The Bintel Brief

Bintel Brief: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Says Self-Satisfaction ‘Is Not the Solution’

By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Dear Rabbi Boteach,

The issue that I need help with is as follows: I have been married for two years, and my wife complains that I don’t last long enough. Now, it has reached a point where she doesn’t want to have sex anymore because she says it’s not worth her while.

I realize that I may have a premature ejaculation problem, but I don’t know how to cure it. She suggests that I masturbate say an hour or two beforehand so that I will last longer during the act, but this seems problematic to me from a halachic point of view. On the other hand, one has to satisfy his wife, too. This has led to tension between us as she says I am choosing halachic doctrines over her, etc.

Are there leniencies in cases such as this? Are there other methods of solving the problem? What advice or help can you offer?

I have read some of your books and think it’s great that you have written about such topics. It’s truly difficult to speak to a “regular” rabbi about these issues.

Thanks in advance.

STICKY SITUATION

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Bintel Brief: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Tackles a Conversion Conundrum

By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Dear Rabbi Boteach,

Thirty-plus years ago I converted to Judaism; this has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

I have a troubled relationship with my brother and his wife; religion is among the many differences my wife and I have with them. We’ve reached a reasonable, arm’s-length relationship. For business reasons my brother and sister-in-law moved halfway across the country; their son still lives in the same city with us. A few years ago my nephew married. Our new niece comes from an intensely family-oriented culture; because we live in the same city, they have initiated a close relationship with my wife and me. We have no children of our own, so our new relationship has been an unexpected joy for us. My wife and our niece have become particularly close.

Recently our niece announced that if they have children, they want to raise the children as Jews. I felt honored, humbled and horrified at this. This seems to be more a hypothetical than a real prospect, but one can never tell.

How should we react? I am extremely honored that they find our religion compelling, but this brings a whole new meaning to “converting for the sake of the children,” since neither of them have any connection to Judaism other than through us. I have told my niece that if she wants to raise the children as Jews, she would have to convert and make a Jewish home. No rabbi would convert a kid with no Jewish heritage living in a non-Jewish home. She has indicated that that would be acceptable, but I don’t see any serious interest or movement in that direction.

If they found our religion compelling for themselves, I would be extremely pleased. But it seems almost as if raising a hypothetical child as Jewish would be a way to get us to share in parental duties, and to give their child access to a culture that they admire but show no great interest in for themselves. If they were to go through with this, it would not be a decision accepted with any joy by my brother and sister-in-law. I’m sure they would see this as our appropriating their son and his family.

I should add that we have not been proselytizing. They see that we go to shul most Saturday mornings, they have come to two of our Seders, she has come to shul with us once to see my wife leyn Torah. But we have never indicated to them that they would be more precious to us if they were Jewish.

Should we actively discourage them from this notion? Or should we just hope the issue never arises?

CONVERSION CONUNDRUM

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Bintel Brief: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on Keeping the Faith in Dating

By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Dear Rabbi Boteach,

Our family is… I guess we’re a little bit of everything — from Reform to Orthodox. I grew up without any affiliation and sent my own kids to a Chabad school. The trick is I’m married to a gentile, who lives more Jewishly than anyone else in my family. Our two oldest children (15 and 18) are fighting with me about wanting to date non-Jews. My husband supports the rule that they can only date within the faith, but my sister, father and others think I’m being unfair. We sent our kids to Jewish day schools until high school (none available) and feel it’s very important that they keep the faith. How do I make them understand, and not seem like a hypocrite? How do I tame the teens and still maintain the rules?

DO AS I SAY…

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Bintel Brief: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Helps a Grandmother Connect With Her Non-Jewish Grandson

By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

Dear Rabbi Boteach,

My youngest son married outside the faith and now has a young baby. It was very difficult for me when he got married, but I Knew there was no reversing his decision, and so I have tried to make the best of it. This was not easy, as my Jewish heritage is an integral part of my life and practice.

I know that he has no interest in Judaism, but when he told me that he was not going to circumcise his son it further increased my agony. The baby has nothing to do with these decisions, and I believe with all my heart that he deserves grandparents who love him (his other grandmother is deceased). Yet, I can’t feel the bond that I want to. When I am with him, I feel alienated from him. I don’t want to, but I don’t know how to overcome these feelings.

I have other grandchildren who are being brought up in a very Jewish home, and I dearly love them and feel the close bond I wish I could feel with this grandchild.

I would appreciate it if you would give me some guidance in dealing with this situation. I would also appreciate it if other readers who experienced the same feelings would write in and tell me how they handled it and what happened as time went by.

DISTANT RELATIVE

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Bintel Brief: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Answers Your Questions

By Shmuley Boteach

With books like “Kosher Sex,” “Dating Secrets of the Ten Commandments” and “Judaism for Everyone” and his television series “Shalom in the Home” on The Learning Channel, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has brought an unabashedly Jewish perspective on family life and relationships to a popular audience. For the next month, he’ll be giving our readers some life perspective as the Forward’s next Bintel Brief guest advice columnist.

“An ancient Jewish aphorism relates the difference between the clever man and the wise man. The clever man can extricate himself from a situation into which the wise man would never have gotten himself into in the first place,” Boteach told the Forward. “Giving people advice involves being wise rather than merely clever. And wisdom, in turn, results both from having a values-system — in my case Judaism — as well as life’s experiences.”

Are you facing a Jewish dilemma, an ethical conundrum or family difficulties? Could you use some shalom in your home? Send your questions for the Bintel Brief to bintelbrief@forward.com. Letters selected for publication will be published anonymously.

Check the Forward’s Web site Mondays in August for new installments of the Bintel Brief, featuring Rabbi Boteach.

To read previous installments of the Bintel Brief, click here. To read vintage Bintel Briefs and learn more about the column’s storied history, click here.

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