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Chronicles of Crises In Our Communities – 9/18/09



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Dear Rachel,

Thank you for all your words of wisdom and for creating an open forum for the masses!

I know men are supposed to stick together, and I don’t mean to incriminate anyone or to arouse suspicions, or G-d forbid to create shalom bayis problems, but I think this letter has to be written and needs to be read.

I am one of “those” men whose wife and family go away for the summer. The first summer I was lonely, missed my family and basically went to work and home again, occasionally ate dinner with my parents, learned b’chavrusa, and looked forward to weekends when I would see my wife and kids again.

Towards the end of that summer, I befriended some guys in the colony who drank a little too much on Shabbos morning, missed minyan here and there, and talked about all the exciting things they did during the week while their families were in the country.

Unfortunately, I quickly became “one of them” and got caught up in their craziness, which soon translated into a yearly thing. Without getting into specifics, ask yourselves this: Are you out/up all hours of the night, so that, among other things, you are likely to miss minyan the next morning? Does your preoccupied mind leave no room for focusing on your beautiful wife and family? Are your “side hobbies” impairing you mentally, physically, socially and spiritually causing you financial strain taking you away from your family to inappropriate places/situations…?

It was fun-and free-living – and my going home to my loving family where everything still seemed normal made it easy for me to fool myself into believing that I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

Had I been less self-absorbed and had I paid more attention to my home surroundings, I’d have noticed my wife’s respect for me dissipating, and my children’s expectations of me diminishing.

It took returning home to an empty house and a heart-wrenching note left by my wife for me to “hit rock bottom” and begin to reform. (We are, Baruch Hashem, a family again, but the unconditional love and trust is no longer there.)

I never dreamed that it would come to this I wasn’t doing anything “so bad.” And “all” the guys were doing it. And it’s not like I was “addicted…”

Don’t fool yourselves into thinking that your “recreation on the side” is not affecting your family and yourself. We are NOT invincible! To all husbands out there: Rethink your priorities, stop being so selfish, acknowledge and appreciate Hashem for all of His blessings, don’t abuse His gifts and GROW UP!!!

To women: Have higher expectations of your men. Don’t settle for less. Don’t give in to peer pressure. Be the un-cool wife and say, “No!” Make him understand that you will not tolerate deviant behavior. Demand respect, make him understand that you cannot and will not accept anything less than his utmost, and show him that he is much more to you than simply a “bill-payer.” Make him prove himself to you, and believe in him.

May Hashem grant you all siyata d’shmaya and strength to “wake up” and “grow up” before it’s too late…

Reformed and still paying for my foolishness

Dear Reformed,

The innocent, decent folks among us have difficulty fathoming how anyone can so carelessly toss aside all the wondrous gifts Hashem has bestowed on him. Taking things for granted is one thing; making a mockery of oneself and one’s marriage is something else entirely.

A young boy once encountered Reb Naftali Ropshitzer and offered to give him a gulden if the Rebbe would tell him where the Master of the Universe resides. Reb Naftali replied, “I’ll give you two gulden if you will tell me where it is that He doesn’t reside!”

The same question – where does the Ribbono Shel Olam live? – was asked of Reb Mendele Kotzker when he was a mere child, to which he replied, “There where He is permitted to enter.”

It would seem like some of our adult men are still stuck in their childhood and have much growing up to do. Unfortunately, their immaturity takes a toll on their families, with the damage inflicted leaving long-lasting scars.

One must wonder whether the benefits of the summer “country” arrangement (where the wife and children are off to the mountains for the duration of the summer season while the husband remains in the city and visits his family on weekends) outweigh the obvious drawback. Some might even argue that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Though the Torah addresses the issue of monotony (adherence to the laws of Niddah offers the fringe benefit of continuous renewal of excitement between husband and wife), can we afford to be complacent in today’s climate? How wise is it for families to be separated for days and weeks on end…? (Then again, one might also argue that for those who are bent on misbehaving, enticements are available year-round.)

When the letter-writer was asked to clarify the “specifics” he might be referring to, he replied that he hesitates to write in more detail because he does not wish “to put ideas into people’s heads.” He admits that though his own behavior had left much to be desired, he witnessed others who slid much further down.

He concluded these remarks with the following: “I feel like crying just writing this these are yeshiva boys, married to Bais Yaakov girls, with kids in yeshiva how did it come to this? Hashem Yerachem!!!”

His words should send chills down our spines as we dwell on the seriousness of RoshHashanah and the coming days of repentance.

It takes strength of character to stand up to temptation, and it takes a real man to stand up and admit his wrongdoing. Your wife is one of the lucky ones and it is not impossible to regain her trust and to rebuild your life. Hopefully, you will find that time can be a wonderful healer.

May our prayers reach the Heavens and may we be blessed with Hashem’s gifts – as well as the good sense to appreciate them.

* * * * *

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, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.

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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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