Things have flared up between my mother and my wife. My mother insists that the family be together every Friday night dinner at her house, but my wife wants to be able to host dinners at our place too. I never missed a Shabbos dinner at home in my life, but now I am caught between my parents and my wife. And we are only married two months! Where should my loyalty be?
It is horrible to be caught between two people you love. But there is no question where your loyalty should be. The answer is found in the wedding ceremony.
When a couple gets married, they are led to the chuppah by their parents. But once the chuppah is over, bride and groom leave their parents behind, and walk towards their new life together. This is the choreography of shifting allegiance - you come to your wedding as your parents' single children, you leave it as a couple.
Your parents will always be your parents. They brought you into this world with love, raised you with selfless devotion, and gave you the freedom and autonomy to get married and start a family of your own. But often this last stage is the most difficult for them. They will always see you as their little darling, and as much as they want to, it is hard to let go.
But let go they must. And you can help them. Make it gentle. Make it clear to them that you are not cutting off or rejecting them, you are just adjusting to the new reality of being married. Do it in gradual steps rather than sudden changes. I am sure your mother will be more open to you doing your own thing one Shabbos per month, if you reassure her that the other weeks you will be with the family. In time you can review it.
More important than anything, husband and wife must be a unit. In every situation, you must present a united front. It is not your wife who wants to make Shabbos, it is you as a couple who want to make Shabbos. Never let your wife feel stranded and alone in your parent's company.
Your parents led you to the chuppah, their faces beaming with pride. They are now watching you leave the chuppah, their hearts torn with mixed emotion. Be sensitive and give your parents their well deserved respect. Remember, it was their Shabbos dinners that shaped the person you are today.
CALLING ALL ARTISTS - Submit your work for the Nefesh Community Art Exhibition, see below
Question of the Week:
Here's my problem with Judaism: The Torah says you have to love G-d with all your heart. That leaves no room to love people. Doesn't the love of G-d lessen our love of humanity?
I once knew a man who thought he was a great husband. His wife disagreed.
He did absolutely nothing for her. He never took her out, never bought her anything, never helped around the house, never did what she asked him to do.
Finally she confronted him about his complete lack of response to her wishes. He explained himself by saying: "I love you dearly, more than anything in the world. That's why I don't do anything for you. I'm so busy loving you I can't possibly do anything else."
Such a husband wouldn't last too long. He says he loves her, but really he loves himself, and he loves the feeling he gets from having someone to love. If he indeed loved her, then he would seek to do what pleases her. He can't claim to love her if he never does what she wants.
Nothing pleases G-d more than when His children love each other. So if your heart is full of love for G-d, then that love will translate into loving your fellow, for that is exactly what G-d wants from you.
On the other hand, if someone claims that they love G-d so much that they have no space for loving others, then this is a sure sign that their love of G-d is really just a form of self-indulgence. If you love Him so much, why are you not doing what He wants? The same Torah that tells you to love G-d tells you to love the stranger, to love your fellow as yourself, to help the needy and to care for the broken-hearted.
You can't be a good husband in your heart, your love must lead to action. And you can't love G-d without doing what He wants from you - starting with loving your neighbour.
A recent study on Jewish continuity divided the community into three categories. The inner core are those who are fully Orthodox and observant of Torah. They are not at risk. The outer layer are the Jews who are not engaged at all in Judaism, on the edge and most at risk of assimilation. Then there is a large middle layer, comprising those who are somewhat traditional, have a Jewish identity but are not religious. The study went on to say that communal funds and effort should be focused solely on the middle group. The religious core are fine, they are mostly marrying within the community and having Jewish children. The outer layer are too far gone and too hard to bring back. It is the middle who are at risk of drifting away but still within reach. Do you agree that our money and effort should focus on them alone?
This analysis makes business sense. But Judaism is not a business, and Jews are not mere potential customers. When it comes to questions of identity, the Jewish people is not governed by the rules of the market, but by rules of the soul. The study above, by dividing the community into categories, ignores the most important of those rules: All Jewish souls are intertwined.
