11 Adar A 5779 / Saturday, February 16, 2019 | Torah Reading: Tetzaveh
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Me or the Mask?    

Me or the Mask?

Debbie was shocked and angry. This was not the man she married or the life she had imagined. She wanted to continue going out at night to restaurants and movies…


As a child we develop different ways of coping with a dysfunctional family.


But no matter what the scenario may be and what maladaptive behavior is formed, a false self takes the place of the real one.


Being artificial, the person is unable to form honest and lasting relationships.


That's when many people decide to seek therapy. In all cases the goal of the client is to face himself and discard the false image he created in order to get the love and respect he craves.


The healthier we are, the healthier our relationships will be. But a relationship can only be real if we take the risk of self-exposure. One risk is that you may be rejected, ignored or merely tolerated by some people; you may just not be their cup of tea. Although God loves us unconditionally and so should we, others have the choice of liking us or not. As the saying goes, “Some will, some won't, so what.”


Many years ago I worked with a young married couple who were not getting along. It was an interesting story and it taught me a big lesson.


The man, Josh, had dated for several years but hadn't met “the one”. He was a gentle, easy-going man who wanted a simple religious lifestyle.


He returned to his native California for a break from learning and also to try dating there.


Although he had become quite religious while living in Israel, he hooked up with some old friends who were not so observant and they convinced him to go with them to a rock concert. In order not to look weird, Josh decided to put on an old pair of jeans and a t-shirt as opposed to his usual black and white attire. At the concert he met a pretty girl who was somewhat observant but not nearly as religious as Josh wanted to be.


For several weeks they dated and Josh fell in love. In a desperate attempt to win her, he allowed himself to do things that he wouldn't have normally done; he went to bars and movies and wore a baseball cap instead of a kippa.


A short time later, Debbie accepted Josh's marriage proposal and looked forward to an exciting new life. After the wedding they flew to Israel, back to the small religious settlement where Josh had an old caravan. Josh put his suit on, went back to learning, worked as a repairman, and resumed his quiet lifestyle.


His new wife, Debbie, was shocked and angry. This was not the man she married or the life she had imagined. She wanted to continue going out at night to restaurants and movies. But now that Josh was married he wasn't interested in a night life. He wanted to learn Torah.  Debbie felt frustrated and betrayed. She was bored living out on the settlement and couldn't find anyone who understood her.


Despite Josh's profuse apologies for misrepresenting himself, the damage was done. Debbie wanted out of the marriage. A few months later, despite some major compromises on Josh's part, it was all over.


The fact is that Josh lacked emuna that Hashem would bring him the woman he needed and ended up with someone who had a completely different set of values and no interest in introspection or change. Still, Hashem allowed them to get together in order to learn some important lessons.


The more we discover and accept ourselves, the more satisfying our lives will be. We will experience the pleasure of being loved as we are and not as a mask masquerading to placate others. Don't settle for less.



* * *

Rebbitzen Yehudit Channen is a certified Emuna Therapist for Breslev Israel. You can set up an appointment with her by contacting staff@breslev.co.il 

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