Category Archives: ask HSM

WWYD from the Inbox: Wedding

Dear Hadassah,

I received an invitation to my friend’s daughter’s wedding in November. We’d have to travel to get there – but it’s doable. I’d like to go, but I know it’s going to be a crazy expensive wedding with all the bells and whistles, and the mother of the bride is doing it all on her own with no help from the bride’s father. (Divorced parents….) I know she cannot afford it, but is doing it anyway.

Do we go anyway because we’re invited and I know she’d like us there, or decline and send a nice gift?

What would you do?

Tammy

Hmmm. Readers?

From the Mailbag:

Dear HaDassah,

In one month and one week I will be turning 38. I’ve never been married and so far there are no prospects. I’m getting to the point where I have to accept the fact that meeting my soul mate might not be in the cards for me. Worse, I am trying to come to terms with the fact that I may never be a mother. I love my friends and family, but it’s getting harder and harder to see their facebook posts and tweets about their kids, or pregnancies. I love them and I love their kids. My nieces and nephew are like my own. But they’re not.

I’ve explored other options such as insemination by donor. My mother is very against it, and she said so using the strongest language, I don’t know if I’m strong enough to really do this completely on my own. I can’t explain the pain I feel. Every time I get my period I mourn for a potential child I have just lost. Yes, I know it’s my “biological clock,” but it’s more than that, I resent my friends and family who do have kids, I’m getting to the point where I try avoid social and family events.

In addition to the birth of my nephew, in the course of one week among my cousins there were 7 births. I should be happy, but all I am is sad. Sad because I probably will never experience pregnancy and the joy of childbirth and the “nachas” of my own children. It kills me that I feel this resentment towards others when they’ve done nothing wrong.

Being single, especially being of a more “advanced” age, I’m treated like a second-class citizen. I don’t know if people realize how much it hurts. And it isn’t just about not getting married. In fact, I can handle the fact that I might not ever get married, but that I may never be a mother, that’s just devastating.

“Chava”

This letter tugged at my heart. I feel Chava’s pain. What can we tell her to help soothe her soul? How can we make her feel included and not shunned? How can we help her with her pain? What options are available to a religious woman whose fertility is ticking away and is not yet married? Can we religiously endorse Donor Insemination and provide a support system for our sisters who decide to take this route?

I am so curious to know how you feel after reading this letter, and how you would counsel Chava, or even what you would do in her place.

Jewish Burial Plots

Letter from a reader in Florida:

We went to one of the local Jewish cemeteries yesterday to look at purchasing some plots.  (We have two of them locally. This is the nicer one and has been sold out for years — a buying opportunity has come up so we figured, why not go look.)  Since my Judaism is questioned so often, I asked if I needed to give them proof of my conversion. The funeral director explained that I would have if this had been back in the 1940’s, but that now it’s not an issue. He went on to explain that they would even bury gentile spouses!  And we are not just talking about an interfaith section – just generally!  WHAT?!  Really?  Is this a strange thing that they do in Florida?  Do you think they do it in New York?  Other places?  Isn’t there some sort of prohibition against this?  I feel like a Jewish burial snob but I wonder what others would think.

Please weigh in in the comments!

WWYD – Letter from a Reader

What would you do? Read the letter and let us know in the comments.

Dear Hadassah,

I love my housekeeper. She is my oasis of sanity in a frenetic world. I work full time and have two sons and a husband who find it difficult to clean up after themselves. She keeps the house clean and tidy and running like a well oiled machine.

Lately I have noticed little items have gone missing – an eyeliner, a sample bottle of shampoo, etc. Nothing pricey, but still…

I don’t want to think that she has been taking these things – but am at a loss as to how these things have disappeared. It could be that they have just been misplaced – but I have a place for everything.

How do I handle this so that I don’t outright accuse her of stealing? I don’t want to lose her, especially if there could be a rational explanation.

Perhaps you could ask your readers if they can give me some guidance here.

Thanks,

A Long Time Reader.

Heinous or Harmless – Hair Covering and Dating

I have a friend “Roni” who was unfortunately widowed a while ago. She is the mother of young children trying to bring them up as grounded as possible, without a husband at her side. She has finally decided to take the plunge back into the dating world.

Roni is religious, and has continued to cover her hair (mostly with hats and scarves, occasionally a wig). She has spiritual and communal reasons to do so, and is not looking to change that. If she wanted, she could probably get a heter (rabbinical dispensation) to uncover, but she doesn’t want to, and is not interested in it at all.

She recently started dating a nice young man, someone who had never been married before. A man willing to take on her children and to follow a good solid marriage. A tall order!

But the hair covering thing is an issue for him. Officially, he says that he feels that this is a decision left to the woman he marries however on their first date he immediately asked Roni why she still covers, and was concerned that if someone he knew saw them, they would think he was out with a married woman. Roni tried to explain her feelings and conflict to him as best she could. She thought it was tabled.

In her words:

During our last conversation, we really shared a lot and I finally began to feel like we were becoming more comfortable with each other. I was getting high hopes for our third date, which would clearly be more relaxed and maybe help me sort out my feelings about him. Then at the end of the conversation, he asked me if I would consider not covering my hair while out on dates. I told him I needed to think about it, and maybe even consult a Rav.

But here’s the thing. I don’t want to go out in public with my head uncovered. I don’t feel like I am “there.” Also, I find inconsistency in observance due to circumstance to be inauthentic. I know women who don’t cover at work or on vacation and I have always felt it strange and didn’t get the rationale. But I don’t judge them because of how personal this issue is. It is a really hard Halachah for some, and I give them credit for what they are able to do. But to take a stance of I only cover [going to shul, doing carpool and getting groceries] or I don’t cover on dates, doesn’t sit well with me.

