Posted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Now that the tide has turned in favor of gay marriage by America’s second most-populous state permitting it, it’s time to put the debate behind us and focus on more important things, specifically saving American marriage.
Yes, I know. The opponents of gay marriage have been saying they were doing just that, that their sole intention in obsessing over the issue for three decades was to protect the family and the institution of marriage. But gays marrying has nothing to do with heterosexuals divorcing and the real crisis in the American marriage is not that people of the same sex want to get hitched but that people of the opposite don’t want to stay together. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York told CNN, “I’m very sorry that our opponents succeeded in reducing this to anti-gay sentiment. It’s not. It’s pro-marriage, it’s not anti-gay.” I respect the Archbishop. But then why wasn’t he simultaneously calling for legislation that would make marital counseling tax-deductible in New York and why hasn’t he launched a crusade to cut the number of divorces in New York state by half? Is it credible to believe that the only way to save marriage is to stop the gays from participating?
My parents divorced when I was eight. There were no gays around to blame. It was mid-1970’s America and gays scarcely came out of the closet, let alone marry, the very thought being inconceivable. My parents did not argue because they saw two gay women holding hands at an airport. They did not bicker because a rainbow flag hung outside a bar in our neighborhood. They did not decide to end their marriage because they could not agree on how the institution of marriage should be defined. Rather, their marriage ended because it ran out of love.
Their split scarred me for life, just as it does many other children of divorce, as a newly published study in the American Sociological Review demonstrates. The study found little to no impact on children prior to divorce but significant decreases in performance in math and social skills at the time of, and following the divorce, which gives the lie to the belief that children are worse off seeing parents fight then seeing them divorce. And no, I do not believe that parents should stay together for the sake of their children. Children should be jailers. But less so do I believe we should fool ourselves about the effects of divorce on children.
My parent’s love me and did not want me to suffer. But they could not, or chose not, to get along. I have since devoted much of my life toward keeping families together and regularly counsel marriages in crisis. In the twenty-two years I have done so no straight couple has ever told me that their problems stem from gays wanting to marry. In most cases their marital unhappiness resulted from falling out-of-love or losing attraction, or one of the partners had been unfaithful. Money problems may have eaten away at the fabric of the relationship. Parents or other family members might have intervened and caused friction. Or the pressures of life made it impossible for the couple to spend quality time together. But none of the problems I have counseled could ever be traced back to gay marriage.
The truth is that the thirty-year fight over gay marriage has been a massive distraction for America that has prevented us from focusing on skyrocketing divorce, the growing culture of male womanizing, women feeling unreasonably old, fat, and unattractive, the fixation of husbands and wives on celebrity relationships that deprives their own marriages of oxygen, and the dumbing down of American through moronic reality TV. My God, we can’t even talk about runaway materialism in our culture. When consumer insatiability nearly destroyed our economy in 2008, we responded by fighting over Proposition Eight in California. And as New York State and New Jersey slowly go bankrupt through out of control government spending, the state legislatures still bicker about gay marriage.
The passing of the gay marriage bill in New York State has now provided an opportunity. There, it’s over. Now let’s focus on what the bill says, which is that even in a secular age where premarital sex and living together are what the majority choose over marriage, guess what, marriage is still important. Most people, even those being condemned for it, still want to be married. The bill says, whatever you think of gays wanting to marry, the human condition is such that people want to be with one person forever. That monogamy is the way we all ought to live. That love is real and commitment glorious. That no person wants to be alone, just as the Bible declared in the very first chapter of Genesis. That love and romance are to be found specifically in an institution that promotes fidelity and loyalty and that living together in some undefined status – relying on emotional whim rather than rock-solid commitment – is insufficient. Indeed, one of the strangest things about Governor Andrew Cuomo’s fight to legalize gay marriage is that he has chosen not to marry his own girlfriend Sandra Lee. And while that is his business, it does beg the question of why, if he believes marriage really is so important that all should enjoy its blessings, he hasn’t made the commitment to the woman he loves.
My traditional readers will find it scandalous. But is it possible that the victory of gay marriage is actually an opportunity to bolster traditional values?
When I was Rabbi at Oxford for eleven years those most likely to champion gay marriage were the ones least likely to marry themselves. They were liberal, unconventional, and frowned on institutions, especially religion, which they found doctrinaire and oppressive. They believed that marriage was an outdated and monogamy unworkable. Marriage lacked passion and its sole function seemed to be the raising of children. Worse, it did not work. Everyone they knew who was married was either divorced or miserable.
