Thursday, May 18, 2006

Question for all the rebbetzins out there...

I have a question for all the rebbetzins out there - regulars, rebels, and rabble-rousers alike. Anonymity welcomed! Your comments/answers will help with a subplot line in my next novel.

Here's my question:

When a member of your congregation approaches you, what - if any - information do you share with your husband and where do you draw the line between the issues you deal with and the ones you refer on to your husband?

Okay, that was sort of two questions morphed into one.

Thanks in advance!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

A student of my husband's and I got into a long, involved conversation about his history with anger problems, possible learning disability, etc. etc. I felt that because he and my husband have a good relationship, it was valuable for me to tell my husband "Ploni and I had a long talk, I think he might be LD. If it comes up, I recommend you recommending that he get it checked out," but I didn't get into any details.

Although the truth is, now that I think about it, I should have checked with the student first as to whether or not it was ok with him.

And, now that I think about it, I think you're asking a halachic question and you should ask your husband, or any competent halachic authority.

Repressed Rebel Rebbetzin

Sheyna Galyan said...

And, now that I think about it, I think you're asking a halachic question and you should ask your husband, or any competent halachic authority.

Repressed Rebel - Thanks for sharing your experience! I'm not sure that I'm asking a halachic question because I'm not asking what a rebbetzin should do, or what one is obligated to do. I just want to know the general experience of those willing to share: how do YOU decide what you share with a congregant from your own knowledge/experience and what you "refer" to your husband (the rabbi)?

Or for that matter, what issues would your husband encourage you to pursue with congregants (family purity laws with women congregants? kitchen questions? women who just need a kind ear to listen and feel more comfortable with you? what else?) and for which ones does he want to be the only source for the congregation?

What about if your husband doesn't HAVE a congregation, but teaches instead?

So many questions... :-)

young rebbitzen said...

Hmm..to be very honest, the vast majority of the time, my husband and I share everything with each other. We live in a small community, my husband has no colleagues, and being able to talk things over is very important for both of us. When the issues are very sensitive, we (usually) either check with the person involved that it is ok that we mention the conversation to the other spouse, or discuss anonymously. We also will often say "why don't you talk to my husband\wife about xyz." You sort of phrased this in terms of how we decide which one of us is better equipped or wants to deal with a situation, I suppose because we are fairly young and just starting out we feel better equipped to deal with things together. Also, my husband's first rabbinic mentor, who is an incredibly ethical and sensitive person, told my husband numerous times that he talks everything over with his wife. And, my parents always emphasized that there are no secrets between spouses. That being said, although I clearly feel somewhat guilty, I don't think that we have ever shared anything super inappropriate, and nobody has ever asked us to keep something quiet between each other, or seemed to mind at all when we ask if we can share it.

Sheyna Galyan said...

YR - thanks! That's very helpful. That's pretty much where I'm thinking of going with this story arc.

Other concurring, dissenting, or in-between responses are still welcome!