Friday, December 31, 2004

Why I Write

Over the years, I've written a lot of personal stuff regarding the various issues in the frum community that has bothered me. None of it has ever been released publicly, and I figured that I'd look it over to see if any of it would be appropriate for this forum. While much of it is still relevant and quite on the mark, I realized that the person who wrote those pieces is not the same person I am now. In fact, it's a voice only vaguely familiar. Those essays are mainly private dialogues, where I'm battling my inner yeshivish demons and often defending myself, arguing, and trying to show those powers that be how they're screwing everything up (in the name of Torah, of course).

But today, I'm not like that. I've left that society and don't have any need to defend myself. No one's accusing me of anything (except on occasion associates from my former society). I'm respected, appreciated, and valued for who I am, not how long my shemona esrei is. And I have no need to convince anyone of those positions. Because those arguments are all attempts to change their society into one where someone like myself could be at ease with themselves, not being constantly eaten up by guilt and shame. And I no longer have any desire to be a part of that society.

So why do I bother concerning myself at all with the goings-on of dysfunctional yeshivish/black-hat culture? A few reasons: Firstly, because it hurts me to see people that I know and care about being ruined in the same way that I was. No, I don't really care if you insist on having your life revolve around necklines, sheitels, water filters, learning torah 24/7, hashgacha pratis, tehillim groups, assering cellphones or the Internet, or why unmarried 20-year-olds are a "crisis", but please keep in mind that these views and stupidities are making your children more and more miserable every day. For their sake, please, get a clue.

Additionally, the fact of the matter seems to be that the influence of yeshivish society is spreading far beyond their local communities. This is quite unfortunate, yet indisputable. It's been discussed quite a bit in many recent articles, and is often referred to as "the shift to the right". And while my particular community hasn't been affected in any noticeable way, it's probably only a matter of time until I find myself having to walk on a different side of the street than my wife.

Most importantly, deep inside I really would love to like Judaism more. It is my religion. It is my heritage. And it probably has a lot to offer that would enrich my life in many ways. Once upon a time I was interested in all that. But these last few years my feelings about yiddishkeit have turned much more grim. As long as I have to keep dealing with idiots and extremists, who only know how to make my life more unpleasant than I could ever dream of, and who insist on imparting dogmatic and obnoxious "Torah" teachings and pronouncements whose goal is to scare me or guilt me, I just want to get away from anything that has to do with yiddishkeit, torah, halacha, rabbis, or the god that supposedly insists on it all.

I want to enjoy my life. To live a fulfilling, meaningful, enjoyable, productive, sincere existence. And the popular Judaism that is being peddled nowadays seems to offer anything but that.

So I write, partly to help others, partly to stave off the encroaching menace that threatens my last unspoiled refuge, and partly to save myself from turning into something I don't want to.

Have a Good Shabbos and a Happy New Year

13 comments:

notfrum said...

Hey! very well said. People are just fearful of being ostracized. I have very little to add to your list of gripes. Take Care, Gut Shaabos, Good Shabbos or Shabbat Shalom, whatever works has become my credo.

Tzemach Atlas said...

All the best with your blog!

mike said...
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mike said...

deleted my previous post by mistake:enjoyed reading your blog! I hope you find fullfillment in your quest to be a better and more meaningful yirai shamayim.

The Hedyot said...
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The Hedyot said...

Mike, thank you for the kind words, but where ever did you get the idea that I care a whit about becoming a "yirei shamayim"?

mike said...

please correct me if i am wrong: it is my understanding that you care deeply about our religion and about being orthodox, you just do not like what has happened to our way of life by the way too sharp turn towards religious fundamentalism to the detriment of the proper and sane observance of halacha and proper thought processes that are so greatly lacking.

The Hedyot said...

Sorry to disappoint you, but yes, you are wrong. At this point in my life, I do not care very much about being Orthodox. I care somewhat, but more for sociological reasons than ideological ones. Practically speaking I still identify with Orthodoxy, but there is very little inner conviction for it.

mike said...

In what ways do you identify with orthodoxy? do you belong to a shul? are you married? Kids? yeshiva? are you still searching for where religion fits in to your life?

The Hedyot said...

It's a difficult question for me to answer, as I haven't come to a clear conclusion in my own mind. But to anyone looking at me from the outside, I very much appear to be a halacha-observing Jew. And in many ways I am, but I'm not at all committed to halacha. I do what works for me and what I think is right for me.

Roman said...

At first I thought: There is Judaism and there are particular lifestyle accretions like sheitel length, or learning 24/7 as you said. Get rid of the nonsense and keep what Judaism originally was before being perverted by the yeshiveshe crowd (it happened in the past 30 years) and everything will be ok. Then I thought to myself, perhaps the "original Judaism" also consists of older lifestyle changes that became ossified into "halacha" over the centuries. Maybe it is all just sheitel length nonsense...

I have a question for you, which bothers me because I am contemplating taking a step away from Orthodoxy myself: I happen to have some very nice friends in the MO community and I doubt such closeness exists outside, in the secular world. It would be a shame to lose them because if I change my lifestyle I am concerned that many of them will turn away. Did you have a similar problem?

The Hedyot said...

Roman, send me an email, and I'll respond to your query through those channels. my email address is daashedyot (at) gmail.com.

Roman said...

DH, I sent an email. If you were to respond to it, which address would it come to? The one I sent it from?