Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"Please, Leave Me Be" -- Murder in Israel - One Rabbi's response...

Yesterday after the murder of the 3 boys in Isreal were confirmed, my thought process went as follows.

1) I can't imagine the horror these boys went through.

2) I can't imagine the horror the parents and families are going through.

3) Then I asked myself what happened to the tens of thousand of teffilos that were said for these children? (Please don't criticize this. You thought this as well. I am just admitting it).

4) Then I thought about the Rabbinic mention of how we need to do Teshuva (repent) for our sins.

5) Then I thought about the conversation that will ensue about the specific sins that may have caused this tragedy (I'm sure homosexuality and gay marriage will surface at some point).

The following message addresses all these points. Not by addressing the questions but by admitting that there are no answers.

What is written belowbrings to us some honesty and bravery from a Rabbi from Passaic, NJ about the murder of the 3 boys in Israel.

A long but worthy read.

"Please, Leave Me Be" -- By Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman

If you are seeking from me words of comfort and consolation you will not find them.

If you are reading this in order for you gain some sort of insightful understanding of the tragic events then I advise you to stop reading.

This missive will not be one of comfort and consolation.

If you are looking at me as the rabbi who undoubtedly has the proper response and is able to theologically articulate and make sense out of the tragedy, then you will be utterly disappointed.

I have no words of comfort.

I offer no consolation.

I have no insight and no comprehension.

I am numbed and I am left wondering and wandering in my grief and my loneliness.

I cannot see the ‘good’ in this and I cannot comprehend the ways of the creator and certainly not of some of His creations.

I cannot and hope to never be able to understand how a human being can murder three innocent human beings with the justification that they are following the word of their (imaginary) ‘god’?

I cannot fathom the level of cruelty and savagery a person must lower themselves to in order to murder a child in cold-blood.

However, alas, it has occurred.

I am angry and I am confused.

I am pained and I am mourning.

I feel lost and alone and abandoned.

The only passuk which comes to my mind is the one said by Iyov (Job) so many years ago:

“If I have sinned, what have I done to You (why does it bother You so much)?

You (Hashem) who have created me, why do you make me the target of your wrath?”

(Iyov 7:20)

I am sorry to disappoint those of you who were searching for answers and consolation in the words of the rabbi; however, I too am human and my heart aches just as yours.

Today I have no answers.

Today I have no comfort.

Today I have no comprehension or insight.

Today I just have tears;

Tears for Naftali, for Gilad and for Eyal

However, most of all I cry for their parents who as they attempt to sleep tonight, they now know that their lives will never be the same.

The laughter of their sons will never return.

All of us will thankfully eventually return back to our normal, mundane lives.

However, for the three parents of the boys they have reached a period of no return.

You may see them next month or next year; you may see them in fifty years; the pain will always be there; the emptiness will never be filled.

Please do not turn to me for answers today.

Please let me be as is; please don’t ask me any questions.

The only questions I feel I can relate to today are the ones asked many years ago by Dovid himself:

“How long, O Lord will You forget me forever?

How long will You hide Your face from me?

How long will I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart by day?

How long will my enemy have the upper hand over me?”

(Tehillim 13:2, 3)

When the answers to these questions become known there will be no more questions which need answering.

May that day arrive soon."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Have you spoken to your child about masturbation?

It might sound like a provocative title to this blog entry, but it isn't. It shouldn't need to be written about. It should be obvious. I don't necessarily agree with all the points in this article but it's a very important conversation to be had. When I grew up I thought that I was the only person in the world that masturbated. I thought I was sick. I felt a burden of guilt so heavy each and every time I went there. I also walked around with a great sense of shame.
All I probably needed was one 5 minute conversation with a parent or teacher/Rabbi to help me understand what I was experiencing and it would have saved me years of guilt, shame and confusion.
My guess is that many of the readers have experienced this on some level.
Let me know your thoughts.

Forward article about masturbation

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Minding the path of change: Love and Wholeness at the Eshel Retreat

Here is a blog post from a guest at last weeks Eshel retreat.

Minding the path of change: Love and Wholeness at the Eshel Retreat: Can you imagine growing up in a family and community where you feel like you have to hide who you really are? Maybe many people have experie...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Eshel Revisited

Today will be the beginning of the Eshel Shabatton where LGBTQ Jews from all different walks of life will get together to show support and love for each other. It is an amazing way to remind ourselves that we are not alone.

Below are links to my posts after last years amazing weekend. This will be my second year. As with Grease 2 and Blues Brothers 2000, its hard to beat the original; I am hoping and confident that this will be my "Dark Knight' or 'Empire Strikes Back'. I will share more about the 2014 experience in weeks to come.

Eshel 2013 - part 1

Eshel 2013 - Part 2

Monday, December 23, 2013

Ambiguous update (But an update nonetheless)

My apologies for the ambiguity of this post. I need to toe the line between bearing my soul and protecting those closest to me.

The last few months have been intense. I have had some amazing highs but some really intense lows. The highs were pretty much tied to one experience that grew in intensity over this period. Even those high's felt short lived as they were laced with complication and confusion. As such, the lows were primarily from the same experience. I have also experienced some lows tied to a number of other personal happenings in my life. The challenges tend to come in bulk for me.

First the high. Connection. When one can share their life with another and have someone to carry their burdens with, it's not just a sharing of the challenge. Rather, the challenges feel diminished. You simply deal. You feel confident. You feel like you can take on the world. You feel like you have ownership of yourself. I felt this at times.

