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Life Lessons with Judy Simon
Baruch Gordon founded the Arutz Sheva-IsraelNationalNews.com website in 1995 and directed its English Media Department for 14 years. Baruch studied and taught at the Bet El Yeshiva Center, later serving as Dean of its Program for Overseas Students and Program for IDF Veterans.
Baruch is certified by the Dor v'Dor Institute to counsel married couples and prepare hatanim for marriage.
The "Ask the Rabbi" section of the Bet El Yeshiva's Hebrew website has become the premier venue for secular Israelis seeking rabbinic counsel on the internet. In the two recently-submitted questions below, a bride and groom separately turn to the Web Rabbi asking whether or not to cancel the wedding. The two letters were received several hours apart. Read below to find out what happened in the end…
LETTER FROM THE GROOM
My female partner and I are together for three years. We are both traditional Jews.
I keep the Shabbat as much as I can. I don't travel in a car on Shabbat, but I do use the cellular phone and the computer a little bit. I hope to eventually become stronger in my Shabbat observance with G-d's help.
About two weeks ago, my partner and I started talking about getting married and discussed which wedding hall to use.
Over the last few days, I decided that I want to have separate dancing for men and women at the wedding. My younger brother is very knowledgeable in Torah, and he sat down and showed me how severe the transgression of mixed dancing is. Even though I would much prefer mixed dancing, I decided that at my wedding, I want to please Hashem and do His will, and have separate dancing no matter what anyone says including my girlfriend.
My girlfriend is not willing to even entertain the idea of separate dancing. She won't hear about it and is threatening to end our relationship if I don't change my mind.
What should I do?
LETTER FROM THE BRIDE
Dear Honored Rabbi,
This is the question of my life. I have a boyfriend for the past three years and two weeks ago, he proposed to me. We are both secular Jews. We don't keep Shabbat. He doesn't keep kosher, for example, he mixes milk with meat.
It was clear all along that our wedding would be a regular wedding with mixed men and women's dancing. Out of the clear blue, my boyfriend came up with a decision that there would be separate men and women's dancing at the wedding.
I do not like this at all, nor do I agree to it. I have dreamt about the way I want my wedding to be, and have no desire for it to take on this form. I have faith in G-d and respect Judaism, but do not want to accept something so drastic against my will.
What disturbs me most is that he went ahead and made this huge decision, that he himself doesn't really identify with. I decided that if he continues to insist that there be no mixed dancing, I will be forced to end our relationship and call off the wedding.
He is very dear to me and I love him deeply, but I will not get married with separate dancing.
What should I do? Is that OK for him to decide something against his own practice, and against my will? Am I supposed to go ahead and get married despite his decision?
I would appreciate your urgent attention in this matter.
Yeshivat Bet El's Web Rabbi who is in charge of answering internet inquiries from secular Israelis wrote one warm and encouraging letter to both the bride and groom. In the end, they got married with separate dancing, and it turned out to be very successful.
The couple continues to advance in embracing their Jewish identity. They were in touch with the Bet El Yeshiva's Web Rabbi again over problems that arose with their parents. The Rabbi advised them on this issue as well, and today they maintain excellent relations with both sets of parents.
Visit the English pages of Yeshiva.org.il