My husband and I directed an organization in Cleveland, Ohio to help Jewish immigrants from the Former Soviet Union with their physical and spiritual needs. In the 1970’s one of our acquaintances with was facing a crisis: Their child was engaged to a non-Jewish girl.

The parents tried time and again to convince their son to end the relationship. They explained the importance of Jewish continuity and the graveness of ending the Jewish family lineage. They explained that right now his relationship with his fiancé is clouded by fiery love, but with time, when the couple faces real issues and decisions, the Jewish factor will become a problem.

Although the parents spoke passionately, the son would not hear any of it. He had not received a Jewish education when living in communist Russia and this may have been the first time they’d ever discussed their Jewish heritage.

“All people are created equal, we are no better than anyone else,” he dismissed their badgering. The parents explained that while all people are created equal, they also are given their own different and unique missions from G‑d on this world. Every person is created with a particular soul that G‑d destined for that specific person. They also explained to their son that each soul has its own potential and its own needs. For this reason, a Jew, with his or her unique soul, is destined to marry another Jewish person.

The groom paid no attention to the emotional distress of his parents or their logical arguments.

With their son refusing to budge despite their tears, pleading and explanations, the parents travelled to New York for a private audience with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory.

The meeting was short and the couple left disappointed. The Rebbe told them to encourage their son to come for an audience himself.

The father was not happy, “I came to ask for advice on what to do. Why would my son listen to some rabbi he doesn’t know when he refuses to listen to me?!”

The father adamantly refused to pass on the Rebbe’s message to his son. But as the wedding approached, he became more and more agitated. Their conversations became more and more impassioned until late one night the father finally blurted out that the Lubavitcher Rabbi wanted to meet him.

The son willfully agreed, looking forward to some more debate, and the father arranged an audience with the Rebbe.

Face to face with the Rebbe, the young man passionately argued his position. “All people are created equal. There are no differences between a Jew and a non-Jew so why does my father insist that one day issues will surface just because I am Jewish and she is not?”

The Rebbe listened closely and realized the young man was not open to any further arguments against the marriage. Instead, he instructed him, “The next time you meet your future wife, the first thing you should do is ask her for a glass of water.”

The young man agreed and kept to his word. The next time he visited her apartment, as soon as she opened the door, he asked for a drink of water.

The young woman rushed to the sink and, in her haste, turned on the faucet at maximum strength, causing a large amount of water to spray on her outfit.

Soaked and infuriated, she raged against him, “Here is your water, Kike!”

The Rebbe’s insight showed the bride’s true colors at last, and the young man ended the relationship. He recognized that she held strong anti-semitic feelings, despite the good times they had.

He learnt that when one is blinded by beauty, or other superficial and transient characteristics, to the extent of marginalizing everything of value, one may ultimately face a shocking surprise.