What Is It That Makes Men Squirm?

By Wendy Belzberg

Published February 27, 2004, issue of February 27, 2004.
  • Print
  • Share Share

I had dinner with a close friend last week. I know through a mutual friend that he is having marital problems. I wondered whether to broach the subject, but decided not to ask specifically about his personal situation. My thought was that if he wanted to talk about it, he would bring it up, and I didn’t want to be intrusive. He didn’t bring it up. When I got home my wife berated me for being a lousy friend.

— Uncertain about unobtrusiveness

Rather than berate you for being a lousy friend, your wife could have commended you for your unerring masculinity. What is it about an intimate or personal conversation that makes most men squirm? What is the worst thing that could happen if you had broached the subject of your friend’s marriage? Maybe he would have said that he didn’t want to talk about it. No harm done. Or he might have unburdened himself of a weight he has been hauling around for months — particularly if all his “close friends” subscribe to the same philosophy as you. Sorry to say it, but I weigh in with your wife on this one. But you can regain the upper hand. Why don’t you make another dinner date?

* * *

My son is engaged to be married to one of my dear friends’ daughters. I love the friend, but I have an aversion to the daughter. Do I say as much?

— Not shepping nachas

Say as much to whom: your friend or your son? Either call would be a lose-lose situation. Look at the bright side — you like your in-laws. Life could be so much worse: You could hate your daughter-in-law-to-be and her parents as well. At least you shouldn’t worry about not enjoying the wedding.

* * *

My daughter Katherine is six months pregnant with my second grandson. She declined to have the first (currently 4 years old) circumcised, and doubtless intends to repeat this halachic felony with the second. Given that one or the other boy might be interested in affirming his Jewishness at some point, this seems like a myopic decision.

— Bubbe on birthright

Most parents want to see that their children make the most of every opportunity in life. What parent doesn’t fantasize that her son may be a concert cellist, an Olympic skier, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize? To slam a door on a child even before he is two weeks old is antithetical to being a parent. But that is exactly what your daughter is doing. To count himself among the Jewish people, a male must be circumcised. Your daughter has made it impossible for her sons to be recognized as Jews, leaving them only one option: a very painful one much later in life. You might want to remind your daughter that, while medical debates over circumcision wax and wane, there is no necessary connection between being circumcised and being Jewish. There is a necessary connection between being a Jewish male and being circumcised. Don’t let your daughter off easy; I urge you to intervene on behalf of your grandson.






Find us on Facebook!
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.