Friday, August 26, 2005

Shomer Negiah Out The Window

I guess since it is past 2:30am and I am still awake (tonight for a good reason) I figure it is appropriate to write.

I suppose the people who have been writing me and reading have been enjoying this blog because this is a tale of my search for finding myself -- and enjoying the journey. I've been having a difficult time trying to mold my ways according to the rules, and some things are just plainly incongruent. However, deep down I believe I'm finding my way and I am making terrific progress. I will tell you why I am still awake in a minute.

I saw my psychologist today. I will stick to the sessions even though I feel it is a waste of time. We saw each other for 30 mins and then he said "time's up." I expressed that I couldn't see this being productive and he said "trust me, I've been doing it for a while. Somehow, this works." My guess is that his clients get bored of waiting for him to do his magic and so they fix themselves while waiting until the next session. Mine is in two weeks. I'd complain, but my health insurance is paying, so I'll be content that I'm at least getting help.

Okay, why am I up tonight. I visited a friend of mine from law school and I met her friend from Israel. We spoke Hebrew for a while, and then I was invited to someone's dorm for a drink. I accepted the invitation. Alcohol is kosher. What you do after drinking isn't necessarily.

After two cups of rum and seven up with real mint leaves, I was feeling good. The girls there (don't worry about yichud [the prohibition against being secluded with a woman], I wasn't alone -- there was another man there with me) invited me out to a bar which the law students go to every Thursday night. This, an experience I've always avoided because it is not a place for a frum (religious) person to be, was something I was up for after two drinks. A third and a fourth girl came in, one who I always thought was religious because she was Israeli and always spoke about cooking for Shabbos and having guests. She came in and grabbed my hand when we said hello. Okay, there went shomer negiah (the prohibition of unmarried man and woman touching).

I also made the decision that tonight I would dance. I was excited about it. And that is exactly what I did. I entered the bar -- they checked my ID -- and I joined my friends on the dance floor. My thought pattern was not to think. I wasn't hooking up or finding the love of my life here (as I used to think I would when I would go out in college). In fact, any woman who was here was probably someone I wouldn't want to be with anyway.

I danced with many women tonight who in the past I wouldn't even shake hands to say hello. The salsa beat gave a good atmosphere for dancing and I was comfortable here because I used to ballroom dance so I knew what I was doing. Plus, I had in my mind that I was just dancing and not finding love, so I was enjoying the music and the dance for the dance and that was it.

Some of my friends couldn't believe I was dancing with them. "Pretend I am someone else," I would say because they couldn't believe we were dancing in a club. Many were very good at dancing; some women led which I found to be funny. One person asked me if I thought I would be going to hell for this. I said I was. She said, "I'll be in hell too, so you'll have good company."

After a while, the place started to clear out. I guess people went home to sleep. I caught a ride with one of the girls I came with and we went back to the dorms. I hugged everyone good night and went back to my car. Knowing that [based on the hours passing,] even though I couldn't still be drunk, I decided it would be prudent to take a nap before I drove home. I slept for an hour, I drank a quart of water (I remember that helps to avoid a hangover) and I drove back home; now I am here in my room at my dad's house at 3am writing to you through this blog.

While it was halachically (per Jewish law) wrong to be where I was tonight and it was wrong to touch and to dance with the women (I'm not lying to myself -- there is no interpretation to the rules -- what I did was clearly forbidden), I enjoyed myself tonight. I might do this again.

I hope and I ask G-d that by taking this yireda (dive) into sin, that I don't get too deep into it, and that the ultimate goal is that through becoming more balanced by having more of a social life, and by having more contact with people, I hope to become more centered, so that I will be able to have an aliyah (a raising) to a higher religious state than I was before this whole experience happened. I also ask G-d for a shidduch (a wife) soon so that I don't have to resort to sinning to have a good time, because I really enjoyed myself tonight. This wasn't a taiva (a temptation), rather it was a decision to sin based on throwing Jewish law to the wind (of course in a calculated way). The real danger, however, in doing this is that it's a slippery slope and I hope I can keep my foothold to stay with my moral and religious decisions and not to stray too far. Doing what I did tonight is exactly what leads a man to kiss a woman among other things, chos v'sholom (G-d forbid) and keep in mind that it is over four years since I have even held hands with a woman. I would hope that I wouldn't succumb to do things worse than I did tonight. I do want to keep a semblance of yiddishkeit (Judaism) and I wouldn't want to break any more halachot (Jewish laws) than I did tonight. However, I won't lie that what I did was okay. I clearly broke the rules. I also had a good time.


