I am not about to make this blog into a serious blog: However I decided to do a serious follow up post to the shomer negia post.
If you do not keep shomer negia, are you frum? What if you do not follow other halachos and miztvos? What does frum really mean these days anyway? I think the last post really touched on a lot of these issues, many other bloggers (my buddy Jacob has one) have taken this issue to task- especially with the present day frum communities external features trumping the internal. I will also attempt to throw in my two cents on how the shomer negia issue and others can be breached while people still consider themselves to be frum.
I personally know a ton of people who consider themselves frum and do not keep negia. In fact one of my friends said that he brings condoms with his to singles shabbatons because he does not trust himself- is this not frum- he considers himself the type who tries to hold back but sometimes falls into the “shomer until opportunity” crowd. It sounds horrible doesn’t it? But the more I thought about it, the more I cam to the conclusion that almost everyone breaches halachos and doesn’t do everything they should and know 100% that it is wrong. First let me tell you my issues and why I still consider myself frum.
I was thinking about all the things I do that are against halacha and while I know they are from basic knowledge or from learning it. Such things may be the type of things that are hard to cut out completely like loshon horah and some things are as obscure as now cutting my nails the correct way. Does this make me not frum? Or due to the fact that I would love to be on the level to care more deeply of such things- I am half way there? While the many folks deny the importance of such halachos and sometimes banish them to the “those are for the ultra orthodox” groups I would not consider frum.
I compiled a list of things that I know I should keep but simply don’t, and this is probably characteristic of many of readers that consider themselves frum- yet simply do not keep halacha to the means they can, or want to.
Zman krias shema, talking in the bathroom, cutting my nails and putting on my pants the correct way, biting my nails on shabbos, not desposing of my nails properly, yichud laws, kol isha, listening to recorded music during sfira and 3 weeks(which I think is a cop out, yet cannot control myself- giving up live music is very hard for me) not going to minyan, bittul torah, looking at women for pleasure, listening to vulgar music, watching vulgar movies-although the last time I went to a movie was over a year ago, touching muktza, probably doing tons of melocho on shabbos without realizing it(I did just buy the gray 39 melochos set though) not being tznius- like not weraing a shirt when I drive, giving the finger to people.
Not davening the whole thing every day, waking up too late for shachris, not leaving the room when someone decides to watch a movie on shabbos- this always happened in ohr someyach, not saying brachos or brachos achrona, loshon horah, nivel peh, talking about sex and sexual experiences, not saying the bedtime shema- I have never said it actually, not saying long prayers like- Wednesday yom, yeten lecha, bimey madliken, mon-thurs tachnun, all of slichos, all the musaf on yom kippor stuff, the laws of negel vasser are very hard for me- such as every time I go to bathroom or before davening- its really a pain, although I do have a washing basin by my bed which I utilize in the mornings.
Of course many of you may look at that list and decided that those are not big deals and I am being too hard. I am sure there are plenty more- but those instantly came to mind. Everyone of course has different things they do not keep and know that they should.
I meet folks in New York that do not keep kosher all the time. They will eat out salads and sushi and milchigs. I think this is asinine and have no taiva at all for treife and I live in a place that is 2 hours from the closest kosher food. Then there are folks who simply cannot spend shabbos by themselves without turning on the TV for companionship- and these are folks who you would consider by external as well as internal qualities very frum people. They also consider themselves to be frum, they like everyone have flaws an d many of them realize this, but simply cannot change- so they focus on other things like learning and giving tzedaka.
Speaking of tzedaka, how many people do not even give ma’asser let alone other forms of tzedaka. I am huge into giving ma’asser and I make crap compared to many people I know- who complain that they simply cannot “afford” to give away such a huge chunk of their paycheck. I on the other hand firmly believe that the money is due to Hashems niceties and feel fully obligated to give my 10% and love doing it- everyone has different tests.
Shomer negia is just another one of those tests that many people grapple with every day. There are tons of singles out there who willfully keep it 100% while many others consider themselves frum while being fully sexually active. How can this be, many of you ask? I think it makes sense, only if they acknowledge that shomer negia is something they would like to be able to keep and that it is something Hashem wants us to do. Many people deny those basic precepts, they think that shomer negia was an item created by the charedim.
During college I was not shomer negia and had no intentions to be, I understood it was wrong but my emunah and bitachon were not at the level to actually take action and prevent myself from sexual activity. The one point when it started changing was one yom kippor when I felt guilty about clopping for things that I did not regret and I knew I would be doing again. I felt extremely bad and hypocritical about this and asked my Rabbi what I should do?
My Rabbi said something very interesting which has stuck with me. He said first of all that the mere fact that I felt guilty was a good level to be at, and that I actually wanted to be on the level to change was good. He said that really what you are praying for was the ability to actually not want to do what ever I had done. The ability to say, sorry I will not hook up with you was so foreign to me, why would someone ever refuse sex? So I was trying to attain the level that I could want to refuse sexual activity.
Although I am shomer negia, I don’t think I am at the level where I would be able to refuse strong advances from a girl, though as opposed to college I definitely do not try and seek out girls. I don’t put myself into those situations basically because I hate clubs, bars and parties and would rather be outside hiking or riding my bike. But I was blessed with an attitude that says I do not like to socialize and hang out so to speak. Most people do not share that attitude and even though they do not club or bar hop they frequently find themselves in situations that can lead to breaching shomer negia.
While I don’t know what would happen if a girl made blatant advances I have attained the level at which I do not pursue girls for sex, rather I have intellectual conversations with people for what they are “people” in college all I wanted to was sex- UNLESS the girl actually interested me- which is still very tough for me to find- and now its merely for conversation, networking, shidduch purposes and outdoors buddies.
So you see I think that everyone got the whole shomer negia argument wrong. I think the goodie goodies who abstain completely and the sexual active folks can meet at the center and should agree that although most people breech halacha willingly- we would like to be on the level to keep these halachos and miztvos- rather then just keep on doing them. That is what frum means to me.