Thursday, December 28, 2006

i lost a comment about furry fruit..
has anyone seen it?


I was tagged by nemo and sara with no h to do this meme and list 6 'weird' things about myself..

1. I once killed a deer. I drove right into it, and I could swear our eyes locked right before impact. I remember perfectly those big deer eyes looking into mine - begging me not to hit it..

2. I have this annoying habit of leaving dirty kleenex and dirty socks EVERYWHERE - under my bed, under the table, in the sofa, under my cover, over my covers, behind my computer, in my pockets, in my purse, under my pillow..

3. When i go to the supermarket or to the pharmacy, i always feel the need to walk up and down every isle (OCD much!?)!! Even if I know what i want to buy, and I know where I can find it, I'll still usually make a quick run through the other isles - (from one end of the store to the other!)

4. I have a serious taste aversion/phobia/hate of lentils.

5. I've used a netipot, and it was kinda.. interesting :)

6. I can't really tell my left from my right. If I take the time to think about it, I'll work it out, but on the spot it's impossible. They can both feel like a left or a right! (this is a problem when I try setting the table, hiking, skiing, playing pool... anything where I need to pick a hand (or foot) ends up confusing me!!

and now it's my turn to tag 6 more bloggers .. tell us about your weirdness ..
random bochur
intellectual coctail
the sabra
Your Quirk Factor: 66%

You're so quirky, it's hard for you to tell the difference between quirky and normal.
No doubt about it, there's little about you that's "normal" or "average."

Friday, December 22, 2006

wishing you all a sweet shabbos
& an incredible chanuka -
full'o'shining.illuminating.bright.clarifying.happy light!
p.s. im not done with my last post - ill reply to comments soon. thank you all for your feedback!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I don't know if I want to be a BT anymore...

What does that mean?

Well, it doesn’t mean that I’m questioning whether I want to be religious or not. That decision was made years ago and has been reiterated on a daily basis since, some days with more conviction, some days with less.
What it does mean, though, is that I wonder whether I like to consider myself a BT or not.

Here’s my dilemma -

on the one hand…
It’s frustrating not feeling like an integral part of the normalized frum community. I always feel like I’m a little bit of an outsider. I don’t always know the slang; I don’t always understand references that are made; I don’t always get the inside jokes. I don’t like feeling clued out, and in this environment, where I don’t want to stand out anymore than necessary I often nod and smile and hope we can move on to something else before my cover’s blown!

The thing I especially don’t like is the tone of voice or the attitude people sometimes have when they speak to me. It’s a little bit condescending, a little bit patronizing, and sometimes even a little bit mocking. Becoming and being a BT is a process that you evolve in - it has beginning stages, and more advanced stages. It frustrates me that many in the frum community seem to have this impression that bt’s have abandoned their senses, that they’ve adopted a fairytale-like life style, bought into the party line - without questioning. It’s this subtle accusation of being naïve and blinded to the reality of things, of having been swept off your feet by an emotional, spiritual impulse and living blindly since.

Granted, the beginning stages probably are very much like that - or else why would anyone ever be interested! Of course it looks utopic at first glance, but this utopia comes with a one-dimensional view of torah life. Perhaps some people never leave that utopia, never develop depth of vision – but I assume that these same people would live with a one dimensional, flat, outlook on life regardless of their religious level.

For the rest of us, once the first burst of inspiration starts to fizzle out, reality sets in and by that point we are usually stuck in a place where we know there is truth to what we've been taught, but its not as simple as it originally seemed. Suddenly additional dimensions are revealed.

Some people give up at that point, and you will often find bt’s who started out all inspired and quickly dropped out once they realized it was much deeper and much more complex than they originally believed. But many of us, convinced we are on the right path, take on the challenge and develop and evolve with our newfound perception of this truth. With the realization of the multidimensional aspect of a torah lifestyle comes depth and understanding that wasn’t possible at the beginning.

The problem is that many ffb’s don’t seem to realize that this change has happened, that the naivete and the simplicity that bt’s first connected to is long gone. I hate when it is assumed that I think and believe the way I do out of naivete or being blinded. To be a truth seeker often implies having a certain degree of skepticism and cynicism. And to a natural skeptic and cynic, being called naïve is insulting. Changing your lifestyle, believing in a G-d and a Torah with no more than 51% “proof” is difficult enough as it is, but to then be told that the reason you’re so eager and excited about this way of life is that you’re being a “BT”, is really hurtful, and worse – doubt-inducing.

