Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Modern Orthodox, Here I Come ?!?

Whoa. After reading Logan's comment this morning to last week's clubbing experience, I came to an observation which shook me up. I might not want to live the Chassidic lifestyle I've been laying the foundation for these past few years. We all know I've come a long way. I'm orthodox now where I used to be nothing. I do most of what a religious person does, i.e. kosher, shabbat, Torah, mitzvos, etc. However, I do see myself carving out piece-by-peace my own life separate from the religious drone existance I accepted during my years of uncertainty at yeshiva, and now it occurred to me that I am trying to "scenario" myself away from the rabbi's influence.

In my heart, I like in theory what I have become, but practically I'm not finding the whole picture so practical anymore. Yet here I am stuck with a beard that I am terrified as all hell to shave because I feel that my identity would go along with it. For the first time in my religious life, I woke up this morning in a cold sweat, and I wanted the beard off.

I've always wanted to find a balance between hardcore religion and real life (as if the two were separate), and I am finding that balance. However, I want to move far away from my religious Chassidic influence so that I can lead my own life. I am just praying that I fall into a religious life before I break away completely. I think something has been beggining to stir inside of me since my last shidduch experience in May, and I'm not sure if I want to live the chassidic life I chose for myself, or whether I want to be a regular modern orthodox Jew. Do you think I'm a quitter? Can't I just be like the guy in this picture?



Shoshana said...

I don't think you have to choose a label and follow every stringency and stricture that the label dictates. You have to find your own path, your own comfort zone, and that may be an amalgamation between a few different realms of Orthodoxy, and Judaism. You can learn Chasidus without wearing the garb, and you can be open to secular education without having to be "modern," whatever that means. Blaze your own trail, and dare to be yourself.

Rowan said...

In agreement with shoshana, I think your beliefs and convictions stay inside you, you don't need to outwardly declare to all and sundry that you are a chassidic when I feel being "modern" would allow you to practice what you will for yourself, not because a rabbi/Jewish Law told you to, you would be doing what you feel is right, which I feel is better religiously than paying lip service to a church. I think you should do what you can handle, but I don't think it would be a bad idea to shave, especially with the difficulty who've had finding a wife (seemingly as a result of being too orthadox?) Just hoping I am being helpful, again, I know I'm not Jewish, so it isn't really fair for me to say anything, is it.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

You could be "modern chassidic", or "modern orthodox neo-chasidic". Also, there's a wide range of facial hair styles between a full hhasidic beard and clean-shaven (as you can see from my picture ;-) ).

erica Lubavitch said...

Don't like labels much and don't think there is anything wrong with not having a beard. But if you have one already and you shave it off.. well that is going down a notch. And how do you know you won't start a landslide?

Zoe Strickman said...

Erica: You're right. If I shave, that's it. There would be nothing keeping me from tucking in my tzitzis and going to sin incognito. The beard keeps me straight.

Steg: I like that. Modern Chassidic. I actually think it fits me best. Yes Erica & Shoshana, I also agree that labels are stupid. It's a tool that other people use to understand you. I feel comfortable with everything going on because I am blazing my own path. It also seems that people are becoming more receptive since I don't look so stand-off-ish lately. Modern guys are starting to ask questions about yiddishkeit (Judaism) and are starting to warm up to me. This is a good thing.