Category Archives: Archives 5764


Shevat 5764 – Steering Clear of Abuse Part 4 – by Gila Manolson

Steering Clear of Abuse
By Gila Manolson

JemSem presents Part 4 of a 4 part series on the subject of recognizing a potential abuser, excerpted and adapted from Gila Manolsons excellent and recommended book on shidduchim – “Head to Heart: What to Know Before Dating and Marriage”.
Head to Heart is available at Jewish bookstores. JemSem readers can get an autographed copy directly from the author at HaKablan 7/15 Har Nof Jerusalem.

PART FOUR: Checking Yourself

Now you know how to recognize an abusive person—and anyone, no matter how emotionally healthy, can become involved with one. Still, what might increase your chances?
The answer is usually something in your personal history. For example, you may have been overly criticized or emotionally deprived, leaving you low in self-esteem and hungry for love. Think deeply about your childhood. Did your parents accept you as you were, or only when you met their needs and expectations? Look at your patterns today. Do you jump into relationships? Do you cancel plans with a friend whenever a guy shows up? Does your self-worth depend upon another’s validation? Do you substitute physical closeness for emotional intimacy? If so, you’ll more likely not only attract someone who mistreats you, but lack the self-respect to recognize what’s happening. You’ll more easily buy his arguments that you cause his misbehavior. And you’ll more readily consent to marriage prematurely.
If you don’t love yourself enough, you may also fear emotional intimacy (see back in Chapter 2). An abusive relationship is never intimate, so it maintains the emotional distance with which you may be more comfortable.
Another risk factor is having been forced into a parental role at a young age. Did your parents turn to you for nurturance they should have been getting from each other or from friends? Were one or both of them often emotionally or physically absent, leaving you responsible for younger siblings? Abusive individuals are highly immature, crave nurturing desperately, and trigger that familiar feeling of being needed. At the same time, just as in childhood, the energy you devote to care taking is at the expense of understanding yourself and your own needs.
The strongest factor propelling you into an abusive relationship, however, is what you saw growing up. As I’ve said (in Chapter 3), we all unconsciously gravitate toward what feels familiar, which we consider “normal.” If your father abused your mother (or the reverse), you’re liable to marry an abuser or abuse your own spouse or children. Sometimes two products of a bad marriage create a good one in which they “rescue” each other from their respective pasts, but rarely. Unless treated, abuse usually passes on to the next generation.
Even if there wasn’t actual physical or verbal abuse in your family, behavior such as frequent yelling can be enough to make abuse seem familiar. Furthermore, wanting your own marriage to be calmer than your parents’ may lead to dangerous concessions. A young woman told me regarding the man she later divorced, “When we were dating, I saw his temper, but I was so afraid to re-experience the fighting I saw at home that I always let him have his way.” In so doing, she unwittingly empowered him to abuse her.
If you recognize yourself in any of the above descriptions, or if you’ve already been abused, get competent counseling now. If you’re addicted to unhealthy relationships, support groups may be even more effective. Don’t wait to see if problems arise after marriage. They will. Do the work first, and you’ll more likely marry a healthy person with whom you can have a healthy relationship.
A word of caution to older women, as well as any anxious about their prospects for marriage: Even if you’re emotionally solid, desperation can blind you to warning signs (especially if you’ve been admonished not to be “too picky”). Be careful. You can compromise on a lot and still end up happily married, but not on abusive behavior.

Remember: Anyone can wind up with an abuser. We must therefore all be educated—if not for our own sake, then maybe for a friend’s. Had I had known several years ago what I know now, I might have been able to prevent a couple of marriages that never should have happened.

For further reference, see:
· Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D., The Shame Borne in Silence: Spouse Abuse in the Jewish Community (Pittsburgh: Mirov Press, 1996). (To order, write P.O.B. 81971, Pittsburgh, Pa 15217, or call 1-800-851-8303.)
· Miriam Adahan, Living With Difficult People (Including Yourself) (Jerusalem:
Feldheim Publishers, 1991), ch. 11.

