Is My Marriage Doomed?

Dear Rabbi

My husband just told me that he has gay tendencies. It shocked me to say the least and I am not sure whether it makes sense to leave him or stay together for the sake of our children.

Karina

Dear Karina

You’re stunned because his confession makes you think that he no longer finds you attractive as a woman because he is seemingly attracted to other men. You’re assuming that if his inclinations seem to be drawing him in a different direction then he no longer has the same sort of feelings for you.

However, if I read your question right, your husband believes he has “tendencies.” That doesn’t mean he’s not into you – just that he may find allurement elsewhere as well. In addition you suggest you have kids, so clearly something is going on between the two of you.

Different people have different tendencies and urges which might seek to drag them away from the sacredness of their relationship. Would you be less concerned if he told you he found other women attractive? So long as this is little more than a “temptation” but not one that he is going to act upon – and that he still desires you – there’s no need to panic. In any event it makes sense for the two of you to get some professional counselling in order to better deal with your situation. 

I’m Against Intermarriage: Am I Racist?

Dear Rabbi

I recently had a very distressing argument with a close non-Jewish friend about my desire that my son should not marry out. She told me that she found this insulting and selfish, and that I was somehow saying that Jews were better than other people and that her daughter wouldn’t be good enough for my son. I tried my hardest to explain that it was nothing to do with that. I said that the reasons are positive, not negative – that I value my Judaism and want my son to feel the same; that the Jewish people have only survived because each generation kept the faith and handed it on to the next, and that if my son were to marry out, his children would not be Jewish and the chain would break. But I don’t think I convinced her. How would you explain this to a non-Jewish person?

Karen

Dear Karen

I think what you shared with her is especially meaningful but only extends the argument insofar as a Jewish man marrying a non-Jewish woman is concerned. It goes further than that on a number of levels. For a start, even if the girl was Jewish and the husband was not – the likelihood of their subsequent Jewish children marrying Jewish becomes significantly reduced. So one way or another you’re terminating the Jewish chain.

More important than that however is explaining what being Jewish means and how that can best be preserved. If the sum total of Judaism is matzah balls in chicken soup, then marrying a nice Chinese girl could still compensate with won-tons. If it’s about much emphasis on the family, then you could settle for a nice Italian girl where you’d have twenty-seven family members coming together each weekend for Mama’s favourite spaghetti. And if it’s about the “rich traditions,” I can find you a nice Amish girl for your boychik.

We are a people underpinned by a faith which has sustained us through the ages. We are charged with a task of transforming our world making it a better, more peaceful place to live in. This is not superiority. We’re not arguing that you have to be Jewish in order to count. Other faiths maintain that. Judaism insists that you have value in what you are. But we undertook a hefty responsibility which we submitted to and which has carried us through the ages. Thus being Jewish is not something you sign up for or marry into rather it is something you are born into. It’s innate and part of your genetic and spiritual DNA. To therefore marry someone who doesn’t share that same intrinsic sense of duty will invariably dilute standards. Chanukah bushes and menorahs with fairy lights – or fasting on Ramadan and Yom Kippur is not what you would call a meaningful religious compromise and effectively sees both faiths only on a superficial level. 

When a spy from one country was to marry a girl from another country this was considered treason. Not because one country is superior to the other rather simply the concern that in doing so one will weaken the very resolve of his mission. 

For the Jew, marrying out is treason. You’re betraying your past – the many that lived and died for their faith. You’re being disloyal to your present – because you cannot remain properly committed to the tenets of your faith and your personal mission statement. And you’re selling out your future by terminating the Jewish lineage. 

You have to be Nuts to Eat Donuts!

 Dear Rabbi

Why do we encourage such unhealthy eating in our religion? Donuts are so unbelievably bad for your health. They are full of sugar, oil and additives which are harmful to practically every part of the body. And to think people eat so many of them. The only miracle of Chanukah is how many people survive it each year!

Seth

Dear Seth

I had a miracle last Chanukah. I sat down to eat a donut believing I only had room for one, but in the end I had actual room for eight! If you want to be hyper-critical about Jewish food why stop at donuts? What about matzah balls, fish balls, chollent, kugel, latkes, hamentashen, the list is endless. Everything in moderation Seth! And don’t be such a killjoy!