Friday, May 6, 2011
"Rebbe, my non-Jewish girlfriend and I are thinking of getting married"
Assimilation was and still is one of the most challenging issues facing the Jewish nation. Over the years, both in public and in private, the Rebbe spoke vehemently against this distressing phenomenon. The Avner Institute would like to present an insightful Yechidus that took place with a Brazilian student, part of a visiting group, who was dating a non-Jewish girl and seeking the Rebbe’s advice.
With special thanks to Rabbi Dovid Weitman, Chabad emissary of Sao Paulo Brazil.
In the winter of 1980 the Rebbe held a private audience in his office for a group of visiting students from Brazil. After his talk, each student was given the opportunity to approach the Rebbe and exchange a few words. The following is a dialog between the Rebbe and one of the students:
“Rebbe,” the young man mumbled, in accented English, “my girlfriend and I are thinking of getting married, but she is not Jewish. What would the Rebbe say about that?"
To his surprise the Rebbe did not quake with anger or excitement. Instead, the holy man remained calm, even impassive, while still gazing at the visitor.
At last he spoke.
"There are," the Rebbe replied, "many aspects of our lives over which we have no control. Many physical conditions, as it has been scientifically shown, cannot be altered, since they are a consequence of our genetic makeup, which has been inherited from past generations. There is not much, generally, which can be done by others to help these conditions.
"However, our daily functioning is primarily influenced by decisions we make throughout our lives. When people make dangerous decisions, we expect those around them to work to prevent the danger. If, for example, we hear someone planning to commit suicide, even if they say they clearly know what they are doing and have made a conscious decision, it is universally assumed that we will do all we can to stop that from happening.
“Our spiritual lives are shaped by the choices we make. In a sense, the results can be more tragic than suicide. Unlike suicide, which occurs momentarily and no longer distresses the perpetrator, a dangerous decision about one's spiritual life will hassle that person for many years. So, we must do all we can to dissuade a fellow Jew from marrying a non-Jew.”
The Rebbe concluded, "May G-d bless both you and your girlfriend to find the right persons for yourselves, and then, with your respective spouses, you will both live happily. Meanwhile, you should discontinue any relationship with her, and it should never be renewed. You should go from strength to strength."
The Rebbe promptly handed him a dollar.
"This is to help break the relationship."
Posted by The Avner Institute / Menachem M Kirschenbaum at 11:40 AM