As far back as I can remember, the classic rabbinic-style response to why intermarriages don’t generally work comes in the form of an animal metaphor (because all rabbis aspired to be Aesop): a bird may love a fish, but where will they build a home? The meaning was, love is not enough…you have to share a compatibility of living and an environment in which both of you can breathe and be who you are.

When two people from different worlds try to make a life together, they find that some people are more adaptable than others. In the most successful interfaith relationships (to go back to the analogy again) perhaps the bird has grown fins and scales, or the fish has developed wings and found a way to breathe even on solid ground. In some cases, the two meet halfway between their world in a place that’s half-purgatory and half-compromise.

Sometimes, this is even true of relationships between two different kinds of fishes: two different people who are both Jewish, religious even, but are still not on the same page. For instance, take blogger Passionate Life, a deeply feeling, deeply committed, deeply passionate guy in his early thirties who recently became deeply invested in a relationship with “Tzip.” The two seemed passionately in love and genuinely obsessed with each other. They went away for a Shavuot retreat weekend, most of which was wonderful. Then, at some point, a discussion began about religion that led to the following proclamations by Tzip :

* That she believes Moshe was inspired by G-d to write the Torah, and that numerous authors contributed.
* When P-Life countered with “The Rambam says that if one does not believe that the Torah was given by G-d to Moshe at Sinai, that its heresy!?!?!” She replied: “The Rambam was an idiot. I read some of his writings and it doesn’t make any sense to me.”
*Later, after Tzip purchased a sandwich from the cafeteria, P-Life discovered that it was not a strictly vegan place and they also sell [presumably non-kosher] meat. “Tzip, if they cook and serve meat in the same dishes then what you are eating is 100% Treif!!! (Non-Kosher) You can’t eat the food, nor use their metal silverware or their china plates!!! It’s all Trief!!!

[P-Life] continued, “It’s one thing if you were my friend I could accept you as you are. But as my soulmate or spouse I can not abide by this violation of my bond with G-d. How can I live this way? I want to bring people into my home and show them the beauty of G-d’s love and the amazing instruction booklet that He made for us to help us grow and become closer to Him. How can I bring in strangers when my own wife doesn’t see the beauty and great gift that the laws of Torah are??? I can’t live with that.”

Tzip got mad. She flung what I thought was a French fry over the deck. “Fine, being with you means more to me then the stupid carrot! If you think that G-d cares whether I eat this carrot or not, is ridicules. But I love you more then the carrot and I will stop eating the carrots if that’s what it takes to be with you.” I shook my head in sadness, “You don’t get it Tzip. This is not about doing something for me. This is about how you feel and relate to G-d. I have a very big problem with it.”

They drove home and said goodbye. And now, they’re not broken up yet (at least not officially), but P-Life is crying:

“if she had a different opinion then I and she had some kind of reasoning for it, even if I disagreed. I could at least respect her. However her thinking is contradictory and nebulous. She has no solid foundation for her thought process or her religious beliefs. It has reached the point that I don’t want to talk to her about those areas and I can’t stand when she joins a conversation I am having on those subjects. In my heart I know that I could not marry someone like that.”

Although all were sympathetic to his circumstance and heartbreak, his readers made different points in their comments on this issue. There was talk of the Torah having seventy faces, and of each person having seven potential soulmates; there were some posters who urged him to stick to his guns and others who pleaded with him not to let a soulmate get away.

There probably are, in every relationship, lines beyond which there can be no compromise. But to an extent, all human relationships are about finding common ground. How much can we compromise our own approach to observing Judaism for a potential partner? Does a person have to be fully cooked in terms of their religious ideology in order to have a lasting relationship with someone whose religious thought process is more settled? Does compatibility always have to equal sameness? And is our relationship with G-d more, less, or differently important to us than our relationship with a potential partner?

I don’t have answers. None of us does. Each of us decides for ourselves, for each relationship, whether the conflict is cultural, spiritual, logistical, situational, or whatever. If it’s worth trying, we’ll make the effort and try to find a way. And if not, the bird and the fish will just have to fly and swim their separate ways.

About the author

Esther Kustanowitz

For more posts by Esther, see EstherK.com, MyUrbanKvetch.com and JDatersAnonymous.com.

76 Comments

  • I find that people often make the sometimes dangerous assumption that their own beliefs are completely static (not to mention the beliefs of their potential partners).

    I mean, suppose a man (P-Life or anybody, really) gets married to a woman who shares his exact same beliefs, outlook, blood type, you name it. Groovy. But what happens if something (whether a catalyst or just time) causes the man to change the beliefs he once thought were fundamental to his character, and this suddenly puts him at odds with his partner? And hey, it happens in the Jewish world — baalei teshuvah will get married at 20 and a few years down the line, with a wife and a kid, will start reconsidering this whole “Orthodoxy” thing.

    So what can be done? I’m not expert, but it seems to me that the key to successful relationship lies not in exact sameness of beliefs and outlook, but rather both respect for the beliefs of the other person if they are different and the flexibility to accomodate the fact that, well, people tend to change.

  • u should go to sourceofalldepth.blogspot.com if u wanna get original if not jarring thought on this London matter. susan

  • Okay, I’ve reread it and believe that P-Life should work on his people skills.

    The problem is that P-Life cannot imagine being wrong. He cannot envision a situation where his belief system is incorrect and he places that above all else, including love.

