Words from the Rebbe – who qualifies

My (frum) friend in NY advised me to look beyond the step (madrega) that one is on, “you need not be on the same step as your beshert”. It was during a discussion on my challenge to find a frum woman in my geography, although my overall sense of the discussion was that he was definitely not advising me to compromise, nor to constrain my search. The Rebbe appears more firm and tends to agree with other Rabbi’s I’ve spoken to.

His words suggest that one must not assume that someone else will change for them. He explains “It is understandable that when a person promises to commit himself fully to Torah and mitzvos in his daily life at some future date, this promise can be valid only if he knows from experience what such a promise entails. Since such a commitment may entail a radical change in his way of life, coming after years of living according to a fixed pattern, he cannot – however well-meaning he may be – have a realistic idea as to whether or not he would be able to carry it out. Only after he actually puts himself to the test for a substantial period of time will he be qualified to decide whether or not he can accept upon himself such a commitment for the rest of his life. Clearly, when it comes to marriage, this should not be tied in with any expectation to educate, or re-educate, the would-be partner – especially where such education would be required at almost every step.”

I feel sufficiently observant (and educated) to meet the needs of any frum woman, although I have a great deal to learn I would love to learn from my wife.

Either way I recommend the web version of the Rebbes “Eternal Joy – Volume 1, A Guide To Shidduchim & Marriage” – this page in Chapter Twelve: Whom to Decide Upon – Whom Not to Decide Upon

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Shidduch with kids – advice for becoming a step-parent

These articles seemed very relevant and since I’m open to marrying someone with kids, and B”H when I find someone who will marry me this appears to be sound advice. Lilly Lion writes about Stepmom Do’s and Don’ts and Elizabeth Kennedy writes about Becoming a Stepfather: Top Ten Things You Must Know.

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Breslovs agree – Bashert Is Bashert

Ozer Bergman, an editor for the Breslov Research Institute, a spiritual coach, and author of Where Earth and Heaven Kiss: A Practical Guide to Rebbe Nachman’s Path of Meditation, offers some renditions of Reb Noson’s prayers to find one’s bashert: here, from last weeks parasha.

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There’s only one rule – you have to marry a jewish girl

My father taught me that theres only one rule – “you have to marry a jewish girl”. If you want to be Jewish that is… and you’re part of a long line of Jews, because of you your children will be the first to break that chain. “The only way out is to convert and then you have to learn all the rules, don’t ask me them, I don’t know them”. My father taught me enough of the basics to get by, and the important things of course.
And I married a reform girl, who agreed to convert. We did the conversion and I learned all the rules. I always had it in me, a fascination about how to do it. Only when it was forced upon me did it start to make sense. I understand why it’s good to grow up with, a sense of normality.
It’s been almost a year since I’ve been with a woman, hopefully my divorce will be over soon. I mean I’ve been out a few times and I’m excited about my life ahead. I’m also excited about being close to the force, and what that means about how things will play out.

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39 things for singles to do

I’m not sure where this originated or who the original author is although my sense is that anyone – not only singles – can benefit from this.  Of course going through a divorce or any other hard time in life, it’s nice to get a gentle reminder about how good life really is. Please leave a comment to tell me your favorite number(s)… mine are #16 and #30.  Enjoy and make it a great day!
1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
4. Live with the 3 E’s — Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.
5. Make time to pray.
6. Play more games.
7. Read more books than you did in 2008.
8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.
9. Sleep for 7 hours.
10. Take a 10-30 minute walk daily. And while you walk, smile.
14. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
11. Don’t compare your life to others.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.
12. Don’t have negative thoughts on things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
13. Don’t overdo. Keep your limits.
14. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
15. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip.
16. Dream more while you are awake.
17..Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need….
18. Forget issues of the past. Don’t remind your partner with his/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.
19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don’t hate others.
20. Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil the present.
21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away; like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
23. Smile and laugh more.
24. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
25. Call your family often.
26. Each day give something good to others.
27. Forgive everyone for everything.
28.Spend time w/ people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6
29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
30. What other people think of you is none of your business.
31. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
32. Do the right thing!
33. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
34. G_D heals everything.
35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
37. The best is yet to come.
38. When you awake alive in the morning, thank G_D for it.
39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.

And someone said: “Life isn’t about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain!”

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Supported by Mishnah – so and so

Dr. Terri Orbuch, research professor at the University of Michigan and author of the new book “Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps to a New and Happy Relationship,” has found that some of the best relationship advice comes from people who are actually divorced.

