Now, this is not true for everyone who feels this way.
Some manage their situation in a way that works for them. I heard of at least one who got married with the full knowledge of his kallah. They felt compatible in other ways & it definitely takes a certain kind of woman to agree to this, no matter how compatible she feels with him otherwise.
But according to him, it worked out. He worked on himself in this area, felt enormous affection & appreciation toward his wife, and invested strong efforts with regard to his thoughts & eyes—in much the way any person works on his taavot of any kind.
But Devorah's response struck me because it was so simple & straight-forward, yet I never heard it before and it never occurred to me:
A LOT of people feel lonely & frustrated & rejected—for a variety of reasons. That's not a reason to do something forbidden (and especially a forbidden act that reaps so much harm in its wake—even if that harm is not immediately perceived).
The Injustice of Feelings as the Deciding Factor
For example, in the case of gender dysphoria, society increasingly capitulates to the demands of biological males who claim to feel female. They insist on using women's restrooms and participating in girls' sports, despite the obvious inequality—and danger to both women & children (as has already happened).
Or how institutions & organizations are trying to set up a situation in which a man who feels female and goes to a doctor complaining of abdominal pain will not just be tested for abdominal issues, but also uterine issues—despite not having a uterus.
Females claiming to feel male may insist on being tested for non-female issues, even though her reproductive system may be the issue.
I'm not sure if this has actually happened yet, but the idea is being pushed forward.
Furthermore, in some places, it is legal for a 6-7-months pregnant woman with a fully developed baby who can live (with assistance) outside the womb to kill this baby in a multi-step procedure—all because she doesn't feel like she's ready to have a baby, whether to raise it herself or opt for adoption (because adoption also presents very real emotional challenges).
In the frum world, rabbis receive insistent questions from young frum Jews in non-Jewish/non-frum working environments who wish to record meaningless TV shows on Shabbat in order to participate in conversations with their co-workers, who primarily discuss a specific show.
They express feeling awkward & judged by not watching the TV show.
Because feelings play such a decisive role nowadays, it's increasingly difficult to encourage actions that may cause some degree of discomfort—and the vast majority of any kind of inner growth initially sparks discomfort.
When Only Physical Beauty is Worth Any Pain
This includes education, money, food, relationships, material acquisition, and much more.
(True, people in certain majors in Ivy League schools expect hard work—like Harvard law or Harvard medical school. However, many American college students expect easy work & grades, and indeed receive an insufficient education even at the college level.)
Also in the realm of emotions, people increasingly turn to drugs (both legal & not) for relief.
A minority of those taking medication invest effort in working on their middot. I've met them and their determination to work on themselves while taking medication (sincerely using the medication as an assistant to their inner work, rather than as a replacement for inner work) inspires me with a lot of admiration for them.
It's not easy, yet they persevere onward.
But most people taking medication use it to feel good rather than be good.
So when people hear encouragement to grow in ways that are emotionally uncomfortable, it sounds too foreign and repellant.
The Rocky Road of a Meaningful Life
Doing the right thing automatically creates a rockier road in our life journey.
But an attitude of emunah & a relationship with Hashem can give us pleasure as we make our way over the rocks.
Knowing that the rockiness makes a stronger & better in the end, knowing that a wonderful future awaits us at the end—these grant the journey meaning and make it all feel worthwhile.
Yet the road never lies straight forever; every journey consists of ups & downs.
Most people cannot maintain a high level of emunah for long.
They experience lows.
Sometimes, a lonely & frustrating situation hits regardless of what the person does to prevent it: a disability, an accident, an attack, a death, a lost job—these can all thrust a person into a low place.
Other times, a moral decision casts a person into a low place. Swimming against the current means exhaustion and getting water & debris in your face at times.
A person who decides to:
- keep Shabbat
- behave & dress with personal dignity & modesty
- keep kosher (or a higher level of kashrut)
- refuses to go to the movies
...will find themselves feeling uncomfortable & frustrated in modern society (unless they live & work in a predominantly frum community—and even then, if they uphold standards higher than their community's, they may also experience loneliness, rejection, discomfort, and frustration).
Adhering to the laws of lashon hara sometimes causes very hard feelings and incite criticism—no matter how nicely & gently you hold your ground in this area.
Yet millennia of Jewish scholarship remains uncompromising about sins of the tongue, emphasizing the glory in store for one who refrains from speaking wrongly while warning of the terrible damage resulting from improper speech.
One famous afterlife communication stressed that in the Heavenly Court, "sins of the tongue are the worst of all."
Depending on what social circles you find yourself in, upholding the laws of lashon hara can definitely bring you loneliness, discomfort & rejection.
So should you consider yourself exempt?
No way. They don't exempt you in Shamayim for such reasons.
We are expected to rise to the occasion and build ourselves.
Grueling challenges are indeed, well...grueling.
Outside of her classes, she dedicated her heart, time, and money to this subject.
Yet upon becoming frum, she realized this career presented a challenge to her newfound frumkeit.
Consultation with knowledgeable, experienced people revealed the dismaying truth: There was no kosher outlet for her chosen calling.
For art? Yes.
For this specific branch of art? Absolutely not.
All those years, time, and money invested in this art? Null & void.
That's pretty depressing, isn't it?
Understandably, she went through a sour period following this unhappy revelation.
But much to her credit, she stuck it out (at least for as long as I knew her).
If you see her journey through eyes of emunah, then you realize that Hashem caused her initial attraction to tamei art, and caused her to discover frumkeit when she did, and then caused her to confront this massive nisayon.
You also realize that she receives MAJOR BIG-TIME reward & blessing for her fortitude to turn away from her previous calling and forge a new path.
That is HARD.
And she deserves enormous credit for her courage & commitment, despite her massive disappointment.
Much Suffering Naturally FEELS Exceptional to the Sufferer—Even When It's Not
We should be careful not to shame the person, or otherwise denigrate or crush somebody struggling in a nisayon.
However, negative feelings & inconvenience should never be accepted as an excuse to stomp all over clear Torah prohibitions—especially extremely severe prohibitions that cause the destruction of both one's society & one's self.
Many of us suffer negative feelings & challenging situations.
People suffering from same-gender attraction can't use that as an exemption.
Society presents it as an exceptional type of suffering, but it's not as special or exceptional as presented in the mainstream.
And thanks again to Devorah for introducing that simple yet powerful truth.