Dear Rabbi,
My 29-year-old son has told me in no uncertain terms that he does not want to get married. I’ve tried to broach the subject with him many times and recently asked if he is gay. He just looked at me as though I was insane. My ex-husband and I are unable to communicate with him. Should I worry?
Cynthia

Ask the Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi with Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, Mill Hill United Synagogue

 

Dear Cynthia,


Of course you should worry! You’re a Jewish mother and that’s what Jewish mothers do! But bear in mind that your persistent worrying – which I get the distinct impression translates into nagging as well – might drive your son away.

Just because he doesn’t want to get married at the moment you have made the leap to suggest he must be gay? Seriously?!

Since you mentioned your ex-husband, have you stopped to consider there may have been things your son witnessed in your home leading to your marital breakdown which makes him fearful of commitment? Make no mistake about it – as much as we watch our kids, they watch us.

The greatest gift we can give our children is to demonstrate to them that mum loves dad and dad loves mum. That then fortifies them to form stable relationships as well. I don’t know how old your son was when you divorced, but I maintain it is imperative when couples go through such trauma that they ensure their kids (regardless of age) get proper councilling to put things in perspective without damaging their own confidence and attitude toward relationships later on.

If that is a factor in your son’s reluctance to get married, then even now it would be worthwhile for him to talk this over with professional help. The Jewish Marriage Council might be a good starting point.[divider]

Dear Rabbi,

I finish school in one year. For my gap year I’m keen to spend time at a yeshiva in Israel. Can you recommend one  that I would most benefit from?

Ben

 

Dear Ben,
Your question is a bit like telling me you like shoes and asking which pair I’d suggest. I would need to know your shoe size, your colour preference, if you have any foot problems and so on.

There are a lot of very good yeshivot catering to different groups based on learning experience, level of religiosity and much else besides.

Have a conversation with someone who understands where you want to go – perhaps a teacher, your rabbi or a friend – and determine your options from there. Good luck!

Oh, and if you enjoy your year in Israel, why not pressure the ‘rents’ to allow you to stay for a second year?[divider]

Dear Rabbi,

Many prominent figures in the Torah  appear to question and challenge God. So why not simply dispense with your Jewish News column and
replace it with an Ask God column instead, where readers can ask questions and Hashem answers them? Perhaps you might also have a few questions for Him.

Ronnie

 

Dear Ronnie,

There are many things I want to write to you in response, but most are probably not suitable for publication.

Let me simply state the following. In the Torah, God conveys His directives and solutions to the masses through designated people who He has chosen to communicate with.

You write your questions to this newspaper, which to all intent and purposes are also read by the Omniscient God, who in turn conveys the answers to me to communicate over to you.

If that doesn’t work for you then I suggest you cut out the middle man and just talk to Him directly. [divider]

Dear Rabbi,

I read a disturbing report in the press about a leading rabbi in Israel condemning another rabbi by calling him “wicked” and “a danger to Judaism”. A colleague told me it’s standard rabbinic hyperbole, but I don’t understand how this can be acceptable. Perhaps you can shed some light?

Howard

 

Dear Howard

It’s actually more like standard chilul Hashem (desecration of Godliness). There is such a thing as rabbinic hyperbole, where rabbis might use strong language in expressing disagreement with one another. But calling someone “wicked” – a term reserved in the Bible for evil people – is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, this story didn’t stop there, because some followers of the rabbi in question took encouragement from his statement and felt entitled to manhandle the other rabbi at a wedding, which only increases the chilul Hashem exponentially.

You can read more about this on my recent blog. Suffice it to say, to  those who maintain they’re doing this in defence of Orthodox Judaism, I say: “Not in my name!”

 

 

Read Rabbi Schochet’s blog at shul.co.uk/rabbi.