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Bal Tshuva without Negia


Rabbi Chaim Tabasky

27 Iyyar 5767
I have dated a guy for over 2 years who is in the process of finding himself spiritually and religiously. He is from Brooklyn, and from a religious environment, but stopped practicing when he was around 15. Now, almost 10 years later, he is revisiting this religious side of him. When we met, we were both a "reform" couple. We didn’t practice much Judaism, however we are both well educated and knowledgable regarding all sects, prayers etc. We actually had met in Israel on a trip! He is now attending a Yeshiva in NJ, and i am having trouble understanding that he may want to become "Shomer Negia"...because to me i feel like he could practice being Lubavitch and still date me. He’s saying he can’t. So currently we are broken up. I knew one day he’d want to be religious, and i told him i was hoping to become more observant as well. I guess i’m wondering if you could provide me with some a Rabbi. I’d appreciate any advice you could offer. I’m sad and confused right now. Thank you!
Your question has several aspects, and I will try to relate to some of them. It often happens that religious developement of the individual is not compatable with a developing relationship, even if the two people are going in the same direction. People change and grow according to their own pace. Often, married couples are faced with stress from the desire of one to change in a way that seems unreasonable or frightening to the other partner, sometimes in a way that threatens the marriage itself. Couples need to develop ways of communication that transcend the changes they are undergoing. When couples are not married, it is often wiser to put a relationship on hold. In the case of enhanced committment to halacha, it is seldom reasonable that one partner asks the other to forgo commitment to an ideal because the other partner is not ready. If the issue was one of custom, such as chassidic garb or davening at a minyan that is extremely slow and far away, I would caution a person against taking steps that later he may see as unnecessary, and in so doing spoil a relationship. If the issue is something that is intrisic to halachic committment, like negiah, then I have to side with the one making this step. I can't tell you how fast you should move your own acceptance of halacha, but you will not benefit in the long run if you hold your boyfriend back. I urge you to learn and practice halacha with love and joy, to try to understand the meaning and importance of what you are doing, so that you will grow as a Jew AND as a human being.
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