Thursday, April 18, 2013

Guys, Get a Clue!

Guys, Get a Clue!

Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr and Moriah bat Shofar

“Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” is the title of one book on relationships that accurately sums up the many difference between men and women (I rarely recommend secular books, but this one is a must read). In matters of faith, the stark contrasts rear their ugly heads and start a head butting contest like two rams when a man comes to Torah and the woman does not. And when the man jumps in with both feet and expects the woman to follow like a lemming off a cliff, he finds to his bewilderment that she is stubborn like a mule attempted to be pulled along by its owner and won’t budge. That’s when the man gets all dictatorial and smugly patriarchal and foolishly tries to use the Torah (the very thing the woman is so unsure of) to put the screws to the wife in an attempt to make her “submit” and follow him. After all, it’s the fulfilment of the vows, “to love and obey” and all that jazz, right!?

I get guys ever so often who come to me in utter frustration; feeling a bit emasculated asking me to fix their wives. Look pal, I understand your frustration, but I don’t run an obedience school and I am positive your wife’s name is not Marmaduke!

Sheliach Kefa (the Apostle Peter) was the redneckish, gruff, manly man type. The one who you would think would demand total and unquestioning submission from his wife. But look at what he wrote:

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. – I Peter 3:7

I do not read, “Walk and obey Torah with me or else you rebellious woman!” do you? If so, you need more than new reading glasses, you may need a heart or brain transplant!

Kefa, despite his hasty and gruff nature we gather that he was, from accounts we read about him in the Brit Chadasha (New Testament/Renewed Covenant), we see here he is keenly aware and sensitive to the differences between men and women. Kefa was by no means a milquetoast, “yes ma’am” kind of guy. He demanded the proper respect that Torah instructs a woman to give a man (I Peter 3:1-6).

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. – I Peter 3:7

In this verse Kefa is giving us men a dire warning on the reasons why we should treat our wives a certain holy way and the negative repercussions that will ensue when we don’t.

Kefa is telling us to dwell together, not to just be two warm bodies in a room occupying the same space. We are not to be glorified roommates. He is telling us to dwell, live, share our lives together with our spouse, with the full knowledge that they are different than we are by Divine, creative design. So how are men and women different besides the obvious physical characteristics and differences?

For the most part with the admittance of exceptions to the rule, men are generally rooted in concrete logic where as women are more emotional and abstract thinkers. Men are head and women are heart. Men are visually stimulated moreso than mentally and emotionally stimulated like women. These traits seem like opposites, but just as the colors of the rainbow all comes from one source of light and creates a wide spectrum of colors, so to, logic and emotion come from One Source and are not opposites but simply different ends of the spectrum that must meet and balance in the middle.

You see, one also must understand that guys come to Torah much differently than women. Guys come to Torah like soldiers; “GOD commanded it, I’ll do it and that’s that!” Women on the other hand are wooed to Torah like a Harlequin romance novel, usually through the Feasts. So to just say, “See, here it is woman, in plain black and white, so snap to it!” does not fly and now you can understand why.

As we all know, in Genesis the Holy One created us male and female and woman came out of man through his side, which in the Hebrew means side, implying half and not a simple rib as we lose some meaning in translation. Hence, the saying regarding one’s spouse “My better half.” If GOD is One and there are male and female, even though we address GOD in the masculine, for Him to create females with all their wonderful complexities, the LORD Himself must have feminine attributes and qualities within Him. In fact He does and this mostly comes out in the operation of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). Matter of fact, the Hebrew for the Ruach HaKodesh is grammatically in the feminine. With that being said, GOD’s goal for men and women in marriage is to be a living example of GOD’s Oneness and wholeness by living in balance with our unique masculine and feminine qualities. So often as men and women, we clash and knock heads needlessly due to our lack of understanding of one another, when all along YHWH intended us to live and operate like a well-oiled machine.

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. – I Peter 3:7

Kefa is imploring us men to live in and with and to act and react appropriately to our wives in full knowledge of all (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually) the differences between the sexes. GOD intends for us to be living examples of His Oneness and in the process learn more about and draw closer to our GOD.

This really hit home for me when I, a pessimist and my wife an optimist had been married for several years and knowing our respective character traits were both extreme and unhealthy, but as the years passed we have rubbed off on each other and both became balanced realists, although she still tends to be more optimistic than I and I more pessimistic, however, when the extreme nature of our traits decides to show itself the one can talk the other down from the ledge to come to a more down to earth realistic and balanced view.

Adam and Eve were created to be like a King and Queen on the earth, to rule as a couple, yet as one, and so the Scriptures and the Rabbis of old encourage us to treat our wife as a Queen and to understand and consider all the differences between us when working together and communicating with one another. For when we fail to lovingly take our wives into consideration in our lives circumstances and situations, in GOD’s eyes we have become belligerent and selfish and as a result GOD sees the injustice with which we are treating our wives and the portals of heaven are closed to our supplications. If we are one as a couple, even as the Godhead is One (Gen. 1-3, John 1, 17, Deut. 6) and we both as creations come from The One, then in failing to properly consider our wives we have unwittingly sinned against not only our wives, but ourselves and have thus offended the Ruach HaKodesh of YHWH! When our relationship with our spouses breakdown, so does our relationship with the Almighty GOD.

