MAILBAG: Pediatrician Against Fathers Leaving Families to Travel to Uman For Rosh Hashana

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The following letter was posted to Facebook (see below) by a pediatrician, Dr. Staurt Ditchek, and submitted to YWN:

“Hey Dad, Please Stay Home With Us For Rosh Hashana”

At the risk of alienating many people who I am close with and a few who are patient families in my practice, I write this op-ed at great peril. However, certain things must be said when an issue runs the risk of negatively affecting families.

As we approach Rosh Hashana many fathers in our communities are picking up and flying to Uman under the claim that they need to be there to pray for their families well- being throughout the year. We have all heard the arguments pro and con of why this annual trip to Uman is justified or not. My perspective is that of a pediatrician. Children who are privileged to have a living father and wives who are fortunate enough to have a living spouse, should not lose those benefits at such a critical time of the year. The argument that Yom Tov prayers can only be heard properly in Uman is frankly contrary to all Jewish thought and practice. The argument that a father is not needed in the home over Rosh Hashana is a bizarre and empty argument for obvious reasons. The argument that their spouses all support their missions without concern for the pressures of spending Yom Tov as a single parent is disingenuine.

You, as a father belong at home with your children, to guide them to love them and to cherish them. It is NOT a Jewish concept to disappear on Rosh Hashana. I have heard all of the excuses, sometimes reinforced by the wives of these dedicated travelers. (Sic) davening at the rebbes kever is a guarantee that our family will be successful, the davening has so much more meaning in Uman, 30,000 Jews can’t be wrong, my wife supports me going, my kids will be with their grandparents to make up for me not being there, my kids don’t need their father at their side to daven on Rosh Hashana, I go for my family’s benefit, there is no drinking in Uman, there is no drug use in Uman, there is no inappropriate behavior in Uman and on and on.

As far as the wives are concerned, you control much of the decision process. Your husband belongs at home on Rosh Hashana with you and your kids. There is no excuse. Furthermore, allowing your husband to take your boys to Uman especially at young ages is a very bad idea. The behavior of some in Uman can have a very negative effect on young minds. While many do go for inspiration and achdus, both important concepts in prayer, many are there for the party, drinking and lack of responsibility to their families. Inspiration and achdus can happen at home and should.

It’s not personal, it’s parenting….

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

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(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)




29 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Dr. sorry but I disagree with you here! I am not Breslov or affiliated in any way, but my husband did leave us for many Yom Tovim to travel to his Rebbe ZTKL with my blessings ! It was for the benefit of our existence . My children did not feel left out because they understood the mesiras nefesh in how and why their father left! I have no regrets ! Many men leave the country to go to various Rebbes throughout the world . That’s real chinuch! As far as the dangers of Uman I won’t go there . I believe that everyone should pray as they see fit , if it works for them then so be it ! A git gebentched yur!

  2. Well said – fully agree. I make a point to daven where my family davens even in the Ezras Noshim. Seeing the father or just occasionally hearing his voice chanting the piyutim can’t be underestimated. Unfortunately it’s not just the people going to Uman; other chassidim go to their Rebbes and even litvishes daven in Yeshive not always taking along their younger boys.

  3. Dr. Ditchik, i am so glad u wrote this article because my wife asked me many times to go because her family goes every year to Uman and i always told her that i belong home . My wife is a patient of yours and she wouldnt make a medical decision without consulting with you , and now she might agree with you(not with me.lol)
    git gebentch year

  4. a few points;
    a good rule of thumb before forming an opinion speak to some reasonable people that go..
    klal yisroel is not crazy , many people who have gone once keep going back
    as far as daddy or tatty being home … would you say that if totty was a shochet and away or the hard working baal habos that spends his fridays or sundays practicing for bike to chai… many husbands or wifes do all kinds of things that separate the family ( like the BUNGALOW for 4 days a week x8)
    its not about guarantees for a good year , may the eibishter accept all our tefilos bechol makom

  5. For hundreds or thousands of years all father were away for week and months just to go to a big minyan on Rosh Hashana.
    This article come from pure hate towards people that chose differently.
    We preach all day that we believe in free choice but yet all day we are busy telling other what to chose
    Have a good year

  6. Although there is truth in your comments, the concept of Aliya Laregel for example isn’t new in traditional Judaism.
    I guess not everything works for every family and reasonable guidance from a Rov is recommended.

