| Tempo: Second Guessing |

A Weekend Away: Readers join the conversation       

“Who said their convenience should take precedence over the girls’ convenience?”

Last Week:

“Question: I know you requested the private dining room for the weekend, but there is one other family celebrating Shabbat here, and they asked if they can join you. Otherwise, they’ll just be eating their meals in their room.”

I bite my lip. Bayla.

“I’d really rather not,” I tell Paulina. Honestly, why can’t they just go to the Chabad next door?

Professional that she is, Paulina just nods smoothly and backs away.

I bite my lip. Did I just make a chillul Hashem... for both Paulina and Bayla? I want to be a nice person — I am a nice person, generally — and I really do understand that it’s hard to be cooped up with four kids in one room, but she decided to come here knowing what it’d be like, and she made the choice to come here anyway. Should I really allow her to destroy the annual oasis we’ve created?

Bayla’s lack of sensitivity really put me in a corner, and I’m not really sure there was anything else I could have done.


Awkward Much?
Gitty Perl, Montreal

Chelli did absolutely nothing wrong. First of all, if her friend Bayla wanted to join her in the dining room for the Shabbos meals, she should have asked her directly. By going through the concierge, Bayla showed that she knew her request was inappropriate. Secondly, this is a group trip; it would have been wrong of Chelli to agree to let her join the meals without considering the rest of the group. I can assure you, none of them would have said yes. Thirdly… awkward much? Would Bayla’s Torah-learning, long-winter-zeman husband really have been okay sitting in a room full of women? Was he going to sit behind a mechitzah? I hate the expression “socially off” but if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck….

Don’t give it a second thought. I hope Chelli and her friends enjoyed the rest of their European vacation and im yirtzeh Hashem next year they should be spending their honeymoon in Paris.

In the Clear
A.F., Monsey, NY

Chelli, you’re in the clear. Bayla should have the emotional maturity to understand that it’s very uncomfortable for you and your friends to enjoy the Shabbos meal in her presence, not to mention her husband and brood. She shouldn’t have even bothered letting the hostess ask Chelli, thereby putting Chelli in this uncomfortable position of having to say no.

Talk It Out
R.M, Queens, NY

It’s a hard call.

I understand the sensitivity involved, I really do, but I’ve been the young mom stuck in a hotel room with little kids because we couldn’t afford a different option.

Bayla didn’t want to rain on her friend’s parade, she just wanted to join in the Shabbos atmosphere she were creating.

I think Chelli could have discussed it with her once she saw she wasn’t going anywhere.

Go out of Your Comfort Zone
Gila H, Houston

I’m sorry, but when Chelli saw that her friend was desperate enough to ask to be invited…. This would have been an opportunity to go out of her comfort zone and do a chesed for a fellow Jew. Chances are Bayla and her husband would have felt awkward in the dining room with a whole bunch of women, and they would not have lingered, allowing the women to enjoy the camaraderie and singing and whatnot after having done this tremendous deed. This is an opportunity lost.

Hijacking a Vacation
Name Withheld

I was never in either one’s position, yet I can’t help feeling for Chelli. I think Bayla was wrong in expecting to join Chelli and her friends for the Shabbos meals. She should’ve realized this is a closed group of friends, who invested time and money on a getaway, and having another friend join — with her husband and children, no less — is highly inappropriate. Like Chelli said, it would limit them tremendously.

It’s not like the family won’t have Shabbos food. They’ll have food, but will have to eat it in their rooms — a matter of inconvenience. Who said their convenience should take precedence over the girls’ convenience? They knew what they were getting themselves into, they knew the implications. Asking Chelli and her friends to join was totally egocentric and insensitive. In my opinion, asking to join the group was like hijacking their vacation.

Just adding a suggestion to Chelli: You don’t have to agree to Bayla’s request, but if you’re worried about chillul Hashem, or if you really want to be nice, you can offer Baila the use of the private lunchroom when you’re not there. Let them make an early seudah with their kids, and state the time when they need to be out, so that you can start your own meal.

Not the Purpose
Rochel Levine

As a married woman, would it be okay for me to join a Sister to Sister shabbaton for divorced women? Should a parent of only typical, “in the box kids,” join a shabbaton for parents of struggling teens? Of course not. Why is this any different?

Every event, organization, or function serves a specific purpose. Just like we don’t expect Chai Lifeline to serve senior citizens with dementia, we shouldn’t expect Chelli’s informal “organization,” which energizes her and her other single friends, to serve Bayla and her family. Chelli and her friends have traveled a long way for a very specific getaway, and they are all (likely) looking forward to spending Shabbos with women in the same situation.

Allowing Bayla and Co. to join shows a lack of respect for these women and their needs.

In addition, as the organizer, Chelli’s first priority is to her guests. If her guests are expecting (and have paid for) a Shabbos with only single women (without men or kids), she definitely shouldn’t allow Bayla to join without getting the go-ahead from all 15 of the women. And to even ask them puts each woman in an awkward position (just as Bayla’s original request did to Chelli).


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 888)

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