I hope you are well. I am writing to you because I have a personal situation that I am currently having a very difficult time overcoming.
My name is Ellen S. and I am 21 years old and I am about to start my senior year at a University in the USA east coast. I did not grow up observant, but for many years now my family has been becoming more religious and observant. I am now Shomeret Shabbat and I keep a strict Kosher diet, and I am making an effort to wear skirts for most of the time, though this is difficult for me. Having not been observant and attended public school growing up, I found it difficult to make Jewish friends, let alone religious friends.
However, when I got to college, this entirely changed. I became involved in Jewish organizations (Hillel & Chabad) and even chose to eat at a separate Kosher dining hall held by the Chabad on campus. I finally met people and made friends who were Modern Orthodox, people I could relate to, and I began experiencing Judaism (especially Shabbat) with my friends and peers, and it means the world to me.
I was introduced to a guy, who I liked very much, who ultimately rejected me in the end for being “too religious”. I struggled with this. I felt as though I was rejected for something I could not change, and wondered if there was a way I could “sacrifice” some aspects in order to make it work. I was rejected for one of the most important and valuable aspects of my life. I had already felt “alone” in this in the sense that I had no peers or friends to share this with. It was especially difficult because I had family members who disapprove of my immediate family’s decision to become religious. I began to think that I would be rejected for this and would be forced to either sacrifice it or take on more than I would ready to handle at this point in my life.
A few months later, and much to my surprise, I started becoming close with a friend of mine who I had met at the beginning of this past year. Initially, I had no interest as I was still trying to overcome my previous “break-up” but with time I began to open my eyes to what was in front of me. This guy grew up religious/Modern Orthodox, and it did not take too long until I was smitten. As a matter of fact, we were put on the same Birthright trip, and ended up spending the entire trip together. I began to see that he was the type of person I could see myself with. He was serious and kind, and most of all I appreciated his religiosity. I began to realize that this was what I wanted, and that I did not have to sacrifice anything, but on the contrary I had to embrace it and essentially gain more out of doing so. After the trip, him and I began our relationship and I really could not have been happier. As we were both religious, our relationship was not as secular as that term may imply.
We would spend Shabbat together and it was the most meaningful part of our relationship for me. I was finally appreciated and admired for all that I was rejected for before. I had also gone from being “alone” in this regard, to having someone very special and close to me to share it all with. In my eyes, we had an extremely meaningful relationship. I felt as though my life had changed completely and I really was happier than ever, as cliché as that sounds. Most of all, I loved the person I became and who I was around him. I changed for the better, and in a sense had an excuse to pursue becoming more religious. Having him by my side made this process so much easier for me. Before I questioned if I would be able to completely change my life style for someone else or even for myself, but I quickly realized that for him, or to be with him, I would do anything, the whole nine yards so to say, in regards to being religious of course.
I am most certainly not the type of person who can go from one to another, so I was completely invested in him and in the relationship. I did all that I could, with the most sincere intentions.
Essentially, we broke up because his feelings had changed and it “was not working for him” anymore. I am completely devastated. In all of this, I lost my best friend, somebody I respected and held to such a high esteem. He was the best thing that had happened to me, yet all of a sudden I was not it anymore for him. As I had the most sincere intentions and never did anything wrong (even according to him) I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that it is over. More so, I am hurt because of the way he had gone about ending our relationship, he was rude and at times very disrespectful, and I could not recognize him anymore and I did not understand what I did to warrant such a break up. It has been a few months but I am having an extremely difficult time letting it go. I miss him very much and it breaks my heart that we went from being so close, to him becoming so indifferent.
I would do anything in the world to have things back the way they were, but I know very well that it is most likely not going to happen.
I know that everything happens for a reason and that G-d Willing everything will work out for the best, but now I am having a very difficult time understanding what purpose of it all is. Things had changed so rapidly and as I mentioned earlier, I just can’t seem to wrap my head around everything. I know that break-ups are by far not the most terrible thing in the world, I’ve gone through it before, and may have to again, but this time it is especially difficult. It has taken a huge toll on me.
I am dreading having to go back and face the fact that we most likely won’t even speak. I’ll have to do everything we did together alone, and will most likely have to watch him with someone else soon. It breaks my heart, but I do not want to stay in this state of mine. I know I should be happy that things are the way that they are. As it is a blessing, that I hope to realize soon. I am most definitely never going to sacrifice this part of my life, and I suppose that was the point of this, for me to understand what I need to look for in life. It just really hurts and I am struggling very much.
I no longer know what to do or how to approach my situation. Logically I understand that there is nothing I can do. I have no doubt that it is for the best, but I would do anything for another chance or the strength and faith to move forward.
Compared to the life-and-death issues you deal with, I know that this is so insignificant, and I am embarrassed to bother you with such “problems”, but I am desperate to get help and seek closure.
Thank you so much for your time.
First of all, I bless you with the strength and fortitude to move forward. Please don't apologize about your “problems” being insignificant – you are a daughter of Hashem, and what bothers you is just as significant as anything else in the world.
A daughter of Israel doesn't deserve to be broken-hearted. If people knew that the Torah considers upsetting or misleading another person (issur onaat devarim) just as bad - even worse - than eating pork, then they wouldn't play with other people's feelings. In other words, they wouldn't go on a date unless there were very serious prospects of marriage. Allow me to clarify:
We don't date in Judaism in order to "have a good time" or to seek companionship. The secular notion of dating is totally foreign to and in violation of Torah principles. Rarely, does it lead to a good outcome, only broken hearts. What's more, what people on dates call love is no more than empty and baseless infatuation, selfish bodily indulgence and taking advantage. Even if a dating couple is observant and "shomer negia", in other words, they refrain from touching, the more a young man and a young women spend time together, the more they're asking for trouble. The "Yetzer" (evil inclination) of a twenty-year old is like rocket fuel - it's really strong. Usually, the wall of not touching one another crumbles on the third or fourth date.
Hashem doesn't complain about His creations. He knows that you were born in a non-religious background and that you're a university student. He doesn't expect you to go cold turkey on dating and to start doing "shidduchim" like a Bet Yaakov girl from Williamsburg. But He has shown where dating has taken you - nowhere but a broken heart. That means we have to change something.
I feel throughout the tone of your letter that your emuna needs reinforcement. Even though your first guy rejected you for being "too religious", you in your own words still have problems with dressing the way a modest young lady should dress. With strengthened emuna, we yearn to do Hashem's will. Also, if your emuna was stronger, you wouldn't stomach a lukewarm guy, like the first one. You'd want a person who has a strong relationship with Hashem - we're talking much more than weekend “Yiddishkeit” and eating kugel in the Hillel House on Shabbat. We're talking about a person who spends an hour a day speaking to Hashem every day. I don't mean "frum" - I mean a strong believer; this is what you should strive to be. As far as a soul mate goes, look for a guy with a good heart and strong emuna. A young man with a good heart and strong emuna will think 102 times before he hurts a young lady's feelings. Such a young man won't go on a date unless if he doesn't think that it will result in marriage.
Where will you find such a young man? Start praying.
I strongly recommend that you urgently read The Garden of Emuna, The Garden of Gratitude, In Forest Fields, and Women's Wisdom. If you do, I guarantee you'll be happy.
It's better to be lonely that to hang out with unworthy and not-serious people. But with Hashem in your life, you'll never be lonely. Read the four above mentioned books, and G-d willing, you'll be married soon. A Jewish wife and mother surpasses any status that a Rutgers degree will give you.
One last point: start thinking about aliya.
I pray for your success and happiness.
Blessings always, LB
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