  7. “The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.?” so why out of all videos in uman that you could have shown did you decide to paste the one with berland arriving ?? sounds like your taking sides with someone ywn…

  8. Hi. I actually usually do not even keep my fb activated but in honor of this post I decided to re-activate my account in order to respond.
    I am a fan of you and your family as we have mutual relatives and please understand that this is not a personal attack. However…
    My husband does not drink nor use drugs. My husband has a Sefer in his hands 24/7. Your interpretation of Uman is severely misguided for the breslover chassidim. I wonder if you have the same opinion on other kevarim and yomim tovim where chassidim travel to their rebbes kevarim to be mispallel for their families.
    In fact your description and understanding of why and what the real reason I support my husbands trip to uman is very misinformed. I myself have been blessed with opportunity to visit rabbenus Tzion and I value and cherish that we are fortunate for my husband to spend RH in Uman. Rebbe Nachmans chassidim belong there. Just to educate you, the actual calling was not for the actual holiday itself but for erev RH to say the tikkun haklali. There is no promise that life will be fruitful and prosperous because you spent RH In Uman. In fact the only one to turn to for such a request is Hashem himself. (Which is the core of rebbe nachmans teachings-turn to hashem for everything!!! Even a button -reference to reb nossons question to rebbe nachman) Unfortunately, sending our children to camps schools and out on the street can provide them with as just much negative influences you describe about Uman. Do you suggest we lock our children up? Here my son stands by my husbands side and sees a davening that is infested with Simcha and his Simchas hachyim grows emencially from the exeperience. What more could I want for my child then true inner happiness and a viewing religion as a gift to be embraced and a not just a set of rules. A religion of love and acceptance. A religion in our very own NYC and our frum world has gotten very wrong. I can almost guarentee that most of our children that are turning to drugs and alcohol are not being influenced to turn to that because they went Uman as child for RH. For my family it works and more importantly it’s what and where I want my husband and sons. Does the fact that you have a PHD and are a successful pediatric doctor enable you to give a cross the board recommendations as to where my child should be? Or what’s best for my family? I can sit here and argue with you how much value Uman for RH brings for my family but really is there a point? The most disappointing part of this is you are using your medical degree to make a personal statement. Almost political. On yom hadin we beg Hashem to judge us favorably the way WE shld judge his other children. With much respect and love for a fellow Jew I am offering to sponsor your trip next RH to uman so that you your children and grandchildren can reap and understand the benefits of what it means for a family to send their boys to uman. Oh, and I’m thankful that I don’t need to permission as an almost 40 year old woman to decide what’s best for my family. All I do know is that if my children have a safe and secure environment, self esteem and simchas hachayim I did my job as mom. Don’t make judgements without all the facts it’s not mindful nor acceptable. Every family every person has their own reasons that include facts that you are just not privy to. What kills and destroys our children and families can be found right in our backyards.
    Shana Tova. And I really hope that someone who was not 100 percent comfortable with their husbands going to Uman but decided to give it a try does not get discourage or gd forbid upset at their spouse because you formed a very public opinion based on nonfacts. Be blessed.

  9. חדש אסור מן התורה. This is not a minhag. It is relatively new, especially in the volume that currently attends. Why aren’t there 30,000 people by R Akiva Eiger, the Chasam Sofer, the Remah, Bais Yosef, or for that matter Avraham Avinu. No party, no matzav. When did Europe become an ארץ קדוש? If you must leave home without your family and you somehow think this is what ‘ה wants from you, go to Israel, an ארץ קדוש. I realize it is much more hip to go to Uman. So go and enjoy the matzav, just dont pretend its G-ds will.

  10. If someone is going to spend Rosh Hashana with their Rebbe who died over 200 years ago they really need a doctor!
    It’s delusional at best and totally Kifira at worst. People traveled to be with their Rebbe to learn from him, how he davened, how he ate, how he speaks…
    This is a “male getaway party” based on an anti-Torah idea that you can be “with” someone who’s dead.

  11. The idea of fathers leaving for Rosh Hashana is not a new phenomenon. From what I understand many Chassidim in Europe traveled to be with their Rebbe on Rosh Hashana.

  12. “who should I listen to, Rav Nachman or some pediatrician” [with regard to impact of running off to Uman over the yamim noraim””

    Simple answer…..the pediatrician. As best I can tell, Rav Nachman was not an expert on child psychology and there is no evidence he understood or considered the long-term impacts on children of fathers absenting themselves during the most crucial days of the year for a yiddeshe family. The chief posek of Lakewood (along with a well known pediatrician pleaded with fathers to watch their kids in shul during the yamim noraim, lest the be abused. Sort of hard for the Nachman-groupies to keep an eye on their kinderlach from 6,000 miles away in Uman.

