Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Hope as a four-letter word.
Someone wrote me a message as a response to all that has been going on with me here in China; the gist of the message was saying "maybe you're not ready to get married." While that may reflect a bit of truth, probably more so objectively, I think that I am in an emergency state where if I do not get married now, I will fall.
While you can not trust someone who is unstable in their religious observance, there is also the saying that "you strike the iron when it is hot." I am over three years out of yeshiva. I was the equivalent of being on fire when I left. In fact, I used to be blazing so hot that I was like a torch bringing people closer to religion as I would walk into a room. Even non-Jews have told me that just being around me and talking to me has had a deep effect on their connection with G-d. Yet the longer I live alone -- the longer I live with myself and my evil inclination -- the less hot I become every day. My passion for yiddishkeit (Judaism) has cooled to the point that I no longer enjoy helping others become close to G-d because I haven't felt close myself in some time. I no longer want to encourage religious observance because my own shortcomings blind me from wanting to lead others down that same path of hardship that I have traveled.
I commend myself for braving this path, and I commend myself for accepting the programming that one does not break the basics of being Jewish, namely keeping kosher, keeping Shabbos, and keeping other mitzvahs (commandments) such as wearing tzitzis every day, saying berachot (blessings) over food, drink, etc, keeping an unshaven beard (not halacha according to some opinions, but nevertheless important according to the Ari in Kabbalah), learning Torah each day, among many other commandments I have followed to this date, from which I hope I will never deviate.
However, with all this, each day my flame cools more and more. I have been infected by the desire for temptations of the secular world, (I wanted to write "affected" but after I typed "infected", it seemed more appropriate) and anger has let itself seep into my bloodstream from forgotten pleasures and unfilled wishes. I have come so far in so many aspects and yet I am starting to fall off of the plateau I have been treading on for some time.
The dominant reason for serving G-d is that in doing so, I would live a life of harmony, balance, and inner peace. Yet serving G-d has felt more like a daily struggle, battling oozing volcanoes and hot lava that threatens to consume me in my path to the good side. I am known by my friends to be a very persistent person with an inner drive that is insatiable and unstoppable. However, I have been feeling like I have been running at full speed on a nearing empty tank for some time now, and my machine's joints have not been oiled and so I am generating a lot of friction. Parts of me are even starting to burn out. I never agreed to run this religious race alone, in fact, I would tell G-d to go shove it if there was no woman preparing herself to become my wife from the time I decided to become religious. I traded my secular life and I stopped dating women over four years ago so that I could become a better man to the woman who I would marry after becoming the kind of religious man who could bring up the kind of Chassidish family that people I am close to would refer to as "the diamond standard."
This was a contract, and in my eyes, it has always been a contract. I fulfill my part of the bargain and I become religious and live a life of Torah and mitzvos (following G-d's commandments). In return, I would be given health, a good wife, children, and a flexible means to support my family and to give tons of charity to support others as well. These were the terms. Further, when I learned that it was not morally proper to be dating women before marriage, I broke up with the girl I was with (well, let's just say that I lost her because I became too religious) and so she found herself another person to date. I was told by my rabbis that because I stayed religious through the tough times, I would get someone better in her place. The goal was to sacrifice quantity to attain quality, and the unsaid terms of this agreement with regard to time were purposefully left out.
When it came time to get married, my rabbis were surprisingly unhelpful. In fact, they spoke encouragingly, but did not follow their words up with action. Since then, all my yeshiva friends got married, but when it came time for me, I was the odd man out. Even those that came to yeshiva and became religious after me have been married, yet I remain single.
Am I supposed to be waiting for something? Am I supposed to think that the more I wait, the better she'll be in the end? How many more years must I come home to an empty room? How many more years shall the only voice in my ears telling me everything will be okay be my own? How much more shall I improve myself? How much more shall I learn? How many more strides must I make in life? I am losing hope. It is beginning to sound to me like a four letter word.