I was up late again and discovered I had a WhatsApp message from the rabbi asking me to come to Shacharit (Morning Service) on Hoshanah Rabbah (the seventh day of Sukkot, this Sunday).  I’m guessing he is worried we won’t get a minyan (prayer quorum) as we often struggle to get one on non-Shabbat/Yom Tov and some key minyan attendees are away.  I am also assuming that he messaged lots of people, not just me.  I hope he didn’t just message me.

I’ve only been to Shacharit on Hoshanah Rabbah once, when I was at university.  It’s a really long service with intense ritual (processing around the shul (synagogue) seven times with arbah minim and then beating willow branches).  Since then I haven’t managed to get up so early, plus I’ve been scared to go to a service I don’t really know my way around as usually I know what’s going on in shul.  The bottom line is that I’m unlikely to make it to Shacharit at 8.00am on a day sandwiched between two other days (Shabbat and Shmini Atzeret) that I would make more of an effort to go for.

It does make me wonder, though, if I should tell the rabbi about some of my issues.  Probably not just yet, but if he makes a habit of this, I might.


Rabbi Lord Sacks is still talking about Kohelet (Ecclesiastes).  He says that the individualism of Western society is leading to substance abuse, eating disorders, stress and mental illness, which may be true on a societal scale, but makes me feel guilty for being ill.  I probably am very self-centred, on some level at least.  The ‘mind-blindness’ aspect of autism can make it hard to work out what other people are thinking or what their needs are.  I don’t see myself as particularly consumerist or acquisitive and I try to give to others when I can, I just see myself as impaired in what I can do because of autistic empathy issues and low income.  I can’t find joy in the things Rabbi Sacks says Kohelet recommends: love/marriage, work, and living in the moment appreciating the simple things in life.  I don’t have a job or a relationship and my brain is often switched to ‘depressed’ even if I see a beautiful sunset or whatever.  I don’t blame Rabbi Sacks, because he is talking to a general audience, not the neurodivergent and the mentally ill, but it does make me feel a failure again and wonder if God hates me (if the Emeritus Chief Rabbi says I’m failing at life then presumably God agrees with him).

Whether I’m a product of a selfish, consumerist society or not, I feel very depressed today.  I had a religious/kashrut OCD worry that I sort of got under control, but now I’m caught between thinking it’s good that I controlled it and that it’s bad that it came up at all, plus I haven’t got it 100% under control.  (EDIT: actually, it’s not really under control. 😦  )

I don’t think I’m going to try to the rabbi’s oneg (Shabbat party thing) tonight.  I can’t face socialising, plus as I don’t drink, don’t know a lot of the tunes to the songs they sing and find the divrei Torah (Torah thoughts) at these things sometimes problematic and less than inspiring, the only thing there for me is the social aspect, which is often negated by social anxiety, and eating junk food, which I should really cut down on.  I think it’s going to be an effort just to get through Shabbat feeling like I do.

8 thoughts on “Haveil Havelim

  1. “If the Emeritus Chief Rabbi says I’m failing at life then presumably God agrees with him.” Not that I actually know, but that doesn’t sound like a very Jewish perspective that if a rabbi says something then it follows that God agrees with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with Ashley. Heavens above, God does NOT hate you!! That’s a horrible message for any religious leader to be insinuating! I’m glad I’m not Jewish. No offense, but it just sounds so full of self-loathing and inadequacy. GOD LOVES YOU!! Sorry. I’m just starting to have a visceral reaction to your reality. Please forgive me!! 🙂 Also, I don’t think you’re self-centered. You always post supportive stuff on my blog whenever I feel unwell. 🙂


    1. Well, I should say that I don’t think he was saying that God hates me. I often post stuff here where I say, “I read X and it made me feel God hates me” or “I saw Y and it made me feel useless and stupid” and it’s more about me than the thing I read or saw. I feel like I have a lot of self-hating mantras in my head that I start repeating to myself really easily.

      I don’t think Judaism is full of self-loathing and inadequacy, I just handle it very badly.

      Re: self-centred, I don’t really count posting stuff online because it’s really easy. I guess in my family being selfless is about doing stuff for other people, particularly without being asked. This is somewhat difficult for me with autism because I struggle to intuit what my parents want me to do for them without them telling me. Then sometimes they want me to drop everything and help which I also struggle with because autism does not like sudden changes of plans, even minor ones.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ohhhh, I see what you’re saying. Sorry, I insulted your religion, but you meant you internalize what you hear wrong! Okay!!

        Huh, that’s interesting about your parents wanting you to break your routine! I’ve heard it’s true what you said about not liking sudden plans! That must be hard! I don’t think it makes you self-centered. It sounds more like rigidity, which is just a personality quality. 🙂


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