Now, the calculus has changed. We can now tell all the womanizers out there that sowing your wild oats is for cowards and marriage is universally acknowledged by both right and left, liberal and conservative, religious and secular, to be glorious. Marriage is where is the action’s at and merely sleeping together without love and commitment has been discarded by society in a huge legal brawl that has seen marriage triumph. So give up you boy’s and girl’s who devote themselves to bed-hopping. High School is over. It’s time to grow up and become adults.
Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is the international best-selling author of 25 books, most recently “Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life.” (Basic Books) The winner of the National Fatherhood Award and the American Jewish Press Association’s Highest Award for Excellence in Commentary, he is described by Newsweek as ‘the most famous Rabbi in America.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
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June 24, 2011 | 10:37 am
Posted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
This week’s Torah reading deals with the rebellion of Korach, a cousin of Moses, who contends that he is just as deserving of leadership as the great lawgiver. Korach claims that Moses has usurped power for reasons of self-aggrandizement. Moses, whom the Bible declares to be the most humble man on the earth, acts out of character, becoming visibly angry, and says to G-d, ““Do not accept their offering. I have not taken a donkey from a single one of them, and I have not harmed a single one of them.” Moses is declaring that he never acted out of reasons of ego. That which he did, in setting up the Jewish leadership structure, was at G-d’s command. Ultimately, things do not fare well for Korach and his cohort. They are swallowed by the earth, never to be heard from again.
Korach is like a lot of people who practice religion. He wishes to be close to G-d, he wishes to be elevated above the rest of the people. But his motivation is for G-d to do something for him. He wants religion to fill the emptiness of his life, he wants it to help him grow. Korach loves G-d and wants to draw close to him. He is upset that Moses is closer. But whereas Moses serves G-d by His command, Korach’s desire is to fill an inner emptiness and void. Lacking meaning and purpose in life, he turns to G-d to fill in the space.
Real religious is God-centric. God is supposed to be at the apex of our lives, their every action revolving around His will. I reject utterly this superficial notion that religions is designed to help us grow. We are not plants. If you want to grow eat your Wheaties. To the contrary, religion and G-d’s will are to be obeyed even if it at times bores you. You don’t get married to grow as a person. Doing so would entering into a relationship to use your spouse for your own spiritual objectives. You get married because you have love to offer and you want to make someone happy.
But Korach represents the man or woman who comes to Church or Synagogue seeking the opposite. They want God to cater to their needs. They want the Synagogue service to give them the same good vibes as a Bruce Springsteen concert. Theirs is a man-centered religion. Religion is supposed to move them, enlighten them, and make them grow. Religion exists to refine their characters. They draw closer to G-d for their own purposes, however noble.
I often tell my Christian friends that they can learn much from Judaism about the correct way to understand Christ. The classic Christian understanding of the death of Christ is that Jesus lays down his life for humans in order to atone for their sin. This reflects the thought conveyed above. G-d exists for the benefit of the people. He dies so that the people can be saved and it’s all about them. But the quintessential symbol of Judaism is precisely the opposite. Abraham is prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac at G-d’s command. Humans exist to perform the divine will, whatever the consequences. We are here for G-d, not the reverse. So too, Jesus is martyred by the Romans for his desire to live as a Jew in a land that was being brutalized by Roman tyranny. He died serving his G-d.
Korach is the archetype of all those who go to Synagogue in order to find spiritual uplift, who go to Church to feel inspired, who practice Buddhism to find enlightenment. And should any of these religions fail to deliver, they become lapsed because the religion’s purpose, from their perspective, is self-edification.
This is a selfish mindset that simply extends human narcissism into the spiritual realm. It is this obsession with self which has wrought so much havoc on the modern world. In essence it is the mindset of the consumer. Everything exists for his benefit. Like Pacman, he devours everything in his midst, including G-d himself. It is the mind of utilitarian who sees personal utility in all that he encounters
Hence, the punishment for Korach and his followers is unlike any found anywhere else in the Bible. He is swallowed by the earth, never to be heard from again. His end reflects his very essence. In his life he was a black hole, sucking the oxygen out of all that he encountered. His death reflected this same insatiability. An earth that he had plundered for his own purposes gulped him down in one swish, never to be heard from again.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is founder of This World: The Values Network. His upcoming books “Ten Conversations You Need to Have with Yourself. (Wiley). Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
Written by Rabbi Shmuley in memory of Machla bat Bina & Pinchas Dabakarov
June 20, 2011 | 10:52 am
Posted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
The growing anti-Semitic images and caricatures associated with the attempt to ban circumcision in San Francisco are disturbing. These include the highly inflammatory “Foreskin Man” comic, depicting a superhero saving innocent boys from evil circumcisers, which the Jerusalem Post reported to have been produced by Matthew Hess, “one of the central backers of the anti-circumcision measures.” Indeed, the attempt to ban circumcision in San Francisco smacks of a nefarious campaign on the part of the ban’s organizers to portray circumcision as genital mutilation that gives the lie that Judaism and Jewish practice would ever harm a child. I debated Lloyd Schofield, the main man behind the ban, on CNN. I later respectfully asked him to debate me in public where we would have more time and, after he penned a friendly email which curiously implied that there is not much difference between our two positions, he suddenly declined.
