This week, Rabbi Schochet tackles money loss, mikvahs and people who just won’t keep quiet in shul….
- Betrayed by my former friend
A friend has betrayed me, causing me to lose thousands of pounds. He claims it was an investment with obvious risks. I don’t believe he did anything other than spend my money, but can’t prove it. I want revenge. Does Judaism believe in turning the other cheek?
King Solomon, the wisest of all men, proclaimed: “There is a time to kill and a time to heal… a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”
Clearly, there are times when you should look away and other times when turning the other cheek is a bad idea. If we as Jews believed in turning the other cheek, where would we be today? Countless times throughout our history we were instructed to strike back against our adversaries.
The famous dictum derived from the Torah: “If someone comes to kill you, you should rise up and kill him first” pretty much says it all.
However, this has to be taken in context. If your intention is to seek justice and go after your entitlement, then go for it. If however, you are simply feeling aggrieved, jumping to your own conclusions and seeking nothing more than revenge, well, revenge is a whole different kettle of fish. You need to deal with that by channelling yourself in a different direction.
Nothing good ever comes out of revenge and you won’t feel any better for it. The verse in the Torah prohibiting revenge ends with the famous maxim: “You should love your fellow as yourself.” Nachmanides explains that erasing the event from your heart will guarantee you’ll never come to transgress the commandment, allowing you to love your fellow, no matter what transpires between the two of you.
I know it’s high ground, but it does give some basic guidance of how to deal with the bad feelings in your heart.
- Mikvah before my marriage
My rabbi tells me I need to study the laws of mikvah before marriage. I’ve done my research and find the whole ritual archaic. Immersing in such a pool seems gross and the whole thing is an imposition. Why is it necessary if I don’t keep most other laws?
Ask any woman who practices the laws of mikvah and she’ll tell you that it is an elevating experience. That which is degrading to woman comes from the base exploitation of her as a sex symbol.
By practicing the Torah traditions pertaining to Jewish intimacy, the relationship between the woman and her husband becomes sanctified. Their marriage is a model of true love and respect. There is hardly anything more dignifying than that.
I’ve seen modern mikvahs in all parts of Europe and America. They could give any modern-day spa a run for its money – the whole ambiance, experience, setting and attention to detail is second to none. The strict hygiene rules associated with the water makes it cleaner than any jacuzzi you know.
Finally, that you may not observe in other dimensions of your Jewish life should have no bearing. For one, just because you choose (for whatever reasons, and I am not judging) not to take certain required medication, does that mean you should therefore ignore all required medication?
In addition, every mitzvah is linked with a divine energy and blessings that you draw upon yourself through its performance. Even as you may not be doing it in one sphere, you can still do it in others – bearing in mind the ultimate intent is to do it in every dimension.
Finally, the Jewish laws of intimacy are the secret of success behind many traditional Jewish marriages, especially in a world where marital breakdown is ever increasing. When you’ll take time to explore the laws and hopefully practise them beyond just your wedding date, you’ll come to discover its inherent beauty in the way it engenders a mutual respect and a whole new dimension of love between husband and wife.
Wishing you mazeltov for your wedding and hoping you will take this message on board into your future.
- My five ways to avoid the chat!
I sit next to two people in shul who talk throughout the prayers. It’s so aggravating. What can I do?
Option one: Move seats (but God forbid you sit in someone else’s seat!). Option two: Rat them out to the wardens (although chances are they’re too busy talking too). Option three: Pray louder than they talk (although you could look too frum, which will annoy everyone, especially the guy who thinks he’s the frummest).
Option four: Move shuls (except there may not be another one in the vicinity and selling your house to move nearer to another shul might be a excessive and you may not get the same membership discount). Option five: Convert! I hear no one talks during church services (forget I said that).
That leaves two final options. Either sit yourself between them and sway to and fro, which will really be annoying. Or you might ask them nicely to please tone it down as you are trying to pray and that you are, after all, in a shul. I think that might work!