For advice about a personal situation, call:
· In the U.S.:
Shalom Task Force National Hotline
In New York: (718) 337-3700
Outside New York: 1-888-883-2323 (toll-free)
· In Israel:
Crisis Center for Religious Women
Office: (02) 655-5744/5
Beeper: (02) 629-4666, (03) 610-6666, (04) 830-6666, or (08) 627-8866—
beeper #23912
In other countries, contact your local rabbi, synagogue, or Jewish community


Teves 5764 – Steering Clear of Abuse Part 3 – by Gila Manolson

Steering Clear of Abuse
By Gila Manolson

JemSem presents Part 3 of a 4 part series on the subject of recognizing a potential abuser, excerpted and adapted from Gila Manolsons excellent and recommended book on shidduchim – “Head to Heart: What to Know Before Dating and Marriage”.
Head to Heart is available at Jewish bookstores. JemSem readers can get an autographed copy directly from the author at HaKablan 7/15 Har Nof Jerusalem.

The normal people you date will come from, at the very least, non-dysfunctional homes. If not, they’ll have undergone therapy and be willing to discuss their backgrounds and how they’ve worked through their problems.
It bears stressing: No one of the traits mentioned in the previous JemSem installments (where we presented sixteen traits of an abusive personality) indicates an abusive personality. Just as in a connect-the-dots picture, you must “connect” several characteristics for an abusive picture to emerge. Doing so requires stepping back and looking as objectively at possible at the other person and your interactions with him.

Once a relationship is off the ground, control (the first trait described) will become especially prominent and can be the key in identifying a potential abuser. The stumbling block is that an abuser’s control tactics can be wonderfully flattering. Indeed, if you’re wondering, “Why would anyone want to marry someone with any of these traits?” this is why. He may insist that you remain available via cellphone because he misses you so much. He may dictate your clothes and hairstyle because he loves looking at you. He may interrogate you about your activities because he’s concerned about you. He may limit your interactions with others because he wants to spend all his time with you. He may be jealous if he sees you speaking to another male and push you to get engaged before you’re ready, because he knows you and he are meant for each other.

Eventually, however, this attention will reveal itself for what it is. Once you’re engaged, he’ll try to get his way in all wedding decisions. And once you’re married, he’ll attempt to govern every detail of your life, robbing you of your personhood.

There are at least three ways to test whether the dating behaviors I’ve described stem from infatuation or a desire for control. One is simply to see how he reacts when you don’t acquiesce. When you tell him, “I don’t want to leave my cellphone on tonight,” does he argue or respect your privacy? When you tell him, “If you don’t like this outfit, I won’t wear it on our dates,” does he urge you to stop wearing it altogether or respect your right to choose your wardrobe? When you tell him, “I’ll be spending this Shabbat with friends,” does he get upset or respect your right to your own social life? When you tell him you’re not ready to decide about marriage, does he get pressure you, or respect your need to take your time? As you’ve noticed, the key to the “correct” response is respect—for your independence and your boundaries.

Another sign of control is how he attempts (or doesn’t) to resolve conflicts. Does he become angry and shut down emotionally, or can he share his feelings while being sensitive to yours? Must he have to have his way, or can you work together toward a mutually satisfactory solution?

Perhaps the best barometer of his behavior is your own gut response. Do you avoid arguments as “just not worth it,” or can you disagree with him when necessary? Do you always give in so there won’t be a fight, or can you express your own desires? When he’s mad, does your stomach turn with anxiety, or can you stand up for yourself? Looking not only at him but at yourself is a powerful indicator of the health of your relationship.

In the absence of outside information, you can determine if a person is abusive only by spending enough time with him to begin developing emotional intimacy (openness and deep sharing), for this closeness will trigger his true self. Find—or if necessary, create—opportunities to see how he acts when upset, disappointed, angry, or frustrated. Spend time together with family and friends, and ask for their impressions. (Any aversion to such get-togethers is cause for concern.) If someone dislikes something about him, check it out. You may not see it because you don’t want to.
After knowing Ruth’s fiancé for several months, her mother told her she “didn’t feel good” about him. When pressed, all she could specify was his temper. Believing nothing could be wrong; Ruth went ahead with the wedding. Her husband turned out to be highly abusive. Moral of the story: Don’t be quick to ignore your mother’s intuitions, or those of anyone more objective than you who have your best interests at heart.

