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When we become bored

Moshe Unger - Columnist
Posted 5/6/21

Recently, I missed two installments of this column. I had what is called “writer's block”. All the ideas that I thought to write about suddenly seemed boring. It felt quite depressing, and it …

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When we become bored

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Recently, I missed two installments of this column. I had what is called “writer's block”. All the ideas that I thought to write about suddenly seemed boring. It felt quite depressing, and it felt like a dried out well. I have had a few such lows during the last four years of writing.

I learned from the past experiences that when such a thing happens, if one digs further and is trying to continue, new fountains are discovered, so I am excited to see what will happen here in the next few months.

Earlier this week, I had a conversation with a friend about it. I didn't plan to discuss it, but it came up in a conversation. After going over in detail my blockages, I felt much lighter. What helped me wasn't the advice that he gave me, but his empathy and the detailed discussion about it. It feels like it passed, and hopefully new fountains will be discovered.

I am very thankful to him and very thankful to Joseph Abraham, who edits columns at the Democrat, for the constant support and for coping with the times that I came up short… And of course, I have very deep gratitude to Fred Stabbert and Matt Shortall. With their support and encouragement, I became a writer. It is a new dimension in my soul that they helped me discover…

The discussion of boredom brings us to the holiday of Shavuot which is coming up next. It falls this year on Sunday, May 16, 2021 at sundown till nightfall on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.

This holiday commemorates the giving of the Torah. The Torah is the sacred text studied in Judaism. It includes the Bible, the Talmud, and many other texts. The Torah is the foundation of the Jewish People, and it is what kept our vitality for over 3,000 years.

A key ingredient in the Torah is its power of renewal. Torah is not textual archaeology. It is a text that is learned with the premise that every word is relevant for right now. It is as if it is constantly given to us anew. This is a key point because this makes it a living document.

A living document never gets boring. Boredom comes when something loses its relevance and meaning. Everything humans do has a story behind it. It is either a result of the past, a purpose for the future, or both. When that story becomes irrelevant the act becomes boring.

The Torah is relevant always and when boredom engulfs us there is something in it that can teach us and guide us in that situation.

Now, the challenge of Torah study is to have the fortitude to begin and to go into it enough to find the fountains within. Sometimes this is not an easy challenge. The first ten minutes of study can be very difficult. Once in, there are fountains of renewal and excitement all over.

This hardship is the opposite of boredom. Most things that tend to become boring are exciting on the surface and are not difficult to start. Things that are vital and needed are difficult to start but do not bore out. This seems to happen with writing too. Further digging in the writer's soul makes the boredom disappear.

The good news about Torah is that it is multifaceted. There is something for everyone. There are moral lessons, legal intricacies, deep philosophies, fascinating stories, exciting give and take, and much more. Everyone can find their uniqueness in their Torah study; it just needs a bit of pursuit. The dedication to pursue it is the tool to dig out its deep wells of fresh water.

Comments? Email me: moshe@mosheunger.com.

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