Monday, November 16, 2009

Can I still be in Nefesh if I'm not shomer shabbat?

JV and I had a long talk last night. The good news is, he doesn't want to waste my time. He knows that this is dating for marriage, not just for fun, and he doesn't want to shlep it out.

So while he still can't say he loves me (he referred to his past feelings for me as "interference" that prevent him from getting an accurate read on the current "signal"; engineers...) he knows that if he does fall in love with me, he'll want to marry me. And he believes he will fall in love with me.

The bad news is, he's completely opposed to me keeping kosher or Shabbat. Since his family doesn't, and he's no longer willing to do anything that would upset or discomfit them. Thanks to the Evil Ex and her horrible treatment of them. He used to compromise all the time to try to keep her happy. He's no longer willing to compromise on certain things. At all.

I don't know what to do. On the one hand, he's probably my best option for getting married before I turn 40 and having a baby before I hit menopause. Am I willing to give up keeping Shabbat and kosher in order to find love and have a family?

I've tried for 20 years to find and marry a man who's shomer shabbat, and it got me nothing but grief, gray hairs, mind games, and wasted time. JV is a good man who lives his Judaism in the way he treats others, and doesn't feel bound by rules and strictures. He bases this in part by how he was raised, and finds further support for it in an article by Haym Soloveitchik.

"If you convince me to give up shmirat shabbat, my whole family will send you baskets of mini muffins," I joked.

"Which I can't eat because I'm on a low-carb diet," JV responded.

I should have said, "But that would hurt their feelings. I thought your whole personal philosophy is based on not hurting people's feelings."

I always think of my best lines after I hang up the phone.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. Wake up, Dear. Him keeping kosher and shabbos for you would be a compromise. Him not letting you keep kosher and shabbos is not a lack of compromise. Its controlling your behavior. What does he care if you keep kosher and shabbos? Yes, I understand your observance will impact his, but that's not called compromise, that's just called living with a spouse. Married folks impact eachother. Stop making this about Judaism when it's really not. Its about fundamental relationship issues.

  2. in my opinion you should not give up being as frum you are meaning that at the age of 40 you will give up only cuz his family will get hurt and he dont care about your family geting hurt

    and to my expirince he start with you to give up shaboss and kashret now before marrige and later after you will marry him and have a family he will ask you to give up lots more

    so if he ask you to give up personl thinks that has nothing to do with hashem thats one think but to give up hashems stuff then you dont know how you will see gods hand on both of u

  3. I can understand that he is not shomer shabbat and shomer kashrut. But he is "completely opposed" to what you do with your time and your mouth? Doesn't seem right to me. I know of couples that have successfully compromised, one observant and the other not. But demanding that you give up your level of observance because it would be uncomfortable to his parents seems disrespectful to you. If you are ready to change your observance for your own reasons, that is fine. But no one should have the right to expect such changes from you.

    Just my 2 cents. (And I even left out my overall cynicism about love & marriage :-) )

  4. On the one hand, the whole "I was once married so now I can't ever compromise with a new person evar cause I compromised with her and see how that turned out!" thing sends up red flags for me, and I think that is something to discuss.

    On the other hand, are you seriously considering not keeping shabbas and kosher anymore? Because if you are willing to consider it seriously, that is telling...

    I mean why do you keep this stuff? do you believe god wants you to keep it and if you don't you won't go to heaven or something? Do you think it was made up or skewed by people, but that being part of a tradition and culture is important to you? Because if it's the first one, and you really truly believe that, then this seems like a bad idea. But if it's the second, then it is more workable I think. There are still important parts of jewish culture and tradition that you can keep without being strictly shomer shabbas or shomer kosher 100% of the time.

    I guess it's hard to say without knowing his full story. What bothered him...was it like, his family did stuff on saturday and he could never participate because of his wife? Maybe you could keep some of shabbas (like have shabbas dinner/lunch, go to services if you want, etc), and keep whatever you want on weekends when his family isn't getting together, but still go travel to family things or something like that? I don't see why it is so black and white.

