Friday, September 09, 2005
Once in a very blue moon, Yaakov plays with a rock and roll band. This happens when a particular musician is sick (or on vacation, as was the case last night). He's an awesome musician, but I also think the incongruity of seeing a big beard and tsitsis jamming away on guitar is a strange delight for all. People really go for it. (The "Yossi Piamenta phenomenon?") Anyhow, Jews were just crawling out of the woodwork last night to connect with him. We met some very beautiful people and had some very beautiful conversations. One person we met though was extra-special, and it ties into some thoughts I was having yesterday afternoon. Yesterday, I was thinking about how when I first became frum, I was mamesh on fire. I wanted to schlepp the whole world along on my religious trip. Nine years later, I've mellowed out a bit. I'm pretty comfortable being religious now, it's just who I am. I can relate to other Jews from a place of acceptance. "Hey, it's okay to be where you're at. One mitzvah at a time - we're ALL trying to be better Jews." Another thought I had was that maybe, on some deep level, my original ardor was coming from a place of fear. My insistence that every Jew embrace the Torah might have been coming from insecurity (are you with me on this?). Perhaps my zeal to make others become frum was a way of validating my own personal choice. Anyway, this guy came up to Yaakov, and he was saying about how his wife and daughter had become frum but he didn't. Unfortunately, they went through a bitter divorce. So he's telling us how when his ex-wife started becoming frum, she insisted that HE should too. Always hocking him to da'aven, keep kosher, yada yada. "You know," I told him, "I can understand how your wife felt." Then I launched into explaining my own "Ba'al Teshuva Fever." That made it a little more okay for him. I tried to explain what his wife might have been feeling at the time, while also totally accepting him and where he was at. A lot of his anger about the nasty divorce was tied up with (and directed towards) frumkeit. Makes sense, right? By seeing Yaakov and I - in that environment - he felt a little more comfortable about religious Jews. I encouraged him to try to understand those feelings, so he could make his daughter feel okay, too. It was very a healing experience for both of us, I think.
...and if all that wasn't good enough, Yaakov got PAID! Yaaaaaaay!