So how does this apply to a man who comes to Torah but the wife is standing on the sidelines with her arms folded with a look of stubborn skepticism on her face?

Women were created to function and respond best in an environment of security and stability where they know they are loved, cared for and are considered in huge life altering decisions. Men’s usually methods of operation is to logically see how a change is best for all involved and proceeds immediately without warning and without fully realizing it throws the carefully balanced environment of the home and marriage on its head. It makes the women feel not like an equal partner but an inferior child or worse a piece of property that has no say in such crucial life altering decisions. We men just assume the women will see and agree with and go along with our logic and thank us for it. Instead we find out we get hell and wonder why! With this type of reaction we men feel the woman is being “illogical” “irrational” and rebellious which makes us bitter as if we are being disrespected as the “head” and makes us feel emasculated and that we are losing face and control and we ironically react in an illogical and irrational manner and say things like, “I am the man of the house!” “The Bible says for, ‘Wives to submit!’” Yeah, but it also says to live with our wives in an understanding way so that our prayers will not be hindered. So our reaction out of a bruised ego causes us to operate in the flesh and negatively compound the situation and we, like it or not, push our wives away and insert a wedge of mistrust. This is not loving our wives as we love ourselves, nor is it loving our wives as Messiah loves the called out assembly.

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. – Eph. 5:21-31

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. – Col. 3:18-19

What really needs to happen here, which lay beyond the scope of this paper, is a correct and healthy Scriptural understanding of men and women and their respective roles.

So, back to the issue at hand:

“Rabbi, please talk to my wife she won’t listen to me, she refused to walk Torah with me and give up her pagan ways!”

It is not about your wife not listening to you, or rebelling against you, it is about you not listening to or considering your wife and her feeling safe, secure, respected, considered and involved.

Perhaps it will help if I gave my personal testimony here. Like many who were raised in Christianity, married and then discovered the Hebraic Roots of the Faith I jumped in with both feet and expected my wife just to see so plainly what I saw and logically follow suit. But the fact is, I never talked to my wife step by step as I was going through this metamorphosis and when I fully gave myself over to Torah she seen it a day-night flip with no explanation. She seen it as a fad or a kick I was on and trying to drag her to synagogue was like trying to get her to join me on the latest diet or workout craze. Then without warning and in obedience to the straight forward Word of GOD I “put my foot down” without a warning on Christmas and Easter, etc. This shook the home like an earthquake and destabilized everything my wife saw as firm and sure. I continued to push, pull and drag my wife as if she were that proverbial stubborn mule or that poor puppy on a leash trying to keep up with the boy on his bike that my wife felt unloved and disrespected… and I was bewildered and clueless.

But thanks be to the LORD that I smartened up and finally seen it from her perspective and once I backed off and let her see the consistency in my new walk, to show her it wasn’t a fad, and when I stopped forcing her and hounding her to go to synagogue with me, she slowly began to open up and ask me questions about my this new walk and a healthy dialogue developed which began to pave a road of reconciliation between us. She later thanked me for backing off and giving her time to think and that is what opened her up. Now my wife is fully on board and by my side and boldly and cheerfully gives an answer to family and friends when they ask why the change in faith. She smiles and says when you read the Word and look at our faith it just makes sense.

Now I realize that not every guy will have a happy ending like me. But it is still no reason for a house to be in turmoil. Rav Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) addressed this, but ironically it was the woman following Torah and the man not. But I think you can get the drift and apply this to a situation where the wife remains an unbeliever in regards to Torah.

And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? – I Cor. 7:13-16

So guys, it’s not necessarily about changing your wife, but changing your thinking and your attitude.

Men, my advice to you if your wife will not follow Torah with you is to back off and agree to disagree in love and maybe she’ll come around, maybe she won’t. The more you push, the more she will dig in her heels and resist. Bottom line is that despite being married we are still nonetheless individuals with our own free will.

I know that some guys are embarrassed when they go to synagogue or a Messianic/Natsari function and people ask where their wife is. They feel that those at the shul may think they are not truly the head of the house, or that their wife is a rebellious pagan. This is just the flesh talking and giving you a false view of the situation and what others think; even if they do think that, so what? The sin is on them, not you. It’s no biggie, all you got to say is that the two of you are simply in different places in your spiritual walk right now and leave it at that. Ask the other to pray and agree in prayer with you that your wife will develop an open heart and mind to come to Torah. If he is a true brother and a true believer he will understand and agree in prayer with you without any condemnation.

But as you read above in I Cor. 7:13-16 it is not a marital deal breaker. You are still required to live with your wife in an understanding way, to love her as you love your own body and to be balanced and consistent in your walk. Who knows, she may come around when you least expect it.