Section:  Avodah   Category: Ahavas Yisroel
The Beauty Of Being An Unaffiliated Jew
I have come to the conclusion that the world I grew up in doesn't exist anymore and nothing can replace it.  Back then we were just plain heimish.  Baalei batim worked by day and battled in Shul with their Rov over a mishnayos or gemara at night and were very proud of what they were.  People were warm and unassuming.  The older folks were simple but real symbols of emunah in its purest form.

Society seems to have become polarized and everyone needs to fit into a specific group.  Each group creating their own distinguishing characteristics.  After I got married and started raising a family I spent many years trying to figure out which group I am part of.  Because I went to Litvishe Yeshivos I was sure I was Litvish.  But over the years I found that I needed something that the Litvishe world did not offer me.  So naturally I started exploring Chassidus, hoping to find traces of things I warmly remembered from my past.  I didn't change my exterior appearance, but I frequented chasidishe shuls and read more chasidishe seforim.  I checked out many different Chasidusses and after trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole for a number of years I finally gave up.

So I've contented myself with being a plain old fashion unaffiliated Jew.  In an era where we compete to come up with the newest chumra and hottest new mitzva to outdo the rival group, I think I found a sweet spot.  Society seems to be very active around me, yet I sit in the eye of the storm enjoying the sun.  Since I don't belong to a group I have none of the pressures of competition. I don't need to come up with new innovations, nor do I need to put down the ones that a rival group has come up with before "we" could think of it.

I just sit back and enjoy seeing the beauty in each and everyone of them and judge them on the merits.  It doesn't cost me any money or pride, so why not.  It is a nice position to be in and it can really bring you to Ahavas Yisroel.  I have been fortunate to travel to many places around the world and seen radiant Jewish Neshamos in a multitude of places.  There is so much good all around us.  Each group has its strong points and does wonderful things that we can learn from, if we weren't busy watching with a suspicious eye... so why bother?

With our new column we'd like to take you on a tour of Klal Yisroel and point out some beautiful sights.  We will keep our eyes wide open for brilliant rays of light in a variety of places.  If you yourself see something that is worth reporting, share it with us.   Let's focus on the good and create a true "Aguda Echas La'asos Ritzoncha B'leivav Shalem" consisting of Sefardim and Ashkenazim, Chasidim and Misnagdim, Yerushalmis, Parisians, New Yorkers, and the rest.  When we as a nation of individual groups see our own group as just one piece of a big jigsaw puzzle instead of the one and only group, we will be zocheh to reveal the whole picture, the picture of a world of Moshiach.