My mood’s just sunk despite eating.  I messed something up regarding kashrut (Jewish dietary laws).  I know it’s OK, but (a) I feel stupid and think it could have been problematic and (b) my religious OCD is looking for any excuse to start me worrying again.  Even so, I will probably email my rabbi mentor to double-check my reasoning was OK.

I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere.  Online Doctor Who fandom just demonstrates how little I fit in there, from my failure to use (and sometimes to understand) the fashionable slang or online writing style, to my political and religious differences.  On the other hand, I don’t fit in to my religious community either.  My political views are slightly unusual (not least in my dislike of party politics and desire to – gasp! – understand the complexity of an issue before coming to a conclusion about it and to listen to views of people on both/all sides) and my religious views are too (not quite true; in America I think I could find people who share my religious views, but they probably would not share my political ones).  These days I actually feel uncomfortable with politics and politically-minded people of all kinds for spreading anger and hatred and nothing good.

Ger hayiti be’eretz nachria – I have been a stranger in a foreign land.  I wish I could find my ‘home’ and my ‘tribe’.

I’ve started reading Arthur Green’s Tormented Master: The Life and Spiritual Quest of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav again even though I’ve read it twice before.  At the moment I intend to read one or two pages a day and to think a bit about what I read; that way the book will take six months to a year to read (depending on whether I read one or two pages).  It’s a book that has always resonated with me, without my always being able to explain why.   Rebbe Nachman almost certainly did experience psychological issues of his own, including depressions, possible social anxiety (including shaking) and guilt and self-esteem issues.  Green avoids psychoanalysing, which is probably best with someone who has been dead for two hundred years, but he hints at bipolar disorder, which would seem to fit.

This passage from the introduction resonated (Green is talking about Rebbe Nachman’s use of Jewish texts and his “wild imaginative fantasies”:

“…one might say that here the entirety of Jewish tradition is being used in a wholly personal way, to a degree unknown previously.  The psychological complexities of the individual and the theological mysteries of the universe are intertwined to an extent that makes any attempt at separating them seem foolhardy.” (p. 4)

I feel that I do that myself a bit.  I respond to Jewish texts, particularly narrative ones, in a very personal way, as I do to Doctor Who and other classic science fiction TV series.  It’s hard to tell sometimes where the text ends and my understanding begins.  I can’t always express these thoughts, I experience them as mysterious, inchoate feelings and images.  I guess it ties in with the solipsistic fantasies that I’ve experienced since childhood, the feeling that I’m a microcosm of the universe, or even that what is in my head is the true or only universe, and the world is an illusion of some kind or at least secondary to my thoughts.

I don’t think any of this post paints me in a good light, but there you go.  I don’t think many people are reading this any more anyway.  I have over two hundred followers, but I think most are spammy (I’ve never removed any) and I’m not sure how many others are still reading.  Certainly only a handful of people comment on or “like” posts.  This is probably just as well.

I’m worried I’m going to be too depressed and socially anxious to make it to volunteering tomorrow, but I will try.  I missed it last month because of depression and don’t want to miss two on the trot.  So I should really think about bed, as it’s nearly half-past midnight, but I don’t feel tired (I said I slept too much), just agitated and self-critical.

4 thoughts on “A Stranger in a Foreign Land

  1. I always read your posts. Sometimes life intervenes or I get depressed and it takes me a few days and I read them a few at a time, but I always read them. Have you ever visited the States? I wonder what it would be like if you were to move here. From reading your many posts on the subject, it sounds like your beliefs and heart are in line with Modern Orthodox, but guilt or something is holding you back. You might as well make the change because your heart is already there, no?


    1. I have visiting the States. I was in New York earlier this year, maybe before you started reading my blog. I have considered that I may move to the US; the community would be a better fit and the dating pool would be enormously bigger. But emigration is a scary thing to contemplate and I don’t think I would get through the immigration controls without a much bigger and more stable income than I currently have.

      I don’t think I’m being held back from Modern Orthodoxy, it’s just that where I live, for other reasons the best shul for me is not Modern Orthodox. It’s frustrating, but I guess it’s just life that we have to compromise on our ideals sometimes.


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