Dear Emuna,

My husband and I booked tickets to go to Israel this summer for a family celebration. I’ve never been and I was very excited but the news there makes me very nervous. We have two small children. How can I expose them to that frightening situation? I want to cancel our trip but my husband is adamant. It is causing tremendous stress in our home. Help!

Scaredy Cat

Dear Scared,

I’m sorry but my sympathies are with your husband for too many reasons to list in a short response. I read recently that the late Senator Daniel Moynihan once said that “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not to their own facts.” Whatever you read on the news, the fact is that you are in much greater danger when you get into your car in any major city in America than when you go to Israel. Your emotions may tell you something else but this is the objective reality.

Number two; there is something so powerful about being with the Jewish people when they feel threatened. It is a trip you will never forget. You will marvel at both the sense of “life as normal” and the streets filled with other tourists and the sense of unity and courage that keeps a people like ours going. When my son was in the Israeli army, I always told myself that while I of course didn’t want anything bad to happen to him, if it had to (God forbid) I’d rather it happened while fighting for the Jewish people than from a run-in with a drunk driver on the streets of LA. You are involved in something deeply meaningful for yourself and your family just by getting on that plane.

Number three, the Almighty runs the world. Going to the land of Israel is not like walking down a dark alley in the inner city at 1 a.m. It is not relying on a miracle. It is an acceptable risk (like getting into those aforementioned cars every day) and it is the Almighty who decides our futures, not us. We can’t protect ourselves or our children from their ultimate fate, nor does a decision to go to Israel hurry it along.

I want to share with you my favorite midrash. King Solomon’s servant came rushing home, white-faced, from the market. “Please master,” he begged. “I saw the Angel of Death in the marketplace. Lend me your horse. I need to ride to the Shomron.” King Solomon agreed. Later that day the King was walking in the marketplace and also ran into the Angel of Death. “Why did you scare my servant?” he asked. “I didn’t mean to scare him,” the Angel replied. “I was just surprised to see him here because I have an appointment with him tonight in the Shomron.”

The Almighty runs the world – and that should be a comfort to all of us.

Out of Control

Dear Emuna,

I am having a problem about my finances. I do not save my money. I am very impatient and I cannot wait until I save the money to buy things. My husband gives me money to pay a bill but sometimes I am short because I bought more fruits or spend extra at the grocery store. Poor self-control is creating a problem in my marriage. Please help!

Out of Control

Dear Out of Control,

The good news is that you recognize your problem. The bad news is that your problem is much deeper than just your finances. When you say “Poor self-control is creating a problem in my marriage” I assume that this extends to many aspects of married life. With poor self-control, we are impatient with our spouses, we lose our temper very quickly, we say things better left unsaid and so on. Self-discipline is really one of the crucial foundations to success as a spouse, human being, Jew. So you really need to work on this. And I have no simple solution.

Like I said, the good news is that you recognize your problem. You are not blaming your husband or refusing to take responsibility. That is to your credit. And you are seeking help. I believe that you need more help than an advice column has to offer. You need a mentor (or at the very least a self-help book with daily exercises that you actually do!) to help you work on this issue.

You will only make progress through consistent daily effort. It is going to be a long uphill battle. You will need to constantly have this in mind and be making efforts in the right direction. It won’t be easy but with consistent, concentrated effort you can improve in this area.

The fact that you wrote to me indicates that you are unhappy with the current situation and that you want to change. We have a principle in Jewish understanding that the Almighty leads us in the direction we want to go. If you sincerely want to curb your impatience and develop self-control and you make a sincere effort to work at end, then the Almighty will help you out – if you do your part and put in the work.

Stuck at Home this Summer

Dear Emuna,

It’s summertime and all my friends seem to be on vacation. I am stuck home working. When I sit outside for a few minutes in the evening and feel the breeze I am reminded of the carefree summers of my childhood and I feel resentful of the demands and pressures of my adult life. I feel like I should be walking barefoot in the sand instead of doing dishes and packing lunches for camp. I know my attitude isn’t a good one but I can’t seem to break free and it is making me a very grumpy mother. Any advice would be appreciated

The Livin’ Isn’t Easy

Dear Grumpy Mom,

Welcome to adulthood. I do think there are things you can do to ease your burden and to feel a little of that summer spirit but first you need an attitude change. Life has different seasons (no pun intended) and you are way past that carefree teenage one (actually it probably didn’t feel so carefree at the time). Now you are (supposedly) grown up with grown-up responsibilities.

We all chafe at our responsibilities on occasion and we all need a break but first we need to accept who we are and what phase of life we are in. If you look around the world at “adults” who still behave like children or expect life to treat them like children, you are probably not impressed. You do not want to be one of those people. And you don’t need to grudgingly make peace with your situation. You need to appreciate it. Didn’t you always want to get married and have a family? Now you have that blessing and you need to appreciate it and lift up to your situation.

Secondly, I don’t know about “all your friends” but it sounds a little like adolescents who say “all the other parents let” when of course it’s only one or two if any! I’m sure there are plenty of people you know who are in a similar situation to you but when you’re feeling grumpy, you feel alone. The other moms who are in a similar situation can be part of your solution.

You can certainly assist your attitude change with some actual breaks. Do you live near any water? Can you drive down one evening and just sit by the beach? Can you take one afternoon off work to do something with girlfriends? Can you sit on your porch with a drink and a friend/your husband/a good book? Are there free summer concerts in your town that you could take advantage of? Free fireworks? Parks where you can barbecue or run around with your kids? Pretty walks you could take? There are so many deals online these days for local activities that surely there is something that appeals to you. I know a group of women who recently bought very cheap spa day tickets to hang out at a hotel pool and connect with each other for the day.

Even if we’re stuck in the city we can create little breaks for ourselves and we certainly need to. It’s easy to wallow in self-pity, much harder to get out and do something. But if you get out and go – even if it’s something small – you will definitely feel better.