Sunday, February 26, 2006

National Geographic Video on Lubavichers

I was very impressed by the video about Lubavichers by National Geographic Magazine. It was a quality video, and funny enough, I recognized many families in the video that I know and am close with.

You can find the video here:

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Society's Preoccupation with Homosexuality and Brokeback Mountain

First of all, I credit the "My Urban Kvetch" blog for linking me to this video. The link is here or here:

I don't get it what today's society's preoccupation is with gay people and gay relationships. I have had close male to male relationships which were friendships, not sexual relationships in any way. I've slept in bed with men, hugged men, hung out with men, but I've never even considered anything close to a sexual relationship with them.

I used to have a girlfriend who wanted me to go to a gay bar and to hook up with a man in front of her just so she can see the experience of two men kissing. I never did it, nor did I ever consider it.

In law school, our Jewish association wanted to have a gay rights presentation. I told them it was not appropriate from a Jewish perspective. When they challenged me about my anti-gay mentality, I told them that Judaism was about promoting sexual morality [through Taharas HaMishpacha (family purity laws), Niddah, and laws of sexual relations (just to name a few)], and just as a man is not allowed to be sleeping around with women and having sexual thoughts about women, so too men are not allowed to be sleeping around with men and having sexual thoughts about men. They are both forbidden by the Torah. Further, it's the same desire, and Judaism in both cases says "control yourself."

My friend came back to me and said, "But at one point it becomes moral for a woman and a man to be together sexually; for men and men it will always be forbidden," to which I retorted crudely that both men and women have very similar anatomies. Homosexuality is a preference of one over the other.

Forgive me for quoting the Lubavicher Rebbe in the same blog entry as my comment in the above paragraph, but he stated it the best that when it comes to homosexuality, nothing comes of it. It is simply not useful.

Just as in so many things in Torah, from a homosexual's point of view, this is simply not fair. However, to a pork lover, kashrut laws are not fair. To a man who desires to be with many women, the laws of monogamy and marriage are not fair. Torah calmly tells us what is right and what is wrong. The message regarding homosexuality among many other things is simply "control yourself." Argue if you must.

However, from a shallow point of view, I thought the video clip was very amusing. It captures the best scenes which really bring out the relationship between Doc Brown and Marty McFly in the Back to the Future movies [which happen to be my favorite movies of all time]. I commend the person who took the time to make such a spoof on the Brokeback movie.

By the way, I refuse to go see such a movie. It's a waste of time and promoting homosexuality for Jews is against Torah which would make this movie a treife movie for me. As for non-Jews, enjoy the movie. I don't think the homosexuality rules apply to you, although many religions have taken them on voluntarily. I need not mention priests and little boys. That's a problem of its own. The problem there is not the homosexuality, it is the abuse of a child. Not my fight.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Chemistry and Attraction between couples on a shiduch date.

I've had a few posts and a few e-mails these past few days telling me that I am boring. Yet these people continue to read my blog and continue to explain to me that the reason I am boring is because I express my frustrations and my insecurities in a "poor me" fashion. In their defense they are right and I am working on this.

I can't believe I am still dating this girl! Date after date, discussion after discussion, and for some reason she continues to enjoy my company and still wants to continue dating.

On the last date I could tell that we were both exhausted from our respective daily routines and our workloads, so we went into a bar, found a couch, and just chilled out. We spent hours talking about absolutely nothing without any direction or purpose to our conversations. Yet I feel like I got to know her, and I felt like I shared a part of myself. This is a big and important goal of mine in this stage of our dating. I find that I am telling (confessing) to her my weaknesses in a subtle way and I am watching to see if she runs for the hills. Surprisingly, she is still here and at the end of our last date she told me that she would like to continue.

