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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

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Busybodies Beware:
Your unsolicited interference is unwelcome!

Dear Rachel,

I’m a very private person and have never written to a column before, but I feel I must share the following with your readers.

Right in the midst of the Yamim Noraim I received an unusual phone call. It actually went to voice mail where an anonymous male caller left a long, ugly and rambling message intended to “alert” me to my husband’s supposed inappropriate behavior with an aishes ish (a married woman) whom the caller claimed he was extensively involved with. He named the woman and also accused my husband of having wrecked her marriage.

Mr. Anonymous ended by expressing his sympathy for me for having such a husband and brazenly wished me luck in finding a better man.

Shocking? Not really, for you see I know the woman by name and was aware of my husband’s involvement. His line of work involves mediating, and he had first met this woman in an abused wives shelter after she had suffered multiple incidents of physical abuse at the hands of her husband. It was her concerned next of kin who had turned to my husband for help in extracting the hapless wife from her horrible ordeal and misery.

There’s more to the story, but the details really have no bearing on the point of my letter. Suffice it to say that the poor woman was in dire need of assistance, and my husband was baruch Hashem able to help her and was also instrumental in securing her a get.

Though I was plenty familiar with the goings-on, I can’t say the phone call wasn’t jarring. Both my husband and I were taken aback by the sheer audacity of a person who would have little else on his mind, especially at this time of year, and the chutzpah to smear a man with baseless accusations — to his wife, no less. (The caller, by the way, was not the woman’s ex-husband.)

In light of the above, I have some comments to make and a question to you, Rachel. I direct my first comment to husbands who may be involved in similar situations and innocently neglect to let their wives in on them. Can you imagine the impact such a call can have on a wife who is totally in the dark about her husband’s involvement — since he considers it to be all in a day’s work and therefore feels she doesn’t need to be in the know?

How fortunate for us that my husband shared this poor woman’s tale of woe with me and kept me informed throughout. Since we had much more important things to dwell on during the time the call came in, we basically shrugged it off. My husband, furthermore, did not get himself worked up over it since he knew it was impossible for anyone to accuse him of any wrongdoing, when he did nothing wrong.

Now let’s hypothetically suppose that a married man is seen hanging out with a strange woman and they are known, or rumored, to be “carrying on.” My question to you: how proper or improper is it for some outside party to take it upon him or herself to intervene by calling the wife anonymously to let her know of her husband’s supposedly bad behavior?

Thanks for taking the time to answer.

Fortunately unscathed

Dear Fortunately,

Someone obviously had an ax to grind with your husband and shamefully took it upon himself to do him harm in the crudest and cruelest way.

This incident further goes to show, as you illustrate, that a married man who must have dealings with a woman should take all precautions not to have it come across as an unethical association, and under such circumstance to be sure to keep his wife abreast of the developments as they unfold. Your husband astutely saved himself the headache of having a lot of explaining to do, and you were spared needless heartache.

As for your question, I am not for informing anyone’s wife that her husband is two-timing her (or vice-versa). For one, it may well be untrue, and a third party has certainly no right to make such an assumption. Moreover, whether the stated information is unfounded or real, such a call can wreak havoc on a heretofore good relationship.

A woman who lives with an unfaithful husband can usually smell the coffee and figure things out on her own without the annoying interference of busybodies who should be minding their own affairs.

Thank you for sharing. May you continue to have an open and honest relationship with the man at your side.

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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