    So why doesn’t P try to convince the love of his life of what he believes? She has already consented to some form of compromise, but instead of running with her offer and joyously introducing her to his world so that she can learn why it’s special (or learn that she doesn’t care for him enough to pursue this lifestyle). Instead, he’s angry that she’s willing to compromise for him. He wants her to “see” what he doesn’t see but believes.

    She’s probably not the only person for him but he might end up like NJG if he keeps acting like this with special women who like him enough.

    By the way, if she forgives him, he should thank god and do his best to show her why he’s worth the effort – right now he’s not doing a very good job.

    Yes, I know at least one couple where the man, a devout Modern Orthodox Jew, brought his lovely wife into that fold. I believe they’ve been married about 45 years now.

  • Great post Esther! I think this guy should except that everyone is diffrent and has diffrent veiws, what he wants to marry someone with the exact same veiws as him? so go marry yourself! You have to accept i guesse. Well i cant really talk, have no experience, and am a little to young to talk about marriage, but i believe people can always change, and minds and opinions are always growing.

  • He should do whatever he’s comfortable with. All relationships are about compromise and while he can’t change what she believes, as long as he respects her opinion and she agrees to be considerate, ie maintain a kosher household etc. they ought to be able to stay together. I mean if Republicans can be married to Democrats and if Sephardim can be married to Ashkenazim then anything is possible, no?

  • Oh my god, Sephardim and Ashkenazim are soooooooo different.

    I mean, other than the fact that Sephardim lack nuance, there’s almost the same!

  • He doesn’t seem to respect her very much. He finds her thought process “nebulous.”

  • Well her thought process is kinda nebulous. He also seems a bit dim – it took him this long to figue out her opinions on Judaism? She’s nebulous, he’s dim – a match made in heaven!

    And yes Michael, there are often tremendous cultural differences between Western Ashkenazim and Middle Eastern Sephardim. But I don’t really expect you to fully understand that – please look over your Western Civ 101 notes from your freshman year at Little Bo Peep U. Tulane and get back to me when you’re done.

  • Yes indeed, they are made for each other. But I am concerned that their offspring might be dimwitted nebbishes and who wants more of those in the world? It may be better to just call the whole thing off.

  • Of course our dear ck would never have sullied himself with something so Ashkenazoid as a university education. In the grand Sephardi tradition, he studied in a yeshiva in Fez until he was 22, after which he opened a combination camera shop/currency exchange/hummus place in Manhattan, mostly distinguished by a huge portrait of Baba Sali over the door and an ever-present crowd of kids with over-tight jeans loitering around smoking.

    What about Middle Eastern Ashkenazim or Western Sephardim? Like, does it still apply? ‘Cuz from what I’ve seen in Israel, Sephardim and Ashkenazim alike smoke, eat hummus, rock out to’80s music and strut around oozing with masculinity and hair gel. The Israeli national past times.

  • Haha, The Middle! I am making the funs! The jokes! I am making the gross generalizations for the point of humor! Do you not see?

  • I don’t know whether or not they should stay together. What is obvious to me though is that while beliefs may change and while it is nearly impossible to find someone who believes exactly the same things as you do, people do need to find certain common ground and people should have things they will not compromise on.

    It seems to me that you should want to marry someone who is growing in the same direction you are growing in – who wants and yearns for and desires the same things you do – so that together you can build a home dedicated to those things.

    Life is about more than love, and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your beliefs for love; if you have to, then it’s not true love.

  • in the begging i wanna thank G-d that brought me to this moment when there is smth i can agree w/tm on – not on spelling though.
    the guy clearly (not to misjudge him) has no people skills. u just dont talk to any woman like this and especially the one u love even if she turn out to be karaite (lo aleynu).
    the rest ll be harder to agree with.
    as the jewliciouser rebbe said – He should do whatever he’s comfortable with. so what if he is not comfortable with making his life with somebody that already in the beggining disagrees on very important principles. for some people love for sombody else is part of his relationship w/the Almighty and part loving sbody else is mutual relationship w/the One. u say why is he placing love above his incorect belief system. why not? just admit pls that it might be a possibility that it s not a crime and maybe (just maybe) this is correct to do).
    sure one has to compromise while trying to find a soulmate – in the end it turns out that he/she has to compromise much more then originally intented. but u gotta draw line somewhere. usually u draw a line in the sand so u can earase it and then put draw it somewhere else but is everything negotiable.
    i dont think example of republicans and democrates says it all. imagine couple of pro- and anti-disengagement people trying to get together. and then passed the believes there is in a kosher home lots of details of daily practices. if one holds that this is a law then u cant just deceide to have kosher-friendly shana rishonah. and what about taharat hamishpahah?
    it s not only about how i want u to vote for. and then in the end there are kids. the worst thing for a kid when parents are inconsistant.
    u r right michael 100% people are never constant in their believes and we shud all get always get closer to the ultimate truth wherever it is ( that’s a short bracha for everybody around) and it happens in the bt world that some people go far off but i think the most of people have rather some kid of progress in their belives then u-turns, no?
    kol hakavod esther for the post. somebody said the other day that u r Quintesetial Jewlicious – i agree!

  • michael! are these excerpts frm the official ck biography? it s very interesting! can i get on amazon?

  • Yes. Yes they are. Although unfortunately “Sex, Lies and Shakshuka, The Official ck Biography” is still searching for a publisher. But don’t you worry, we’ll make it alright.

