I'm not Jewish, but my best friend while growing up was. Our bond was unusual for teenagers and young adults. We had a real love and respect for each other.
In his mid 20's, he was drawn to Israel and eventually moved there. He became orthodox and is now actually a rabbi.
Not long after he began his spiritual journey, he shut me out of his life completely, but without a word or explanation. He did this quite abruptly and very insensitively. I decided to give him some space and wait for some correspondence.
I didn't hear a word from him for nine years, although he occasionally visited home not far from here.
Now he's been emailing me, he's married with kids, and wants to reconnect. It hurts, but I just don't want to deal with him.
My question is this: Because the collapse of our friendship coincided with his awakening religiosity, it has crossed my mind that maybe he was instructed either directly or indirectly to sever ties with old friends, particularly non-Jews.
Could this be possible? And if so, why would he now be trying to contact me?
Many of us have been through this. You fall in love with a different way of living, rituals, study -- a whole new wave of life washes over you -- and your only way to deal with it is by blocking out the rest of the world. I've seen it happen not only to people getting into their Judaism, but with musicians, artists, career people, politicians. Although, yes, religion may be the most encompassing of all.
It's a sign of an earnest personality, someone who puts his all into anything he does. You can't achieve a total immersion into anything without first letting go of everything else. Perhaps it was that same earnestness that allowed such a strong bond between the two of you in younger years. This is a person who, wherever he is, all of him is there.
So what has happened now? Simple: It's taken your friend nine years to get his feet back down on the ground. He's finally comfortable with where he is. And now he feels a need to get back to who he is and where he comes from.
I believe your friend's reaching back out to you is sincere. You can give him the benefit of the doubt. The world, the Jewish sages say, can be sustained only through forgiveness.