Rowan said...

zoe, I want to comment, but I fear what I see either way will have the possibility to influence your thoughts. I am happy you had a great time, I wish I could figure out how to do the same (I too ballroom dance, was top of my class, Silver I level) and I miss doing these things very much. That said, I wonder how you'll feel about this in the morning. Since I suppose technically, the fact we write together could be deemed improper? Or is it different since I am married? I like this positive change in you, and since I am not a highly religious sort (though I've taken much away with me)it would be very easy for me to say "go with what makes you happy - God would want you happy" But I realize Jewish law may say different. I feel, do what feels comfortable to you in your realm, practice as much/little of the laws as will allow you to keep your sanity and happiness. I think that is fair enough to say. I know that being the intelligent bloke you are, you'll do what's right for you of your accord anyhow. Hope this helps!

The Rabbi's Kid said...


Staring at you from further down the slope, all I can say is good luck. It's slippery, and it's hard to climb back up. I wish I had the answer, but I don't. If there are strong girls you can date or good friends who can give you a good, fun, clean, safe social life than try that. It sometimes seems that the Aliyahs are not worth the Yeridas.

Good luck


ClooJew said...

How refreshingly honest. No excuses, and, lulei demistafina, no denying the pleasrue either.

When you wrote, "She came in and grabbed my hand when we said hello. Okay, there went shomer negiah," what immediately came to mind was the story of Chava and the snake. She gets pushed into the tree and then it's no holds barred.

It seems, however, that you are cognizant of the "levels" of sin. I pray for your welfare, and echo the sentiments of TRK above. said...

sounds like you're doing pretty well, if your therapy sessions are 30 mins every two weeks. i get 50 mins with mine, 3 days a week. we increased our sessions after i was discharged. anyway, good luck with things. glad to see you're doing well.

BenDavid06 said...

Someone once told the Rebbe that he was an apicores. The Rebbe anwered him, "Don't flatter yourself. An apicores is someone who has studied and knows all of Tanach, Talmud etc... and still denies Hashem."

To "sin", one must first understand the halacha and have a real appreciation and sensitivity towards the mitzvah. Today, precious few of us have the slightest idea.

My friend- it is the hardest to be in a secular enviroment so submersed in tumah and still be strong and focused in Yiddishkeit! The struggle you are in is a very difficult one and rigged from any approach-no matter how seemingly detached and rational. Know that "hafach ba vihafach ba dichulah ba" and learning Torah, especially the Rebbe's sichos and maamorim are the antidote to emotional/intellectual slavery, from whatever cause, abuse not excluded!

Come learn and hear the words of the great Chassidic minds of today-
learning chassidus, brings clarity and the stunting questions and guilt trips will dissapate allowing you on to the future with actual, authentic happiness- and Judaism.

I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir, but after reading your posts I am so pained by your difficulties and struggles with and within darkness and confusion. As chassidim we have such a gift-a "headlight" of truth- we only need to learn what a mitzvah is, truly, and how that relates to you in your life with your experiences.

Who said the soul doesn't also need therapy?

Loganius said...

I have been a long time reader of your blog and wanted to comment on a trend that i percieve, and it may be nothing more than my perception, but i'd thought i'd add it to the discourse.

I feel like i can hear you screaming out that you want to leave the hasidic lifestyle you chose for yourself. I have a great deal of respect for hasidim and the chabad movement, i just feel through listening to you bear your soul and expose your "issues" that the hasidic lifestyle was a means of covering those things up in your case and now that you are still experiencing those issues, you are caught in a bit of a pickle.

I hope i haven't offended you Zoe, and i'm surely not saying leave chabad lubavitch or anything of the sort, i'm just giving you my perception of your blog entries. I wish you the best of luck.