Dear Rabbi,

I generally enjoy reading your column, but take exception to your attitude towards mixed marriages. I’ve been married to my non-Jewish husband for more than 20 years. We have the usual problems of any married couple, but I do not feel I’m missing out on anything. He is a good husband and a great father.

Annette

Dear Annette,

Only a “good” husband, huh? Were it a Jewish marriage, you would feel him to be a “great” husband.

You see, according to Jewish tradition, soulmates are not a cliché; it is in fact very much what we are. God merges two souls together like pieces of a puzzle. And only Jewish souls are properly compatible with one another.

Sure, you could make incompatible puzzle pieces fit, but you would have to tweak the edges and somewhat force them in. It’s not a perfect fit. In your context, you think you are experiencing the bliss that is typical of any good marriage, but from my Jewish marriage vantage point I can tell you, you are missing a critical element.

What are the odds on the children marrying Jewish? Pretty slim, right? If one of them is a boy who goes on to marry a non-Jewish girl, that’s the end of the Jewish line.

What a tragic result. [divider]

Dear Rabbi,

Is there a halachic requirement to pay someone for organising a match between my daughter and a young man, or is it only a custom? Must this be paid even to my brother who was the one who made the match?

Also, is it the parent’s obligation or the children? If parents, which side pays?

Kalman

 

Dear Kalman,

Jewish law (Rama, Choshen Mishpat 264:7) stipulates that there is an obligation to pay the one who was responsible for organising the match. Just as you expect to pay your real estate broker, so too, you should assume you will pay the matchmaker. The matchmaker may have never intended on any fee, nonetheless, it is incumbent upon you to show acknowledgement for the favour done.

The question about responsibility to an immediate relative who might have been the one that made the match is discussed by halachic codifiers as well and the conclusion is that even interested parties (ie immediate family to either bride or groom) should be remunerated (Chavos Yair quoted in Pischei Tshuvah, Even HaEzer 50:16).

Usually the parents of an engaged party pay the relevant fee. There is dispute among the contemporary codifiers as to whether that responsibility falls to the children who are the direct beneficiaries, only that the parents tend to pay it on their behalf as part of a wedding expense just as they would the rest of the wedding; others con- tend it is the direct responsibility of the parents without recourse to the children.

There are many well-documented stories about the importance of this payment. There was a couple who were undergoing serious marital problems and the Rabbi, a renowned Kabbalist, questioned whether they paid the matchmaker, for this can impact on their shalom bayit. Rav Pam, the late dean of the world renowned Yeshiva Torah v’Doa’as was often consulted on marital issues and often asked the same question.

In another instance a couple had gone several years without children and again the question was asked by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. If nothing else, the stories should reflect the importance and responsibility. [divider]

Dear Rabbi,

A group of us got together to raise funds for a certain cause. One friend I approached refused to donate, saying he was committed to other charities. He is committed to nothing but his own selfishness and never gives to anything.

Is it normal for someone to be so stingy and how can I change it?

Gerry

 

Dear Gerry,

It is told of a newly-arrived sage in a particular town who set out to raise funds for a desperate cause. When he insisted on going to a renowned wealthy miser, those who accompanied him advised against it. When the miser offered his usual meagre tuppence, which had previously always been thrown back in his face, the sage thanked him profusely, expressing deep appreciation. As they started to leave the miser stopped them and proceeded to give them a little bit more, albeit still a negligible amount.

The sage thanked him more than before, which prompted him to give still more. In the end he inquired as to the amount required and paid the entire sum. When the others queried the sage’s tactic, he explained the man was no miser.

At the core, everyone wants to help. He never experienced the joy of giving because every time he offered his measly few pennies, it was always thrown back in his face. I simply thanked him genuinely for even that little bit, which in turn made him feel appreciated thus evoking in him a greater desire to give still more. This was repeated each time. Your friend is no miser.

He just doesn’t appreciate the importance of giving. But don’t give up on him and don’t stop asking. You will open him up, even if only by way of your own example.

And when that happens, don’t disregard whatever he gives. Appreciate it for what it is and watch the magic happen.[divider]

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