But if the case against circumcision is so clear-cut, and it is a grievous assault on a harmless infant, then why decline the debate? Perhaps it is because the organizers know that in any debate their attempt to correlate the excising of the male foreskin with the removal of the female clitoris – a point they have repeatedly made – will be shown up to be a malicious and absurd lie. Female circumcision is all about removing a woman’s ability to have pleasure during sexual relations and is a barbarous act of mutilation that has no corollary to its male counterpart. In my book Kosher Sex I demonstrated conclusively that Judaism celebrates the sexual, intimate, and erotic bond between husband and wife and the attempts to malign circumcision as a method of denying a man’s sexual pleasure are ignorant and biased.
San Francisco is supposed to be the city of live-and-let-live even as it now betrays a curious attachment to the male foreskin, with its ludicrous attempt to punish its large Jewish community with a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail for simply honoring the oldest of all Jewish practices and rituals.
When I lived in Western Europe for 11 years it was common to hear attacks on circumcision and shechita coming together, as if there was some correlation between the humane slaughtering of an animal with the cutting of a child’s foreskin. Sweden has a reputation of being a pretty laid-back nation but it stiffens in the face of circumcision. In 2001 when it enacted a draconian law requiring a medical doctor or an anesthesia nurse to accompany a registered circumciser and for an anesthetic to be applied to a baby beforehand. Swedish Jews and Muslim banded together to object and the World Jewish Congress condemned the law as “the first legal restriction on Jewish religious practice in Europe since the Nazi era.”
All this, of course, belies the medical facts. Circumcision has been proven as the second most effective means – after a condom – to stop the transmission of HIV-AIDS, with the British Medical Journal reporting that circumcised men are 8 times less likely to contract the infection. Circumcision removes Langerhans cells in the foreskin with special receptors that may grant the virus access into the body.
Circumcision also significantly reduces the transmission of other STD’s like genital herpes and syphilis and also reduces the risk of urinary-tract infection, and me who are circumcised have 100 percent immunity from contracting penile cancer.
Male circumcision is much healthier for women, significantly reducing the risk of cervical cancer by at least twenty percent according to an article in the British Medical Journal in April 2002. Cancer of the cervix in women is due to the Human Papilloma Virus which can thrive under and on the foreskin from where it can be transmitted during intercourse.
So why the effort to ban circumcision? Simple. Radical secularists for whom Judaism is a target of choice wish to portray religion as so barbarous that it excises any pleasure in sex, reducing copulation to a cold and sterile act of baby-making.
The lie that religion frowns on sexual pleasure is widespread. In fact, deeply fulfilling, ecstatic, and climactic sex is a must in Jewish law which makes it a sin for a man to have sex with his wife without pleasuring her first. Judaism insists that sex be accompanied by exhilaration and pleasure as a bonding experience that leads to emotional connection and intimacy.
Indeed, we Jews could teach even the highly sexually adventurous people of the Golden Gate City a thing or two about great sex, the proof of which is that we alone, among all the nations of the world, are still here after thousands of years, due to the fact that our circumcised ancestors were pretty good at doing it.
Had Messrs. Schofield and Hess canvassed Jewish husbands and wives before they got the attempted circumcision ban on the ballot, they would have discovered that we Jews are doing just fine in the sexual department and could really do without their bothersome assault on our ancient rituals and the privacy of our sexual connection. Circumcised Jewish men are great lovers and I would strongly advise Schofield and Hess to keep their nose in their own business and maybe even read my other two books The Kosher Sutra and Kosher Adultery to receive some great Jewish advice for take-me-to-the-moon-and-back sex which might rescue them from their own repression that necessitates their peering into other people’s bedrooms.
Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is the interational best-selling author of 25 books which have been translated into 17 languages and is currently working on “The Sexually Extinguished Wife.” Follow him Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
June 16, 2011 | 10:34 am
Posted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, tweeted a message to Congressman Anthony Weiner saying, “Dear Congressman Weiner: There is no effective ‘treatment’ for sin. Only atonement, found only in Jesus Christ.”
