I was talking to my husband a little while back (hey, that still happens occasionally, BH) when he mentioned that he was still feeling a little ‘out of place’.
Despite his attempts to blend in by wearing black and white, my husband’s peyot are still less than a foot long; I won’t let him grow his beard past the point where I’d have to send a search party in to find his face; and the streimel and stripey-dressing-gown-thingy on Shabbat is definitely off limits.
So there he is, kind of stuck being a wannabe chassid.
I know what he means. I’ve spent many a long day yearning to ‘fit’ a little better than I do, and hoping to find a community of like-minded individuals – until God sent me an amazing idea about it all.
It was the day I was wondering around my hood. For some reason, I was in the Old City, then I went down to Jaffa Street to do some shopping, then later on that day, I found myself walking through Meah Shearim on the way up to Geula to buy some groceries.
It suddenly struck me how at home I felt in all these places, albeit that they’re so incredibly different from each other. If I looked like I ‘fit’ in any of these places 100%, I wouldn’t be able to explore anywhere else without feeling like a rank outsider.
It’s like all the tourists I see by the Kotel sometimes, hiding behind their cameras and i-Phones to try to quell the obvious discomfort they’re feeling about being in such unfamiliar surroundings.
The upside of belonging someone specific is that you, well, belong there. The downside, is that then anywhere else you go kind of feels weird. Thank God, I don’t have that problem. It’s precisely because I don’t really belong anywhere that I feel so comfortable everywhere, from the most secular spots to downtown Meah Shearim.
I suddenly realized last week what a blessing that is.
Do you know how many cool people I’m discovering, from all sorts of background and communities? There are some truly amazing people all over the place, and if I truly ‘belonged’ to just one community or area, I’d never know about all the other fab stuff that’s going on in other parts of the Jewish world.
So I came home and told my husband: ‘It’s great we’re social misfits! How else could we spend one Shabbat hanging out with our friends in Caesarea, and the next one in deepest Chassidville, eating our shabbos meal at separate tables for men and women? I love that we don’t fit anywhere properly!”
And now that he’s thought about it a bit (and got over the idea that the gold stripey dressing gown thingy is just not on the cards…) so does he.