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August 22, 2014 / 26 Av, 5774
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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 7/22/11

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Lonely At The Core…

 

Dear Rachel,

My husband and I are in our mid to late fifties and have been married for 35 years. I am an attractive woman, warm, sensitive, intelligent, personable, outgoing and funny. My husband is a nice-looking gentleman, very practical, responsible and stable. He takes care of the house, the car, the boiler, all the bills, taxes, and so on. He fixes things around the house and will gladly shop and run errands for me. He provides for us financially, and although we are not wealthy, we have managed to save enough over the years to be able to go on trips, help our children, and I can buy myself and my children gifts such as clothes, jewelry and sheitels without a problem.

He is quiet, patient, hardworking and non-demanding, a competent professional and a respected member of the community. He attends shiurim and davens before the Amud. We married off all our children and are surrounded by them and loving grandchildren, Baruch Hashem. To any outsider, it would seem I have the ideal life and the ideal mate. I have no doubt that I am the envy of many. So what is the problem?

At the very beginning of our marriage, I discovered that my husband has a secret dark side to his otherwise outwardly baalbatishe appearance and demeanor. To start with, my husband has always indulged in pornography. Before the Internet days, he would keep a secret cache of magazines hidden away, and I would find stubs to x-rated movies in his belongings.

Today, of course, the Internet has made it easy for him to indulge from the comfort of his office. My husband has visited strip clubs and the like and has enjoyed trading romantic e-mails via on-line chat rooms and dating sites. He has even progressed to dating some of those women.

In addition, my husband has frequented bars and has indulged in meeting with all sorts of women, drinking and flirting with them. At work, he enjoys the company of many young and pretty colleagues and associates where he is encouraged to take them out to lunch/dinner/drinks to foster good working relationships. Although this is a common phenomenon across corporate America, he enjoys it to the max and does not look to minimize contact or flirtation.

When he comes home from yet another office function smelling of liquor, all flushed and excited, he just smirks into my face, saying, “I am not doing anything wrong! I am not a Tzaddik, but I am not doing anything wrong!”

As far as the e-mails and bars are concerned, he waves it away with his hand and does not understand why it should bother me. He says he is married to me, has his children with me, gives all his money to me, has his whole life with me, and the rest is just a fantasy, some harmless fun to alleviate the boredom of a marriage of many years, and it all means nothing to him.

When I ask him if he would like it if I would act the same way, he lowers his head and quietly says, “No” — yet he still refuses to acknowledge the pain and emotional damage he has caused me throughout the years.

We have gone to counseling where he cried and promised to be better, and professed his love for me and only me, but within a short period of time, he is up to his old tricks. I also need to add that he has never brought me flowers, written romantic letters to me, nor given me compliments. He refuses to take me out to dinner or have a “date night.” Over the years, whenever I suggested these things in an effort to spice up our lives, he would stubbornly brush my suggestions aside, saying that it is nonsense.

No amount of prodding on my part could sway him. All the while, he would be enjoying himself with others. It would seem that I was there to provide all the important and practical aspects of his life, while the other women were there to provide the fun. And in his orderly mind, fun could only be had with other women, not with his wife. The secrecy, the danger and illicitness made it all the more exciting for him in a way that it could not be with me.

Although I was aware of his behavior for the past 35 years, I never acted on it other than to force him on several occasions to go to counseling — which was useless, as I described above. He hurt me and neglected me emotionally, yet I bore my pain privately and secretly. I chose to provide my children with a solid upbringing and not to break up the home.

There was minimal fighting done in front of the children, and they do not know until today about their father’s dark and secret side. Baruch Hashem they are very well-adjusted, refined, successful, loving and respectful children and they have all married fine individuals.

I do not regret nor consider my time and life wasted because, no matter how much I hated my husband, I always loved my children more. Also being the daughter of Holocaust survivors, I always felt very protective of my parents and I would never do anything to hurt them. In general, the climate of 30 years ago was such that divorce bore a huge degree of shame and stigma and was a much less common occurrence than it is today.