I hear you, Rev. Mohler. But I seem to recall many sexual scandals involving evangelical ministers that would seem to undermine the premise that salvation through Jesus Christ grants immunity to sexual sin.
I have debated Rev. Mohler many times on national TV, most notably on CNN’s Larry King Live. We have spent time together in the green room and I have enjoyed his company as a warm and unassuming man and as a lover and supporter of the State of Israel. But just as soon as the TV camera goes on, Mohler’s persona changes. He is one of our Christian brothers who believes that Christians alone are saved, that Jews, however moral, ethical, and virtuous, are condemned to the eternal bonfire simply because they don’t believe in Christ.
No doubt this is the reason that Rev. Mohler has turned to Weiner, a Jew, and attempted to proselytize him via Twitter, the implication being that Weiner’s Judaism has not prevented him from sin but Christianity will.
I have a slightly different take on the matter.
Redemption comes about not through anything we believe but how we behave. A man can repose faith in the law of Moses, he can proclaim his love for Jesus, he can affirm his devotion to Muhammad. He can read the Bible, memorize the Koran, or become a walking index of the New Testament. And none of that will amount to a hill of beans if he texts pictures of his appendage to a woman that is not his wife. It is not faith that guarantees our morality but rather an ironclad commitment to righteous action, be we atheists or theist.
Redemption is never a function of belief and always a function of deed. What Rev. Mohler should have said to Congressman Weiner was that the Judaism in which he was raised has always extoled the virtue of action over dogma, behavior over belief. A man can profess all the love in the world to his wife. But if he breaks her heart by focusing his erotic attention on other women, then his emotions are fraudulent and useless. Jesus expressed the same idea: “By their fruits you shall know them.” (Matt: 7-16) Notice that, contrary to Rev. Mohler, he did not say “By their faith you shall know them.”
I have counseled many married couples and I have especially sat with countless heart-broken wives who have told me of their husband’s infidelities. In their pain these wives did not much care if their husbands were sincerely religious or utterly secular. They were not focused on whether their husbands believed in G-d or believed in the tooth ferry. Rather, what shook them to their core was that their husbands, whatever their belief, had replaced them with someone else, making them feel unattractive, useless, superfluous, old, and ordinary. They felt abandoned and alone.
Rev. Mohler’s Tweet gives the misleading impression that faith alone can make a man moral and ethical. Yet the history of religion demonstrates clearly that that this is not the case. There are plenty of atheists who are faithful and romantic, plenty of religious people who cheat or are sexually distracted, and vice versa.
Atonement comes not from belief in Jesus Christ but from getting on your knees in front of the wife whose heart you broke, begging her forgiveness, and placing yourself in an environment of change that will help sustain your new moral commitment. Judaism is emphatic that when it comes to sins that pertain to human relationships, not even G-d can forgive. The injured party must be approached directly.
And if Congressman Weiner is interested is turning his life around, while I thank my friend Rev. Mohler most cordially for offering Jesus, I would tell the good Congressman that he is a Jew and that the wisdom of Judaism is readily available through countless Rabbis who do not seek to judge him but to restore him to a path of moral integrity and righteous action.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is founder of This World: The Values Network and is the author of “Kosher Adultery: Seduce and Sin with Your Spouse.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
June 13, 2011 | 9:25 am
Posted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Anthony Weiner should resign, but not for the reasons you think. True, he has disgraced his office and broken the people’s trust. And yet we’re well aware of how many public servants are deeply flawed with out-of-control libidos, yet do a lot of good for the people. Just because a man is terrible at being a husband does not mean that he can’t be a good public servant. JFK was arguably the worst husband in the history of the US presidency, claiming virtually any woman with a pulse as mistress. Yet he is still missed by the American people and rated highly as a President.
Added to being a lousy husband is the fact that Weiner is a liar. But not telling the truth is what we expect from politicians who say almost anything to get elected. We’ve all heard the old joke about knowing that a politician is lying because his lips are moving.
Rather, Weiner should resign for personal reasons.
He needs help.
Not sexual help, as this was never about sex. He had sex with none of these women. Less so was this about pornographic titillation, something Weiner could have easily gotten from countless websites where he would not have been caught.
No, Weiner needs help to overcome self-destructive tendencies that border on a death wish and that will consume him if he ignores them. Any elected official who tweets his swollen male appendage to a complete stranger and takes pictures virtually naked in the congressional gym is throwing his life and career in the air with no knowledge of where it will land. This is the behavior of someone with a subliminal desire for total self-annihilation. And no doubt it is the degree of his self-destructive tendencies that is giving his wife pause about staying with him much more than any bizarre sexual fetish.
