The Lonely Blogger of Faith

As I wrote previously, I had intended to, and did, finish The Lonely Man of Faith during Chol Hamoed, in time for Rav Soloveitchik’s yarteitz. I wasn’t planning on blogging about it, but the one year anniversary of this blog just passed last week (April 12th) and I got to thinking and reflecting on things.

I first read LMoF during several afternoons in Gilo Park. It was a quite open space to read and think about if I really got it or not. That was 17 years ago. I really didn’t get the whole essay, I admit. The two Adams, community, lack of connection to a greater whole…if you’ve read it you know what I’m talking about.

So there I was this past Pesach reading it again. This time I was in a friends’ home, with my six month old on my lap, my 4 yr. old daughter singing some song she made up about “matzah, butterflies, and Polly Pockets” and my 7 yr. old son and two friends engaged in a high intensity game of Celebrity Kugelach Yom Tov Showdown! A far cry from Gilo Park. And a far cry from being lonely.

My Blogoversary came and went and I still hadn’t posted. Something I had read in LMoF kept creeping back in my mind. It was the last two sentences of chapter four. The Rav write about Adam’s (the second) need for a community.

His quest is for a new kind of fellowship, which one finds in the existential community. There, not only are hands joined, but experiences as well; there, one hears not only the rhythmic sound of the production line, but also the rhythmic beats of hearts starved for existenial companionship and all-embracing sympathy and experiencing the grandeur of the faith commitment; there, one lonely soul finds another soul tormented by loneliness and solitued yet unqalifiedly committed.

I started this blog a year ago for several reasons. The main on was to get back into the regular habit of writing. Another reason was to try express some thoughts and ideas in a format that would be readable and maybe interesting to others.

Along the way I’ve learned a lot about myself and my relationship with those I care for and for Hashem. I’ve also learned that the posts I’m most proud of are the ones I’ve written (most of which get few if any comments). I also learned that the one time I wrote a post for the ‘people’, it wasn’t in the spirit of what I’m all about.

Interstingly, I found other out there who have very important, deep, and humorous things to say. The JBlogosphere is a community very similar, IMHO, to what is described by the Rav in the quote above. I suppose that on some level, I was in a way lonely and was looking for a ‘community’, abeit a virutal one when I started blogging.

The truth is that I really own a tremendous thanks to my Uberwife, who not only has listened to me talk about ‘blog related things’, but as has encourage me to continue writing.

I would like to thank one blogger that I reguarly exchange emails, links, and ideas with. If he is reading this, he knows who he is.

Deepest thanks to those who link my blog and to Ezzie and Rafi G, who were the first people to actually link one of my posts.

I’d like to also think a rather popular Chicago Blogger who was kind enough to reply to an email sent by a newcomer in Chicago. His kindness to answer an email from a stranger is indicative of the truth that most Jbloggers out there are nice people.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

12 thoughts on “The Lonely Blogger of Faith

  1. Rafi G

    Neil – you are an integral part of the jblog community. your mussar and deep thoughts keep us in check! mazel tov on your blogaversary and keep on writing!

    Reply
  2. Bob Miller

    Bloggers in the aggregate can resemble a community, but the anonymity really makes this different from the real thing. Still, communication through blogs has value when done right. Your contributions are very thought-provoking. Keep it up!

    Reply
  3. Neil Harris

    You bring up a great point, Bob. There is a virtual feeling of not “really knowing” a blogger/blog reader because you don’t know their name. Of course, one advantage of blogging anon (that didn’t occur to me initially and might have changed my decision to use my own name) is the effect it could have on current or future employment.

    Most people would agree that real life is the ikar.

    I admit, when I first started re-reading LMoF I felt for sure the it would have no application to the life of this average Gen Xer. As I wrote in my posting, the quote by the Rav, for me, was a great example of why some Torah observant Jews might be drawn to the blogging community.

    The average discussion on, for example, Hirhurim, Emes v’Emunah, or BeyondBT is very different than a discussion while in line for some kugel, Oreos, or gefilta fish during a Shabbos Kiddush. What is nice, though is that some topics found on blogs are great discussion topics at a Shabbos table. It’s nice when we can use elements of a blog community to help enhance our “real life”.

    Reply
  4. shaya g

    neil

    as a non-blogger, I enjoy reading the various blogs and commenting on occasion. yours is one of the ones that I enjoy because it’s SO different from the rest.

    Keep it up!

    Reply
  5. haKiruv

    I subscribe to your xml feed. I’m thinking of moving to Chicago so I’m interested in learning more about the community there. Keep writing. Peace.

    Reply
  6. Neil Harris

    Shaya: Non-bloggers are the best. I lurked in shadows for months before even making a comment anywhere. Thanks for reading.

    hakiruv: Always happy to have another reader. Thanks.

    Reply

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