With a Mother-in-Law Like This, Who Needs Enemies?

bride The letter below appeared in yesterday’s edition of the alon Giluy Daat in a column called gilui lev (confession or revelation).  My children tell me the letter isn’t typical for this column — most are thank-yous and the like. But if it’s at all typical of the way parents in the religious community think, it’s no surprise we have a  “shidduch crisis.”

I’ll let the writer speak for herself, but couldn’t resist adding notes at the end.

My wonderful daughter-in-law:

letter from mother-in-law to daughter-in-lawWelcome to our family. I don’t need to tell you that you have joined an amazing and cohesive family,1 nor that you have received a husband like no other (with complete objectivity).2 You’ve received a man that is every wife’s dream: Two feet on the ground, two golden hands, his head on his shoulders, righteous [tzadik], gentle, thoughtful, and a son for whom family is very important.

I know how important you are to him and how much he loves you. I also know that the two of you are not exactly the match that one would expect, but that is so like him. Not to choose the the easy path and not to do the obvious.3

Allow me to give you a few important tips about my child: He is so thoughtful that sometimes he doesn’t think about himself.4 He won’t tell you if something bothers him and you’ll never hear him complain. If you merely think a wish he will be on his way to granting it, and therefore I am asking you: Pay attention, be sensitive, also listen to what he doesn’t say.5

I know I’m not supposed to tell you this, but6 I am sure7 that the fact that you wear pants also8 bothers him, much more than you think (and I’m not talking about the “head covering” that it’s not clear what exactly it covers).9

Your husband grew up in a religious “Torani” society and was educated in mitzvah observance as a way of life.10 God-willing in the  future you will have children that you two will also want to educate in the path of Torah and mitzvot,11 what will you say to them then? (And again, I am not talking about your husband’s younger sisters who are strongly influenced by them and, incidentally, by you).12

I am sure that you will have a happy life together.13

Hoping you understand.

[signed] Behatzlacha, Tz.


  1. We were cohesive until you came along.
  2. I think it’s good form to joke about objectivity.
  3. Even his bad choice of wife is a reflection on his wonderful qualities.
  4. Nor about his mother.
  5. It’s a good thing I’m around to let you know what he is thinking.
  6. “But” stands for “bold, unvarnished truth.”
  7. Not that he ever told me.
  8. It “also” bothers him—you know it bothers me since I’ve told you a dozen times.
  9. I want to leave something for my next letter.
  10. You, on the other hand . . .
  11. In other words, in exactly the same way your husband was educated. The fact that he chose you for a wife was clearly a blip.
  12. Unfortunately.
  13. Another line added for good form. How could you possibly be happy?

I wonder what the writer would say to her own daughters if they started to wear pants. If her daughter-in-law’s influence is so strong she had better start on that letter too. I suspect the tone will be quite different.

Giluy Daat is published by Keren Aviyah, a fund set up by the father of Aviyah Yehoshua Goldberg z”l to promote good driving habits in the religious community.

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Photo credit: CarlosMendozaPhoto


  1. Was it anon or addressed to aparticular person and signed?

  2. Most hilarious thing I’ve read for a while. Surely it must be a joke?! Anyways, what is it about uber-religious communities and women wearing trousers? Surely modesty is the key, and whether you’re wearing trousers or skirts or whatever, as long as it’s not overly suggestive. And I’m certainly not advocating Tardis-style tent-like-in-their-simplicity robes either. This is either a joke or the MIL in question is simply insane. Quite worrying – would you really want to marry into this gene pool? I made quite an unlikely marriage myself but thankfully have no inlaws to contend with. If this were my friend I would suggest a good belly laugh, keep the letter for the future when you might need a good laugh, and move to another continent without further delay.

  3. OMG, Hannah, this is priceless!!! Thank you for this post!

    I feel really sorry for the poor DIL.

    For the sentence “…a son for whom family is very important,” I’d add the footnote:
    “I expect you two to come visit every Shabbat and chag, and if you don’t, I’ll know it’s because you prevented my dear son from doing so.”

  4. wow. I’m glad I read it here, where I can enjoy your sense of humor about it… because it kinda makes me want to vomit.

    If the husband can’t bring himself to talk about his wife’s pants, maybe he isn’t as bothered by it as his mom thinks. By six months into the marriage, my husband and I had discussed not only headcoverings and pants, but which items of each others’ wardrobes we liked and disliked too. (A fully modest pair of boots of mine met the trashman because Yaakov just didn’t like them)

  5. OMG! What a nightmare of a mother-in-law. All those smug self-righteous implications – because she mustn’t chas veshalom actually SAY anything bad or it might be considered lashon hara.

    Do you think she stopped to wonder why it doesn’t bother her son that his new wife wears trousers? I wonder if she tackled that tzaddik outright.

    I also wonder if the boy knows what his mother is like, and if the girl showed the boy the letter. And what happened to the shidduch when/if she did…

  6. If this letter is real (and not meant to be some kind of satire) and I was the DIL, I would be very worried about my marriage. A woman like that could be the cause of a divorce.

    And I think I just started to appreciate my MIL alot more!

