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The False Allure of Infidelity

the.guard Sunday, 16 August 2020
Part 2/3 (to see other parts of the article, click on the pages at the bottom)

From an article on by Rebbetzin Feige Twerski

Dear Rebbetzin,

In today’s society, extramarital activity is so common. Why does Judaism view having an affair as such a serious transgression?

The challenge in our life’s journey is to successfully navigate the conflict between body – the lesser, baser part of ourselves, and soul – the better, more exalted dimension of our being. The mettle of a person’s character is defined by the choices one makes when spiritual and physical needs clash and pull us in different directions. A critical factor in this equation is that human beings have the remarkable ability to rationalize.

Consider Jerry, who carried on a promiscuous relationship with Lisa, a woman 25 years his junior, maintaining all the while that he loved his wife no less. The long and short of it was that Jerry grew old and Lisa finally realized that she had put the best years of her life on hold. Jerry, a person who had considered himself a decent human being, ultimately suffered from a sense of his lost integrity. Lisa ended up forlorn and alone. It was nothing but a lose-lose situation.


I was recently counseling a couple who was trying to figure out if they had the emotional resilience to recover from the trauma of the husband’s infidelity. How had it happened? Foolishly, in the interest of their economic situation, they had decided to temporarily live in different cities until they would get on their feet financially. Alone and stressed in his new job, Mike, the husband, was a sitting duck for a coworker who was in what she perceived of as an unhappy marriage. An affair ensued. When Maggie, his wife, found out that her husband of 30 years, her childhood sweetheart and the only man she had ever loved had been unfaithful, the sense of betrayal was devastating to the point where Maggie almost came unhinged.

Remorseful protestations by Mike that the other woman meant nothing to him and that this was no more than a temporary lapse provoked by an unusual situation fell on deaf ears. His declarations of unending love for Maggie rang hollow and meaningless to her. Trust had been shattered and in its wake came insecurity. Maggie questioned Mike’s every move and their every interaction was punctuated by the resentment, hurt and anger for what he had done to her. Their relationship was affected by “an abscess that wouldn’t drain.”

It takes great determination, commitment, willpower and input of time and energy to put the shards back together again – if it can be done at all. Relationships, like all things in life, are all too easy to destroy, and unfortunately so difficult to rebuild.

The Manufacturer's Guide

We do live in a sexually permissive time, and many practices previously eschewed have become commonplace and more acceptable. Over time, in the history of man, the pendulum has swung back and forth. Even as the winds have changed directions many a time, Torah teachings remain an anchor of stability even in the most turbulent of times.

The reason for this is the source. Torah, its principles and mandates emanate from a God who is not bound by the constrictions or limitations of time and space. He is above time and space. He spans past, present and future. Hence, His law is as relevant to us in our era as it was at the time it was given almost 4,000 years ago. It is addressed now as it was then to the human being whom He created.

Since He created us He has total knowledge of who we are, what we need and what is ultimately in our best interests, far better than we do ourselves. He is the manufacturer of our “hard drive.” He alone knows what it is that we must do or not do in order to function at an optimum level. We get it when it comes to technology. We fully understand that we are deficient in our expertise and perforce must depend on the manufacturer’s manual to navigate through the intricacies of any given technological equipment.

After all, wouldn’t it be foolish for me to assume that milk could fuel an automobile just because it tastes good to me? Similarly, conclusions on our part about what is constructive and productive for ourselves based on what feels or seems good is both ill-advised and destructive.

The opinions of pundits will be bantered about in the media, and they'll be alternatively confirmed and repudiated. But the bottom line is that they are the same old tricks of rationalizations cloaked in a current idiom. The lesser, baser voice of man is strident and very vocal. Lust, desires and the boundless pursuit of uncensored pleasure, regardless of the toll they exact and the pain of broken homes and human psyches, have taken free reign in our society.

Make no mistake, despite all the sophisticated pronouncements, this does not constitute progress. This is a return to the animal farm. It is an assault on the spirit, the distinguishing feature of man. Sadly, in defying and contravening the ageless wisdom of the Torah, it is the soul of man, the better part of himself, that will be left out in the cold in a lonely and unfulfilled heap.

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