Monthly Archives: January 2015

Show a rabbi your underwear

“Show a rabbi your underwear.”

To most people this would be absurd, however for ultra orthodox Jewish women this is a normal part of life. The laws of intimacy in judaism require a married woman to have no physical contact from their husband for two weeks of every month if they are menstruating. One week is the week of their period and the second week is 7 days of non bleeding. A ultra orthodox woman may not abstain from having sexual relations with their husband for longer than the necessary. Therefore as soon as they stop bleeding they must start counting the 7 days of non bleeding.

During these 7 days when they don’t have their period, these women are supposed to wear white underwear to make sure that no blood comes out. If a discharge that is not white is found on their underwear they must show their underwear to a rabbi to find out if they can continue the countdown or if they must wait again.

Ultra orthodox people argue that this is just like going to a Dr. They say the rabbi’s are used to seeing these intimate items of clothing. I would never send my underwear to my GP, or even my gynocologist. If I was worried about something I may make an appointment and describe what I am worried about, but I would not be sending my dirty, blood stained underwear to anyone- let alone a rabbi.

To me this is personal. To me whether I am bleeding or not is personal. My relationship between me and my husband is personal. When and if we choose to have sexual interactions is a mutual decision between us alone. It is not a threesome with a rabbi or anyone else. We do not choose to have sexual relations just because its 7 days after I had my period. It is not a date marked down in our calendar. I feel so so sorry for the ultra orthodox women who have to go through this. I feel so so sorry that they do not get to have a healthy normal touch from their husband for half of every month.

On what level is this at all normal? You would not abstain from touching anyone else that you love for two weeks every month. Yet they are told to not touch, hug, kiss the person who they are meant to love the most. Even if they can’t have sex during these two weeks. Why are they taught that all touching leads to sex? Why can’t they just enjoy a normal hug with no sex involved?

The extreme ultra orthodox do not even pass objects to each other as they may accidentally touch their spouse and have sex when they’re forbidden to. Then to take this further the ultra orthodox never pass objects to each other in public at all so that no one knows when they are touching or not.

Its so sad that these people are brainwashed to keep these ridiculous laws. Its so sad that these people are not allowed to touch the ones they love most.

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what makes a good person

Growing up in an ultra orthodox environment I was taught that a good person is one who davens (prays) everyday, dresses according to jewish law, eats kosher food, runs to put teffilin on people etc.

I failed to learn that looks and appearances mean nothing when it comes to a good person. A parent who ignores their crying child cos they are too busy davening is not a good person. A person who ignores another person because they are too busy serving god is not a good person.

If there is a god and if he is as great as the religious ones make him out to be, surely he will understand if a person has to stop davening or keeping the sabbath or other commandments to help another person. People come first. God can wait. God will understand but a person who has a real need will not understand and can not wait.

One of the main reasons that I became frumless is because I found that my priorities were wrong. I would see parents fasting and then being horrible to their children, people would question if they could call an ambulance for an injured person on sabbath. There were questions where there should not be questions.  I decided to drop all the commandments and just focus on being a healthy, happy and kind person.

To be a good person is all that matters to me. When you don’t have all the commandments blurring your view of right and wrong it’s easy to be a good person.

True freedom

For me being frumless is being free. I am free from worrying about what I am supposed to be doing. I am free to use my own common sense to make my own choices.  I do not need to ask a rabbi what food I can eat, which places I can enter, which days I can work, If I can use contraception, if I can have sexual relations with my husband and much much more.

I feel truly free to use my own brains to make these decisions.  A common argument made by ultra orthodox jews as to why they can’t make these choices on their own and must ask a rabbis advice is “the nazis used their own brains”.

 

My answer to this argument is the nazis did not use their own brains or common sense. They all followed one leader. They did not question Hitler,  they did not use their common sense to think whether what their leader was doing was reasonable. They did as they were told.

 

This is not freedom. Freedom is being able to use your own brain to make your own choices. Freedom is not having to ask a rabbi for every little aspect of your life. Freedom is choosing what you do in life and accepting the outcome of your actions. Freedom is living a frumless life.

All or Nothing

I once saw a jewish Dr who was surprised that I came from such a frum background. The Dr said to me “It amazes me how many of my patients are from a frum background and they give it all up. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground.”
I thought about his comment and I explained to him that we are brought up to either do everything right or not do it at all. We are taught that if you want to fast on Yom Kippur you can’t put anything in your mouth. If you even sip one sip of water (without a rabbis permission) then your fast isn’t counted. So you may as well eat a burger too.

