5 Adar 2 5765
Influencing … vs. Being Influenced
I would like to thank you for your continued chizuk and aytzas for post seminary girls. I’ve been out of seminary for 4 years now and I would just like to say that one of the things that came across strongly in my seminary for coming back to Chutz la’aretz was “Asay licha rav, v’kana licha chaver.” While I tried extremely hard to adhere to that as my recipe for success, I would like to comment that I know the Rav I became close to was a life saver for me and something I needed and continue to need tremendously. However there are times when finding a rebbetzin would be more appropriate. There are questions that I feel while I worked so hard to maintain a relationship with a rav that I really do need a rebbetzin, whether in shidduchim, friends, family, or general hashkafos. I just thought I would put that out there.
My question really is, is that like I said I’ve tried very hard to keep to my recipe for success and more so recently due to B”H many of my friends being married, my chevra has become more limited and select. There is one girl in particular who when I came back from seminary really was cautious of becoming friends with due to her attitude and perspective on shidduchim and in general.
Well, four years have passed and recently we’ve become much closer. I entered into the relationship knowing she needed alot of help, and it would take work on my part, but I felt she would benefit tremendously from my upbeat and optimistic outlook on life. Well, she has benefited and I know she’s doing better and this relationship is good for her. However, I am scared for myself. I am a tremendously influenced person and while I’m working hard on helping her, I know she has affected me in many ways and it scares me.
My question is, while I know this relationship benefits her and is extremely healthy for her, I am scared what it is doing to me.
What should I do?
Thank you so much for all that you do for all of us out there!
Dear JemSem Reader,
Firstly, I’d like to comment on the issue that you mentioned before your question. You are absolutely correct! Obviously every girl must have a Rav, certainly for halachic questions and possibly for aitzah questions. But, for this second category, a woman who is a Rebbetzin, teacher or role model can be very helpful as well. Sometimes, woman to woman is just more beneficial, and each can more easily understand each other. As you said there are many things that are simply more appropriate to consult with a woman about. If there is something that you are uncomfortable discussing with a Rav for Tzynius reasons and the like, you can speak to a woman and perhaps she can ask the question for you. So, it is surely important to find both a Rav and a woman to help you with all of the different shaiylos, aitzahs, and life situations that come up. In seminary you did that, so it makes a lot of sense do to that post seminary as well!
Now, onto the question about befriending this girl. The general guidelines about these things is that your surroundings and friends most definitely affect you. This is why there is so much emphasis on choosing carefully what you are doing [post seminary and any time] and who you’ll be doing it with etc. It sounds like you have been keeping the right kind of company and have worked hard to ensure what types of people you hang out with. In the bein adam l’chavero aspect, helping another person, [bringing them closer to Hashem, being supportive emotionally, giving to them in various ways etc] is obviously a huge mitzvah, but each situation has to be weighed carefully as to how it penetrates and works on you. Perhaps you are the right person to befriend her or perhaps not.
Because of the many factors that I do not know, it is therefore difficult for me to guide you specifically about this. You say that you are a ‘tremendously influenced’ person, which can mean alot of things about your personality and emotional make up. You mention that she has affected you in many ways, but I’m not sure exactly what that means. You were hesitant to get involved in the first place because of her ‘attitude and perspective on shidduchim and in general’, again, this can mean a variety of things.
I would suggest that you take this important question to the Rav or Rebbetzin [that we were just talking about in the first section of the letter!] and truly fill them in about who you are and what is going on with this girl. The answer as to how you should conduct yourself can go really either way. If you have a strong base of friends who are heading in the same direction as you and you are m’chazeik each other and personality wise you can take it, then you should go for it. But if your situation isn’t the above, or if her influences are really in a bad direction, it might be correct to get someone else to help her. The concept of caring for another in a bein adam l’chavero realm does not always mean that it has to be you do it. You can also give assistance to her by being a middle person to connect her to the right people that can help her in a more direct way. In other words, truly tending to another persons needs can mean that you are really watching out for them by giving them others who can better deal with the situation. V’ahavta L’rei’acha Kamocha isn’t ‘if I can’t help them, so let me just move onto the next person that I can help’. True concern for another means going that extra mile. So, by going and getting clear cut and personal aitzah, you will see which path you should take, for this is definitely a weighty question.
With Warmest Wishes,