Chemistry is another topic I've found to be of interest. I told my rabbi that while I find her to be very attractive, I haven't allowed myset to get sexually aroused on our dates. I told him that I feel that the kind of arousal that a man gets when he first meets a woman in that he wants to immediately be intimate with her -- that infatuation passed a long time ago and I was concerned that there might be a problem why I am not getting aroused on our dates. He told me that the mentality I have is a proper one, in that before I allow myself to get sexually aroused or even before I start thinking of sexual activities with the girl, I want to make sure that we we have a future together. He told me that my thinking is smart because the focus of our dates is to determine if we can make a home together, not to land her in bed for a one-night stand.

Please don't get me wrong here -- I find her to be very attractive. In fact, there have been many moments when I have wanted to kiss her. There have been many times where I have wanted to reach out and hold her hand. I am also guilty of the "I hate to see you go, but I love to watch you leave" thing that men sometimes do, and I have also caught myself looking at her legs when we are on a date and then I force myself to look away before she noticed that I was looking at her. So if this is chemistry and if she experiences similar things, then we do have chemistry together. However, there is nothing that can come out of it since we are both fully platonic (shomer negiah) until after the marriage. We are careful not to even bump into each other casually, and if we do we apologize to each other. This is not specifically our thing, but this is the way that orthodox men and women interact with each other when it comes to touching the other sex before marriage.

On a final note -- and this has taken me a good few minutes to gather the courage to write about this -- my rabbi made the comment that "you could continue going out like this forever." I knew exactly what he was talking about, and in my heart I knew that I agreed with him. He was talking about engagement. We have been seeing each other for some time now, and we have spent a considerable amount of time together. There isn't that much more that I want to know about her -- er, that I NEED to know about her -- to make my decision whether or not she and I would make a good match for marriage. We get along well together. We have chemistry together. Our beliefs about family and life are very similar. I cannot see a reason why we shouldn't or wouldn't move forward to an engagement. My one reservation is that I am afraid of neglecting her during the few months from May until July when I will be studying for the bar exam. This would be tough. Otherwise, I fear to admit it, but I really like her and I think the combination of me and her would work in a marriage. This is very scary.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Oops... I just spent my evening blogging.

Love Letter -- Part II

Dear ----,

I am beginning to grow fond of you. I find that much of the time we spend apart is spent thinking of you. I am excited to have been set up with you, and a calm happiness has settled into my heart making me think that maybe we have what it takes to spend the rest of our lives together.

I realized that my pushing to get to know you may have made things feel a bit unnatural, and I ask for your forgiveness for my naivete. Sometimes for me I get into the habit of being the conqueror -- I get it from law school where every topic must be braved and overcome as if it is a formidable enemy -- and I make the mistake by thinking that people too and relationships too have to be nudged and prodded for things to move forward. I forget that the natural way is G-d's way, and things go by His agenda and not mine.

As of late, I've been open and vulnerable, hoping that if you saw the real me you wouldn't reject me, and if you would, it would happen as quickly and as painlessly as possible -- but to my surprise every day, you're still here! You are still by my side asking me questions and opening up to me and telling me your secrets... not your deepest secrets, those are private [and in reality are not secrets, but are topics of your past that don't influence us or benefit either of us from talking about it]. We've all done things that hindsight we probably would not have done again had we known the consequences of our actions, but we were doing the best we could with the life knowledge we were given at the time. (Why do I get the feeling I am actually talking about myself??) You've alluded to some of your secrets and I've alluded to some of mine, and I understand now that some things are better off unspoken because they are simply not appropriate (not tznius) for two people to talk about while we are still in the courting phase.

Yet in hindsight, I have learned that you are more like me and I am more like you than I thought we were. Our respective levels of yiddishkeit, and our personality strengths and weaknesses are very similar. You've also alluded that your past is not that much different than mine, meaning that you've had a college experience and you've been the rebel during various times of your life. This side of you -- your "dark" side -- makes you much more interesting to me because it shows me that you are a real person with strengths and flaws, both of which I can admire and I can love.