The fate of one single Jewish soul impacts the fate of the entire nation. To think we can help one part of the people and ignore the rest is ludicrous. It's like the captain of a sinking ocean liner announcing, "The upper decks are safe, so the people by the rooftop pool can stay there. The lower decks are gone already, so we are sorry about you. Let's just see what we can salvage in the middle."
That captain didn't get that we are all in one boat. Here is a leader that did:
A great rabbi of pre-war Europe observed that one of his best students was being lax in his Torah studies. So he told him, "You know, because of you there is a Jew in America who is dropping out of Judaism." The rabbi explained to his surprised student, "All Jewish souls are connected. Your actions do not just impact you, they have a ripple effect that touches others too. When you, a Torah scholar, do not concentrate on your studies, it causes another Jew, less of a scholar, to not feel like coming to shul to pray. And that causes yet another Jew, slightly further away, to stop eating kosher, which leads another Jew to lose his faith in G-d, which leads to yet another Jew losing his identity altogether. All because you were slack in your Torah studies!"
The same applies in reverse. When a soul on the edge of the community, disconnected and disillusioned, is inspired to turn around and rediscover their Jewishness, this generates waves of spiritual energy that are felt throughout the Jewish world. Even the most committed Jew needs inspiration, and nothing inspires more than seeing a turned-off soul reignite.
We have to become one people again. Let the divisions between religious and secular fall away. Let those who are connected share their enthusiasm with those who are yet to feel that connection. And let those who question the relevance of Judaism to their lives ask those questions openly and consider the answers with equal openness.
Rather than dividing our community into isolated groups, let's mingle as one big complicated family. We all will benefit, because we are all in the same boat.
MEANINGFUL MOTHERHOOD - All About Me - self-esteem vs narcissism.
Discussion for mothers and babies with Nechama Dina Moss and Shterny Dadon
Mondays 10:00am - 11:00am at Nefesh, 54 Roscoe St
SEARCHING FOR ARTISTS
Nefesh is planning an art exhibition for Sunday March 4. All local artists are invited to participate. To submit a piece for consideration please contact Eze on 0413 039 082 or firstname.lastname@example.org
NEFESH SERVICES - 54 Roscoe St Bondi Beach
Candlelighting 7:36pm (not before 6:29pm)
Shabbos Service 6:30pm followed by Kiddush sponsored by Elli Bobrovizki in honour of his son Lee returning to Australia for a holiday.
10am -12:15pm Morning Service with Kids' program followed by Kiddush in honour of the Bar Mitzvah of Jamie Reisin - Mazel Tov! and by the Pisk family in honour of the yarzeit of Harry Pisk - Long Life.
Mincha 7:30pm followed by Seudah Shlishis and Maariv
Shabbos ends 8:32pm
8am Shachris followed by breakfast and beginners' Talmud 9:00-9:45am
My Jewishness is making it harder for me to find love. The more I get involved in Jewish life, the less options I have for girls to date. To be honest, it is making me hesitate before becoming more observant. What should I do, take on more Judaism and limit my options, or keep my options open and put the Jewish thing on hold?
It depends what you are looking for. If you are just after a partner, any partner that suits, then it is a simple numbers game, and the more options in front of you the better chances you have. If you have a wider pool of potential partners, the odds are higher that you will be successful in your search. In this equation, the vaguer you are about yourself, the more potential partners you will find.
But that's only if you are merely looking for a partner. If you are looking for your soulmate it's another story entirely.
Your soulmate is the other half of your soul, the missing part of your very being. You can only recognise your soulmate if you first get to know your own soul. When you know where you are going in life, when you are clear on your own identity, when you know who you really are, then and only then are you equipped to identify the other half of your soul.
Some people have it backwards. They think that when it comes to describing whom you're looking for, you need a long and detailed list of specifications, but when it comes to describing who you are, you are better off being blurry and general. The opposite is true. Know yourself and your own soul. Explore your Jewish identity and become comfortable with it. You are not limiting your options, you are refining your search.