Spiritual Self Determination
Posted by Henric C. Jensen on August 28, 2007
I remember when I was 15 I was getting a ride to Yeshivah with a family friend who had just become frum. He was asking me different questions about what Yeshiva is like because he was thinking about going to a BT Yeshiva. I will never forget that gleam in his eye. When he talked about his spirituality and how he wanted to learn more and become more, there was just something in his eyes. It was like he just “knew” what he wanted. He just “felt it” on a level that I feared I would never experience.
In some ways I guess the experience of the Baal Teshuvah and the convert is very much similar. I remember the blank stare I got from my JBB friends when I wanted to discuss Torah or had some amazing discovery to share, with what I thought were spiritually attuned people, after all they were Jews, weren’t they?
I remember the disapointment over the fact that Pesach and Channukah, Weekly Parasha study simply didn’t resonate with my Modern Orthodox/Conservative friends the same way it did with me. I also remember how lonely I felt. I had all this new and wonderful knowledge, understanding, and no-one to share it with on a more regular basis.
It’s still there, the yearning, the wonderment, but I have learned to hide it, because sharing it hurts. In one way it’s nice that I am homebound, because that way I don’t have to face the blank stares or the incomprehension of my enthusiasm, spiritual vigor and joy straight on. I can just be Jewish to my hearts content where I am.