Sunday, May 15, 2005

A Jewish blogger speaks: What am I doing here, literally?

A few posts back, I mentioned that I’d spent six hours in the hospital waiting room with one of my girlfriends during Chol HaMoed Pesach (the “intermediate days,” when one is permitted to travel and to work, of Passover), distracting her while her husband underwent six hours of open-heart surgery. (He’s recovering nicely, baruch haShem/praise G-d). As you can imagine, with six hours to kill, we talked about nearly everything under the sun—husbands, children, parents, friends, careers, our own fortunately-relatively-minor health problems, Pesach and the sedarim. (Picture two bareheaded, pants-wearing women sitting in a hospital waiting room conducting a serious discussion of the haggadah, complete with commentary on the phrase “at p’tach lo” and two completely different possible natural explanations of the ten plagues [each of which can be interpreted as being with or without benefit of “etzba kelokim,” the finger of G-d], and you can well imagine why most of the black-hatted Orthodox men who dropped by the waiting room also walked out in short order. But, as Rabbi Shlomo Riskin said in his haggadah, the real problem child is not the so-called “rasha,” or wicked child, but the child who doesn’t even attend a seder. We may be apikorsot—heretics—but at least we’re still there.)

To make a long story short, I succeeded very easily in keeping my girlfriend distracted for six hours. Do you get the feeling that I like to talk? :)

It was at just about the same time that I told my husband that blogging had become my hobby. When I first discovered the Internet in the late 90s, I made the rounds for a while, trying to determine where I fit. I discovered quickly that chat rooms were not for me—the chat was way too superficial to be of any interest. Message boards, on the other hand, were another matter entirely. I could actually conduct a serious and thoughful discussion on the message boards. I was hooked! Then, early last year, I discovered the phenomenon called blogging through an article published in the New York Jewish Week, “Inside the expanding universe of Jewish blogs,” by Debra Nussbaum Cohen. Slowly but surely, I started checking out some blogs. I even started a secular personal blog, to which I posted exactly once before deciding that it wasn’t for me. The problem was that I needed a structure, something specific to discuss, as I’d had on the various televised-science-fiction message boards. By August, I’d decided to take the plunge and start a “religion” blog.

I’ve had nothing but surprises as a blogger.

For openers, between those who comment on this blog, and all the blogs that I at least try to read, I’ve “met” some very interesting people whom I would never have encountered in real life. Some are too far from me in terms of distance. Others are “too far” from me in terms of “haskafah” (approach), a neat word that I learned while making the rounds of the Jewish blogs. In real life, most of my Jewish friends are to the left of Orthodox and to the right of secular, mostly Conservative Jews. Here, I’ve had the privilege of encountering many fine folks who are fighting the good fight to preserve what’s left of Modern Orthodox Judaism, as well as many who, like me, take their Judaism seriously, but not necessarily literally. Left, right, and center, (and various combinations of the aforementioned), Jews by birth and Jews by Choice, along with the occasional Christian, have dropped in to leave comments.

I’m also catching up on some of my missing Jewish education. I’ve learned new Hebrew words and new Jewish concepts here. I'm currently getting an education in contemporary Jewish rock music. (Check this out: This man plays a mean bass .)

Probably the biggest surprise to me is the turn that my blog has taken. I started out writing about Judaism almost exclusively. To be honest, I’m almost taken aback at how personal my blog has become. First, I started complaining about being “between jobs” and being passed over for permanent employment. Next thing I knew, inspired by Z’s posts on raising a child with autism (see, I’d “come out of the closet” as the mother of a child with disabilities, and had written a ten-post series on the subject of raising such a kid. I’ve blogged about the health problems of my husband, son, and sister. I’ve griped about feeling abandoned after my parents made aliyah. Inspired by Nice Jewish Girl (see, I’ve even written a few posts about “illicit” desire, something that I never thought I could discuss in “public” in a million years. Blogging under a pseudonym has freed me to write things that I never would have written if there were more than maybe a dozen or so people on earth who knew my real identity.

One of my long-standing jokes about my husband and me is that I do the talking for both of us. When my husband has something to say, it’s often very much worth listening to, but he’s not terribly talkative by nature. The message boards gave me a place where I could hold a serious and intelligent discussion on a more frequent basis. This blog opens up the conversation—I can discuss a much broader range of topics here. I am very pleased to have an opportunity for intellectual stimulation. I just love an intelligent conversation. Thank you for joining in that conversation with me.


Blogger Mattie Wiseman said...

what does that mean...?
it a person takes being jewish seriously, then he must take it 'literally' in some respects.

ex. if you believe u r jewish u must believe moshe recieved the torah for us on har sinai. t/4 the belief should follow that since it's from g-d it should be followed.
the Torah is from Hashem-that's why you can validly say 'i am special, i am a jew'.
it says in the Torah: do not add and do not take away from my laws.
t/4 by saying u r a jew u r admitting we were told to follow the Torah-which dictates women cannot lead a minyan and we may not drive to shul on shabbat.
i'm sorry i don't mean in any way to appear snide or anything, i'm just interested in discussing this. like, what you mean when u say seriously not literally and what is it that makes u conservative etc. i really am interested it'd be awesome if you were too.
you can contact me:
mattiewiseman at gmail!

Wed Jul 29, 11:53:00 PM 2009  
Anonymous Caverta Online said...

very nice post

Thu Jun 24, 02:42:00 PM 2010  

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