Sunday, December 16, 2007

Making a Phone Call on Shabbos - Is That Justified?

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In the past month or so, blasts from the pasts have been swarming and swirling all around me. See, I lead an ordinary (ok, maybe not so ordinary) New York life, running and rushing, accomplishing and delaying, procrastinating and catching up. Ups, downs, insanity, family, bills, friends, the gamut of life all rolled into an insane ball....

Pretty much, I figured by now I kind of knew where I was headed, what direction I have been and was moving in and although the rug sometimes gets pulled out from under me, my feet were pretty much planted flat on the ground. My circle of very close friends, which is very tight-knit mostly come from the background I do, we laugh, cry, make fun of people, travel, cook, are broke, nothing fancy....

Then the flashbacks began.

I dont know exactly at what point it was. I didnt even know, didnt have a clue how jaded I actually am. How deep I buried thoughts and feelings. Yes, I toss my head and say - anger? Nah, I'm over it.... I've moved on with my life ten years ago. When they got "rid" of me, boy was I angry... I hated. I escaped, I cursed, but now - I'm over it.

Guess what - seems that I'm not.

I look back ten years ago, an entire DECADE and to how I used to think I was the shit. I was too cool for words. Heck, I was already divorced, was still in my teens, drove a fancy car, was living in Flatbush and tried a whole lotta drugs, with a whole lotta other jewish kids. I wheeled and dealed. I thought I was god. I thought I was showing em all. But, boy oh boy - things havent changed, they have progressed in an upward spiral who's tornado ring doesnt seem to have an end.
Drugs and sex are rampant. Everyone knows better. Now I'm the
old one as I watch helplessly. I see my mistakes all taking true
form once again, yet I feel as though I hold the magic ball that shows
all the answers. Or shall I say bitter, bitter consequences.

And is it a wonder. Ask any "ex-chasidic" kid, (if they're even
willing to give you the time of day if you're religious) - about anything in life general, and a spitfire of hate, resentment
and hurt will fall out of them, beneath that sheath of pride. The
rage, ranting and raving - boy will you hear it. Or you'll get
laughed at. Tauntings and mockings. The consenus: nobody understands, nobody cares. If people care - its about a
"good name" or "saving their life", oh my god! The movies! The
kid is going to the movies, he's being beckoned to hell by the
devil himself! Movies and internet your problem? Ha!
Check out the divorces in the age group of 18 - 20, boys and girls
on the run (running from everything and everyone, in every
possible way), even if encased in Brooklyn itself.

I was sitting in the bathroom watching someone shave...
Just making small talk... He turned to me and said, do
you see this scar on my head? I looked up... Sure as day, a long lean scar. Apparently as a little
six year old he fell off a swing set;something in the park on Shabbos,
the seventh day of the week, that God rested - the day of rest. No phones, no electricity, no cars - all pretty simple
in Orthodox homes. When his father saw the flooding gash on his
head, he grabbed a handkerchief out of his 'bekisha', his silk
traditional shabbos garb and threw it onhis sons head. Instructing
him to hold down and apply pressure, he took his kids
hand and walked a two hour walk to the hospital, refusing to call
the ambulance or allow himself or his kid to ride in one.

I gaped in disbelief. It wasnt that shocking, but each time I still
shudder. Later on, we were driving down a long winding road in
Rockland County and out of nowhere this young man braked; the
car slowed down and he said coldly, as if it were someone else
speaking - "see there", pointing to a bright awning in a
mini-strip mall, "thats where we stopped to re-adjust that
shmattah on my head". He continued driving for another
seven minutes, then pointed - "yeah, and down there - thats
the hospital". From my city perspective, I would say at least
another twenty five minutes, were I to walk it.

Whats a memory of a scar? Take the band-aid off, that scar is there. Pick at the scab, the wound is there. Keep picking, that scar aint going anywhere.

Over twenty years later, an adult man feels a scar on his head. An adult man, succesful, smart, funny, witty, only randomly may run his hand through his hair and feel a scar on his head. I wonder what thoughts he has as he feels the line where the stitches were once sewn, holding his scalp together. He walks into a seven-eleven and people stare him down. Their thoughts are pretty clear. They may as well speak them aloud. But what about his thoughts. Are they not justified? Can making a phone call on shabbos be justified????

Are these justifiable decisions or choices? Is it picking or choosing? Is it an action that will decades later explain to an adult and rectify the pain a parent may have inflicted (even unwillingly!)? At what point did picking and choosing erase the improbable cause for disaster in a kids future? At an action that later may not even have a reaction, just a devastating consequence. I dont think I am angry. I dont think I am hateful or spiteful. I just feel that maybe I start the self-discovery, and perhaps my journey is shared or can be. When did you know? When did you realize that you had to run? When did you make your first "justified" move? When did I make my first justified phone call on Shabbos?

