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Topic: Couple, Different Levels of Observance

Email@Withheld wrote:
Dear Rabbi,

My husband and I have been increasing our level of Jewish observance. We have a Jewish home, try very hard to keep kosher, and lately I have begun studying the Torah and going to a beginners' service on Shabbat. My husband sometimes accompanies me. He is dyslexic, and with some difficulty has learned the brachot for bread and wine, and makes them on Shabbat. He buys the wine in our house, and it is generally non-kosher wine. Our friend told us you shouldn't make a bracha over non-kosher wine. When I repeated this to my husband (as he blessed non-kosher wine this past Shabbat) he became angry at me, and said don't you want to have a nice Shabbat? We are becoming more observant at different rates, and while my husband is happy and proud that I am studying the Torah, he is not as interested in studying as I am. I feel that our shalom bayit is at stake. Do you have any ideas about how to avoid the pitfalls on the road to becoming observant? I am sure that others have experienced this before us. Thank you.

Dear Email@Withheld,

What you really need is a mentor to speak with. Find a rabbi sensitive to these issues with whom you can freely talk. If you would like help in finding someone, tell me where you live and I can suggest someone.

However, I can offer some words of advice:

  • Never criticize or preach regarding religious observance.
  • Discuss any step that you plan on taking with your husband first.
  • Try to involve him in study with you or at a class.
  • Make anything to do with Torah as unthreatening, pleasant and non-imposing as possible.
  • Be extra-careful in other areas of marriage to create and foster harmony.

In addition, I recommend the book After The Return by Mordechai Becher and Moshe Newman, Feldheim Publishers.

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