Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Till Death Do Us Part

"My daughter is back home," she told me, her voice surprisingly strong. "She's going to get divorced.

I stared at her, stunned.

I hadn't seen her daughter very much since she'd gotten married almost a year ago. She was a very young bride...sweet, soft spoken and innocent.

She stood beside her mother now, her expression hard to read. But she seemed more mature...older...her innocence gone.

"Baruch Hashem. We're so happy. It's bitter and sweet. We're sad because she had to go through all this pain, but we're happy that she got out now."

Her daughter nodded in agreement.

And then it all came out. The months of abuse - physical, sexual and emotional. How she didn't tell anyone, hoping she could fix it herself. The people she approached for help, who did not understand the severity of the situation. How she finally left him, and called her parents.

And the stories... So many stories...so much pain. It was as though, after so many months of being silent, the floodgates were open, and she couldn't stop talking.

There were tears in my eyes as I listened. Tears for her...but also for her mother, who only just discovered how much her daughter suffered in the past year. And she wasn't there to help her. I don't begin to fathom that anguish. I can't imagine the guilt she must be feeling.

"It was meant to be," she said. "This is the person I was meant to marry. Hashem meant for me to endure this year of misery. I don't understand it now, but I have no questions."

I was awed by her faith. I marveled at her ability to see this experience as predestined...to feel so much misery, yet remain so strong.

"The Rebbe was so excited about this shidduch," her mother continued, referring to the Rebbe of the chassidic group to which they and the family of the chosson belong.

"We knew this was right," she said sadly. "We had no doubts."

I searched her face, looking for some sign of uncertainty. I wondered how they reconciled what, to me, seemed so inconsistent.

For a moment, my belief in Rebbes was shaken. But their trust never wavered.

"Hashem temporarily clouded his vision. This had to happen. It was bashert."

I wanted to hear more. I needed to hear that there were signs that they ignored, obvious things they overlooked, some way they could have known before....anything to assure me that this could never happen to me...that somehow I am in control.

There was nothing. There was no way to know. And no one is immune.

I had a long talk with my daughter that night.

I'm not sure what the lesson is here...not even sure there is a lesson. But I want her to be more aware. I want her to know that sometimes people are not as they appear. I want her to be able to recognize evil. I want her to understand that sometimes we need help....that there are things we cannot deal with on our own.

And I want her to know...always...that I'm here when she needs me.


  1. Thank you for this post. I too have heard many stories like this, and they scare me. A lot. Can you give me the same speech you gave your daughter? How are you supposed to recognize that evil? How can you ever be sure?

  2. Not sure I can be so noble and admire such absolute trust and belief. I guess it provides a crutch, but the stories about how many rebbes have given such BAD advice with dire consenquences, I have to say it's a bit irresponsible. No one know's the future, like you said, sometimes all looks good, and then hell breaks loose. But ultimately, getting advice from someone who's opinion is considered absolute, no accountability for results, no visibility on any track record, is that what's considered daas Torah today? There are so many people sitting in prison, or living in hellish marraiges, or toiling in dead-end carreers, or hemmoraging money in BAD deals... all as a result of some rebbe's advice. Is this really the way to go? And to those who go that route uninformed, are they to be admired?

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  4. Did I ever mention that I think you're a great mother?

    About the bad advice...this is how I see it. The marriage and pain was supposed to happen. The only way for it to happen is by clouding the judgment of whomever they asked. It's not bad advice, it's exactly the way Hashem wanted it. It's hard to believe it and to accept it, but I like to think that's the reality.

  5. I've seen this over and over again.
    So sad.
    Makes me want to count my blessings that I married such a wonderful man.
    I wonder if I'd ever have that level of bitachon.

  6. MM...

    I'm not sure that evil is hard to recognize. I think it's only confusing when the evil is coming from someone we trust. I just want her to know that these things do happen, and it's not ok.
    The problem is...I don't think there's always a way to recognize it before you're married. That's the scary part.


    That's a bit harsh. I wish I can disagree, though.


    Thank you.
    Yes...that's the only way it can be explained. That's what they believed. It's what I'd like to believe. I'm working on it...

    Soul Comfort...

    Don't ever take that for granted. And I hope your bitachon is never tested.

  7. I was once discussing with a well-known psychologist in the yeshiva community about what sort of therapy he uses, and he told me its what is called psycho-spiritual, where he merges religion with psychology. Now it sounds great and all, but i asked him how does he deal with someone who's suffering came about through religious figures. Now he gave me an answer which is too long for this comment but basically along the lines of that Hashem wanted it to happen to you, and that you shouldn't feel anger etc, because the other person was just a shaliach.

    Now in theory that may work, but the thing that bothered me was that it feeds into the victims insecurity of that maybe they caused it to themselves. It wasn't the other persons fault, even G-d wanted it to happen to me! But to a victim that is the worst thing possible. They need to get over the fact and realize its nothing they did, it was the other who did something bad.

    R' Bick was known only to be mesader kedushin for those who went out for a minimum of 8 times. When the Satmar Rebbe questioned him about it, his response was "You (the rebbe)are only a mesader kiddushin, I (R' Bick) and a mesader Gittin"

    But you did the right thing. Your daughter should know that if she does encounter it (c'v) or she hears of someone who does, that they should get out. That if it feels like to much to bare alone, it probably shouldn't be done alone. There is no embarrassment for the victim, but shame for the abuser.

  8. Harry...

    That answer can be used no matter who caused the suffering. It's not limited to religious figures.
    I'm not sure how that would work, though. Unless it's someone who already has very strong emunah.