Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Begininngs of Doubt

Today, I'm more or less and agnostic.  I don't believe that the Torah is true.  I know that most of it can't be true. I know that there is no intellectual basis for belief in a God.  I understand the gross lack of morals and ethics within religion in general and Charedism in particular. beginnings 

But at age 29, I was a Kollel Yungerman.  In fact, I was considered from the top guys in my Kollel.  Friends of mine regularly asked me to say shiurim for them, especially shmuessen in Avodas Hashem and chizuk.

Around November time, I had to do some work on the computer which I needed to email afterwards to someone.  A nice, quiet place to work was my Kollel's office, which had an unfiltered internet connection (of course, blame the internet ;) ).

I remember checking out the Coffee Room forum on Yeshiva World News.  There was a discussion about going off the derech and coming back.  Guys who had come back were writing their experiences.

There was one woman who wrote something which shocked me.  She wrote something to the effect that although everyone always says that frum people are the happiest and one can't possibly be happy if you're not frum, she is today not frum anymore and has never been happier.

I was surprised.  I believed, at that point, exactly as she said:  Only frum people can possibly be happy.  I couldn't imagine how someone could possibly be happy if he wasn't living for an eternal purpose.  How can she be happy?

Of course, there's that knee-jerk reaction that frum people have, who says that she's being honest, maybe she's fooling herself.  Does she even know what it means to be happy?  Maybe she's happier now because she wasn't frum in the proper way, but if she were to be frum the right way....

But I have an interesting characteristic.  I take people at face value.  I assume that, at least on some level, people mean what they say.  Subjectively, this woman claims that she is happier today. At least on some level, she must be. 

A couple days later, out of curiosity and boredom, I typed in "Off the Derech" into Google. Up popped a few of the infamous OTD blogs.  I skimmed through one or two.  I don't remember being very impressed with its contents.

But I decided to write an email to its author.

Here is what I wrote to him, with editing out some details which would give me away: 

Hi. I saw your off the derech blog. Let me introduce myself. I'm not here to "argue" etc., just I'm looking for a friend with which to discuss this topic openly, but not in the comments of an everyone-sees blog.

I'm an FFB, 29, married, officially in Kollel, with 3.5 kids. But in between there's a long story.

I was convinced growing up that Yiddishkeit was true, and I've discovered hashkafa seforim,  that presented me with a world view which put all my "struggles" into somewhat of a perspective. 

I didn't really have the patience to read all the way through your blog, but I understand that the perception of God which you were taught is a rather negative, menacing one. I learnt of a loving, understanding God. I'd be curious to discuss that with you.

I'm looking for a friend. Someone who won't be afraid to seriously consider all sides of the issue with me, and with whom I won't be embarrassed to discuss the issues with. I don't really care who it is, and how religious you are etc.,or any one else you might know who might be interested in writing or talking. I just care that you should be open minded to discuss even the pro- side of the matter in different ways also, not just an argument trying to convince each other etc.

I'd appreciate if you'd get back to me. 

Looking back, I can't believe I wrote that. It looks like a trolling Kiruv worker wrote that!

Well, he responded, and we ended up writing back and forth for a few months.  I'll get to that in my next posts.


  1. "Blame the Internet..." of course...
    Great start! Cant wait to read the rest!
    You must tell me who this blogger is.
    And even though we know each other so well, I do feel like you - in so many ways we are alone. :(

  2. So which blogs were they? So curious.

    A kollel guy, huh. You were in so much deeper than I was. It was the internet that tipped things for me, too. I was always a skeptic, but I also really believed in a lot of yiddishkeit. Then I discovered the blogosphere, I discovered intelligent answers to many of the questions I'd had, and that there were other people out there who agreed with what I'd been thinking for so long, and very quickly lost the bits of religiosity that I'd been clinging to.

    Anyway, welcome to the club. :)