Monday, August 17, 2009

Oh crap guys + brother stuff

I thought I was all clever a few months back when I created a new gmail account (Abanadoningeden @ gmail) and set it up to forward to my regular account. But I didn't realize until today that I actually DIDN'T set it up to send it to my regular account, which is why I haven't gotten any of your emails. And there were quite a few. Sorry bout that. I'm trying to respond to some now, although I'm going to skip ones that were sent pre-wedding that were all "good luck on your upcoming wedding!" And the one that was all "I'm a closet OTDer cheating on my wife with a non Jewish lady what should I do??" Yeah, not touching that one...

Speaking of which, it's our 3 month wedding anniversary today! Yay for quarter year anniversaries! (or something? whatever, it counts!).

Also, over the weekend I got in contact with my youngest brother E (the one who said B was going to die within a year...and it's already been like 8 months since he said that!) to say hi and what's up and update him on my honeymoon trip. He responded by catching me up on his life and then went on about something in the book of Ezekiel and how it talked about a city (Tyre) falling into the sea. Which it didn't actually do (the city is still around even), but which I apparently reminded him of when I told him about visiting Santorini and how people think it may be Atlantis- which apparently reminded him of this story in Ezekiel which he thinks might have been influenced by the myth of Atlantis.

It annoys the crap out of me when religious people try to bring the bible/Torah into EVERY conversation, but I didn't say that. Instead I sent him a link about Tyre the city, and maybe it'll encourage him to start looking up historical data to confirm biblical tall tales, and maybe he'll start thinking about which parts of the tanach might be myth. But meanwhile I'm not going to argue with him about Judaism anymore, which was the subject of a lot of our past emails.

In one respect orthodox people may have it right. I've read some advice they give to people with relatives 'off the derech' and one of the things I've read is how it's better to keep someone close to you and not discuss religion, instead of pushing them away with arguments about religion.

This is now my strategy with my super religious brother. I think it'll be better to keep in touch with him, and be nice to him, and not discuss religion, so if he ever comes to his senses I'll be someone he can come to for help. After all, he's only 21...plenty of time for him to change. And even if he never does, what good would it do to alienate my brother just because of his extreme and crazy religious beliefs (that I used to buy into)? Although I'm still going to call him out on the religious passive aggressiveness (like sending me "good shabbas" text messages every Friday...thankfully he hasn't done that in a while, since I sent him one back that said "I don't celebrate shabbas but happy weekend!").

But yeah, i feel better about that whole situation now that we are in touch an older sister I feel like it's my responsibility to make sure we have a relationship, and even though the reason we hadn't talked in a while was cause he was being a total dick to me about B, I think it's just better this way. I mean, maybe he was being a total dick to me about B in part becuase I was being a total dick about him being more religious? Maybe it's just a mutual general hostile dickishness that needs to change between us.

My new motto is "you can't change other people, you can only change yourself" and part of that is changing the way I react to my family. Like for one, not trying to convince my brother that he's a fool for becoming more religious and giving up on his dreams/hobbies to learn all day in a yeshiva...even if i think it's true.

My parents on the other hand, well I haven't talked to them since before the wedding, and I kinda like it that way. I may get in touch with my dad at some point, but I gotta say...not having my mom in my life has done wonders for my self esteem.


  1. So he's willing to think that the story of Atlantis impacted something in Tanach? Did I read that correctly or did he think it was the other way around? Given your description the second makes a lot more sense. If it is the first, that indicates surprising open-mindedness (although given the timing various things were written in, he's probably wrong).

  2. yeah i think that's what he meant...maybe? This is what he wrote:

    "Interesting that you mention atlantis, I was actualy thinking about it this week. Was reading Ezekiel ealier this week and chapters 26-28 talks about the kingdom of Tyre - it's described as an especialy beautful and advanced civilization and an economic powerhouse and how it was dragged down into the sea. The majority of the text in Ezekiel is blatantly metophorical, so I take the accounts of Tyre being dragged into the sea as metephorical also (commentary confirms this). But it makes me wonder if there's a connection between these chapters and the myth of atlantis? I'll have to remember to research it some time after fall semester."

    so he thinks there might be a connection but also that ezekial is metaphorical? I'm not too familiar with that book..i guess it's a book of prophecy?

  3. It is a book of prophecy, but of near time prophecy. (That one is particularly interesting because it never ended up happening).

    It also is just a very strange reading of the text he has. The text talks about the city being destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (which never occurred). His name is explicitly in the text. Moreover, the text talks about a war. There's nothing fancy like a city being run under the ocean. The commentaries just come up with weird explanations to deal with the fact that Nebuchadnezzar never did destroy Tyre.

    Related to that, I'm confused by the tense that your brother uses here since the text is clearly future tense not past tense.


  4. Another possibility is that your brother is trying to show you that he's not a Yeshiva automaton but is actually willing to consider extra-biblical sources in biblical study. He may be trying to impress his secular academic sister (though that effort may only be for "kiruv" purposes.)

  5. Good for you for taking this new attitude. I think you'll be a lot happier.

    In addition, although I'm still religious, I take the same tactic with my brother who became charedi- whenever we discuss religion it turns into a horrible argument (the last horrible one was on Pesach after 2 cups of wine- really, really bad)

    When we avoid religion, we are very close and it's great.

    So, great idea and I hope you continue being in touch and having a good relationship.

  6. DYS- at one point before I got married I asked my brother if he was going to come to my wedding. He said he had to go and hung up and then called me back like 20 minutes later and was like "I won't go to your wedding but I still want to have a relationship with you"

    pretty sure he was calling up his rabbi during those 20 minutes. And that the "still have a relationship with you" was the advice of a rabbi who wanted him to make some sort of kiruv effort. Which I think is where the passive aggressive text messages are coming from too. But whatever, two can play at that game. :)

    it's weird, like I want to be nice to him, but I trust him about as far as I could throw him. every time he mentions religious stuff I'm wondering if he's trying to kiruv me or if he just doesn't have anything else to talk about since he learns all day (especially in the summer, at least this fall he'll be back to taking college classes too).

    as for impressing me...ha, i can't even imagine him trying to do that, but maybe. He DID tell me he's taking sociology 101 this semester and that he's going to be asking me for help around exam times, so maybe... :)

  7. You sound so Zen about all this. I'm sure it can be a real struggle, too. It's interesting to me how family stays important, no matter how annoying they can be.

  8. Yeah, this reminds me of myself 3 years ago. I remember coming up with all kinds of mental gymnastics for the tyre part of Ezekiel...

  9. After being introduced to the j-blog world by a friend with a blog, I think I got sucked in specifically because it was the only place in my life where religious people were willing to talk religion with me. When they are around me, my OJ family and community of my youth treat it like it is the most taboo subject on earth when they are around me.

  10. cool (the can't change other thing). 'cause it's so true. as much as it's nice for other people to have open doors, I think it's good to leave our own doors open (even if there's a lack of trust in some respects).

    What about not-religious people who tie in religion-related stuff to daily conversation? I must be queen asshole for saying things in a career change thread elsewhere like rabbi akiva didn't start learning till he was 40, so it's never too late to change careers. That's okay. If that's what makes me a butt, I can totally live with that. :lol:

  11. s(b) that stuff about rabbi akiva isn't really religion, it's about a career change. :) lol

  12. dude, could you imagine living in a freaking cave full of dudes? I should go reread the diary of anne frank. I wonder what they did re: sanitation in cramped quarters.


Anonymous comments are enabled for now