I am writing to you now because my youngest child got married recently, and perhaps it is finally the time for me to be true to myself. Although I have children and grandchildren Baruch Hashem, a circle of close friends, a job and hobbies that I enjoy, and I lead a comfortable life, I still feel an aching emptiness and loneliness deep inside that cannot be quieted. It is like applying band-aids to a bleeding heart.

My husband senses something is different with me and, in his own way, is trying to make amends. But he still refuses to acknowledge the pain and destruction he caused and he still continues to carry on in a secretive manner.  I neither trust him nor respect him and I am deeply resentful of everything he denied me all these years.

I am thoroughly repulsed by him and his antics, and I am ashamed to be his wife. I feel that the marriage relationship is dead and I have no one with whom to really share my life and heart. The tremendous stress level that all this causes is slowly starting to manifest itself in various physical ailments.

Although they would be shocked, my children would understand my decision to leave, and my family and friends would be supportive. I would have to learn how to live on my own, and perhaps enter the dating world again and all that it entails. It is definitely late in the day and it would be very difficult, but I still feel somewhat young enough, and hopefully Hashem will give me enough years to find and enjoy a measure of peace of mind, if not marital happiness.

Would it be foolish of me, at this point in my life, to finally set the record straight and leave my husband in the hope of a better future, or do I stay in this painful but practical arrangement? Is it too late for me… or is it better later than never?

   Lonely at the Core and Finally Free To Do Something About It

* * * * *

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 – 7/08/11

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

TZNIUS – one more round…

 

Dear Readers,

The topic of tznius has dominated this column’s space in the form of passionate debate for the better part of the month of June and into July. Though the letters kept coming, the same theme seemed to be replaying itself over and over, and so we finally saw fit to wrap it up (in last week’s column).

But then along came a reader whose message we could not bring ourselves to relegate to the bin of unpublished letters. The following is her eloquent articulation, which we found to be a refreshing departure from sentiments expressed by most on a volatile subject. Her perspective is one that is difficult to quarrel with; each and every one of us needs to hear it, absorb it, and live it.

 

Dear Rachel,

The letter written by A Fashion Isha saddened me. She describes herself as a beautiful, frum, spiritual Jewish woman, who loves fashion and dresses herself well… and seems to feel that as long as she is spiritual, she is entitled to dress as she pleases.

It is clear that no one has ever explained to her, and to so many others like her, what the purpose of creation is and what her role in this world is meant to be. Hashem, our Father in Heaven and the Creator of this universe, created this world in order to give. He is a giver, and He created us to be the recipients of His bounty. And He wants a close relationship with us.

In order for us to be able to truly enjoy His munificence, we need to earn it. Working to earn something is much more fulfilling and satisfying than being the recipient of a handout or charity, which does not feel very good.

Giving is what breeds love for another person. Parents love their children because they are constantly giving to them. Hashem, our Father who loves us so much, more than any human being could ever love us, is constantly giving to us, even more than we really need. He has given us a world so beautiful, so amazingly complex and breathtaking in order to give us much pleasure in this world, and transcendent pleasure in coming ever closer to Him.

But what can we give Hashem, Who has everything and needs nothing? We can follow the 613 mitzvos, thereby coming closer and closer to Him, forming an emotional connection to Him. That is what He wants from us. Avoiding something that is forbidden, sacrificing for Hashem is what makes us feel closer to Hashem.

We need to fear doing anything that could, chas v’shalom, damage that relationship and cause distance from Him. We are obligated to be meticulously careful to obey even the minutest command of our Creator, our Father in Heaven, Who created this entire world only to have a close relationship with us — which will, ultimately, result in the greatest transcendent pleasure for us.

The neshama is so much more sensitive than the body. We need to be so careful with what we fuel it. It is forever. There are real consequences for everything we do.

And everything that Hashem requires of us is actually for our benefit! He is omniscient and knows what is in our best interests, even when we don’t understand or agree.

No parent is going to tell his child, “Oh, you don’t want a vaccination because it hurts? Okay, you don’t have to have one.”