  • How’s your foot? I’m glad to see that it doesn’t impact your typing, but inquiring minds still need to know.

  • Ybocher, admit it, it feels good to agree with me. Where’s Laya, she should see this.

  • i feels like haven! can u try to write G-d w/capiol “G” just like u write Laya w/”L”?
    i ll try to agree more bli neder.

  • Everyone’s approach to dating needs work. If it doesn’t, they’re probably already married. Not to say that everyone who is married is so hitched because of their stellar dating skills. I happen to think that P-Life has much better people skills in general than you’re giving him credit for based on this one anecdote. But I agree that this is not his best communicational moment…he’s not working with her, or meeting her compromises to the extent that he probably could be.

    And on reading this again, I think he’s hearing her, but not really listening. They need to talk about this and figure out if the obstacle is surmountable. But every relationship is different. And it’s not like I’m the veteran of so many relationships that I can pass judgment. So that’s ’nuff said from me.

    But Sephardim and Ashkenazim together? It would never happen. (Except for CK and Muffti, BFF…)

    And I’m going to start using the word Ashkenazoid in my usual discourse. Soon, it, not Baby Fish Mouth, will be sweeping the nation.

  • esther pls tell where is a possible common ground. if the guy is religious to the extent that torah permeates all areas of his life and in the same time she thinks that it s a disputable philosophy system then how do u resolve it? it s not like we gonna deceide not to talk about it at home!

  • Hmm. I know so many people in similar situations – usually though it doesn’t get to the stage where the guy considers the girl a “soulmate” before he finds out that she is not on the same “level” as him.

    I have friends (and siblings) who, while they claim they are desperate to find the “right one”, get married and live happily ever after, making lots of babies, will not even consider going out with someone (or even talking to someone) who is not on the same religious level as them. Or who they perceive not to be.

    Take it from me, things aren’t always as they seem. I was brought up veeery religious and intended to keep a religious home (if not as crazy frum as my parents’). I kept an open mind. I met my husband at a frum, separate seated wedding (yeh, the boys were perving through the mechitza) and at the time, he was not frum at all (although his parents’ home is traditional). We started going out though, where I discovered that he had always wanted to be more religious, was intending to go study in Israel to do so within the next 2 months, and was really only waiting for a kick to get him going.
    2 1/2 years down the track, he’s religious through his own learning and desire (and a little motivation from me), and his family is a whole lot more observant too. We have a really good “middle ground” between my parents’ “crazy frumkeit” and his parents’ “traditional judaism”.

    The point is – people grow together. Some people just need a little encouragement, and some people need to relax a little. Discounting a guy (or girl) as “potential” because they’re not up to your high standards is stupid. People change. P-Life will change over time and so will Tzip. The question shouldn’t be whether they are “bashert” at this point in time, but whether they will be over the course of their lives (if that makes sense.)

  • me, there is a little difference when people are of different level of observance … maybe level is not a good term as it suggests that there are higher and lower kinds of observance… and when there is a difference in outlook on the principle of faith. u can say i m gonna go l’kula as uch as i can for the her/him but can u say it s ok that he/she thinks that my whole belief system is “incorrect”

  • Michael in comment #1 wrote:
    “So what can be done? I’m not expert, but it seems to me that the key to successful relationship lies not in exact sameness of beliefs and outlook, but rather both respect for the beliefs of the other person if they are different and the flexibility to accommodate the fact that, well, people tend to change.”

    Michael, of course that is true, except if it is a core belief. Everyone has some core belief that if their potential mate believed in, it would be too much for them. For example if you were dating a nice Jewish girl and she happened to believe in the Trinity. She is just really moved by the Holy Ghost. Would that freak you out a bit? 😉

    The big question is what is the issue and where do you draw the line.

    themiddle in comment #4 wrote:
    “Okay, I’ve reread it and believe that P-Life should work on his people skills.
    The problem is that P-Life cannot imagine being wrong. He cannot envision a situation where his belief system is incorrect and he places that above all else, including love.”
    Themiddle, I will grant you that it was not my best moment. Emotional shock can do that to you sometimes.

    It is irrelevant if my belief system is correct or not. If you were a Mormon you would have a hard time with a Seventh Day Adventists belief system, particularly if you were considering marrying her. It’s not a question of who is right or wrong; it’s a question of sharing core beliefs.

    Ck in comment #6 wrote:
    “All relationships are about compromise and while he can’t change what she believes, as long as he respects her opinion and she agrees to be considerate, ie maintain a kosher household etc. they ought to be able to stay together.”

    CK, I think what it boils down to is how much importance you give to the issue at hand; believing that the Torah was from Sinai. If in someone’s value system it has little more importance then choosing whether Miller Lite tastes great or is less filling, then obviously it seems silly to end a relationship over it.

    However, if your spouse believes in something that goes against the grain of your core values, such as capturing stray cats, cooking them, and shipping them off to Africa to end world hunger, you wouldn’t say (well at least I hope you wouldn’t) “As long as she cooks her cats outdoors we ought to be able to stay together.”

    Eli7 in comment #14 wrote:
    “Life is about more than love, and you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your beliefs for love; if you have to, then it’s not true love.”

    Eli7, very true. The problem is that for many people, LOVE, is the ONLY belief they have. They can’t imagine having other values that supersede love.

    Esther in comment #24 wrote:
    “I happen to think that P-Life has much better people skills in general than you’re giving him credit for based on this one anecdote. But I agree that this is not his best communicational moment…he’s not working with her, or meeting her compromises to the extent that he probably could be.”

