Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Frum N' Loving It

Frumsatire's post on why he loves being an Orthodox Jew had me itching to write one of my own. So here's the female perspective, on why I'm glad I'm religious. Deep existential reasons aside.

Shomer Negiah- I complain about it endlessly, about how tough it is not to be able to touch my boyfriend, OK, how tough it is not to even HAVE a boyfriend. But, when push comes to shove, being Shomer Negiah is a great excuse to get out of kissing old men on their dry parchment skin, or hugging fat uncles, or basically any physical contact whatsoever with the male species who are, on a whole, less than appealing . It's bad enough having to kiss every female at a wedding; Thank God the men keep to their own side of the Mechitza. And even if we do end up making out with the opposite sex, we limit touching to the guys we find attractive. The rest of the clan we can tell "Sorry, I'm Shomer."

Also, I'm glad I wasn't pressured into sleeping with my boyfriend at the age of sixteen. Although it would have been nice to have actually had a boyfriend…

Separate Swimming- Every time I go to the swimming pool I'm grateful I'm religious. Compulsory strutting my stuff in a bikini is hardly the most relaxing activity in the world. Especially for those of us who haven't got much stuff to strut. This way I get to skip Vogue's annual work-out and self tanning tips, and move on to the serious stuff, such as 'how to tell if he's into you'.

Shabbos- It's clich├ęd, but- "I don't know how non religious people survive without Shabbos". Twenty four hours of guilt free doing nothing. As opposed to other days of doing nothing, where there's always that "I really should be studying/cleaning up/ [insert chore]" lurking at the back of my mind and ruining the laziness.

Especially now I'm a borderline internet addict, what with Twitter and all, Shabbos is the time that forces me to stop and smell the roses (on the way to Shul), and saves me from slipping over the edge into the abyss of cyber space no-return. (e.g. "What's that big yellow thing in the sky? My desktop doesn't have one")

Shidduch Dating- Another one of my favorite rants, but at least this way I don't fear bringing up the "M. word" on dates, and don't have to figure out how to get a man to commit AFTER he's been living with me for a couple of years. Plus, I have all these middle aged Shadchans doing the dirty work for me, and finding me suitable escorts, instead of me needing to hit the bar scene and the wallflower fears that entails. Bring 'em on!

Shmirat HaLashon- It's nice to know, that even if you do something really, really, stupid, you stand a chance of that fact not being broadcast to the entire world, since people do try on a whole to watch what they say, and guard their tongue, and be nice and all that. It doesn't stop the gossip, but it does slow it down.

The Animals- or rather the lack of them. I don't have to fake adoration of any suitor's dog, or cat, or pet snake. It's much easier to admire his black hat. (Although this benefit is only true to the Ultra Orthodox)

The Kids- Such as my six year old niece, who came back from Kindergarden knowing how to read, and now insists on reading out the entire Benching, after every Shabbos meal. She sits there with my Illustrated Gadi Pollock Bencher, and loudly pronounces decibel after decibel , staying at the table long after we have finished clearing up. She does more for my faith than any Shiur. And I love sitting on the edge of their bed, and singing Hamalach Hagoel to them, the same way it used to be sung to me. They don't even mind my useless voice.

Letters to the Editor- What can the secular world offer, that beats the Letters to the Editor in Yated and Hamodia? Advice on how to get your Challah to rise better, tips on applying a gasoline mixture to shoes instead of polish, warnings on how to avoid the Evil Eye. Comedy can't compare.

The Blessings- Random strangers stopping me on the street and blessing me. OK, they are usually blessing me that I find my spouse ASAP (is my desperation written on my forehead?!), and OK, they are usually asking me for money, but still, a blessing is a blessing, right?

All in all, I love being religious. What would I have to complain about, otherwise?

8 comments:

  1. I agree with the one about Shabbos...that's the best!

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  2. The Shomer thing gets on my nerves.

    Not that I want to touch anyone, but the concept. In college, as one of the few Orthodox individuals, I was constantly sneered at by the frei fellows, "Your shomer? I'm gonna touch you! I'm gonna touch you!" thinking that is the entirety of being observant. The concept of the shomer is a modern invention.

    Once upon a time, people didn't touch because people didn't touch. It wasn't a conversation. There was a tznius involved when dealing with other people, and shaking a gentile's hand does not violate anything, especially when very often makes a chillul Hashem.

    I kiss my great-uncle every time I see him. I find it rather insane when a ten year old cousin starts screaming like a crazy person because I put my hand on his shoulder.

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  3. I mean a chillul Hashem by starting a whole conversation why you can't shake his hand. They don't view that action as violating someone's chastity, so they get all annoyed and have editorials in the NYTimes.

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  4. You don't want to touch anyone? Refuah shelaima.

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  5. Yeah, that's what I meant.

    (Eyes rolling).

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  6. For those who complain about not touching men, wait until you learn all the harchakos!

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  7. Regarding blessings, it is un-Jewish thing to sell them. We are supposed to be generous with them.

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  8. since you don't do any of the non shomer things above, how do you know you're missing anything? I used to be shomer shabbas, kosher, the nine yards. Then I realized, why am I trying to give something meaning that I didn't choose to do for myself in the first place? Is all this ritual really meaningful/ I'll find it's meaningful if I keep doing it, or am I just doing things because I'm afraid to break shabbos because of some invisible rule I've allowed to be put on me?
    I'm not shomer negiya, and I don't have to be touched by ANYBODY I don't want to, be it old smelly men or uncles. The way the secular world lives is not the opposite of how the frum world lives (in respect to hypersexualization of women, lawlessness, what have you.)
    On Saturdays, I can do whatever I want to, I don't have to make myself go to schul for fear that if I don't I'll feel guilty of being less good of a person, or that others will judge me. I can say from experience that living life by your own judgments rather than what some random man who's father's father's father was a rabbi tells me what I should do.
    I believe that the most fulfilling way to live one's life is to live by what your heart, that voice that sometimes you may suppress for it contradicting the status quo, is the voice you should listen to. If you don't feel that eating kosher has a meaning for you, don't do it! Even if it's what you grew up doing, you're not a bad person for making your own decisions. You have to live for yourself, because no one else will.
    And even though I am not 100% confident with my appearance, I still like wearing bathing suits be it one piece or two piece where ever I choose. I promise, no one is going to bite you : )

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