Being a bt, there isn’t a day that I don’t wonder if I did the right thing. The doubts are fleeting and in most cases dealt with with ease, but being reminded by the same people who brought you in that maybe there is value to those doubts is terribly disappointing.

So that’s why I don’t like thinking of myself as a bt, I want to just blend in, disappear into the crowd. I'm tired of being scrutinized and babied and feeling like an outsider. I want my current struggles, struggles very similar to any observant person, to be validated, not mocked.

on the other hand…
Being a bt means I get to have my doubts, and voice them.
I get to decide every day that I accept g-d and torah
I get to baby step, and accept my weaknesses, without excessive guilt.
I get more room to accept my past mistakes – recent and not so recent past.
It allows me to keep searching and learning without feeling pigeonholed into any one path of Judaism.
It gives me the freedom to be myself within a system that requires compliance and uniformity.

I don’t know what I want.
I find myself playing both cards.

I think at this point in my life I’d like to let go of the BT card and just deal with the challenges of being part of a frum community. Not that I want to give up on my strengths and what I have to offer on a personal, individual basis, but just to blend in and take on the struggles of the general frum population. I often think I have made that jump, and I am part of the frum community, and I am blending in, and struggling with the same issues, doubts, habits, but then someone comes along and makes a simplistic derogatory comment about me being a bt, or about bt’s in general and I find myself switching camps and getting defensive.

I guess that means I’m not ready to really switch over. But I’m not sure there will ever be an appropriate time..

I know I’m asking for trouble, but I would love to hear what ffb’s think of bt’s. Do it anonymously if you want. I’m not looking for praise or admiration – I want to hear the truth. If any of you have ever had any resentment or dislike of bt’s, this is your time to voice it. Maybe if I hear what all the complaints and issues and criticisms are and I deal with them, I’ll finally be able to get it out of my system and fully integrate myself into the normalized community.
…or not!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

There have been times in my life when I've felt so strong and positive, where I've been on a real growing path. I've felt myself getting more connected and inspired and it motivated me to keep growing and developing my relationship with Hashem.

There have been other times, however, that I've felt disconnected, unwanted, locked up in spiritual solitary confinement. At its worst, I’ve described it as G-d ‘closing the door on me’ (ch'v) and leaving me out in the cold. I’ve felt detached, doubtful and generally disconnected and I’ve had a really hard time understanding why that happens.

Some of those times have come after not having been so involved or dedicated to my avodat hashem, and so i always assumed it was related. But it recently happened unexpectedly - from one day to the next, I've felt like I couldnt relate and couldnt connect anymore.

I've been working hard to try to make sense of it.

We keep saying that if we try harder

daven with more kavana
stay focused on our goals..
we’ll connect to Hashem better and feel more inspired.

As if it's in our hands and we have control over how close we feel to Him.

But why should that be? We know that G-d works on the 'efforts' system. He doesn’t expect results from us, he expects effort. The results are in His hands. All I’m responsible for is my effort, for doing my best, trying my hardest, making correct decisions, but the results are not in my hands. Whether I get the job/get the guy/pass the exam/ get sick, is all in His hands. I do my best, I follow His "suggestions" but He decides what I truly NEED (not what i deserve) in return.

Of course my responsibility is to try, to put in the hishtadlut, but my successes and failures are not directly correlated to my efforts. Anyone who tries to live according to strict cause and effect quickly becomes very disappointed. It just doesn’t work that way.

Sometimes we get hand-outs we don’t deserve, and sometimes we work hard and don’t get results – and as torah observant jews we can accept that - in the material world.

So why do we assume it’s any different in the spiritual world?

Who says that if you daven harder, you’ll feel more connected or you'll have more clarity? If you perform mitzvas with more love and devotion, you’ll have an easier time feeling closer to hashem? Of course those are the things G-d has asked us to do in order to get close to Him and so they do get us closer, but how can we presume to understand how His accounting system works, why do we assume we will FEEL closer?

