"I had lunch with these great people," said my friend. "You know them. They seem to have it all. They seem to have a great marriage. They have a beautiful home. They have beautiful children. They have a great dog. They have thriving careers. They have an honored place in the observant community. I envy them. I want to be like them. What should I do?"
"Place yourself in a position where you can spend as much time as possible around these type of people," I said.
"But isn’t envy a sin?"
"Don’t worry about that. You’re aspiring to be more. They’re showing you a way. Watch what the people you admire do and become like them."
I turned away and walked home. I’ve been trying to follow my own advice for 15 years, since I came to Pico-Robertson. The primary reason I am an Orthodox is that most of the great people I know are Orthodox Jews. I want to be like them. And yet I am so far from them. I am so far removed from the people I want to be like. I am so scorned by the people I admire.
Oh well. I have competing values. Following the demon of my writing is even more important to me than creating bonds with my fellow Orthodox Jews. When community and blogging clash, I choose blogging.