  5. Ayelet,

    My experience is not really entirely comparable, but I'll relate my story to you. My wife turned out not to be as strict, in some ways, vis-a-vis kashrut as I was, initially. I made the sacrifice in order for shalom bayis. My daughter now is more religious than both of us put together and we (me, my wife and my children) may all soon be making aliyah because of her.

    I say do it with some stipulations that should not impinge on his family. The home, atleast, must be kept kosher in order for guests and relatives who maybe shomrim kashrut. Also, the children must be given a religious education. And don't get taken in by the "hypocisy" argument. He has his "culture," you are entitled to your "culture."

    All the best,


  6. Ayelet,

    I am very troubled by JV's responses, as you convey them here.

    From reading your blog, and knowing you, it's not clear to me what you feel about God and Judaism. You have often been angry with God, and felt He was unjust, but I think you have always believed in Him.

    To quote my husband, you must look in your heart and consider whether you truly believe God commanded you to observe the commandments--Shabbat, Kashrut and the rest. Assuming you do, how will you feel when JV insists you answer the phone on Shabbat, eat non-kosher food etc.?

    It's not that I worry that a lightening bolt will come down from the sky and strike you if you answer the phone. But, To Thine Own Self Be True.

    Again, I wonder what kind of relationship you and JV would have if he is ''making'' you live your life a certain way. Have you discussed whether he wants children, or whether he will be supportive of your career? When you say he is ''completely opposed to me keeping kosher or shabbat'' it sounds very controlling and autocratic.

    The Soloveichik article points to issues within the organized Orthodox community. So what? I don't think the article is arguing against being shomer shabbat. Why couldn't you do that outside of the immediate confines of the Orthodox community (ie not attend an Orth. shul)? That seems like a reasonable compromise to me.

    I know you've waited a long time to meet a good man and hate to throw the relationship away. Maybe you and JV should go see a marriage or relationship counselor. Giving up something you believe for someone else seems like a lousy way to begin a marriage.

    I am still hoping this works out for you.

  7. Do you enjoy being forced to do something?

  8. No. But I also don't enjoy being alone and childless.

  9. There's no reason for you to do time for someone else's crimes. JV really needs to grow up and realize you're not his ex. If he can't do that, that woman's behavior can control the rest of your life -- unless you want his past to run both his present and yours, in which case, enjoy. I am 33 and single; I understand biological clocks and stuff. I'm still sticking with, "Better to be alone and right than together and wrong." Best wishes, whatever you do.

  10. Ironically, in this case, I'm seeing slightly fewer red flags.

    But what I'm hearing (which may or may not be accurate is), "Shomer Shabbos and Shomer Kashrus are dealbreakers for me. If you need those, then I need to be out."

    And that is a far less controlling statement. Everyone has dealbreakers, they are just seldomly bluntly stated.

    I guess the reason I see fewer red flags here is that these are serious issues. Whether the other person can have desert is a very micromanaging control (and a warning sign, at least to me).

    Serious issues involving a way of life (and especially these, which will affect the entire household) are something that can and do present as relationship enders.

  11. you made up your mind already...the questioning is just a way of making yourself feel more comfortable with it.
    Best to align your heart and actions aka integrity, amend your huge mistake of not marrying him in round one, 20 wasted years each, do whatever he wants! He is the only person you can trust more than yourself, he is your man and no normal standards need apply. Pikuach nefesh doche shabbat, and you deserve to live, and smile, and mother...

  12. the bottom line is that you dont want to be alone.. you want to get married and have children soon.

    this muddles the brain and somewhere in the process you hope you both can come to a collective compromise. but he is unwilling to compromise at all.

    so you are either going to have to give up a lot of your beliefs to be with this man or your going to have to end it w/ JV.

    and since he is anti religion (which is his prerogative)then there is a part of you that he doe not respect.

    that is a big deal. your partner should respect all of you even if they dont agree w/ you. unfortunately due to his past experience, you cannot change the lack of respect he has for the religion and people who practice it.

    and if you have children with this man - how are you going to teach them your values? when your husband isnt at home? b/c he will inevitably have a knee gut reaction to badmouth and put down any mention of religion and G-d in front of the kids.

