Shabbat (the Sabbath) was fairly normal, at least according to the new normal (no shul (synagogue)). I finished the Doctor Who book I was re-reading, The Scales of Injustice. It was better than I remembered, but I think the open-ended ending annoyed me when I first read it as a teenager. I think there were semi-sequels that continued the story, but I don’t feel particularly motivated to seek them out. It has to be said that I’m not entirely sure what the point of the story was. I’m slightly scared to elaborate though. From being someone who used to be quite willing to review things online, including (what I felt were) justified negative reviews, I’ve become reluctant now I realise that it could be my work being reviewed. I know other frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) people who will only write positive reviews for fear that negative ones contravene Jewish law about gossip and negative speech. I was not convinced by that argument in the past, but now I wonder about it, worried that one day all the negative things I’ve said will crash back on my head in bad reviews of my writing.
Mind you, part of me would be glad of negative reviews if it meant people were buying my book. So far sales of my self-published book are stagnant. I’ve sold six copies, two to myself (one a proof copy and one to send to Doctor Who Magazine when things are more normal as a review copy), one to my parents, one to E. and two to fan friends. I need to publicise it better, but am not sure how especially as I won’t link to it here, as it’s published under my real name. WordPress won’t let me back into my Doctor Who blog which is the logical place to publicise it. I’m not good at publicity and marketing anyway. Someone said I should set up a Facebook page for the book, but I’m not sure what good that would do, given that I don’t have a personal Facebook account and have no intention of going back into that bear pit just to sell a few more copies of my book.
In terms of Jewish stuff, I read some more of Ani Ma’amin: Biblical Criticism, Historical Truth and the Thirteen Principles of Faith by Rabbi Joshua Berman. There was some interesting stuff about the improbably large numbers of Israelites in the exodus from Egypt and what those numbers might really be signifying.
I know I say here I struggle being Jewish in some ways. Not so much through doubts as lacking inspiration and connection. Judaism is important to me, but depression just wipes out my passion and enthusiasm and social anxiety gets rid of anything that’s left. I see people at my shul (when we were allowed to go to it) who seemed to really connect to God in prayer or Torah study and I can’t do that, at least not for long. It’s possible other people are faking it, on some level, but I’m not cynical enough to believe that everyone is faking it all the time.
I thought about a passage in the Talmud that says (I’m quoting from memory) if someone tells you they have sought and not found, don’t believe them; if someone tells you they have not sought, but have found, don’t believe them; but if someone tells you they have sought and found, believe them. I’m not going to discuss the first two clauses, but on the third one, the Kotzker Rebbe said, many centuries later, “The seeking is the finding.”
I was thinking about this and that it does seem to apply to me, that I’m more conscious of the existence of God when I feel very far from Him. It’s pretty much in the tradition of religious existentialism, which I’ve mentioned in the past that I used to be quite into. I read it a lot less nowadays, but it still influences my worldview, and I feel that’s what is happening here. I just feel so far from God so much of the time, yet when I feel consciously very far from Him, I feel on some level connected, whereas a lot of the time I’m not even thinking about Him.
There definitely is something to be said here about being able to feel things rather than just thinking them, but I’m not sure I really have the vocabulary to say it. Judaism is a very intellectual religion, but I increasingly feel that I can’t cope with pure intellect and need to engage better emotionally, but I don’t know how.