Sunday, May 29, 2005
Broken Over a White Shirt
[Edited for her privacy. E-mail me if you have any questions.]
There is a kabalistic thought that when the stars are not in your favor, stay out of fate's way. Don't show your face. Wear a hood, stay at home, anything. Just don't show your face or you'll be attacked by the angels.
Today was one of those days where nothing would go right. I felt it this morning when I woke up. I had a bad feeling all day. I felt it when I picked up the girl I am shidduch dating from the house and brought her to our destination point; I knew something was wrong. I noticed it when my car hit the curb when turning the corner; I'm a very careful driver; this shouldn't have happened. I should have heard her non-emotional answers to my questions about her music when we were in the car. Instead I decided to dig as deep as I can to find out all about her deeper parts; perhaps I would strike oil. Instead, I hit a rock.
At one point when the day at the boardwalk seemed to be going well, she changed and started talking about how she can't be herself with me in my white shirt. To her, it was obvious to the world that we were religious Jews and she felt the pressure to conform to act the way she imagines that religious Jews are supposed to act. Instead, she started a rampage of questions about my clothing, asking me if I wear exclusively white shirts. I told her that I believed that a religious person should dress in black and white and she said that if so, she can not be with me and that I must take her home because she cannot move forward in the relationship.
I tried to speak to her in the car but the more I said, the worse it got. She told me that she didn't think we were going to work out and that she's ending the relationship because she doesn't want to be the cause of me becoming less religious by forcing me to dress in color. She didn't want me resenting her for liking color in a man, and she didn't want to bring me down in my yiddishkeit (religious) observance.
After delaying it as much as I could to try to talk things out, I dropped her off and she ran into the house half in tears. I couldn't figure out what happened. I called my shadchan (matchmaker) and I told her what happened. "What?!? She broke up with you because you thought blue shirts are less Chossidish (modest) than white shirts? Who taught you that?!?" When I answered that it was her husband that told me that, she called him over as if he did something really terrible. I felt bad for getting him in trouble and I hoped that I didn't cause a shalom bayis (peaceful house) problem between them. It turns out that either I misunderstood him or that he gave me overly strict advice thinking that it would be appropriate for me. Nevertheless, I felt deceived, and now I was about to lose the woman I've been dating since before Pesach (Passover)... over a white shirt.
Everybody called everybody to resolve this mess, but there was no resolution. I went over to 770 (the Lubavicher Rebbe's shul) and I was going to write a p"n (pidyon nefesh / letter to the Rebbe bearing of the soul) to ask the Rebbe for guidance to understand what happened and to figure out if there is a resolution. I wrote to him a few days before to tell him about the then current situation where she was having doubts and I wanted a resolution of these doubts. However, what I did NOT want was a break up of this shidduch. I wondered to myself whether this was the result of a physical manifestation of his answer. I tried to console the Rabbi from his embarrassment from not giving me the full picture about how it was also normal to wear colored shirts, and I wondered on what other topics I had been misinformed. I couldn't believe my relationship was going to end because of a lost battle defending a non-existant dogma.
After speaking to the people whom she was staying at, I got the message that she was afraid of altering her life to become over-the-edge religious and that the situation might be hopeless and I might not get a chance to fix this one. I walked downstairs to the basement of 770, and the phone rang. It was the girl. She didn't know why she called, but she nevertheless felt that she needed to.
Thinking about how I was deceived about the necessity of the white shirt, and wondering what else I am overly strict on, I decided to have the opinion of "who am I to judge her or to force her to be something she is not?" I knew she was religious and I knew that she wants to raise a Jewish home. The two quirks are 1) watching movies, and 2) colored clothing. I told her neither was an issue. The goal here is to grow together, not to force her into a situation she is not comfortable with.
After speaking to her for a few minutes, I suggested that we see each other face-to-face. I headed over to the house that she was staying at, and we sat outside drinking apple juice. I told her not to fear about the clothing, and that any issue can be resolved with open communication.