Monday, January 16, 2006

Meeting Elijah

Like every other frum kid, I grew up hearing many stories about how Elijah the Prophet periodically comes down from Heaven to perform some important heavenly task, usually while in disguise as a poor beggar. It's not unlike all the magical stories of elves that make their brief appearances every so often to also do some mysterious job (like hiding socks).

Well, yesterday, I was in SOHO, making my way to the Apple Store to buy myself an iPod and I decided to make a quick detour at Starbucks. As I was waiting at the pick-up counter, I glanced around the store a bit checking out the customers, when I noticed that standing right behind me was someone who looked just like Elijah. He also looked a lot like a certain character from Lord Of The Rings. I turned to a fellow standing near me, to confirm if the mystery prophet was who I thought he was, and he nodded in agreement. It was him! Frodo Baggins! AKA Elijah Wood! Holding some wierd Santa lawn ornament (I think it was just like the the one from the french film Amelie). And the most amazing thing was what he was wearing on his head: He had on a classic yeshivish black hat. It was a bit out of date, with a small brim, and probably not a Borsalino, but if I recall correctly, I think my 3rd grade rebbe wore something just like it. He was also talking to an attractive Asian woman, which I do not recall my 3rd grade rebbe doing very often. I was really dying to go over to him and say something, but I so didn't want to be one of those annoying fans who harass actors all the time. Also, unfortunately, I couldn't recall his name at the time, so it would have been a bit awkward. Anyway, I'm not such a LOTR fan anyway, so what would I have said?

But doesn't New York rock?

(This useless (but 100% true) post was specially composed for all my readers that insist on me writing more frequently. I'll try to keep you happy, but I'll have to resort to filler every so often.)

Sunday, January 08, 2006


A while ago I wrote about my dilemma regarding sharing the events and experiences of my life with my family. Not much has changed in that regard, and although I have dropped numerous hints, I haven't come out openly about anything too blatantly. At times, I think they kind of understand how I'm changing, but every once in a while someone will say something to me that indicates that they really have no inkling whatsoever of how far I am from where they believe me to be.* Despite my desire to be open and honest with them, I still feel that they prefer a state of plausible deniability, and therefore I've refrained from revealing any specific details about my secret (and oh, so sordid) life.

It occurred to me that the situation is pretty ironic in a way. In most (or many) situations where a child is drastically changing or behaving in a way that the rest of the family is disapproving of, one often hears the following lament from the parents: "I don't know what's happening to him. He doesn't talk to me at all. I don't know what's going on in his life. Every time I try to reach out to him, he just clams up and doesn't share anything. I wish he would just tell us a little bit what's going on."

However, in my situation it's the absolute opposite. I'm more than willing to share, to explain, to discuss (as evidenced by my discussions with Earnest Yeshiva Guy). But no one (ok, very few people) from my family is interested in hearing anything about my life. They prefer to remain in the dark, blissfully unaware of how I'm changing or why. Kind of funny, no?

Recently, I was talking to a close family friend who told me that one of my family members had called them up distraught, saying they were afraid I was really "going off", and wanted to know what to do about it. The family friend plainly told them there was nothing they really could do, except daven. "He's not a kid anymore. You can't change him. The only thing left for you to do is daven."

Putting aside the dubious efficacy of such a suggestion, what really boggles my mind is how the most obvious and simple course of action escapes them (both the relative and the advisor). It would seem to me that if you want to effect a change in someone's behavior, at the very least, the most basic thing you need to do is know why they have chosen their current route. You need to understand them. To see what's motivating them and effecting them to behave in the way they are. So if this person really wants to do something, why don't they start by taking the most simple and sensible step, and talk to me? To discover why I have chosen this path? I'll admit that I don't think they will achieve their desired goal, but it does seem to be the most appropriate tack to proceed with.

My poor family. I kind of feel sorry for them in a way. They want to help. But they just can't seem to allow themselves to.


* For example, my brother recently shared with me how he may shortly be joining a promising new kiruv program, and how excited he is about it, to be able to make such an important difference in people's lives. I was listening to him politely, nodding along, making the requisite complimentary remark, and all along thinking to myself, "Is this for real? Does he actually think I care for any of this? Doesn't he have any idea what I really think about the notion of a bunch of kollel drop-out's brainwashing kids into becoming frum?"

Evidently not. Now just keep nodding along. There you go... smile politely...