Mesorah (Jewish stuff)

The Weight of A Secret

If you’ve been reading my blog for a little while (THANK YOU FOR THAT!), you’ll know that ¬†over the past few years I’ve become much more open about certain parts of my life. On a day-to-day level, it’s easy to forget that I wasn’t always so comfortable speaking about my choice to convert to Judaism, or to admit that my past was anything less than squeaky clean.

Part of these attitude comes from within me, from my own desires to fit in and blend in with the crowd, but part of the need for secrecy comes from communal pressure and, on my part, a misunderstanding of what it means to be tznius.

I really appreciate modesty, both in how I dress and also in what information I choose to share with the world. I think that there is a level of classiness it can bring, a dignity that affects how I perceive myself and how I am perceived by the world at large.

When I was watching the new Netflix series, The Crown, I reflected on how Queen Elizabeth (the second) carried herself with such dignity and grace, how she was raised to behave like a princess, to have a sense of obligation to her position.

As Jews we are taught, and we teach our children, that we are children of the King, that we are also royalty, in a way. And that that should affect the way we dress and the way we behave. I think this approach can lead to beautiful things, like confidence, poise, a sense of duty, class, grace, and so on. Those are definitely values I want to pass on to my children.

But I think it is also possible to transmit more problematic messages like shame, guilt, fear and judgment. We must be so careful to not confuse the idea of modesty and privacy with the negative connotations it sometimes carries.

In this week’s piece on Hevria, I share my thoughts on my own journey with learning how to deal with challenging situations in a way which is both in accordance with halacha, with guidance from people steeped in Torah, yet also psychologically healthy. It has been a process for me, and I hope what I have learned will be helpful to anyone who might need it. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the piece.

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