Bill Clinton exhibited the same inclination to self-immolation when he had sex in the Oval Office, the single most watched and guarded place on earth. He knew full well what his staff and Secret Service must have thought when a young intern – with no official business with the President – went in repeatedly to claim so much time of the busiest man on earth. But Clinton didn’t care. He shared the same self-destructive tendencies that were also demonstrated by Arnold Schwarzenegger in having sex with a woman that worked in his house and was around his wife day and night, even keeping her on staff for a dozen years after she had his child. These are the marks of men who have become so deeply cynical about life that the only adrenaline rush that will satisfy is one where they their lives off a cliff. These are all men who live with an unending craving for love and incessant need for attention, forever proving themselves, and therefore despising their very existence which involves an eternal feeling of inadequacy and unworthiness. Men who hate themselves this much and strive eternally for the validation of others harbor a secret wish that, in way or another, the inner torment will cease. That’s why they play Russian Roulette with their lives. Anything to dull the pain.
To say that Weiner has a death-wish sounds serious but is actually quite common to the Broken American Male. They are looking for anything that will deaden the never-ending inner ache. That’s where numbing agents like alcohol, workaholism, and drugs come in, with sex being the anaesthetizing drug of choice. Sexual climax brings a feeling of emotionlessness, detachment, and numbness which quiets the feeling of anxiety and nervousness, however briefly. Here is also why sex becomes so deeply addictive, as it’s being pursued for the instant ‘hit’ it provides. But since it involves no deep connection to another human being, it is insubstantive in nature and thus the hit can only be sustained in ever-increasing doses.
Anthony Weiner will not resign. They’ll have to push him out, pry his cold hands from the door of his Congressional office. In his mind this seat is all he has. It defines him. Take it away and in his mind he becomes the proverbial tree in the forest that falls without anyone witnessing or hearing it. Without the bells and whistles of success Weiner sees himself as non-existent. No doubt he fears that his wife will leave him as well, convinced as he is that she only married him because of his office.
I am of a serious mind to run against Congressman Weiner to highlight the broken state of American manhood and how we must finally address it rather than watch more decent men combust. A run against Weiner might just provide the platform to extol the values void in America. America is in desperate need of new ideals, especially as it pertains to men in the public arena. Mark my words: there will be an increase in sexual scandals. Until we finally address the depressing state of the American male – how he has been reduced to an automaton designed to pursue power, money, or fame with scant emphasis on the cultivation of his humanity and personhood – we will continue to witness men acting out, doing anything they can to feel sexy, desirable, and salve their macerated egos.
The solution is a new set of values for American men that defines success first and foremost as behaving like a gentleman and declaring as failures all those who may have conquered the world but who have broken the hearts of those closest to them. It is the man who cheats on his wife who is a failure even if he has a hedge fund. It is the man who has no time for his children who is a loser even if he’s a Senator. And it is the man who degrades women by treating them as naught but the walking fulfillment of his libido whose life is a disappointment, even as jets around in his Gulfstream V.
A female friend of mine told me that while she agrees with my theory of the Broken American Male, she discovered, in having discussed it with her boyfriend, that it is not an idea popular among men. I disagree. It is not popular among boys who masquerade as men. But there are still a few of us who, recognizing our inner state of brokenness and permanent feeling of inadequacy, want to stop being hunter-gatherers – impressing the world with our flashy possessions – and instead light up the world with the luminescence of our souls.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the founder of This World: The Values Network, and will shortly publish “Ten Conversations You Need to Have with Yourself.” Follow him Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
June 6, 2011 | 9:58 pm
Posted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
When I wrote a column last week calling Anthony Weiner yet another Broken American Male who needs to feel attractive to women in order to feel whole, one of the outlets that publishes my columns refused to publish without significant changes. “It sounds like you’re making the assumption that he’s lying about being hacked.”
There are good and bad liars and to his credit Anthony Weiner is a terrible liar. One of the worst I have ever seen.
As he gave TV interviews about he had been pranked, and then blamed the Republicans for his troubles, he looked away from the cameras, brought in complete nonsequitors, made infantile jokes about being attacked by his toaster, and said that he won’t go to law enforcement because he doesn’t want to waste their resources. If there is any truth to the widespread theory that men who cheat actually want to get caught, then the stupidity of Anthony Weiner in sending tasteless pictures of his underwear to complete strangers constitutes high proof indeed.
