יום רביעי, מאי 17, 2006

Staying the course

Another Frum Blog's comment on To be or Not To Be... Frum prompted my interpetation of the thought.

Why do older singles often drift away from staying the course religiously?

I've noticed the thing about single people getting less frum. A large part of Jewish life (especially the religious world) centers around home, family, and marriage. The backlash to not being married is that you start to feel excluded from aspects of the Jewish world. Including things like how you dress. Her hair is covered. As opposed to mine which is not. He's wearing a talit (or saying bircat cohanim) and I'm not. They invite people to shabbat meals. I'm the random stray at other people's tables.

After a few years of being the random stray at someone else's table, you might dread Shabbat. "Maybe I'll just eat by myself this weekend." Or the question of "Why am I bothering with this?" rears it head as well. It gets depressing. It gets lonely. You look for things to bitch about in the world that so much of it is not the life you are leading. For many folks being single means excluding yourself from a big part of Judiasm.

Once I see myself as outside the Jewish world, it also means that I'm more likely to make friends with my non-religious or non-jewish co-workers. They don't give me a sense of being outside their world. As time goes on, I drift farther away from traditions. This is only made easier by that fact that some mitzvot a really hard to keep rigorously and when we falter, it's easier to justify our actions by lowering the importance of the law.

{We might be better off by embracing hipocracy and saying "This is the law. I know I should not be doing this. I'll try harder in the future but for now I'm not." But that is a whole 'nother post.}

As usual - any thoughts?

6 Comments:

At 1:33 אחה״צ, Anonymous Some Guy said...

You capture the feeling nicely. I was the random stray for many years, until it just became too depressing and I couldn't take it anymore. Stopped going to shul. (Felt a lot better then.) But it also gives occasion to think about the role of religion and the social nature of homo sapiens. And the conclusion I came to is that religious observance is 95% social. That is, the typical observant person who is removed from his or her social-religious context will very quickly give up observance. This is because within the observant culture observance is a huge social benefit, while outside the observant culture observance is a huge social drag. Most people will do what they need to do to survive and prosper in the prevailing social environment. (Witness what happened to the observance of Jewish immigrants.) If observance aids this enterprise, then it is retained. If observance impedes this enterprise, then it is discarded. The end.

 
At 1:05 לפנה״צ, Blogger YS said...

Good point. Is it supposed to be that way?

I'm thinking that religious observance takes social networks and contex into account, but shouldn't the God-Man aspect be present even in the absence of the social network? i.e. I should still have my connection to God on an island.

 
At 5:24 אחה״צ, Blogger Ezzie said...

That is a *very* interesting way of looking at it. Never really thought of that. On the flip side... (groan)

One of the aspects of religious life that draws BT's in is that familial/communal feeling. Ask many BT's what attracted them originally, and they'll often say something that directly connects to family/community or family/community activity (Shabbos). I think this "proves" what you're saying somewhat - that one of the strong draws of religious Judaism is that sense of family and community. When you have that, you are more likely to (want to) be a part of it; when you don't, you are less likely.

As an aside, this may also lead to the cult mentality that exists in may strings of Orthodoxy.

 
At 11:09 אחה״צ, Blogger YS said...

You'll also note that many people find themselves in religions almost disconnected from communities. They are able to connect to God without (or only because lack of) a community.

 
At 1:52 אחה״צ, Blogger Ezzie said...

But even they usually have a cult-like group, however small, that they are a part of. Rare is the single, lonely worshipper.

Interestingly, that may be the most incredible part of Avraham's choice to be monotheistic.

 
At 5:38 אחה״צ, Anonymous אנונימי said...

I love your website. It has a lot of great pictures and is very informative.
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