    Esther, thanks for the vote of confidence in my people skills. As far as not working with her, I am giving it my best shot. My question to you would be, how would you handle dating a guy who is satisfactory Jewish in every aspect except that he sometimes likes to pray to Jesus, just in case?

    The point is, if the difference in question is a fundamental belief, then it’s not that simple to just be open and compromise.

    But I will keep on trying and hopefully Tzip and I can come to a happy conclusion.

    P-Life 😉

  • I don’t know ybocher – I think you have to draw a real distinction between different levels of observance on the one hand, and different perspectives of observance on the other.
    If you’re referring to P-Life and Tzip, I highly doubt that she considers his entire belief system is “incorrect”. Different from hers, maybe. That’s what you get when two people who are brought up in different homes, through different schools, different rabbis and different friends get together. It’s impossible to get someone who has exactly the same perspectives, from exactly the same beliefs and experiences that you do. What matters though is if you can tolerate the differences.

  • Ybocher, god, God, G-D and G-d as well as adonai, Adonai, hashem, Hasehm, shechina, etc., are not god’s real name. They are removed from the real name of g–D, aren’t they? Isn’t that our belief and tradition, that these are replacement names?

    There are times when I use a capital, usually when referring to god in a specific story where it’s clear we mean the Israeli god, but I honestly don’t get how the word god can have any meaning beyond our current English usage of the name of that Great Being.

  • Um, I know this is gonna sound wacky to some of you, but since I keep harping on this, it won’t hurt to do it again.

    Non-Orthodox Jews are not the equivalent of people praying to Jesus.

    But I hear ya, P, if she’s too wrong for you, she’s too wrong for you and you should seek out somebody who shares that core belief…which is after all Torah M’Sinai. If you send us a pic and a brief bio, we’ll evaluate your candidacy and perhaps make an introduction with some lovely ladies we know who happen to believe in Torah M’Sinai and adore the Rambam.

  • ybocher is not my real name it is rather my “replacement name” and still u write my knick always w/Y even i ‘d never do it personally. so tell me israeli G-d as oppose to who? and why the Great Being gets frm u both G n B and G-d cant?

  • Me, This is not about “different levels of observance.” I am willing to make many compromises on levels of observance (obviously depending on their severity) to accommodate Tzip. The problem is that Halachic Judaism falls apart without the fundamental belief that G-d gave the Torah at Sinai. Once you don’t believe that, it doesn’t make much sense to care that much about Kosher or Shabbos. According to the theory of multiple authors, why should I sacrifice today because some unknown person came up with something a couple of thousand years ago.

    Judaism’s strength throughout the generations stems from the unshakable principle that the Torah is G-d’s loving instructions to us. That is why our parents and grandparents sacrificed their lives throughout the generations. Not for some book written by multiple unknown authors.

  • p-life i m sorry i tht i ve passed a judgment about yr people skill. it was damn. sorry again. i just got bit too emotional reading that story.
    me – i totally agree just that i wanted to make sure that it is said – it is not always whether person is tolerant enough. we always can get to a point frm which on it is ok to be intolerant (respectfully) so to speak. for some people it s the point b/w jews and those that pray in other directions, for others it ll be point b/w traditional and secular jews.

  • P-Life, I hope you haven’t been too traumatized by my posting this link to you. Hopefully, you’ll find the discussion thought-provoking at least. I hope that you and Tzip can come to some sort of understanding and make it work, since it seems that you both want it.

    That said, I don’t see how a nice Jewish boy who prays to Jesus is the same as a nice Jewish girl who doesn’t relate to G-d in the same way that you do.

    ybocher, yes, there is a point at which values systems are just incompatible, creating a vast chasm of understanding that cannot be bridged. But I’m still not sure these two are there yet. Or if they are, why it wasn’t discovered before now.

    Ultimately, it’s up to them to figure out what they want to do. And whatever they decide, if they do it through really listening and reacting to each other and to the convictions of their own hearts, it will be the right thing.

  • Plife it doesn’t sound like shes open to exploring these things with you, I don’t see how thats gonna work,

    to sit on the fence about where to go with this relationship would be wrong. time is precious if it’s not bashert maybe it’s time to move on, if it is basheret then maybe you two will meet up again on the same page in the future.

    Anyway goodluck
    it should work out for the best
    whatevers happen

  • ybocher, no worries.

    Esther, I think I should be able to overcome my trauma at being Jewlicioused, by drinking a little Bookers! L’Chaim!!!

    There is one misunderstanding I would like to clarify. themiddle in comment #31 states, “Non-Orthodox Jews are not the equivalent of people praying to Jesus.” and Esther you wrote, “I don’t see how a nice Jewish boy who prays to Jesus is the same as a nice Jewish girl who doesn’t relate to G-d in the same way that you do.”

    I was not trying to equate the two. I was just trying to find a fundamental core belief that people across the religious spectrum would all find difficult to mesh with their own beliefs. And just like in that circumstance (believing in Jesus) where the core belief is not acceptable to you, so to in my personal circumstance where believing in Torah from Sinai is for me a core belief that is non acceptable to mess with.

    As far as why we haven’t discovered it earlier, its pretty simple, it didn’t come up. I don’t believe I ever asked a woman on a date if she believes that the Torah is from Sinai. Tzip considers herself Modern Orthodox and she never gave me a reason to question that until that fateful day.