In his confessional press conference Weiner was asked what he was thinking. He responded he honestly did not know.
He was thinking that this felt darn good. That feeling wanted by women made him feel special. That having strangers want to check out his state of arousal made him feel desirable. That having women lust after him made him feel accomplished.
This isn’t rocket science. Men like Anthony Weiner live in the permanent fear that they are not special. Their greatest fear is that they are ordinary. And they spend their lives trying to disprove that fear.
But he’s a Congressman, you say. Yes, but he’s not a Senator. And if he were a Senator, then he’s still not President. And even if he were President, he is still not on Mount Rushmore. There is always someone more accomplished, more special, more beloved. It is a peculiar trait of the Broken American Male to always be combative, to forever be on the defensive. Because the BAM always feels that he is under threat. And when you nurse feelings of failure of that magnitude you need something – anything – to rescue you from the blues. Women are the quickest and most reliable way for broken men to feel good about themselves.
But they are also the most destructive.
Not because you’re going to get caught as a married Congressman who breaks his vows. But because the online or offline affair is like any other drug that masks rather than remedies pain. You have solved nothing save to put a salve on your fragile ego. When the novelty of the affair wears off, or when the woman in question loses respect for you for behaving so immaturely and hurting your wife, you’re going to feel even worse, further confirming that you really are a loser after all. And then the addiction will only increase. You’ll need more women. A stronger hit. A more radical drug. And that’s when you’re going to start getting reckless and careless, sending out Tweets on Memorial Day Weekend from your Blackberry of your bulging underpants without even checking that you’re sending it to the right party. You bring in your other 45 thousand followers into your extreme state of brokenness.
There is a better way.
You have a wife. Go and tell her how broken you are, how you take so little joy from your many achievements. How you have a cavernous black hole at your center that were all the gold and fame in the world to be dumped into it you would still not feel full.
And as your wife listens she offers you comfort. She tells you that you don’t – you can’t! – spend your life proving yourself. You are not special because of the titles you possess or the property you own. You’re special because you’re loved. And you don’t have to earn that love. It’s a free gift given by a woman to a man. All you, the man, has to do is be open to receiving it. All you have to do is fight and dismiss the self-loathing that makes you feel unworthy of the love and causes you to bat it away.
It takes no activity on the part of a man to be loved by his wife. All it takes is being passive. Learn to live in comfort in your own skin. Be accepting of yourself and find your unique place in the world that is not in competition with others. Work on yourself to be happy for the success of colleagues. Their success is not your failure. Every person has share in this world and you will find yours, so long as you do not envy that of someone else.
So, did Anthony Weiner want to be found out? In a manner, yes, but it’s more subtle then simply saying he subconsciously wished to expose himself. Rather, he wanted to get rid of the pain. He wanted to live free of the feelings of failure. He would do anything to be liberated from washout demons that forever haunt him. So he cried out – even to a complete stranger – to help him. He used the immense power of the erotic, not to draw closer to his wife but to soothe his macerated ego, not realizing that all of his followers – whom he has consistently sought to impress with Twitter proclamations of TV appearances, charm, and wit – would witness what they have also witnessed: a man desperate to be loved. Sometimes he pursued that love by telling his constituents how much he fights for them. Sometimes he pursued that love by making sure we all know that a former US President officiated at his wedding. And sometimes he pursued that love in the most toxic way possible, by desperately seeking the affection of a woman – any woman – to make him feel desirable when all along a woman that was not a stranger desired him so profoundly that she agreed to be his partner and soul-mate for her entire life.
Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is the author of “The Broken American Male and How to Heal Him” (HarperCollins). Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
June 3, 2011 | 10:55 am
Posted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Whether or not Anthony Weiner tweeted a photo of his, um, inspired state to a woman not his wife is of less interest to the public than his policies and hyper-partisanship. The real question for Joe Public about politicians like Weiner is whether or not they are good for the country rather than good for their own private marriages. That is something he and his wife must decide.
Still, Weinergate matters for an entirely different reason. How may more public figures are we going to see combust before our eyes before we make the decision to start a real dialogue about the foul state of men in America? How many more talented men will see their careers and marriages go up in flames before they make the decision to heal?
In 2008 I published a book called “The Broken American Male” that called for just that, a real conversation about the sky-high levels of male violence, depression, porn-addiction, and infidelity. But even I could not predict just three years ago that we would be treated on a near-weekly basis to some giant personality going up in flames due to a torrid sexual scandal. It’s gotten so ludicrous that within a fortnight of each other we had two world-renowned bankers arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting the hotel cleaners. And these were guys who could easily have afforded a high-end call girl if it was sex that they craved.