When you originally weren't talking about your past and your family, I thought the worst, because what is not said can sometimes be more loud than what is said, and being the lawyer with the lawyer's trained mind [we do have a pattern of thinking which is taught to us in law school] we know to be prepared for the worst. With us, what hides behind closed doors are not skeletons, but jumping monsters with teeth and venom.

So how am I feeling now? Content; excited; balanced -- I am not expecting anything from you and I know that things can go wrong at any moment and I am prepared for that. I do acknowledge that it feels like we are nearing the end of our shidduch dating phase and we have crossed over into the "getting to know eachother" phase where we are starting to partake in activities and where we are starting to develop feelings for each other. But what can happen is that you or I could wake up one day soon and call the whole thing off. This scares me deeply and so I tread lightly, prepared that any day the hold you are starting to have in me may become a stab. <-- Can you see my insecurity?? I laugh at it too how it comes out of nowhere. I'll work on staying positive and hopeful.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that I am having a wonderful time with you, and I am hopeful that we might continue and soon move to an engagement, a marriage, and finally to building a family together. I am starting to think that together, we have the right stuff to make it happen.

Friday, February 17, 2006

My Post-Law School View of the Law

Law school was the hard and cold metal on which one puts the red-hot iron that has just been taking from the stove. I came to law school directly from Yeshiva, where I learned that laws were divinely inspired. The laws I learned in law school were made by man.

After five semesters of law school, I am a bit saddened to say that laws are what we make them to be. Our foundations of law seem to be a murky morality that is based on nothing certain except for a feeling of right and wrong based on our own subjective values. The laws are made by appointed or elected lawmakers who follow the will of the people based on the people's own personal interests and desires. The case laws are made by judges who are also men (gender neutral) who try their best to decide what is right and what is wrong.

What frightens me is that the law generally evolves based on a system to keep regularity among the laws called precedent which is followed with more regularity than it is not. This means that a bad court decision will be followed as long as the result is not so far away from the morality of those judges upholding it. Only a really abhorrent decision that is against public policy (or the morals of the judge) is overturned. This in my view leads to a mediocre system of following the decisions of our predecessors. To their credit, they act in good faith and try to make the best decisions possible based on the information they have and the trust that those before them made good decisions.

Along with the underlying theory that those predecessors of the judges who made legal decisions had knowledge and wisdom based on facts and circumstances of the cases that formed the laws that current judges do not possess with hindsight because they lack the specific knowledge and facts of the case that formed the basis of those laws, there is a theory of reactivity and adjustment that also plays a role in the formation of the codes to which we are bound. This reactivity can be explained by the analogy of the minor adjustments that a pilot makes on an airplane. If he is off course by the slightest degree, by the end of the flight, he will miss his target by hundreds or thousands of miles based on the length of the flight. Therefore, his flight plan is executed with hundreds and thousands of minor adjustments to keep the flight on its plan.

I would posit that the law, specifically Congressional law is the same way sans the political influences that I believe corrupt the system. The goal is to have a workable law with workable bills that benefit the public more than they harm them. I would say that although my opinion is that there are too many laws on the books, for the most part the intentions and the hearts of the legislators are in the right place.

The affect this has on me is that I hold now that there are two systems of law -- one divinely inspired that I am required to follow, and one made by the men and women of our country and state which I am forced to follow or else I will suffer the penalties. I have no qualms about breaking a law if it comes into direct conflict with my religious requirements. So far I have yet to find such a law. On the other hand, as a soon-to-be lawyer, I see the law as a game which has rules which I must abide by. I've spent my law school experience learning those rules and for my clients I will maneuver them to use the rules as they have been written for their benefit. I disagree strongly with the saying that rules are made to be broken because when following man made laws -- unless one has the intent of changing the laws under the pressure of being crushed by those same laws they intend to change -- one is forced to abide by the rules, whether they are right or wrong.

