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April 25, 2015 / 6 Iyar, 5775
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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

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A Trust Betrayed: The End Of Innocence

 

Dear Rachel,

I’m beside myself. The sweet young thing I came to know through our early morning walks has just revealed the cause of her faded smile. When we first became acquainted, I was taken in by her exuberant personality. Though we’d never met before, she was super-friendly and bubbled over with enthusiasm for life.

As time went on and we’d see each other on an almost daily basis, I would rely on her easy laughter to brighten my day, no matter what. This young girl blossoming into a woman was blessed with a natural zest for life. Nothing, it seemed, could get her down.

During our walks, I learned that she was the second of ten children. Her older sister was married and her parents were anxious for her to get moving since her younger sister was quickly becoming “of age” herself.

Nineteen-year-old “Etty” wasn’t too concerned – the right time would come, she’d say laughingly. And soon enough she greeted me with an even wider smile, along with the exciting news that she had met the one.

I was a bit taken aback when she told she’d seen him only twice, but that’s the way it’s done in her circle, she explained. Her parents had met and “inspected” him beforehand and considered him suitable, and easygoing Etty seemed fine with their choice. While Etty’s husband would sit and learn for the foreseeable future, she would continue on in her job as office secretary. Again, this is the way things are done in her circle.

Fast forward: I missed Etty’s company during the couple of weeks she took off before and after her wedding. When she eventually rejoined me on our walking routine, she’d still skip a morning here and there. I was happy for her, and as I walked alone I could picture her as a new bride, getting to know her husband over the breakfast she’d prepare and they’d be sharing together.

Gradually I began to notice that Etty was no longer her old self. She smiled less and her ringing laughter was noticeably absent on our walks. Etty also began to look like she was sleep deprived, but I soon suspected that she was red-eyed from crying.

I didn’t want to pry. After all, we were only walking buddies. But my heart ached for Etty who was clearly going through some sort of crisis. On one particular morning when Etty hadn’t uttered more than a good morning and we walked in total silence, I led her to a bench on the parkway. I looked her straight in the eye and told her it was obvious to me that something was weighing heavily on her and that I was ready to help her out in any way I possibly could, even if it was just a shoulder and a listening ear that I could offer her.

Tears welled up in Etty’s eyes as she began to tell me how she became aware that her husband, who was supposed to be in yeshiva learning, was actually sleeping away the morning hours. She wasn’t sure what he was up to for the rest of the day, but she chanced on discovering (details unnecessary) that he was fooling her when he pretended to be leaving the house early for morning prayers, to be followed by hours of Torah study.

If that were not enough, she soon revealed other ugly details of her relationship. Her husband showed no regard for the sanctity of their marriage. He would wake her in the middle of the night whenever he desired her, regardless of where she was holding in her monthly cycle. Unmoved by her tears and protestation, he would use her at his whim and will.

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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