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September 2, 2015 / 18 Elul, 5775
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Second Chances

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Nevertheless, in my efforts to be fair I kept telling myself, as I’d told my daughter, that everyone deserves a second chance. My daughter was happy. I could not ask for anything more. I didn’t want to destroy her spirits.

We booked a major hotel for a big wedding. We hired an orchestra and a florist. We had gowns made for my daughter and her bridesmaids. Tuxedos were bought for the two little boys who were to carry the rings. A caterer was hired. Deposits were sent to all the vendors. The invitations went out in the mail.

But the whispers about my prospective son-in-law continued, though now I was hearing specific things. What was I to do? How was I, a widow without anyone to help me, supposed to act now that I had more troubling information not only about the young man but about his family as well? How could I tell this to my daughter without devastating her? On the other hand, how could I keep quiet and see her embark upon a possibly suicidal course?

Was my desire to see my daughter married and have her give me grandchildren more important to me than finding out the truth about her man? Meanwhile, the wheels were in motion. The responses to the invitations were coming in. The wedding was just weeks away.

Finally I decided I had to act. I picked up the phone and called the family of this man’s first wife. The negative reports I’d already heard were nothing compared to what I was now hearing. I did some further checking and learned that what the family told me was factual. I had to let my daughter know. I braced myself for what I knew would be a difficult, perhaps heartbreaking, encounter.

“Sweetheart,” I said, “I love you very much and want you to be happy. But I could never forgive myself if I didn’t tell you what I now know. I spoke with Mr. S., who as you know is a righteous and honorable man who would never speak ill about anyone. But when it comes to a shidduch, Jewish law dictates that you must tell the truth in order to avert disaster. He knows your dad is no longer here to protect you and is genuinely concerned because the person you are about to marry is not the person you think he is.”

But didn’t you tell me everyone deserves another chance?” my daughter cried out.

“Yes,” I replied. “I did say that and I’m sorry, but this information is impossible to ignore.”

To make a long story short, my daughter decided she would postpone the wedding. But with her decision to postpone came another reality that was more painful than anything I’d ever experienced. My little girl literally shut me out of her life. She wouldn’t talk to me. She wanted nothing to do with me. She started going to couples therapy with him. Every attempt I made to reach out to her was met with sadness and silence.

Baruch Hashem, time is the great healer and my daughter has been getting over her hard feelings and we’ve begun to repair our relationship. But while I believe she is stronger and wiser for the experience, I no longer believe in second chances.

Continued next week

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