Why Begin Again…Up Here?

In the brief break between the Shabbos and last two Yom Tovs of Pesach…I was cooking up a storm.  My husband’s mind, however, was elsewhere.  He’d found IT.  The Shabbat RV 2.0 that he’d been looking for.  And, he needed to wrap things up as much as possible before the Yom Tov began…on what was a major holiday for everyone else around us, Easter Sunday.

To say he was a little stressed is an understatement.

He felt the full weight of his family’s trust on his shoulders as he worked through paperwork and phone calls.  Finally, he called his father for a little financial advice.  This is almost more stressful than everything else combined.  My husband hasn’t always had the warmest relationship with his father and stepmother, but it’s gotten better since I met him.  His father loves him and has a hard time connecting with him since they are both so different.  However, he loves it when my husband asks his advice and he has good experience to draw on when it comes to financial matters, so my husband called him.

Me?  I was juggling 3 things cooking at once and my 11-year-old daughter who was starting to come down with something.  I didn’t have a spare brain cell to process much.

When he hung up the phone and came back to talk to me, I could tell it had been an interesting conversation.  He went through the financial aspects and his plan, which all sounded logical, then he took a deep breath.

“And he wanted to know why we’re doing all this, up here, when there’s no chance of us finishing it up here.”

He didn’t need to explain what “this” was.  You see, Mr. Safek’s father is a happy secular Jew.  He occasionally will attend Synagogue services on major holidays at a Reform Synagogue, but part of the reason he and Mr. Safek’s mother didn’t work out was due to differences in observance.  She always wanted to be more observant and he always wanted to be less.  He’s never quite understood why his son should care what Orthodox Rabbis think of his halakhic status or why we’ve gone through what we’ve gone through trying to change that.

I know that these kind of conversations are difficult for my husband.  No one can make you doubt yourself like a well-meaning parent.  His father knows the pain we’ve gone through, the years of work without a light at the end, and doesn’t want to see us suffer more.  His intentions are kind.  To him, it didn’t make sense to try to observe Shabbat somewhere it is so difficult to do so, particularly when the odds of it resulting in us converting here are low and we’ll probably just have to start over again with a new Rabbi when we move.  However, doubt is a luxury we can’t afford these days, with the price of hope so high.

I tell my husband all the good reasons we have and that we cannot know how this all will play out.  Maybe we can’t convert until we move, as we suspect.  At least by doing things this way, we’ll be more prepared when we do move.  Then, there’s the question…is observance really about conversion?  If we’re only observing mitzvos with some end goal in mind, is that really the point of it all?  Shouldn’t we observe Shabbat…as an example…simply to observe Shabbat?

It’s true, we have no control over the timeline or outcome.  We can’t push or pull this along in any way.  We are at the mercy of the whims of Rabbis and Rabbinical courts.  But…we also have to trust that G-d is in charge above it all and that He will guide us to where we need to be when the time is right.  There is only a tiny fraction of a part of all this that we have any control over…and that’s ourselves.  We can continue to learn and grow in observance and teach our family.  And that’s it.  We can’t know anything beyond that.

Our daughter, sickly as she was getting, had the best response to the news about the Shabbat RV 2.0.  She simply said, “Yay!  No more breaking Shabbos!”

Yes.  And that is why we’re doing this up here, whether it has any chance of bringing a tangible result or not.  It’s because we want to be as close to Shomer Shabbos as we can be in this state and observe as many mitzvos as we can.  The truth is…there is no finish line and this is something we’ll need to work on beyond conversion for the rest of our lives, continuing to grow and learn and do better at observing mitzvos.  There is no time to waste catching up and, one day, somewhere, our halakhic status will also catch up.


4 thoughts on “Why Begin Again…Up Here?

  1. Congratulations on the new and improved version of your Shabbos RV, and may this one bring you much happiness!
    As to parents being secular, when my father-in-law, may he rest in peace, met me for the first time, he took me aside and asked,”I know my son is crazy, but you seem to be a reasonable woman, an intellectual with a Ph D, why did you buy into his silly ideas?” I had to explain to him that I didn’t “buy into,” but was born into and brought up observant under the prohibitions and persecution of communist Russia. Thereafter we became great friends. So all is not lost!
    Best of luck to you and best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had a similar thing happen when I met my husband’s father and step-mother. She actually hugged me and said, “We’re so happy that he’s dating a non-Jew. This way he’ll give up all that Orthodox stuff!” I bit my tongue, but I was already working on conversion at that point and it rather hurt that they automatically assumed I’d pull him away from observance. It had been a long, painful process for me coming to terms with the fact our relationship was problematic and I’d often tried to break things off rather than harm him spiritually.

      I can see now, it was all beshert and that he was meant to have someone go through this all with him that would be able to understand better what he was going through. What if he’d met a nice Jewish woman and then his status issues had come up? Would she have been able to stick with him through all this? Who knows, but I think we were brought together for a reason.

      We have a good relationship with his parents, we just don’t discuss Judaism much. Their way works for them and our way…is a different way.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We’ve had to go through a similar issue as well, but not for such a long time, though. My husband is a Cohen, and I had been married before. Cohanim are not allowed to marry divorcees. Before we made our decision, we asked a local Rav, who couldn’t rule, so he contacted Beis Din in New York, who researched and debated it for a couple of months, and finally sent it over to Israel, where the ruling was made to annul my first marriage because it was a civil marriage by a law of a country that no longer existed. Thus we were able to marry, and so it states in my K’suba. We only had to wait four months.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t imagine how hard that was, but it’s such a beautiful story now. It probably is hard sometimes for cohains to marry! After a few years, we were allowed to do a small, civil ceremony with our Rabbi’s approval, mostly for the purposes of insurance and financial matters. One day, G-d willing, we hope to have a small wedding with a Chuppah.

    I am so glad everything worked out for you in the end and I’m sure your patience was rewarded with years of happiness!


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