As I said in the last chapter, it’s important to investigate a person’s family life. How did his parents discipline him? Might any traumas lead to abuse? How do his parents relate to each other and their children? While most parents in abusive homes maintain a facade of domestic harmony, you may sense an undercurrent. If your date has rejected the kind of home he came from, he should tell you so, and you must see clear indication (e.g., from speaking to his therapist) that his childhood wounds have sufficiently healed.

I’ve also recommended inquiring about his more recent past—activities, friends, and, if relevant, relationships with the opposite sex. (Fear of asking such questions is a bad sign.) If his involvements with women have been insincere or in violation of halacha, does he regret them? Even if he does, one (or more) that was really bad news may indicate a problem. Unhealthy relationships signal an unhealthy personality.

Finally, I’ve mentioned the importance of input from those who’ve known him longer and in different circumstances. This is information is crucial, as today people often appear on the local dating scene as complete unknowns. What do former employers, teachers, roommates, and others say about him? Reluctance to offer references should immediately push a warning button.

If you observe several of the listed traits repeatedly in the person you’re dating, beware, but don’t jump to conclusions. At the same time, don’t go into denial, blame yourself, or judge him favorably (an admirable quality but not one meant to be exercised over and over with the same individual). Get a professional opinion. If he has an abusive personality, get out of the relationship immediately, and ask a rabbi about your obligation to warn others. If you’re not willing to break up, take time out to gain perspective. You may think that because he cares for you more than he’s cared for anyone else, or because you’ll make him happier than anyone else has, you’ll change him. Wrong. Marriage will only bring out the worst in him. Entertaining “rescue” fantasies means you’re probably already tolerating treatment you shouldn’t. Furthermore, while spiritual guidance must accompany and inform therapy, don’t think more Torah study and/or greater religious observance will be the magic cure. Someone scrupulous in observing many religious laws can still behave unethically. Even if he devotes himself to Jewish approaches to character improvement, Torah is not therapy. An abusive person will heal only if he admits his dysfunction, wants to change, and gets the help he needs. And you too will benefit from counseling to understand why you got into this relationship.


Kislev 5764 – Steering Clear of Abuse Part 2 – by Gila Manolson

Steering Clear of Abuse
By Gila Manolson

JemSem presents Part 2 of a 4 part series on the subject of recognizing a potential abuser, excerpted and adapted from Gila Manolsons excellent and recommended book on shidduchim – “Head to Heart: What to Know Before Dating and Marriage”.
Head to Heart is available at Jewish bookstores. JemSem readers can get an autographed copy directly from the author at HaKablan 7/15 Har Nof Jerusalem.

(In the previous installment we presented Gila Manolsons introductory remarks and the first four traits of the abusive personality).

5) He defies limits.
In marriage: He always sees how far he can push.
While dating: He may try to get away with whatever he can in all kinds of small (or even large) ways, including breaking the law.
When Yossi saw a half-empty ice cream container in Shani’s aunt’s refrigerator, he suggested they finish it without her knowing. Joe wanted to show Michelle the view from a non-public place and, upon finding the door locked, plotted how they could break in without alerting the security guard.
The normal people you date may be tempted by minor transgressions but will essentially obey the law and respect rules.

6) He is compulsive and makes unrealistic demands.
In marriage: He’ll be petty and have unreasonable expectations, becoming furious when things don’t go as they “should” and making you feel guilty and ashamed when you don’t meet his standards.
While dating: He may be obsessed with the external, criticizing your appearance or fixating on some detail of religious observance that he wants you to correct. He may overreact negatively to anything unexpected.
When Elisheva suggested a change in venue for their date, Bob got very upset. When Rivky showed up in a skirt Mordechai thought was too short, he was nasty and cold the whole evening. Ari shamed Stacey for not making a frum enough impression, insisting she incorporate more Yiddish and “yeshivish” into her speech.
The normal people you date may be critical but will tolerate imperfections, including yours. They’ll appreciate your looks but focus on deeper aspects of you.