    At the end of the day I still am hopeful that we can work things out.

  • wine guy, it depends on the day. Sometimes Tzip is open to exploring this issue with me and sometimes she is not. After all it is a woman’s prerogative and NO means NO. 😉

    I agree, time is precious. I have tried to come up with some creative ideas to not be stuck in this, “cant go forward, cant go back, space.” I will be posting them in future chapters of the Tzip series.

    Thanks for your kind wishes.

    Much appreciated!

  • P-Life: I understand what you are saying about willing to compromise on different levels of observance (within some degree). But have you explored Tzip’s beliefs with her? It may be that she has some fundamental misunderstanding about the Torah, of which I can think of two off the top of my head…

    1)While Judaism believes that the 5 books of chumash were handed to Moshe by G-d on Har Sinai, secular scholarship has been engaging in debate for centuries and generally accepts that Devarim, at least, was written by multiple authors. The point is, there are arguments of which Tzip may be unaware that this was no the case.

    2) While the 5 books of Chumash were certainly given to Moshe alone, the rest of Tanach (Neviim and Ketuvim) had multiple authors. There is debate in the gemara as to who authored which books. In terms of religious belief, there is no doubt of the multiple authors of Neviim and Ketuvim, and that such authors were divinely inspired (ruach hakodesh).

    Point being, she may not know the full extent of scholarship, realise that there are opinions out there that support orthodox religious belief, or may simply be confused about something she once learned/read. You should check it out before throwing away a potential bashert.

  • Sorry, all, for that long winded rant on the authenticity of the authorship of the Torah… it’s a topic I seem unable to avoid

  • P-Life, I just read your post in its entirety on your blog. I have to say, I think Tzip has had the exact misunderstandings that I mention above. I think her Rabbis at Pardes failed to explore the topic thoroughly enough.

  • ybocher/Ybocher, your name relates to a specific person/character. I often do capitalize god when referring to a specific story or matter that directly relates to the God of Israel. By that I mean the God of Israel as we read about in the Torah. I’m far from certain that the god in which I believe is the one depicted in the Torah. That’s not to say I don’t believe there is a god, or a single god for that matter, it’s just that I’m not sure exactly who or what that god is.

    Furtherfmore, you not only want me to capitalize god, you want me to omit the O for some strange reason, as if by looking at G-d vs. God, we somehow prevent ourselves from seeing the name Yhwh.

  • tm, i ve never asked u to omit the o. i do and i hope u dont mind but if u do then i m willing sit down and talk about it – i m sure we can find a compromise.
    seriously speaking, even if u belive many of them whoever they are u cud agree that all each and every one of them deserves our highest respect. i always thought that people used G as one of the ways of expressing that.

  • Me, I think you are correct. I don’t think its a deep rooted belief. I think its something she heard from a Rabbi at Pardes and it sounded sophisticated and more scientific so she went with it. If you have some good sources that refute the multiple authors theory, I certainly would be interested in seeing it.

    Thanks!

  • wait a second! as this story progresses it looks less and less tragic as it did in the begging. have i misread it? or was it overdramatized in the post? or u r changing yr mind p-life?

  • ybochur, Its pretty simple. If I can find a way to educate and enlighten her to share my fundamental beliefs, then we might be able to make it work. I am very much hoping that is the case and I will do whatever I can to find a path to that.

    However, if at the end of the day, she still believes that the Torah was not given at Sinai, I don’t see how we can be together.

    I hope its not wishful thinking on my part to say that I think its not a deep seated belief of hers. I pray that it is not.

  • No, this isn’t fair. See, I have something to say, but restless as I am right now, I don’t have the patience to read through all 46 comments! This is one reason you don’t get all that many comments from us readers, I think. You get too many comments.
    🙂

  • The Torah source that outlines exactly who authored which books of Tanach (even which sentences in some instances) is derived from Bava Basra 14b, the pshat and the commentary. I would reproduce it but want to save everyone the hassle of a looooonger post. Keep in mind, though, that the Gemara is a compilation of the opinions of different Rabbonim – the pshat can’t be taken as literally as it should be taken in Chumash. (obviously)

    The secular sources are a little more difficult. Secular biblical scholarship comes from the VERY different perspective of scholars studying the torah as a text – not looking at it for the meaning behind the words, the intention of the passages for religious instruction, but in order to place the passage in “context”. The aim of such scholarship is to determine “who, what, where, when” and not necessarily “why”, which in the case of studying Torah, is the most important question (i think anyway).

    None of this scholarship has determined “who” exactly these supposed authors (of the Chumash) are. They have just determined that a particular author was, for example, a monk; or a nobleman etc dependant on what “perspective” each author was writing from. For instance, there is scholarship that says that Bereishit was written by 4 different authors – one who refers to G-d as “Elokim”, one who refers to Him as “Ado-nai”. One who likes listing things and talking about the might of G-d (the monk, apparantly they had a thing for keeping records and subduing the masses with a fear for G-d) which explains the long geneological lists, and another who is more concerned with a history of the area (“Vayelech Avraham mi’Be’er Sheva” etc.)

    The point is that the fact there is scholarship on a particular issue doesn’t necessarily make their conclusions absolute. I think Tzip needs to learn a little more. Good luck!

