Mistress Apologizes to Rabbi’s Wife

rabbi Dear Rebbetzin,

As the High Holidays approach, everyone is taking stock of their deeds- reflecting on their actions of the past year. Your husband, the rabbi, is preparing himself to lead his congregation through their High Holiday season. Your husband is also taking stock of his own deeds in the coming year. He is a well respected man. He is a kind man. He is a thoughtful man.  The words he puts on paper, the words he shares with his colleagues, and the words he shares with his congregation have weight. People look to him for knowledge, for comfort, for spiritual guidance. After all, he’s a rabbi, teaching and guidance are part of his job. As a Jew and a rebbitzen, you must also be looking back at this year and taking at look at your own life.  I often wonder: what exactly are you doing with the truth?

I know the truth. I know the rabbi isn’t the man he plays on the pulpit or at camp or with his colleagues. I know his lightness is a well orchestrated facade. He is dark. He stepped out of your marriage emotionally and physically. He’s allowed his darkness to control his life and let the power of the facade hide his true self. I know the truth because I was his mistress. I know the truth because I was the outlet for his darkness. I was the place to use his power and his fantasy.  I know you know I exist. But, I have no idea if you know his truth, his darkness or the depths of his inner demons. Because, despite knowing that I exist, you’ve chosen to stay. You’ve chosen the facade of the good, noble, kind rabbi. I can’t say I blame you.

What I can say, is that I’m sorry. Through our entire relationship, I thought of you– I hurt you. I violated you. Your face came to mind all the time: When I laid down and when I rose up. I wanted what was yours. I wanted the light he gave you, but I all I got was his darkness. I am so sorry. I am sorry I took those moments from you. I’m sorry I took those nights from you. I’m sorry I somehow thought I could step into your shoes. But the truth is, Rebbetzin, I am even more sorry that you are still living inside his facade  And it’s not because I want to be in your place. I no longer want him, or need him, or love him. He is not a good man. He is a false idol. He turned from you when we he wanted to fall into his darkness, and he turned from me when our actions destroyed my life. I know I’m not the only one. There are other women out there in words and possibly in deed. There are dollar bills in strippers’ thongs. There are hotel rooms, dinners, tucked away corners of bars. There are explicit pictures. I don’t think he’s going to stop.

When he’s standing on the pulpit on Yom Kippur talking about sin, repentance and forgiveness, take that time to look at him for his true self. I can’t live your life. I can’t sit inside your head and tell you what choices to make. I can’t weigh the darkness against the light of the life you’ve built together. I know firsthand that piecing together a new life after the one you had has been shattered into tiny unglueable pieces. You don’t need to forgive me. You don’t need to pardon me or grant me atonement. But is he the kind of man who can be forgiven? Is he, truly repentant?

The Mistress