Thursday, July 8, 2010

The shidduchim parshah

Firstly, I'd like to thank you readers for "listening" and commenting. It has felt good to hear people's opinions on what I have been writing.

I also apologize for not being able to respond or update so frequently but work and life often get in the way.

I have quite a few ideas for posts I'd like to write but for now, please indulge me with wanting to go through some kind of chronology.

My last post ended with me leaving Israel and for the first time being able to actually express to myself that the empty feeling was my lack of faith. And so I continue.

I was back two days from Israel, I wasn't going to shul during the week. Luckily my parents are not the type to make an issue out of it but I know it was noticed. I decided that I would find a job and attend college at the same time. I did both of these things independently. It was so important for me to choose a major that was right for me in college and to work where I wanted. I was 21 and I felt independent for the first time. Its kinda ironic that I chose to go to a Jewish college and then a very Jewish job! I reflected back on this at the time and convinced myself that it was to stop myself from straying.

And so, two weeks later, the shiduchim suggestions began. Part of me was very excited about starting that chapter of my life, the other part wondered exactly how I would be able to do it, to maintain the lie.

My first shidduch date was a disaster. She was the daughter of a prominent Rabbi and my "farher" before even meeting her was a nightmare. I stammered when asked what gemara I was learning at the moment. I had no answer to his question about why I had chosen a job and a college but no part time yeshiva. And I "gratefully" accepted his offer to help me find a yeshiva!

As I said, that was before I met the girl. We went to a hotel for drinks. She didn't speak at all in the car, he explained she remained silent as it wasn't right to get to introduce ourselves to each other in the privacy of a car (wtf?!). Two hours felt like eternity as I was asked about my attitude to choosing chavrusah's. My attitude to staying in learning post marriage and even my attitude to learning how to kasher chickens. I drove her home so fast!

I was actually surprised that she wanted another date. It didn't happen.

Shidduchim were being suggested from all sorts of people, friends, people in shul, newly marrieds etc. And at the time if someone suggested a girl and I had minimal information that didn't put me off, I went out with them.

Most people have dating nightmare stories to tell and that isn't the purpose of this post or this blog. My point so far is that some of the girls I went out with were lovely, but that connection, spark, electricity, or whatever one may call it was always absent.

That is until I met my wife. In fact we met as she was a reference for another shidduch! I called her up and asked for information and the two of us spoke. We spoke about how stupid it was calling friends to ask about other friends, "as if I'd call her a bitch", she said to me. I hadn't felt so comfortable talking to anyone like that in a while. When I hung up I realised that for the first time since I was in the "parshah" the conversation didn't involve the words, Israel, Yeshiva, learning, shul, etc etc.

I called the friend who had suggested the original shidduch to say I wasn't interested but what about the friend who made the recommendation. The reason we hit it off so well was that we never once spoke about yeshiva, seminary, kashrus, being shtrak, gemara, chumash, rashi etc etc! We connected, and not long after we were engaged and married.

We did discuss the practical elements of what creating a jewish home meant to us. But those conversations didn't include any of those keywords above.

There are so many feelings and issues that evolve around choosing a life partner and I don't want to go into those now.

But when, after being married a while and starting our family, my wife and I had the conversation about belief, it wasn't surprising to find that we were on the same page. Both of us had never felt that spark and had found the kodesh studies beyond us.

When I created this blog I was trying to put my finger on what it was that I feel about myself. I have read Chaviva's blog thekvetchingeditor, and have been wowed by how someone who wasn't born with the burden of judaism embraced it and is now a devout jew. To me that says anyone can be born with a neshama. I just don't believe that I was. And I know about the concept of one's life partner being a zivug, well perhaps my wife and I are the anti-zivug, the couple that were brought together by what we don't have.

We still believe that if the spark ignites in our kids we will encourage it but we will not push anything on them.


tesyaa said...

First of all, I am glad that you and your wife have each other.

Second, I think it takes a certain type of evil society to raise a person to think that he has no neshama, just because he doesn't conform 100% to expected norms. And through no fault of his own!

Lonely Frum Skeptic said...

tesyaa - i wasn't saying that to feel sorry for myself. I think I have no neshama because I just dont feel any of it; the spirituality, the holiness or whatever "it" might refer to. I go thru the morion of kosher etc but I just dont feel connection and I assume its the neshama that enables someone to feel that way..

tesyaa said...

I see what you mean. I think. Let me go further. My brother and I were raised by traditional parents who might be described as "Conservadox" today. My brother has been a complete atheist for as long as I remember, whereas I became frum at the age of 15 or so. My brother would say that he has no neshama because there is no such thing as a neshama. He doesn't think about spiritual matters. He doesn't observe any Jewish practices. No one ever made him feel bad about being an atheist. Do you think this would describe you, if you had not been raised the way that you were?

Lonely Frum Skeptic said...

Its more like, I do believe in the neshama, i just don't believe I have one.

hevelhavalim said...

do you believe that having a neshama is like having an ear for music?

salzburg said...

Mazel tov! I am so happy you found your wife and I am so happy you had enough discernment to marry her and nobody else...

About the neshama thing:

What you say, lonely sceptic, makes me draw the conclusion that the term "neshama" is used in a very particular way in the circles where you grew up.

I suppose it had a positive connation, but according to what you say, I suppose they drew the implicit conclusion that "whoever learns well has a "great" neshamah" or "neshama is what connects you to the hebrew language and therefore to G-d"...

Of course, everybody is entitled to give his own definition of neshama.

However, I do not agree that whoever has problems learning hebrew will never be able to communicate appropriately with G-d.

On the contrary. For a long time, women in many jewish cultures, where taught virtually nothing. They did not know to read, they did not speak lashon hakodesh. But nobody would have dared to suggest that they have no neshama!!!!

So again: I have the impression that saying you feel you have no neshama is your interpretation of a very elitist interpretation of Judaism. The Majority of judaism does not work like that.

salzburg said...

See, I am the black sheep of my family because they are atheist and I became religious.

So I agree with tesaya that there probably is a big "predisposition" factor in the question whether or not you need religious practice at all or whether or not you are fit for one particular type of religious practice.

I think it is bad to terrorise anyone into one way or the other.

But I suppose we are confronted to a Bell curve: about 80% are in the "average" spectrum and go the way of leat resistence in the cultural environment they grow up in, and 10% at either side of the spectrum are so "determined" that they would even go away from the practice of their surroundings, even at a very high price.

elemir said...

if you could provide me with an e-mail address, i would like to write to you.

i am a 60+ "frum", but what they would call orthoprax and have privately (and not professionally) counselling the many other orthoprax-type in my community. so maybe my 2 cents can help.

Lonely Frum Skeptic said...

elemir -my email address is accesible in my profile. I am intrigued to hear what you have to say, but it would be a shame to have the conversation "offline", perhaps you could write a guest post on the subject that can be viewed by others too?

elemir said...

have dropped yo a couple of e-mails...never got a response

Lonely Frum Skeptic said...

dont believe i recieved them -