    Is that what you want your (please Gd) future children to learn?

    and this is coming from a non-observant reader.

  13. Israel as the 1st born has commandment to keep shabbot. But the original brit with Avraham, who was bnai noach, was that Avraham would father a multitude of nations. Torah symbiology: compares a big family with lots of children unto being a father of a multitude of nations.
    Avraham was bnai noach. Meaning he like Noach swore a Torah oath upon the life of his Nefesh not to do acts of theft oppression and ervah. The last condition practically means that your husband must agree that you both observe tohorat habiet. Meaning after your period ends and you count 7 clean days meaning not even a drop of blood on white underwear, that you go to the mikvah before resuming family relations. If you both agree to abide by the conditions of this oath brit then while you are not classified as bnai israel your are classified as bnai brit avraham, cus Avraham is the father of a multitude of bnai brit nations.

  14. His unwillingness to compromise is a problem. Not just because of lack of practicality, but because it may indicate something deeper about the relationship or his readiness to enter into one.

    1) He won't say he loves you yet

    2) He won't compromise in his own religious practice for you

    3) He insists that you not only compromise, but capitulate on your religious practice

    These are beginning to sound like excuses and a way to avoid marrying you. It may be subconscious - he may be terrified of getting remarried, but you have to ask yourself how serious he is about the relationship. When you really care about someone enough, you're willing to compromise for them, at least a little.

    I know you want this to be real, but this new information from him raises huge red flags.

    I have some other thoughts too long for a comment - I'll try calling you today.

  15. Another problem is that he seems to have all the power in the relationship right now. He wants you to change and is inviting you to end it if you are unwilling to do so.

  16. Ayelet,

    I have been rooting for you and JV from the start, and I would still very much like to see you two “make it.” But... there are red flags here. Your other friends are right.

    If JV demands that you change your philosophy and beliefs about God and religious lifestyle just to make him and his family more comfortable, that is incredibly disrespectful of YOUR feelings, thoughts, and values (not to mention those of your family). Maybe he is not quite demanding this the way it sounds on your blog, but just the same, you should proceed with caution (but proceed for now). If you should, for your own reasons, in your own time, come to similar thoughts and feelings about how you keep kosher or not, that is one thing, but another person, especially one who loves you, should never demand that you think and act like them in regards to something that is so fundamentally a part of your values and moral code.

    Also YOU are NOT his ex-wife, and HE needs NOT to hold YOU accountable for HER treatment of him and his family. That is not to say that you should be callous to these obviously sensitive issues of his, but he needs to understand that you are a different person and should not be held in judgment or punishment for how SHE acted. That is nor fair, or loving, or healthy for either of you or your relationship.

    Perhaps JV is just looking for a sign from you that you are willing to listen to and respect his thoughts and feelings, but if he is, he is doing it in a very insensitive, demeaning, and disrespectful way (which he may not realize). You listening to and respecting his thoughts and feelings should never be done in a way that ignores and disrespects your thoughts and feelings. He is not listening, being fair to, or respecting you if this continues.

    I REALLY want this to work out for you, and you have never sounded so hopeful and happy. JV has a lot of positive traits from what you have described, and it is very possible that you might find the love you seek with him, but don’t be blind to these very serious red flags. I still think you should proceed (with caution) because it is possible that JV doesn’t realize how disrespectful he is being (because of his ex), and you should give him time to rectify that, but don’t give him forever, and if he continues to demand that you change your values and moral codes to suit his comfort level, you will not be able to find the happy marriage you seek here.

    I really wish you the best in this because you are a kind, loving person and deserve the happiness that you seek.

  17. Even if you stop doing it, Judaism will remain within you, and my guess you will end up feeling conflicted and resentful.

    Good Luck in making such a choice, I would suggest go with your gut instinct, if you are aware of it.

  18. Agree with Anonymous 2-above.