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Caring for Mommy

As told to Riva Pomerantz

On Shavuos, we read about Rus, who gave up a life of royalty and cared for her widowed mother-in-law Orpah. Cared and provided for her mother-in-law? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around? For Chani, Rus’ decision resonates quite deeply. It’s a decision she has made — and lives with — every day of her life.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

stalks of wheat People are amazed by what I do. But I’m really not remarkable. I mean that honestly. All I’m doing is what the Torah requires of me — nothing more, nothing less. Just like I eat kosher and keep Shabbos, I take care of my mother-in-law full-time. It’s a mitzvah, and I do it to the best of my ability.

When I got married 20 years ago, my mother-in-law had married off five of her children, and we were her sixth — and last — couple. It didn’t take too long for me to realize two things: one, she had a very close relationship with my husband, and two, she had very strained relations with all her other children.

Almost immediately after our marriage, tragedy struck. My mother-in-law was suddenly alone. Her entire life had revolved around her children and her home. She had very few friends, had never worked outside of the house, and had never taken up any hobbies or projects. Most people find it unpleasant to live alone; to my mother-in-law, being alone was like being buried alive. It was her worst nightmare, and she couldn’t handle it. So we took her in to our home.

People often gasp when I tell them that I took my shvigger into my house, especially since it began at the beginning of our marriage and continued through bearing and raising nine children and working full-time. People try to attribute all sorts of accolades and “tzadeikes” qualities to me, but I think their reasoning is faulty. Doesn’t Hashem command us to honor our parents? My husband’s mother is my responsibility just as much as his.

And I have to say that Hashem has given me a great gift: I’m a very rational person. I allow my mind to lead, even if my emotions are boiling inside me. My nature has served me well in caring for my shvigger; if I was the type of person who couldn’t conquer my emotional turmoil, I’d have been doomed from Day One — I can say that with certainty!

But let me give you a fuller picture …



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