  7. Hmmm.. reminds me a bit of “Eshest Chayil”…..:o)

  8. Yuck. Reminds me of the website passiveagressivenotes.com (disclaimer: not 100% kosher, occasionally addictive, often hilarious..). My only limud zechut, if this is indeed for real, is that maybe she got her feelings out in this forum so she could move on, and knew better than to say anything actually to the DIL..Maybe? Hopefully? But, probably not. Oy.

    Also, to the commenter that felt that the trouser issue is ridiculous…listen, there are certain specific rules of modesty, and for many people pants ARE a no-no. I don’t wear pants, my daughter doesn’t, and if I could be frank, my assumption (hope? preference?) is that probably, my sons’ wives won’t. HOWEVER am I stupid enough to see “trouser” wearing as a CHARACTER FLAW? Who my sons marry (in a few years, being they are 4.5 yrs and 2 months), is NOT up to me, and I sure hope that I am significatly less NARROW MINDED than tz., to assume that this one, completely external criteria is one to get in any way shape or form hung up on.
    Loved the footnotes!

    • Chaya, I also hope that she never actually sent the letter. But if this is what she thinks, it’s bad enough.

    • I think that true modesty should come from within and not be reduced to a set of *rules* of dress that are imposed from without. I’m glad that you don’t see it as a character flaw – although it would be indicative of a character flaw if trousers were worn deliberately to aggravate I suppose. Trousers, it’s true, were part of the emancipation of women, but I personally like them because they are easy, warm and often more modest than other dress.

  9. The pants vs skirt issue is really hot button for me. When I wear a skirt, I feel less capable. I feel like I have to be much more careful how I bend, sit, walk, etc.

    I used to work in a place where the computers were on the floor. If I needed to replace a mouse on a computer, I had to crawl under a desk. If I was in a skirt, I would call someone from IT to do it for me (most of the company would call IT for a job like that). If I was in pants, I could do it myself. (doesn’t matter how big or wide the skirt is when you have to lie under a desk and halfway behind something to get to what you need.)

    I felt like one of those stereotypical girls who “can’t do it because I might break a nail”

  10. LOL about your notes! 🙂

    But if it’s at all typical of the way parents in the religious community think
    I really don’t think it’s typical. Would many prefer that their sons marry girls who don’t wear pants? Yes. But IMHO, most parents would realize that if their son did marry a girl who wears pants, it’s because it doesn’t bother him.

    And they also recognize that writing snide letters isn’t going to change that. In fact, even the writer herself says, “I know I’m not supposed to tell you this…”

    • Klara LeVine says

      it’s the “but” that gives it away!!!!

      the truth is I sadly was raised I think with alot of innuendos, which I couldn’t understand why they bothered me. Your comments made it soooooooooooooo clear!!! The problem isn’t just the mother-in-law, the problem is judgment of others and thinking there is only one TRUTH – oh yes, and thinking we have the right to continue to control our grown-up kids – or anyone!!!!!

  11. Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow. Like Baila said, I’m totally appreciating my IL’s more! Love your comments – your future in-law children will be lucky to have a MIL with such a great sense of humor!

  12. Regular Anonymous says


    This young couple needs to severly limit contact with this toxic MIL if they want their marriage to succeed.

  13. Wow, this sounds JUST like my sister in law’s mother in law. Wonder if it’s her. Same tone of voice, same assumptions about her “cohesive family”. Hilarious. Same condescending judgementalism.

  14. Sounds to me like the son is a lot more lenient than his Mom thinks.

    Amazing how some people think they own their grown kids.

  15. I haven’t seen Giluy Daat in our shul so thanks (I think) for posting that.

    How awful!!

    I liked what rickismom wrote above. Sounds to me like the arch-evil MIL is bitterly disappointed in her son for not letting her run his life, for not being exactly like she thinks he should be. How sad for all of them.

    Definitely food for thought for all us parents. We can show our kids the Way we believe in but that’s not at all the same as demanding they be That Way or any other way just because we (or even God) said so. Being clear about the difference between “chinuch” and control can be very hard work…

    There are so many other points in the letter that deserve to be blasted but maybe it would be better 4 me 2 go smile at my kids and pray I will be a good MIL b’shaa tovah…

  16. Klara LeVine says

    oh dear – my mother also said just wait til you have your own kids!!! Well, I was blessed with five and I hope I did a little bit better job – but I recognize I wasn’t perfect either. Hey, none of us are.

  17. I’m sure this sort of thing exists and the writer is probably completely serious as well as completley oblivious of her own insanity.

    If you are having trouble with your in-laws than I recommend reading the book: Toxic In-Laws, which can help a lot.


  18. Wow.

    Let’s just hope the son is really the big tzaddik his mom portrays him to be and stands up for his wife.

  19. How did a letter from my Mother (Monster) in Law end up in Israel???

  20. Clearly the author is related to my guys mother. Ugh!

  21. Missed this earlier so I have to add: I Think the “and also bothers him” doesn’t mean “also just like it bother me” but “pants also bother him, not to mention a whole long list of other thing that bother him.”
    and very glad that my mother in law was a live and let live type.

  22. mii, DH and I just had a good laugh with the addition of your footnotes.
    This mil is going after the wrong person, can’t you see it?
    She wants to berate her son for his poor choice in picking a wife (and it makes you wonder what else he’s done to upset mom), but is too scared to, so she’s going after the poor dil who is probably strong enough to take it.


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