Monday, November 12, 2007

Aliens have kidnapped my friends and replaced them with Frummies

I realize that EVERYONE thinks that they are square in the middle when it comes to religious practice. We all think that those to the right of us are wacked-out frum and those to the left of us are not religious enough. But WE, we are practicing the "golden mean," or optimal middle-of-the-road Orthodox Judaism, that is the perfect confluence of modernity and mesorah (forget about the fact that just being Orthodox puts you way over on the right).

So yes, I do feel this way about myself, that I am floating somewhere in the middle of Perfectly Balanced Land...a frum, college-educated, career girl who wants a family and a life immersed in Yiddishkeit. And a new Ipod.

And I also realize that I am totally full of it. Because what does that mean, middle-of-the-road Orthodox Judaism? Modern Orthodoxy comes in about ninety different flavors these days. Who declared my brand of Jewish practice the one that is Perfectly Balanced? How do you quantify what is ideal? How do you arrive at the Perfectly Balanced equation? Add Flatbush and Passaic on one side, the Upper West Side and Riverdale on the other side, average them together, and then re-average that with weighted portions of Out-0f-Town, Queens, Teaneck and Long Island? Huh? So I know that my perception is completely colored by my need to feel that I am skipping down the right Jewish path and that my lifestyle doesn't need too much work. Ah, but doesn't it?

I have some friends that used to live on the UWS when they were single. We were all on equal hashkafic footing in those days, all pretty much the same flavor of MO, with just different toppings. So, they met and married and lived in a variety of places before the kids arrived, and finally bought a house in Passaic. The last few times I've been there for Shabbos, I've been hearing alarm bells that tell me that they are slowly moving away from me in their religious outlook (or maybe it's me moving away from them?) and I can't help but wonder why. This Shabbat, it became clear from some of the arguments/discussions we've been having, that my friends have left the building and Passaic has eaten their brains. From their side, I think they sensed the growing rift as well. I heard some comments like "what happened to you, WebGirl, that you have become so liberal."

Wow, no one has ever, EVER accused me of being liberal, not in my politics, nor in my Judaism. Could it be that somewhere in my internal wanderings, I have moved to the left?

Nah. Has to be that they have moved to the right. But I wonder.

I don't like change. Frankly, I have had way too much change in my life over the last few years. I don't like stuff that rocks my world and makes me rethink things. It's scary, Ma. If my friends' hashkafic outlooks are going/growing one way, why isn't mine going that way too? Is it because their lives are full with a good marriage and children, and mine is so empty? What is the difference between change and growth? Are my friends growing spiritually and leaving me in my holding pattern? Or have aliens landed and lobotomized them?

Or is it me they have lobotomized?

1 comment:

Nice Jewish Guy said...

It's simple: it's not hashkafah, it's sociology. We try to conform the the prevailing folkways and mores of the societies in which we live- in your friends' case, Passaic. I suspect if they lived in Teaneck or Plainview or West Hempstead they'd be different.