This does not make me jaded; I understand that the laws are the result of a societological contract where all citizens and residents are implied participants of this contract whether or not they agree to it. Therefore, my view of the law is no longer that of an idealist trying to impose his view ONTO the law; rather, the law is there as an evolved entity of its own run by those who spend their lives trying to influence it. It must be respected.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Your Reaction to My Love Letter

I'm getting nervous that so many hundreds of people have read the "love letter" that I wrote last night to the woman I was dating. I don't know what did it, but my hit counter spiked which made me think "uh, oh... people probably read the article and thought that they knew the specific person I was writing about, and so now we probably have a few hundred women who read this letter thinking that I was writing about them."

I apologize to all the men out there who will now be questioned within the next week on their next shidduch date whether they wrote the letter I wrote last night. I hope I am not one of those questioned because then my secret identity as Zoe Strickman will be down the drain and I will be as naked and exposed as ever.

From another point of view, it occurred to me after I wrote the letter that perhaps I was looking too deep into a situation which might really be a simple one. What if she is just a normal girl and there is nothing so secret about her or her past? What if I've deduced all these thoughts in my head, and she really wasn't hurt at all in her past, and is just waiting for the right moment to open up to me? What if she is already ready to open up to me and I'm just pushing too hard? What if in reality she's a genuinely good girl without any baggage, and I'm just searching for things that are not really there because I fear finding them because I don't want to be hurt? These are all things I should take into consideration.

I suppose she probably wouldn't want to date me anymore if she learned that I was thinking all of this and was so full of insecurities. I just really want things to work out properly, and from my experience, life is so random that things go wrong so quickly for the stupidest reasons. I have a hard time accepting it when something good is happening in my life because things in my past have always gone sour. I wish to G-d that this was all in my head, and that I stop thinking so much and that I just learn to enjoy spending time with her without all of my calculations and maneuvers. I wish things could just work out.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

"Love Letter" to the girl I am dating.

To the girl with whom I am dating,

I know it is early in our relationship, but I wanted to write you a letter expressing an observation I have made about you and me, and I wonder how we can resolve this to come to a closer understanding of each other.

On the surface it seems like you like me. You look at me with eyes of curiosity wondering, "who is that man sitting across from me?" You ask surface-level questions hoping that my answers will give your analytical mind a chance to piece together an understanding of whether I would be a good husband to you.

In our conversations, you stand your ground defending your answers and defending truth as you understand it to be. You correct misinformation immediately, and you prefer accuracy and clarity within our conversations. When you don't understand something you ask for clarification.

Our thought patterns are different. Your thoughts are very logical, mine connect like a web. You don't quite grasp how I think or the connections between our conversation topics, but you go along with it hoping that eventually some rhyme or reason will come of it.

I even suspect the way we live our lives on a daily basis differ. I look for the meaning in every action, and I try to understand why things happen the way they do from both a spiritual, logical, and psychological outlook. I don't analyze my world, I observe it and I calculate. I think from your comments that you simply live in the world and don't look into any of these factors -- in fact, I think that you find that it is a waste of time and energy to look at the world the way I see it.

Going a little bit deeper, I like to see what is behind the surface. That is where you hide and so you get defensive when I try to peer past the persona that you give to me. For me, everything is a front for something else, and I suspect you don't like people analyzing the analyzer which is you. Perhaps it makes you feel a bit out of control, and you don't like that.

I am a bit confused though. You said yourself you are a good person, yet your privacy interests suggest to me that there is something about you that you do not want me to find out, and because I see all first layers as transparent, I have perceived by your responses to my probings that I am a threat to you. You metaphorically hold up your hand and say "stop" when I peer past the surface, and I wonder why. I mean you no harm; I just want to get to know you.

If you are defending a simple privacy interest, I would understand. But I feel that I am faced with anger when I probe a bit deeper into you. There is some hurt beneath the surface and I want to find out what it is and if it will form an obstacle between us moving forward.

