Is it normal to have doubts during an engagement? My friends tell me I should be 100% certain that I have made the right decision, but I would be lying if I said I had no doubts. Is it a bad sign if I am just not sure?
There are two types of doubting. One is an alarm bell that should not be ignored. The other is a sign that you have made the right choice.
The great Kabbalist Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneersohn wrote a letter to his recently engaged son, explaining that engagement and doubt go hand in hand. The union of soulmates is such a lofty and super-rational event that the mind cannot possibly grasp it. Something is at work that is beyond our understanding and therefore there is always an element of doubt.
This doubt is not an indication that you have done something stupid. On the contrary, it means that you have touched a level that lies beyond the confines of the human mind. Finding your soulmate is such a miracle, our logic cannot process that it is really possible, that it is really true, that I have found the one for me. This wonder is a kind of positive uncertainty - Is this for real? I don't believe this is happening to me!
So the fact that you feel unsure may be a good sign, indicating that you have been touched by the hand of G-d, and are left in wonder that it could really be so good.
However this only applies when the doubts are vague and general, doubts that anyone could have. Will I be happy in twenty years from now? How can I know for sure? Maybe there's someone else better suited to me? What if we change? These questions are normal. They would be there no matter who you were engaged to, and so there's no reason to be alarmed. In time these doubts will disappear in a puff of smoke.
But if your doubts have strong base to them, like you are questioning your partner's good character, or you suspect that your feelings have not developed to the extent that they should have, then you need to seek advice whether you are doing the right thing.
Here's a good way of testing whether the doubts are cause for concern or not. Are the doubts stronger when you are with your fiancé or when you are apart? Normal doubts come when you are lying awake late at night or when you are alone and your mind is churning. Ignore them. But doubts that arise from actual interactions and real conversations need to be closely examined.
Engagement can be an emotional roller coaster. And when we are emotional, we are rarely able to see clearly. Seek the advice of a wise and experienced outsider, who will be able to tell you whether your doubts have foundation to them, or you are experiencing the humble disbelief of finding your true soulmate.
Are text messages private? My husband and I have a major disagreement over this. He gets furious when I look at his phone, saying I have no business reading his private messages. I feel that as a married couple we should have nothing to hide from each other. I am not saying I am at all suspicious of him, I completely trust him. But should his inbox be totally out of bounds for me?
The answer to your quandary is on the tip of your finger. Just look at your wedding ring.
We use a ring to get married because it represents the ideal relationship. A ring wraps itself snugly around the finger. It has to fit securely, otherwise it will fall off and get lost. But at the same time, a well-fitted ring should not cramp the finger. It can't be so tight as to cut off circulation. A comfortable ring will hug the finger, not strangle it.
This delicate balance of holding on tight but not too tight is the exact balance required in a marriage. Being married means being intimate. When we are in love, we want to embrace our spouse on all levels, surrounding them with care and showering them with affection. We want to share every experience and explore every layer of their being. We want to hold them tight and be there for them every second of the day.
But this devotion can go overboard. What starts as inclusion can become intrusion. If we smother each other to the point where lines distinguishing us are blurred, when we invade on the private space of the other to the point where nothing is sacred, we have drifted from being loving to being over-bearing, from supporting to squashing.
Even loving partners need space. Not everything has to be shared and not all that is mine is yours. For me to maintain my dignity and my identity, I need to protect a certain level of privacy, a domain that is mine and mine alone.
Each couple has to find the balance between intimacy and privacy that is right for them. Some couples share one email account and are fine with that. Others would find that stifling. Your husband has expressed where he draws his line. You feel differently.
But if as you write you indeed trust him, then his wishes deserve to be respected. Be like a wedding ring, tight enough to be intimate, loose enough to give some space. He doesn't want to feel like he's being bugged, he wants to feel like he's being hugged.
I was debating an atheist and he said that atheists care more for people, because they don't believe in any god that can help, while religious people leave salvation up to G-d. What would you respond to that?
