Posted in Life, Women in Judaism

The Torah Can Hurt…Doing the Right Thing

Having a conversation the other day, I have realized how much the Torah has hurt me this year. This year, I cut myself off from everything– and not in a good way. I learned and focused on Halacha and Halacha only. I chose not to deal with people and to deal with text. I chose to turn into my text instead of dealing with emotions.

It was easier to learn the Tur than it was to deal with other people falling apart. It was easier do struggle with the Shach than to figure out how to help myself. It was easier to get angry at the Patash than it was to open up and be vulnerable…

In school I hid in my books, and at home I just hid. I was to tired and angry to be around people, so then I would read more of Halacha. And that was it…

Even though I don’t believe that Halacha is black and white, knowing and learning law was a much easier and “safer” space than dealing with my own feelings or issues. It was easier to know what that Taz says about something, than to actually admit what I felt about something.

I used the Torah this year as my safty net- but in reality I used it as my cave to hide from the world. I had school and studying and things to memorize. I had to argue with the rabbis of old instead of facing rabbis of today– at least with the dead one’s I understood why they did not listen to me…

For the past years (well potentially since I was 12), I loved Talmud. But maybe it was that I had to love Talmud. I had to only do Talmud and Halacha, because otherwise I would not be strong and knowledgable. I would just be one of the girls. I would be a weak and stupid female- one who is only interested in stories or feelings. To be respected I needed to know facts. I needed to know the hard stuff. The stuff that only the men knew. To be female amoungst the males, that not only knew the material, but also knew the lingo and how to have conversations so the men would listen and respect. Options of other things would make me weak.

I have realized that after this year, Torah is something that is harsh and not emotional, and at the same time something distant. At the same time, I don’t want it to be that. I don’t want it to be something that I come to hate or despise. I don’t want it to be something that allows me to hide from life. I don’t want it to be the only thing that I know how to talk about.

But then the question is- how do I start new? How do I figure out where to go and how to get there? Looking into the Torah world outside of Halacha, it feels like I am stranded in the ocean, not knowing which way to turn, where to swim to, and if I will find dry land. I feel vulnerable that I don’t know, and so I don’t even know who to talk to or who to get advice from. Especially because for so long I couldn’t show weakness or lack of knowledge because that would only fuel the negative thoughts on me even more…

At the same time I am happy to be back at camp. It is giving me an oasis to be away from everything that was this past year. There aren’t the same people. There aren’t the same conversations. And even more so we are mostly removed from the outside world, which helps. I am back in the bubble, where I’m praised for my d’vrei Torah. I’m told how inspiring I am with my knowledge. I have kids wanting to have a 45 minute conversation about Jewish life in their free time.

Hopefully this summer will bring me back to a place of love of Torah. And a heart that is open not only to Halacha, but to Torah texts in general.

Posted in Life

The End, The Beginning and Lots of Weird Positive Things

The past few weeks have been extremly busy and stressful, but at hte same time, many really wonderful things have started to happen. The most important of them all, is that I feel like I am regaining my voice back. Not only am I regaining my voice- but I think my voice is even stronger now than it was before.

I got back from my two weeks in the US to a play, a test, a wedding, packing, and doing camp stuff all at the same time.

The play went well- even though there was a lot of crazy drama that surrounded it. But in the end the cast really did come together, and they put on a great show. It was interesting not to actually be in charge of anything, and that during the show, I just sat backstage, studying for my exam.

The exam went ok. I got it and totally blanked on who said what- it was a problem. I feel like this year, more than any other year, I felt like nothing stuck in my head. No matter how many times I read things, or wrote things or spoke about things, something just didn’t stick. And so even though I tried and studied- something was missing.

I did meet with the rabbi though after- and was both shocked and embarressed at the same time. He told me that I answered the questions to vaguly, and he wanted me to know who said what. And when I said it was a closed test, he told me he knew, but eh still thinks that I should know that bit, and he wouldn’t be telling me that if he didn’t think that I was capable of it. I found out through this conversation, that for some reason, he thinks very highly of me, and actually thinks that I am smart. That he gave me a harder task then he gives to other people. It was a very sad meeting- as I will miss learning with him next year. I was also shocked by the amount of times he said that he is sorry I am leaving, he understands why I am leaving, but it is a loss to him that I will be gone. I am not 100% sure as what to do with the idea that him (and others apparently) think that I have the power to go places– sometimes the reality of that idea scares me.

In addition to all this- I did a random photo shoot in Yemin Moshe is formal wear. It was so fun to just play around.And the pictures came out really nice- nicer than I thought. This adds to the feeling that I look different, not in a bad way, just different. I actually think that I look pretty- like something has changed in my that filled out or thinned out or something- and it can be seen in many of the pictures. Maybe I’m not as plain looking as I assumed I was….

Then I finally published the article that I wanted to write about women’s space– and it has taken off to greater heights then I thought it ever would. It became a featrured article, it is somethign that people are speaking about, and people are sharing and saying that it is inspirational. As someone who never thought that writing was my strong point- apparently I was wrong. I also never thought that it would take on so fast. I just thought it would be like every other article, and a few people would read it and pass it on…apparently I was wrong. My question to myself is now what do I do with that? What is my next article? Or do I continue with that?

The wedding was beautiful, and I am so thankful to my friends. It is also amazing how people today can meet all over the world and continue to stay in touch.

And even there, I had two funny experiences. The grandfather likes me a lot- and made sure to say hello, and to introduce me to his other son- meantioning how special, interesting and beautiful I am. I even danced with him, and he pinched my cheek. And at the end of the night he made me pinkey swear that we would have another argument.

The other funny thing, is that someone came up to me, who I only know through facebook- but was able to actually meet me. And there he told me how impressed he was of me, and how my tv interview was on his desktop and he uses it often, and that I am an inspiration…

I guess with all of the difficulties of this year, something came out of it. I am more of me. I am more confident. I am able to hold myself higher. But I am still not sure what to do with the idea that people find me an inspiration or that I am special or impressive— what if I am not able to live up to their expectations?