Who hurt you? What was he to you? What happened when you opened up to him? Was he a teacher? Was he a friend? What decision made you seal your heart shut, and can you open up again? Can you love? Can you love me without limit? When the time comes and the trust is formed, the amount of love that I have to share is boundless. Will I need to break through old wounds to find the real you? How much effort will I need to expend to accomplish this goal, and will you ever allow me to access this part of you? A belief of mine is that if I am to form a loving relationship with you, I want to know that I will have all of you. Secrets don't go well with me, and I believe they form boundaries and destroy intimacy.

Moving deeper, what bothers me is that there are years that are missing from your stories about your life. You sum up years of your life into one sentence indicating that an experience such as college was "ordinary". You sum up becoming religious as one evening's experience. You don't talk at all about your family and all these concern me. In other words, what you do not want me to know about you sticks out in my eyes like a sore thumb and screams, "ask about it." But then it seems to me that you want your past left alone. This confuses me. All I want to know is whether your past is going to interfere with our potential future.

I suppose with all of our differences, I ask myself, "can we still build a home together?" Can we grow close enough to develop the intimacy to one day become husband and wife in spite of our differences? These are the questions that are on my mind.


Monday, February 13, 2006

I Dreamed of a Love Story

I just had such a realistic dream that I feel that I watched a movie about somebody's life. I'm going to write down in the short few moments that I have the basic plot of the dream and when I have time, I might fill it in to make it a real story.

There was an older brother and two younger brothers. The older brother was corrupt, was into politics, and drank whisky. One younger brother was in boarding school, had longer hair, and was often made fun of by his peers, and the other was a studious child who lived with his mother. The father was a corrupt politician and had his hands in many illegal activities.

After drinking some of the older brother's whisky and loving it, I went hi-speed sledding with the girlfriend of the older brother. She was younger than him, closer to my age. We went up the mountain full speed, flew over hills, and sped up a huge mountain and went over the peak which felt like a cliff. It was exhilarating.

This took place in England. The problem is that we got lost in our adventurous ride, and then decided to walk our way back to America. On our walk, I befriended the younger brother who we took from his boarding school. On his way out, he got a closely shaved haircut and looked like a different person.

On our adventures, we ended up in Taiwan. We were all very hungry. When we went to get some food, it occurred to the younger brother that we were in Taiwan, and being politically connected to his family, he had the same biases as the other members of his family did. Disregarding the need for subtlety, he started making fun of the Taiwanese people, insulting them without reason. He told a story of how disgusting the place was that even a plane made of steel that once landed there from the US rusted from the pollution as it landed.

As we sought an escape from the country, we realized that the stretchy material of the bra could be used a to make a bungy cord. We went to a seamstress who provided us with enough material to make the bungy cord.

Immediately, the US military showed up with their guns blazing. People everywhere were getting shot at and killed. You could see the bullets flying everywhere. A group of rebel Taiwanese soldiers were hidden in the back of a truck filled with weapons. When the US soldiers opened up the doors, the rebels opened up with heavy fire and pushed back the Americans. We were caught by the Taiwanese as prisoners of war.

We were judged to be executed not by the gun, but by the sword. We were covered in a cross made from barb wire which pushed us against the ground. From the corner of our eye, we saw an execution. A man was cut into pieces in one movement by the crafty swordsman. The barb wire hurt my neck. We were informed that this was going to hurt, but that we would die shortly afterwards.

Somehow before it was our time, the Americans negotiated to have us released and we were put on a boat to return to the US. By this time, the other brother had grown up and had gone into politics. He was angry that I had stolen his brother's girlfriend. He was at the US border in a Navy boat with sirens, and when we approached, he and his navy turned us away. When we identified who we were, he instructed that they opened fire. I jumped into the water and according to the records, I died. The girl and the brother were saved and were given amnesty.

The younger brother -- the one I befriended -- grew up to be an honest statesman. He helped to fight his brothers in the corrupt governmental activities that they were involved in. After retiring from politics, he decided to go into religion and became a bishop. He often made television remarks on politics and the state of affairs according to his opinions, and people listened to what he had to say. He always walked around with his war metals and his large fur coat.

