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As told to Chavi Fuchs

Chances are, Yankel’s one of the most paranoid, hypercritical people you’ve ever met. And you should see how he behaves with his family

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

 

You probably know Yankel Klein, that 50-something-year-old man who’s a bit eccentric and doesn’t get along well with people. You know, the fellow who starts whining to the gabbai if he doesn’t get an aliyah when he wants one? The guy who thinks he’s a prominent member of the community, even though most people who know him treat him like a nebach case?

Chances are, Yankel’s one of the most paranoid, hypercritical people you’ve ever met. And if you think his public persona is odd, you should see how he behaves with his family. He has little patience for his children, not hesitating to castigate them for the smallest infractions, real or perceived.

When Yankel sits down to a meal, whether at the supper table or at a Shabbos seudah, he’ll invariably find something that isn’t to his liking. “Why do you always make chicken?” he’ll complain to his wife, conveniently forgetting that he ate meat the night before. Or if his son isn’t wearing his hat the minute Yankel decides it’s time to bentsh, he’ll say, “Okay, you’re not ready to bentsh.” And then he’ll go away from the table and settle himself on the couch with a newspaper.

It makes no difference where he is and who else is around — when Yankel sits in a doctor’s waiting room, he’ll gripe to the secretary that it’s too hot or too cold or too crowded or that he’s been waiting too long for his appointment.

Rivka bears the brunt of Yankel’s irritability and paranoia. He’s extremely possessive of her, and he gets nervous whenever she spends time with her relatives or friends. Once, a friend of Rivka’s came to visit her on a Shabbos afternoon. When Yankel came downstairs after his Shabbos nap and saw his wife talking to a friend, he announced, “Oh, you’re not interested in talking to me? Fine, I’ll go over to my sister’s house.”

A moment later, he was gone, leaving Rivka mortified and Mrs. Schwartzman looking for a place to bury herself.

Even when Rivka pays attention to her own children, Yankel gets sulky and grouses that she’s not listening to him.

His family never knows what will upset him next. Will he chastise his wife for using disposable dishes that night, or will he complain that she used china? Will he ridicule the devar Torah his son-in-law said at the table, or will he accuse his granddaughter of not listening to his own devar Torah? Just this past Purim, Yankel yelled at his wife, in front of her son-in-law and daughters-in-law, for preparing too many mishloach manos.

When it comes to spending money, Yankel is equally erratic. At times, he refuses to spend a penny on very important or necessary things. When his children were young, he insisted that they walk an hour to a friend’s house rather than give them two dollars for bus fare. If he sent a kid to the store to buy a loaf of bread, he would ask him to return the change — even if was five cents. And woe unto the child if the nickel got lost en route. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 605)

 

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