The child sees only the immediate consequences – an injection hurts. But the parent sees what the child does not. He sees the long term benefits of the vaccine and is willing to subject his child to the short-term pain and discomfort for the long term, far-reaching benefits of protection from debilitating and deadly diseases. The child sees candy and wants more and more. The parent, however, recognizes that too much will lead to tummy aches and cavities.

We are the daughters of the King of Kings. We need to dress with refinement and modesty, as is befitting daughters of royalty. This is what our Father, our King, requires of us. And He knows, in a way that we cannot understand, why this is what is truly best for us. How can we not follow His directives?

Not perfect but trying my best wrote, “I see plenty of ultra-religious Jewish women who wear seamed stockings and are dressed more than tznius’dik yet gossip about others, humiliate people and are closed minded and judgmental… And I see people who are dressed more provocatively and daven every day, go to shiurim, are careful with their speech, are welcoming and have open homes to all Jews. How can we decide who is more frum?”

The short answer is we can’t; it is not our place to decide who is more frum, and it is totally irrelevant. Each group is doing some things right and some things wrong. Hashem has two sets of requirements of conduct for each of us, and complying with one set of requirements does not absolve us from the requirement to comply with the other set as well.

To have a relationship with our Creator, to whom we owe everything, is not optional. We need to perfect ourselves in both areas of bein odom l’chaveiro (between man and man) and bein odom l’makom (between man and G-d.)

(Anyone wishing to gain more clarity on the purpose of creation and our relationship with Hashem can visit thesixconstantmitzvos.com online. This website’s collection of articles and video clips are very enlightening and well worth one’s time and effort.)

A daughter of the King

* * * * *

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 – 6/03/11

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Dear Rachel,

I am writing this out of my soul-piercing anguish at the epidemic of married “frum” women who dress provocatively. They shamelessly dare to flaunt their failure to observe halacha at every simcha these days, even yeshivsh ones, and in certain orthodox neighborhoods they are unfortunately the rule, not the exception.

You know who they are — they are hard to miss with their enormous, garishly styled custom wigs, which they obviously spent a fortune on, wigs which to an unschooled onlooker could not pass for the wearer’s natural hair for their sheer size alone. They wear tons of makeup, usually favoring lots of gothic dark eye makeup, and their clothes are so tight it is a wonder they breathe.

They clunk around suggestively in shoes so uncomfortable it hurts to look at them. To top it off, there is a growing trend among these women not to even pretend to cover their knees. Short, panty-line accentuating pencil skirts are everywhere, often with details like huge, inviting zippers and slits that reveal everything when the wearer bends over. Adding insult to the injury these abominable women cause to the dignity of Orthodox Jews everywhere are the flashy designer labels these women usually sport, as if to boast with pride that they have abandoned Judaism for the values of the television.

These women are a disgrace to Orthodox Judaism and should not be tolerated. They paint the most obnoxious, insulting and degrading anti-Semitic caricature of Jewish women – that of materialistic, religiously hypocritical wives. Their values are those of the sewer, of the porn industry: attract sexual attention at all cost.

They are going to burn in Gehenom for every lustful glance their garishly flaunted bodies attract from frum men, and are a pischon peh to the yetzer hara of every non-orthodox woman considering embracing tznius (Why be orthodox? The rabbi at your Reform temple dresses more modestly than that!) or for any financially strapped couple struggling with the idea of sending their children to Jewish day school (Why kill yourself with tuition? Look what trash comes out of those schools!). What these women are essentially saying through their attire is that they care so little for Torah and mitzvos that they do not even want to be publicly identified with it.

It is my wish that these women will one day be given the cold shoulder and be made to feel unwelcome at every kosher restaurant, simcha hall, clothing store or shul. They should not be allowed to publicly disgrace Orthodox Judaism. And their obvious marital frustration should be addressed in therapy, rather than advertised to the construction workers hooting at them in the street.

For shame!

 

Dear Rachel,

My husband and I recently visited Europe where some of the scenery is breathtaking, and just about everywhere we went I felt proud to recognize one of our own — a frum woman.

At the same time, we recently had occasion to attend a simcha in Los Angeles, where Hollywood is the epitome of prustkeit (vulgarity) in the secular world. Again, I was proud to see the tznius of frum girls and women.