The girlfriend grew up to be a teacher of children in military school. She had always loved me and never remarried. One day after the bishop was assassinated, no doubt by one of his corrupt brothers, the girlfriend gave a commemorative speech. There were three graves -- the brother turned bishop, her own grave, and mine. As she stood by her grave, I stepped forward, now grown up myself, and I stood by mine.

Upon seeing me, she immediately recognized me for who I was. She cried in joy because she thought I had died that day by the US border on the boats. I was grown up too now. It turns out that I snuck on the Navy boat that night that they opened fire on us and entered back into the US through their vessel. I lived close to the other brother who knew of my escape and the brother kept me safe for many years under a different identity. It was only the girl who did not know of my escape because she did not keep in touch with us after that night because of the shock she experienced upon being fired upon and seeing me jump into the water and apparently being killed.

I woke up crying wondering if this really happened to someone at some point and I just experienced their story.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The real me hidden behind the surface?

Yesterday I phrased what happened on the shidduch date in a very negative way. I was afraid of being stepped on and rejected again, because in my past, whenever I would show my true self, I would be rejected.

Hindsight, I am very impressed at how well I hide myself, yet at the same time, I forgot that the part of me that came out on the last shidduch date and connected with the woman (in a really intimate way) was there. Does that mean that I have forgotten who I was?

This happening of the character shift both worries and excites me. I honestly didn't know that part of me still existed, and yet there it was lurking below the surface of the confident personality that I have moulded and formed over the years.

It's a breakthrough [literally :)] that this part of me still exists. This part of me is a warm, caring, vulnerable, and loving personality -- but what I like most about it is that it is real. It lives in the present, and it experiences life realtime rather than the disconnected way I see reality now as I am.

The interesting thing is that when it came out I felt charged with emotions. Some of the feelings I felt were hurt and pain, and other feelings that I felt were vulnerability. I believe this character is a tzaddik compared to me and is filled with all the love and compassion that I've been lacking over the years.

But then again, I ask myself, did this character spontaneously come out on its own like an alien busting through the chest of its host?? Or did the woman I am dating (and am starting to grow fond of) see this part of me and did she bring this loving side of me out from the exile it has experiences over the years of its suppression?

Either way, have I shed a layer of protection that has kept the real me hidden for years now? This is a fascinating question.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Shidduch Date with Alter-Ego

Today was either a mediocre day or an amazing, action-packed, exciting day depending how I look at it.

The usual events -- I'm falling behind in Patent Practice class because I'm avoiding doing the homeworks because they are so complex and everything is piling up on me. It's Thursday already tomorrow and I feel that I won't have time to do both the homework for Creditor's Rights (Bankruptcy) and Patent Practice, and since I let one course's homework assignment slide last week, I think I'll maybe let the other course's homework assignment slide tomorrow and I'll catch up on Patent Practice. I just have to bite the bullet and just get to work. No distractions.

I visited my mother today. We spoke about the Shidduch date I recently had where I still haven't found out if the woman wants to continue dating or not. Our last date was magnificent, or so I thought it was until -- and I really have no other way to explain this --
the real me came out.

If I were schitzophrenic that would have been a perfect explanation for what happened because my demeaner changed, I got quiet, I lost that smooth, eloquent conversational ability that I had most of the date, and my heart opened up -- for the first time in many years -- and it reached out and connected with her. I felt vulnerable, emotional, and I was hoping she didn't notice the change.

She did notice that I was having a very difficult time expressing my thoughts and that I wasn't quite making sense. This change happened all in the course of seconds.

The only way I could explain it was that it felt like an alter-ego that was hiding beneath my skin decided for the first time in many years that it was safe to come out and say hello to the other person. I haven't felt so open with someone since before I became religious.

