(The migraine is gone.)
I had turned off my computer for the night, but I switched it back on as I wanted to record two things for myself as much as anyone else.
1) I have written here a lot about wanting to have a family and worrying that I will never be able to do so. I have also written here a lot lately about feeling disconnected from HaShem (God) and Torah. I think the two are connected. I want to have someone to pass on my Torah to. The primary transmission of Torah is parent to child, not student to teacher. In Jewish thought, transmission of Torah by teachers is second-best, a compromise in a real world where many parents do not have the time or knowledge to pass on everything their child should know. But ideally it should be parent to child. So I want to have children to pass on my Torah to.
I should probably explain “my Torah” which is probably puzzling to non-Jewish or non-frum readers. When I talk about “my Torah,” on some level I’m talking about the values that I would want to pass on to my children: tolerance; financial, emotional and intellectual honesty; pursuit of meaning and so on. However, there is another dimension.
Torah has “seventy facets” of interpretation according to the Talmud. According to the Ba’al Shem Tov (the founder of Hasidism), however, it has 600,000 interpretations, one for every Jew who left Egypt. Every Jew has their own portion in Torah, the chiddushim (novel interpretations), the unique understanding of the expression of God’s infinite mind that only someone with their background, experience and interests could find. This is why Torah study is described as a creative activity, not just learning facts and arguments. It is the very personal connection of the individual to the infinite God through the medium of the Torah.
A rabbi whose blog I used to read many years ago (he doesn’t blog any more) once wrote, “The pleasure, the fulfillment, dare I say, the orgasm of the true encounter with God through the vehicle of Torah study is at its height when who’s learning is really, really me, and what’s being learned is really, really God’s Will.” It’s that I have been feeling lacking in my life, the times when I connect with God, either through chiddush in Torah study (my own, or finding an amazing chiddush of someone else’s that speaks to me), through davening (prayer) or through mitzvot. I feel I used to have this, at least on some level, and now I don’t. It’s not entirely the fault of depression, because I think I’ve felt it at times when very depressed. It is possible that it is the fault of depression added to the stresses work/job hunting as when I felt it in the past, I was not working.
At the moment I feel as if not only do I have no Torah, even if I did have it, I wouldn’t have anyone to pass it on to. In my previous shul, before we moved house four years ago, I wrote divrei Torah (Torah thoughts) for the newsletter and sometimes gave drashot (talks). There is no opportunity to do the latter in my current shul and while I could write a davar Torah, I do not have the courage to risk negative reactions by doing so; I certainly wouldn’t dare to put my own chiddush in it. I no longer share divrei Torah with my parents on Shabbat, having ‘gone dry’ a number of years ago, around the time we moved. I did find a chiddush this evening, so maybe my prayers for connection have been answered. We shall see.
2) I finished re-reading (or re-re-re-reading) Tormented Master: The Life and Spiritual Quest of Nahman of Bratzlav. There is a long quote at the end of the second appendix (on Rebbe Nahman of Bratzlav’s allegorical tales) that resonated with me, seemed, in some way, to describe me and my writing (blog, fiction, poetry) as much as the actual subject; I may have blogged it before, but it is worth repeating:
“What is this quest that so fills Nahman’s life, finding such poignant portrayal finally in the Tales? We may call it a search for God by one who felt himself alone, a search for wholeness by one who experienced himself as shattered or fragmented, a search for language and self-expression by one who felt himself unwillingly locked into an inner silence… Nahman was one who defined his life as that of a seeker; for such people it usually only in irreducible sacred symbols or in the ultimate profundities of silence that the object of their search can be defined. To ask the seeker: “What is it that you are looking for?” is already to misperceive totally the nature of the search.”