The first post was typed up while chatting to a friend I have been talking to a while already. She helped me with the name of the blog (I wanted something to resemble the 'machanie'im books' “der roov der ba'al agooleh”, “der kamtzen der noodiv” etc.), my nickname (which came right after we discussed what a “shtreimel” is), and after a few pitiful tries also taught me some basic English lessons I must have missed in school. At that point it had only one reader.
The second post, the first one with substance set the tone for what I was going to be, the bad boy of blogsphere. Of course it wasn't on my mind then but writing thoughts down, things I do, makes me think it over twice, as to why and how. Just a year or two before that post I wrote to the now defunct “Yoshev Al Hageder”, a plainspoken Israeli Charedi who, as him name suggests doesn't belong to any camp but sits on the gate ready to fall down either way. The email was short, perhaps a one liner “Are you planning on fasting this Yom Kippur?”. I've read his rants, knew perfectly what he meant, as I've had doubts of my own surfing in my head questioning everything I always believed in, but never found the guts to take it to the next level. I even had a hard time believing that someone else had the guts to do it. His answer, shorter than my question affirmed what I had hoped he would say. “Why should I fast?” or something like that was his answer (before Gmail, there was AOL with their policy of erasing emails after 7 days or so. Oy, what I would give to recover my innocence of those days.).
The third time I wrote on the blog I got some responses, both, comments, and emails. People found me, found what I wrote to be significant enough to respond, and to be honest, quite shockingly, significant enough to re-visit.
Then things got rolling, I got noticed, requested links to my blog by the gedoilim. More people emailed, commented, and debated than I ever imagined. In no time this blog business consumed me, it was on my mind constantly. I can't complain, times were good. I confirmed what I had suspected, I'm not the only one, I'm not even one in a thousand!
That was 5 years ago.
Now when the hate mail is too occasional to excite, the comments on posts as few and far between as are the posts itself, when googling “shtreimel” doesn't bring up this blog on top, when I'm conveniently mentioned in the list of former glory I can reflect on the changes these years have brought in me.
I'm missing the hindsight I may eventually have to be able to summarize the last 5 years fully, yet, there's plenty I can see this moment. I know I have matured with 5 years, especially with my main concerns of then. The questions I naively sought an honest answer I find unanswerable at the very best – sometimes I even think that I have the answer, and it isn't a fun answer for someone living in this community. But more than that is the change in attitude from “something must change, this cannot go on” to “living a double life isn't so hard at all”.
It isn't as hard as I thought it to be. Surprisingly most frum people care so little, or are so occupied with saving their own house of cards that one can be suspiciously heretical but still count as a tzenter – a tenth person required in a quorum of Jewish prayer. There is comfort in the status quo. People may find me hypocritical as if anyone asks me I advise to get up and leave before the comfort sets in, but once the comfort is there it's not as bad and monstrous as I thought it will be. I often wonder why I still hold by this advise, telling myself that not everyone is built for this kind of double life.
Analyzing the last 5 years leaves me with one question: what next?
If I get to write the answer I'd have it similar to the last 5. As long as it works it is fine by me.
Alas, as luck may have it, just when I come to terms with living this life, just when I think that this may be me for the rest of my days, something may happen to turn things on it's head. Someone may be ticked off, someone who couldn't care less until today. It may be a good thing for me, for everyone around me, it may not.
Time will tell. Hope to report back in 5 years. And also at times in between, even though I don't have much to say.
Gmar Chasima Tovah Ya'll.
4 days ago