I had a not so good Shabbat (Sabbath).  It wasn’t bad exactly, just not great.

Our Haredi (ultra-Orthodox Jewish) next door neighbours had a minyan (prayer quorum) in their garden again for all the Shabbat prayer services.  I got annoyed about this because I worry about whether it could expose Mum to coronavirus.  Last week some rabbis from the local community sent out some guidelines saying that now lockdown has lifted a little, garden minyanim are OK, but only if people stay in their own garden and just daven (pray) at the same time as their neighbours.  This on the other hand was ten men in one garden and it annoyed me a lot (plus there was the noise when I was trying to pray in my own room).  So that upset me.

I was tempted to write a load of angry stuff about Haredim, given that there have been a LOT of incidents of Haredi Jews breaking lockdown in the UK, US and Israel, some of which have got into the mainstream media as a result of the police breaking gatherings up.  I decided I shouldn’t stereotype, because some Haredi Jews are keeping lockdown, but not only have they got themselves a bad name, they’re giving other Jews a bad name too, which upsets me.

I guess I have a degree of anger and frustration over the frum (religious Orthodox Jewish) community (I’m deliberately blurring the line between Modern Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox there).  I felt that I wasn’t particularly well supported with my mental health or integrating into shuls (synagogues) and the wider community.  I don’t get many Shabbat meal invitations, as single people in the frum community normally do and certainly not many people tried to find me a wife they way the community “should” do for “normal” people. I know a lot of people with similar issues to me (“older” singles, depressed, ba’alei teshuva (became religious later in life), not accepting certain Haredi beliefs and practices) complain of being marginalised in the community.  I haven’t experienced that clearly, but it could be a factor.  I hang out sometimes on… not antiHaredi blogs per se, but blogs by people who see problems in the Haredi world that they want to change (or mock).  It’s easy to get sucked into a negative, critical attitude, particularly as I don’t really subscribe to a lot of things the Haredi world believes in.

On the other hand, I admit I feel like a square peg in a round hole not just here but in every community I try to fit into (e.g. Doctor Who fandom, group therapy).  I never feel like I fit and that’s probably at least partly my fault, or the fault of my social anxiety and high functioning autism.  “High functioning” can be a bit of a misnomer, as there can be plenty of situations, especially social situations, where I don’t function well at all.  I feel like it’s partly my fault and I should find a healthier way to work through my anger and resentment.  I worry that even if I find a Modern Orthodox community that is a better fit on paper, I still won’t be able to fit in and make friends.

***

I got a bit upset around seudah shlishit (the third Sabbath meal, so effectively dinner time) today.  Mum and Dad had accepted some food from friends during the week that I wouldn’t have accepted because of kashrut (Jewish dietary law) fears and there was a bit of discussion about what to do with some other food that was OK, but had a question mark on it for another reasons.  Things became a bit tense for minute.  We didn’t have an argument, but it made me think.  I used to look forward to leaving home so I could run my kosher kitchen the way I wanted.  The reality is that because of depression, I’m thirty-six and still live with my parents and their rules.  I have to compromise.  And I have to compromise with my sister’s rules when I go there.  And on one level that’s OK, because life is about compromise and only crazy fundamentalists are happy about riding roughshod over other people in the name of Absolute Truth.  But on another level, I feel envious of other people whose families all keep the same level of kashrut.  It must be so much easier on so many levels.

***

I couldn’t sleep last night.  I had finished the Doctor Who short story collection I had been reading and didn’t feel like engaging with the history book I just started, so I ended up reading a Batman graphic novel (Death and the Maidens).  It wasn’t a particularly good one, sadly.  I hadn’t read Batman for quite some time.  I got really into it for a while, then drifted out again.  I just started a re-read of a long arc that I had mixed feelings about first time around.

I did fall sleep this afternoon, so my sleep pattern is going to be messed up now, particularly as I’m having a lot of late-night, post-Shabbat screen time, offloading here and catching up on blogs posted today.  This might be a mistake.

Well, I should probably think about bed, as it’s long past midnight now.  I’m not sure how coherent this post is, either in the abstract or to anyone who doesn’t understand the intricacies of the Orthodox Jewish community, but it’s too late to work on it any more, so here goes…

6 thoughts on “Anger and Resentment

  1. It seems like the more extremely religious people get, regardless of the specific religion, the more science goes out the window, and often secular logic along with it. I’d be curious as to whether many people, of any religion, manage to find a balance between being extremely religious and still accepting secular ideas about things like science.

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  2. The Modern Orthodox community is very open to science, although the MO community is relatively small compared with the Haredi one. As I think I’ve said in a previous post, the Haredi community’s relationship to science is complicated in that specific theories are rejected, but science can still be seen as positive, particularly if it has a tangible benefit e.g. medicine and psychology are seen as good career choices and psychology and self-help in particular are very popular.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “secular logic” (surely logic is logic?). If you mean stuff like listening to the government about lockdown, I think a lot of Haredi people have indifference or hostility to outsiders, particularly authority figures, partly from things like the Holocaust, partly because strong positive in-group feelings often come at a cost of negative feelings for out-group members.

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  3. I’m wondering if any of us really fit in. I am liberal leaning, but was a fairly conservative parent. I’m sociable but also quiet. I can pretend to be an extrovert, although I’m really an outgoing introvert. Perhaps you are hyper aware of every way that you don’t fit in to these worlds? Do you think that all or many people in those religions align completely with that group’s precepts? I would assume that the stricter the rules, the more that the practitioners have to conform. Here it’s the evangelical Christians who are holding church services when they’re not supposed to, then oops, someone has Covid19. 😦 Those of us who aren’t in that group (including me) waste a lot of anger and resentment on those people, who seem unaware of the risks and uncaring of other people’s health. I just want this to be over, without losing my parents or anyone else I care about.

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    1. I am definitely hyper-aware of not fitting in, and probably want not to fit in, on some unconscious level.

      I do assume that most people in Orthodoxy conform completely, not least because it’s essentially voluntary. If you don’t want to be there, you can leave (admittedly harder in the very Haredi world where people have limited secular education, but that’s not where I am).

      I also want this to be over without losing anyone.

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  4. I can relate to your feelings of not fitting in. I do think this is a tendency that’s especially present in those of us who are mentally ill. We have this negative noise in our head when we do get together with other people–Do I seem nervous? Am I awkward? Boring? Not talking enough? Weird? Different? All of that is really our own story we’ve written in our head and believed.

    I don’t know if this will help you, but do you have a couple good friends and/or therapist that you can ask for honest feedback from and trust they’ll give it? I recently went through these same thoughts and asked for point-blank feedback on whether they’re true or just in my head. My therapist said that it’s not obvious that all of that’s going on in my head. A sort of acquaintaince-friend called out of the blue, and I was stunned that she liked me enough to think about me and then call! What you feel and think in your head about how you and others view yourself is not as obvious as you think and is not as *accurate* as you think.

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  5. You are right about the negative noise. I don’t know if I have anyone I could ask though. I’ve only been with my new therapist for a couple of weeks, so I don’t think she would know me well.

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