Thursday, November 8, 2007

Figuring it Out (Or Trying, Anyway)

So here's where I am.

I'm 28 years old. It's been more than 14 years since the first time I intentionally ate non-kosher (unless you count gum, in which case it's been about 20 years). It's about 12 years since the first time I broke Shabbos.

Back then, it was different though. While I questioned the idea of God, the idea of religion, these acts were more about rebellion...and occasionally even about fitting in. I was brought up in a Modern Orthodox home, with ba'al tshuva parents and, at about 14 years old, it started to feel like my life (in more ways than just religiously) no longer fit me.

When I was 18, I went to seminary (like so many others from my circles) -- and while I never became really frum per se, I did stop eating non-kosher, started keeping Shabbos, perhaps more significantly, started believing in the premises of Orthodox Judaism.

Of course I always still questioned. In seminary, for example, I tried asking my rabbis & teachers about things that still bothered me -- the fact that our religion commanded us to commit genocide, most specifically--the fact that the Torah seemed to talk about women like second class citizens. Again and again, I was told that this wasn't the time for these questions (especially about Amalek!) or given explanations that didn't really work for me (women are different, special -- and the Torah understands that about us; but I didn't feel very different).

Slowly, through college and later through graduate school, I began questioning even more -- reading, talking to other Ortho Jews, people of other faiths, etc. -- and what had seemed to make total sense a few years earlier, no longer did. It got to the point where I couldn't even reconcile the idea of God's existence anymore (I'm currently an agnostic).

But it was more complicated than just that. Because for all the theological, philosophical, and feminist issues I had with Orthodox Judaism, I have mixed feelings about it. That is, many of the beliefs it espouses are ones I (sometimes vehemently) disagree with. But I often feel a strong emotional connection to its traditions and community. And I don't, for the most part, dislike day-to-day existence as a Modern Orthodox Jew. (The phrase "for the most part," of course, is problematic when you're dealing with Judaism.) So I've been living -- outwardly, anyway (occasionally I've moved into the more Conservative/Conservadox realm) -- as what others in the blog world have called "Orthoprax" for a while now. This is because of the aforementioned emotions, as well as the fact that I don't want to alienate my parents and siblings.

I guess none of this would be such a problem if I didn't have these nagging ethical/intellectual problems with OJ...and if I didn't have to qualify the above emotional justification with the phrase "for the most part." Lately, these issues have become more problematic as I read and experience more.

This blog is in response to a few months of reading other OTD or skeptic blogs, specifically a recent entry by Going Going Gone in which she noted the lack of female bloggers on this topic. Hopefully, like it has done for others before me, this blog will help me sort out my thoughts.


littlefoxling said...

wlecome to the Jblugiverse.

do yourself a favor. Get haloscan comments.

B. Spinoza said...

welcome aboard

littlefoxling said...

Again and again, I was told that this wasn't the time for these questions (especially about Amalek!)

I had a very similar experience. I was always told that "there are just certain questions you are supposed to ask and certain questions you aren't." For a while I actualy bought that till I realized it was a load of crap and it's just that certain questions have no answers.

GoingGoingGone said...

Good to read about someone else's journey. Welcome to the blog world!

Baal Habos said...

Welcome, skeptic. Get Haloscan or get rid of word ver.

The Hedyot said...

Welcome to the club. I hope that it helps you work things out and that wherever the journey takes you, it is to a place where you find what it is you're looking for. It did for me!

Good luck!

Lubab No More said...

Welcome to the skeptic j-blogs. Great first post. I'm looking forward to reading more of your stuff.
BTW, don't rush onto the haloscan bandwagon. At this point it's not that different from the blogger system.

On Her Own said...

Thanks for the welcome, everyone!! I'm not even really sure what the difference is between haloscan comments and regular comments, but I'll check it out...

jewish philosopher said...

You might like my recent post about feminism.