By COLlive reporter
World-renowned author, counselor, lecturer and philosopher, Rabbi Manis Friedman is once again using ancient Jewish wisdom and modern wit as he captivate audiences around the country and the world.
Drawing on his experience with empowering couples to successfully navigate their own marriage crisis, he wrote “The Joy of Intimacy” with film director Ricardo Adler.
The book is presented as a refreshingly frank, sensible, and at times humorous guide, exploring “the deeper truths at the heart of our longing for intimacy along with practical wisdom from Jewish tradition.”
Rabbi Friedman was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1946 and immigrated with his family to the United States in 1950. He received his rabbinic ordination from the Rabbinical College of Canada in 1969.
His first book, “Doesn’t Anyone Blush Anymore?” published in 1990 was widely praised and is currently in its fourth printing. When he takes the podium, Rabbi Manis Friedman enthuses his listeners with a sense of purpose and definite direction.
The following are a few questions COLlive.com presented to him:
1. As suggested by its title, the book delves into the sensitivities of an already existing marriage and relationship. Is this book solely for the already attached?
Answer: No, it is not. People need to know what marriage is before they get into it.
2. For those who are in a pre-relationship stage in their life, what can they be doing now to prepare for it?
Answer: The first thing is, read the book! The other thing is, to move beyond themselves and become generous enough and big enough for two people. They have to get rid of the pettiness and enter the marriage determined to make the spouse’s life easier.
3. You have been counseling and teaching about marriage and relationships for 4 decades. What have you seen change over the years – if anything at all?
Answer: If at all, what has changed is that people have become more self-centered, less respectful, and there has been a great loss of idealism – to the point where it doesn’t make sense to them to do something for their spouses if they’re not in the mood. Like, “Just to make her happy? That doesn’t make any sense…” The sad result is that deep down inside, they both feel alone in the world.
4. You encounter both religious and secular worlds. Are the issues couples are dealing with the same?
Answer: Yes they are. This is a universal issue.
5. Pre-marriage classes in the religious “frum” world have become more sophisticated with time. Do you think what they currently cover is sufficient?
Answer: There’s one important ingredient missing, and that is “the surrender.” The advice that is given is how you can get more out of your marriage, there’s no advice and no encouragement to surrender to the marriage which is essential to the bond that should exist between husband and wife.
6. What is one key thing that modern couples are doing to destroy their relationships and what should they be doing about it?
Answer: One of the key things is that their focus is on the things that they like about each other, or dislike about each other, but they never get to focusing on each other. So a husband who says, “I love everything about my wife,” could still be missing the essential key – “Do you actually love your wife? Are you really there for her? If you were she would be a very happy wife, and you would be a very happy husband…”