Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Poster child for modern religious world

That was me once. The David Beckham and Michael Jordan of the modern religious world. Scion of two great religious families. Heir to an ancient Rabbinic tradition. Alumnus of some of the best Yeshivot, top in his shiur at every location. Able to converse freely about Gemara Kant and Nietzche, Hashkafah Madonna and Clancy.

I was determined to show my UO friends that one can take part fully in the modern world and yet be as observant and knowledgeable as the rest of them.

I succeeded at that role for a few years, inspiring and learning with people through college, being involved in education in the community.

But it's all gone horribly wrong.

I write this post to myself, to remind me what it is I should be striving for.

TRK

28 Comments:

At 5/03/2005 11:05 AM, Blogger 2R said...

Thanx for visiting my blog...

You're not alone on this one.

It seems the longer one stays single in the MO circles the harder it is to keep whatever stringencies they've placed on themselves, and the more they wonder why they've accepted them at all.

 
At 5/03/2005 11:33 AM, Blogger PsychoToddler said...

Are you going to get more specific?

 
At 5/03/2005 12:37 PM, Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...

2r,

You speaking personally?

PT,

In what respect? How things have gone wrong?

 
At 5/03/2005 1:45 PM, Blogger Malka said...

TRK,

Hmmmm this doesn't have anything to do with yesterday does it? ;-)

 
At 5/03/2005 2:03 PM, Blogger Chai18 said...

well at least you know what to strive for.

 
At 5/03/2005 2:33 PM, Blogger 2R said...

speaking personally? I only speak personally.
Whether I have been slipping or just trying harder to appear stagnant, I recognize that as I have grown older the support systems of the past have dwindled. I no longer live at home where I have to worry about what my family or community will think... so the decisions that I make about my religious life are mine and mine alone, with out anyone else looking over my sholder, offering me a helping hand, or a gentle push...

 
At 5/03/2005 5:18 PM, Anonymous ClooJew said...

Shaaaaaloooooommmm!

Lulei demistafina, it is great to have you back. And to be commenting on blogs once again. I've been off the internet for nearly two weeks and went the entire passover without so much as thirty seconds of television.

Though I wish I could read as fast as you. Do you realize, TRK, what a snot you sound like (lulei demistafina) when you write you are "able to converse freely about Gemara Kant and Nietzche, Hashkafah Madonna and Clancy" or that you were "lying back reading Siddharta, The Name of the Rose, Fermat's Last Theorem..., a book about Caeser's youth, some Dershowitz which depresses me"?

Grrrr. I'm just jealous because I brought "Huckleberry Finn" along for the ride and didn't make it to page three. Oh well. There's always Succos.

I'm not going to comment on each of your posts, just incorporate all my comments here. Let me say this: you are really groovin with this blog; you're writing is excellent and your topics are insightful and it looks like the chag break has served you well.

One last kiss of your ass: your line, "My neshomo yeterah seems to tear off pieces off my soul every time it leaves," is a quotable quote suitable for framing.

 
At 5/03/2005 5:22 PM, Anonymous ClooJew said...

BtW, I found a link to that Nicole Krauss story called "The Last Words on Earth" from the Feb 9, 2004 issue.

Cut and paste:
http://www.newyorker.com/fiction/content/?040209fi_fiction

 
At 5/03/2005 6:29 PM, Blogger LostSpirit said...

“But it's all gone horribly wrong.”

Has it!!
By the sound of things there where more things wrong on the offset of your journey then there is now.

Your kind words that you seem to be leaving all over the place are, I can assure you, making your grandparents proud.

 
At 5/03/2005 9:16 PM, Blogger Eli7 said...

A comment and a question (but not in tht order), TRK:

1) Does it have to go wrong? Is there no middle-ground where you can be frum and modern?

2) Though I don't know what has gone horribly wrong and though I have no interest in making judgements, I will say that knowing that it's all gone wrong and feeling badly about it is most definitely part of the solution. If you don't like where you're at that means you have a conception of where you'd like to be, and knowing what you think is right is more than half the battle. Good luck getting there!

 
At 5/04/2005 12:32 AM, Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...

wow guys, thanks for all your comments.

2r,

It's better though that you don't have people looking over your shoulder, I hate that. You should keep things and serve G-d because you want to. It shows how mature we are and how far we have come when we do it for ourselves (or not).