Nevertheless, I still don't understand what happened. I'm really embarassed about this. And the timing was so terrible that as soon as this happened, we reached our destination and I dropped her off... The thought that went through my mind was, "she must think that either I'm really brilliant, or I'm crazy." I wish the date didn't end the way it did.

Father wasting his life away.

Every evening for the past four to five weeks from around 6pm until into the night, my father has been playing poker in front of the computer screen.

I've been commenting lately to him that this is a waste of time and that nothing productive can come from the six or seven hours of poker each night. He says, "What do you want from me? I want to enjoy life." I tell him that poker isn't even an activity which requires skill or thought.

I told him to get a productive hobby. I asked him, "why don't you learn some new skill or learn to do something that you enjoy?" He said, "I'm almost 60 years old now. There is nothing that I can learn."

I asked him, "Your father lived until he was 92. Are you going to spend the next twenty to thirty years wasting your life? Why don't you do something with your life?" He answered, "I don't plan on living that long."

When I questioned him on it, he simply said that he didn't feel that he was going to live into his seventies, eighties or nineties.

There is nothing wrong with his physical health. Yet he has no motivation to do anything of value. I'm not asking him to open up a Gemara and start learning Torah. I just feel that the only time he picks himself up to do anything is when he is sued by someone. Otherwise, he just sits there in the same spot for hours at a time doing absolutely nothing. Before it was poker, it was sitting in front of the television while laying in bed from early evening until late into the night.

What scares me so much about this is the saying, "like father, like son." I am so terrified of becoming like my father because I feel like he is a waste of skin. Aside from the fact that many years ago he had sex with my mother (now his ex-wife) resulting in having me and he built himself a home, he has done little with his life that an objective person would say has created lasting value. To his credit he also had a few failed businesses, but the important thing is that there was once a time when he tried.

I see him now as if he is an animal. This bothers me because I want to love him and I want to admire him and look up to him. I want to be proud of him as a father and I want to see him as a role model. I then think to myself, "I should love him for who he is," but then I think to myself, "What is someone who does not have goals in life and who does not have any character aspirations or hopes of improvement?"

Monday, February 06, 2006

"A Frum Guy's Yetzer Hara" Site

I was sure that I had seen it all until I stumbled upon a blog called "A Frum Guy's Yetzer Hara." I read many of his articles and all I can say is that I wish he were still writing. His blog is informative, "raw," and real. I've enjoyed his content.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Chassidic Clothing and Kabbalah

A few people have e-mailed me about Chassidic Clothing, wondering what it is exactly, where to find it, and why does Kabbalah say that we should wear either black or white. The first part of this post will be boring, but scroll down to the bottom for my explanation about Kabbalah and what the benefits are of wearing black or white.

Firstly, Chassidic Clothing (I have it in caps because it is a title) is nothing other than dressing modestly. People think that the required dress needs to be a karpota or a shtreimel or a black hat, but the real answer is that chassidic dress is simply modest dress. If you are a Jew, you should dress like one.

I too have resistance to this, but if this is the way it is, then I am in no position to change it. The rabbis have always proclimated that Jews should dress in either ALL WHITE, ALL BLACK, or SOME COMBINATION THEREOF. They were much smarter than I am or ever will be, and they were much more learned that I am in Gemara (Talmud), Chassidus, or Nigleh (Torah). Once I am at their level (try in a few lifetimes if I am lucky), then I'll start debating whether they were right or wrong. For now, a Jew should dress in Black or White. Keep in mind that I am wearing blue jogging pants right now with a white stripe and a black tee-shirt that says "ARMY."

Okay, the dress of a Jew if you want to get more specific (and I'll keep this short). A or a (Hebrew for "a head covering") is required. So are (fringes). I don't want to debate you on this one. I know people believe otherwise regarding the head covering. If you have a problem with wearing a yalmukah, wear a hat or a baseball cap. The tzitzis are essential. It's a big (commandment by G-d). That's the basics. If you want to get fancy, start wearing a black hat, and once you're married, buy a (a.k.a. a if I remember the word properly) and a (a belt that you tie in a certain way for davening). These are the basics.