7) He is arrogant, self-centered, and intolerant.
In marriage: He’ll view everything from his own perspective, hold himself above almost everyone else, and be heavily prejudiced against people from different religious or cultural backgrounds. He’ll exhibit rigid gender stereotyping and contempt for women.
While dating: He may enjoy deriding or belittling others. He may react poorly to losing an argument. He may lack mentors, refuse help, and object to consulting an authority (such as a rabbi) about anything important or personal.
Larry denigrated Shoshana’s less religious relatives despite striking gaps in his own observance, and ridiculed rabbis who opposed his views. Hal often told his mother to be quiet. Tzvi made fun of Susan for going to “lower level” Torah classes. When Esther mentioned she wanted a master’s degree, Adam responded, “So you’re going to be one of those big-shot career women?”
The normal people you date may be judgmental and even occasionally arrogant or disdainful. Yet you’ll see humility as well: They’ll look up to wiser individuals and seek their input and regard others’ opinions. They’ll respect their parents. While they may deride others’ beliefs or lifestyles, they won’t ridicule fellow human beings. They’ll be generally open, not closed, to others.

8) He externalizes problems.
In marriage: He’ll blame everyone (especially you) for his conduct and anything that happens to him, and will justify cruelty by saying you deserved it.
While dating: He may refuse to accept rebuke and hold others responsible for his problems or behavior. (Note: You are never responsible for another adult’s behavior.)
Dov blamed his bounced check on the new bank manager. Gary told Adrienne, “It’s your fault I get so angry.”
The normal people you date may be defensive but will eventually look at themselves honestly, admit they’re wrong, and take responsibility for their actions.

9) He is paranoid.
In marriage: He’ll falsely accuse you, fear others are taking advantage of him or going behind his back, and see himself as a victim.
While dating: He may take innocent mistakes personally, or jump on anyone he feels has “attacked” him or may yet do so.
When a child accidentally ran into Levi, he shoved the boy off and yelled at him. When Brad saw Joanne looking in the direction of another guy, he accused her of being interested in him. When Avigayil showed up five minutes late for a date, Shlomo told her angrily, “You know I hate waiting for you-you did that on purpose to upset me.”
The normal people you date may occasionally wonder if someone has something against them but will dismiss unwarranted concerns and generally appraise reality accurately.

10) He lies, deceives, minimizes and denies.
In marriage: He’ll scheme to get out of what he gets himself into.
While dating: He may make excuses, including outright lies, for not being where or doing what he was supposed to; wriggle out of deceptions he’s been caught in; and dismiss his misconduct as unimportant or as if it never happened. He may claim to have achieved things he hasn’t.
Chayim told Yehudit he’d been at yeshiva all day when in fact he’d gone downtown with friends. Aaron told Dina he was pursing his M.A., whereas he was still negotiating his B.A. despite being a few credits short.
The normal people you date may try to excuse behavior they’re ashamed of but will essentially be honest.

11) He can’t deal with anger, frustration, or stress.
In marriage: He’ll be unusually nervous and hot-tempered, have poor coping skills, explode easily, and react physically (e.g., throwing or breaking things).
While dating: His anger may “leak out” in great impatience, overreactions to everyday aggravations (like traffic jams, spills, and tardiness), or even small outbursts.
Jeff blew up when a waiter forgot to bring water. When Andrea angered Paul, he stopped the car, slammed the keys down on the dashboard, and stormed off. Whenever Ilana pointed out that he’d done something wrong, Roy started breathing quickly and looked as if he might lose control.
The normal people you date will be impatient within normal bounds and lose their temper only occasionally and moderately, if at all. Stress won’t overwhelm them.

12) He is physically and/or verbally aggressive.
In marriage: He’ll bully others physically and/or by name-calling and ridicule, and use force to get what he wants.
While dating: He may be rude and combative toward others, drive extremely aggressively and competitively, call other drivers and pedestrians names, treat others roughly, and use force against inanimate objects.
When Jeremy was politely told that the table he’d sat down at was reserved, he cursed the waiter under his breath. When no Coke came out of the vending machine, Kurt kicked it angrily. Bob looked for opportunities to smash his opponents during hockey games.
The normal people you date may become contentious when provoked but not often. They’ll play sports for fun, not for violence.

13) He is self-deprecating and tends toward depression.
In marriage: He’ll say he hates himself and feels like killing himself, or even threaten suicide. (This self-loathing in no way contradicts an abuser’s arrogance, which merely masks his deep feelings of inferiority.)
While dating: He may put himself down, appear pathetic (often also for manipulative purposes), or make strong statements about what he’ll do if you don’t marry him.
If a day went by in which Yitzchak didn’t see Mindy, he’d tell her he was depressed. When Yael doubted their future together, Ben told her, “It’s my fault; nothing good has ever happened to me,” and when she broke up with him, he despaired, “I’m going to seclude myself and never come out.”
The normal people you date will display healthy self-esteem. Even a major setback won’t destroy them, and they’ll recover reasonably fast.