CJ,

Good to have you back. Yes, I am a snot but also an incredibly fast reader. Fortunately my parents greatly encouraged me to read as a kid. It worries me that today's kids read far less. Thanks for the chizuk, really means a lot to me. When we gonna see you start blogging?

That is an amazing story. I laughed out loud all the way through it except for the bits I cried at. I wish I could write like that. "The moment had passed; the door between the lives we could have led and the lives we came to call our own had shut". Ouch.

LS,

I was a bit of a snob then, looking down on some religious people who acted hypocritically, but in general I was doing good stuff. I have screwed a number of important things up in recent years, trying to resolve them now. I think my grandparents would be proud if I finished Shas and Poskim Beiyun. Got some way to go till then but thanks!

Eli7,

1) I think I was on the middle road then. Now I have veered off it but I'm trying to make my way back through the tangled bushes and thick trees.

2) Truth is, my desire in recent times to get back has not been matched by long-term action. Am working on it though.

TRK

 
At 5/04/2005 8:09 AM, Blogger Needsabetterjob said...

This post is very vague. You don't indicate what kind of problems you are having.

 
At 5/04/2005 8:38 AM, Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...

SOM,

I think I'll leave the sordid details to you. I just slipped in a number of areas.

 
At 5/04/2005 11:29 AM, Blogger 2R said...

There are two ways to look at the community. Either as ppl looking over shoulder, or ppl who support you and help you stay focused...
I hated growing up in a community where everyone was involved, but I wouldn't raise my kids in any enviroment but one like that...
Don't get me wrong, I'm not shedding the blame for anything I've done wrong b/c I no longer live within a community of people who care, I am just saying it's harder to tread water when you can't rest your feet on something solid when you want...

 
At 5/04/2005 12:59 PM, Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...

2r,

Why would you want to raise your kids in that kind of environment. I can't stand it. I actually am gonna post soon on what kind of place I want to bring my kids up in. I agree you should have friends and a social structure of people who care and will support you, but not people who will look down on you or judge you if you dress different or act different. I think there is a difference.

TRK

 
At 5/04/2005 2:00 PM, Anonymous ClooJew said...

You should raise your kids, lulei demistafina, in Chicago, Baltimore, or--if you must have excellent weather but not excellent chinuch--San Diego.

 
At 5/04/2005 6:24 PM, Blogger Needsabetterjob said...

Oh come on, talk, let it out, tell us. You will feel better.

From a chinuch perspective metro NY is best, actually I have to say NJ, North and Central, are the best locations for variety of schools. Since every child is different. I am stumped like why my son is having so much trouble w/ alot of the Judaic studies. He has been a reader since he was very little.
He cannot understand a Mishna, has trouble w/ Chumash. He is in one of the best schools for Yeshiva Day School. He is not into serious study, but has excellent midos.
So I am thinking long term, I would want him to get an advanced degree as a professional.

This gets into what motivates kids to learn, an area that I don't know enough about. My first child always did well in school, she seemed to have a knack for it.

 
At 5/05/2005 10:17 AM, Blogger Just Shu said...

As my mom always says, life is Judaism is like an escalator, if youre not going up, then you're going down

 
At 5/05/2005 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I come from a more yeshivish family, kinda, but I don't consider myself yeshivish or modern orthodox. I have modern Orthdox cousins who do a lot of things I don't approve of. Please pardon my ignorance, but why is it hard to be Modern Orthodox? I always thought it was easier than the way I live (in the middle somewhere). You guys have so much more leeway, more fun...why should it be hard?? Unless you're a Ba'al teshuvah, then being frum under any circumstance is hard.

 
At 5/05/2005 12:17 PM, Blogger tmeishar said...

DON'T RAISE YOUR KIDS IN BALTIMORE! It's the worst possible thing that you can do for your children.

As far as the topic at hand, I find it so interesting that my story is exactly opposite to yours. I spent the formative years of my life (elementary and middle school) not only not caring about Judaism but actually resenting it to a certain extent. It was something I did because my parents made me and had no intention of keeping. When I got to high school I was encouraged to think, explore, and my Jewish spark was lit so to speak. I got so "into" it!
Being that my area is a largely Yeshivesh community I became very yeshivesh. I was basically everything I can't stand to see in people today. Being yeshivesh was so easy, basically if you didn't talk to boys, listen to "Goyish" music, watch TV, or be interested in any way in secular culture - even the good parts. Complacency was so easy because frumkeit was defined by what I didn't do. It didn't mean developing myself as a person.
Eventually, I began to feel that something was missing. The more I learned, the more modern I became. At this point I feel it is safe to say I am a totally Modern Orthodox Jew. I love English Literature and Science, I am involved in Bnei Akiva, I learn Gmarah despite my gender, etc.
And Torah and Yiddishkeit are so much more significant to me now than ever before!
So what turned you? My curiosity has no bounds.