    Shabbat Shalom, y’all! Down here in the southern hemisphere, the holy day of rest begins in exactly 40 mins…

  • u got my prayers too. just that when i ve read the post i had a feeling that u r done with trying. i m glad to hear that i was wrong. keep talking man. and next time make sure she doesnt throw any food out b/c this is baal tashchis. 😉
    but pls dont call anybody apikores even if u have a rambam to prove it – it s just doesnt really help building any kind of relationship,

  • To back up TM,

    ‘God’ is a name (i.e. If God sees what you are doing, he’ll smote you), ‘god’ a proper noun (as in an angry god is a scary god). The thought behind replacing the ‘o’ with a dash seems insane to Muffti – names don’t mean anything really, they just have the function of referring. Thus ‘G-d’ functions just as much as name as ‘God’ in that they are both directly referring terms.

    Now, if God has a name that he designates as special, then perhaps if you believe in that kind of thing, you should write it down or whatever. But how likely does it seem that ‘God’ is God’s special name?

  • I always thought it was slightly amusing that people here (ck? moby? i don’t remember) actually hyphenate both G-d and the f-word rather than spell either of them out. But maybe that’s just my mind twisting the way it does…

    On the “dash” issue, it’s something I go back and forth on, but here’s something I wrote last year about it, in case anyone’s interested.

  • You know, after my divorce and my dive into ba’al t’shuvah-dom, I got stuck in the rut of belief-compatability concerns. As my fervor cooled (mostly because of a penchant for tafs with a T and the mellifluous tones esther mentioned in other postings at other times), I realized that the primacy of my beliefs aren’t necessarily challenged by even the most nebulous or ill-researched thoughts of others. My own family, itself a tragic study of the ravages of assimilation, still bases its relationships on love rather than common dogmatic ground.

    P-Life, you touched on enlightening her if possible. You know Torah was given at Sinai. If she’s willing to live observantly with you, regardless of her thoughtcrime, it might come to change through exposure. You might also find your beliefs tempered somewhat from exposure to her, and find a more rewarding existance for it. P-Life’s gotta do what’s right for P-Life, though, and I hope it works out for you both.

    For my part, in the land of the Amish where I dwell, I run into the situation where compromise is the rule of the day if one doesn’t want to die lonely. I’m little too lapse for Orthodox women, a little too observant for Conservative, and with a tiny community to boot, if someone tossed a trief carrot solely out of love for me, I’d probably give her the keys to my volumnious paperclip collection, and introduce her to my girls as “your new mama.”

  • When I hit the first mention of Pardes in this thread, my fears were confirmed.

    P-Life: how long have you, yourself, been a passionate believer in Torah from Sinai? Is it possible that you are still a bit intoxicated with your new “discovery”?

    If you are also a recent alumnus of the Jerusalem adult-yeshiva scene, I suggest you go with the underlying hunch about this girl’s character and compatibility. You are both obviously still searching and growing spiritually.

    What sort of mother do you think she’ll be?
    What qualities do you admire in her?
    Do you believe in her as a person – in her intrinsic goodness?
    Are you willing to support her in her goals?

    It’s, uh, admirable that you are all talking about how to educate Ms. Pardes – but would you want your spouse to take a monkey wrench to YOUR personality and beliefs?

    She obviously is interesting in growing and learning, otherwise she would not be at Pardes. Take care to build your home in places that facilitate BOTH of your continued growth… and let her grow in her own way.

    Yes it’s a risk – but that’s marriage in general. And in this era of BTs and rebellious frummies, there is no knowing how you or you spouse’s beliefs will develop over time.

  • Ben-David,

    Seeing that I’m struggling with similar concerns, your comment was apropos and wise (or so I’m wanting to believe).

  • BTW…
    Don’t discount all the power issues and projected relationship shit that gets funneled down the Halachik highway. What looks like a Halachick issue/disagrement, may be a typical intimacy issue in disguise. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz addresses this flaw in a book entitled Tshuvah.

  • ok,
    1) i ve never told anybody ion my life to write the name w/latin letters hyphened. i do as i follow a certain opinion. if u dont think it s right then dont!
    i dare not not to argue w/grandmuffti himself therefore i agree on the linguistic principle but i ll see if u follow it, tm.

  • Wait a minute, you dare not argue with Muffti, but you feel fine arguing with me?!

    SHTREIMEL!!!!!!! Welcome back! How’s Nebraska?

  • Is there a point at which insistence on a particular mode of observance, or on agreement on a particular point of theology, defeats the values of the very religion one purports to profess?

  • Yes Tom, take a look at Nice Jewish Girl who at 35 has never been touched by a man, may never be touched by a man, and is heartbroken over this to the point where the primary reason she won’t break down on this issue is that she doesn’t wish to have wasted all those years of not being touched by a man.

  • I feel an ‘need’ to weigh-in on this.

    I’ve been married for what is a rapidly aging 11th year. My wife converted to Judaism prior to our marriage. We HAD a number of relationship problems that stemmed from an extended unemployment on my part during the post-9/11 economic downturn. During these problems, my wife return to her original religious practice.
    At the time, do to the unemployment, I was not really all that concerned about the situation because of many other issues. (Such as getting a job) Since I have returned to work, I have begun to have problems with the situation. I do love my wife, but it really is hard to move in the direction I feel drawn to with my wife going in a very different direction.

    The situation with P-Life is both similar and very different. I can understand the issues he has, but I have a feeling, as was discussed earlier, that he has an easier fix to over come the differences and resolve the issues than I do.