14) He has a history of violence, even if channeled acceptably.
In marriage: You’ll discover that he was a bully when younger, and/or that his work provides an outlet for abusive behavior.
While dating: He may have undesirable friends or a job a kind, sensitive person wouldn’t want.
Todd told Ellen he’d hung out with a rough crowd in high school. Stu had twice been arrested for punching someone. Eitan worked with the secret service interrogating suspected terrorists.
The normal people you date won’t be violent. If their job occasionally entails toughness (as with some policemen), they’ll relate to it as an unfortunate necessity, not with pleasure.

15) He has a history of substance abuse.
In marriage: He’ll do (or you’ll discover he’s done) a lot of drinking and/or drug taking.
While dating: He may mention how “wild and crazy” he is (or was) with friends and dismiss suggestions of dependency with statements like “We were just having fun.”
At weddings, Ilan would drink beyond all socially accepted norms, and brush off Lori’s concerns with “Don’t drive me crazy.”
The normal people you date may have occasionally indulged in alcohol or drugs, but should have outgrown it and now drink sparingly. Any addictions should be demonstrably behind them (e.g., successful participation in Alcoholics Anonymous).

16) He witnessed or suffered parental abuse, deprivation, or neglect.
In marriage: You’ll learn that one of his parents abused the other, or that one or both abused him. (Neglect and deprivation may constitute passive abuse.)
While dating: He may volunteer information about his childhood, but more likely you’ll have to ask. If he’s somewhat open, he may admit to resenting his parents; if he’s closed, he may pretend they’re perfect and not want you to meet them. If the truth is exposed and you express concern, he may protest that he would never repeat his parents’ behavior and doesn’t need professional help.
Mark told Stephanie he’d been a latchkey kid and didn’t get along with his largely absentee mother. Ken didn’t tell Ronit his parents were separated and he had no contact with his violent father. When Eli mentioned there’d been physical abuse in his home and Karen asked if he thought he might act similarly with his own children, he responded angrily, “Shut up.”


Cheshvan 5764 – Steering Clear of Abuse Part 1 – by Gila Manolson

15 Cheshvan, 5764

By Gila Manolson

JemSem presents a four part series on the subject of recognizing a potential abuser, excerpted and adapted from Gila Manolsons excellent and recommended book on shidduchim – “Head to Heart: What to Know Before Dating and Marriage”.

Head to Heart is available at Jewish bookstores. JemSem readers can get an autographed copy directly from the author at HaKablan 7/15 Har Nof Jerusalem.

Steering Clear of Abuse


Sadly, spousal abuse has become a concern in the Jewish world. Though uncommon in marriages built on Jewish values, it exists, and communities are addressing it.
Singles can and must learn to recognize a potential abuser before marrying him or her. On the one hand, if this training isn’t hard-hitting, it won’t be effective. You can’t fight tetanus without a vaccine, and you can’t escape the risk of abuse (which is likelier, Rabbi Abraham Twerski points out, than stepping on a rusty nail) without equally strong preventive medicine. On the other hand, I don’t want to scare anyone away from marriage altogether. So I’ll attempt to strike a balance and create a healthy level of awareness.

Deep-seated feelings of inferiority and self-hatred acquired in childhood may predispose a person toward inflicting physical or emotional abuse in order to boost his self-esteem at the expense of others’. While abusive personalities exist in both sexes, they’re more common among males, who are usually stronger physically and economically, and have a greater inborn desire to “lead.” Consequently, and because of the awkwardness of repeatedly writing “he or she,” “his or her,” etc., I’ll refer to the abuser in the masculine, without intending to exclude female abusers.

It’s important to differentiate between a basically normal person who sometimes behaves abusively, and someone with a personality disorder. Someone who occasionally “loses it” and is abusive has a major character defect, but he can look at himself objectively, feel genuine remorse, and want to change. Therapy may help, depending on the depth of his childhood wounds and his resolve. Unfortunately, his problem may be detected only after the chupa, when triggered by marriage-related stress such as finances or children.