 
At 5/05/2005 12:17 PM, Blogger tmeishar said...

DON'T RAISE YOUR KIDS IN BALTIMORE! It's the worst possible thing that you can do for your children.

As far as the topic at hand, I find it so interesting that my story is exactly opposite to yours. I spent the formative years of my life (elementary and middle school) not only not caring about Judaism but actually resenting it to a certain extent. It was something I did because my parents made me and had no intention of keeping. When I got to high school I was encouraged to think, explore, and my Jewish spark was lit so to speak. I got so "into" it!
Being that my area is a largely Yeshivesh community I became very yeshivesh. I was basically everything I can't stand to see in people today. Being yeshivesh was so easy, basically if you didn't talk to boys, listen to "Goyish" music, watch TV, or be interested in any way in secular culture - even the good parts. Complacency was so easy because frumkeit was defined by what I didn't do. It didn't mean developing myself as a person.
Eventually, I began to feel that something was missing. The more I learned, the more modern I became. At this point I feel it is safe to say I am a totally Modern Orthodox Jew. I love English Literature and Science, I am involved in Bnei Akiva, I learn Gmarah despite my gender, etc.
And Torah and Yiddishkeit are so much more significant to me now than ever before!
So what turned you? My curiosity has no bounds.

 
At 5/05/2005 2:37 PM, Anonymous ClooJew said...

Tmeishar, Why not Baltimore???

Needsabetterjob, could you tell us what school he is in, lulei demistafina? I am very curious. What about YNJ? That school has an excellent reputation for getting kids at all levels the tools they need to learn.

Perhaps he needs a tutor--someone who can teach him in creative ways, maybe TRK!

 
At 5/05/2005 2:45 PM, Blogger tmeishar said...

Basically, Baltimore is a VERY polarized community. There are the modern ones and the yeshivesh ones and never the two shall meet. Not that that is unusual, but because the community is also pretty small it becomes FEROCIOUSLY antagonist to those who are different on a very personal level.
Also, a ridiculously LARGE majority of the teens on one side of the community go off the derech because it stifles them. On the other end of the community the kids don't go off as drastically but a majority of them don't care all that much about Torah. The ones from the "right side" who don't go off are usually thoughtless robots. Really the only kids that turn out OK are the ones on the left that make Torah significant to them, but they are a pitiful minority.
On second thought, I think I just described most of the teenagers in America!

 
At 5/05/2005 9:07 PM, Blogger Needsabetterjob said...

CJ, Yeah he has a tutor, he likes it. W/ him I think his mind is so into sports that he can't concentrate enough on school.

His friends are like that very into sports teams, and they play also. I think this is one of the effects. I had wanted him to be friendly w/ some of the more frummer kids, who are more serious about school, but it wasn't like he needed our help in having friends so I didn't push it.

 
At 5/06/2005 4:08 AM, Blogger menachem said...

my god, baltimore...

i never lived there, but i went there for high school, the very same school that's responsible for how screwed up baltimore has become.

if you live there, get out!

 
At 5/06/2005 7:16 AM, Blogger tmeishar said...

Lemme guess Menachem, you went to a school that is affiliated with a large Yeshiva that has branches all over America, but is commonly reffered to by its 2 letter initial instead?

 
At 5/06/2005 9:10 AM, Anonymous ClooJew said...

I went to Ner Israel briefly and, lulei demistafina, did not have the greatest experience. But I still have tremendous respect for what goes on there. I think it is the model for the "Torah im Derech Eretz" yeshiva.

Am I wrong? Is Baltimore as a community that bad? I'm surprised and dismayed...

 
At 5/08/2005 4:16 PM, Blogger tmeishar said...

Ner is an interesting school...
Either way what goed on on Yeshiva Lane is so far removed from what Baltimore is REALLY like. Worlds apart.

 

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