If you switch on a light on the sabbath, then you have desecrated the  sabbath so you may as well drive your car too. Don’t bother lighting Shabbat candles if you can’t do it on time. Then you are desecrating the sabbath and there is not point. If you eat a piece of non kosher bread you may as well be eating non kosher meat too.I could go on forever, but I think you get the idea.

Having gone to an ultra orthodox school and after being brought up in an ultra orthodox home, I knew that there is no middle way. You either do it all or don’t bother doing anything. If you struggle to keep all the commandments then you may as well drop them entirely. You can’t half keep a commandment.

When I met my amazing husband he showed me a whole new approach to judaism. My husbands family “keep kosher” by refraining from eating pork and shellfish, everything else is fine. My husband will fast as best as he can on Yom Kippur. On friday night they have beautiful meals, where everyone is in jeans and drives and they light candles at any time they choose to have the meal. It’s so enjoyable, as there is no rigid time restrictions, we don’t need to live as though we are in the old ages, we can be ourselves and have a beautiful family meal.

All of these ways of keeping judaism were totally foreign to me. I did not know that people kept judaism in such a form. I knew that there was liberal jews and conservative jews but I never heard of these type of jews. I have to say that although I enjoyed all the shabbat meals with my husband, it never meant anything to me spiritually. It has been so engrained in me that the right way to keep the sabbath is to not use electricity, no mobile phones, definitely no driving and the meal had to be at a certain time after sunset. Therefore although friday night meals had a deep spiritual aspect to my husband, it was a time where they made a bracha for challa and benshed after the meal, due to my extreme religious upbringing this meant nothing to me.

I think its such a pity that there is no middle ground. That ultra orthodox jews who can’t cope with all the rigid rules of the religion are not given any other options. Many who can’t keep all the commandments just give it all up, or put on a show cos they are too embarrassed to not keep it publicly.

Teenagers who can’t keep all the laws are thrown out of their homes or sent overseas to try to “fix them” and force them into keeping all the commandments. For any one who is brought up in the Frum lifestyle there are no shades of grey, its just black or white.

For someone who is being “mekareved” (being brought closer to ultra orthodox judaism), it is totally acceptable for them to keep as much or as little as they can. They are praised for every little part of a commandment that they keep. They are invited to shabbat meals even if they drive and don’t dress modestly. They are praised for buying kosher meat even if they cook it in non kosher pots.

Meanwhile someone from an ultra orthodox background who is keeping commandments at a similar level is usually shunned from their family and community, while their parents are usually welcoming strangers into their home to try and “mekarev” them.

This common phenomenon saddens me deeply. Shouldn’t family come first? Shouldn’t these parents praise their own children the same way they would praise a stranger who is from a non religious background? Isn’t there more to a person than what commandments they appear to keep? Why can’t frum people see that not everyone can cope with so many rigid rules? Why can’t frum people give ultra orthodox jews who don’t want to keep everything some middle path? Why are ultra orthodox jews being brought up with an all or nothing mentality?

From frum to frumless

A reader sent me this post I thought I should share their frumless experience.

On my way to becoming frumless I encountered many conflicting situations. The first time I went to McDonald’s, besides expecting lightning to strike me down as I had my first bite, there are so many questions. Does one wash their hands for a Big Mac even though the bread is not kosher? Does one bentsch? Just because I am doing the sin of eating non kosher, should I also sin by not making a beracha or bentsching? Should I take off my kippah or is that another sin? Can someone please ask a rabbi?

I still feel guilty when I don’t make a beracha on my bacon and egg roll, why should one sin lead to another?

Also what is less of a sin, marrying a non Jew or living with a non Jew out of marriage? Either way I’m guilty! Also does one make a beracha for Besamim when one smells an aromatic fart?

What is frumless?

For a long time I struggled with finding my way in life. The Jewish ultra orthodox (frum) way of life which I grew up with did not sit right with me. I struggled to find the beauty and meaning with it. I struggled to live a life with all the rigid rules that come with being an orthodox jew.

For a long time I felt ashamed that I felt this way. I felt ashamed that I did not keep kosher or shabbos.  I tried to hide my lifestyle and  essentially felt as though I was living a double life.

Today I am proudly frumless. I found the peace and meaning in life without religion. I am content and happy with my life choices and I would love to share the benefits of my lifestyle with others who are interested or are also considering becoming frumless.

I want to state clearly that I have nothing against the followers of Judaism. My best friends and some family members are deeply religious. It’s the religion which doesn’t suit me. I love the people they are good, kind hearted, loving and caring people- well mostly.

Follow me if you want to find the secret to having a meaningful and easy, frumless life.