I recently encouraged a friend of mine to go off the derech, I’m sure I’m not the only one, but unlike many of my peers I feel that religion is not for everyone and for this individual I believed it was ruining his life and his potential at doing whatever it is he was meant to be doing.
Judaism gives my friend so much guilt and makes him so depressed that I told hiom he’s be better off coming back to religion if he wishes on his own terms, not on this “I’m old and single and lonely because the community tells me I have to be married at this age” BS that he’s been spoon fed for 20 years. Shabbos is no longer beautiful, but a long depressing day of mindless ritual that only makes sense if you have little children to impress it upon.
Please keep in mind that I don’t really feel this way about my own life, but I understand how being an older single can have a negative effect on someone’s vision of religion – since we are a family based religion. But being single didn’t push this person to the limits of his religious capacity, the yeshivish mentality of guilt did it and the single stuff just exasperates it.
Shabbos is supposed to be the highlight of the week , it’s definitely the highlight of my week, but for many folks it’s the low point. Depression, anxiety, loneliness, all sorts of issues plague some people on Shabbos to the point of breaking Shabbos. I guess my feeling is that if you feel so bad about keep halacha that it pushes you to depression it’s better to be non-religious and happy. After all, being happy is a mitzvah too.
I almost feel that in the perfect world, kids would be given a choice whether or not they wanted to be religious and go in peace with their decision. It would be at some point in life where they could appreciate the community and the ritual, but not at the point where it was made to be tedious and monotonous by those very same people forcing us to keep it. Wait, this means we could never really give anyone a choice.
I told my friend that he should have went off the derech years ago, in that case he wouldn’t be torn between the yeshiva world and the 3 day weekend bacon cheeseburger crowd. Saying things like you want a wife who will cover her fully even though you don’t keep Shabbos is one of the many negative by products of the socially yeshivish world of orthopraxy.