So now what?
Where to begin?
As events unfold (as you'll hear about below), even I am beginning to believe that my life is not only fiction, it's bad fiction written by a teenager. Worse, my life is becoming fiction written by Naomi Ragen. And we might be headed into Edgar Allan Poe territory. (An aside: somebody was impressed that a yeshivish simpleton could paraphrase Mark Twain; I suppose that same person is now falling off his chair at the reference to Poe, whose stories I loved as a kid. This astonishment is interesting: some people set the bar really low for yeshivaleit, eh?)
Anyway, my apologies for not providing DBH with the pathos and bathos (more big words, wow!) he seems to crave. I'm telling those parts of my story that there is a point in telling. The rest is none of your business.
So here's what happened. After shabbos last week, my wife called me. She explained that even though she was very angry -- or to be exact, very confused and upset -- she did want to talk. It's just that she had made the mistake of telling her father what the big blowup was about and he was the one preventing me from speaking to her. (He made sure to answer the phone every time it rang.) You have to understand that her father is in tight with the American Litvish Rosh Yeshiva gang and toes the Lakewood line. By the time my wife had decided she wanted to try to figure out together with me what we should be doing, the shver had already sent an SOS out to the whole mafia to try to screw me over good. My whole family was essentially held hostage for a week. (We were at least able to talk once my wife managed to borrow a cellphone.)
Interestingly, the common enemy (her father) forcing us to conspire just to talk sort of created some new kind of bond between us. By this shabbos she was home, over her father's strenuous (to say the least) objections. We are coming to a practical agreement about what I will do and won't do. (Note the emphasis on "do". I get full free speech -- except in front of any of our kids who are old enough to understand, which at the moment is maybe the oldest.)
This is all very much in flux but as you might be able to tell from my slightly chipper tone, it's good for me. I've mostly gotten over the idea that now that I woke up to the fact that yiddishkeit is a crock and rabbonim are mostly clueless frauds (with apologies to those innocents who are offended by that) that I've got to be eating treif. I've come to the not-so-earth-shattering realization that in whatever not frum religion I'll now be practicing, there is probably no mitzvah to do aveiros. (As I read my second post, written at the peak of my anger and which basically says just the opposite, I frighten myself.)
On the other hand, there's no aveirah in doing aveiros either. I'll just do whatever is convenient, which might happen to often coincide with frumkeit, at least in public. The problem is that now that the shver is working with the goon squad to save his family from "the shaigetz", as he now refers to me (until a few weeks ago I was "tzaddikel"; what a difference a few weeks make), I don't exactly know what's going to be with me.
One last comment for whoever it was that said that I must be an idiot for giving up frumkeit because of what a few rabbonim said. (Not that I owe you an explanation.) That was just a trigger that made me suddenly realize what I had been seeing but not seeing my whole life. I know a head counselor of a certain camp who was a child molestor (he didn't dare get near me but I saw it with my own eyes) and half the world knew about it. Nobody said a word because he was a big kannoi and part of the yeshivisher gang. I know roshei yeshiva who are embezzlers and don't even have a vague notion of the difference between right and wrong. I know mashgichim who tell you over "daas toirah" on topics about which they haven't a vague clue. And mainly I know thousands of people (in other words, pretty much everyone I know) whose entire yiddishkeit is based on pure nonsense.
By some self-serving miracle, I managed to go through almost three decades seeing all this and at the same time believing that yidden owned the only key to wisdom and honesty and I never noticed any contradiction. It's amazing what a person can blind himself to if he puts his mind to it.
RAF's article somehow brought this whole building crashing down. Maybe I was mamish at the brink and that article just happened to come along and if it wasn't that it would have been something else. Or maybe it was that the article was so obviously insincere and so -- I can't resist shouting here -- so painfully STUPID that it was like getting hit over the head. Or maybe it's that I used to have so much respect for RAF and especially for RMS, on whose behalf RAF wrote that idiotic letter, that my last defenses were just swept away. I don't know myself. But I do know that nothing will ever be the same for me.
But everything will always be the same for RAF and his whole gang. Because they will convince themselves of any stupidity, even that the world is flat, just to keep coasting along in the only world in which anybody thinks they're hot stuff. What happens to me and hundreds or thousands like me doesn't move them a bit as long as they can look in the mirror and say "yadeinu lo shafchu es hadam hazeh". They are wrong about that too.