Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Rating The "Spiritual," רוחניות Ruchaniyut

This post is missing an important introduction:
I got started on it when this friend was telling me about the problems with shidduchim and how much discrimination against BT's and gerim, claiming they're not on a high enough spiritual level.  I was in shock. 

No doubt, I'll be blogging about the United States Presidential Elections later today, when the votes are officially counted and confirmed.  As a CPA's daughter, I just can't pay attention until then. So, if it's "all in the air" we may as well think and talk about the "spiritual," רוחניות ruchaniyut in people.

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself sitting and talking to a friend who had taken a spiritual journey differnt from mine to the same "location." 

As a חוזרת בתשובה Chozeret b'Teshuva, one who chose to be Torah Observant, I generally feel very connected to גר צדק Ger Tzeddek, Righteous Convert.  Frequently, I feel I have more in common with them than with people who were raised in religious homes and never strayed far from the path they were raised on.

Add the element of עליה aliyah ascending/moving to the Land of Israel and I sometimes find myself not quite communicating/identifying with others here.

Nowadays, all sorts of chassidic, "spiritual" affectations  are very popular in our circles.  It's not uncommon for synagogue prayer to be interrupted by clapping and dramatic arm gestures reminiscent of actors in grade c silent movies.  OK, that's my interpretation of this new custom.

It's claimed that the Jewish Laws of Prayer are derived from Chana when she prayed here in Shiloh at the time of the Tabernacle.  She is described as being totally silent; only her lips moved.  That's good enough for me.

Back to my friend.  She was surprised at my rankings.  In general, I consider those who made the move to the Holy Land of Israel to be on a higher level than all of those in similar status.  There's a major spiritual strength needed for any change, the more traumatic and life-affecting the change, the higher the level.

So, I'll make this simple.
  • גר צדק Ger Tzeddek, Righteous Convert
  • back and forth, FFB who dropped religion and then returned
  • חוזר בתשובה Chozer b'Teshuva
  • FFB, frum (religious) from birth, without detours
This is just my feeling, not based on any rabbinic writings etc.

What do you think?


rutimizrachi said...

As a gioret who made aliyah (at an advanced age, with teenangels! I want extra points for that), I fare too well in your ranking to really participate, Batya. But of course, because I am Jewish, I have an opinion. ;-)

We are taught that the person who grows up frum cannot stand where a ba'al teshuva can stand. So you have an argument.

On the other hand, both of us (the FFB and the BT) start from an "accident of birth." It's not the FFB's "fault" that she wasn't necessarily blessed with a crooked derech. (I use that expression humorously and lightly. We cannot know the spiritual challenges inside the growing up of any person, even if the outside view is one of a simple, straight path.)

So I don't write forever, I'll just keep it simple: I think every "ranking," if one must, has to be on a case-by-case basis. The bottom line: whether one is FFB or BT -- totally beyond her control, from the starting point -- what has she chosen to do with her life? With her gifts? With her challenges?

Ruchaniyut is a matter of connection to the Ribono Shel Olam. Have you noticed, unless I'm making it up, that true ruchaniyut seems to emanate from some people, whether they are quiet daveners or exuberant? I love to be around people who seem truly tied to the Creator!

Jennifer in MamaLand said...

Thanks for an interesting post!

Definitely, the geirim I know are on a high level. Dunno where I'd personally fall in this ranking, a "sheva yipol tzaddik" (l'havdil, not that I'm any type of tzaddik or tzadekes) very-flawed up-and-down old-life-tugging kind of BT.

Many people I knew in the frum community stopped wanting anything to do with me, years ago, when I stopped doing certain things (like covering hair after my divorce, NOT like keeping Shabbos) and I wanted to scream that being a BT is a lifelong process, not a destination where you just pull in, announce that you've "arrived" and then stay still for the rest of your life.

In a sense, conversion is less twisty and more of a straightforward "arrival," because geirim have a definite goal - immersion - and a moment they can look to as the instant they left their old life behind. Also, there are usually rabbis guiding them along the way, or at least telling them they're not THERE yet.

As for aliyah - oy. I hope it conveys spiritual benefits, because materially, it's going to hurt - a lot. ;-)

Leah, Maaleh Adumim said...

I think it's very individual, and depends more on what challenges a person meets in life, and how they deal with it; and whether they consider Jewish observance to be *meaningful*. I don't think it is possible to make a list like you have done here.

I have great respect for gerim and BT's, but that doesn't mean that all FFB's are necessarily "less". I particularly object to your considering the "back-and-forth" to be on a "higher" level. there are many FFB's who are on a high spiritual level, not because of "inertia" but because of a positive and determined attitude to continue their observance despite challenges and temptations. while some of the "back-and-forth" simply gave in to temptation when it was convenient. so while it's admirable that they returned, it doesn't put them on a higher level than someone who encountered the same (or possibly even more difficult) challenges and *did not* give in to the temptation.

and while being FFB is an "accident of birth", what you do with it after you grow up and are on your own is under your own control. not inertia.

Batya said...

Of course, there are individuals and no ironclad rules.

I got started on it when this friend was telling me about the problems with shidduchim and how much discrimination against BT's and gerim, claiming they're not on a high enough spiritual level. I was in shock.

I'm going to add that last paragraph as an introduction, because it's really needed. I was very rushed when I wrote the article this morning and didn't mean to offend anyone.

I was a teenage "BT" before the term was in use and the abuse from family I received re:my decision was awful.