipping her visit to our mother. 

I got angry at the driver in front of me when he cut me off. 

So obviously anger exists! 

And you’d be right. Anger exists. But its real definition is very different from how you see it. 

Most of us consider anger as one of the basic emotions. When you examine anger more closely, you’ll discover that it’s not an emotion at all – it’s a reaction, a protective measure, a secondary response to another emotion. 

When Does Anger Arise? 

Anger is what surfaces when we “man up” and quash our emotions, when we’re hesitant to express – or to experience – what we’re actually feeling, when we’re uncomfortable with our true emotions. This happens completely subconsciously, but when you find yourself feeling angry, dig deeper and you’ll likely be surprised by what you discover. 

Have you ever seen two little kids embroiled in a serious fight? They’re red-faced and furious, slinging insults (or fists) at each other, their voices at ear-splitting decibel levels. That’s the very picture of anger, right? Break up the fight and see what happens. Chances are, 30 seconds later you’ll have a couple of crying kids blubbering about their hurt feelings. He ruined the game I worked so hard to set up! She called me a stupid head! I was trying to help and he didn’t let me play! 

When the in-the-moment anger is removed from the equation, the real feelings – or primary emotions, such as hurt, guilt, rejection, sadness – have a chance to rise to the surface. 

Anger serves as a highly effective defense mechanism that is useful when we suppress our real feelings, insecurities, and vulnerabilities. It takes vulnerability to express to your wife, “I feel uncared for and unloved when dinner isn’t ready when I come home. I can prepare my own dinner, but I really need your care and support.” Anger effectively minimizes and suppresses that painful vulnerability. The angry response will sound more like: “I’ve been working nonstop all day, while you were just home doing nothing, and you couldn’t even heat up the leftovers for me.”  

What’s Beneath Our Anger? 

When you start feeling angry – when your teeth clench, your muscles tense, your face heats up, your heart starts to race – stop, tune in, and ask yourself: what am I really feeling right now? What’s making me feel angry? Am I offended? Irritated? Embarrassed? Disrespected? 

This is an important skill for dealing with others who are angry as well. When someone yells at you or starts an argument, it’s easy to slip into your own anger, which accomplishes nothing – or worse. But when you take a moment to examine the angry person’s real feelings, you seize the opportunity to achieve real understanding and problem-solving. 

As we discussed in the previous article, “doing nothing” is one of the most valuable parenting “techniques” you can add to your arsenal, and “nothing” is largely defined by tuning into your child’s feelings. The anger-is-a-secondary-emotion concept is lifechanging when dealing with an angry, sullen, or unreasonable child – especially a teen – who seems to explode whenever you talk to him or her. 

The effects are twofold: firstly, you’ll be able to see past your child’s anger to find what’s really lurking beneath it. Is he feeling hurt? Is she constantly feeling misunderstood? Afraid? Overwhelmed? Instead of tuning in his “emotion” of anger, you understand what’s driving his behavior and address that appropriately. 

Secondly, you’ll delve deeper into your own emotions and reactions. It’s easy to slip into anger when your child is angry at you, but if you take the time to think about how you really feel – stressed, helpless, resentful, exasperated – then you’ll be able to move forward effectively. The way that you react to your child’s actions reflects on you and your own emotions, insecurities, strengths, and shortcomings, and the best way to become a better parent – and a better person – is to get to know yourself. 

This may sound simple, but it takes a lot of effort and practice. In the upcoming articles, we’ll explore specific examples and strategies for overcoming anger. 

Dr. Yossi Shafer, PhD is the clinical director and a clinical psychologist at Empower Health Center, a private practice of multispecialty psychotherapists. They have offices in Deal/Long Branch and Lakewood and can be reached at (732) 666-9898 or office@empowerhealthcenter.net. 

Chef Shiri -Easy Cheesy Bourekas

Chef Shiri

Kids – See if you have what it takes to become a Junior Chef!

Adult Supervision Required

Utensils Needed:

Baking sheet

Medium bowl

Small bowl

Pizza cutter

Pastry brush



Measuring cups and spoons

Oven mitts


2 eggs

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 pinch garlic powder

1 pinch onion powder

1 pinch salt

1 pinch black pepper

17.5- ounce package frozen puff pastry

2 teaspoons water

2 tablespoons sesame seeds


Let’s Get Started!

