By Rabbi Yitzchak SchochetAsk the Rabbi

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Read Rabbi Schochet’s blog at shul.co.uk/rabbi or follow him on Twitter at @RabbiYYSi

I like her – but do i love her?

Dear Rabbi,

I’ve dated a wonderful woman for several months and want to propose. But I’m scared! As much as I really like her, I don’t know if I love her. Does my doubt mean she is not the one? Or am I expecting too much in a short period of time?

Aaron

Dear Aaron,

Ah. If love is the dream, marriage is the alarm clock! A man once claimed to love fish. He would eat it for breakfast, lunch and supper and each time he would eat, he would profess to how much he loved his fish. That is, until one wise old man observed: “He doesn’t love fish. If he did, he would care for them in an aquarium. When he says: ‘I love fish,’ he is really saying ‘I love how fish make me feel’. He really just loves himself.”

Let’s consider: ‘I love vanilla ice cream, I love Diet Coke, I love you.’ I love vanilla ice cream because I love the way it tickles my pallet. I love Diet Coke because I enjoy the way it quenches my thirst. I love you, because I love the way I feel when you are around me. Is that genuine love? Not really, because you’re really only looking to nurture yourself and the problem is, when you get fed up with Diet Coke or vanilla ice cream you might switch to Pepsi or chocolate fudge. So how do you know when you are truly in love? When your spouse compliments you and makes you feel good? No. That only means that you love feeling good. But when she has upset you, do you still love her? When he makes you angry do you still love him? When he/she starts stressing you out, can you still feel love in your heart? Loving another is putting their needs before your own. Even then, you may sometimes be doing it simply because loving the other fulfils your wants and needs. He’s not trying to make her happy – he’s making her happy because it’s better for him.

So here we get down to the bare bones definition. True love is when you love the other person primarily because that is what they want. You put your husband or wife first only because you want them to be happy. You will not and cannot be feeling that right now. But that remains your ultimate aspiration and what there is to strive for in every relationship. If you feel she is the sort of person you want to get there with, then stop dilly-dallying and pop the question.

Shopping trip WITH SHALOM!

Dear Rabbi,

My husband and I do our shopping together every other week. We’re on a budget and sometimes get into a bit of bother because there are certain foods I like which he doesn’t and vice versa. Is there a way we can carry out the chore without compromising our shalom bayit?

Carol

Dear Carol,

Seriously? I’m reminded of the story about the couple who went to Asda together. He reached for a case of beer. She asked: “What are you doing?” He replied: “They’re on special, 24 for £10. She said, “We can’t afford it.” Later she reached for a £20 tub of fancy face cream. He said, “What are you doing?” She replied: “It makes me look beautiful.” He retorted: “So does a case of beer and it’s half the price!” I don’t know how long you’ve been married but have you ever heard of compromise? Is it really impossible that each of you enjoy their luxuries in lieu of the other every other shopping trip? Isn’t marriage after all about ‘give and give’, where each one concerns themselves only with what they’re giving rather than receiving but whereby as a result each one will invariably be receiving as well? Yes, even a weekly shop together can be a real bonding session and nurturing for the relationship.

WHY ARE RABBIS SO AFFORDABLE?

Dear Rabbi,

Why do rabbis sell themselves so cheap? A cantor gets paid anywhere from £700 to more than £1,000 for a chuppah or another simcha while a rabbi gets paid minimally or does not charge at all? If a chazan sings at a choir, he charges fortunes. The rabbi lectures for a nominal fee.

Charles

Dear Charles,

You raise an interesting question. I suppose the short answer is, for the rabbi it is a labour of love and a spiritual calling. To that end, he wants to inspire and perform religious duties without turning it into just another ‘paid job’. That said, rabbis have to eat too, pay tuition and marry off children. So, for all you readers out there: when you want to hire a rabbi for your simcha, be nice.

You do have fans AFTER ALL!

Dear Rabbi,

I read a recent copy of Jewish News in which you replied to a man who threatened to boycott you for being ‘too cynical’. Your reply was epic. For every boycotter, you have 100 fans. Keep up the good work.

Deborah

Dear Deborah,

Let me be clear, Deborah. I am not indifferent to my critics. I will listen to them and at least consider where sometimes I ought to maybe tone down the rhetoric a little… Just kidding! Like that’s ever going to happen. Thank you for your kind words.