Becoming Less Frum
As I mentioned in one of my first posts when I was in my early twenties I did not understand this. I thought that if someone believes in Torah and halachah then it should not matter whether they are married or not. As people have commented here sometimes life is hard and I could not understand why being single would make someone become less frum. Even if you are single we are still obligated to keep most of the mitzvos such as Shabbos, kashrus, etc.
Well I am sad to report that I have had my own experience with this phenomenon even though it was subtle. For most of my twenties I was always very comitted to halacha even when I was alone at home because I felt that even if no other people are watching that I still have a responsibility to God and to myself. Even if I was not a wife or mother I was still important as my own unit of humanity.
But a few years ago I stopped washing before I ate bread when I am at home. It was not a conscious decision. Just one day I went to eat a sandwhich and I knew I should wash and I decided not to bother. Who would see? Who would know? I knew that Hashem could see but I said to myself He will understand and just went ahead and ate.
Then a few months later I stopped waiting so long after eating meat before eating milk because who would know? If I went out to dinner and had chili and then came home alone and 2 hours later wanted ice cream then who would know or care? Just Hashem but He would not care so much after all, right?
For me it was not that I was angry at God about being single though often I was. But that was not what made me stop keeping those halachos. It also was not that I stopped believing it was the halacha. It was simply laziness combined with not having people for whom I have to set an example or meet any standards. Certainly when I was out with friends or on dates or with people in my community I continued to wash and be careful about everything just as before.
It might be hard for Orthodox people who are married and have families to understand or admit how much of their religiosity is motivated by their families. You wash even when you do not feel like it because your children are watching you and you want to set a good example for them. You wait the whole six hours after meat because your spouse will know if you break that halacha and he or she will be disappointed. Of course there is the element of believing in it yourself just as there always was for me, but is your belief really so strong that it would repel the laziness or anger or whatever else tempts you to sin if it were not for the family whose standards you want to keep up?
At this point you might say that the halachos I was breaking were relatively “minor” (whatever that means). But what I am saying is that I now understood the phenomenon of my seminary friends whose skirts were getting shorter and necklines lower and who were no longer S.N. I understood how it is that a male friend who used to complain about people who relied on “Shabbos elevators” now relies on non-Jewish doormen to push the elevator buttons for him on Shabbos. I understand now how it is that people who used to go to yeshivas or seminaries might decide to have some fun in their lives and go to a bar and dance together because who is around that will really care? Maybe God. But like I am saying it takes a very strong person to continue being motivated only by that. It is easy to stop caring and hard to continue living up to standards that you set for yourself years ago when you thought you would always have a support network that would help you stay in it. It is very easy for married people to negatively judge the “loose” standards in the singles community but can you really be sure that you would be so frum if not for the children bringing home their parsha sheets and a spouse to whom you have made a commitment to live a certain kind of religious life?
By the way this blog has helped me to become strong again in my commitment to halacha. When I am tempted to break a halacha I think of all the people who said they are praying for me and I think it would be betraying all of you to “waste” the merit you are giving me by turning around and breaking a halacha! So you see I really am paying attention to the comments and appreciate all your caring and supportive words.
I have one more serious post on the topic of “becoming less frum,” and then a sort of blog summary, and then that will be all I have to say, bli neder.