I argued with my parents last night.  It wasn’t a big argument, but it really upset me, as the topic isn’t going to go away.  Actually, strictly speaking I didn’t argue, I just got upset and ran off to my room.  I was so upset I spent a while messaging E. about it.  Then, when I was about to get ready for bed, I was still upset and spent half an hour writing about it to process it.  I was going to post it, but I decided at the end that I shouldn’t because it was talking badly about my parents; also, by that stage I had calmed down somewhat, so I posted it privately for my own records; I also emailed my rabbi mentor about it, partly as there was a halakhic (Jewish law) aspect to the argument, partly as he is a trained counsellor.  I miss not having a therapist at the moment and wonder when I will be able to have CBT on the NHS.

The upshot was that I didn’t get to bed until gone 2.00am and even then I was too alert to sleep until something like 3.30, although being rather congested from my cold didn’t help.

The other thing I did last night was write a list of stuff I would need to write that book people were encouraging me to write about Judaism.  I’m still not convinced I can actually write it, plus I’m not sure how financially secure I need to be before I devote time to it.  I don’t think my parents will be happy if I were to write instead of job hunting (the job I start next week is only a one month contract, with a possible extension for another two), but I if I wait until I’m in a much more stable place, I’ll probably never start.  Plus, if I had a job with longer hours, I wouldn’t have the time/energy to start.  It’s hard to know what to do.  I also don’t like the idea of working on two books at once, and I’m not giving up on the Doctor Who book I’m writing, which is about two-thirds finished, but I’m not sure how to balance them at the moment.

It still feels pretty crazy to even think of writing a Jewish book.  And I’m still not sure it won’t get put in cherem (banned).  OK, it probably wouldn’t get banned, as I’m not that important, but it might get me into trouble in my community.  Although that would assume it at least gets written and published, so I’m probably getting ahead of myself there, as I’m still not sure it will get written.  Writing the list of stuff I need was a way of saying to HaShem (God), “I’m willing to try to write this, but I’m going to need a lot of help, and I’m not sure whether you even want me to do this, so please help me or show me what You want me to do.”  I don’t know whether anything will come of that.  Websites like Hevria.com and Aish.com are full of stories about amazing things that happened to people when they resolved to do what (they thought) HaShem wanted them to do, but things like that don’t seem to happen to me.

There probably is more to say, but it’s a short winter Friday, Shabbat (the Sabbath) starts in under four hours and I have things to do, so see you on the other side of Shabbat.

4 thoughts on “My Family and Other Animadversions

  1. Sorry to hear about the argument with your parents. It sounds really difficult and frustrating to not be able to vent about what bothers you because it is considered speaking ill of other people.

    That book about Judaism sounds really interesting to me, but I was wondering when do books get banned by Jewish law? Why do you think the book would get you into trouble with your community?

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    1. Yes, it was OK when I had a therapist, as my rabbi mentor said it was OK to speak to my therapist about my parents, but I’m struggling at the moment as I’m not currently in therapy.

      I’m glad the book sounds interesting to you.

      Banning books is really something that only happens in the Charedi (ultra-Orthodox) community, which I don’t really consider myself to be a part of, even though my synagogue is somewhat ultra-Orthodox. To get banned a book would have to contain something that offends ultra-Orthodox sensibilities, but also be written by someone who could be seen as respected within the community. If a book is written by someone completely outside the ultra-Orthodox community, it’s assumed no one in the community would take it seriously. It’s only when an Orthodox Jew writes something controversial that people wonder that it will be believed and it can potentially get banned. Even then, it’s really only specific rabbis who tell their followers not to read a book; there isn’t a religious infrastructure to ban a book for everyone like the Pope could in Catholicism. Books banned in the last twenty years or so have included things like saying that non-Jewish religions can be legitimate paths to God for non-Jews, saying that the Bible and Talmud have scientific inaccuracies and telling anecdotes about contemporary rabbis and religious leaders that humanise them and show their weaknesses, but all these books were written by people recognised as rabbis within the Orthodox community already and were therefore seen by the most conservative elements as a risk because other people in the community would see them as Orthodox and therefore credible.

      Realistically, worrying about my book being banned is probably an anxious over-reaction. I don’t think the Charedi world would even notice what I wrote, especially if it was published by a secular or Modern Orthodox publisher. What worries me more is that, because my parents are friends with the parents of the assistant rabbi of my shul, they will tell their friends and who will tell their son and I will be asked about it in my community, which could be uncomfortable. I’m already worrying about that with regard to the Doctor Who book I’m writing, which is not a ‘normal’ thing for a religious Orthodox Jew to write.

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  2. Having an argument or any stressful event just is even worse when you’re sick, I think. I hope you feel better soon.

    Maybe your parents wouldn’t have a problem if they knew you were devoting a certain amount of time to the job search every day? I mean, if you spent an hour or two searching for a job, surely they can’t be upset about what you do with the rest of your day.

    Would it work out to publish the book under a pseudonym, or would that feel sneaky and get you in even greater trouble should your community find out?

    On a totally different note, I have never seen Dr. Who (I know, I’ve lived under a rock!) and would really like to get into it. Do you recommend starting with the original or the newer one? Thank you for your advice.

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    1. Yes, I think if I was managing to job hunt for a certain amount of time, my parents would be OK with my writing in the rest of it, but it’s struggling to find that time when I’m so depressed.

      To be honest, worrying about my book being banned is probably an anxious over-reaction, particularly as it’s only the Charedi (ultra-Orthodox) world that bans books and I don’t consider myself part of that world, even though I’m on it’s fringes. I don’t think they would even notice what I wrote, especially if it was published by a secular or Modern Orthodox publisher. What worries me more is that, because my parents are friends with the parents of the assistant rabbi of my shul, they will tell their friends and who will tell their son and I will be asked about it in my community, which could be uncomfortable. I’m already worrying about that with regard to the Doctor Who book I’m writing, which is not a ‘normal’ thing for a frum person to write.

      Regarding Doctor Who, I would suggest to start with the new series. I actually prefer the original series (probably partly nostalgia), but I’m pretty sure it would seem quite slow and cheap compared with the modern series. I’ve even heard fans recommend skipping the first few seasons of the new series (2005-2009 or so) because they seem dated ten years on. The 2018 season was not the best, but was designed as a jumping on point for people who hadn’t seen the programme before, so maybe start with that and then go back a bit once you’ve got an idea of what it’s like?

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