But it wasn’t.
It was something else entirely. Men today are broken. We have created a hyper-competitive society where the worth of a man is judged by one thing and one thing only: his professional success, measured in how money he has, how much power he wields, and how famous he’s become. Those who engage in the arena are, sadly, the most messed-up of all.
Is anyone really surprised at all the reports from owners of prostitution agencies and strip-clubs that about half their clients work on Wall Street. These guys live under an intense pressure-cooker where they have no time to explore their own humanity or feelings. The only thing that matters to their firms is their productivity, their hands rather than their hearts. So they can only relate to women with their hands, as well. Hence, they cannot sustain an emotional attachment to the gentler gender. So they commoditize her. Since these men live only for money, they can only relate to women who are interested in the same. They cannot treat women as equals. They have to own them, which explains why these out-of-control bankers are often, allegedly, forcing themselves on the hotel help. The women are there, in their own minds, to cater to their every need, to make their beds in a metaphorical as well as a literal sense. That’s what happens when you create a generation of men who only know how to own things and not to relate to them.
What is needed to bring some change is one courageous man – just one – who has been caught in a scandal to come out and say the truth. I nominate Anthony Weiner. Firstly, he is up a creek and his hard-built career is imploding before his eyes. Second, he is brash with a big mouth. Why not use it to save himself and the male species at the same time.
Here is what he can say:
“Members of the media, thank you for coming to my press conference. I have given conflicting reports over the past few days as to who tweeted what and whether the picture tweeted was me. There is good reason for this. I was ashamed and embarrassed by my actions. So I spun yarns from whole cloth. The truth is that I am a decent, but damaged male. I try and do the right thing but my insecurities are getting the better of me. Even after marrying a wonderful and accomplished woman who is devoted to me and whom I love, I still feel that I need the validation of other women to feel important.
“You may wonder why a Congressman would feel unaccomplished. But the truth is that no matter what I achieve it just goes into a bottomless, inner pit. I never feel good about myself. It seems there is always someone ahead of me, someone even more accomplished, someone getting more attention, with brighter advancement prospects. I can’t seem to quiet the demons in my head, which also explains some of my other reported behavior. I am a man with a heart who wants to be good. I say that sincerely. But I can be tough on my subordinates because I always feel like I am just treading water and when they make mistakes they sink me.
“But the events of the past few days have really taught me something. They have taught me that if I do not finally get control over these toxic inner voices and start taking joy from my life and wife and feel good and accepting about myself, the darkness is just going to grow until me over completely.
“So I’ve decided first and foremost that I am going to have a conversation with my wife about some of the mistakes I’ve made. I’m going to come clean. They are not big mistakes. But I want her to be not just my partner, but my soul-mate. I am going to therefore invite her into my soul and what she discovers isn’t always going to be pretty. But it’s me – damaged and broken – but still me, the real me. And I need her comfort and support. Which is why I married her in the first place.
“Second, I’ve decided to have this conversation with all of you, notwithstanding how painful and humiliating it has felt. I’m having the conversation because it’s time that me and other Broken American Males shared the nature of the feelings of unworthiness that plague us, that no seat in Congress can remedy and no amount of money can cure. Only we can remedy it by having better, more deeply-seated values and more intimate and fulfilling relationships. That’s what I’m committed to today. I will try to never again define myself solely by my professional achievements but mostly by the code of male honor that I try and observe as a gentleman. I want to be committed to my wife in thought, speech, and action. I want to be a loyal friend and a devoted son. And I want to be inspiration to the public, warts and all.
“I realize that these commitments I’m making today can change tomorrow. So I have also found a spiritual authority – someone I deeply respect – to speak to twice a week over the next few months to help me remain grounded and rooted in these important values that ought to define my public and private life. I have also given my wife the password for every online account I have so she has complete access to my online life, which is the way it should be for a husband and wife who should be joined in every way.
“Again, I am sorry for giving you all the run around. But in sharing my heart I feel liberated, even as I am humbled.
“May G-d bless you all and may G-d grant healing to the men of America and continue to bless this majestic and great nation.”
Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is one of the world’s leading relationships experts and is the best-selling author of “Kosher Sex”, “Kosher Adultery”, “The Kosher Sutra”, and “Hating Women: America’s Hostile Campaign Against the Fairer Sex.” Follow him online @RabbiShmuley.
