I recently heard from a friend of mine. She called to ask me some questions about a friend of hers who in her words is “growing to be very Jewish.” My friend is not Jewish and had a number of questions. I was able to answer all of them, but I don’t think that she was buying any of it.
The truth is that she doesn’t have to accept anything I say, it is her friend’s choice and that should be enough. But the conversation was similar to others that I have had with people who are Jewish.
I think that the primary thing that bothers this friend of mine is that she feels like there are now restrictions upon her friendship. She doesn’t understand what keeping Kosher is about and Shabbos just overwhelms her. I am kind of curious to speak with the friend who is going BT because it sounds to me like she hit her with a ton of information aboout Shabbos, primarily the restrictions on what you can or cannot do.
I thought that was kind of sad, because Shabbos offers so much more than that. If you are going to explain to someone that you are not driving, writing or doing so many of the other non-Shabbos activities you need to provide a context for why.
My friend asked me why I still drive on Shabbos, why I am willing to do so many things that you are not supposed to do. She said that since I seemed to know the reasons why a Jewish person should not do these things it seemed strange to her. I told her that I would be willing to have an extended discussion about it if she was willing to do some learning on her own and that otherwise I meant to keep it short.
Not because I am afraid to discuss it, but I frankly I wasn’t convinced that she was really interested and I didn’t want to get involved in a personal discussion without that interest.
There are some proscriptions that I dobut that I will ever take on, but that is for a different entry. What we try to do in my home is emphasize that Shabbos is family time. It is a time for us to slow down and take stock of ourselves and our lives.
It is a time to speak with the children about values and things that we think are important and a time to consider for ourselves what is important to us, a time to reflect and consider. It is nice to stop running and just ‘be.’
As for the issue of Kashrut I explained to my friend that I didn’t think that it was fair for her to be so judgemental about her other friend’s desire to keep Kosher. If she was a vegetarian she wouldn’t say anything. If she had food allergies she wouldn’t criticize her decision, but because of a religious belief that she doesn’t share she is upset, it is just silly to me.
She didn’t ask me to tell her why I do not keep Kosher. There are a number of reasons why, one of which is that there are certain meals that I love, that I have a hard time considering giving up. But that is not really what is holding me back.
I think that I could give those things up and move ahead. There are many Kosher restaurants in my neighborhood, so it is not unusual to find me there or to find me purchasing Kosher items at the market.
I think that the thing that has held me back from going all the way is this. I haven’t bought into the reasons for keeping Kosher, up to now I haven’t found anything compelling other than the guilt I feel for not doing it. And guilt is not enough for me to make the change right now.