A couple of weeks ago I published an email from a woman who was asking the frum community in general to give her some space, not to push her back into dating after her marriage of eight years came to an end. I’m not exactly sure if she had gone through a divorce or if her husband passed away, because she wanted to keep that part private and it didn’t have anything to add to her narrative. In a nutshell, the life she dreamed of and actually lived for eight years was no more, and she needed more time to adjust to this new life and being a single parent to her son without being guilted into dating or having a nosy neighbor ask why she wasn’t dating yet.

Many may not know, but very recently I handed in my two weeks’ notice to the agency where I have worked for the last 17 years. I actually handed my notice in on my 17th anniversary. It wasn’t planned like that, but it worked out that way.

This is a topic that I know a little bit about: dating someone who has just gotten out of a long relationship – or whatever is considered long in the shidduch world.

You don’t have to be an avid reader of my column to know that I will not advise people what to do in whatever situation they are in. I may provide my opinion, I may share different points of view of the same situation, but I won’t make a decision for someone. We must be free to choose what we want, and live with whatever happens after. It’s like a parent not helping a child with a math problem or even riding a two-wheel bicycle. No parent wants his or her child to fail at something or to get hurt physically or emotionally, but children will never learn from their mistakes if they don’t make any.

I was recently asked what my management style at work is. I’ve been a director of two departments in the agency I work at, and someone asked how I “handle” staff with different personalities, what I do or say when someone “screws up” or when I have to admonish one of them. I answered that I take the straightforward approach and never beat around the bush. I am their boss first and friend second. I play to everyone’s strengths, and I encourage my staff to always come to me with questions. I try to model my style after the mashal of the rav who looked through several s’farim to answer a simple question from a woman. After the woman left, satisfied with her answer, the talmidim of the rav asked why he spent so much time looking up the answer when anyone could have answered that question in a moment without looking up the answer. The rav’s reply is where I take my lesson from: “If I answered right away and didn’t even think about it for one moment, the woman would feel foolish and embarrassed and may never come when she has another question that may in fact be an important one. I spent some time looking for an answer so she may come to me with another in the future.”