First, I had a bit of a mini spiritual crisis during shacharit (morning prayer services) this morning. It went something like this:
"I don't feel like davening (praying). Like, I really don't want to be here right now. This has happened before this summer, but never when I'm actually at yeshiva for services. That's frustrating. Maybe it means I won't be able to keep up the habit of davening every day once yeshiva is over. Wait, why do I want to do that anyway? Why is that important? I'm pretty sure the G-d I believe in is not a G-d I conceive of as having a personal relationship with me, as caring whether I daven. So why am I doing it? I mean, I keep Shabbat and kashrut because I find meaning in them and I like the communal aspects of them, but if davening isn't doing that for me, what's the point? Hey, cool, I'm actually thinking critically about this stuff! Maybe I no longer need to worry that my Jewish practice is based on a house-of-cards of rote behavior, doing things that are fun, and having some vague notion of being obligated that I haven't engaged with critically! Wait, no, that's not true at all. This 'crisis' isn't at all as severe as what my friends mean when they say things like 'I'm angry at G-d'. And I think if I do seriously question my conceptions of obligation and commandedness, then the whole thing might actually come crumbling down. And I don't feel like I'm really in a position where I need to risk that now. I'll get over this by tomorrow. Nevermind. Man, I'm jealous of my friends who are able to have actual spiritual crises; it means they're actually getting to the heart of what they believe and why."
And it won't even take until tomorrow. I had a nice chat with a faculty member who gave me some new frameworks for thinking about daily davening, based on the little I told him about the conception of G-d I have. And I think it helped. So that was nice.
The second interesting thing started out as a purely sad thing. One of the fellows in my program, S, an Israeli, found out that her grandparent passed away today. She wasn't at yeshiva today, but another fellow announced this to the community. The friend said that S had two choices: to stay in New York and not be with her family during this difficult time, or change her return trip to Israel to leave immediately, mourn with her family, and not return to yeshiva. The friend wanted to present S a third choice: If we all contributed $35, we could buy her a round-trip ticket to Israel, enabling her to both spend time with her family and finish out the summer at yeshiva.
I thought this was, to put it mildly, a long shot. But then, a couple of announcements later, they said it happened. The friend who made the announcement bought S a ticket (presumably footing a not-insignificant amount of the balance herself), and there were hundreds of dollars donated (and still more coming in). S is flying out tonight, and will be back next week.
And suddenly, this was a turning point in the summer for me. There are only 2 and a half weeks left, but what we have for those last days is a real community, not just a collection of people together for the summer. And a quite impressive community it is. This one incident will completely change how I look back on the summer.
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