Is it love for religion, or religion for love? Is either justified?

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  1. i loiked the start of the blog, the reflection into the past yet still in the present.

    ok, that is nuts... my uncle is one of the most religious people i know and i know a lot of them and if his child had cracked his skull he woudl run to the phone!!! but i wont start to judge other's for their beliefs no matter how twisted i think they are...

    while in the airport on sunday i called my dad and he starts crying over the phone that "please son, don't forget about your religion, don't eat non kosher food, make sure to say the shema every day, blah blah.." litterally the man is crying... so i tell him "Dad, for all thos people who pray every single day and eat kosher and then go F*CK someone in the AS* over a business transaction, or do not repsect their elders, or cheat or lie or harm others, i am the more religious one, prayer is not religion, kosher is not religion, that is only the physicle part of relfgion, what about the good insdie me, that i have no harmed anyone in business, i have not stolen from the mouth of another, does that not make me religious, infact more religous then them"... he agreed for a moment, we said our goodbyes and i headed to my flight... no 8:00 am in the morning, i am writting to this blog, and ready to take a shower and say my Shema :o)

    Miss you

  2. who are we justifying it to? ourselves? others? can religion and love really be equal?

  3. Nem,
    I love the time you took and the input - your point is fabulous and makes so much sense! What is the purpose if there is no self-satisfaction, self-motivation, self desire...
    If youre saying shema, can you make it tax-deductible and have me in mind?
    Miss ya too - have a great time...

    Exactly - do we feel the need to justify or are we just pleasing organized religion? I thank you for helping me on this journey. I am all of a sudden drowning in my self-conflict of where things started going wrong... this is going to be an interesting road taken, to say the least... I am so glad you are interested and involved... I know its a whole new world for you, from this aspect - yet we are all one and the same!

  4. jd,

    great writing.
    i'm not sure why that kids father didnt use the phone, many orthodox jews will use the phone on shabbos when its an emergancy.
    i've left more then 10 years ago and still have anger within me, you see, it dosent bother me when someone wants to be extra frum, go all out, be holy and all that. what bothers me are the ones who pretend to be very religious on one hand, and on another, use or abuse other people sometimes in the name of religion. as if thats what god wants, they have missed the point and make others suffer as a result.

  5. Unjustified. Exactly.

    I was caught unaware in that situation as well, and couldnt understand why the father in this instance wouldnt call. When I asked the person, he simply shrugged and said "I dont know - he just wouldnt"... THAT i believe is what you may be referring to. Taking it to a whole new level, and being what may be pleasing to other people... See the comment Nemo left ontop, you will find it interesting as well.


  6. Your pictures speak a thousand words.

    I hate when they use relig. as an excuse for bad parenting. Pakiach Nefesh means dialing the phone and going with your child in a car to the doc on shabbos.

    I envy those who left yiddishkeit unlike me who leads a double life. It is beyond torture at times.

    I love your blog!

  7. GG -

    i understand your pain... more than you can imagine... and the pain it took, the years, the tears, the rock bottoms to finally find a place where i needed to be, instead of running. i still run... but at least i know what i'm NOT running from... hope you join me here and thank you for your thoughts... means alot - and youre not alone, you know that, right?

    (hope you got to read The "W", brooklyn, new york - i think you will relate...)

  8. OK darlin JD
    Me as a current observant Jew, not like GG who lives a double life, I totally agree with GXC, and for the first paragraphs of this blog, I believe everyone who was born into a frum environment or who has been frum at one point or another, will always stay religious!!! Like Nematolah said… everyone keeps his part as well as he/she can… as for love & religion, well you Jaded dreamer knew R' Shlomo and you know it's possible… I believe in that totally, it's our choice how to take the whole religion thing… not that it's automatically easy for someone who's born religion, that I know… I don't think I'm perfect in my observance but I keep holdin on, I believe God loves you all and sees the beauty in everyone's soul, it is us that have to look & see the beauty in ourselves!!! As Jews and/or as God's creations… Good luck on this journey

  9. (Me as a current observant Jew, not like GG who lives a double life,)

    I am very observant. In some ways still even Chasidic.
    In my community double life is defined as doing something out of the box even though its not considered a sin elsewhere. Maybe I'm living in the wrong place?!

    We all have different nisyonas. For some its drugs and drinking. Thank G-d not for me since I have never done it. My issue with religion gets me thinking only because where I grew up they use and abuse religion in so many messed up ways.

