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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 12/07/07

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We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories by e-mail 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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Dear Rachel,

As the adage goes, “Hindsight is 20/20 vision.” If this still holds true, I certainly do not need corrective lenses. Let me explain:

I was married for seven years to a man who not only was a solid talmid chacham, but brilliant in secular and worldly matters. He came from a wealthy, esteemed family with solid roots in their community. As the manager of a large company overseeing 45 employees (all of whom adore and worship him), my ex-husband worked long hours.

Truthfully, however, he was never too tired to spend quality time with our three children. Tatti was always there to tuck in and say Krias Shema with his two little girls and baby son. He was, in essence, both father and mother to our young children. Babysitters and household help was a way of life. Takeout food and pizza was the norm. I was never home.

Rachel, I had no intention of wasting and idling my years as wife and mother. Domesticity was not my fate. I was a wannabe who sought and craved attention outside my own four walls. Always busy running around, solving other people’s problems, running their affairs, is what made me feel important. Strangers came first, my children second, and home and husband last. I was on a high.

One day, Rachel, I found myself on the doorstep of a Bais Din. My husband had had enough. Years of marriage counseling by experts could not get me to change. A group of rabbanim was convened, and I walked out a divorced woman.

Rachel, I now have the career and glory I always dreamed of, but at what a price! Now I do have to work to support a family. I curse the day I traded in my “Mrs.” title for divorce papers. If I could just push the “rewind” button, I would play my life out differently.

My ex remarried a gorgeous woman – as your reader said in the Nov. 2 column: “there are lots of them out there…” – and established a new family. My two teenage daughters attend a Modern Orthodox school. They are doing well scholastically but have major social problems. Both have low self-esteem and large inferiority complexes. My son aged 11 is growing up without a father (as I have turned the children against him) and seems to be heading for the title “Kid at Risk.”

Rachel, keep up your good work and keep on hammering away at the really important issues to the frum community.

I wish to close with a saying of my own which I penned: “Look before you leap, if you don’t want to weep.”

Hatzlachah Rabbah.

Been there and done that

Dear Been There,

Your story is truly heart wrenching. You had everything going for you and yet sought gratification from every source but your own.

Readers, I can sense, are feeling enormous sympathy for your children – it is hard not to have pity on young and innocent victims. But your personal pain is palpable, and I really feel for you.

I am certain there is more, much more, to your story that cannot possibly be conveyed in a letter to a column, and still I puzzle over a caring “Tatti” who has closed the door on his children.

Let me quickly redeem myself, before I get set upon (ouch!) by the dads suffering the wrath of ruthless ex-wives – I do recognize that you are the one who slammed the door shut in his face. (You clearly state having turned the kids against their father.)

With all due respect to your mea culpa and your realistic – albeit belated – view of the past, shouldn’t you be going all out trying to make amends? Don’t you owe it to your children to open your hearts to them, to try to explain as best you can how feuding couples foolishly make mistakes, and to express your hope and desire to undo some of the damage?

Surely there is someone in the family who can act as mediator, someone who can prevail upon your ex to re-establish communication with his flesh and blood. Though time lost can never be retrieved, the spark that never dies can be reignited. Relationships can be rebuilt, and your children may just find a very loyal and trusting friend in their father who was there for them in every way when they were little.

You come across like an intelligent woman (yes, dear readers, even the best of us can make unwise and costly mistakes). I therefore assume (though one should never) that your children have received the counseling so vital for their badly bruised psyches.

If your letter serves but to open the eyes of other women who fail to see and appreciate the beauty and bounty that surrounds them right under their noses, you will have already accomplished a great deal. It is all good and well and commendable to do for others, but chesed begins in one’s home, for one’s own.

I take the liberty of expanding on your saying: “Actions have consequences, the price may be steep; don’t take today for granted, or tomorrow you may weep.

Chanukah is an auspicious time for prayer, hope and light. I wish you – and all of our people – much hatzlachah for a brighter future. Thank you for sharing.

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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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