Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Everywhere and Nowhere

Is it possible for a person to be both everywhere and nowhere at the same time? In a conversation where hashkafa came up, I found it very difficult to say where I stood on anything. I was raised in a Modern Orthodox home, but I understand a lot of more right-wing ideas. I am not Yeshivish, but at the same time, I'm more right-wing than I used to be. So where am I? Of course, it's impossible to put anyone into a box, but even on certain issues which require an opinion, I find it hard to give one.

What do I think about a co-ed environment? Well, I don't know. I understand that it's hard for a co-ed relationship to stay platonic and I totally understand why people would say they don't believe in co-ed, but I also understand the viewpoint that it's somewhat unnatural for guys and girls not to interact at all outside of the dating world. I mean, even blogging is co-ed and I'm alright with that, so does that mean I'm alright with co-ed?

Do I watch TV? I don't know. I hardly ever do but that's more because I'm just uninterested/think TV is a huge waste of time. Do I think there is something religiously wrong about watching TV? I...don't know? I don't think so, but would I care if I grew to believe there was? Maybe not? Maybe?

Do I believe in the Shidduch system? No? Yes? Somewhat? Somewhat not?

I can provide valid reasoning for all sides of these and other issues and because of that, it's hard for me to choose one of these sides. I can find myself agreeing with everyone! Sure, there are certain issues I am passionately opinionated about (like shomer negiah, for example), but a lot of them...I'm still struggling to form my opinion. But how can I ever know which is the right way to go? So many of my beliefs are not real beliefs but are more influences based on who I'm around. I know I've been feeling a subtle shift to the right once I started Stern, especially once I became very close with girls who are more right-wing than I am (I think?). The problem is, I don't know where I am anymore. I'm everywhere, I'm nowhere, I'm floating around in some other plane of existence where I'm somehow outside of everyone else and looking in and observing and agreeing with more than one way of life and not finding anywhere where I belong.


Princess said...

I think that to some degree it's a good thing that you're not sure where you stand on a lot of these issues. It means that you're thinking about these things and questioning them instead of just doing what you're told or believing what you've been told to believe. Unfortunately, many people just believe what they're told to believe without questioning it, and that can become a big problem, especially when faced wwith something that disagrees with what you believe in.
I think it's definitely okay to be both nowhere and everywhere, as long as you got there by thinking and you continue to think while you're there.

Josh M. said...

I believe that there are many people of our generation who feel this way, who are passionate about following halacha but are uncertain whether some of the syagim that have developed within certain communities are an optimal form of Torah-true Judaism.

The only suggestion I can make is to continue to meet as many intelligent and committed people from as many different backgrounds and communities as you can. It probably won't help you decide where exactly you fit (and may confuse you even further - I know it has me), but at least it will assure you that there can be multiple correct answers to your quandaries.

SJ said...

Being able to understand multiple perspectives is valuable and important. You will need to make choices for your own life eventually, but even then it is vital to keep thinking about these issues. As you well know, life is rarely black and white. Living in the gray can be challenging, but ultimately, I believe that it is a truer and more honest existence.

SaraK said...

What the previous commenters have said... Just want to add that you shouldn't feel like you have to put yourself in a box. You don't need a one-word, yes or no answer to major questions like how you feel about TV or co-ed environments. Continue to question and think and come up with your own comfort level in Judaism.

Ezzie said...

I have very little to add to the above comments. Find out where you're comfortable within the right parameters, that's basically what it comes down to.

Liz said...

Well, everyone has made all the intelligent comments already, so I will not repeat them, even if they bear repeating.
The Rambam says that we never give psak on hashkafa and he says that for a reason. Because a lot of these ideas are not yes-or-no answers, but a reflection of an attitude towards the underlying issues. And it's possible that you might never figure out exactly how you feel about co-ed environments, for example, and that's okay. The beauty of Judaism is that it has room for this ambivalence.

G said...


Try this...

Take each situation individualy...see what everyone else is doing...then do the opposite

I call it the Vegas Principle ;-)