Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Plight of the Bumble Bee

Good evening folks.

Actually, it started off as "The Plight of the Assistant Rabbi," but I just could not resist.

The year before the Gorman family moved to Toronto was spent in a job search. Jennifer and I had decided that we were leaving New York. It got to be pretty harrowing not having a position locked in place by March. We were facing me taking an extended trip to Baghdad. During that time, I remember speaking with a potential senior rabbi (and therefore potential boss). He said to me that he would not want an assistant who was content to remain an assistant. Having been both a senior and an assistant, I must disagree with what he said.

I would have been quite content to remain an assistant in my first assistant position. We were all very happy there. The bills were getting paid. We were comfortable in our home. Trust me when I tell you that I had no desire to risk that stability. Senior rabbis and boards should not confuse a desire for stability with a lack of ambition.

Furthermore, congregations that require an assistant usually give that assistant more than enough to do. It is thus quite similar to being a senior. There are decisions. There is teaching. All of the pastoral work is there. If the assistant rabbi has ambition, there is more than enough to satisfy that ambition. Moreover, a rabbi who feels that he/she has a potential future at the congregation will not constantly have one eye on the door.

Last, from the congregation's point of view, a happy assistant rabbi is very important. It avoids bitterness of having to move on when one is not ready to do so. It avoids the potential revolving door. Sometimes congregants want to go where all the rabbis know their name. To send off the assistant after just a few years forces the membership to learn to trust and like someone new. It is not a recipe for successful congregation building.

The advantage to those congregations that will take an assistant for a few years and then shoo him/her out the door is that when the rabbi gets to the next place, no one will look at the rabbi and say that there is no experience. It remains one of those annoying things, that one cannot get a position without experience.

Have a good evening.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sharing a Permanent Address

Good morning all...

So I wrote last night that part of being a lover means sharing a permanent address. I deleted one thing prior to posting. I had also written that part of being a lover means sharing a bank account.

Why did I delete that? I am glad you asked that question. Please note: on my rules of marriage, I state that once married, it is no longer "his money" and "her money." Trust your spouse's values and judgment. If you cannot do that with money, you cannot do that with anything else. I believed that when I wrote it. I believe it still.

What brought about my change in thinking? It is a couple of things. The first is spousal abuse. When we think of spousal abuse, we usually think about physical abuse. That is only the tip of the iceberg. Emotional abuse, social abuse, and financial abuse are also part of the package. It is often difficult to predict what people will be after the wedding. As such, to have a bank account handy that a spouse cannot empty is not a bad idea.

As well, the economy is not in the best of conditions. People are losing jobs. People are having trouble making ends meet. I know of one couple in which she lost her job. One of the things they were considering was defaulting on the mortgage. The house was only in her name though. Defaulting on the mortgage would probably damage both credit ratings, but would not do nearly the same level of damage to his as it would to hers. To have one credit rating still somewhat intact means that a credit card can still be had and a home can likely be rented. That involves having separate bank accounts.

Marriage should still render the question of whose money it is moot. However, there are other reasons that perhaps having separate accounts might be necessary.

Have a great day.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lessons from the Walk of Shame

Hi all...

Remember me?

Over the last few days, there has been some commotion at Yeshiva University. Normally, I truly do not care what goes on there. However, this is just too interesting to pass up. For those of you who do not know, one of the student publications published an anonymous article about a pre-marital sexual encounter. If I am reading the article correctly, it is also her first time. You can find the article at http://yubeacon.com/2011/12/the__written_word/how-do-i-even-begin-to-explain-this/. It is not brilliant writing. It is real though. The poor young lady states at the end that the only thing she learned from the whole encounter is how to do the walk of shame the next morning. She should go back and reread her article. She has learned a great many important lessons.

She writes that the two of them consumed a fair amount of beer prior to the festivities, and that it helped her shut off her conscience.

Lesson #1: if one requires beer to do something that one would not do while sober, it is probably best not to do it drunk either.

She writes that "between the fumbling, the pain, the pleasure, I convince myself that I’ve learned how to make love."

Lesson #2: learning to make love is something we do with only one person. Having sex will only teach mechanics. Making love means that we also know how to talk to our lover. It means that we know how to touch our lover. It means that we have taken the time to know and care about the person sharing a bed with us.

She writes that "cuddling with him that night, I tell him how much he means to me, but I know I can’t tell him I love him."

Lesson #3: learning to make love requires love.

She writes that she gets dressed the next day and hails him a cab before walking back to the university cafeteria.

Lesson #4: making love has a tender goodbye the next morning. It involves putting a little note into a backpack that the lover will likely see during the day. It involves some expectation that the lovers will see each other again that evening.

This whole encounter takes place in a hotel.

Lesson #5: lovers can enjoy the comforts of a hotel. In fact, they should. But lovers do not share only a bedroom. They share a living room. They share a kitchen. They share a permanent mailing address. Without that long-term commitment , the lady in the article has only worked on the mechanics.

Lesson #6: lovers have no need to hide what they are doing. People assume it. It goes hand-in-hand with lesson #5.

While not stated in the article, I must assume that the couple used some protection.

Lesson #7: lovers worry less about protection. They thrill for the moment, and its meaning in the hour. They are hopeful about the results, and not worried about the "risk."

The author of the article will likely suffer from no small amount of guilt that will follow her at least until her wedding day. I hope she does not. She is human. She has just learned a very adult set of lessons at a very young age. One does not need to feel guilt over mistakes. One only need not repeat them.

Good night to all.