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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communties – 10/03/08

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Dear Rachel,

Thank you for opening up your column to the most sensitive and important topics affecting our communities, providing a great and much needed service. This letter is painful to write, but I hope that you can find the time to respond.

In reference to the woman who wrote about “Aaron” (the man she rejected some years back) and who is haunted forever by her decision: I am the female version of Aaron and am going through what he went through. I was happily married to a great husband with many beautiful children, a good career, and lots of friends. Then we became friendly with another yeshivish type couple, and the husband and I became unnaturally close. For some reason, this quiet man with a family of his own started to open up to me. We developed a very close friendship (much to my chagrin, as I had never considered friendship with a man aside from my husband an option).

As the months passed, it became clear to me that I was deeply in love with him, and my husband no longer made me feel right. Eventually these feelings led to a physical relationship that soon ended because of guilt feelings. When I realized we could no longer be together, I fell apart and alienated myself from everything around me. I became physically sick to the point that I had to be hospitalized. The love I felt was so strong that it destroyed me in every way. I became a brick wall and could feel nothing for anyone but this one man.

It was not just lust, because even when we were together physically I was not satisfied. He was not totally mine and I could not give to him and love him in the right way. He admitted his strong feelings of love for me but maintains there is little we can do about it.

We both know what we did was wrong, but I fail to feel guilt over it since it truly felt right to be with him, more so than with my husband.

The feelings get stronger and I am slowly getting weaker and sadder, losing all that was important to me (religion, family, friends). Nothing comforts me but him, and yet divorce on his side is not an option. He would like to be very close still and tries hard to maintain contact with me.

I feel like I cannot go on living this lie. The one person that makes me feel complete is not the one I’m married to. I have sought therapy, but to no avail. I am so broken-hearted with no hopes of picking up the pieces. Please help me save myself from the same fate Aaron suffered.

A brokenhearted wife

Dear Brokenhearted,

To chastise you for getting caught in the quagmire of sin will do little to lift you out of its suctional grip. You are so possessed with your feelings for this man that your relationship with him has become an obsession. To complicate matters, you continue to live with your husband though you can just barely keep up the charade.

No wonder you are falling apart! You not only pine over a man that belongs to another but at the same time are playacting a role that once came naturally to you in a nurturing and wholesome environment.

Many (women especially) are ignorant of an ironclad Torah directive: Once a married woman has been intimate with another man, she is forbidden to her husband. If yours would stumble upon your infidelity, he would be forced to separate from you forever, whether he wished to or not.

How unwise to follow the heart against one’s better sense! How unrealistic is the woman who harbors the foolish hope that “he will leave his wife and family” for the mistress who grovels at his feet like a lovesick puppy! “It is not just lust,” you protest. A typical female sentiment — a woman’s emotional needs override any physical drive that serves to legitimize her feelings, unlike the typical male who is mostly content to have his physical needs met and can do without any emotional attachment.

Though stress is known to compromise the immune system, your fate need not mimic Aaron’s – for you have the capacity to rouse yourself from your stupefaction, with one hitch: you must unhitch yourself from the other woman’s husband, even as he “tries hard to maintain contact” with you. (What utter chutzpah!)

Try seeing yourself married to this man and him starting a relationship with another woman behind your back. Don’t you kid yourself: If he has no compunction for cheating on his wife, he is prone to do the same with you.

Comparing yourself to “Aaron” is quite a stretch. Esther and Aaron were two singles when she rejected him. They’d have had every right to unite as husband and wife, while you as a married woman transgress a cardinal sin by allowing yourself the forbidden luxury of basking in the attention of another’s husband.

Yes, you have sinned, but there is an antidote specifically given us as a countermeasure to sin. It is called teshuvah and is quite effective when taken seriously, sincerely, and in the proper dosage. Your yetzer ha’ra has succeeded big time, as is evident when you say that you “fail to feel guilt” about an illicit relationship that “felt right.” And yet you can redeem yourself – by placing roadblocks to put a halt to its cunning ways.

Hashem leads one in the direction s/he desires to take. Seek His divine guidance wholeheartedly and He will show you the way. Until now you’ve been adamant about following your heart and have suffered terribly as a consequence. Alter your course and you will be led along a path of healing.

This is just the right time to rethink our errant ways and to beg forgiveness from our all-merciful Creator. The choice is yours – it is really all up to you.

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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