Though I’ve never written to a column before, I feel I owe you a debt of gratitude. Some several weeks ago I joined a tour group in South America. While we stayed in a nice hotel, our stay for Shabbos was over a half hour walk away.
The director of our group arranged for special transportation and on Friday afternoon we changed into Shabbos clothes, left our muktza stuff behind and boarded the vehicle that came to pick us up.
As luck would have it, we got stuck in heavy traffic. I anxiously watched the minutes tick by on my wristwatch. Sure enough, before long the rabbi who was with us said we had no choice but to disembark and walk the rest of the way as it was already the z’man of Shabbos. I was extremely distressed by the thought of being unable to light Shabbos candles.
Suddenly I remembered the column I’d read (Chronicles, October 7) where someone wrote in about having missed lecht tzinden one Friday eve, and in your reply you mentioned some remedies, among them that if a non-Jew was present, he or she could light the candles in your stead. As we were a group of several people, I had no doubt there would be at least a couple of non-Jews assisting in the set-up, and this realization calmed me down considerably.
The rabbi had sensed my anxiety and assured me not to worry, saying the same thing you’d written, that I could have someone else light for me. That’s exactly what happened when we arrived at our destination. Thank you for easing my stress and being a valuable source of information. You never know…
A Grateful Reader
Thank you for taking the trouble to let us in on your experience and to express your appreciation to this column. Happy it all worked out in the end.
The letter from the woman who signed herself Befuddled (Chronicles, November 4), whose husband preferred that she not invite her divorced or widowed neighbors for Shabbos meals, hit a chord with me.
When I was on the verge of divorce, a friend of mine warned me to think twice about my decision because as a divorcee I wouldn’t be invited as a guest to a Shabbos seudah. Her reasoning: I was too slim, too good looking and too successful, which made me a persona non grata by the wife who’d feel she couldn’t compete with me for her husband’s attention. I thought then that it was a ridiculous notion, and definitely a ridiculous reason not to get divorced. But it seems this friend was onto something.
Another close friend recently confided that when she divorced many years ago (she has since remarried), her supposedly good friends dropped her like a hot cake, and she had the distinct feeling that they did not want her around their husbands.
The woman who was upset about her husband’s reaction should instead be thanking him for his sensitivity and forthrightness. He could have kept his feelings to himself, which could have eventually spelled trouble for their marriage. For now I’m satisfied and gratified to have married siblings whom I can join for a Shabbos meal without any misgivings.
Content and Single
Many of the problems you address stem from insecurities. That said, I am confident that there are plenty of families that have no problem hosting singles, whether widowed, divorced or never married.
With all due respect, I’d like to inject advice I actually heard first-hand from a divorcee. While she, too, lamented that she’d heard from others about the lack of a welcome mat for attractive singles, she makes sure to dress conservatively when she is invited to someone’s home for a Shabbos meal. She tries her best to dress modestly, avoiding form-fitting attire and fancy wigs. She understands it’s not about her. She’s not there to win a beauty contest or compete with her hostess.
In reality, too many young women today (married and single) look as though they’re about to hit the runway at a high-end fashion show. This is not in line with adherence to the laws of tznius. Some men are better at averting their eyes than others. They’re human after all.
I’d lay some of the blame on the husbands who allow their wives to provocatively flaunt their looks in public. These wives should be beautifying themselves in the privacy of their home for their husbands. Outside of the home, they ought to be keeping a low profile, both in dress and in speech. Just saying.
Thank you for weighing in on the subject.