26 March 2007

Starting over?



There was once a lady named "Bright"

Whose speed was quicker than Light

She left one day

In a relative way

And returned on the previous Night





Our resident physicist, Rabban Gamliel, will be quick to point out that it's impossible.


But what if I could turn back the clock.

I've been asked on several occasions what I would do had I found out the truth at the tender age of 25 with a fledgling family? I don't even recall what I answered at the time and I certainly would not be so bold as to advise others as to what course of action to take.

But what would I do if I'd be 18? What would I do if I'd be at an early crossroad of life with the world beckoning me - full of opportunity, temptation and challenges undreamed of in my real past.

One thing is for certain, I can't answer this question from the perspective of an 18 year old. I bring with me decades of experiences and I'm looking back through the bifocals of middle-age.



Looking at it with my current wisdom I would have to say I would have chosen a very different path in life. I would have had issues in not wanting to disappoint parents; and that hurts. But there's no way to get around that.


There are several issues issues facing me now.


A) Purpose in life


B) Chareidi lifestyle is a bit(?) onerous.


C) My children moving even further to the right.


Of course, life is funny, if these angles would be perfect, if I could go back in time and engineer life to address these issues, I'd have other just as vexing issues is my life. But I can only address the current questions at hand.


(The following is all dis-jointed, so bear with me)..



Let me say this, there's no way I would want to cut off my heritage. Not only is it a beautiful heritage but I find there is great utility in it. There is the camaraderie. I really do enjoy it. I don't even mind attending shiurim. I might be wrong but I don't think other groups really have this camaraderie outside of the daily grind. Sure, they'll take a golf trip with their work buddies, but Frum people, seem to have real camaraderie.


Even now, I'm comfortable with most of the role I play in life; it's just that it's all so extreme and getting worse. (Check out R' Maryles blog. I love that). So there's no need for me to toss it all.


Each if us is only several web clicks away from some of the worst that the world has to offer. I'm not knocking the Internet which is virtual. But it opens a window into the reality out there, I'm just using it as an example of showing you how close the big bad wolf is. I think that a moderate religious background is not a bad thing to keep your life and family intact. I for one, don't relish the though of my kids coming home from school with green hair. Is Green hair so bad? Maybe not, but that's what I was saying above, I'm still "me" now, looking back at my crossroads, and I am bring along the values and hindsight that I've accumulated over the years. If I really *would* be twenty, I might just want to chuck the whole thing and head out for beckoning pastures.




Another issue is that of "purpose". When I choose a profession I discussed it with my Rosh Yeshiva. I selected a degree that I could pursue while remaining in Yeshiva Full time. The career was not intended to fill my life with purpose, as the Torah and the Jewish life-style would be doing that. The objective was financial and something I would enjoy doing. So in concert with selecting somewhat of a different lifestyle, I think I'd have pursued a career in medicine. This is not out of altruism, but simply a way of making a living while feeling good about yourself, while contributing to society in a meaningful way. So what if I wouldn't have become the multi-millionaire that I am now ;) ? Without the notion of finding fulfillment in Judaism, looking back now, my career seems somewhat empty. Maybe it's just a case of the grass being greener on the other side.


The way I see it now, I would find a place for myself in a very MO community.


Part of my objective in staying involved would be to make sure I'd have family continuity, enjoying things like Shabbos meals, etc. The dilemma of course, is what kind of education and beliefs I'd want my kids to have. That is really a very thorny question. Moving too far to the left, and there's the very real chance that the kids would drop it.


A few years ago I had a conversation with a non-Frum Jew at work and mentioned to him that I wasn't thrilled with the extremes my kids were moving towards, i.e. full time learning, disdain for higher levels of secular education, etc. His reply was interesting, "that's what you get for sending your kids to Yeshiva". The interesting thing is this guy has almost no relationship with his kids who are off who knows where. So I'd rather be in my shoes than his.


Is it fair to indoctrinate kids with something you don't believe in? I don't know.


Is it fair to raise kids in a manipulative manner and plan your life for the sake of relationship with children? Why not, as long as they're not coerced? I don't know.


Then again, is it fair to have children at all? Some would say that having children is really a selfish act.


There's so much to discuss but I lack the right words for it.



So I'd probably end up living in some town like Teaneck or Boca Raton. Or maybe in Monsey in Jewish Philosopher's town. After all he did say "You should check out my shul, seriously. It's a 30 something crowd. Half the women look like models and half the guys are gym rats. "


My kids would go to an MO school, where they'd be exposed to rational thinking and they'd have the choice as to how to conduct their lives. It's certainly more fair than raising Chareidi clones that are living in a pre-destined generic path of closed-mindedness.

Or is it? I'll discuss that in my next post.

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