  13. But it IS in fact a relatively new phenomenon for Chasidim to travel to their Rebbe – Chassidus isn’t as ancient as some people make it out to be. The Baal Shem Tov was roughly contemporary with Ben Franklin.

  14. Excellent post, Doctor!

    Husbands & wives should discuss the matter together & decide what works for them & their mishpacha. Never should a wife be left in a burdensome situation, if there are grandparents, aunts, uncles or Chaverim tovim perhaps on occasion a trip can be made. Yet keep in mind that Yom tovim are very special for kinderlach with their parents.

  15. Aclnnw; I am extremely impressed with your response! It was very well written. If only people would listen…. best wishes for a shana tova and loads of nachas from your children!!

  16. Wow, Fathers away from the family for Rosh Hashanah (and possibly other Yom Tovim)???…..it’s like that every Chag for single/divorced Mothers. I’m glad to hear people have become so sensitive. As to this issue, why can’t people leave other people alone and allow them to decide what is right for them? Somehow a ‘doctor’s ‘ opinion has more credibility???? Sounds very patronizing. Shana tova u metuka…may we all find our place and purpose.

  17. I don’t see a problem with going to Uman as long as the wife and family support this decision. Every couple needs decide if doing so will enhance their family or the opposite.

    Anyone simply flying off to Uman with no regard to his wife’s or family’s wishes isn’t only being a bad father on Rosh Hashana.

    Why is this still even a discussion?!

  18. I know of a chassidish family where all the daughters married litvishers because the father left them on their own for Yom Tov when he traveled to the Rebbe…

  19. Thank you Dr whatever your name is. Please tell me what else I should do. How should I spend my shavous? What about succos? Also Purim, am I allowed to drink? Please guide me. Tell me what the Jewish way is. I am I allowed to go to Florida for pesach? And tu bishvat, where should I report to? I need your guidance.
    Or on second thought I couldn’t care less about your opinion.
    (I’m in no way a breslover and I’ve never been and don’t go to uman on rosh hashana btw but I’m sick of every tom dick and Harry feeling like it’s their place to tell people how to run their lives. Who do you think you are to speak against a while chasidus and people that go somewhere they feel is good for them? Enough already with this stupidity it’s out of control)

  20. Dr. Ditchek: I read your words and certain thoughts flooded my memory. For 7 years I davened shachris for the amud about 1.5 miles from where my svher lived, leaving my boys with my shver for shachris (I walked back for musaf). It always bothered me that I was not with them for those 2-3 hours on Rosh Hashana.

    ocho sinco: I totally understand why you may not give any weight to Dr. Ditchek’s opinion. However, I don’t think he is telling people how to run their lives.

    Alcnnw: I do not believe your hyperbole that your husband has a sefer in his hands 24/7. I could believe it if you had said “all his waking hours”.

  21. The good doctor is 1000% correct.
    A father’s place is next to his sons in shul on Rosh Hashana. The sons will never forget being abandoned and take it out on the father in other ways later on in life. R”L
    It’s not for a family website to go into detail about some of what goes on in Uman, but enough to say a Torah True Yid should stay oceans away from such behavior.

  22. @lowerourtuition I appreciate your comment on my response. I find it very validating. After all the points I got across you chose to nitpick on the comment abt 24/7. Your right it was an embelishment and it’s an acceptable term implying that he is serious about his learning and avodas Hashem. However, it does prove that I annoyed you with my comment and the only rebuttal you could muster up was in regards to the embellished comment about my husbands learning. To me this was by far the most validating and appreciated comment!!! Thanks so much. Shana Tova.

  23. Its a sign of the weakness of this generation that some people can’t feel connected to HaShem in their own shul. Coming late, talking during Davening, even blasting off a quick message during daving shows a complete disconnect from HaShem.
    They need to leave their families, travel accross the globe, often going into debt to get there, stay in primitive accomodation sharing oxygen with some very undesirables, eating in communal kitchens with no set standard of hygiene or Kashrus, etc etc just to find themselves. What a pity.
    I’m no Dr but I can tell you the presciption for a Gut Yohr is to come to every Tefilla 5 minutes before it starts, you can learn a Mishna, say a Tehillim or even Tikkun Klali and of course to daven in a minyan that has no talking at all during davening.
    Then buy something nice for your family from Yom Tov.
    Win win.

  24. reb yid 9/6 4 47pm
    avosaynu went to rebbes many many years years ago. . sanz, yismach moshe , ger, alexander etc etc thruout the ages. same stayid the whole of tisre etc etc. of course in MO circles they dont know of such minhugim