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.

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Author:

I'm not always the greatest at sharing what is in my head. Here is a place that I am experimenting with sharing my ideas and thoughts. They are about my life, my experiences in becoming a rabbi, things that I see going on around me, and sometimes words of Torah.

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