Now for the interesting part: I credit Steg for influencing me to write this part because in one of my former articles he asked, "So what exactly is then the Kabbalistic reason for wearing black and white?"

Here's my answer:
I would probably say that there is a frequency that is given off by each color, and the black is the absence of any light being reflected off of the cloth and the full absorption of all of the light that hits the garment, and the white is the rejection and reflection of all of the colors off of the cloth. These light frequencies which are reflected or absorbed by the clothing we wear have some connection to the frequencies of sound (through which things are created or destroyed in our world by saying certain letters or permutations of the Hebrew letters or sounds in general). This is evidenced by the effects words -- which are combinations of sounds -- have on our psyche and our lives.

The frequencies given off by the the light based on which colors you choose to wear also have some kind of vibrational frequency which when resonated a certain way has some kind of effect on the energy that is attracted to the person or given off by the person wearing the white or black colors. Further, various colors give off various energy signatures, so probably the kabbalistic reasons for wearing all white or all black is that the frequency given off is conducive to bringing down G-dly energies. When you temper those energies with color, you change the frequency and you somehow taint it forming another energy signature. The only pure energy signatures that can tap into G-dly light are white or black. Any other energy signature will tap into another frequency or lower energy, and with Judaism, especially with Chassidic thought and within Chassidm, we are not satisfied with just tapping into any energy, we want to have access to the highest level possible which is closest to G-d. Therefore, we wear only black or white. That's my guess based on my limited knowledge of science. If you think about it, it actually makes sense. If you didn't follow the logic, let me know and if I have time, I'll write this out in a more detailed article. However, I think this explanation should suffice.

10,000 Visitors!!!

By the way, did you realize that the blog has had more than 10,000 visitors?!? Thank you all for being with me through the rough times and the good times. There have been many ups and downs, and I appreciate all the help you have given me over the past year.

Conspiracy Theory Junk; Feeling Like a Caged Animal

My mom and I had a conversation last night about self-esteem, and whether I am lacking any or not. I suppose I'm having a difficulty seeing the merit or the meaning in anything that I do. I am certainly not sad or anything, however, I'm feeling a bit of meaningless, as if we're all rats running in a maze which ultimately leads nowhere.

I used to want to change the system -- to make the world a place where people were free thinkers unbound by the chains of what ties them into being forced to go to work and get a job and do the same boring tasks every day. But all I found were that the free thinkers were usually skewed-minded people who thought that they were smarter than everyone else. I had my heart broken once when after spending years learning the "secret" laws of the United States, that some retard came over to me one day and started talking to me about the very topics that I was dedicating my life to learn. Please don't get upset at me for calling him a retard -- I know this man, and I try to avoid his long-winded conversations all the time. What I learned from him, however, was how easy it was to form a conspiracy theory and to construct a reality around it that was so real that it seemed to take on a life of its own.

The heartbreak came after learning the law in law school and realizing how not-based on sound legal philosophies my former conspiracy theories were. Then, when hearing my former theories parroted back to me by him, I lost faith in the arguments because I realized then how silly they sounded.

But I suppose my point is that I'm feeling lately a bit like a caged animal. I live in my father's house "under his roof," so to speak, and I lack autonomy because I am glued to both my law school's expectations and my religion's expectations, both which take up my whole life and my free time. Time that is not devoted to them is taken up sleeping, resting, healing, and recuperating from the stress that builds from failing their expectations.

When I used to say that I wanted to find truth, I think I misspoke. I was actually looking for my own truth, or my own power; my own creativity which is still lacking. I laugh that I feel that I got what I wished for -- I was looking for ultimate Truth, and I found G-d. I chuckle to myself that while I am very happy that I stumbled upon G-d in my search for meaning, what I was actually looking for was my own calling. I'm still lacking this.