Greg Leake emails: Hi Luke,
Directing myself to your preliminary discussions, I would like to offer the idea that compatibility is the very most important ingredient of a happy marriage.
Naturally, sexual allure is a vital ingredient to courtship, but very quickly compatibility becomes the important element after marriage has take place. With the right chemistry and compatibility, a couple can weather almost any storm. But without that ingredient, any pitfall can be sufficient to have people calling their lawyers.
I would also list as important a girl who basically originates out of your own background. The exotic can be very attractive superficially because of its difference, but sooner than later one will wish to be with a spouse who understands where one is coming from often without some laborious conversation just to get to square one.
I would say that there needs to be some kind of rough parity in physical attractiveness. While the idea of great beauty can be alluring, it also means living with a hundred guys a week hitting on your wife. So my idea of a general equivalency in physical attractiveness is a help rather than a hindrance.
Naturally, the person who wishes to get married must bring maturity to the situation. One of the ideal factors about marrying late in life as I did is that people don’t have to do as much on-the-job training to weather the requirements of marriage.
Luke, you once made a wise remark about not wishing to have relationships with people who don’t read. I think you can apply this very neatly to potential relationships. Your desire for women who have some professional accomplishment and dress in power suits simply suggests that you have good taste. And it would be unwise to sacrifice a personification of that good taste for someone who does not measure up in your estimation.
Frankly, my view is that you are just as likely to run across a suitable candidate in the Gentile world as the Jewish world. And in my view, one simply cannot dismiss a good possibility if it comes along because the woman does not share your theological beliefs. I might add that my understanding of the requirements for modern Orthodox girls who are frum might not fit into the same category as an upwardly mobile, successful careerwoman who would probably see frum requirements as excessive.
My best advice about the money also comes out of my own experience. I decided that my astrology did not look good for money, and so I made it my business to place my resources in the hands of those who did have good financial astrology. This largely meant selecting mutual fund managers.
My recommendations would be as follows. 1) Robert DeNiro in the movie “The Score” told his protege, “Start figuring out what you want now, and then then spend the next 25 years getting it a piece at a time.”
2) Read The Lazy Person’s Guide to Investing by Paul B. Farrell, JD, PhD and The New Commonsense Guide to Mutual Funds by Mary Rowland.
The first book deals with mutual fund indexing with an eye to constructing different portfolios out of the indexing universe. The latter book deals with the larger mutual fund universe, and both books are very straightforward, easy to read, without technical jargon or complicated mathematical equations.
3) Subscribe to The Hulbert Financial Digest. This newsletter tracks the performance of a huge number of mutual fund newsletters. One does not need to try and size up financial newsletters based on how good their advertising is. From the Hulbert information, select a newsletter that has consistently performed in the top 5 over the last 15 or 20 years when risk adjustment has been included in the appraisal.
4) Open an account with a brokerage service or a mutual fund company as the newsletter you select suggests, and specialize in cost averaging on a cost basis in no-load or low-load mutual funds.
5) Do not get caught in the trap of thinking you do not have enough money to begin investing. Some mutual funds have very small initial fees and even smaller in cases of retirement accounts. A dollar a day can give you $365 a year to invest, although of course one would hope that more would be possible as time goes on.
6) As you begin to accumulate resources and investment capital, get out of California and do not move to New York. The tax structures in these states are sufficient to knock one back when, say, one is about to move from the lower-middle class to the middle-upper class. The taxes are simply too punitive. Pick a state to begin with that does not have a state income tax, like Texas or Nevada. (There are 4 or 5 states with no state income tax.) Oh yes, at your age I would suggest letting 50% equity mutual funds 50% fixed-income investments be your aggressive position. It’s never too late to get started.
Luke, I thought you made some illuminating remarks about the role of community in religious life. I would say in my experience that being part of a religious community helps one in their spiritual life and sometimes the most helpful thing to do is to leave it. I will also reference your discussion in respect to people who are pursuing a solitary spiritual discipline like meditation without the assistance of a community. I would say that it all depends on what kind of experience the meditator is having. If it is simply another ritual observation, the value may be diminished. On the other hand, if the person is caught up in rich spiritual experience, that can be sufficient. You once said that the Alexander Technique had done more for you than your other passions. I understand this and really plan to get around to looking into the technique. The thing that has probably done more for me than any of my various passions would be the practice of TM over many decades. Like the Alexander Technique, TM is not a religion.
Rabbs, if you’re out there, I always appreciate the humor and stoicism you bring to your dilemma. You told Luke that if he were not married in 10 or 15 years, his experience with Judaism would not be satisfactory. I have heard you interestingly rant about this subject, but I am still curious about what the technical factors are that causes a non-married Jew to feel this alienation. Do you wake up one day and simply reaize that it’s no longer working for you? Or is it a gradual, step-by-step process leading to an awakening awareness that something is wrong? How long did it take for you to come to the realization that would allow you to aggressively assert that a single guy is in deep caca at a certain point in Judaism?
> Do you have any favorite Vietnam movies? What has been your main career?
those are very interesting questions, and regrettably, my answers are inadequate.
I do not have any favorite Vietnam movies. After I got out I refused to sit through a war movie for over a decade. (I once walked out of a movie when the cavalry came over the hill.) This was not because I was anti-war or did not ultimately believe our cause in Vietnam was just. I was very pleased the other day when you were conducting your interview and pointed out your belief that Vietnam was a measure to stop communism. Although we lost the political war, I don’t believe that we lost a military war. The American military overall is the finest fighting force in the world.
Actually Luke, I spent most of my younger life in a sort of bohemian existence which makes me think about the kind of general culture that most strikes me as being compatible with you. You know, it’s a shame you weren’t born 35 years earlier. Kerouac, Ginsberg, Bukowski, and the whole group of writers basically formed the last popular movement based on literary innovation. Although one could easily not find favor with their writing, one can be interested in the fact that the cutting edge of popular culture was actually being formed by writers. (Truman Capote once said that Kerouac didn’t do writing; he did typing. Maybe so, but an exciting literary movement really defined a generation.) After that, Ken Kesey and Leary kicked off a generation that was no longer about writing; it was about drugs. And since that time it has been about something as banal as rock groups. Back in the days when it was about writing, you would have fit right in.
I spent a lot of years as a hand-to-hand combat and boxing instructor. Since middle age, I have found myself primarily working in the investment field. The focus of my life ultimately has always been about my avocations.
RABBI RABBS RESPONDS: Hey Greg,
Always great to hear from you, and I appreciate that you continue to watch our shows. And, of course, thanks for the wonderful compliment.
You asked excellent questions. I believe I answered them in great length in these three essays I published in 2006: