Ask Wendy

Jewish World Review July 5, 2001/ 14 Tamuz 5761

Faithless Rabbi; my wife won't let me retire;
I'm in relationship limbo

By Wendy Belzberg -- Q: I have been dreaming of retirement for the past several years, but my wife is against it. She says it's because she's worried I will be bored. I know it's because she's worried I will get underfoot. The house has been her domain for years, and I think she views me as a potential trespasser.

— Ready to retire

A: If you are old enough to consider retiring, aren't you a little old to be told by your wife what you can and cannot do?

There is much more to life than getting up and going to a day job. Sadly, however, many people never discover what precisely that might be and never manage to look beyond their professional titles. Is it possible your wife knows something about you that you are not willing to admit to yourself? If not, you should do exactly as you please. If she finds you are getting underfoot, perhaps she should go out and get a day job.

Q: A rabbinic colleague confessed to me that he never really prays. He mouths his prayers, but he does not believe that there is a higher being out there listening. I told him to keep on praying. Am I encouraging him to be a hypocrite?

— False prayers

A: I'm less worried about him than I am about his congregation. If he is a non-practicing rabbi, I think your advice is solid. Perhaps what he is experiencing is a momentary lack of faith. Your friend would not be the first — or the last — to doubt the existence of G-d (many of the doubters are much greater men than he is). Your colleague persevered through a rigorous rabbinical training; he must have had some kind of faith at one time. By encouraging him to continue to pray, you are encouraging him to rekindle that faith. There is nothing hypocritical about his candor or your approach.

If he is a pulpit rabbi, on the other hand, I suggest a deeper conversation. I wonder, would your colleague be qualified to counsel a congregant who came to him with the same dilemma?

Q: I'm in relationship limbo. More specifically, I am separated and in the middle of a divorce. Obviously, I don't have or want a relationship with my ex (it's not final yet, but I hate to call her my wife). So I'd like to have one with someone else, but all the Jewish women my age (I'm in my early 30s) seem interested only in commitment-type guys. Which I am, of course — just not right now! I don't blame them for avoiding me, but I'm still quite lonely. Is there a way to find someone who is interested in just hanging out, or am I doomed (until the divorce is final, which could be a year or more) to remain...

— Wild and crazy guy — or just wild and crazy?

A: I wish you were the only person in your situation. The good news, or the bad news, is that you are not. There must be many women out there in the same boat. Also, while I applaud your interest in women your own age (many men tend to date much younger women the second time around), there is nothing wrong with dating younger for a while until you are ready to settle down again. A younger woman is unlikely to place the same pressure on you as one whose biological clock is ringing loudly.

If you really can't seem to find anyone through the regular channels — blind dates, events, volunteer and charity work — you could always place an ad in a newspaper or magazine clearly stating your specifications of the moment. After all, you wrote to me, didn't you?

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06/21/01: New customs for assimilated Jews?; the business of friendship; aunty is a bad role model
06/13/01: Our friends have become political traitors; Is it love?
06/06/01: Teaching kids about the Creator, when parents aren't observant; 'wonderful woman' 'fesses up about her broken engagement; How do I find a matchmaker for my 'beautiful daughter?'
05/31/01: Couple he fixed-up is in a nasty breakup; overwrought over ring
05/16/01: The gift was counterfeit; settling for the daughter; the lush and the ostrich
05/02/01: 'Jew questions' and falsifying faith; magic marker mayhem; I want kids
04/25/01: Anti-Semites everywhere?; shilling for gifts; my kid is the 'weakest link'
04/05/01: Celebrating when Passover is inconvenient; What's wrong with the name 'Melvyn,'?; Difference dilemma: Husbands and wives and Passover observance levels
03/19/01: 7-4=insensitivity?; baby showers and tempting fate; Splitsville before or after marriage?
03/12/01: Passover party-pooper; slapped by a moral dilemma
02/14/01: Human 'mutts,' getting over it, same-sex kesubas
02/08/01: Bar/bat mitzvah blues, homework he-l, from potty to potty-mouth
01/24/01: Naughty neighbor, unprofessional colleague is dead, I'm a Jew, now what?
01/15/01: Rabbis who won't; when the rules of the 'game' change; ungracious grannies
01/08/01: My kid hates Hebrew school; Stay single or abandon heritage?
01/02/01: A Jewish Grinch? Baby bigots and when grandparents call it quits
12/18/00: Babes in Chanukah Land; my husband the kvetch; bad hair marriage?
12/04/00: My niece is a no-goodnik, when lifecycle events become dangerous, Orthodox v. Reform education
11/28/00: My ex is ruining my kids' souls; the mouth that won't stop
11/21/00: Battling brothers; how to keep a nanny
11/08/00: OY VEY! my son wants to become Orthodox; kiddies should avoid family therapy
11/08/00: Rabbi v. therapist, grandparents bearing gifts, I want my son's teacher for a sister-in-law
10/24/00: Let him enlist?, 'My son the actor'? Eating with the 'help'
10/10/00:Tipsy teens, protective spouses, kosher common-sense
10/03/00: I'm not Jewish --- not that there's anything wrong with it; mezuza machlokes; when granddad has cancer
09/25/00: I can't take Rosh Hashanah! Something for nothing? My husband needs a dinner mate
09/18/00: 'My kids' Jewish education stinks', boyfriend bandit, and single mother not by choice
09/11/00: Bris brouhaha breaks my heart, LET ME SLEEP! --- and Why can't I hold a job?
09/05/00: Righteous anger, 'dissed' daughter --- and how not to make a match
08/21/00: When one spouse becomes more religious than the other; "But the cleaning lady is part of the family!"; Why He invented 9-month gestation periods
08/21/00: 'Fessing up to granny about abandoning one's people, non-kosher sis-in-law, and 'my niece is marrying a loser'
08/14/00: Marrying 'in' for questionable motivations; Should a do-gooder be reimbursed?
08/07/00: Communing with the clouds, betrothal, and banishing bosses
07/28/00: Small-city guys, self-centered siblings
07/21/00: When a child takes religion seriously, marriage obsession, and guests who just don't get it
07/14/00: Divorcing brother-in-law, uncampy kids, and a dot.comer who makes it big time
07/07/00: Hypocrites, reality checks, and the 'real estate challenged'


© 2001, Wendy Belzberg