Roni asked me what she should do – she likes the guy. He is decent, there is some chemistry, he’d be a great male role model for her kids. But the fact that he asked her to uncover her hair when she is with him in public really poured cold water on the whole deal.

So dear readers, was this heinous or harmless on his part? What would you advise Roni to do?

Modesty – for the entire family?

From the mailbox:

Dear HSM

I was at a Canadian indoor water park and saw a number of frum families where dads and sons were shirtless and in shorts frolicking while mom and daughters were in long sleeves, ankle length skirts, etc roasting and just wading their feet with shoes on.  Shouldn’t modesty be for the entire family?  The one family where the girls got wet, they were toddlers and fully dressed down to thick tights.

A Reader

I fully agree with you that modesty should apply to everyone in the family. This scenario is one I have come across myself a few times too. I cannot adequately explain what appears to be a double standard here – perhaps one of my learned readers can.

Spending time with a friend

The following is a letter from a reader, the subject – a friend’s weight loss and the reader’s difficulty in spending time with her since the weight loss. Our reader wonders why she is having this trouble hanging out with her friend.

Dear Mama H,

Recently a close friend of mine lost a lot of weight and looks great. She’s not an overly gorgeous girl, but definitely looks better now. Plus her newfound confidence shines out of her.

I haven’t really seen her lately due to our schedules – ok, let’s be honest – I admit I have made up excuses not to see her or hang out because of her recent weight loss.

I’ve been struggling with my weight for a very long time, most of it genetic and nothing I can really do other than be as careful and healthy as I can. I eat right and I work out. I do what I can.

However this is something I know she feels amazing about, and for some reason we’ve always had a bit of a competition- but mentally, nothing that is really publicly known or acknowledged between us or anyone else.

I’m not jealous of her loss, however until I lose a little, and until I feel even better about myself and my looks, which is something I’m working on at the moment, I don’t want to really hang out with her alone or in a group.

We also have had a lot of drama over the years during our friendship. However I’m curious if me not wanting to see her in person and spend time with her due to her weight loss was something I am being weird and crazy about or if it’s just a woman thing.

Please advise.

So readers, what do you think? Does the reader’s reluctance to spend time with her friend make sense to you? Is she jealous, even though she says she isn’t? Can you identify with the way she is feeling? If her own self-image was better, would she be able to just be happy for her friend?

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WWYD – unwarranted ogling

Letter received from a reader (Edited):

I am a married religious woman who works in a predominantly male environment. The other day a guy came into my office to ask a co-worker a question, and while the co-worker was looking up some info in the computer, the guy looked around, and very blatantly looked me up and down like I was something on display. I was dressed very modestly and did absolutely nothing to attract his attention. When his eyes finally finished their indolent stroll he looked at my face and even though he knew he was caught, he tried to hold my stare. Looked totally non-apologetic. I wanted to stare him down, or obviously ogle various parts of his anatomy, but I didn’t have the guts. Thankfully he got the answers he needed from my co-worker (also female (the only other one in the office), but not stare-worthy apparently) and left.

I was too intimidated to speak out or to get up and leave. What should I have done? What would you have done? How can I make sure it doesn’t happen again? Mama H, please help!!

HSM says: This has definitely happened to me. It never sits right with me, and I never yet have come up with a way to make a surreptitious ogler feel bad for it. I always feel like I need a shower after. Totally skeeved out sometimes. If you have to work more with this guy and this is a repeated pattern of his behaviour, I would bring it up with a supervisor. Good luck!!

Perhaps some of my other readers have other suggestions?

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Advice Needed – a Reader’s Letter

I received this letter over the weekend, and took some time to think about my answer. I will say what I think, and then ask you, dear readers, to chime in with your opinions.

Dear HSM,

I love your blog. You are just so fresh and honest and funny. I wanted to ask you a question. Is it normal for a husband to look at other women? Does the KoD look at other women? It bothers me. I do my best to make the most of my looks, and I think I am attractive, but I always notice my husband glancing at the women around us, in restaurants or at simchas. Does this mean that after two years of marriage he isn’t attracted to me anymore?

Please Help.

I think it is normal for anyone to look and appreciate a thing of beauty. If you go to the bakery for bread, you notice the yummy cakes and desserts. But if you are on a diet you don’t buy them. They are not ugly to you, only forbidden. They look great and you can appreciate their splendor. But you walk out of the bakery only with what you came in for.

We notice many things around us, and for some people it happens to be that they notice the opposite sex a lot more than others do. If your husband is looking at other women it doesn’t mean that he wants to be with them. From what I understand, men are by nature more visual than women. Me, I notice good looking guys and I notice good looking women. I am sure sometimes I stare when I see a particularly attractive specimen. It doesn’t mean that I want to ditch my marriage to be with that person. I don’t. I just take a few seconds to appreciate the beauty that God has created. And I move on with my day. I will be honest, I have never seen the KoD checking out another woman, unless I have pointed her out to him. But I do believe he is the exception rather than the rule.

If it makes you that uncomfortable, talk to your husband. Tell him that it bothers you and express your concern that he no longer sees you as attractive. I am sure he does not even realize he is checking out other women. Once you make him aware of his behaviour, it’s possible he will do it less, or at least be more aware of himself when he is out with you.

Good Luck!

Disclaimer: I am NOT a licensed therapist nor even claim to know what I am talking about. Do not make any decisions based on anything I say. Professional help should always be sought when there are issues to deal with.

OK readers, now it’s your turn to chime in…..

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