Thursday, March 18, 2004

Freedom of Choice

I can’t say I have respect for all the Rabbis I know. There is one though whom I met on the Internet. A highly unconventional man in a suave and sophisticated way he is a kind of Rabbi 007, of the Scottish variety (of coursh).

He is the man who decided my fate some years ago, though I doubt he knows it. I met him when we both contributed to some forum or other and he disagreed with a viewpoint of mine. In an acrimonious exchange of e-mails we discovered that we lived close to each other and arranged to meet. He did not expect to see a Chassid any more than I expected a stubbly shaven Gentleman Rabbi who could tell dirty jokes, and name-drop royalty between his quotes of Gemarra and Kabbalistic monologues.

We became pretty friendly and he introduced me into his group of intellectual friends. It was from his, mostly irreligious, friends that I learned to love philosophy and good music. And to appreciate the beauty in the knowledge I had accrued that had lost its sparkle. Not to mention the delights of the amber gold single-malt he taught me to drink. I was thus lucky enough to find a mentor who could show me a quality life outside of Chassidimgrad. I had stopped believing in much when I was 18 and had for a couple of years tried the bohemian life as I saw it then.

Looking, looking at Goylife through the Yeshiva windows, it seems a pretty simple affair. Wake up in the morning, send home whoever you were with and promise to call. Then slip on a pair of Jeans and a t-shirt and off you go for a new day of hunting. It took me a couple of years to discover that dreams are Universal and that’s just what Universal Studios sells. I’d never stopped wearing the chassididc garb so it was relatively easy to return when I realised I was not really equipped to make a better life out there.

I met Rabbi James Years later when I was already married and back in London. I was going through a rough patch and was really fed up. He advised me to take off my Kappel if that’s what I wanted. And he said that that was what God wanted if I did. That was when I decided I did not want to. It seems that all I had ever wanted was the right to choose.

You can all thank him that this blog is not fan site for the Grateful Dead.

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