Thursday, December 30, 2004

Halachic Honesty

I truly think there’s a serious problem of dishonesty in the frum world. I’m not talking about people lying to or cheating one another (which is not to say they’re not problems too). I’m referring to the fact that people are not honest with themselves. More specifically, people are not honest with themselves about how they feel about Yiddishkeit.

We all know that there are certain basic tenets of being a good frum Jew. One of those vital, yet unspoken, creeds is that we’re supposed to love being a frum Jew. It’s supposed to be something that we’re proud of, something we would wear as a badge, a mark of honor. Something that we would gladly give our lives up for. But the truth is that for so many of us - I’d venture to say the overwhelming majority - being frum is not something anyone’s particularly excited about. We try to tell ourselves how grateful we are that we have this lifestyle because it’s what’s keeping the ills that plague modern society from affecting us (as if that’s true), or we point to the various aspects of our societies that we are justifiably proud of, but I’m positive that most frum Jews, if they were able to be truly honest with themselves, would admit that they really would prefer to not have to put up with all the annoyances and restrictions that halacha imposes on them.

On occasion I have met people that truly do seem to love being frum. They love the Torah, halacha, the whole frum lifestyle, and even though they admit that there are often times that halacha is a burden, they appreciate the whole package enough that they are more than willing to pay that price. I’ve met such people and I truly am impressed with them. And incredibly jealous too. Ironically (or not), almost every person that has such a view (and that I believe is authentic) is from a home that was more open and modern than the typical yeshivish, chareidi, black-hat one. The typical product of a yeshivish home, while more than committed to his halachic lifestyle, is more than likely to view it as a heavy burden, while of course telling himself (and the rest of us!) that he just loves being a Torah Jew. We all know that story with R’ Moshe, right? The one where he hears a guy kvetch about how hard it is to be a Jew, and he tells him, "No, it’s wonderful to be a Jew!" Wow! It’s like magic. Say it’s wonderful and all those annoyances just disappear! (Not to belittle R' Moshe, I've heard he was truly a great man. But yes to belittle those who think that saying a few words can magically change anything.)

I think it’s time that frum people started admitting that they don’t like things about halacha. It doesn’t mean that they have to stop doing these halachos. But stop lying to yourselves, and be honest about how you really feel. After all, the first step in solving a problem is admitting it. And isn't it a problem?

Anyone want to start telling us what they can't stand about halacha? C'mon, out with it!


MisterMessy said...

The worst thing?

You have gone on short holiday with your wife and left the kids. Or the kids are away and you have some time with her. Or you are just feeling particularly close.

And it's the 7 clean days.

The Hedyot said...

You're not actually saying that the beautiful mitzvah of tahras hamishpacha is actually a pain, are you? Because I read in uh, like a zillion books, that it's the most wonderful thing in the world! That's crazy talk!

DovBear said...

It's a pain. And everyone knows it. Some honest rabbis admit this, though.

MisterMessy said...

The beauty of the Mikvah/ wedding night every month/ Kosher Sex thing is a apologia type justification of what is in essence a primitive taboo. Actually I am prepared to concede that a small break can be a good thing. But not 2 weeks. The supposed benefits of a long separation or cancelled out by the lack of closeness and spotanaeity.

BTW you might get some more comments if you allowed anonymous comments

The Hedyot said...

MM, thanks for pointing that out. Didn't realize I had that limitation on.

rebelmo said...

Agree with messy, i think a week as G-D intended is healthy and shows chochma, but the bnos yisrael 7 days chumrah is barrier and serves little purpose other than to mess up your life and relationship. Did G-D intend man to cleave to his wife only 50% of the year? The two weeks off, are off, in the sense of your relationship with your spouse. Your relationship with your b'shert is on hold and you are on separate islands, yeah, the books that preach that this period will allow greater emotional intimacy etc. does not work for everybody. Some couples need continuous non-sexual contact to maintain their happiness and emotional wellbeing and deal with life's tzuras.

The Hedyot said...

C'mon people, is this all you've got? Am I the only one that finds davening every single day (3 times a day), saying the same thing over and over, having to get up so early every day, a bit too much? And what about all the craziness in the kitchen? What about how difficult life is on shabbos? Or how about being forced to go to that daf yomi or parsha shiur that is so mind numbingly boring?

OrthoSceptic said...

Mesyy has it on the button.

Regarding the rest

"davening every single day (3 times a day), saying the same thing over and over, having to get up so early every day, a bit too much?"

I don't do it so it's not a problem. A couple of times on a shabbos is as much as I can stand.

"And what about all the craziness in the kitchen?"

Crazy yes, but I am used to it so it is not a problem.

"What about how difficult life is on shabbos?"


"Or how about being forced to go to that daf yomi or parsha shiur that is so mind numbingly boring?"

No one is forcing me to do that so I don't. I do not mind going to a shiur if it is interesting.

The foloowing bugs me:

You are trying to arrange a Summer holiday. Of course you are limited by the nine days and then everything is Saturday to Saturday and then what are you going to do about food when you get there?

mike said...

I used to greatly fear learning the hilchos of tzniut, b/c i felt a "disconnect" from them meaning that the rationale behind the halachot did not match my understanding of human nature. Yet, I felt that as an observant jew I should adhere to the laws, even if they did not seem logical to me, for after all, the insight of those who enacted these laws is far greater than my own. Recently I came to a conclusion that IMHO many of the laws of tzniut are based on what I would call "legal fiction" meaning that after we have the law, we then come up with an "insight" into human nature, that even if you do not believe is true, must be true, for that is what the law is teaching us. I do not want to drone on too much , but if anyone is interested, i will gladly discuss this further, with examples.

Anonymous said...

I find 2 day Yom Tovs insane. There is only so much praying and eating I can do. I need my movie so what's the big deal.

On another note, we as a nation developed a fascination with our own suffering long time ago. My friend who is a frum psychologist calls it Pogrom Mentality. So, when you say that Yeshivesh people see the Orthodox life as a burden you are right, but so are they when they say that they love it. That's why some groups of people love really strict poskim. It's a glorified S&M.