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease baking sheet.
  3. Beat one egg in a medium bowl and mix in cheese. Season with parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
  4. On lightly floured surface, cut each sheet of puff pastry into six equal shares for 12 squares in total.
  5. Beat remaining egg with water in a small bowl, brush edges of each square lightly with egg wash.
  6. Place a heaping tablespoon of the cheese mixture in the center of each square.
  7. Fold pastry over the filling and seal edges with a fork.
  8. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, and brush with remaining egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Best when served

Makes 12 Bourekas!

Chef Shiri Says… 

While bourekas are best fresh out of the oven, you can store them in plastic bag or sealed container on the counter for 1-2 days. If you plan to keep them any longer, keep them in the fridge for up to a week.

Prayer Pointers from

Buzz the Brachos Bee 

Beginning from the age of 9 or 10 years of age, a healthy child should wait before eating dairy foods after meat.

The Case – Undefined Terms of Employment

Stan, the owner of a childrenswear company, needed funds to further develop his business. Additionally, he was searching for a popular brand name to help market his product. He approached Jack and offered to sell him 50 percent of the shares of his business in return for a cash investment, and the exclusive rights to use Jack’s privately owned brand name for his childrenswear products. Stan and Jack agreed, and the venture was underway. However, some three years later, Stan was unable to turn his company around, and although there were no substantial losses, no profitable income was generated. Stan then opened, with Jack’s consent, a sock division in Jack’s accessory company, selling socks with the same name brand. The division was a huge success, and after only its first season it was evident that the company was on course to net substantially. Stan requested Jack advance him payment against his share of the profits as an equal partner. Jack refused, claiming that Stan was not a partner in the sock division. Jack explained that as opposed to the childrenswear company, which was owned and operated by Stan, the sock division was not. The finances, overseas contacts, design team, and warehousing were all his sole responsibility. According to Jack, Stan was acting merely as a commission salesman with a base salary. Stan counter-claimed, that before he founded and launched the sock division, he verbally confirmed with Jack his role as a 50 percent partner. Jack responded that he does not recall any such conversation. Stan insisted that he invested time and energy like an owner, and he is unwilling to accept terms that do not compensate him accordingly. 

Is Stan a partner in the sock division or a commission salesman? How should the Bet Din rule and why? 


Torah Law 

According to the ruling of the Shulhan Aruch, a defendant who denies a monetary claim is required to take an oath before he is acquitted. Since the plaintiff has no evidence or valid testimony to support his claim, a defendant is exempt from payment once he swears before a Bet Din that the claim against him is false. In instances in which a defendant contests the claim in its entirety, the oath he is required to take is of rabbinic origin. 

The above ruling is applicable to all sorts of financial claims, including claims of litigants disputing a partnership.  

Notwithstanding, a Bet Din will consider other variables before imposing an oath on a defendant. If the claim of the plaintiff is farfetched or unreasonable, a Bet Din will dismiss a case without further ado. Generally, it is considered unreasonable to award a party with a fifty percent share of a company, without liability for loss, or without an arrangement to pay back-office fees for overhead expenses. Unless an individual possesses a proven talent or expertise that justifies such favorable terms, an owner is not subject to take an oath for such a claim.  

In our case at hand, a standard salesman who previously operated a failing business, cannot impose an oath on an owner based on such a remote claim.  

By rule of the Shulhan Aruch, in instances in which a dispute exists between an employer and employee regarding the amount agreed upon as compensation for his services, a Bet Din will impose on the employer to pay the customary amount in the industry. 

The obvious reasoning for this ruling is that an employer is required to compensate his employee for the benefit he received from his labor. Thus, the accepted market price is what is fair and serves as adequate compensation. 

At times, a Bet Din will refer litigants to an experienced third party to finalize the details of an agreement. A Bet Din will first meet with the third party and explain to them the details of the verdict and request a business model that meets the terms and reasoning of the verdict.  

Once a detailed operating agreement is formulated by the third party, the Bet Din will review and approve if appropriate.  


