Lech Lecha: Pubby Hubby
The young lady, one of hundreds in the audience, raised her hand; Rabbi, I'm not Jewish, but I want you to bless me to be able to marry a Jewish man...
by Rabbi Lazer Brody
In recent years, Hashem has given me the privilege of speaking at the Avinu Malkeinu annual awakening nights, together with my esteemed and cherished friend Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein, founder and director of the Ohr Naava institutions. Several years ago, I flew to Manchester, England right after Rosh Hashana in Uman, to meet up with Rabbi Wallerstein and to speak at the "Avinu Malkeinu" event that was taking place there.
The audience was the biggest I had ever seen at a Torah gathering in the UK. I don't remember the name of the auditorium where it was held, but it was packed with way-over capacity crowd. Fortunately, the weather was nice and the organizers were setting up folding chairs on the lawn outside the auditorium for all the overflow of people who couldn't find room to sit inside. I was given an hour to speak, which was divided into 45 minutes of spiritual strengthening and 15 minutes for questions from the audience.
I finished speaking and called for questions. Up in the second-floor balcony, a young lady was the first to shoot her hand up in the air like a rocket taking off. Adhering to proper British etiquette, I acknowledged her and said, "Ladies first go right ahead."
"Rabbi," she began, "thank you for your inspiring words of faith and encouragement..."
That's always nice to hear. "What would you like to ask me?"
"I don't have a question, Rabbi, but I'd like to ask for a blessing."
"I'll be delighted to," I responded. "I especially enjoy blessing people." Little did I know that I had just inadvertently written a blank check that just might bounce in the Heavenly Court's bank...
"Rabbi, I'm not Jewish, but I want you to bless me to be able to find a Jewish husband; I want to marry a Jewish man."
The eight hundred fifty or nine hundred people in the auditorium became totally silent. At that moment, if someone would have dropped a British penny on the floor, everyone would hear it. I took a deep breath. Here, a polite and lovely young Manchester lassie was asking for me to bless her for something that the Torah expressly forbids. I need Hashem's help in crossing the street safely; I needed his help big-time at this moment.
Hashem illuminated my brain. In Talmudic manner, we often answer a question with a question. It wasn't surprising that a non-Jew was in the audience, for quite a few non-Jews attend our emuna evenings wherever we go. I suddenly found myself having to walk on egg-shells without breaking the eggs Hashem had to give me a way to preserve the young lady's dignity, to avoid insulting her Heaven forbid, yet to uphold the laws of our holy Torah.
"Why would you like to marry a Jewish man?" I asked.
She answered, "Rabbi did you notice on your way from the airport to the auditorium that there's a pub on every street corner?" I did notice that; sometimes there were two or three pubs on the same street. "You see," the young lady continued, "here in the UK, husbands don't come home after work they go to the pub. Don't think that I'm just talking about the working class professionals too. The merchants have their pub, the lawyers have their pub and the steel workers have a sundry of their own pubs. After the fourth of fifth schooner of ale, they gradually grope their way home. A wife's greeting is the back of her husband's hand across her cheek: 'Where's supper?!', they growl like a mad bear. I don't want a husband like that. Everyone here knows that Jewish husbands have two great qualities they don't waste money at pubs and bring it all home to their wives and they don't beat their wives." This was all that the young lady aspired for in a husband, that he shouldn't be a lush and he shouldn't be violent.
I breathed a sigh of relief. I blessed the young lady with all my heart: "May Hashem find you a kind, loving and wonderful husband who will respect and cherish you always." The entire audience chanted, "amen!"
The Torah in this week's portion tells us the secret of Abram's success: "And Abram benefitted in her behalf..." (Genesis 12:16). Our sages explain that Abram (ultimately Abraham) received his opulence by virtue of the way that he cherished and respected his wife Sari (Sarah). Rabbi Chelbo told his students that a person must be very careful in guarding his wife's honor and dignity, for any blessing he has is in her virtue. Rava goes a step further and says that if one honors his wife, hell become rich (see tractate Bava Metzia 59a). So guys, if you want to hit the jackpot, make your wife's dignity your number-one priority. If you haven't yet read The Garden of Peace, please do, for you could be much more successful with minimal effort.
There's another message here too one for the wives. The next time you start nitpicking and complaining about your hard-working husband, think of the young lady in Manchester whose rosiest dream is to find a mate that comes home to her instead of the pub, makes a living for her and doesn't beat her. Start appreciating the man who stood under the chuppa with you. Show that appreciation and he'll return it tenfold. Just think about all the unmarried women who would love to have a guy like yours.
Husbands and wives, let's all thank Hashem for each other and make our marriages just like that of Abraham and Sarah our great-great grandparents, amen!!
Rabbi Lazer Brody was born in Washington, D.C. in 1949. After receiving his bachelor's degree in agriculture from the University of Maryland in 1970, he moved to Israel and joined the Israel Defense Forces regular army, and served in one of the elite special-forces units. He is a decorated combat veteran of two wars and numerous of counter-insurgence and anti-terrorist missions on both sides of Israel's borders.
Rabbi Brody is the English-language editor of Breslev Israel's highly popular English-language website at www.breslev.co.il, and the founder and director of Emuna Outreach. Between Breslov Israel and Emuna Outreach, he devotes his time to spreading emuna and particularly the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev around the globe.
"Lazer Beams," Rabbi Brody's award-winning daily web journal, has been instrumental in helping tens of thousands of people around the globe find joy and fulfillment in their lives.