Sorry to keep firing these blogs at you, I hope the content has maintained its intense nature. [To my mom’s husband: If you ever stumble onto this site or onto this post, please don’t take it personally. I am trying to figure out what to do because you have put my mom in a very sensitive position and I am trying to keep the shalom bayis (peace of home) between you guys. What I write here as unfortunate as it is, is the truth. This is how I feel. This does not reflect on how I feel about you, or the admiration I have for your perseverance and your character. You have always disagreed with my religious views, and this is just a reflection of our disagreement. Please forgive me if I have hurt your feelings.]
I would like some clarification on the best way to handle a situation that has come up. As you know, my mom’s husband is allegedly religious. Let’s pretend his food is kosher, and let’s pretend that his home will be kosher for Pesach. He is what people call a misnaged; he picks the parts of religion that he agrees with, and discards the rest as nonsense. He loves articles in the Op-Ed section of the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune by secular authors who write these dry, heartless articles about Judaism. He hates Lubavichers and Chabad with every fiber of his being, and whenever he has something good to say, there is always a snide comment right around the corner. He doesn’t fail to repeatedly object to me being Lubavich as if I have been swept into some cult that controls my every thought. To him Lubavich is the big franchise.
The issue is this. I am almost thirty years old. I have never gone to his house for a high holiday except for Sukkos, and I don’t plan on adding to my holiday visits. I don’t enjoy going there – whenever I visit, I feel like a captive. I am forced to talk about the secular topics he wants to discuss. Most of the time I am plainly bored out of my mind by the un-intellectual, un-jewish conversations. There was a time that I would inject yiddishkeit into the experience, but I found that this was counterproductive because of the cynicism I received from him towards religion as a response. There was also a time where I would work with him in his goal to make my brother religious, but at every step he countered me in my being religious and he caused more harm than good because he taught my brother that one does not have to follow the mitzvahs (commandments) to be a religious Jew. With every fiber of my being, I disagree with him on this point. For this reason, I no longer participate in his productions. This is as much as I can say without treading all over the prohibition against Loshon Hara (evil tongue).
If you asked me whether I have any question whether I want to go or not, the answer is clearly no. There is no doubt that I would rather be on the other side of the world than to be in his home for Passover, or any other holiday. The only problem is that my mother is involved, and I love her dearly. From the day that they decided not to go away for Passover (then it was okay that I not attend their seders), my mom’s husband has been giving her grief and causing shalom bayis problems. Last year, he did not speak to her for over a week because he was angry that I didn’t participate in one of his holiday events.
The one problem is that he has made the ultimatum that if I do not come to his seder and fulfill my family obligation, he will not to allow me to come to his house ever again and he will not come to my house when I am married and when I have a family. While this doesn’t cause me much grief, it bothers me because my mom who I believe will want more than anything to spend time as a grandmother and as a part of my family will be forbidden by her husband to see me or associate with my family. This will cause more problems for her than I can imagine, and while I would like to say that I would be the cause, I am not – but I could prevent this from happening by attending his seder. My logic however tells me that he is fishing for reasons to cause trouble and if it is not this that sets him aflame, it will be something else down the line. He has always been looking for a fight.
So this is my dilemma. My current answer is unemotionally not to attend. I simply already have plans, and I am not interested in inconveniencing everybody because he has his need to pull together a family (not even his family) at gunpoint. The two words I can describe him is that he is an emotional terrorist and he is a love vampire. Other than the fact that he is a loving man who has made my mother very happy and loved, when it comes to religion, this is how I see him. Any advice you have is welcome. I wish you all a peaceful, kosher, and freiliche (happy) Pesach (Passover).