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Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel: Fences, Clubs and Schizophrenia

Life of Yeshiva Guys in Israel

A Pictorial, Vidorial, and Textorial Panorama of the Life of Yeshiva Guys in Eretz Yisroel (Israel). Join us as we discover Eretz Yisroel and all it has to offer Yeshiva Bochurim.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Fences, Clubs and Schizophrenia


"You can't sit on both sides of the fence". Or, "men ken nisht tantzen by baide chasunas".

Complete myths, as any member of any Orthodox Jewry enclave will affirm. Many dance at two, three or even four chasunas per night.

But seriously, the fact is that we all do it. Straddle the fence. And us pre-chasuna yeshiva guys more than most, methinks... And I'll explain:

I believe the first fence straddlers were the original schizoid chevra. I also believe that fence straddling may be the basis for the nature of my current life dilemma.
Fence straddling is what almost every yeshiva guy with some creativity does, or has to do. Some of the lucky ones manage to channel their creativity into chiddushei Torah, or
focusing on their learning. But for the large majority of the rest of us who've been exposed to the outside world, what do we do?

We straddle the fence; for some, this might be by going to a Shwekey concert, chilling to Carlebach,or even on the far extreme, goyishe music. For others, a walk in the shuk does it, or sports/excersise will do it for the more active types.
The point is, almost everyone needs an outlet. The real trick, the key, however, is to make sure that the outlet you choose to use won't bring you too far away from the person you want to be.

And for me, walking down the street near the city and observing PIA (People in Action) usually does the trick.

But sometimes it doesn't.

And those are the dangerous times. When I can feel, can touch, can hear that thing, that bochur- no, guy- inside me that wants to break free. To break free and see a little of what life has to offer.
To experience firsthand the things I know about from other, goyishe sources. I'm not referring to the BAD things. I mean the other, okay things that guys I know have done, that guys I know and hang out with do.

For example. Yeah, I'll give you an example.

Its around five years ago, summer Bein Hazmanim. We're chilling in a hotel room. Motel room, actually. Think it was a Red Roof, but definitely that type. 60 bucks a nite, or less. Strange town (on our way to a specific location, traveling), no one knew us. We were doing the regular bochur Bein Hazmanim shpiel- a little smoking, a little TV, and a lot of sleeping. So the evening creeps up on us, and we start thinking about what to do, if anything.
Now this guy, my friend, is a real chiller. The type who be'etzem i pretty frum, and was raised like that, but will constantly surprise you with the stuff he's done or will do. Like I said, pretty chilled.
We cycle through the usuals. Bowling. He's not so into. Wal-Mart. Did already. BBQ. Ate already. We run out of options, and we're both quiet for a minute or so.

And then, out of the hazy, smoked up hotel room air, he hits me with... "How about a club"?

I'm stunned. I'm quiet. And most of all, I'm scared. Scared that I'm gonna say yes.

Thoughts begin their race through my mind. Feelings start their run through my heart. And nervous energy commences its marathon, starting at my feet and working its way up to my shaking shoulders.

"I'm kinda tired", I answer, after a thirty second pause, trying desperately for casual.

I don't want him to hear the nervous tension in my voice. I feel like I'm a vibrating string being picked hard by some psycho, violent guitarist.
And I'm torn that I really wanted to tell him yes, but didn't, thank G-d, because I was too embarrassed to. Of who? Of what?

Of myself, I think. And then there's that...

We, us, Yidden, have that "baishanim" middah. It is always there. And when you need it, you can call on it.
As much as you think you eradicate it by being "geshmack" and interacting with others outside your natural, yeshivish comfort barrier, its always there. Boruch Hashem.

But after the moment passes, and I'm post-processing my feelings about the question and my response to it, I chap that I'm upset with myself, my "good boy" answer notwithstanding.
I'm upset because I would've said yes had I not been embarrassed. And that scares me. A lot.

What will be the next time, when I'm not with someone I'm embarrassed of, when I'm not with someone I "shter zich" from?

And so we straddle the fence, us yeshiva guys, not knowing what tests tomorrow will bring. And becoming, day by day, more and more schizoid.

(credit to iamJoliePhotography for the pic)

(Post partially inspired by this from Frum Flipped)

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2 Comments:

Blogger SIS said...

Wow. This post hits me....I struggle with this too. It's not only yeshiva bochurim; I'm a good frum girl but with secular exposure, and I also straddle the fence. I used to think I could do it successfully, I can pick my battles, pick what I like and what I don't and come out okay. I don't think so anymore. Of course one needs an outlet, but usually when straddling the fence too much, you end up falling on the side of tayvah.

BH for bayshanim, I know the feeling...glad you didn't succumb to temptation that time, but be careful out there...please don't go. I've heard bochurim do it, but I just can't imagine how a bochur can go even once and ever view women and shidduchim and that sort of thing the same again.

September 24, 2009 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger Yeshiva Guy said...

Agreed. So far so good, on this end. Like I said on the other post...stay yeshivish. Or holy. Either way!

September 24, 2009 at 11:54 PM  

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