Please enable JavaScript in your browser to experience all the custom features of our site.

Mr. Harry Skydell, Chairman
Mr. Mark Karasick, Vice Chairman
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Director
Rabbi Avrohom M. Gluck, Director of Operations
The first 1000 members will have a chance to win a
16 GB
with Rabbi Horowitz audio

Membership Benefits:

  • Save articles to your favorites folder.
  • Save and print selected articles in a PDF journal.
  • Receive emails containing the latest comments on your favorite articles.
  • Mark articles as "READ".
  • More member features coming soon...

Raffle Rules:

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. To enter, complete the signup form and join as a member. Incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries shall become the property of CJFL. CJFL is not responsible for lost, misdirected or delayed entries.

The contest is open to the general public. Members need to be at least 18 years old. Identification must be produced on request. Employees of CJFL, its raffle sponsor, advertising and promotional agencies and their respective affiliates and associates and such employees' immediate family members and persons with whom such employees are domiciled are excluded from this raffle. ALL PREVIOUSLY REGISTERED MEMBERS WILL BE AUTOMATICALLY ENTERED INTO THIS RAFFLE. The prize is not redeemable in cash and must be accepted as awarded. Decisions of the raffle judges are final - no substitutions will be available. By claiming the prize, the winner authorizes the use, without additional compensation of his or her name and/or likeness (first initial and last name) and municipality of residence for promotion and/or advertising purposes in any manner and in any medium (including without limitation, radio broadcasts, newspapers and other publications and in television or film releases, slides, videotape, distribution over the internet and picture date storage) which CJFL may deem appropriate. In accepting the prize, the winner, acknowledges that CJFL may not be held liable for any loss, damages or injury associated with accepting or using this prize. CJFL retains the rights, in its absolute and sole discretion, to make substitutions of equivalent kind or approximate value in the event of the unavailability of any prize or component of the prize for any reason whatsoever. This contest is subject to all federal, provincial and municipal laws. CJFL reserves the right to withdraw or terminate this raffle at any time without prior notice. One entry per person.

Father of the Man
Please Listen to Little Yankie
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
This article orignally appeared in Mishpacha Magazine

  Rated by 15 users   |   Viewed 20527 times since 5/4/09   |   11 Comments
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size    [ Change Font Size ] Email This Article to a Friend


Father of the Man

Please Listen to Little Yankie

This essay is dedicated in loving memory of my dear father, Reb Shlome ben Reb Yakov Moshe Horowitz a” h, whose yahrtzeit is Rosh Chodesh Iyar. May the positive outcomes of the dissemination of this column be a zechus for his neshama.

In his classic poem, The Rainbow, William Wordsworth coined the phrase, "The child is father of the man." Those famous words are the subject of much discussion as they are open to a wide range of interpretations. Perhaps the most common one is that the external factors that affect our childhood will govern the way we think and act as adults. According to that reading, those words would express the notion that, "The child [what happened to us as children] is father [helps determine the thinking patterns and actions, similar to the influence of a parent] of the man [what we do in our adult life.]"

Upon reflection, I would say that the seminal event that shaped my adult life was the sudden passing of my father a”h forty-six years ago this week before my fourth birthday. This is not to suggest that those of us who were orphaned at a young age spend our days with morbid thoughts. Rather, the searing experience of losing a parent early on cannot help but frame life’s experiences differently that most other folks. Having walked many miles in the shoes of the heavy of heart, we often find it easier to empathize with those around us who are undergoing challenging times. And losing a loved one at such a young age very painfully teaches us to appreciate the value of time and the gift of life.

As time gradually heals all wounds, I had always hoped that the grueling day each year when my father’s yahrtzeit day is observed would continue to get easier with the passage of time, as it progressively did for most of my adult life. But over the past few years, as my wife and I have had the incredible zechus of walking our children to the chuppah and seeing our newly-born grandchildren through the plate glass windows of hospital nurseries, I am finding that these yahrtzeit days are becoming more and more gut wrenching; almost too painful to bear. For while earlier in life, I spent the day reflecting on my personal loss, now my thoughts on Rosh Chodesh Iyar are preoccupied with thinking of my father’s loss and all the things he never got to do.

