The written word has a unmatched ability to slice through confusion, and reveal a clear – if sometimes painful – clarity.
Yesterday, I read something that really touched me at the soul level, and kind of explained what I’d been seeing myself, all around, but haven’t been able to pull down into words.
For once, this isn’t going to be a post about nanobots or fake rabbis (more of those are in the works, don’t fret…).
It’s going to be a post about the most important relationship in this physical world – the connection between husband and wife.
First, please go and read THIS post, which I will quote a little from below.
It’s written by Reva Emunah Seidel, who has the usual 58 jobs, hobbies and interests of a busy Jewish mother listed in her biography.
Here’s a little of what she wrote:
It is hard to not cry as I write this.
We women are the Shechina. And we know that the way to heal all of the pain and suffering in the world is to reunite Kudsha Brich Hu with Shechinte. The Masculine with the Feminine.
We love you, men. We love you so much.
We often see your potential long before you yourselves have seen it. We believe in you. So much. We want to support you in any way we can. Spiritually and materially and physically. So we are willing to hold and receive all of you. The healed parts. The not yet healed parts. The beautiful parts. And the not so beautiful. Broken and whole. We want to draw you into us. To comfort you, to build you, to encourage you, to be your home in the world. We want to show you your own light, as it is reflected back to you through us. We are your malchut– your mirror.
But we are so tired. Exhausted, really. Shechinta b’Galuta.
If the final healing of the world, Moshiach, will come, because we learn and practice the secrets of unification, what unification can be holier/more whole than reuniting a man and a woman and creating an ADAM- a whole and integrated human being?
But our hearts…they are shattered. We don’t know anymore how to reach you- how to connect with you.
Just in these past few weeks…the stories I have gone through. The stories my friends have gone through…
Here’s some more – but I’m skipping lots of beautiful things out, so please go and read it all in the original, HERE.
You beautiful Jewish men….
You want to receive all we have to give- our softness, our admiration for you, our time, our company, our deep listening…but you choose to place your own comfort before ours, over and over again….
Giving feels to you like a burden.
To put a woman’s needs above your own is seen as a bother. You don’t see the immense power you have to be a mashpia. To lift a woman from the ashes of despair by shining onto her the light of Torah and mitzvot. And by healing and loving this one woman who Hashem placed in your path, by way of hashgacha pratis, you will learn to open your heart to love Hashem, yourself, and all of creation.
None of my daughters’ close friends have boyfriends, even though a large part of them have been trying for a couple of years.
By boyfriend, I mean a man to start dating with a view to settling down and getting married, in the relatively near future.
In our home, our eldest just broke up with someone she’s been seeing for two years, because he is totally petrified of the idea of getting married.
We can blame all this on a million different reasons – many of which may well have some basis – but it really all boils down to this:
We live in a world where there are hardly any real ‘men’ – as defined as men who want to give to, and connect to, the women in their lives.
We live in a world populated by ‘boys’ of all ages, who view giving to the women in their life as a ‘burden’ to be avoided, evaded and minimised.
Most of these ‘boys’ of all ages can only see themselves, and what’s good for them, and what suits them.
And that’s why the last few years, I have been experiencing a tsunami of divorce and relationship dysfunction all around me.
I can count the couples my age who I still know about, who didn’t get divorced, on one hand.
One day, these selfish ‘boys’ just wake up, and realise they don’t feel like working on all the bad middot that are ruining their marriages.
And they don’t feel like having to continually think about someone else, or other people’s needs, including their own children’s.
These ‘boys’ have bought into the mistaken idea that the pinnacle of happiness is to do exactly what they want, whenever they want it.
If they want to… they can stop keeping shabbat, and start driving motorbikes around, and spend all day in the office without worrying about helping out at home, and take off to go camping, fishing and drinking with their buddies, and just watch 70s soccer highlights until their brain dissolves, and date a different woman every week, and….and….and….
Man, those guys are so very miserable, it’s hard to even describe it.
They are trapped in a lie, stuck in the belief that what is going to make them happy is to just carry on taking with no responsibility, and no commitment, and no real giving in return.
And I’m seeing this mindset wreak destruction in every age group.
For older couples, it’s leading to divorce and relationship breakdown in unprecedented numbers.
And for younger singles….
The men have gone AWOL.
They just want the ‘milk’ without paying for the cow.
They want the ‘jam’ without the bread.
And the world is totally falling apart, because of it.
I’ve been watching some of these ‘boys’, of all ages, screw up their lives in a million different ways.
I’ve been noticing how as soon as there is some effort required, some chagnsome giving needed that is hard for them to do, instead of knuckling down and growing into the tremendous, awesome people God designed them to be, they run away.
It’s easier to eat cold beans from a tin every single night than to work on fixing even one bad character trait, it’s true.
