Ask the Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi with Rabbi Schochet

 

Dear Rabbi,

I’m a young Jewish lady who’s been looking for Mr Right for some time. My issue is that Mr Jewish Right doesn’t seem to exist, but there are several Mr Non-Jewish Rights out there who tick my boxes. At what point can I give up my dream of finding a Jewish guy and settle for find- ing love?

Estelle

 

Dear Estelle,

Give up dreams? Settle? Just listen to the language you are using.

When you have to simply “settle” for something, you are acknowledging it is not ideal. In which case, why settle for less when you can get more?

Besides, settling for love is somewhat paradoxical. If you are just settling, then it isn’t real love. Somewhere at the core you won’t be happy because you know that you truly belong with a Jewish man and that real love – what I call ‘soul love’ – can only ever be properly experienced between two fellow Jews with compatible souls.

You cannot find him? I maintain he is out there and it just begs the question whether you
are looking in the right places or whether perhaps you’ve created too many boxes to tick. Don’t give up the search – broaden your horizons and, please God, you will find him sooner than you expect.

Oh, and don’t forget to send me an invitation.[divider]

Dear Rabbi,

Why do I read about so many Orthodox Jewish men being caught up in all sorts of sex scandals? It’s exactly this which puts me off religion.

Ben

 

Dear Ben,

You don’t! You read stories about men who profess to be Orthodox but conduct themselves in a manner of anything but. To use the bad apples as an excuse to placate your own conscience doesn’t wash with me.

Sadly there are many people out there who might be involved in whichever sort of religion but can cave to their animal instincts and in some instances commit the most heinous of crimes, preying on the young and vulnerable.

There is no difference between the man in the long coat and even longer beard who is found guilty of such crimes, or the many priests whose own scandals came to light in the past several years.

Does that then mean that Jews or members of other religions should abandon their faith? Is your commitment to the faith based primarily on those who profess to represent it, or because of your own personal convictions? Hypocrisy abounds, but you still have to do what you believe in your mind and heart you know is right to do.

Using others as the excuse to walk away is not just logically absurd; it is simply not being true to yourself.[divider]

Dear Rabbi,

I’ve just started work as a fundraiser for a large charity in the UK, so forgive me for choosing to remain anonymous. I’m astounded by certain Jews who are known to be very successful in business. There is one I know who spends fortunes on his creature comforts, but hardly gives anything proportionate to his wealth to charity. Sadly he is more the norm than the exception. There are too many like him.

What is it that makes people so stingy and how can I cultivate the appreciation for giving more?

Anon

 

Dear Anon,

The rabbis in Ethics of the Fathers address this question: there are four types of contributors to charity:

1) One who wishes to give, but wants that others should not – he begrudges others (in other words he wants to be the one giving, getting the mitzvah and all the honour that comes with it. He doesn’t want someone else stealing his limelight). 2) One who wants others to give, but that he should not – he begrudges himself (in other words, he is stingy, but feels bad about the individual or cause not receiving so he wants others to replace his duty. 3) One who wants to give and others to give as well is a pious person (that speaks for itself). 4) One who refuses to give him- self and doesn’t want others to give either is a wicked person (that also speaks for itself).

It’s all pretty clear cut, bar one problem. The Mishna prefaces its remarks with the words “four types of ‘contributors’ to charity”. The wicked guy who doesn’t want to give and doesn’t want others to give is hardly what you would call a contributor to charity. Why then is he listed under this opening banner?

Yet herein the rabbis are teaching us the truth of the human heart and spirit and by extension, teaching you and all others in your line of work the key to success in fundraising. Even a Jew, who doesn’t want to give charity, is indeed, at the core, also a “contributor to charity”. It’s just a matter of time, patience and perseverance before cracking that outer shell that is more consumed with material pursuits, and exposing the true inner will.

Deep down, everyone wants to help – sometimes they just don’t know it yet and it is up to you to help bring them to that realisation rather than just writing them off as a lost cause. Sometimes people simply condition themselves not to give, the end result of which is that they find themselves effectively not being able to give.

But I have seen many a successful fundraiser, generating cash for worthwhile causes and transforming such people into becoming the biggest donors of all. The man you refer to is in essence not a miser. He is merely acting stingily but somewhere, deep inside, hides his inner philanthropist. It is up to you to expose this within him.

Good luck.[divider]

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