And yet – I don’t know how else to say this but bluntly – in my neighborhood, which shall remain nameless, too many of the women who walk around look more like hookers than a princess/bas Yisroel.

I wonder why they bother wearing shaitlach with the rest of their bodies barely covered!

My pride in my heritage is wounded

 

Dear Rachel,

I read your column every week and would like to thank you for helping the frum community.

I want to bring up a topic that I believe many frum married men have a problem with: while the woman we marry may be baalbatish (refined), highly intelligent, a great cook and homemaker, and excellent mother, she is not a good wife — meaning she doesn’t satisfy her husband and fails to give him what he really wants.

To clarify, most of these wives lack femininity and have absolutely no notion of romance. While good in the kitchen, they utterly fall flat when it comes to adding spice and fun into the marriage. This seems to be a major drawback of the frum couple’s marital relationship, which ends up having a negative effect on the community as a whole.

Our schools should begin expounding on the realities of a true eishes chayil (virtuous woman), the way halacha teaches and the Ramah brings down: eiza isha kasheiro hoisa ratzon balah – the “Kosher woman who does the will of her husband” and a woman who promotes sholom bayis is considered to be a true eishes chayil who will raise ehrliche Yiddish kids.

A focused husband and father

 

Dear Readers,

In these precarious times when our distinctive role as “a guiding light unto to the nations” is perhaps more critical than ever before, it behooves every one of us to do some serious introspection — for no one is immune to “outside” influence and each one of us has a responsibility to one another.

Parents cannot simply leave it up to the school/teachers to set their children on the right derech, and husbands need to stop pandering to their wives when it comes to crossing the boundary lines of tznius. (This is not to infer in any way that modesty equals dowdiness.)

The last letter is quite relevant to the context of the letters preceding it and was a deliberate inclusion, meant to draw attention to how utterly skewed the priorities of some women are.

While women (or anyone, for that matter) should never appear unkempt in any setting, the married woman especially should save her seduction prowess for the confines of her home where she is required to keep her husband happy, content and interested.

There are many references in the Torah to the virtue of tznua (hiddenness), one of the earliest among them the circumstance surrounding the second set of luchos that Moshe Rabeinu was called upon to retrieve in utmost privacy — after G-d determined that the first set met with catastrophe because they were produced with much fuss, fanfare and exposure. Hashem declared at the time, “Ein lecha yafo min ha’tznius” – there’s nothing more beautiful than tznius (that which is private and hidden).

Elsewhere in the Torah we are warned that nothing is more repulsive to Hashem than immodest dress and behavior.

May all of Klal Yisrael have an enlightening and joyful Shavuos!

* * * * *

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 – 5/20/11

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Dear Readers,

Back in February of this year we published a letter from a worn out young mother (Am I for real?) who could hardly hold her own as she tried coping with her husband’s anger issue. In a follow-up letter, a reader (A long-suffering victim) strongly sympathetic toward this young mother, suggested that the husband’s behavior was symptomatic of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Our second writer also recommended a book on the subject (Stop Walking on Eggshells by Mason and Kreger) that had helped her come to grips with her own husband’s erratic behavior.

The following letter was written by yet another of these tragic, long-suffering wives.

 

Dear Rachel,

I am a non-Jewish young woman who works with a Jewish family and happens to love reading your articles. I have been married for four years and feel like my marriage is not of G-d but of the Satan. I am writing in reference to the letter “Am I for real?” — which made me realize that no matter your race, your culture or your creed, we all go through the same problems.

I most certainly can identify with this young woman. My husband portrays the same behavior/symptoms as BPD. I have realized for a while that my husband had a problem and thought it was ADHD. I just couldn’t figure it out.

But of course he won’t admit that he has a problem and blames me for every argument or just anything he can blame me for. He’s like a child who does not take responsibility for his wrong actions. He is a very angry, disgruntled, insulting, irrational and disrespectful individual. He scares my children who dislike him immensely and are upset with me for marrying him. My daughter was happy to leave for college last September; she positively hates him and has told him that she does not like the way he treats me and makes me cry.