  • P-Life? Pee-eewww! Who needs that WITCH???? Jsirpicco DECLARES YOU ARE WAY BETTER OFF WITHOUT HER? What, she was “cute?” Thin, cuz of all the vegan garbage? Looked at you with passionate eyes as you argued about whether DAVE MATHEWS would have dug Shlomo Carlebach?????/ Puhleeze…chicks with attitude is good fer dates, but marriage is LOOOOONNNNNGGGGG, man, and who’s gonna keep the kiddies from going insane like her? HMMMM?????

    You done the right thing, dude. Good for you for have the HIP HOP CAJONES! And dropping her for the weirdo head trip she was….come on…can non-shaved legs, thinness, curly black hair and a pouty, tragically hip look REALLY MEAN THAT MUCH THESE DAYS??????

    Answer is…..NO!

  • I read the post on P-Life’s blog and I have to say that I believe his immediate approach was counter-productive. It was like, when she told him how she felt about the issue, instead of listening to her he gave her a lecture and/or accused her of heresy (implied accusation, but there nonetheless). In the car, he gave her an article to read out loud. Is that a future husband or a teacher? When she becomes a mother and does something with her children that her husband doesn’t think is right, can she expect a take-home essay or read-aloud article on parenting?

    I don’t know Tzip, but I can say that if I were in that situation and someone I cared for was doing things like that to me, unfortunately instead of reacting logically and rationally I would dig my heels in and get more irrational. Is it possible that she said Rambam was an idiot because she was reacting to being called a heretic when she said how she felt about Torah M’Sinai? Granted, I was not there and couldn’t hear the whole conversation, but she might have just been repeating something she heard but not necessarily something she believes in with her whole being. Maybe if there was a real discussion about Torah M’Sinai she would understand, contemplate, and possibly come to agreement on her own as an adult (and not as a child being taught the “right” way in a classroom).

    I’m not saying it’s all P-Life’s fault or whatever. Tzip probably reacted that way because she felt threatened and P-Life felt threatened by her reaction. If this issue is so big that P-Life has to break off the relationship, then that is his choice. But, if Tzip is like me, she might have just brought it up as one of the things she was thinking about in terms of Torah M’Sinai (because she did mention she had no concrete belief system yet, like me), and the reaction was so negative she was forced to defend it (like I would, whether I actually believed it or not).

    I’m not saying it’s rational, but it happens.

  • I would say that if you really care for someone and he/she does something that feels like a threat then being rational is much more difficult than when you are with a person that you do care for so much. Then you can be all rational you want, right?

  • It is more difficult, but not impossible. But it’s so important to really take a step back before it goes too far, especially when you are arguing with someone that you care very much about. You could end up doing or saying something you will regret for a very long time just because you didn’t see what was really going on.

  • The torah itself only states that the ten commandments were given on mount Sinai. As I remember bits were explicitly given to Moses later in the ‘Moed’ tent.

    The Rambam in his day was considered a heretic and he could have considered Rashi a heretic for his views on the corporeality of his god.

    Just saying there’s lots of room for flexibility on the subject in normative judaism, not just what you were force fed at some yeshiva.

  • my ex caught me putting the milk dishes in the meat dishwasher after 8 years of marriage and 3 babies. I was overwhelmed with the housework and needed a break. He said he could never respect me again after that nor could ever trust me or my kashrus. When the person loves his religious ideology more than his “soulmate”, things can’t survive; but when you but love the “soulmate” more that the religions dogma, there is more room for compassion, understanding, flexibility and compromise that is required for a loving relationship. A stubborn fish or stubborn bird can’t love anything but their own stubborness.

  • My life mirrors this story in many respects. I married a Jew who did not really share my Jewish beliefs. I am from a traditinal background, as she is not. We now have a four year old son who goes to a religious school. My wife and I have continuously struggled with our different ideologies, even though we are both Jewish. She will forever be uncomfortable around religious Jews, and she will forever reject the notion that there is a G-d that cares about what we eat, what we do on the Sabbath, etc. I hold the exact opposite views. In many respects, although we love each other, I think it was a huge mistake to marry. I do not believe that love and respect for one another is enough to maintain a healthy marriage. It is true that people will change as they get older, but I really think you need to have as much common ground as possible at the beginning. You need to be prone to growing together as you change. If you are off base to start with, and you decide to marry, my feeling is do not expect things to change. I am a lawyer and see clients all the time who claim that their spouse was different than them when they married, but they wanted to give marriage a try. Now they are seeking divorces. People need to think about the big picture and where they might be in the future. If you have instincts holding you back now, do not go forward with marriage. That’s my advice. I give my advice with much respect for people’s abilities to differ in their opinions about interpreting Judaism. One of the great thing about our faith is that from the time that the Talmud was compiled (and even well before), we have been in a dialogue together as Jews seeking G-d and the meaning of the Torah. I don’t know whose opinion is right because there are so many (we are comprised of so many different sects of Judaism), but I do know you really want to be with someone who inspired you to become closer to and search for G-d. The people in this story seem to be turning away from that direction, so I would recommend they pass on each other. Shalom!

  • Much wisdom in Marc’s post.

    The conventional wisdom is “Don’t marry expecting to change your spouse”.

    The trick here is to apply this to a situation where people are dating as they explore their Judaism, and are both somewhat in flux.

