(Very shortly, this Tumblr will be three years old; in honor, I’m going to try to clean out its thirty-some dusty draft posts, either deleting or publishing them, basically as they were when I abandoned them. Here’s the most recent one, written in early April.)
There is a thing that happens every Passover; this year it happened on Saturday at a sausage restaurant in Brooklyn where I ordered the pork and veal kielbasa and didn’t eat the bun and then someone was like “but you’re eating pork” and I made a weak attempt to distinguish between kosher and kosher for Passover and then let it slide because I’m actually not entirely sure how to explain it, why it makes sense to me to care about one rule and not the other.
Or: I know why I care about one rule and not the other, and it’s a personally useful but dogmatically incoherent distinction. This kind of religious reasoning is how you know I was raised Reform, a sect of Judaism that encourages you to create your practice as something spiritually meaningful rather than liturgically correct. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t rules— only that I have always understood my practice of them to be meaningful only insofar as I understood those rules, and chose freely to follow them.
But that, too, is incoherent: practice is by definition regular, and I do believe that ritual has its place; sometimes you have to go through the motions for a long time before they become meaningful. Sometimes you go to those motions and they feel hollow, and you do them anyway, because that’s what practice is: it’s submitting yourself to a form, for a little while.
In the end, what is comes down to is that I don’t like dietary restrictions of any kind, for the specific reason of my own history of disordered eating as well as the general way in which they remove Jews from the non-Jewish community. Keeping strictly kosher, or even just strictly kosher for Passover, means there’s no way to go to a sausage shop in Brooklyn or grab brunch with a friend. It makes your world a necessarily narrow place, and I wouldn’t be religious if I thought that was what religion was about. I’m OK with limiting myself, at certain times in certain places; Passover is just that, passing, and it’s good to remind myself of how much latitude I have, the rest of the time. But I wouldn’t do it every day. Like everything else, sacrifice and self-restriction are only useful as parts of an omnivorous whole.