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The Rebbetzin’s Perspective: A Schmooze with Rebbetzin Temi Kamenetsky

Leah Gebber

Wife of Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky, teacher, role model, a warm listening ear to the many who turn to her for advice and succor, “the best mother-in-law one could ever hope for,” Rebbetzin Kamenetsky is a unique portrait of bein adam laMakom and bein adam l’chaveiro uniting in harmony. Here are her words, her wisdom, and the loving testimony of her distinguished children and daughters-in-law: Rav Dovid Kamenetsky and Rebbetzins Shoshana Moskowitz, Miriam Kamenetsky, and Nchama Kamenetsky.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

flowers“My mother is from a previous generation.” As I sit talking to Rebbetzin Kamenetsky, I intuit the truth of her son’s words. The Rebbetzin is generous with her time and yet refuses to talk of herself or her life — only of that which will help people, give them chizuk, and give HaKadosh Baruch Hu nachas. After all, that is the raison d’être of her life. And she has much to share.

“Her Ruchniyus Matters”

The woman is the akeres habayis. Her ruchniyus infuses the children and the home — it’s vital that she takes time to learn. When I was growing up, my parents lived in Boro Park; they moved to Williamsburg so that I could learn in the Bais Yaakov there — that’s how important it was for them that I grow in my ruchniyus and receive a proper education.

Even when women are married, they must keep up their learning — a learning group or a chavrusa are ideal. The sefer I recommend is Positive Word Power (ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications), based on Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book The Power of Words. It deals with the halachos of onaas devarim (hurting people through words), and I believe that if we knew the halachos, the whole world would be different. Baruch Hashem, we’ve reached a stage in which children know about shmiras halashon. They learn it from when they’re young and, yes, though sometimes it’s a struggle, it becomes second nature. If we learned at a young age about the impact of our words, and how we must be sensitive to other people’s feelings, this, too, would become second nature.


The Family Speaks:

My mother is a firm believer that all women should be educated. She was home with us when we were younger, but when we were older, she started teaching in the high school. She gives shiurim — I grew up with women coming to the house all the time. There was no kiruv in those days. Still, my mother taught, and women were thirsty and kept coming back for more.



My mother-in-law constantly quotes the Pele Yoetz and the Rambam. She loves grammar, and when we sit at the Shabbos table, she’s always asking, “So why is the pasuk phrased this way?” She always has a dvar Torah on her fingertips.


“Every Child of Hashem”

I recently spent Shabbos at a camp inMoscow. Unbelievably, these campers are second-generation — their mothers attended camp, too! That is so encouraging — and we need encouragement, because there are so many people we need to help, that the task before us, of reaching out to every Jew, can become overwhelming.

When I was in school, Rebbetzin Wachtfogel a”h taught me Yirmiyahu, and I’ll never forget one of the lessons she gave. Yirmiyahu lived through the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. He was given terrible prophecies to convey to the people, and yet he was unable to bring the Jews to teshuvah. If Hashem knew that Yirmiyahu would not be successful, why did He give him this heartbreaking nevuah?

If you want to know the agony that Yirmiyahu went through, just imagine a mother standing by a swimming pool. Her son is flailing in the water, going under. She is unable to save him. That was the pain Yirmiyahu experienced, again and again. But he was told, “If you save one, it’s worth the nevuah.”

These words should encourage all of us. Every child of Hashem is so precious. If we save just one, it’s all worth it.


The Family Speaks:

My mother-in-law came back fromRussiaa few weeks ago and she talked so much about how thirsty the Jews there are, how keen they are to learn and grow. The beauty of the Jewish soul! We are so proud to be Jewish when we see how much people care for their Yiddishkeit, though it has been denied them for decades.




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