June 2, 2011 | 1:27 pm
Posted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
It was a sweltering Memorial Day in the New York area so I drove with my kids to Greenwich, Connecticut ,which I was told had beautiful beaches. I was somewhat reluctant to go because I had read that Greenwich makes it difficult for outsiders to use their parks and beaches. But I had also read that the city was sued in the past over privatizing their beaches so I did not anticipate any problems.
Pulitzer-Prize winning author Robert Caro writes in his book The Power Broker that the reason the bridges on New York’s Parkways were built so low was to make it impossible for buses to bring low-income families, especially African-Americans, to the public parks and beaches in New York State. But all this was the past. We live in the America of 2011. Beaches are public and noone is kept out. Right?
That assumption was the beginning of a pretty miserable day.
We arrived at Greenwich Point Park, a jutting peninsula that looked pretty. They would not sell us a pass to get in. They told us we had to drive back into the city, go to some bureaucrat’s office, and pay $20 for the car and $5 for each person to sit on a beach. We were happy to pay but couldn’t we do it right there? No, the attendant explained to us that we had to follow this map back into the city and go to an office that hopefully was open on Memorial Day.
The children and I were deflated. We gave up on the park and proceeded to drive around Greenwich looking for a pretty place to stroll. We found a gorgeous coastal walk, parked the car, and climbed over a small stone fence onto a tiny and mostly unoccupied beach. Immediately a man in a suit and a tie alighted on us to tell us that the beach was private. He was the manager of a club that owned it. We had to leave immediately. We climbed back on to the sidewalk.
But the manager was not finished with us yet. We had to leave the street as well, he told us. Turns out we had driven into a private community and the very street and sidewalk were off limits. By now I was getting tired of this. I asked the manager how a street could be private. He explained that the residents paid a special tax. I responded that I had the misfortune of living in a city in New Jersey that had some of the highest taxes in the nation. Still, we didn’t’ close our streets to visitors. He proceeded to call a patrol car that was driving by. Within minutes the police officer was telling me, right in front of my kids, that if I did not leave he would arrest me. ‘But there was no sign saying any of this was private,’ I objected. ‘Noone stopped to tell us we were in a private area. We just wanted to go to a beach. We drove up, parked, and started to walk. Is that a crime?’ He told me I had received my first warning and this was my final chance. He reached for something in his pocket to begin the booking process. I thought to myself if I’m arrested my children will be stranded in this private community, they won’t have anyone to drive them off, and soon they’ll be arrested as well. Then my wife would come to find us and she too would be arrested. The whole family would be behind bars. I politely agreed to leave. The policeman smiled warmly and politely gave me directions to a ‘public’ beach in a nearby town. ‘It’s where I take my grandkids,’ he told me. Wow. You mean even the police who patrolled the area did not use it when off duty? At least I wasn’t the only outcast.
We then drove to Rye, New York, looking for a beach, only to discover that these beaches were indeed open to riff-raff like us but that there was a charge. Nine dollars per adult. Kids were free. At least some members of society were valued in these areas. We paid and entered, trying our best to salvage some of our day.
As we drove home my kids asked me if we had entered another planet. ‘What was that strange place, Tatty?,’ they asked me? ‘Do they only want really rich people there? The place seemed a little snobby.’ A little?
You see, my kids were raised in a community in New Jersey that has a beautiful wooded area at its center. But the idea of closing it off to non-residents would be anathema. The same is true of Miami Beach, Florida, where I grew up, one of the most heavenly places in America, where every beach is public. The same is true of where I spent my early childhood, in Los Angeles, California, where all the beaches are public, and Sydney, Australia, where my wife grew up, which has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, all of which, again, are public.
My wife and I were on our way to Australia to visit her parents when we stopped in Hawaii to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We discovered some of the most beautiful beaches and coastline on earth. Again, all public.
Which begs the question, what’s wrong with Greenwich? Do they really want to be known as a closed and elitist community that makes it so difficult for people from out of town to simply enjoy themselves? Does it take lawsuits to teach people hospitality? And how would they feel if the rest of the country retaliated? What if, say, New York City put a special tax on people visiting from Greenwich to go to the theater simply because Greenwich makes it so unwelcoming for New York residents to use their beaches?
At the heart of the American dreams is the belief in private property. Noone is arguing with that. But some things should always belong to the people. Here’s to public beaches and parks and those states and cities that are kind enough to grant warm hospitality to all who visit.
As for the cities who have far more miserly hearts, I hope they change their ways and learn, as the ancient Sages of the Talmud taught, to welcome all with a smiling countenance.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is founder of This World: The Values Network and a radio and TV host. The best-selling author of 25 books, he will shortly publish, “Ten Conversations You Need to Have with Yourself.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.