Have you ever seen an atheist hospital? Like the Agnostic Sisters Medical Centre? Or the Our Lady of Nothing In Particular Nursing Home? Or the Brothers of No Hope Humanist Hospice?
Me neither. But we all know hospitals with names like Beth Israel and Maimonides, Presbyterian and Catholic, Saint this or Holy that. This is not because atheists don't care about the sick and religious people do. Of course there are many philanthropic and generous non-believers who do wonderful charity work. But they are individuals, not a group.
Non-belief is not the basis of a community. A lack of faith cannot bind people together. It takes a village of believers to build a hospital. And faith more than any other force has inspired people to build not just houses for worship, but houses for people in need, like orphanages and hostels, rehab programs and shelters.
Atheists often borrow ideas from religion. That's why they make Atheist Conventions. But the unifying spirit that comes with faith in G-d cannot be imitated. Because without one G-d who created us all, what really connects us?
This is not an argument for belief in G-d. I don't have faith in Him because He is a great community organizer. But to say that faith breeds apathy to the sick and needy is an argument as hopeless as a humanist hospice.
The fast of Tisha B'av, mourning the destruction of the Temple, commences on Monday July 15 at 5.04pm and continues on Tuesday July 16, until 5.31pm (Sydney times)
Monday Night July 15
Evening Service 6:30pm followed by Lamentations
Secrets of the Temple Mount - A multimedia presentation of the archeological, historical and spiritual layers beneath the holiest place on earth
with Rabbi Yitzchak Barber
Tuesday July 16
Morning service 7am including Kinnos service with explanations and stories of the destruction of the Temple.
9am Talmud Class - The Destruction of Betar
10am Kabbalah - The Shelah Hakadosh on Tisha B'av
Mincha 4:20pm followed by Maariv
Fast ends 5:31pm
Breaking of the Fast sponsored by R' Eli Barukh
SERVICES AT NEFESH ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Friday Night Candlelighting 4:44pm
Shabbos Service 6:00pm followed by Kiddush
Morning Service 10am -12:20pm- Followed by Kiddush Sponsored by the Feiglins, Dana Korn, The Golds, The Borensteins, Ronan Lutman and The Smuts in honour of the Moss family's safe return from New York.
My friend wants to get a tattoo. I have tried to talk her out of it by saying that it is a choice she may one day regret. If you get a bad haircut, it grows back. If you don't like your tattoo, you are stuck with it. She didn't buy it. She says that the Torah only prohibited tattoos because it was done for idol worship, and she is not worshipping idols, so there's nothing wrong. What can I say to that?
She is worshipping idols. She just doesn't realize it.
Idol worship means replacing genuine spirituality for a cheap alternative. In a spiritually starved generation people turn to all types of substitutes for true religion. Our natural religious instinct will always seek to be expressed, but when that instinct is misdirected, we fall for false gods and empty rituals.
The desire to get a tattoo is a well-intentioned but corrupted spiritual yearning. It is not a tattoo that your friend wants. It is permanence.
In our ever-changing world, where fashions come and go, last week's news is ancient history, and our phone requires daily software updates, it is not surprising that people are looking for something solid to hold on to. When you feel your life is running away from you, soon nothing will remain, all you want is to make some permanent mark. A tattoo is just that, a permanent mark. What makes a tattoo so attractive is precisely the fact that unlike a bad haircut, it is irreversible.
But that is idolatry. A tattoo is a poor substitute for making a real permanent mark on the world. It is by doing good deeds that we transcend our mortal existence and touch eternity. It is by having children and teaching them to do good deeds, so they will teach theirs to do the same ad infinitum, that we make an everlasting mark on the world.
I have heard people in their twilight years say, "I didn't do enough good deeds." I have heard people say, "I should have had more children." I never heard anyone say, "I should have got another tattoo." There are better ways to leave an indelible mark.