An abusive personality disorder is far more serious, and because it’s also more recognizable, it’s what I’ll be discussing. This kind of person has been so traumatized that relating abusively feels normal to him. He’s typically blind to his illness and refuses help. Fortunately, he can almost always be seen for what he is before marriage, provided you date him long enough and pay close attention to your relationship. I know several women, from secular to strictly observant, whose husbands turned out to be abusers, and in every case, the warning signals were there before marriage. These women (and their friends) just didn’t recognize them-or ignored them.

Red Lights
How can you identify a potential abuser while you’re dating?
The best way is to familiarize yourself with abusive personality traits. While few abusers will possess every one, all will possess some. The following list describes what each trait looks like in marriage, how it may manifest itself in dating, and how normal people behave instead. The more said, the scarier it all sounds, but don’t overreact. Don’t excuse yourself midway through a date to consult this list anxiously in the restroom. Don’t deliberately spill hot soup on your date’s lap to test his reaction to stress. Go out assuming he’s the fine, decent human being he’s overwhelmingly likely to be. Also realize that most normal people (including me, and probably you) have some of these characteristics, albeit in milder form. If insensitivity, criticality, or intolerance always spelled abuse, most peoples’ kids would be taken away, and marriages would be over before they began. However, if someone demonstrates not one or two of these behaviors but several, and not once or twice but repeatedly, a red light should go on.

Here are the traits:

1) He is very controlling and possessive. This is the primary characteristic of an abusive personality, and it’s discussed at greater length ahead.
In marriage: He’ll control every detail and moment of your life-your dress, finances, social life, religious observance, and more-to the point of making you his puppet.
While dating: He may keep tabs on where you go, how you spend your money, and how much time you spend with whom. He may attempt to influence your behavior and thinking. He may want you available to him constantly. He may push the relationship forward rather than letting it progress naturally.
Whenever Yehuda called Miriam’s cellphone (as he did several times a day) and heard noise on her end, he’d quickly ask, “Where are you? Who’s that? What’s going on?” If Marci quoted someone’s opinion, Avi insisted that she disregard it. Jerry always decided where he and Rhonda went. Evan resented that Amy wouldn’t agree to marriage until he’d met her parents, and after the meeting, he insisted they get engaged right away.
The normal people you date will want to spend time with you but won’t demand it. Though interested in your life, they’ll respect your privacy. If you’re uncertain about the relationship, they may try and sway you but without heavy pressure. They’ll know where they end and you begin, and recognize you as a person in your own right.

2) He has a Jekyl/Hyde (two-sided) personality.
In marriage: He’ll display respectability, charm, and charisma, alternating with dark, mean, monstrous behavior.
While dating: In the beginning, you may see only his good side. (I’ve heard abusive fiancés described as “very suave.”) Most of his goodness, however, is “too good to be true.” You may eventually start seeing through his image.
Steve was a perfect gentleman with Erin, but cold and hard with others for no apparent reason. When she asked for an explanation, he would brush her off, saying, “It’s not worth talking about.”
The normal people you date will be good and true. They may occasionally misbehave but will acknowledge it. Their moods will mesh within a pleasant and consistent personality.

3) He is power-hungry and manipulative.
In marriage: He’ll depersonalize you into an object to exploit, use religion to dominate you, and seek revenge against anyone (including you) he feels has wronged him.
While dating: He may display great interest in how much money you or your parents have and in using your resources for his own ends. He may buy you expensive gifts to win you over or get something from you. He may order others around and make macho pronouncements like “I’m the boss around here.” He may do all he can to get his way.
Although Josh knew Dana was shomer negiah, he kept pressuring her to get physical. When Penny told Nathan she needed her car back early than he believed she did, he deliberately returned it late. When another driver cut Avner off, Avner did the same to him, and then drove very slowly while grinning into the rearview mirror. When Julie wanted to break up with Phil, he threatened to badmouth her.
The normal people you date will be interested in who you are, not what you have or can do for them, and they won’t want to “rule” you.

