Chapter #13: Shitting on the Parade

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I remember trying to take my baby son to Shul so I could pray in a Minyan.

Feeling like an idiot by walking around with him in a sling, getting funny looks from everyone else there. Hoping and praying (get it?) that I wouldn’t need to walk out in the middle, bothering everyone else, because he’d started to cry. I used to try to daven shmone esre with a baby in my arms, anxiously hoping they wouldn’t start crying while I was trapped, unable to move, in that position.

A few years later, there are two kids in the picture, and I’m trying to pray at home while watching both of them. I should have been in shul, praying with a minyan like I was supposed to, instead I was stuck at home, trying to simultaniously fulfill my obligations to God while fulfilling my obligation as a father.

I’m shit at multitasking. It was all I could do concentrate, to not get bothered for a few seconds. “How the hell am I supposed to pray to you, God, while all of this is going on?”

I was angry and resentful. Women are supposedly exempt from structured prayer because they need to care for their kids. In what way was I different than a woman, that I somehow had to juggle Tefillin, minyan, and a 45 minute davening, with caring for two kids?

Then my daughter shit herself. You’re not allowed to pray in proximity to a dirty diaper. Changing a diaper with Tefillin on is a frustrating process, where you try to not get shit on the straps. Taking Tefillin off and putting them back on is the bane of most guy’s existence.

“Really God? Is that what my prayer is worth to you? A bunch of shit? I’m trying my hardest to talk to you, to do what you’ve commanded me, and you’re shitting on it all?”

I took off my Tefillin in a rage, changed the diaper, and stopped praying. No more shachris, mincha, or ma’ariv. No more minyan. I still put on Tefillin for a few minutes every day, because there’s an even bigger punishment if you miss a day of Tefillin.

But there was a lightness that came with that. With not needing to worry about what time it was. From having an extra hour and a half to do things every day. My day was slightly less burdened. I felt relief.

So the cracks were starting to show. I was very resentful to the rabbis for all the extra shit they had piled on to the core, written law. Burdening my already overburdened life. Fulfilling the literal obligations as they were originally intended is effortless in comparison to the 6 hours between milk and meat, the two weeks of Nidda, and the endless other crap that had been tacked on, but never removed, over the ages.

I started doing all the deoraysas and none of the derabonon’s – with smicha and 14 years of study behind me, knew exactly which was which. I had become philosophically Conservative Jewish, having faith in God and the overall concept of things but believing that the Rabbi’s had messed me over along the way.

Yet I remained very religions in other ways. I grew my hair long, but still made a point of never walking around without some sort of head covering. Kosher was always easy for me to keep, I’m not much of a foodie. When I went to visit Budapest, I went clubbing every night but made sure to be back in Israel by Shabbat and to bring kosher food with me.

I stopped keeping Niddah. But when I accidentally bought a Rabanut shwarma, I gave it to a co-worker because it wasn’t Badatz.

Full chapter list (Available in eBook Form)

  1. Kindergarten
  2. Cheder
  3. Mishna
  4. Good and Evil
  5. Gemara
  6. Yeshiva Gedola
  7. Ramat Shlomo
  8. Beitar
  9. More of That
  10. The IDF
  11. Mitzpeh
  12. Darkness
  13. Independence
  14. Shitting on the Parade
  15. Light
  16. Detox
  17. Spreading Wings
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