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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 8/06/10



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Infertility: Where do we draw the line ?

One more voice joins the chorus of emotional protest to “Is tznius not the hallmark of our lifestyle?” (Chronicles 6-18-10)

Dear Rachel,

As a 23-year old married woman who has been through four unsuccessful IVF cycles to date, I could not resist responding to the utter lack of sensitivity and ignorance exhibited by the segment of the letter from “Tznius ” If I may, I’d like to address the author directly.

Dear Tznius,

The only explanation I can imagine for the kind of statement you made in your letter is that you live a life blessed by perfection and cursed by naiveté. Only ignorance of the hardships people go through could have compelled you to make sweeping judgments about the decisions of suffering couples in their attempts to have a family.

For Avraham Avinu and Sara Imeinu, it was three angels that delivered an end to their childlessness. In our days, it is the “men and women in white coats” who serve as Hashem’s emissaries.

Those organizations, who in their great wisdom place cute, smiling babies in their ads, champion a truly worthy cause that deserves every bit of respect as they raise funds to help countless couples both financially and emotionally achieve the great dream and Jewish ideal of a beautiful family.

Finally, I question the very premise of your point: since when istznius the “hallmark of our lifestyle?” While it may be an important aspect and value, it is my understanding that across the board all would agree that the Beit HaMikdash was destroyed because of sin’at chinam, not a lack of tzniut.

I would venture to say that the finger you are pointing in the name of tzniut borders very closely on what tears our vast array of Jewish communities apart. What the cornerstone of our Jewish “lifestyle” should be is ahavat Yisrael, including an extreme sensitivity to our brethren – in this case those who nobly do their best to share in the joy of making new additions to Am Yisrael.

Pray for me and I’ll pray for you

Mixed Marrieds

Dear Rachel,

I have an issue with the lack of apparent friendship between husbands and wives. My neighborhood is having a well-publicized BBQ for men only. My husband refuses to go as he doesn’t understand and will not encourage separation between men and their wives.

Many of our neighbors clearly don’t agree with my husband and don’t care to spend time with their wives. They are the men you see Motzei Shabbos in the middle of the night at the movie theater acting like teenagers (we see them when we go as a couple).

They are the men who frequent clubs and bars without their wives. What I don’t understand is why this is not discouraged by local rabbonim but is, in fact, encouraged, as when men and their wives are forced to sit separately at almost every function (even where there are no shiurim or dancing).

Why is this separation so necessary? My husband has his best guy friends over with their wives and my closest girl friends visit with their families.

We’ve talked to many of our neighbors, and after so many years of this kind of programming they seem to have no desire to be socially involved or to “hang out” with their wives. Isn’t this terrible?

My husband is my best friend, and if there is absolutely anyone I would be happy to sit/stand/talk to at any function, it’s him. Maybe if we all felt this way, our community as a whole would have less marital issues.

Am I crazy for thinking this? (As a side note, my husband does indeed feel the same way).

Married to my best friend

Dear Married,

For a change (where this column is concerned), it is refreshing to hear from a happily married woman who enjoys being in the company of her husband.

That aside, let’s tackle one aspect of your contention at a time. Happily married men enjoying a boys’ night out, so to speak, is perfectly normal and acceptable. To take it one step further, there really is nothing wrong or unseemly in going out without one’s spouse.

The same can be said for a wife. How many women can honestly claim never to have had a need or a longing to get together with a good (girl) friend, be it to enjoy a pastime that hubby wouldn’t care to partake in, or to just de-stress?

Incidentally, it is also perfectly normal for well-adjusted and happily married men (and women) to occasionally feel a need for some breathing space; following a time out, they will usually come home refreshed and eager to be with their spouse.

Sadly, there are husbands and wives who run away from home every chance they get, but in this instance we are addressing the acceptable and the norm.

Speaking of acceptable – much depends upon the accepted practice within a community’s environment. While in your neck of the woods it is apparently acceptable for couples to get together, there are communities (and individuals) that frown upon such a practice.

For those who take the words of our sages literally and seriously, mixed affairs are taboo; “strictly family” get-togethers are okay, but if men and women unrelated to one another are expected to attend, separate rooms (to separate the genders) – or a partition, space permitting – are par for the course.

“Oh, please ” – I can hear the protest of some readers. Roll your eyes if you will, but anyone paying close attention to this column in the last few years will concede that given the opportunity, our yetzer hara will not hesitate to come in for the kill.

Yes, wanting to spend all of your time together is a wonderful thing. But supposing your friend’s husband is not as lucky as yours in his relationship with his own wife. Plus, he harbors a secret admiration for you.

Let’s presume that your neighborhood’s BBQ event was planned for couples – and the attractive woman from down the block finds your husband charming and a great conversationalist.

A mixed BBQ married men and women mingling how advantageous for initiating the devastating dance of deception.

Don’t fool yourself into believing it only happen to others.

“Al tarbeh sicha im ha’isha” – don’t [spend much time in idle chatter or] converse excessively with a woman (Pirkei Avos 1:5)

Do we consider ourselves to be smarter than our Torah sages?

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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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