Constructing a Deal 

Our Bet Din ruled in favor of Jack, denying Stan a blanket 50 percent of the shares in the sock company. Although Stan is claiming that Jack verbally agreed to such terms, without signed documentation, Jack is not required to transfer shares that are presently in his legal possession. Furthermore, Jack is not required by law to take an oath that Stan’s claim is false, since it is difficult to impose an oath due to the remote nature of Stan’s claims. Nevertheless, by law, Stan is entitled to compensation exceeding the amount Jerry is offering to pay. As head of a division, and facilitator of nearly all daily operations, Stan is entitled to be compensated for his services. In order to structure an appropriate operating agreement between Stan and Jack, our Bet Din referred them to an experienced third party who regularly formulates such agreements for divisions of his own company. After providing clear instructions to the third party as per this verdict, our Bet Din reviewed and ultimately approved the suggested agreement. The basic outline of the deal requires the sock division to pay a notable percentage of its gross sales to Jack’s accessory company, before Stan can share in the profits. This formula was applied retroactively and will hopefully enable Jack and Stan to maintain their successful partnership in the future.  

In Loving Memory of Vera Bat Carol, A”H 


A Handshake  

Henry and Gladys, an elderly couple, finally consented to selling their home to their next-door neighbor, Bobby. For years, Bobby persistently knocked on the old couple’s door attempting to persuade them to sell him their home. On that day, Bobby shook hands with Henry and Gladys and finalized a verbal commitment to purchase their home for 2.2 million dollars. Henry called his lawyer to draw up a contract, and thereafter he notified his only son of the news. Henry’s son told his father that since Bobby’s last offer over 18 months ago the value of the property had appreciated substantially. Henry’s son was appalled with Bobby’s conduct, complaining that Bobby had no right to take advantage of his parents’ age and innocence. When Bobby heard of the son’s involvement, he explained to Henry that they shook on the deal and that it is immoral for him to renege on his word. The parties approached are Bet Din seeking a ruling whether Henry is ethically required to sell his home for the price they agreed upon or not.  

How should the Bet Din rule and why? 

One on One with Sharon Madeb Safdieh

“I was very fortunate throughout my journey of building a family and a career as a physical therapist.  I noticed how Hashem set everything up for me every step of the way.”   ~~ Sharon ~~ 



Sharon Madeb Safdieh radiates warmth and she smiles with a sparkle in her eyes. She is blessed with positive energy and a joyful spirit. She is the daughter of Lily and Dr. Isaac Madeb. Lily, a”h, the vibrant leader of Sharon’s family, passed away three years ago after a five-year illness.  


Lily and Isaac emigrated to New York from Lebanon in 1974, for Isaac’s medical residency.  Dr. Madeb is a urologist.  Sharon, the youngest of four, has a brother Ralph, also a doctor, and two sisters, Marilyn and Virna, who are both entrepreneurs.  Marilyn runs a home healthcare agency, Help from the Heart.  Virna is known as the “furniture shadchan,” and helps people to buy and sell pre-owned furniture.  

Growing up in Brooklyn, Sharon attended Yeshiva of Flatbush from grade school through high school. 

An outgoing and studious child, Sharon loved school, was very social, and was always involved in an array of activities.   

She still is an avid learner.  Sharon takes continuing education courses to stay current on developments in physical therapy practices, to provide the best possible cares for her patients. 

Role Models 

Sharon shared that both her parents were strong role models.  Isaac, in addition to his medical practice, is dedicated to the community and was the president of their shul, the Sephardic Lebanese Congregation.  “My mother, a”h, was the brains behind everything, she was a real businesswoman, and the driver in our lives,” Sharon stated.  “She ran my father’s medical practice and gave us career advice and life lessons.”  

College and Career 

After high school graduation, Sharon spent six months in Yerushalayim at Midreshet Harova.  “It was wonderful. I lived in the Old City and there were stairs from the dorm going down to the Kotel. That experience helped me grow spiritually.” 

Upon Sharon’s return to NY, she studied at Stern College, where she always took the maximum number of courses possible.  One semester she even took night courses at Brooklyn College in addition to a full curriculum at Stern to complete all her requirements for physical therapy school. Her goal was to graduate in three years and go straight to graduate school. She also enrolled in summer classes at Brooklyn College. 

Why PT? 

The summer after her second year at Stern College, Sharon volunteered at an outpatient program at NYU Hospital.  Volunteers were given the opportunity to shadow different healthcare professionals, including nurses and a variety of therapists.  After shadowing a nurse practitioner, Sharon recognized that nursing was not a good fit for her and so she tried PT.  Her shifts in the PT neurological unit inspired her.  Sharon observed how the therapists encouraged and pushed their patients to do PT after suffering strokes or being afflicted with other neurological conditions. The PTs significantly helped their patients to recover from injuries or disorders and to improve their quality of life.  Sharon saw that physical therapy can truly result in positive changes and can allow people to manage their conditions in the most optimal way.  Sharon opted for Touro College’s PT doctoral program, which would allow her to have Shabbat and the hagim off, a big bonus. 

