We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories by e-mail to email@example.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.
To all women, men or children who feel that they are at the end of their ropes, please consider joining a support group, or forming one.
Anyone wishing to make a contribution to help agunot, please send your tax deductible contribution to The Jewish Press Foundation.
Checks must be clearly specified to help agunot. Please make sure to include that information if that is the purpose of your contribution, because this is just one of the many worthwhile causes helped by this foundation.
* * * * * * * * * *
In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d be writing to you.
I am a man in my 30’s, happily married, with three children. A year ago, I was in a situation where I met another woman; she was also married. Although I never thought I would ever go down this road, one thing led to another for three weeks. We fell very much in love. It was the kind of love that makes your stomach drop at the mere thought of one another.
We knew it was wrong, but we were so happy that we did not allow ourselves to think of the consequences.
One day, though, the guilt started to set in. After much heartache, we decided to stop. We both felt that we could not put our kids through a divorce. We would stifle our feelings for each other and avoid a divorce – which may end up with our happiness but cause much harm to our children.
I must emphasize the following: I am not unhappy in my marriage. (We have the run-of-the-mill disagreements like any other marriage, but nothing out of the ordinary.) It’s just that when I met this girl, I realized that I never had with my wife this deep love that turns your stomach to mush. My wife and I are happy and we respect and love each other, but I don’t think we ever “fell in love” so deeply as I have with this other girl whom I cannot be with.
Rachel, I made a mistake, I know that. I tried to rectify that mistake. We stopped our relationship (although we do speak every so often just as “friends”). But here’s the problem: It’s a year later, and I think of her constantly. She is always on my mind and I am still very much in love with her. But I know that we cannot be together right now. We realize that our children are our priority. What do I do? How do I live out the rest of my life being so in love with another woman?
I know that G-d is punishing me; it is the perfect punishment for me. I live every day with pain and heartache and love for a woman I cannot have.
I would greatly appreciate any insight or encouragement you may have.
Thank heavens you allowed some sobering thoughts to encroach on your impulsiveness.
From the first day of our existence, we have been inundated with temptation to be drawn into forbidden acts. I salute you for your strength in breaking off your illicit relationship, especially at such point where Satan already had you in the grip of his jaws.
However, the contact you maintain with this aishes ish (another man’s wife) clearly poses a threat to your emotional and spiritual existence. You are asking for trouble – by keeping your pain pulsating and the yetzer hara salivating. The past has, unfortunately, seen more than one family torn apart as a result of a situation typical of yours. Broken hearts and shattered lives, years since, testify to the folly of allowing base instincts to rule better sense.
“Love” driven by passionate ardor will cool, while the serenity and comfort of a loving wife and happy home will endure forever, as you go on to share nachas and milestones from the children whom you had a share in bringing into this world and have the responsibility of rearing.
I can hear the protest – this was love, not lust! Such attempt at justification will not hold sway in the Heavenly Court.
The following is a chilling, documented account that may help extinguish the still-burning embers in your heart.
In the time of the Arizal in the city of Tzfas, Reb Avrohom was recognized for his piety and wealth, as well as for his generosity and good-heartedness. His neighbor was an affluent businessman who dealt with Reb Avrohom’s wife, for while the Chassid involved himself mostly with matters of Torah, it was his wife who took care of their worldly concerns.
One day, this neighbor was struck with sudden illness. No doctor or any amount of money at his disposal was able to cure him, and after much suffering, he passed away.
A couple of years later, a ferocious-looking black dog appeared on the Chassid’s property. Though many attempts were made to chase it away, the dog stubbornly persisted in returning. An unsettled Reb Avrohom and his family always made sure to carefully lock the door behind them.
One early morning winter day, Reb Avrohom neglected to close the outside door as he hurriedly left for shul. The dog promptly entered the home and wandered from room to room until it found what it was seeking. It pounced upon the sleeping form of the Chassid’s wife with wild frenzy, mauling and tearing at her flesh. Bleeding profusely, the poor woman’s cries alerted the neighbors who ran to summon her husband.
A distraught Reb Avrohom consulted the Arizal, who deciphered the horrid event as such: “You should know that the business dealings your wife had with your neighbor led them to cohabit with one another. Due to his grave sin of adultery, he was reincarnated in this black dog – and granted permission to exact revenge on the woman who had brought him to sin with her excessive chatter.”
The Arizal concluded, “If your wife will confess her transgression, she will then die having done teshuvah. If she chooses not to, her end will be bitter…”
Realizing that her sin lay bare, Reb Avrohom’s wife acknowledged her wrongdoing, closed her eyes and departed this world – just as the Arizal had foretold.
Your neatly handwritten letter is reflective of a put-together, grounded individual. If your current life setting makes it next to impossible to avoid communication with this “other woman,” take drastic steps to alter it – for the sake of your family, your sanity, and your soul.