There are things I think about talking about here, drop hints about, but back away from talking about openly. I’m not sure why I do this. I know why I’m too nervous to talk about them (a whole bunch of different reasons for different topics), but I’m not sure why I keep wanting to bring them up. Maybe because they seem important to me, or simply because I often go into confessional mode on my blog and want to offload everything. Or maybe I’m just trying to provoke people into stopping reading.
One topic I’ve been thinking about for the last few days is crushes. I’ve had some kind of crush most of the time since I was sixteen when I haven’t been in a relationship, which is most of the time. As soon as one crush drops out of my life or marries someone else, I find someone else to fixate on. It’s very adolescent. I suppose it’s a product of wanting love, but being too afraid to be open and vulnerable with someone, so I just obsess about people from a distance. It’s worth noting that of my two “proper” relationships, one was not originally a crush at all (she messaged me on JDate), the other was a mild crush at best (we were emailing, originally just as friends, and I felt a bit of attraction, but only acted on it when she said she felt the same way). So that may be significant, that crushes almost never turn out well.
I can feel the Crush Wraith (I was going to say Crush Monster, but really a crush is ghostly and insubstantial) coming back even though it’s not long since I broke up with E., and even though the circumstances of our break up arguably ought to make me think twice about ever being in a relationship again, or at least not until a whole bunch of other criteria are met (now I’m talking about my love life like an economist…).
It’s not just that. Part of me wants to get back in touch with E., not to date again, I tell myself, but just to be friends. She was a good friend, and I don’t have many friends, ergo I should get back in contact, or so the logic goes. Then comes the guilt: E. doesn’t have many friends either. Maybe she’s in a worse state than I am. Maybe it’s an matter of kindness to get back in contact with her. I’m worried if I do that, we’ll end up with a permanently unresolved on/off relationship that will get in the way of other relationships. I think the attraction is too strong for us to be friends; not close friends, at any rate.
The sermon from Shabbat Shoftim 30 August 1941 in Sacred Fire: Torah from the Years of Fury 1939-1942, the sermons of the Piaseczno Rebbe, Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira, resonated with me over Shabbat.
He starts with a verse from the sedra, which the translator (J. Hershy Worsch) translates as, “Be guileless with God your Lord.” (Devarim/Deuteronomy 18.13) I don’t like that translation very much. I would prefer something like “Have integrity in your relationship with God your Lord” or “You must be wholehearted with the Lord your God” (which is Sefaria.org’s translation). Tamim has connotations of integrity and wholeheartedness.
He then quotes the Medieval commentator Rashi (Hebrew acronym for Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzchak). I’m going to give a mash-up of Worsch’s translation of Rashi and the translation on Sefaria as I don’t like either of them completely and I’m too tired to translate from scratch (it’s gone midnight here): “Walk before Him wholeheartedly; put your hope in Him and do not attempt to investigate the future. Simply accept whatever happens to you, and then you will be with God — to be His portion.” This is my favourite Rashi comment, but I’m bad at living up to it, so it got my attention.
In sermonic style, Rabbi Shapira discuss some other things, moving to the situation of the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, and in Europe in the Holocaust in general, saying a Jew would be unable to respond to hope or good news because he has been so “beaten and tortured that he that he is utterly broken and effaced by pain and poverty… there is no longer a person capable of rejoicing.” This is common in Sacred Fire, the acknowledgement that faith and joy depend on physical and psychological wholeness (another meaning of tamim), which I think is crucially missing from a lot of other attempts to deal with suffering religiously.
He says that if the Jews knew that they would be saved tomorrow, they would find courage. “The problem is that they cannot see any end to the darkness.” Then he returns to Rashi’s comment: “Even if you are broken and oppressed, nevertheless be artless and whole. Take strength in God your Lord because you know that God your Lord is with you in your suffering. Do not attempt to project into the future, saying, “I cannot see an end to the darkness,” but simply accept whatever happens to you, and then you will be with God — to be His portion.” (Emphasis added.)
That seemed very meaningful to me, the idea of being mindfully in the present and not trying to see the future, and to see that was seen as having what I would translate as integrity (being “artless and whole”), which is important to me. Whether I can do that is another question. It’s hard when I’m feeling lonely and unlovable and unemployable.
Today I slept a lot. When I was awake, I felt mildly depressed. I did some Torah study and read more of The Siege. I played a game of Rummikub with my parents after seudah (dinner), but didn’t want to play a second game and went off to read.
I’m trying to feel grateful for things like being able to spend time with my parents (and getting on well with them) and not being in lockdown by myself, but it can be hard. I had difficult feelings today, things that were probably vague feelings of anxiety, as well as feelings of sexual frustration that can be triggered by strong negative emotions like anxiety, depression or anger. It is very hard to know what to do with those feelings.