Posted on | January 31, 2007 | By Maya | 36 Comments
A Tough Question
Being the only observant Jew in my immediate family, I get asked many questions about Orthodox Judaism. Some are very straightforward questions about keeping shabbat and kosher and other questions are more difficult to answer. The last time I visited my parents, my mom asked me why there are some observant Jews that are very strict about keeping shabbat and kosher but not so strict about keeping the laws of shomer negia.
My first reaction about hearing this question was “Do I really have to answer this?”, I don’t like being put into the position of spokesperson for Orthodox Judiasm, especially since I am very uncomfortable labeling how I practice Judaism.
After that initial thought, I decided to give it a shot. First I mentioned to my mom that people are putting off marriage for a variety of reasons, wanting to establish careers, live on their own before being married, etc. There is less of a stigma in society these days when it comes to premarital sex and living together before marriage, ie the popularity of “Sex and the City”.
When you get married young, you don’t have to struggle so much when it comes to shomer negia, although there are different struggles to be faced. In my neighborhood, I see people who are single well into their 30s and 40s and even though times have changed, the urges for physical contact have not changed. Everyone gets lonely, even in the city that never sleeps. It takes a herculean amount of self-discipline and self-confidence in order to remain shomer negia. When you live in a city with so many options at your door, it is a wonder that any adults are shomer negia today. I summed up the discussion by saying that some people are stronger at controlling these urges and are able to wait until they get married. Regardless, no one has the right to judge. We all have our own struggles to deal with and it is better to focus on yourself and how you can be a better person rather than tearing people down.
Has anyone ever had to answer these type of questions before? How would you have handled the situation?