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January 18, 2017 / 20 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Eishes Chayil’

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 9/23/11

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Man And Woman Opine…


Dear Rachel,           

I am a male who, upon reading the article of the husband who likes the company of other women (see Chronicles July 22), thought the story had more holes than a rice strainer. How can any human (male or female) dwell for so long in the same hostile environment with a cheating spouse and endure this kind of torment and agony — and all of a sudden, out of the clear blue, decide she’s had enough, just because she married off all of their children.

There must be another side to this story. Odds are if the woman allowed the cheating spouse to behave in such a repulsive manner for so many years, she is as guilty as her husband. This poor wife shouldn’t have waited even one microsecond and ought to have inquired about a divorce ASAP! By waiting for so long, she demonstrated to her husband and to herself that she condoned and tolerated such pitiful behavior.

But it’s never too late. I’m sure if the wife would put her foot down – as opposed to seeking help from a Dear Rachel columnist – her husband would stop his silly shenanigans. The wife should directly approach her husband, give him an ultimatum and not resort to such constant humiliation.

Secondly, part of the problem of why so many couples live in such strange arrangements today and are afraid to make a drastic move and seek closure, is because of the immorality that some of our community leaders and Batei Din display on a day-to-day basis. How can we expect any husband and wife having nuptial issues to ever resolve their differences if many at the top are corrupt, immoral, and can’t get their act together?

That might explain why cheating spouses can get away with it for so many years and the poor spouse’s only hope and defense is a Dear Rachel column. Immorality starts from the neck up (the head).

Straighten out the head and the body will follow


Dear Rachel,

I would like to address some of the points made by Just Observing about women in the workplace (see Chronicles Sept 9). I wonder whether this writer uses a phone, gets on a plane, drives a car or has air conditioning. There was a time when a man could beat a drum, send smoke signals, or blow a shofar to send a message, collected wood to make a fire for warmth, walked miles across the desert to go to the temple, rode on a mule, and when the temperature soared just plain sweated it out.

Times change. What was appropriate, expected, doable and normal THEN has little relation to what is the norm in 2011.

The Eishes Chayil poem extols the virtues of the woman and her hard work. Listen to the words. Hardly sounds like the little woman with delicate hands, sensitive features untouched by the sun, never working a day in her life, sits home, eats bonbons and lives a charmed life of luxury, without stress or worry.

How much stress might there be in juggling seven plus children, a home, shopping, laundry, school, cleaning, meals, boo-boos, sickness, parents, community service AND a husband? Stress is not a 21st century invention.

And as smoke signals are no longer the modern communications standard, going backwards in expectations for women is counterproductive to everyone’s betterment. Old Indian saying: If wife is unhappy, you will not be happy.

It may come as a disturbing realization to some men that in the “New World” a woman can, will, need, and want to lead her life as best as Hashem has rendered her capable of and that there is no going back. The cork is out of the bottle.

What may really lie beneath this writer’s concern is the idea that women need to conform to a preconceived “Old World” notion — whether it be how they should look, how they should act or even what they should learn. His uneasiness with the “New World” changes may have more to do with his own sense of identity and low self-esteem. Instead of him subtly suggesting that time should be turned back and that we need to return to the good old days, he may try figuring out where he fits into the “New World” system.

How is femininity defined? The husband of a lawyer may very well believe his wife to be feminine. Not every man has an issue with an independent savvy partner. My mother was a lawyer and my father adored her and treated her like the “feminine” woman she was. She was president of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association and was strong, bright, aggressive and active.

If a man is worried about his ego being bruised because his wife is smarter, earns more, is better looking and more personable, then it is he who has the problem. How selfish of him to assuage his problem by turning it around and making it her problem.

As I recall, my father beamed with pride when mention was made of the outstanding job my mother did and of all her accomplishments. There was mutual respect between them. My mother (Mildred B. Lesser, who professionally NEVER gave up her maiden name) was always complimenting my dad and his business prowess. Truth is, I believe she earned considerably more than he.

Just Observing said, “some men find it hard to find their desired jobs because of the many women who now fill the job market.” Funny, a similar sentiment was expressed by non-Jews when the influx of Jewish immigrants arrived in their communities. That’s what people say when they are fearful.

Self-serving observations merely lift the spirit of the one who feels down and oppress the targeted.

Women are endowed by Hashem with all sorts of blessings; should anyone determine which ones – if any – should be stifled?

 Going backwards is futile


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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.


Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 3/12/10

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Dear Rachel,

I bet your readers have rarely heard of a male agunah. After a difficult marriage that lasted a year, my wife moved back to her parents and we have been living separately for the past several months. Taking my marriage seriously, I unsuccessfully tried to win her back with marital counseling, but by year’s end we both agreed that divorce was the best option.

At that point, my mother-in-law cut in. Citing her daughter’s poor health, she argued that my wife couldn’t legally represent herself and demanded that I wait a few months until she heals from a major surgery. And even then, she is planning on getting a lawyer to represent her.

We have very little money to our names and no children to fight over, so I don’t see a need for a costly court battle. When I spoke to my rabbi, he told me that the beis din usually does not grant a get until after the couple has obtained their secular divorce.

My wife will not take my calls and refuses to meet with my rabbi. With only a part-time job I cannot afford a lawyer to represent me. My family told me to wait a full year and then cite “abandonment” as my legal grounds for divorce.

My parents are secular. “If only you would abandon Orthodoxy, you wouldn’t be having these issues,” my father tells me. “You would have a girlfriend, and live with her before marriage, like most people do.”

In the meantime I cannot date anyone, and it brings me much pain to sing Eishes Chayil to an empty table every Friday night. My friends, parents and grandparents already have women in mind for me, but without a get I cannot date them, and what self-respecting woman would date a man who did not obtain his divorce? So, I have no choice but to wait it out, as my friends get married and have children, while I try to save money for a lawyer.

Perhaps you have some useful advice for me.

A trapped husband

Dear Trapped,

As far as mothers-in-law go, well that’s a chapter in itself. Unfortunately, they can cause way more trouble than anyone else. In your case, though, your wife may not be well enough to speak or think for herself and so you needlessly suffer the ruthlessness of your mother-in-law.

Where is your father-in-law in all of this? It is sometimes easier to communicate man to man, but then again that would take a man, not a hen-pecked husband who fears his dominating wife.

There is an organization called ORA, which is dedicated to the cause of assisting couples resolve serious issues and differences. They will also see couples through the proper Jewish divorce process. You can contact ORA through their website at www.getora.com.

You mention “major surgery.” Was your wife ill at the time you married her? Did she perhaps have a pre-existing condition that you were unaware of at the time you married her? This alone can be grounds for divorce.

In any case, the issue of obtaining a secular divorce should have no bearing on the beis din’s granting a get. You were barely married a year and had no children. And besides, you both opted to end the marriage. Under these circumstances, why the need for legal representation? Your situation should not be all that difficult to sort out.

Hatzlacha in freeing yourself of your shackles!

Dear Rachel,

A mother-in-law’s job is to try to teach her son how to be civil to people through her actions. Most often a mother-in-law earns her name because they can be nice to everyone else, but when it comes to the daughter-in-law she has choice words for her.

After the wedding, this lady becomes overbearing. She criticizes her daughter-in-law for her weight, for the way she cooks, for how she looks, etc.

In short, mothers-in-law fail to realize that they are not to place it all on the daughter-in-law. They must take a look in the mirror and find their own flaws and own up to them.

They must be very nice to their daughter-in-law in front of their son and not ask any questions such as what school are you putting your child into.

The reason I mention this is because usually it’s up to the couple to decide what school to put their kids in. The mother-in-law should not meddle in the event the daughter-in-law chooses not to answer her.

She should realize her position in the family and not try to see where she can get a little bit of power over something, even if it is only for a minute.

As I see it

Dear See,

Of course it is up to the parents to decide which school their children will attend. But it is never a good idea “not to answer her mother-in-law” – in particular when all she is asking is which school her grandchildren will be going to. I should hope that grandparents have a right to know that much.

It sounds like you may be at odds with your own mother-in-law. Since you are not asking for any advice, let’s just say that it’s a two-way street. A mother-in-law should hold back from criticizing her daughter-in-law’s weight or her cooking (both absolute no-no’s), and a daughter-in-law should refrain from being catty and insolent to her in-laws – who should be accorded the same respect as parents.

You start your letter by saying “A mother-in-law’s job is to try to teach her son how to be civil to people through her actions.” Wrong. That’s not a mother-in-law’s job at all – it is a mother’s (and father’s), while their son still lives at home and is being raised by them. Once the mom becomes a mother-in-law, she’s done raising him and he is yours to deal with.

I wish you hatzlacha in your relationship with your mother-in-law as well as with her son.


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