Happy in the rule prison

happy in the rule prison

For my birthday, my rabbi told me to think about something I want to change in my life. I thought that I live in a world with lots of freedom. I can do this or that at any moment. Too much freedom, I’d say. Choice overload creates a lot of anxiety.

Orthodox Jews have less freedom. There are specific things to do at specific times. Specific holidays with specific rituals. Shabbat means no cars, no stores, no work — a real day of rest. And it happens every week. Something is nice about that even rhythm of life. As my rabbi said: within rules, you find your freedom. It seems like an oxymoron but I think that it’s right. The rules create an identity, a morality. “I follow these rules, these rules are me.” They also create a predictability. You know what’s coming and you can be fully present and enjoy Shabbat when it comes. Something is nice about having many things decided.

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