The past two years, I decided to channel much of that energy into writing a column on the day of his yahrtzeit designed to provide a modicum of comfort to children who lost parents at a young age. This year, however, I will let the child in me pen a few words to parents who are divorced, separated, or experiencing significant difficulty in their marriages.

In the twenty-eight years that I’ve been dealing with children, I have seen true nobility of spirit where countless divorced fathers and mothers set aside differences and worked together to make the best of a difficult situation for the sake of their children. I’ve watched divorced parents attend the parent-teacher conferences of their children together, celebrate stress-free birthdays, bar/bas mitzvos and graduations together, even jointly walk their child to the chuppah. I have had the privilege of observing amazing parents who decided to let their kids sleep in their own beds after the divorce in order to minimize the disruption in their lives, even though it required the mother to move out each time the father had visitation. All these accommodations deliver a resounding message to their children – that they are valued and their parents always put the needs of their kids before their own.

At the same time, I have also had the misfortune to see the most shameful and horrible behavior displayed by parents seemingly oblivious to the long-term and often permanent damage they are doing to the children that Hashem has blessed them with and entrusted to their care. I have listened to horror stories of abusive parents doing unspeakable things to their children and spouses. I have watched parents use the children they once lovingly brought home from the hospital as helpless pawns in their hate-driven battles with their ex-spouse, bad-mouthing the other parent, using the children as carrier pigeons to send toxic messages to each other, and engaging in protracted litigation over every facet of their lives. I have witnessed soulless, evil fathers cruelly withholding gittin from the mothers of their children to extract money or other concessions. Each and every time I see this type of behavior, the child in me remains dumbfounded that people can knowingly make their children rootless, virtual orphans.

In fact, in many ways their kids are in far worse shape than I was. Everywhere I went as a child, people would stop me and tear up as they spoke glowingly about the very special father I had and how much they missed him. I had the unwavering love and support of my amazing mother and the wonderful man she married a few years after my father passed away. I can’t even imagine the confusion and pain experienced by children whose parents are in midst of a bitter and public divorce. It is no wonder that so many of them wash up on the shores bloodied and bruised – addicted to drugs, alcohol or worse, doing whatever they can to dull the pain of feeling worthless and wind driven.

So; a few words to parents who are struggling with your marriages: please do what you can to make it work – go to your Rav and/or for professional help as soon as possible and see if you can save your marriage. If the marriage is to be dissolved, please, please keep the children’s needs first. On behalf of all the confused and tormented kids I have met over the years – those with abusive/neglectful parents and those whose parents behaved poorly during messy divorces, I beg you from the depths of my soul to take a giant step back from the abyss if you are headed there and remove the sword of the Angel of Death from your hands. For make no mistake. If you continue down the path of discord and machlokes, you will, in all likelihood be calling me or one of my colleagues a few years down the road in the worst agony you have ever experienced – watching a gehenom unfold that you helped create.

Please listen to Little Yankie now, rather than Rabbi Yankie later on.

© 2009, Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved

Recommended reading:

An Open Letter to Girls Who Lost a Parent


To sign up for Rabbi Horowitz’s weekly emails, please click here.

Reader's Comments:      Rating & Comments Policy      Rate & Write a Comment!
 Average Rating:              Rated by 15 users    (11 comments)
Subscribe to this Article
(by subscribing you will receive email notification
when new comments are posted)
There are no comments yet. Click above to write the first comment.
Dear Readers:

Please visit our Parenting Resource listing to learn about agencies and services that you can make use of. If you know of an agency that can be of assistance to others, kindly drop an email to our site administrator at and pass along the information to him.

I ask that you please consider supporting the work we are doing to improve the lives of our children. Click on these links to learn more about our teen and parent mentoring program that serves hundreds of teens and their families, or our KESHER program, now in 20 schools in 4 states. Your financial support can allow us to expand these services and help more children.

If you believe in the governing principles of this website – to help effect positive change through the candid discussions of the real issues we collectively face, please consider becoming a daily, weekly or monthly sponsor of this website and help defray the costs of it’s maintenance.

Working with Families and Educators on Behalf of our Children

This site is managed by The Center for Jewish Family Life, Inc., 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952
Project Y.E.S. was founded by Agudath Israel of America
The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES - 56 Briarcliff Drive, Monsey, NY 10952 (845) 352-7100 ext. 114 Fax: (845) 352-9593