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The Peddlers of Deceit

By Tzvi Fishman
3/5/2009, 12:00 AM

One of my neighbors asked me to speak with his son, a young man of 35, who refuses to get married. He’s a nice fellow, but he walks around with a sneer on his nose, like he has some chip on his shoulder. Whenever I see him around our apartment building, I try to be friendly and exchange a few words. A few times, I spoke to him about guarding the Brit and invited him to come along on a Tikun, but he’s always dodged the issue.

One day, so he wouldn’t think his father put me up to it, I asked him if he could help me move a heavy dresser in our flat. We got to talking, and I asked him why he didn’t get married.  At first, he gave me a brush off story about not finding the right woman, but when I probed deeper, the skeletons started to rattle.

“Why should I get married?” he said. “To fight with my wife all the time and yell at my kids like my parents do?”

In truth, his parents didn’t have the most peaceful marriage in the world. A few times a month, we hear them screaming at each other from their apartment in the building adjacent to ours. Obviously, they had problems, but who doesn’t? What it came down to was that he had been traumatized as a kid by his parents’ aggressive behavior and unconsciously feared that it would happen all over again in his marriage. On the surface, he offered other reasons why his dates were always a flop, always finding fault with the woman. One was too religious, another wasn’t religious enough; one was too fat, another was too much of a talker. No one could live up to his demand for perfection.

Not wanting him to feel like I was putting him on the analyst’s couch, I spoke to him about the supreme importance of the mitzvah of getting married, and about the importance of having children to fulfill his destiny as a Jew. I spoke to him about the difference between egotistically living for oneself, as opposed to the more ideological goal of raising a family.

“Only the Almighty is perfect,” I told him. “Down here on Earth, everyone has problems. Every marriage has quarrels. All women are cuckoo in one way or another. Children get sick. There are difficulties at school. The plumbing leaks. Sometimes, it’s hard to pay the bills. But those aren’t reasons not to marry.”  

What is his situation analogous to? To the sweet talking “Jews For Galut” missionaries, who complain and grumble about life in Israel and refuse to perform the great mitzvah of living in the Land. If they were to shut up and keep their fetishes and fears to themselves, this wouldn’t be so bad, but when they vomit out their poison on the web, trying to discourage other Jews from coming to Israel, this is a heresy that must be condemned with all force, so that they don’t succeed in leading other Jews astray into worshipping life in foreign lands, trying to blend in with the goyim.

They are like people who refuse to come to the synagogue on Purim to hear the Megilla because the kids are too raucous and noisy. Or like the perfectly healthy people who refuse to eat matzah on Pesach because it gives them constipation. Or the reformers who don't want to give up their weekends for the restrictions of Shabbat. They are the “baale terutzim,” the masters of excuses, the peddlers of deceit.

You can talk to them until you are blue in the face, but they can’t understand a word you say. Because the ears which heard “Shema Yisrael” at Mount Sinai have been sealed, due to their revolt against G-d and His Torah.

Blue in the Face