He professes his undying love for me and yet he treats me like a doormat. He calls me mean names and is verbally abusive. I keep searching myself for faults and wonder why he hates me, yet he says he loves me. I sometimes think of suicide just to be away from him. I ran away once, but he found me.

We have been to therapist/counselors, but it seems to help for only a little while. Then he’s back to being the big, bad, mean wolf again. I don’t even know how to cope anymore, and yes, I feel like I’m walking on eggshells in my home. I will certainly buy this book (recommended by a reader) and see if I can find help and a way to cope before I lose my sanity.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my story. This column is most helpful, and I’m glad to know I’m not the only one going through these issues, like I thought. I actually know other women out there going through this and who are scared and ashamed to talk about it.

Though my husband feels that going to a therapist is just a way for them to make money, I want to go because I need to overcome my fears of having to live like this for the rest of my life, if I have to stay in this marriage.

I am a good person, a good wife and a good mother, and I love life, but sometimes I feel like giving up.

Please daven for me… I need all the prayers for healing and happiness in my life and marriage.

Be Blessed…

 

Dear Blessed,

Thank you for your kind words. It is most gratifying to know that this column touches readers beyond the circumference of our Jewish reading circle.

An informative series on the topic of BPD specifically, authored by Simcha and Chaya Feuerman, debuted in the April 29 Family Issues section of this paper. The articles feature an in-depth analysis on a not so cut-and-dried malady. (Readers are cautioned against self-diagnosis and/or reaching a definitive conclusion without the corroboration of a professional therapist.)

My dear reader, you have availed yourself of psychotherapy and yet your agony persists unabated. Your children suffer as well, and you live with a constant fear of your “very angry, disgruntled, insulting, irrational and disrespectful” husband.

Have you ever asked yourself what this man, your husband of four years, offers you besides torment and misery? Does he possess any positive qualities to speak of? Do you still love him (assuming you once did)? Have you a shred of respect left for the man who professes to love you – yet treats you like dirt? What makes you say, “…if I have to stay in this marriage?” (Who says you have to…?)

That only you can provide the answers to these questions goes without saying. In the meanwhile, whenever your instincts tell you that the “big, bad mean wolf” is about to launch one of his stinging verbal assaults, wordlessly remove yourself from his presence. Go for a walk, go on an errand, go visit a friend, just go! Without your tears and obvious distress to feed his rage, his ire will lose its edge; with no fuel added to the ire, the fire will sputter and turn into smoldering ashes.

Living with a Jekyll and Hyde (a person who alternately displays good and evil personalities) is wearing and draining. You say you love life yet have entertained thoughts of giving up on that life. Should Mr. Hyde continue to hide behind the evil Dr. Jekyll, allowing the latter to play front and center despite all the therapy sessions meant to clean up his act, you might want to give some serious thought to reclaiming your sanity, your self-assurance, your self-dignity, and your life . . . before it’s too late.

May G-d grant you strength and the presence of mind to do the right thing. There’s certainly no mitzvah in tolerating an abusive relationship.

* * * * *

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 – 5/06/11

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

More Readers Chastise Critics of “Community (lack of) values

(See Chronicles 3-18, 4-8 and 4-29)

 

Dear Rachel,

When I read the responses to the young woman’s complaints regarding her neighbors’ indifference or unwillingness to help her and her husband, I was quite taken aback by the vitriol and mean-spiritedness of the responders.

Do any of them know all the facts? True, the young woman’s letter omitted much background information, but to me, something about her letter struck a chord. The Orthodox communities my husband and I both come from were small, with one main shul and one day school that all the children attended — the Rabbi’s children, as well as children from non-religious families.

We all knew one another, some better than others, but all would wish each other “Good Shabbos” with a smile (not mumbled in passing), and received warm responses in return. We would go out of our way to greet guests in shul and make them feel welcome; we certainly did not ignore them. And if we noticed a moving truck parked outside, and an Orthodox family in the process of moving in, we offered whatever assistance was needed, whether by way of food and drinks, or, if their children were similar ages to ours, we offered to have them play at our homes to ease their parents’ burden. We did not wait for them to do us a favor before reaching out to them, nor did we keep score as to who owes whom a favor before offering our help. For our community, this was normal and no big deal.

