O n Monday, the day after the wedding, Shainy came to see me at work. She was crying.

I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to speak to her. Rabbanit Chana always tell us that our group is special, limited only to women who follow all of our practices. No one’s forced to comply, but if someone doesn’t want to keep the rules, she can’t remain part of our kehillah. She couldn’t come to our Shalosh Seudos gatherings or to our meetings, and we couldn’t socialize with her or help her in any way.

“My parents’ rav said you can’t break up a marriage over a redid. And yesterday, my parents took me to Rav Godlevitz, the posek,” Shainy whispered nervously. “He agreed with my husband, and he told me that an ishah kesheirah does her husband’s will. That I have to stop wearing my redid.”

I knew Shainy had been through a lot in the past few months, ever since her husband had given her the ultimatum, and it showed in the stress lines on her face. We’d been trying to give her all the chizuk we could.

“You know that we have good answers to everything,” I said, keeping it short, because that way I wasn’t really talking with her, and besides, I had to get back to taking calls to meet my quota.

“Those answers won’t help. I have to make a decision, and fast.”

“So make a decision.”

“But if I decide to take off my redid, you’ll throw me out of the kehillah.”

“That’s right.”

“Sara’le, do me a favor. Rabbanit Chana likes you best.” I could see the anxiety in her every feature. “Please, talk to her for me. Explain that I want to stay in the group for the time being, even if I have to stop dressing exactly like the rest of you for a while.”

That afternoon, I went to see Rabbanit Chana. Rivky was playing at a friend’s house, as usual. “If we give Shainy a little time,” I said to the Rabbanit in my sweetest tone, “maybe she’ll manage to convince her husband to agree with our derech, and that way we won’t lose her, and she won’t lose her marriage, so everyone wins.”

“And then ten other women will suddenly remember that their husbands aren’t really happy with the redid, either,” Rabbanit Chana said quietly. “Sara’le, we’ve set boundaries in order to guard ourselves. We can’t go breaching them because of one woman’s personal problems.”

“But Rav Godlevitz had some very severe things to say about our kehillah,” I said.

“Sara’le, we’ve spoken about this many times before. There are good answers to everything people say about us.” She turned to me with a burning gaze, and I almost melted, but not quite.

Somewhere I found the courage to say, “Maybe it’s time for me to know those good answers?”

Rabbanit Chana thought a bit, and decided she could let me in on the big secret. “These are things that mustn’t go beyond these four walls,” she said.

I dug my nails into my palms, hoping she wasn’t going to change her mind. “I won’t repeat a word of it,” I solemnly promised. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 691)