Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A life on hold

She's been living in her current residence for over half a year. She has a permanent, full-time job. Yet, she thinks of her current residence as temporary. Not because the residence is not in her name. But because, to her, any residence is temporary until she gets married. I know this because she told me so.

Compare that to the attitude of the woman who was kind enough to invite me to her home for Shabbat (Sabbath) lunch last Saturday. She and one of her guests are both single women looking for new apartments. Yet neither one of them talks about their current, or future, residences as if they were just temporary stopovers en route to an "mrs degree." Maybe it's because they're both older. But frankly, I doubt it.

It's not as if she has no life at all. She loves rock music. She goes to movies. She spends Shabbat with friends. But I can't help thinking that, in her mind, to a certain extent, her life is in a holding pattern, waiting for "permission to land" in a marriage to a "bashert" (destined spouse) who may or may not ever appear. I hear the way she talks about decisions that she wouldn't have to make, holiday observances that would be "taken care of," in a manner of speaking, if she were married.

Her attitude reminds me of one that I encountered in my own single days. Someone at a party asked the host whether he had any potato chips. The host replied that he never kept potato chips in his place because he didn't have a wife to clean up the crumbs. I left as soon as I could do so with a semblance of courtesy, and never went back.

I know that I was right to teach our son to "bentsch lecht" (light Sabbath and holiday candles), and to plan on teaching our daughter—whom, as it turns out, we never had—to make kiddush (the blessing over an beverage other than water that praises Hashem for give us that special day). Never did I wish to raise a child who felt that s/he couldn't be a complete Jew without a spouse.

I'm not saying that being single and Jewish is easy. Far from it. Judaism is very much a family-oriented religion It can be pretty lonely out there even for married people without children, and all the more so for those who aren't married.

But reality is reality, even when "reality bites," as the saying goes. Nobody asked me whether I wanted a child with hearing loss, delayed social-skills development, delayed emotional maturation, and delayed learning, either. Tough. You play the hand that life and/or Hashem, depending on your point of view, deals you.

I can't help thinking that putting one's life on hold while waiting for Hashem to drop a spouse in one's lap is a chillul Hashem, a desecration of G-d's name. He gave you a life. So praise His name by making the most of it.


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