    I use to judge and hate people with double lives. I have realized its only up to G-d.Who says watching movies behind close doors is considered a double life? Maybe its the community with their own mishigazen and strict rules at fault?

    SO blessed stop insulting those who do lead double lives. I'm sure you have been there at some point in life. Some transition faster then others. Some of us have much more to lose.

  10. GG & BR -
    please... the point of this blog is for us all to share opinions, feelings and thougths and i want everyone to feel comfortable doing that... i think you both are right, both know how hard things are - and for some a nisayon may not even be one, because the "community" (see, right back to that!) finds something unacceptable... i have to read all this again, i want to think about it, but i DONT want anyone to be upset or hurting, cuz we have all done enuf of that...
    I still do have to make a living, so when i get home from work, lets all discuss this some more...
    for now, peace, love, strength to all of us.


  11. I lived that double life or what ever you want to call it for at least 5 years, I use to hide my TV in the closet and put the shades down before my husband and I (ex now) would want to watch a movie.
    I went out of my way to get a double window shade one that you can pull down that covers all the windows and a curtain to close on top of it. and I was still pissing in my pants every time I heard a noise outside the window that maybe someone is listening in. we even got headphones. such paranoia it killed me.
    I had the guts to go even further as getting a drivers lic. even though my husband was totally against it, I simple wanted to have the freedom to drive my self go out shopping enjoy my day with out having to ask my husband take me there bring me there.
    Yes Maybe this is not considered a double life to some of you, but the freedom I have today walk breath and live the life I love and cherish I wont trade it for nothing in the world. I breath a sigh of relife everytime I even think back to those days. all I can say Baruch Shapetrane Mitzorah Shelo Ze'h
    I wish more people really get the strength to live honestly and openly and truly fullfilled life that they want instead of what everyone else wants.. sadly and I do understand some people think they got no choice or too afraid to be who they really want to be .. I say everything is possible.. No exucses You live your life once live it breath it and enjoy it.. No one will be laying in your grave when your dead but you... not your parents not your family and not your community..I say Live and let live

  12. BeG,
    Thank you for your strong words, with conviction i stand behind you as we have shared many of the same struggles. your points are so valid and you are an inspiration.

  13. JD, I'm sorry..

    BG why don't you blog more about it and give those of us on this journey some guidance? Maybe if you share your stories some of us can keep our sanity and not feel alone.

    It is very refreshing to see so many strong women...

  14. GossipGirl:

    I would love to have the time for blogging but I'm not finding it right now.

    If you ever need a support and a listening ear feel free to email me
    And so goes for anyone of you.

    If I have the time I would gladly be a support I know what its like living it and I know what its like LEAVING IT..

    Right back at you hugss

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

  16. GG -
    please do not be sorry at all. it IS very refreshing and there isnt really an outlet for the "women"... since most "known" about "cases" are males...

    BeG does have a fascinating blog as well, you can read about her experiences as well... simply click on her name. shortly, i will have her link on my page.

    BR, i would love to get your input from here on... i am sure the community's ranging here are very different, i am not sure where others are, i am in new york and you are in israel... GG, perhaps your geographics, (actually most likely) are extreme. I understand that COMPLETELY. As you can read, the chocking hold community i was raised (ha!) in was a chained cell... BG, also - you are in a more accepted environment and growing up with Carlbachean education is a true gift... THAT is spirituality, again, i speak for me...

    Thanks everyone - all your thoughts are valid, opinions, feelings. I appreciate it.


  17. hi guys,

    i too lived a double life for a long time. i had to hide that i listen to the radio, watch t.v. (i had a pocket size t.v. and watched in the bathroom of a shul) i also had to hide that i was having sex with men (some of whom my family new and respected) i dont wish it on anyone.
    we all have different dreams and goals so its hard to say what one is to do, it is an individuals decission. one thing you all need to remember is, "live the life you have always emagined yourself living" follow your goals and dreams and dont let anyone stop you. if you need support it is out there, just dont give up hope.
    if you want or need to stay within a orthodox community thats fine too, if it aint broken dont fix it. if you choose to do things on the side that the community dosent aprove of and you choose to hide it, thats fine too, as long as you dont feel trapped. if you feel trapped, perhaps it is time to do something about it.

    all my love.

  18. No one could have said it more poignantly and eloquently - "if you feel trapped, perhaps it is time to do something about it"!!!


