Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"God save us from our own stupidity"

In response to my "Converts..." post, I received the following comment from Wandering Convert:

I would warn anyone who wants to convert that I converted 25 years ago, and the "orthodox world" has gone bonkers. There is no search for truth, only uniformity in action and in appearance.

Where has the brilliant and inspiring mixture of so many Jewish cultures, united in one God and one Torah, but following their own ancient practices gone? Like the rainforests of South America, we may never realize what we have lost. It reminds me of the years after the Roman conquest, when so many branches of knowledge were lost for ever.

I have known may converts, very sincere Orthodox Jews, some with years of learning, who have turned their backs on the community, some returning to their former lives. They all have shared with me the lament of Eliza Dolittle, "Where am I to go?"

I have long considered where it is I will go. I regret my conversion because I consider it an unbreakable obligation to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, yet I find myself and my children tied to this craziness. And it is only getting worse.

I do not "daven with the penguins" anymore, and seek out more modern Orthodox settings, but over time more and more of those have hired "black hat" rabbis, and are leaning to "the Wrong."

God save us from our own stupidity.

Two things I am curious about:

1) Are you saying that the Orthodox world has changed in the 25 years since your conversion or is it that you were "sold a bill of goods" and what you thought was the Orthodox world was really not the case at all?

2) I am curious what number of converts are reverting back on their conversions due to disillusion with the Orthodox lifestyle.


Blogger Leora said...

I can relate to what Wandering Convert is saying. I used to think my own family was right wing. Now, they seem like the most enlightened, rational, kind folks on earth compared to ______ (fill in the blank so I don't insult anyone in particular).

Penguins. Ha. ;-)

May 27, 2008 12:07 PM  
Blogger Baal Habos said...

Fascinating post. I guess it's similiar to what disgruntled BT's go through, only more so.

>I have long considered where it is I will go. I regret my conversion because I consider it an unbreakable obligation to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, ...

I fail to understand this. Either you trust the OJ path, in which case the bad apples shouldn't ruin your religious experince. Try a different community. Or it seems, you don't trust the OJ path, in which case, why is it an unbreakable obligation? Go for conservative or reform. Or totally secular. I just don't get it.

Let me rephrase this. What advice would you give to someone who converted to the Muslim faith but that grew disenchanted with it? What advice would you give to a born again Christian who was disenchanted?

May 28, 2008 6:57 AM  
Blogger -suitepotato- said...

I can understand his feeling but when he says he regrets his conversion, he's only expressing frustration with the religious structure and not faith in G-d. I have no believe that out of all choices, he still chose best for him. No one in Orthodox Judaism now or twenty-five years ago ever makes it easy. It's not like buying a book at Borders and claiming you're a Wiccan.

That he finds frustration means he has a conscience that is bothered by something and this reflects well on him. Those who aren't upset in some way some how are not paying attention to life. Only in adapting to a previously unacceptable state do we progress. See your quote about the unreasonable man.

So what does he find frustration with? The same thing so many charedi, chasidic, and modern orthodox bloggers have: the difference between the emotional import given by Torah and everything that comes with it, and what people actually do. How they actually live their lives.

Hypocrisy breeds far more contempt than familiarity and often, hypocrisy is less easy to identify than someone immediately doing the opposite of an avowed position. Sometimes...

Well, go watch the film Equilibrium and tell me if you don't see that despite the claims of an emotion free nation, that the Librians aren't actually many of them showing actions with definite non-logical emotional foundations.

They call that cognitive dissonance, right?

Well, it can be especially painful when it crosses faith. This guy sounds as though he has faith, but the inconsistencies are sparking a problem for him. Eventually, with G-d's grace, he will reach a level of... equilibrium between the ideals and the realities.

May 30, 2008 1:27 PM  

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