Is it possible that just as Hashem decides that someone needs to be poor or ill - for their own good and their own growth - that He can decide that someone should have a harder time feeling a connection to Him. Maybe it’s for our benefit to feel distanced, or not to feel so inspired? But, and this is the big important BUT, that doesn’t mean that G-d is not approving of our efforts, that we aren’t actually closer to Him. It just means that we are not in control and we cannot pull the strings and decide how close we will feel, how clear His intervention will be, how strongly we will relate to the connection.

I read something the other day that I really loved (A Daily Dose of Wisdom from the Rebbe) - not so much because it was unusual or revolutionary but because it expressed so well how I’ve felt at certain times in my life.

The Invisible Prison

The worst prison is when G-d locks you up. He doesn't need guards or cells or stone walls. He simply decides that, at this point in life, although you have talent, you will not find a way to express it. Although you have wisdom, there is nobody who will listen. Although you have a soul, there is nowhere for it to shine. And you scream, "Is this why you sent a soul into this world? For such futility?"
That is when He gets the tastiest essence of your juice squeezed out from you.

This amazed me, because it’s exactly how I’ve been feeling. I’ve felt imprisoned. I’ve desperately wanted to get closer to Hashem, to feel more inspired, I’ve tried, I’ve cried… but it's just not working the way it has in the past.

My instinct is to think that I’m not trying hard enough, I’m reading the wrong books, not praying hard enough, behaving inappropriately, or maybe I’m being punished - maybe I’ve done something wrong and I’m not wanted anymore.. I don’t know..every possibility sounds more far-fetched than the last.. but I’m grabbing at straws because I just don’t understand it.

A friend of mine explained to me that sometimes G-d hides His light a little more than usual so that we crave it a little more. Sometimes it’s not our actions that interest Him as much as our desire to get closer. After all, the actions are simply tools to get close - sometimes Hashem wants to see how much we really want it..

It’s easy when you’re doing everything right and you feel that it’s bringing you closer to Him, but how many of us can keep doing everything right when we don’t feel closer, when we pray and our heart feels like stone, when we keep pushing ourselves and not seeing results. How many of us manage to stay focused and thankful to Hashem.. and how many of us start developing doubts and resentment?

The reason I liked that “prison” image is because it described my desire to be free, to want to feel alive, while feeling constrained, trapped in a contained space, feeling like I'm bouncing off the walls, desperate to let out energy. You beg and plead to be let out, you cry and question yourself, you pray with all your heart to be liberated, to feel G-d taking you in.. but it doesnt happen.

Being aware that I’m in this "prison" that I’m stuck between four walls, and that the door is locked from the outside and there's things nothing I can do but wait to be let out, is helpful in dealing with these feelings. I can accept the situation I’m in, stop fighting it – stop fighting myself, stop blaming myself - and instead focus my energy on trying to live in the moment, doing my best, trying my hardest. Showing hashem, the One I loved and felt so close to a few months back, that I’m still just as interested, still just as much in love, still just as desperate to feel close to Him, even when it’s dark, and I don’t see my potential being actualized.

It’s an amazing relief to realize that my ONLY job is to try. Instead of focusing on the results, on how close I feel to Him, I turns inwards and measure how much I’ve done, how much I’m capable of.

It’s easy to get lazy when you are under the impression that you control the outcome.
- If I pray well – I’ll feel this close, and if I pray quickly, I wont feel so close.
- So.. today I think I’ll take it easy, I don’t really feel the need to be close
- And today I really need His helping hand, I think I’ll daven harder.
It doesnt work that way.

But when you realize that you can pray hard, and not feel close, and that you can do nothing and get a big burst of inspiration, you start to pray with only one objective, to get close, to make Him happy, to make yourself happy. Regardless of the results. I think that in itself is a level, to be able to acknowledge that. It's not a place I want to be in, but like I wrote in the past - you use the clarity you gained when it was day, to illuminate your way in the dark. You trust that the feelings will come back, the closeness will return, and you do your best in the meantime to show Him how much you mean it and desire it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

So let me see if I understand this correctly..

Palestinian gunmen shot up the car of a PA officer in a street crowded with children, killing 3 of them.

So, it wasn’t an Israeli plane, it wasn’t an Israeli attacker.
It was a Palestinian shooting at another Palestinian.
Of course there is no outrage, no denunciations, no accusations
It’s normal, isn’t it? We expect it, don’t we?
it's almost as if this is the normal way for people to behave within their own nation.