When we got married and moved to a large city, we were in for a culture shock. When our moving truck stopped in front of our apartment, no one noticed. When we would greet people on the street with a “Good Shabbos”, we were met with indifference at best, and stares (what?? do I know you??) at worst. It took several Shabbosim for someone to even notice that we were newcomers.

It took even longer for someone to invite us for a Shabbos meal. When we met other former “out-of-towners” who had lived here for several years, they told us this is the way things are in the big city. We eventually gravitated to other former out-of-towners because the city folk had their own cliques, and were not interested in including us in their circle.

So, maybe this young woman and her husband, with similar backgrounds to one another, moved far away from their families to a large city where they knew no one. (Notice how she did not mention asking any of their family members for help.) Maybe they simply thought that what was normal in their former location would be normal in their new one.

Did any of their new neighbors reach out to them to find out if the two are working or perhaps students trying to get by on part-time jobs or loans, or whose families are unable to help them out financially? Did it ever occur to their indifferent neighbors that this couple might not have been able to afford the cost of hiring professional movers? If these neighbors couldn’t offer their time, they could have directed them to a gemach or an agency that could have been of help to them.

To “Be a doer, not a whiner”: Yes you have suffered a lot and have managed to cope without anyone’s help. In that respect you are to be commended. But you just blew it by resorting to vile, bitter language that was totally uncalled for.

You, who are older, should know better than to be so judgmental without having all the facts. What makes you think that your suffering gives you the right to belittle other people’s problems, even if they are nowhere near as bad as yours were? Lady, there are plenty of people who suffered much, much worse than you yet don’t brush off another’s problems as nonsense.

I can think of my grandfather, z”l, for one, who went through unspeakable horrors during the Holocaust. He emerged with his emunah intact, with a genuine love for humanity and with an ayin tov. He was someone who cared about others despite having suffered much more than most could conceive of. He would listen to their woes with a sympathetic ear and try his best to comfort them. He did not tell them to stop whining, grow up and get a life.

Like the rabbi who gave a lot of money to the poor man who asked if he was permitted to use milk for the 4 cups, understanding that the man could not only not afford wine, but obviously could not afford meat either, my grandfather would secretly give money to people he would keenly note were in real need, even if they tried to hide it.

To the scathing critics: Remember that Hashem judges you as you judge others.

 

Dear Everyone,

I guess we know why the Beit HaMikdash has not yet been rebuilt. We, the participants in this weekly column, have run an excellent sinat chinam experiment. First, a young couple, out of personal discomfort and frustration, sought fit to indict a whole generation’s midot — in public and in writing, no less.

Then, rather than judge them favorably, we, as a whole, responded with ferocious letters oozing with disgust, disdain and derision. So now, what began as an individual unilateral expression of frustration is spread across the whole column.

I tell my kids all the time: You may be correct, you may be right, but once you are infected with strong negative feelings you lose the capacity to judge others. In fact, the anger may be a negative trait suppressed within us, just waiting for a moral justification to make it erupt in all of its fury.

So how did I interpret the original woman’s letter? As someone who has moved four times in the last seven years, I can tell you that it is a daunting, expensive and frustrating experience. Had my husband and I not had the help and support of my family, we would have been overwhelmed as well.

The Jewish people have always been head and shoulders above everyone else midot-wise, so when one of us comes up short, the deficit stings and is all the more glaring.

Please save the disdain and disgust for the sonai Yisrael — or perhaps let us all let go of that poison altogether.

A fellow reader

* * * * *

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 – 4/22/11

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Dear Readers,

In last week’s column a young lady bares her confusion and frustration when, in the process of seeking her zivug, she becomes fixated on a particular boy who does not seem to have any serious intent. A number of years older than her, he plays the field while playing with her emotions and insisting they are merely “friends.” An intuitive rabbi, whose guidance she periodically seeks, hones in on her inner turmoil and assures her that she will “cover the pot on someone” — find the right one. But as we left off, she had yet to give up the “rollercoaster ride” with her male “friend.”