But that doesn’t mean that eating cold beans from a tin every single night is a good way to live.
There is an answer, there is a solution, to this problem.
But most of the ‘boys’ out there don’t want to even consider it, because it’s going to take a lot of effort and self-control and prayer, and asking God for help.
We are here to fix ourselves, to do our tikkun, to fix the world by working on ourselves, and overcoming the bad middot that are stuffing up our relationships with everyone, but especially, with God.
I’m not saying women don’t have our own work to do on our bad middot, because of course we do.
But we are just the mirrors of the men.
We get all our ‘light’ from our men, and when those men are off shining their ‘light’ into their beer cans, and their forest raves, and their business meetings, instead of into us – well.
No wonder we greet them with a dark face.
Women also need to be talking to God for an hour a day, and working on our internal stuff.
But here’s the thing:
Most women will agree wholeheartedly with this statement, even if they are struggling in practise to do it.
While most men (boys…) will run away or close you down before that statement has even been completed.
In our crazy world, none of us have been taught how to ‘relate’ properly, not to ourselves, not to God, and not to our partners, spouses and kids.
That’s part of how they are keeping geula at bay, and humanity so darned ‘small’, selfish and miserable.
But the proper way to ‘relate’ can be learned.
And ‘boys’ can turn into real men, and they can fix the world in a way that we women can really only dream of.
Like Reva, I also see the tremendous potential hidden away in so many of the ‘boys’ in my life.
And like Reva, I sometimes also cry about the massive gap between the selfish, self-centred and superficial ‘boys’ I’m struggling with, and the tremendous men they could become.
If they would only start to believe in themselves.
And start to look inside.
And start to really connect to God.
And start to follow the instruction manuals and advice from our true tzaddikim.
Then, they could mamash change the world.
And bring geula.
At least, for themselves and the women in their lives.
One last note, about my husband, who is probably reading this and worrying I’m writing it about him.
I can honestly say that since my husband started learning and living Rav Arush’s ‘Garden of Peace’ more than a decade ago, he has been more of a ‘man’ spiritually, than almost anyone I know.
He doesn’t berate me for spending money, even though I don’t work and sometimes money is tight.
He tries to give me whatever he can, in whichever way he can, as happily as he can.
He frequently holds his tongue when I’m going off on one.
He puts up with my bad moods, my occasional selfishness, my current inability to cook amazing suppers (which started around two months ago, and which I’m still struggling with.)
And he TRIES to relate, even though it’s very hard, and so much of what I want to talk to him about sets off an automatic impulse to visit the bathroom for an hour.
Let’s be clear, that marriage is still a challenge.
We still sometimes fight.
I still sometimes get so angry I want to throw a plate at his head, or bite him.
We still sometimes relate like ‘ships passing in the night’, especially when there is a lot of stress going on.
But we’ve been married for 24 years, and we (mostly…) still enjoy each others company – and I’m totally giving him the credit for that.
When we hit a really tough patch about 14 years ago, he knuckled down, started to do his ‘inner work’, started to read the Garden of Peace, started to go to Uman on Rosh Hashana, and started to work on developing the emuna it would take for us to stay together, and to overcome the massive issues (internal and external) and bad middot that were rocking our marriage on all sides.
That is the true definition of being a ‘man’.
(Just to keep this as ‘real’ as possible, know that I also sent him to Uman around 20 times, bought him a Garden of Peace and nagged him incessantly to start doing hitbodedut every day; cried rivers of tears, tried to work on developing my own patience and emuna and when things really got stuck, I did A LOT of pidyonot for him with Rav Berland. And that last one is really the shortcut.)
So, let me end with a blessing for us all.
I bless all the women that we should find our true basherts if we are still single; and that if we are already married, our men’s souls should start to really blossom and open up, so that we can connect to them, and they can connect to themselves, and to God, and to be the tremendous force for good in the world they were created to be.
And I bless all the boys out there, of every age, that God should help them to finally grow up into the men they need to be, without making any more excuses for their bad middot and physical ta’avot.
And I bless all these ‘boys’ that they should understand that growing up is not something to be afraid of, but something that will give them more energy, excitement and true happiness than anything else.
And I bless all of us that finally, all our homes should truly be a place where the shechina can dwell, and where peace between husband and wife will reign, and where geula will become a reality, at least in our daily lives.
Change can happen.
But only when we really want it to, and we’re prepared to grow up.
PS: As I was putting the finishing touches to this, a neighbor popped round and we started talking about it. She’s 25 and newly-married, and newly-observant.
She told me:
How can men NOT be like this today, when they have an i-Phone in their pocket and constant access to ‘instant gratification’ 24/7?
My daughter once said the same thing, that she thinks men don’t need women to talk to anymore because now they have i-Phones to run away into, any time they get bored, overwhelmed or lonely.
May this all turn around, very soon.
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