What's interesting though is that what seems to happen in this conflict, really has very little to do with what goes on militarily. The world doesn’t realize what we already know, but sometimes it seems like the Palestinians do - "What Israel couldn't do by force, we were able to do with internal dispute, lack of leadership, accompanied by economic pressure and the siege on Gaza."

It seems that their own internal fighting is doing the job they accuse us of.

The most interesting in this situation though, is that they still manage to convince themselves that despite their own madness, it’s still our fault that they are suffering.

Do you mean to say that if Israel did not exist, there would suddenly be democracy in Egypt, that the schools in Morocco would be better, that the public clinics in Jordan would function better?

I think so.

Can you please explain to me what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has to do with these problems?

The Palestinian cause is central for Arab thinking.

In the end, is it a matter of feelings of self-esteem?

Exactly. It's because we always lose to Israel. It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about 7 million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego. The Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West's problem is that it does not understand this.

And I'm supposed to believe this is a conflict operating according to the laws of nature?

uh huh.. sure..

They dont need us to kill them, occupy them, destroy them -
they are pawns ..
we are pawns ..
the rules of the game are other than they realize..than many of us realize..
their bombs dont kill us, our disengagement plans dont expel us.
we play our part, they play their parts
but it's still all parts being played out by actors..
a cosmic performance, directed by the One above.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

People often have this misconception that older singles are just being picky. I know I’m really open-minded and always give guys a fair chance, but sometimes that criticism starts to put doubt in my mind. I start to wonder what I did or what I am doing wrong to be in this situation. When people keep giving you advice on how you should be acting in order to get married, you start to believe that it must be your fault and that can really get in the way of doing what you should be doing which is staying positive and not falling into despair.

Sometimes I look around and see what's out there. Of course I don’t want to say that all the good guys are taken, but truthfully, sometimes it does feel that way. The thing is that I have no doubts that men feel the same way about the single women. But it doesn’t make sense to me. If the good guys think all the good women are already taken, and all the good women think all the good men are taken, why aren’t the good men and good women meeting up?

Someone forwarded me a great article this morning that I wanted to share.

What I realized is that it’s probably not only the singles that have the problem described in this article, in fact lots of people must. When people who got married easily, at a young age, criticize or "give advice" out to singles, they often don’t realize how difficult it is for a mature self-aware adult to accept the choice of potential spouses they are faced with. These people are used to their own spouse and their friends spouses and don’t realize that we are dealing with a completely different reality.

I think singles out there who read this will be somewhat comforted by it and I hope others who read this will get a bit of insight into the situation we’re dealing with with.

Why Are All the Good Hubands Already Taken?
By Aron Moss

Here is the dating paradox: Why are all the good guys already taken? Why are my friends' husbands all such wonderful people, and the guys I meet all seem to be missing something?

It's not that the good guys are taken--it is that a "taken" guy is more desirable. Loving and being loved brings out the best in us. So a guy in a relationship does have something that the available guys are missing--someone to love.

A painting will always look better once it is framed and hung on the wall. A couch is far more attractive in a home than in a showroom. And people are more beautiful when they have found love. The human soul is only truly itself when it has opened up to someone else.

When we love someone, we are more alive. Our feelings are more vivid, our sensitivity is heightened and our personalities flourish. When we are loved by someone, we feel more confident and free, content and complete.

We can share love with our family and friends, but until we find our soulmate we are only half a person. It is when man and woman come together that they are the image of G-d, they are complete.

You can't go furniture shopping in someone else's living room. And you can't compare the guys you date to your friends' husbands. A complete person doesn't need you. A half seeking their missing half does.

Feel your halfness, and recognize the halfness in another. Then you'll find there are plenty of wonderful guys out there. One is waiting for you. Without you, he's only half the guy he could be.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

perfect for a sunday morning chuckle

Friday, December 01, 2006

m00kie's tip of the day:

if youre having trouble...
praying with kavana
or doing tshuva
or feeling connected..

go to the dentist!

being trapped in the dentist's chair, with drills and other intimidating, sharp, scary instruments in your mouth will put the fear of G-d in you..

Thanks Jameel@TheMuqata for this perfect video :)

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