 

My Story

Part 2

On the following Shabbos, I fervently prayed to G-d to help me out of the quagmire I found myself in. That same weekend, my “friend” did an about face; he asked me out for a real date-to see where things would “go.” I was really happy at this sudden turn of events, though in hindsight I wonder why… it was only a trial. But that didn’t matter to me at the time. My mom didn’t get too excited at my good news, but being the incredible woman she is, she lets me live my life so that I can learn from my own mistakes.

Attention mothers: You can try and try to help your daughter get out of a bad relationship, but she needs to come to certain realizations on her own. And, if you teach her the right way, she’ll do fine. My mom brought me up with so much strength that in the end I was able to make the right decision.

And so we began to date for real. In the beginning things seemed to be going well. We talked all the time. But before long I felt him distancing himself from me more and more. Communication between us was one-sided — he didn’t reciprocate.

A side note: We came from different backgrounds; I was the more religious one. To me, there’s nothing like having G-d on your side and wanting to serve Him. He, on the other hand, seemed to be embarrassed with his Jewishness. It hurt me, because I grew up being proud of my heritage. But I managed to push this aside and to tell myself that we could make it work. BZZZZ went my conscience… it can’t work. You need to find someone who is on your level, someone to grow together with, someone who isn’t embarrassed to be who he is.

Each time I thought we were close to breaking up, he would reel me back in. He just wasn’t ready to let me go. At some point, though, it dawned on me that I was not his priority.

One day I had a rude awakening. Let’s just say he did something so ridiculous that I said to myself, “I shouldn’t have to go through this. I deserve better.” I said as much to him and let him know that this wasn’t working out. He asked for some time to think about it and, instead of taking a stand and telling him it’s over, I acquiesced. Eventually, though, we mutually agreed to end our relationship.

I was so relieved when it was over that I cried. They were tears of joy mingled with regret at having lost myself for so long. But I knew I would find myself and that I would be okay. And Baruch Hashem I was.

The story isn’t over. Rabbi B. came in and I went to see him. I walked into the room and this time he smiled and said, “Everything is good now!” After seeing him and receiving his brachos, my anxiety level dropped and my appetite increased. I hadn’t felt so good in a long time. I was leaving my past behind and moving on.

One day, some friends and I were schmoozing and the discussion led to a particular out-of-town boy that one girl in our group was seeking a shidduch for. It seemed that she had considered me but had some misgivings since I had an assertive manner and strong personality, and he was more of the quiet type.

She couldn’t know me very well — I happen to prefer the quieter kind. (Really now, did I need two of me?) I was asked about my preferences in a boy and was made to feel that I needed to be special in order to deserve this one. What is so special about him, I was left thinking.

In the meanwhile, the Rabbi was in town again, and I felt a real need to see him. He would be leaving on Monday, but fortunately I was able to see him the Sunday prior. This was a day after I had been with my friends.

First thing Rabbi B. greeted me with: “A shidduch was mentioned to you and you need to pursue it.” I looked at him in astonishment. He then went on to name the girl who had suggested it. I got the chills.

I called a close friend of mine and asked her to relay to the girl who had mentioned the shidduch that if this boy was available (under the circumstance I just knew he would be), she should call me.

A week later I received a call — the boy was stuck in New York (during the December blizzard) and the time was ideal for us to meet. The suddenness was unsettling; I actually tried to think of excuses to nix the offer and told my friend I’d get back to her. My mom (who knew of the Rabbi’s advice to pursue this shidduch) was adamant this time around: “You’re going out!”

I had the best first date of my life. And I’m delighted to say that today we are engaged and ready to be married. I made a list of specs for G-d of the type of man I needed and everything on my list is checked off. No more rollercoaster!

My message to singles: If you keep your chin up and believe that G-d has His plan, you will get what you want. Constantly pray to Him. He will listen to you and provide you with what you need. Even the rough going is a buildup for the good things to come!

I hope my story has inspired others.

A happily engaged girl!

