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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

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Dear Rachel,

We are all well aware of the dangers of the Internet, but who would think that seemingly harmless texting can create an equal amount of damage? It has been over a year since a close friend of mine had the rug pulled out from under her, but as she tells it, her pain today is as fresh as if it happened just yesterday. I hope you’ll publish my letter so that readers could be warned about the real dangers of texting. (All names have been changed.)

My friend, Libby, hadn’t been herself for a while; she was unusually quiet and sullen, and I pestered her to tell me what was eating at her, until she finally poured her heart out. Her story shocked my senses. It seems unreal to me.

Libby and Raizy were the best of friends for years — until Raizy’s husband Avi called Libby one evening with news that would completely blow her away, end her long-lasting friendship with Raizy, and nearly succeed in destroying her own marriage with Ari.

She absolutely did not see it coming. As she said and I’ve been witness of, her husband was always her rock. They’ve now been married for over 15 years and are doting parents to a handful of beautiful children. Let me add that Libby is down-to-earth, good-looking and smart, while her husband Ari is a pillar of chesed in our community, a successful businessman, and an amazingly caring and devoted husband and father.

For over ten years Raizy was Libby’s closest confidant. They shared everything, from their personal feelings and good times to hardships. They would talk or meet almost daily, vacation together in the winter, and they spent their summers in the same bungalow colony.

Avi came straight to the point of his out of the blue call; he thought Libby ought to know that her husband Ari and his wife Raizy had been carrying on an intimate texting relationship, which had apparently begun a few months earlier upon their return from a midwinter vacation they had taken with several other couples. It was Raizy’s odd behavior and sudden attachment to her cell phone that had made Avi suspicious.

Once when his wife left her phone unattended, Avi took the liberty of scanning her texts. What he saw really shook him up, and his wife, when confronted, tearfully confessed to her mistake and promised she would stop. The issue was laid to rest.

Several months later, they (the couples) were spending the summer together, as they had been doing for years. Avi suspected his wife of being at it again; it seemed to him that Raizy was spending too much time in Libby’s bungalow and was being overly friendly with Ari. That’s when Avi made up his mind to talk to Libby, who had of course up to now been completely in the dark about the whole thing and thus oblivious to Avi’s observations.

Avi may have been on super high alert due to what he had discovered a while ago, but whether his hunch was right or his imagination was in overdrive (for good reason), the damage was done; Libby’s world came crashing down around her. She straightaway confronted her husband — in the fervent hope that he would vehemently deny the whole thing. He didn’t. He actually admitted that it had been a stupid mistake on his part and assured Libby that there had been no physical contact between them. He said Raizy had come onto him and he swore that it was long over. That didn’t stop Libby from letting her so-called friend Raizy have it. Raizy reacted by telling Libby that she was blowing the whole thing out of proportion, and that “nothing ever happened.”

Rachel, I’ve known the parties involved for a good many years and must tell you that these were wonderful, settled, mature and happily married couples. I must add, though, that I’ve since lost a good deal of my respect for Raizy. As for Libby, my heart goes out to her; in the blink of an eye she was stabbed in the heart by the two people she cared about most. It became difficult to get out of bed in the morning and face the day. If not for her children, she probably wouldn’t have bothered.

With her husband’s urging, they went for counseling. It took a long time for their marriage to get back on an even keel, and though it’s been over a year now, Libby confides that the betrayal still feels raw. Once the boundary of trust is breached, there is no going back, even when a spouse takes full accountability and makes a tremendous effort to rectify the damage he’s caused.

Upon the advice of professionals and daas Torah, the two couples have completely severed their ties with one another. Libby is resilient and has made other friends. She is doing her best to move on.

Rachel, you’ll be doing a great service by bringing this issue to light. People need to be made aware that simple texting is not so “simple” and can cause major havoc and destruction.

Hurting for my friend…

Dear Hurting,

If only we paid more attention to the words we mouth daily instead of doing so by rote, we would perhaps save ourselves such senseless heartache. “…v’lo sasuru acharei levavchem v’acharei eineichem” – do not stray after your hearts and eyes.

“Oh, but it’s just a text… it can’t hurt…” reasons the heart as it caves in to the message it receives from the eyes. Granted, we are human. And we have weaknesses. But we have also been given a brain to discern right from wrong. Had Raizy and Ari stopped for an instant to consider how they would feel if their respective spouses would “get together” in this fashion, they might not be eating their hearts out today… and all for some foolish moments of artificial gratification.

Let’s remember to stoke the flames of our own hearth and home, so that we can bask in the warmth radiating from our loved ones. Happy Chanukah!

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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