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Lifelines: Late Note

C. Saphir

If I don't agree to my husband's unreasonable conditions, I’ll continue to be shackled to this man, who from day one was obsessed with controlling every aspect of my life

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

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D ear Rebbi, I deeply appreciate the extra care you give my son Duvi. I know you keep an eye out for him, and he feels it too.

You called me yesterday at work to ask me to please get Duvi to school on time. You said his chronic lateness isn’t doing good things for anyone. I told you I’d try to get him there on time today.

I’d like you to understand why that didn’t happen. Let me give you a bit of a glimpse into what my last 36 hours looked like. 


It’s 11 at night and I’m exhausted. I spent the better part of the day trying to find the right person to help me in beis din. My papers are full of scribbles: the pros and cons of one to’en, a connection to get me into a big askan, warnings about another, the schedule of that rosh yeshivah. There’s no end to the information and no end to the decisions I have to make. Decisions between one horrible option and another.

Should I agree to my husband’s demand that the kids have their own smartphones so he can Whatsapp them whenever he wants? Or that they not be allowed to go for therapy without his approval (which he’ll never give)? Or that I receive written permission from him any time I take the kids out of the city, even for a few hours? Or that I give up all claim to child support in exchange for the get?

These conditions are so obviously unreasonable, how can I agree to them? But then I’ll still be shackled to this man, who from day one was been obsessed with controlling every aspect of my life. Now, he’s trying to control every aspect of his children’s lives in retaliation for my trying to break away. But if I don’t agree to this new set of conditions, everyone is going to tell me it’s my fault I still don’t have my get — which is what they tell me all the time.

You know the term “stuck between a rock and a hard place?” Welcome to my life. I live here, on the edge of a cliff, wedged between some sharp rocks and a steep fall. And too often, the ones who absorb the fallout of my decisions are my children, seven-year-old Duvi and his three sisters.

I would love to go to sleep now but I have to wait up until one a.m. That’s when the rav said I should call him back. Anyway, there’s still so much to do. The kids have no clean clothes for tomorrow, I’d better do laundry. And I didn’t eat yet today. But how can I put effort into such mundane problems when I have so many real problems in my life? I’d better say Tehillim, I didn’t get to daven today! Is Hashem going to help me when I don’t even daven? So I say Tehillim — but I can’t concentrate on a single pasuk. Now I really don’t feel good about myself.

Maybe I should make some supper for myself. I long ago stopped feeling hunger. My turbocharged mental state doesn’t allow such unimportant messages to filter in, but I know it’s a good idea for me to eat. Not chicken, I have to save that for the kids. I’ll eat something cheaper, like avocado or crackers. I have n’t eaten chicken on a weekday in two years, since the custody case started. I’ll eat chicken again after I pay off the lawyer. Whenever that will be. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 683)

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