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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 – 4/15/11

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Dear Readers,

The Gemara declares the art of matchmaking to be as complex as krias Yam Suf – the splitting of the Red Sea. According to the interpretation of the Divrei Chaim (the Sanzer Rav zt”l), the word kasha (difficult) can be understood as hekesh (comparison or connection) — thereby the comparison of Hashem’s wonders at krias Yam Suf with His miracles in the pairing of zivugim.

The Divrei Yoel (the Satmar Rebbe zt”l) held that it is all in the timing. The sea received its divine instructions to split at a certain point in time, way back when the world was first created. Though to human perception the sea appeared to be reluctant to split, it actually waited for the right moment to dawn, and when that moment came the sea parted seamlessly. So it is with zivugim — when the right time comes, the seemingly difficult and impossible fall smoothly into place.

Below, one young reader shares her story of how she arrived at that sublime moment in her own life.

 

My Story

Part 1

Many of us girls have much in common, going through “rough” patches before finding the “one.” But even those trying times are all meant to be.

Here I was in my mid-twenties, self-confident and an independent thinker, and yet I lost myself for a while. For about a year and a half I found myself stuck on a certain fellow. I was a bundle of nerves for most of that time. Why? Why would anyone like me lose herself over a guy?

What was it about him? Why did I let him take over my life? I can think of a few reasons, but you might say, “What kind of reasons are those to let someone almost ruin your life?” Well, I thought that he was what I was looking for, so I just ran after it. He was charming, good-looking and kindhearted. He was also a number of years older than me and had been on the dating scene for quite some time.

We became acquainted by chance and were simply “friends” for a while. During that time, I had sympathy for the girls he dated because I knew that each was just another of his conquests. He would get bored with them or not feel attracted to them anymore, and dump them. I kind of felt bad for him, too, wondering if he would ever find true love.

He always seemed to have the upper hand in our relationship, and the ball seemed to always be in his court. It bothered me tremendously that it was I who needed to run after him. It was a game, and I disliked playing it intensely. The few times I would find the ball in my court were brief; he always managed to retrieve it by finding yet another girl to date.

I was a strong woman and never let my pain show. He always knew to tell me, “There’s nothing between us.” Oh, how it hurt! And, still, I kept falling back into his trap. Like all girls, I love being complimented, and he knew it…

Ironically, I had a few friends in similar situations and it was I who would talk them out of it, support them, and eventually they would get out of that bad relationship. It was I who would say, “If he isn’t running after you, it won’t work.” There are exceptions to the rule, of course. But, let me tell you something, girls: if you’re running after him and texting him after he didn’t answer you for two hours, GET OUT! It’s not worth making yourselves miserable. There will be another someone waiting for you, and he will love you without all the game-playing.

While I was on this up and down rollercoaster, a friend suggested that I see a certain rabbi who visits here from Israel from time to time and who is said to have helped countless people in different ways. I, for one, credit this special man with changing my life. That is not to say that seeking such input is for everyone. I will, however, say that if you just let G-d play out your life, everything will fall into place.

I remember Rabbi B. looking at me with sadness, though I can’t quite recall what he said to me back then. He did not mention the man I was driving myself crazy about, and I think it’s because he knew I’d have been unable to handle what he had to say. That’s how these intuitive people work. They only tell you what you are capable of dealing with. Amazingly, he told me things about me he could never have known, plus things I needed to work on. My life didn’t change right then and there, but the transformation had begun.

While I still kept up the rollercoaster ride with my male friend, I constantly prayed to G-d to help me get off it. When I received an e-mail letting me know that Rabbi B. would be in town again. I was elated! I knew I needed to see him; I needed more guidance.

Once again, there was this sadness in his eyes. He told me things I’d already heard from him before, and I asked him about my zivug (soul-mate). He said, “don’t worry; you’ll cover the pot on someone” (a metaphor for finding the right one). That was good to hear, but couldn’t he be more specific as to when that would be?

When the session was coming to a close, I was reluctant to go. Rabbi B., as usual, read my mind. “You want more?” He asked. Maybe I should have left when the going was good — it hurt to confront reality. “You like a boy…” he began. I burst into tears. We spoke a little about it, he gave me a bracha and I left.

 

The conclusion in next week’s issue…

* * * * *

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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