Chillul Tefila Bifarhesia, as well as halachicly challenged verbiage and dress, are external manifestations of a critical lack of personal yiras shomayim which has lethal consequences.
I recently heard that an acquaintance of mind got divorced for the 2nd time. The marriage had lasted a very short time, but I was not surprised. Her reason for getting married was flawed – she hated being single. She hated being a single parent even more. While I can understand her anxiety at being “normal” again, and wanting to “be like everybody else” those reasons tend to blind people to troubling characteristics of a prospective spouse.
Many years ago, I had the misfortune of being set up with a man who sounded just wonderful. He was highly educated, good-looking and a brilliant conversationalist. Over the phone he was easy to talk to and delightfully witty. He was even willing to fly to Toronto from New York to meet me! It became apparent to me, however, after spending some time with him, that he was a “toxin” on feet. Luckily I had the self-esteem to not allow this poisonous person to be a part of my life and my family’s.
What was it that gave me insight into what this “catch” was all about? A simple remark. Upon noticing my kids’ ice-skates and hockey sticks in the closet as I took out my coat, he asked me about their after school activities. I told him that they played ice hockey in a league that had been set up by shomer Shabbos parents and games were played on week day evenings. As we were talking, the boys were running around chasing one of their pet gerbils that had escaped from its cage. In answer to his unspoken question, I told him that my kids had several gerbils, an iguana and turtles. I personally could have done without these critters and the mess they make, but when the kids asked for pets, I acquiesced, feeling that taking care of dependent animals would teach them responsibility and compassion.
My date quickly informed me that if we ended up getting married, the boys would have to give up their hockey and other sports activities since it took time away from Torah learning. “But exercise enhances one’s ability to learn – it increases blood flow to the brain making you more alert” I pointed out to him, reminding him that he told me he jogged. Well jogging did clear his mind for Torah, he declared but playing hockey was a game and bitul z’man. As for the pets, being treif animals they did not belong in a Jewish home and I would have to get rid of them.
The only animal I got rid of was him.
The issue here isn’t whether Jews should own non-kosher pets or whether sports take way from limudei kodesh. The real point is that this “charming, educated man” was a control freak, a tyrant who gave no thought at all to the feelings or opinions of anybody else. He assumed that as the husband and “father” he was going to be the baal habayis, the master of the house, his word the household’s command.
The true issue here was that his view of marriage was a dictatorship.
Unfortunately for him – my view of marriage is that of a partnership. Both husband and wife should have equal say in running the household and any differences of opinions are to be discussed and resolved to both parties’ satisfaction. In terms of my own family’s dynamics the kids, as members of the household, were entitled to a voice and an opinion and had the right to choose activities and hobbies that gave them a creative or athletic outlet as long as it was within a halachic framework. How else can children grow up to be confident, frum and well-rounded individuals unless they are given the opportunity to think for themselves and partake in Hashem’s creations. Building snowmen and having a snowball fight can be a kiddush Hashem for a child – as is something as simple as petting a goat in a zoo.
Unfortunately there are many single parents in today’s heimishe community – due to an untimely death or divorce. Many are anxious to remarry and become part of the mainstream society. However, mothers and fathers who are dating have to be extra mindful of who they may be making a commitment to. The relationship a new spouse will have with ones’ children can either make them or break them as well adjusted future adults. Don’t let your anxiety to remarry make you vulnerable to “falling in” with a toxic person who will verbally if not physically abuse you and your children by being controlling, critical, hot-tempered or close-minded.
In my opinion, the ideal step-parent – especially when there are older children at home as opposed to infants and toddlers – should act like a loving aunt or uncle. Someone who has a deep interest in the child’s welfare and has a warm and generous relationship (in terms of attention given or time spent on activities), but who does not act like a parent. Gradually as the years go by and trust and love develops the step-parent – if invited by the child – can take a more hands on approach.
You not only owe it to yourself to not let your eagerness to remarry color your judgment. You owe it to your kids and their future well-being.
About the Author:
You must log in to post a comment.
Nearly half a million of them fought in Red Army uniforms, under communist slogans but with a personal vengeance that was solely the result of Jewish experience. More than the “Greatest Generation,” they were the living superheroes hidden in plain sight.
It’s all over.
The orchestra is still, the lights are dimmed. Your simcha outfits hang in your closet, silent witnesses to a time you will treasure in your mind and heart forever.
