I haven’t been writing recently. Both here and my regular blog. There were several reasons, including the birth of my third daughter, things getting busy at work, getting very active in a new hobby, etc. But I think the one overwhelming reason was an incident I had just before Rosh Hashana last year.
A group I belong to has an email list, and we began sending each other “Shana Tova” greetings. One person sent out “Have an easy fast!” Now let me back up a little bit here. I’m sometimes a bit of a jokester. I like making people laugh, usually with light teasing, with emphasis on the light, I never try for mean humor, demeaning someone.
So I sent an e-mail out pointing out that Yom Kippur was in 10 days, and tonight (it was the day of Erev Rosh Hashana) “I plan to Feast, not Fast!” I had just meant it as a joke in the similarity between, yet totally opposite meanings of, the words ‘Feast’ and ‘Fast.’ However, while the group I belong to is a Jewish group, I’m the only observant member, and most of them know I became observant a few years ago (I was a member before I became observant).
My friend took my message not as a joke, but as if I was scolding him about not knowing the difference between the holidays, and also protested that because he was diabetic, he doesn’t fast as it causes medical problems for him. While his message wasn’t scathing, it was harsh enough that I knew I must have really hurt him and led him to think I was telling him he needed to fast. I quickly sent him an apology, and told him I was only joking, again, about the ‘fast’ and ‘feast’ thing, I knew about his medical issues, and that I was by no means telling him what he should or shouldn’t do, nor did I have any right or desire to do so. I worried about it all during the Yom Tov, and quickly checked my email after it was over. He had replied back that he understood, and probably took it the wrong way, and there were no hard feelings.
However, it still really struck me that a casual remark, meant to be a joke, brought such a reaction. I have tried very hard to be sure I was not judging others, not making them feel they should become more observant as well, etc. But I guess there’s always the underlying feeling that someone more observant is trying to force others to be as well.