2 Kislev 5778 / Monday, November 20, 2017 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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Just Can't Wait    

Just Can't Wait

What's the difference between a man who lives his life according to his physical appetites and a gorilla? Not much; maybe the amount of hair that each has on his chest...


Dear Racheli,
My wife and I have started becoming more observant, and now she wants to start keeping family purity. I am not happy about this and have asked her to reconsider. It's not easy for a man to wait so long. Actually, it's borderline torture. I don't want this issue to turn into a big fight, but I also feel my point of view is worth something...
You're right. Your point of view is definitely worth something. However, this issue is not about your perception versus your wife's perception. It's about your increasing commitment to Judaism. First of all, let me congratulate you on your decision to become more Torah-observant. I think the hardest time is at the beginning, when you decide to stop living your previous secular lifestyle and make spirituality the focus of your life.
It's not easy to give up things that you've been used to your entire life, like eating whatever and wherever you want. As a new BT, you may feel that leading a Torah life is more restrictive and not carefree. You no longer go by your own rules- you have decided that the Creator knows more than you do, and therefore you will go by His rules because you trust that He knows what's best for you.
And, believe me, He sure does.
Many of the mitzvot seem like they have no rationale- but this is because we just haven't grasped the full understanding of each mitzvah. Even when we think we understand the point behind the mitzvah, we are still light years from really understanding how it works and why it works. But that's okay! We're not G-d, and we really don't need to bother with trying to know everything. All we need to know is that the mitzvot are supposed to help us empower our souls and thus create a stronger and closer connection with our Root, which is G-d.
Even though I am not a man, I am married to one, so I am pretty familiar with your species. Men, like all male animals, are controlled by their physical desires. Carnivorous eating, macho displays of dominance (such as chest-pounding), and willingness to mate are expressed by any male animal, whether he lives on the Serengeti Plain or is watching Monday night football at the local female-degrading restaurant.
Men, by nature, are really no more than animals with an intellect. And I'm not saying it in a bad way! But if you think about it, what's the difference between a man who lives his life according to his base desires and a predator such as, oh, I don't know...a gorilla? Maybe the amount of hair on his body, if anything. I have no doubt that if men didn't have to talk, they would probably grunt their orders to their wives, just like gorillas do!
Okay, enough with the man-bashing. Sorry for getting so carried away.
I was actually trying to make a point, though. The Torah has set up certain rules in order for us to overcome our animal natures and connect to our internal holiness, our individual sparks that are a part of G-d Himself. We simply can't overcome human or animal nature on our own, and G-d knew that- which is why He gave us rules that are uncomfortable for us to follow.
Okay, so you don't like having to wait. I get that. But think about it this way- think about your favorite restaurant, one that you only go to for birthdays and anniversaries. It's a really special evening when you get to enjoy the fine food and ambiance. Now imagine that you won the lottery and suddenly, you are able to afford going to that fancy restaurant every night. You might enjoy it the first few days, but what happens after?
The novelty wears off. The excitement fades. I mean, seriously- can you really enjoy their rib-eye steak and chocolate souffle as much on the fifth night as you did on the first night? Even though you may be tempted to say yes, you know that the answer is really no. That's how life works. If you get too much of something, it starts to lose its appeal and excitement.
This is why a married couple must spend nearly half the month apart. It builds their desire and longing for each other, and ideally the wife becomes as a bride on her wedding night for her husband. As explained in the wonderful book, Ohel Rachel, the mitzvah of marital relations is actually the root and foundation of the entire marriage. Therefore, it is of extreme importance that the couple follow the Torah's directives if they want their marriage to flourish.
Keeping two weeks apart is not easy, but it will enable you to focus on connecting with your wife in intimate ways that are not physical. Talking together, going out for a nice walk in the evening, and other ways of non-physical communication will only make you grow closer and your relationship grow stronger.
Okay, I'm sure you get all that. But here's something I must add. Being that you said the waiting is “borderline torture”, I have a feeling that you're adding to the torture. Jon, you must be honest with yourself- are you guarding your eyes? Or are you allowing yourself to enjoy all of the indecent sights that are constantly bombarding you? Are you adding to that torture by going online and looking at things that are absolutely forbidden, especially since you are married?
Most men would say, “What's the big deal? We're only looking...” Well, there is a big problem with that. There is a famous saying in Judaism: “What the eye sees, the heart desires.” If you see a gorgeous woman, your heart will desire her, even if you don't feel that desire on a conscious level. There is no way your wife is first place in your heart if you're desiring other women.
This is one of the main reasons why so many marriages fall apart- one day you come home and don't give your wife proper love and attention, because it's been stolen by the beautiful woman you saw earlier in the day. So she starts nagging you because she feels that lack of attention, and the next thing you know, you're stuck in a death spiral of less attention/nagging/fighting until the marriage is over.
Here's another key area you must understand: if you're not shomer habrit, you are also creating tremendous judgment for yourself and your wife. There are two major problems with not guarding the covenant. First, you're creating millions of “naked souls” and this completely disconnects you from G-d and everything holy. Second, you're robbing your wife of your desire to be with her, since you've already fulfilled your base desires in a selfish way. The two weeks off are supposed to build your desire to be with her, not just physically, but emotionally as well. Since, as a result of desecrating the brit, you no longer feel the need to connect with your wife, you will not make the necessary efforts to build up your marriage as you should. And the death spiral continues.
You know, marriage is something that doesn't automatically grow on its own. If you're not constantly feeding it, then by default you're contributing to its demise.
Jon, I promise you that if you follow the Torah's advice in this area, the love you and your wife have for each other will grow so beautifully, and you will taste the bliss of what a true soulmate marriage is.
Go out and get yourself The Garden of Peace by Rav Shalom Arush and The Coming  Revolution by Rav Zamir Cohen (which explains the physical reasons to separate for the two weeks each month.) Also, listen to Rabbi Brody's powerful CD, Eyes of  Holiness.
Warmest Blessings,
* * *
Feel free to send Racheli your questions, particularly in the areas of marriage, dating, child-rearing and women's role; write her at racheli@breslev.co.il

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