Conversely, when connection is shaky, when your life gets hit by flaky friendships bordering on dishonesty, people who commit and then renig on their commitments, you feel minimized. You feel taken advantage of. You feel weak. Every problem seems to compound. Connection is lost.

The last little bit of my life makes me think of a boxing match. At first you get hit by a jab. You have your hands up trying to protect your face. You may block one or two punches and slow your opponent down. Then you get hit by another jab... and another one. There is blood starting to drip from your nose. Your lip is starting to swell. Next comes an upper cut. Your head starts to spin. You wonder how you got here. You thought you were stronger and up for the fight. You wonder how you ever thought this was a good idea. Your arms get heavy and you start letting your guard down, a layer of sweat escaping your pores. Then comes the left hook. A combination of sweat and blood burst from your face. If you are lucky you hit the ropes on your way down. Either way you end up on the floor while the countdown starts. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4... you struggle trying to get up. The recognition settles in. Your body loses all control as you are painfully humbled. You are down for the count. 3-2-1. You are done.

Every fight you've had seems to come back to you at once. Your heart breaks. You moan and cry. You are lucky to have a small team of trainers that pick you up from the ground. You are still limp though. Your head is playing tricks on you.

You look over and there is your opponent and his team lifting their hands in triumph. With pity in the victors eye, he comes over to mention the obligatory "nice fight". You want to believe the sincerity but as he looks you in the eye you can see him focusing on his next fight. You have a conflicting sense of relief for a moment. Then you again recognize you are beat.

Then there is a moment of clarity....

It may seem like the ones you are boxing are your friends, maybe even your best friend and painfully your family. But when it comes down to it you are battling, sparring and hurting yourself. 

You consider retirement. You want to hang your gloves up. You give it a week or so. You reflect. You tell yourself that there is still a fight in you. You visit your trainer. With a resolve and with the knowledge that there is a lot of pain to come, you say, "I would like to start training once again".

That is where I am at today.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Memo to myself

When I am alone it's okay to feel lonely. 
It doesn't need to be more than that. 
It doesn't mean I will be lonely for the rest of my life. 
It doesn't necessitate action. 
I don't need to remedy the feeling right away. 
It will pass without me doing anything.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

A short prayer

I am a product of my own experiences...

I am prejudiced
I have bias

I am far from objective, and
I will never practice sincere altruism

I project my standards on others, and 
I am clouded by predetermination

As I conveniently succumb to the vision of my ice-cold eye, and worse, I allow my wicked tongue to wander...

I pray with all my heart and soul that the powers of self awareness take over...

and remind me...

Just as I am so pained when being judged by another; 

May I never, ever begin to judge my brother .

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Guest post from a reader... You are not alone

"I am like a eunuch; full of love, hormones and virility, but with nobody to share it with."

I received this anonymously from a reader. I thought it worthy to be posted (with his permission) as this is all too common an experience I witness. While I do receive messages like this all too often, this one was written very well, with class and respect to the reader, Here it is.

Like the creator of this blog, I too am married, frum (religious) .....and gay.

I came across this blog after searching endlessly for some sort of network, some sort of support group, for what I figured must be a problem for a few others out there in the big, wide world as well.

When I finally came across this site, I cried.

The relief that somewhere out there there were others who were going through the same excruciating and hellish path that has been my life, was indescribable.

I ended up making contact with someone on the site - and though we have never met, we regularly catch up, and provide an ear for each other's difficulties.

As cliched as it sounds, the truth is that I knew from very early on that I was not attracted to girls. I had crushes on some of my friends throughout school, and going to Yeshiva was an absolute torment. I came from a real heimishe family, and a very frum kehilla; and exploring and defining my sexuality was a totally foreign concept to me. I refused to recognize that I was created somewhat different to the rest of my peers, only admitting to myself that I had a serious problem which needed sorting out.

I shed copious amounts of tears over the years, beseeching Hashem (God) to hear my pleas and cure my illness. But nothing changed.

I got married and had kids; all the while secretly harboring the real me very deep inside myself, and living life as normally as possible.

But my feelings persisted no matter how hard I tried, I could not change the fact that I was attracted to males and not to females.

Finally, after many difficult years of soul-searching and thinking, I admitted to myself something I'd not allowed myself to think until that moment ........I was Gay. There was no escaping it, no getting away from it.

Instead of davening (praying) for a cure, which obviously was not going to happen, I had to change my tune entirely. I had to accept that this was the way Hashem created me, for reasons only known to him, and that I now needed His help to guide me through this difficult and rocky terrain.

But one question I didn't have an answer for, and nor do I today - is why Hashem would put me in such a compromised position and give me the nisayon (challenge) of homosexuality, while at the same time decreeing it an abomination and unacceptable.

A number of years have passed since that revelation, all of them difficult. While on the outside I live a normal, happy life, inside I am crushed. Each and every day is a struggle. There is no permissible outlet for people like me. There is no physical relief offered for all my emotion and frustration to be poured into. I am like a eunuch; full of love, hormones and virility, but with nobody to share it with. My life is a lonely one, one in which I tread a singular path not knowing whether the man davening next to me, or the one learning across the table from me, is similarly afflicted or not. And there is no way for me to find that out, to share my struggles with a fellow sufferer in my vicinity.

So I reach out to all of you, with the hope that we can become both family and friend, and help each other navigate the supremely difficult path of being a frum, gay, yid.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Live to Love

I was getting frustrated that my iPhone has been constantly auto correcting the word 'live' to 'love'.

Then it dawned on me as to what a powerful correction it actually is.