  19. WOW!!! So much feed back in one day, you guys are amazing, each one of you, really… GG I never meant to insult you and such in your situation, I DON'T think watching movies is a sin! And as JD said, it probably had to do with geography; I don't know where you live, but the real frum neighborhoods in NY sound very closed, as I read on JD's blog (the "W") so let's take it higher then that, I'm sure you're an amazing person and doing things you enjoy that are "out of the box" is OK, just remember what religion is about, it's about our relationship with God, that's it… the heck with everything else ,
    GXC, I can't imagine how hard it is/was for you!!! I really feel for you, they had this TV show in Israel years ago about religious guy/lesbians; it was heartbreaking… as if being guy is not out of the box anyway, being guy & religious… OMG
    Yeh, growing up in a Carlibach environment was helpful, although my family was always the "strongly" religious ones, now too I live in a BT environment, where I I'm like a rebetzen, cuz I went to BY, most people here grew up in secular areas…
    Love to all of you wherever you are & whatever you guys are going threw, just take time to speak to God, doesn’t have to be from a sidur, just from your hart… (Rabbi Nachmen of Breslev)

  20. Around the corner I have a friend,
    In this great city that has no end,
    Yet the days go by and weeks rush on,
    And before I know it, 13 year is gone.
    And I never see my old friends face,
    For life is a swift and terrible race,

    “blasts from the pasts” by JD

    Very eloquent put,
    I don’t know how someone at the other end can see my tears feel my pain and understand my sorrow so well without even knowing me,
    On Dec, 24 is coming up my Bar Mitzvah of my New / Other life,
    It has been 13 long years of running but not hiding I use to call it a new life but after a while I call it different because I can not forget the past no matter how badly I would like it.
    I’ve never shared or written anything before about my life, but now I’m at a point that I don’t know was it worth it to leave one bad thing for another, life is like an Illusion I see what I want to see and so called my best friend standing next to me looking at the same thing will see something different…

    I’m Lost I’m overwhelmed I need a Friend

  21. Dear BelzS,

    Welcome! Obviously you are now in an environment where we are all putting it out there... I am glad you are here... You are lost, as I am, thinking we are ok, but then looking deeper we see how UNfound we are... Just from the fact of adjusting to the "real" world (in regard to your new bar mitzva) is overwhelming... I remember i was 20 years old and in a circle and people would talk about tv shows, or music and i would laugh along to fit in, i had no idea what in gods name Bill Cosby Show was...

    running.... thats all i knew and still do... i run, i am scared of pain, i do not want to hurt again, so i build this wall around me - and as you say, someone looking at me will have no clue whats inside... thats what we do. but its tiring.. .if you read the last comment GXC left, the last sentence - you will find strength in it... You are not a bad person for choosing a new life. you have choices to make, read the last line of Blessed Rose's comment, just speak from your heart to god, your higher power, your guru - whatever YOU find comfort in... to me, prayer is key... i dont even know whom i'm directing it to, but the lip service i did for so many years (in school and stuff) meant NOTHING, while now i sometimes throw up my hands and say - i leave it up to YOU....

    Congratulations on your new bar mitzvah... as most of the crowd here have all individually said and agreed upon, religion and/or spirituality is individual... i dont know where you are at, as in which direction this bar mitzva is in, but you are here, in a safe forum, where you can obviously see and feel the same range of pain. (of course every person's pain is their own, and we can only share our common grief and find support)... i support whichever direction you are headed in.

    I will be posting a new blog to all of you amazing people over this weekend, starting this blog has become a healing process - i must thank you all... all of you stay in touch - i feel as if i have made special new friends...

    love to you all.


  22. Belz
    Hi!!! & welcome to this amazing blog, I'm sorry to hear about your loneliness, but as JD said, now you are part of this wonderful place with all great people… yes we do have choices and directions we take in life, but I believe some of our choices are made with no choice but with force… now that you are celebrating your OTHER bar mitzvah, enough time has past that you could start gathering strength & make the real free choice from a new perspective… good luck & love , take love & give it forward!!! That’s the true key to having success, enough with the blaming others for not getting the love we righteously deserved, now it's our tern to give love to the next mixed up generation and give them the strength to make the right decisions … this I'm saying to all of you and to myself.
    Shabbat shalom!

  23. I Tan-Q all for your support & kind words,

    Shabbat Shalom. Peace on Earth!

    I thought this video 2b very appropriate for this topic

  24. Thank you B-shy,

    Soooo moving and beautiful... (my favorite song now by her!!!)

    Very encouraging words and very appropriate... thank you for posting it!



  25. JD & belze shyg,
    Yes, I did see this music video, of cores I know this song, I have it on my MP, and it's a great song!!! JD, I'll give you a translation one day, when I find the time…

    Love and keep the flame alive!!!!