Soulmates, pregnancies and thoughts on John Kerry: this week’s Ask the Rabbi

  • Home truths on Kerry’s slur
Rabbi Schochet

Rabbi Schochet

Dear Rabbi

When I wrote to you in March about US Secretary of State John Kerry, you replied that he “is prepared to be so intellectually dishonest it makes one wonder just how sincere he is in the [peace] negotiations”. Well, last week he used the term “apartheid” when talking about Israel. Do you agree with Kerry’s sentiments, or is it you who is being intellectually dishonest?

In the week Israel celebrates its birthday, perhaps you should think about how long it will be able to retain its independence.

Asaf

Dear Asaf

You’re trying hard, aren’t you? So this time, the gloves come off.

Let’s begin by defining apartheid. Right about the same time as Israel’s independence in 1948, South Africa came up with this term and, until 1994, proudly defined itself as an apartheid country. This included an official policy of regarding black people as second-class citizens, denying them the right to vote or to hold any political office. They were restricted to certain areas, made to ride on separate buses and could not marry white people.

Let’s look at Israel. Some 1.5million Arabs live there, with full democratic rights. They can and do vote. They can and do serve in parliament. They can and do own property and businesses and work alongside Israelis. Reda Mansour was the youngest ambassador in Israel’s history. Walid Badir, who has now retired, was an international soccer star on Israel’s national side (and captain of a Tel Aviv team). Khaled Abu Toameh is a top journalist with the Jerusalem Post. There is even an Arab Supreme Court judge.

The reason why Arabs choose to settle in Israel, “the apartheid state” is because they have more freedom and rights there than in any other Arab country. Of course, you’ll insist: “But what about those who live in the ‘occupied territories?’” I can’t speak for their freedom. They are governed by Fatah and Hamas.

So if thieves have their hands chopped off and the punishment for female victims of rape is stoning, that has nothing to do with Israel. Getting searched at border crossings is not too dissimilar to what goes on at any airport today. It’s about weeding out the terrorists.

As for the security wall running alongside Israel’s eastern border, that too is no different to he fence that separates Kerry’s beloved United States and Mexico, to keep out undesirables. It is, in fact, one of the most successful measures Israel has ever set up to prevent the murder of its people. Asaf, if you really want to know what apartheid is, what it’s like to live without democracy and be denied basic rights, ask the Arabs who left such conditions to live in free and democratic Israel. Kerry’s become an irrelevance.

As for Israel, I say: “Happy birthday and many happy and peaceful returns!”

  • Is the man I’m dating my soulmate?

Dear Rabbi

You wrote beautifully last week about soulmates and the importance of Jewish marriage. I was touched. My question is that I’m presently dating a lovely guy and we get along well, but how do I know if he is my soulmate?

Riva

Dear Riva

When you’re single and wondering about marriage prospects, you should bear in mind that out there is a predetermined soulmate. It becomes a matter of time before you meet, look into each other’s eyes and have that flicker of recognition from some long time ago – when the two souls were introduced to one another up above.

The other time to bear this in mind is when undergoing the challenges of marriage. Too many are ready to throw in the towel when things start to go wrong. However, thinking about the fact this person is your soulmate will give you cause to fight that much harder for your relationship and enable you to put tensions into proper context.

That feeling you have when standing next to your soulmate under the chuppah needs to be bottled to open and take whiff from any time an issue arises. So the soulmate ideal is important to think about at either end of dating – whether when alone and wondering if there is someone out there, or after marriage and wondering, “What have I done?”

However, when going through the dating process, that very idea can be distracting. You need to concentrate on the individual and not their soul. Determine their character, their religious compatibility with yourself, their generosity of spirit and their dreams. Then look at yourself and see if it all clicks with you.

If it does, and your heart skips a beat every time you see him, go for it. The rest will become obvious in time.

  • Would a rabbi marry us?

Dear Rabbi

My girlfriend is four months pregnant and we want to get married. Would an Orthodox rabbi officiate in the circumstances and what would the status of our child be?

Andrew

Dear Andrew

If she’s Jewish and you’re Jewish, then absolutely. The status of your child would be one born to parents who were reckless and couldn’t wait till after marriage.

Other than that, they will have the status of any other Jewish child.

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