I don’t really have anything to say today (plus ça change) and I don’t have much time before Shabbat (yikes), but I needed to say something. I feel so depressed and lonely today and the internet is my main way of reaching out to people. I’m trying to stay off Twitter and random internet surfing, so that means blogging. I’m glad I’ve met some people who read my blog offline, even if most of them live too far away for me to see them regularly. I feel worryingly self-obsessed here, though, like the OCD-suffering narrator of the Young Adult book I’m reading, who is about to discover that her best friend has written her into her Star Wars fan fiction as a self-obsessed and useless character. She has just got a boyfriend, though, whereas I’m terminally single. I didn’t go on a date until I was twenty-seven, whereas she’s still in high school.
On my last post, Ashley Leia commented, “is there any sort of widely accepted Orthodox view of what God is likely to think of non-frum Jews? It’s a very broad generalization, but I would imagine the average non-frum Jew is committing quite a few more sins than the average Orthodox Jew.” The problem – and I’ve travelled on this train of thought a lot – is that not only are we not supposed to judge others, we aren’t even supposed to be able to judge others, because God judges everyone uniquely, based on their personal history, situation, strengths and weaknesses and temptations. So I shouldn’t compare myself with other people who I might feel are doing worse than me to boost my self-esteem and even if I did, I can’t really know that I’m better than them; maybe on their level they’re meeting 100% of their potential while I’m meeting only 25% of mine. Judaism focuses on meeting potential more than absolute values. (Technically we are allowed to envy the good deeds of people better than us if it inspires us to do better, but that’s a depressing thing for me to do.) So, even if I want to say, “Well, I may do X wrong, but at least I keep Shabbos and kosher which that person doesn’t do” that may be meaningless, because maybe that person is even expected to keep Shabbos and kosher while I’m supposed to do that and a load more besides.
The problem (aside from having major sins on my conscience that I feel terribly guilty about) is that I have no real objective view of how I’m doing religiously. I’ve tried asking my rabbi mentor, but he refuses to answer the question and no one else knows me well enough to be able to tell me. So that makes it easy for the depression and low self-esteem to convince me that I’m the most evil person in the world.