And Then Came Marriage 

Sharon was introduced to her husband, Joseph, by her closest friend.  Joseph, three years older, was in medical school when they met.  They were married after Sharon’s first year of PT school. The couple live in the Brooklyn community with their four sons and one daughter.  


Sharon graduated from her DPT program at the top of her class.  Her career path took her to large Manhattan practices and facilities, allowing her to be exposed to a variety of challenging disorders.  Sharon’s desire was to gain experience helping patients with varying conditions and from different backgrounds.  


One year after graduating PT school, Sharon gave birth to her first child.  A few months after her baby was born, Sharon’s father urged her to join another technician in his Brooklyn urology practice performing biofeedback therapy. This would allow Sharon to be close to home.  Biofeedback is a technique that helps individuals to achieve bladder control by strengthening specific muscles.  Sharon took the challenge and dedicated herself to learning all about pelvic floor therapy, enrolling in courses with a continuing education company. 

“It was hashgachat pratit. Since my dad was a urologist, I was able to set up the pelvic floor therapy courses privately so they would not be given only on Shabbat. After taking those initial courses, I was able to arrange for an additional shomer Shabbat course at Touro College to further my education. The continuing education firm began to offer classes at Touro College, a big win for shomer Shabbat students.” 

Blossom Physical Therapy Is Launched 

After her second child was born, Sharon opened her own PT practice, Blossom Physical Therapy.  Her specialties are pelvic floor therapy and women’s health.  As Sharon’s business grew, completely by word of mouth, she hired her first staff physical therapist.  At that time, she was a mother of two.  Sharon now has four therapists working with her.  Her office is on the ground floor of her home.  This provides Sharon flexibility and allows her to be there for her children and work in the evenings. 

Sharon saw the hand of Hashem as her PT practice flourished and with each therapist she hired.  “I felt like each therapist fell in my lap when I needed her.  I once bumped into a colleague from school and suggested she reach out to me when she wanted to work part-time. As soon as I was looking for someone, she called me saying she was ready for part-time work.” 

Sharon’s Essence 

Sharon describes herself as a busybody, someone who can’t sit still.  She is easygoing and yet is a perfectionist.  Sharon is very spiritual and loves to learn.  Those two attributes were ingrained in her from her mom.  Sharon views herself as a caring and compassionate therapist. 

“I want my patients to feel like princesses, in a trusting and safe space.  Forming that initial connection is crucial for patient motivation and hope throughout their healing journey.”  

Wife, Mother, and Therapist 

With her family’s full support, Sharon keeps all the balls in the air.  Her husband steps in to assist with their kids when she has training.  Her in-laws and siblings are there for her, helping her design, advertise, and build the clinic.  Dr. Madeb also enjoys picking up the children when his schedule permits.  “The hardest part of the juggle was when my mother was sick.  When she was well, she pitched in with the children.  My oldest was around six when my mother passed away.” 

Finally, Sharon expressed tremendous hakarat hatov to her secretaries.  “They are my lifeline and my extra set of hands. I couldn’t do it without them.  They take care of the clinic, but they also shop for me, schedule appointments, pick up my children from activities, and so much more.”  


Sharon and Joseph feel proud and fortunate to be part of their community.  “We so appreciate the network we have and the manner in which people take care of each other.” 

The Pandemic 

Sharon’s PT practice shut down for three months in March 2020 and she had a gradual re-opening from May through September.  She enjoyed the novelty of being at home with her children. Unfortunately, her mother passed away during the pandemic. 

Passions, Hobbies, and Interests 

Sharon is impassioned about PT and loves her profession.  She is always listening to professional classes, and she loves Torah classes, as well. One of Sharon’ favorite sites is iTorah.com. 

Sharon thrives on being active and in constant motion.  She is adventurous! She also knows how to relax and unwind, by doing yoga, exercising, surfing, and going out with friends. 

You can reach Sharon at sharon@blossomphysio.com, or call her office at 917-459-8072. 


Ellen Geller Kamaras, CPA/MBA, is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associate Certified Coach.  Her coaching specialties include life, career, and dating coaching.  Ellen is active in her community and is currently the Vice-President of Congregation Bnai Avraham in Brooklyn Heights.  She can be contacted at ellen@lifecoachellen.com(www.lifecoachellen.com).