After noticing that you can’t log into your computer, your pulse quickens as you are called into your supervisor’s office. S/he has some bad news. You are being laid off. You have 15 minutes to clean out your desk and surrender your cell phone before security escorts you out of the building. Job termination, especially in the corporate world, can be heartless.
I have always had a problem with the Omer. Doing the mitzvah of counting the Omer was of course pretty easy. Remembering to start the second evening of Passover and remembering to stop the day before Shavous took a little concentration but somehow I always managed. No, for me the nagging problem was always why was I doing this in the first place, other than the fact it was a biblical (according to the Rambam) commandment.
With the semi-mourning period of Sefira behind us, and the festival of Shavuot as well (as evidenced by the tightness of our clothing due to over-indulging in irresistible versions of cheesecake that is an integral component of celebrating our receipt of the Torah), our community can look forward to participating in joyous engagement parties and weddings.
Dear Dr. Yael:
Do you really believe that the Internet is the reason why the divorce rate is so high among young couples? This may be so in some cases, but what about the fact that many singles are pressured to get married at a young age despite not having any idea what they are looking for in a mate? And add to that the fact that many are pressured to make a decision about marriage after dating for a very short period of time.
From the moment they stand under the chuppah, newlyweds have two years to enjoy the special bliss that new love brings. This new finding, reported by the New York Times, is based on a study undertaken by American and European researchers. 1,761 people who got married and stayed married over 15 years were followed. The research shows that after two years the couples moved into a more companionable state in their relationships.
Shel Silverstein’s 1974 poem “Where The Sidewalk Ends” is intended to paint a magical picture of a world of peace and serenity far away from the “black and dark streets.” At the time, perhaps the end of the sidewalk was a place that was “measured and slow.” Today, however, for many parents, where the sidewalk ends can feel like a scary place.
The next chapter of the award-winning novel.
Florida is famous for sparkling water. We have the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico surrounding our coast. We have bays, lakes, canals and, of course, an incredible abundance of swimming pools in homes, resorts, apartment complexes and city parks.
The buzz is back as Camp Gan Israel Florida Overnight gears up for another fantastic summer, CGI Florida style. What makes CGI Florida so different from all the other overnight camps? It’s all in the details.
Leah Katz, a TeenZone camper at Oorah’s TheZone summer camp and an 11th grader at Midwood High School, read her winning essay about how TheZone changed her views on Judaism at the Jewish Heritage Awards Ceremony held at Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’s office in April. The purpose of the Jewish Heritage Essay Contest is to acquaint public school students with Jewish history and customs and to help foster a deeper understanding of Jewish culture. The contest is open to students of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Leah’s essay is reproduced in full below.
Moshe Sharett, the head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department, visited Egypt in 1945. In Cairo he met a most remarkable young woman, a beautiful journalist who was the darling of Egyptian high society – from high-ranking military brass, to culture icons and Muslim sheikhs, to the court of King Faruk.
The two proceeded to talk about everyday things and surprisingly her mother-in-law did not find anything else to criticize. This occurred a few more times, with my client changing the topic every time by complimenting her mother-in-law or mentioning something positive about her.
One of the subjects I was taught as a young child in school was Tefillah. Since we spoke only Ivrit during our Limudei Kodesh and secular Hebrew studies – literature, creative writing and Jewish history – we pretty much understood the words we were davening.
Shortly before Pesach, I received a rather agitated call from a long time reader of The Jewish Press who pleaded with me to write a column regarding what she insisted was the unwarranted high cost of Pesach food – in particular shmurah matzah – and how hard it was for young families to pay what she felt were over-inflated prices in order to keep strictly kosher.
The price of deliberate obliviousness is very high – emotionally, physically, socially, and financially.
How is it possible that a person of seemingly normal intelligence (nowhere does it say he is simple) not have the ability to ask a question – to not react and enquire as to the why of the hustle and bustle around him?
It was one of those cold, rain-soaked evenings – the kind that make you look forward to a hot drink, a good book and a soft couch to curl up on. With those happy thoughts in mind, I proceeded to cross to the other side of the street.
The other day I was shopping at a large supermarket and happened to go down the frozen foods aisle, past the endless freezers containing every imaginable flavor, shape and size of ice cream. I rarely buy. Rather I am like a tourist in a museum – gawking at wondrous objects that I know I can’t take home with me.
He stood his ground despite the intense pressure to do what everyone else was doing. His integrity was more important to him than “fitting in.”
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/thinking-before-you-leap/2005/03/09/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: