Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I am in so much trouble, I just don’t know how to make it go away. I am writing this to you from my married sister’s house, where I have been staying for the past week so as not to have to face my parents’ wrath and anger, but I know I will have to do so soon.
About two years ago, after finishing school, I got a job with a chassidishe firm in Manhattan. I was so excited to be working in the city, because I had only been there once before and it represented another universe to me, one in which I could see more of the world. My parents let me take the job because they assumed I would be engaged after a short while.
My first two weeks at work were wonderful; I made friends with the other girls in the company and looked forward to each day. One morning, as I rode the elevator up to my floor, I noticed a very nice young man wearing a kippah sruga; he got off on the same floor as I did and went into the boss’s office. I made mention of him to some of the girls on our lunch break and they laughed at me as I blushed, knowing that he had caught my eye. They said he was the son of the COO of the company’s Israeli division and he came to America a few times a year. They jokingly said that he probably has more than a few girlfriends at home and I shouldn’t get my hopes up; they had all tried to get his attention. I told them that my parents would be the ones to choose the person I would marry and they were all being silly.
“Yigal” rode the elevator to work with me almost every morning for about a week and a half before our friendly nods evolved into light conversation in the reception area before we parted ways. A few weeks later Yigal asked me to join him for coffee at the office cafeteria and I agreed. I had the best time; he made me laugh with stories of his family in Israel. I envied his freedom to explore so much of life, while the little I knew was from books and other people. In turn, I told him of my home life and the close-knit family I come from. We shared quite a few more such breaks for lunch before he asked if I would like to go to a concert with him. I told him that I would not be permitted to go, especially with a young man. Although he said he understood, I could see the disappointment in his eyes and I felt my heart break because I wanted to go with him.
So I made up to stay with a friend from work for Shabbos and on Sunday afternoon, without my parents knowing, I met up with Yigal. We walked around the city and then went to the concert. It was a night that changed my life.
Many lies followed and by the time someone from my community saw us together and told my father, it was way too late to turn the clock back – my heart already belonged to Yigal and I knew that I could never share my life with anyone else. That night my parents confronted me; my mother wept, my father called me all sorts of names, and they insisted that I quit my job and never see Yigal again.
I told my parents that I regretted having lied to them; however, there could never be anyone for me other than Yigal, so the choice would be theirs to make. My father told me to go stay at my sister’s house and to not come home until I came to my senses. I called Yigal as soon as I left home and we talked well into the early morning hours. He told me he felt the same about me and that he was ready to marry me immediately.
So here I am, torn between the love of my life, who wants me to be his wife and my family, whom I love as well.
Please help me see what path to take.
I have found that, most often, we are the perpetrators of our own misery, by virtue of the risks we take, the decisions we make and the lies we tell. Truth is such a sparse commodity as to be almost non-existent when we are caught in the throws of what we want, giving no thought to how it will reflect on ourselves and ourselves in the future. All that matters is that we must have what we must have now.
I think it’s a bit late to find a way to appease everyone and certainly no way to redeem yourself after the deceit and the lying.
It seems to me that you have already made up your mind as to what you want to do; that your parents blessing to you and Yigal will not be forthcoming is also quite evident. So I think you are mistaken when you say the ball is in your parents’ court. If you decide to follow your heart and marry Yigal, know that you are probably going to forfeit most or all of your family – at least for now.
As Yigal seems to be shomer Torah u’mitzvos, it is probable that given some time and outside intervention, your parents will yet come around. But you will have to be patient.Rachel Bluth