  • The problem is that Halachic Judaism falls apart without the fundamental belief that G-d gave the Torah at Sinai. Once you don’t believe that, it doesn’t make much sense to care that much about Kosher or Shabbos. According to the theory of multiple authors, why should I sacrifice today because some unknown person came up with something a couple of thousand years ago.

    I don’t know – I’ll have to ask the visiting rabbi who attended Lakewood that will be teaching gemara at my Conservative shul later this morning that a question. Or, perhaps I’ll have to ask some of the dozens of silly people that “gave up” their day to celebrate Shabbat at our shul why they did so, aside from perhaps the lovely kosher qiddush. I’ll point out to them that they could be spending Shabbat morning on the beach or at the shopping mall if they don’t believe that every crown on every letter was written by Moshe according to God’s command. And they certainly didn’t have to practice leining that rather long portion for this past Shabbat; boy, will they be pissed! I’m sure they’ll send along their thanks to you for setting them straight.

  • anonanon,

    “Rashi…for his views on the corporeality of his god”

    Maybe you have a reference for that Rashi? I would be extremely surprised if there was even a smidgen of truth to that.

    What exactly do you mean by ‘his god’-? WHat do you think this is everyone creates G-d in their own image?

    Only say what you are ready to back up.
    Maybe some yeshiva would be good for you too.

    marc,

    I also agree with you – you can try to explain and teach to other people but your own wife…she needs to be there with you.

  • Ben-David wrote in comment #55:
    “P-Life: how long have you, yourself, been a passionate believer in Torah from Sinai? Is it possible that you are still a bit intoxicated with your new “discovery”?

    It’s, uh, admirable that you are all talking about how to educate Ms. Pardes – but would you want your spouse to take a monkey wrench to YOUR personality and beliefs?”

    Ben-David, I am FFB and while I am always open to exploring and growing, I have a very solid & stable sense of my religious values. Tzip studied in Pardes a few years ago and she is still trying to make sense of it all.

    I completely agree, a person has to accept you as you are, without seeking to change them. While I believe that, it is also not a viable option for me at the moment, because it would leave me no other choice but to break up with her. I am hoping, that even though trying to educate her under these circumstances is distasteful to me, that it will enable us to make a life together. Its a tough dilemma and I am struggling mightily with it.

    (Non-related) Tzipi wrote in comment #64:
    “I read the post on P-Life’s blog and I have to say that I believe his immediate approach was counter-productive. It was like, when she told him how she felt about the issue, instead of listening to her he gave her a lecture and/or accused her of heresy (implied accusation, but there nonetheless). In the car, he gave her an article to read out loud. Is that a future husband or a teacher? When she becomes a mother and does something with her children that her husband doesn’t think is right, can she expect a take-home essay or read-aloud article on parenting?”

    Tzipi, I agree I did not handle the emotionally shocking news in a calm and collected manner. Since that time I have had numerous discussions with Tzip in a calm exploratory way and she has responded in a much more positive way to having the discussion. I also want to very clear that I did not call her a heretic. I said that according to the Rambam that theory is heresy. (Its the difference between saying that your room is a mess and calling you a slob.)

    As far as having her read an article out loud while I am driving, the purpose was to open a discussion on the merits of the article. I find it a great way to have discussions. I did not give it to her as something to read and obey, but as a conversation opener.

    You also wrote:
    “But, if Tzip is like me, she might have just brought it up as one of the things she was thinking about in terms of Torah M’Sinai (because she did mention she had no concrete belief system yet, like me), and the reaction was so negative she was forced to defend it (like I would, whether I actually believed it or not).”

    (Non-related) Tzipi, some of that was creeping into our conversations and I am working hard to quickly recognize that and redirect our conversation to an open, accepting, non-defensive one. I want to be very clear, I am completely open to Tzip exploring all the options as to what might have happened at Sinai, even if some of the options are heretical. Because Torah is about exploring and examining and can stand up to any examination. What I object to is her acceptance of an outlook (Multiple author theory) without fully exploring what that means in terms of her claiming to be Observant and Orthodox as well as openly exploring the other options.

    Marc Cwik wrote in comment #70:
    “In many respects, although we love each other, I think it was a huge mistake to marry. I do not believe that love and respect for one another is enough to maintain a healthy marriage. It is true that people will change as they get older, but I really think you need to have as much common ground as possible at the beginning. You need to be prone to growing together as you change. …but I do know you really want to be with someone who inspired you to become closer to and search for G-d. The people in this story seem to be turning away from that direction, so I would recommend they pass on each other. Shalom!”

    Marc, I completely agree, love is not greater then deeply held core beliefs. I am very sorry to hear about your situation. It must be very painful and difficult to bear. May Hashem give you strength to deal with your circumstances. I also agree that soulmates and a partnership in marriage is about helping each other to grow spiritually. If the belief systems are not compatible, no matter how much you love each other it will be painful down the road.

    Chazak Vayamatz!

    Neo-Conservaguy (Comment #72), I don’t dispute that Conservatives make great effort regarding Shabbos and Kashrus or other aspects of Judaism. What I am saying is that if you believe that an unknown author wrote the law, then WHY would you go to such great lengths to keep the law, even to give up your life for it? If G-d is not in the picture, then why not keep Shabbos on Tuesdays? Just because some unknown author said it should be on Saturday 3000 years ago? Tuesdays work better for me. My issue is with the natural follow up and consequences of not believing that Torah is Divine.

    Have a great day all!

    P-Life 😉

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