4) He can’t empathize.
In marriage: He’ll be oblivious to your needs and feelings, and to how his behavior affects you. He’ll be unable to relate intimately consistently.
While dating: He may be overly solicitous to cover for all he’s lacking inside. He may claim his hurtful remark was only in jest. He may be indifferent, inconsiderate, and/or disrespectful. He may withdraw when upset. He may be cruel to animals.
Alex laughed in a strange, excited way when Sharon recounted someone’s “humorous” misfortune, and upon hearing other bad news, he would either ignore it or shrug and say, “Life goes on,” or “He must have deserved it.” Beth one day noticed Eric across the street, kicking a passing cat.
The normal people you date may sometimes lack sensitivity but will feel for others, treating them as they treat you. If they hurt your feelings, you’ll sense it was due to ignorance, not meanness, and they’ll be genuinely sorry.

(The remaining 12 traits of the abusive personality will be presented in the next JemSem installment)

Tishrei 5764 – Ki Eshmara Shabbos & Yom Kippur – by Rabbi Zave Rudman

Ki Eshmara Shabbos & Yom Kippur
by Rabbi Zave Rudman

In the zemer written by the Ibn Ezra, Ki Eshmara Shabbos, there is a stanza that is difficult to understand. He writes:

“Rasham bedas haKel, chok el seganav
Bo la’arach lechem panim befanav
Al ken lehisanos bo al pi nevonav asur
Levad MiYom Kippur avoni”

“A sign written in the law of G-d a rule to his assistants (the Kohanim) to arrange the Lechem HaPanim before Him Therefore to fast on Shabbos is forbidden according to the Rabbis asides from the day of the atonement of my sins.”

Why is there a connection between the arranging of the Lechem HaPanim and the prohibition on fasting on Shabbos? And why is Yom Kippur different?

To begin to answer this let us explain the Avodah of the Lechem HaPanim. On the Shulchan in the Mishkan or Beis HaMikdosh there were twelve Lechem HaPanim. On Shabbos those breads were replaced by new ones, the Ketores that was on the Shulchan was burnt on the Mizbeach HaChitzon, and the bread was eaten by the two Mishmarot Kehuna- the one leaving the Avodah and the one starting the next week.

The Sfas Emes in Emor 5648 explains that the Lechem HaPanim was similar to the Manna. The words Lechem HaPanim can mean “Bread of Faces” which was a description of the unique shape of the bread. But it also means “Bread of Penemiyus” – which is internal.

Someone once asked me why don’t we have Lechem Mishne on Friday? The double Manna fell on Friday not on Shabbos, so it would be appropriate that Lechem Mishne should be on Friday?

The answer is found in the Zohar on Parshas Yisro, “Since nothing is found in it that is where the blessing is found.” The Sfas Emes explains the Zohar as meaning that everything in this world has two levels – the external visible and the internal spiritual. Just as the Midrash says that every blade of grass has an angel responsible for its growth, so too all growth in the world has its source in the spiritual invisible world above. The double Manna which fell on Friday has its source from the invisible spiritual Manna which did not fall on Shabbat. That is why the Lechem Mishne is held one loaf above another, to symbolize the two levels in the world – one above one below.

The twelve loaves of Lechem HaPanim are twice the six days of creation. On Shabbat we recognize that every day has an earthly existence and a parallel spiritual counterpart. The only day that does not have that dualism is Shabbos; there is only a spiritual component. The eating on Shabbos is recognition that all our food is tied to the spiritual source above, and not just a physical act. Therefore fasting on Shabbos is the exact opposite Avodah then what Shabbos is meant to accomplish. Fasting is an attempt to break the physical bonds, and be completely spiritual. That is not what the Shabbos through the Lechem HaPanim is meant to represent, so we do not fast on Shabbos.

However, Yom Kippur is different. The Rambam describes not eating on Shabbos as Shevisa – the word similar to Shabbos. Not eating on Shabbos is fasting; not eating on Yom Kippur is recognizing the spiritual source of food, and connecting to it. When the Kohen Gadol went into the Kodesh HaKodashim on Yom Kippur, among the avodos that he did was he thought of the bottle of Manna that was saved there from the time of Moshe, and recognized the source of all food that came from Shamayim.

This is the meaning of what the Ibn Ezra wrote. On Shabbos when the Kohanim replace the Lechem HaPanim we recognize the source of food, eat the physical food, and through that connect its source. But on Yom Kippur we rise above food and all physicality as our sins are forgiven.