כי לא מחשבותי מחשבותיכם

כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם, וְלֹא דַרְכֵיכֶם דְּרָכָי

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

On Being Nistar

When we were small and still believed in fairy tales, we were told that there were 36 hidden tzaddikim in every generation, people that upheld the world through their righteousness. I wasn't sure what they had to hide from...after all, there were no sexy billboards at the time of the Gemora and there were no untznius stockings to be assered?

But sinners also hide. I have to live my life a lie. To the outside world, I am a frum father of two, who wears a black-velvet yarmulka and who has his weekly shiur, a chevrusah and who functions regularly as a chazan in some smaller shuls. But on the inside, the real me has lost his faith. Faith in the God of our forefathers Avraham, Yitzchok and Yakov. Faith in the Rabbis, who were the embodiment of holiness and something to look up to. I lost the mysticism in learning, the neshomma in my davvening.

So why do I keep living a lie? Because I stand to lose almost everything.

Coming out may jeopardize my marriage. Not that it is a great marriage, but we respect each other and have two kids whom I dearly love. I could not live being separated from my boys.

Also, I couldn't handle a divorce financially. We are coping at the moment, but if we would have to live in separate apartments and if I have to pay alimony, I would meet the end sooner than I would make ends meet.

I am also scared for my parents whom i know would react emotionally rather than with their minds. My brother is going through a hell of a marriage, which already puts great pressure on them psychologically and financially. My grandfather perished in WWII and he left my grandmother a letter that the fetus in her stomach should give his or her children a Jewish education. This would be the proverbial straw to break the camel's back.

And I am scared of confrontation. Always been. As a young child, I would always have to be the harmonizer at home, since my brother caused a lot of trouble and who was a difficult child.

I just don't have the balls, the internal stamina to confront the whole outside world, including my community. And I am not ready to rock the boat.

Yes, this is depressing me. But I also have a very strong side. I am stubborn. I know that if I take things slowly, perhaps one day I will be able to handle things better. Perhaps slowly but surely my environment will learn about my changing attitudes and beliefs. The more I learn about the truth, the stronger I feel. The more I think about the 'other side', the more I can morph into my true self.

But it takes time to confront oneself, to be clear about one's beliefs and convictions. During this time, I will have to life the lie.

So I chose to remain a nistar, an undercover kofer. I am grateful to you, my readers and online support, to help this loneliness dissipate, one post at a time, one comment at a time.

11 comments:

  1. keep writing. aleh v'hatzlach.

    "And there's a million of us just like me
    who cuss like me; who just don't give a f**k like me who dress like me; walk, talk and act like me"

    azoi zogt slim shady

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  2. Yeah, keep writing. You're helping people in ways you might never know.

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  3. Great blog.

    Maybe you can slowly convince your wife that the orthodox way is not the only way to live. She might surprise you and also have hidden doubts about the O.J. way of life.

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  4. Or maybe there's just a way you can be chilled out Orthodox. We consider ourselves MO, my husband doesn't have a chavrusah and a shiur, and actually, doesn't even daven every day. But he goes to shul every Shabbat, keeps kosher, wears a kippah and in all other respects, is Orthodox. He's not a big believer either, but he wants to be part of the community, nonetheless (also from his parents).

    This was a really powerful post. I think your marriage could improve if you had more honesty and real communication between you and your wife. Being nistar your true self is a real marriage killer. If you feel you're stuck in this marriage, don't you owe it to both of you and your kids to give it a real shot?

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  5. I can only imagine what you're going through -- I was lucky enough to go OTD before getting married and I still don't have kids. I'm sorry you're in that situation.

    To echo the post before me, I can't imagine hiding such a big secret from your wife is healthy, but what do I know?

    Also, there are degrees of disclosure. For example, I told my parents "I don't believe" and they know I'm not religious but I don't elaborate and say "I don't believe that God even exists." I don't hide the fact that I eat non-kosher and violate shabbos, but I don't call them up to rave about the calamari I had the other night either.

    Maybe you can start to feel out your wife's reaction with small things. What if you just stopped going to shiur? Who's making you be a chazzan? Or go to shul, even? Sure, people will ask, but you don't have to tell them more than you want to. Just slide gradually into lax modern Orthodoxy, maybe.

    One of the OTD bloggers finally told his wife and I think it worked out better than he'd imagined it would... I just wish I could remember who or where that post was for you.

    Best of luck!

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  6. JA: I think it was this post.
    http://frustratedorthojew.blogspot.com/2009/08/when-hits-fan.html

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  7. Hang in there, little krepl; one day at a time. Wonders will never cease. My father recently drank the Carlebachian Kool-Aid and came out to the whole family preaching we are one and it's important to have good ethics and morals and be accepting of each other, regardless of our individual observance levels, because we are a family, etc. Gee, I wish he had said that when I was half my age, would've saved me a lot of heartache, but better late than later, right? I didn't take that moment to ask if I could now chat with him about my non-Jewish boyfriend who died a year ago. It sucks that it took another family member being so sick for him to realize all of this; I should really thank her.

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  8. Mazal tov on the new blog and thanks for this post.

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  9. Thanks for all the kind comments and encouragement! I wished the anonymous writers could connect to me somehow as well.

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  10. SB: I was never called 'Krepl' before. I guess it's better than a piece of crap. Did you mean 'kreplach'?

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