In 1986, Orbuch embarked on a long-term study, supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which followed the relationships of 373 newlyweds. By 2012, 46% had divorced, about the same as the national average. In interviews with Orbuch, people who had divorced or ended a serious relationship over and over again brought up the same five issues that they would improve if they had the chance to do it all again.
Continue reading

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Shidduch – a Topic on my mind

I’ve finally found a use for this blog, I’ll be chatting about Shidduchim. It’s a new area for me so please excuse my naivety.  I decided to wear a yarmi full time some five years ago and that has now landed me in the position where a shidduch is my quest. I’ve been married for fourteen years and my wife finally acted upon the words she said before we were married the first time, she does not believe a man and a woman are meant to be together forever. Well I do, and I realise that a man and woman are meant to be together in this transmigration and the next, so this is my quest…. I hope I can be the man described by Lesley Silver-Winick in her article Finding Your Beshert

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Couple re-weds after 20 years, 3 kids

Extract from Sunday Times Aug 1 – we know these guys, well done! (reposted from a retired site, update 2020, Anthea sadly passed away a few years ago)

A Johannesburg couple finally got to have the wedding of their dreams – 20 years after they first said their I dos.

ORTHODOX AT LAST: Anthea Shalkoff with her husband, Farrel, and their children Jeyde, Eden and Harmonie

Until last Sunday Farrel Shalkoff and his wife, Anthea, were not regarded as Jewish enough – barring them and their children from a variety of traditional and religious Jewish rites.

Farrel was born to an Orthodox Jewish family and although they believed that Anthea was too, they discovered that she was a Reform Jew only on the eve of their wedding in 1990.

As a result they could not have the Orthodox Jewish wedding they had hoped for, and settled for a civil ceremony.

Although angry and rebellious at not being able to get the Orthodox blessing for the nuptials at the time, Farrel had a change of heart when his wife’s religious status barred him from offering the traditional blessing at his only brother’s bar mitzvah several years ago.

“You feel as though you belong but you don’t belong. There was always that feeling of being an outcast,” Anthea said this week.

On July 7 she finally completed her conversion programme and last weekend they found acceptance among the Jewish community of Highlands North in Johannesburg, when they had their wedding ceremony witnessed by 120 relatives and close friends, including five rabbis.

The 42-year-old mother of three had attended a Jewish high school and “as far as I was concerned, I was Jewish. I didn’t know any better. My mom told me that her mother had not done the mikvah (conversion) but my parents never told me that I was a Reform Jew.”

She only discovered this when she had to produce her mother’s marriage certificate for her own nuptials.

Anthea said most of her friends were shocked after seeing a message she posted on Facebook informing them of her conversion.

“They thought I was Jewish anyway. For the past 20 years, our lives were on hold.”

She said she couldn’t become a member of the synagogue they attended because she was not Orthodox and this had impacted on her daughters, Jeyde, 19, and Harmonie, 17, and her son, Eden, 13.

Because she had only converted recently, her children have not had their bat mitzvahs and bar mitzvah. They, too, will have to first become Orthodox Jews before they can be allowed to do this at the synagogue they attend.

Eden, who was enrolled at a Jewish school catering to Orthodox Jews in June last year, was barred from attending lessons in August – ostensibly because of “gaps in his education”, said Farrel.

But “as much as we were upset at the time, we’re not upset any more”, he said.

Once Eden converts to Orthodox Judaism, they plan to have his bar mitzvah at Israel’s Western Wall – the retaining wall of the Temple Mount.

“This will be our way of saying sorry to our children for having put them through so much in the past 20 years.”

Farrel said they were determined to put all three children through the conversion programme to “bring the conversion journey to a close”.

His wife, according to Farrel, had unsuccessfully tried on three previous occasions to complete the conversion programme.

“We rebelled because we couldn’t believe that Anthea wasn’t Jewish and we didn’t feel she had to convert.

“Anthea is one of the most religious Jews I’ve ever known,” said Farrel.

Her conversion programme had also been interrupted because the family had moved to different provinces over the years.

During her last conversion programme, which started in June last year, Anthea had to, among other things, learn to read prayers in Hebrew; learn to observe the Sabbath days as well as Jewish holidays and festivals, and learn to identify foods that were kosher.

She was also tested orally by a rabbi every two or three months to determine her progress.

“Finally, she had to stand before three members of the Beth Din (Jewish court) who decided whether she was ready to convert or not,” said Farrel, who had to live in a granny flat during the last three months of his wife’s conversion programme as the couple were not allowed to the live together during this time.

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