Nathan on Nathan
I always had a fondness for writing, tracing back to age six when I created my first book, “Nathan’s Goes to the Pool,” an eight-page construction paper journey to my favorite place. I honed my storytelling skills throughout elementary school, both by participating in the Citywide Storytellers Contest at age seven, and in telling fantastic stories to my parents to get myself out of trouble. Throughout my primary education, I filled my notebooks with short poems, story openers, and other attempts at great literature, though I was too occupied with getting my general education to finish anything. Only when I spent a summer at Columbia University focusing solely on writing (and socializing) did I truly apply myself, though it would be another five years and much more experience before I found the time or the gall to attempt my first novel.
My interest in dating and relationships began when I was thirteen years old. A “regular” teenager living in a suburb outside of New York City, my perspective on the habits of my peers changed dramatically when I decided, as part of a greater immersion in Jewish observance, to become shomer negiah. Completely abstaining from all physical contact with women is already a challenge for adults in modern society, so imagine the difficulty doing so while still a teenager! That struggle, combined with the vicissitudes of a Jewish lifestyle in a completely secular environment, gave me a unique take on life and Judaism.
My situation didn’t change once I left the immature bubble of public high school and ventured into the big world of university. The small Jewish community in which I quickly became immersed only intensified my confusion, now that I saw I was sharing my relationship quandaries with others. How could we be so conscious of the inevitability of getting married and yet so utterly puzzled by the “game” that we had to play with women? I carried my questions with me as I attended conferences, Shabbatons, and colleges with larger Orthodox Jewish communities than where I matriculated, and graduated after three years with no real answer.
After graduating, I spent a summer in Brooklyn, preparing myself for a dynamite year learning in a yeshiva in Israel (see “The History of Outdated”). When I felt that one year wasn’t enough, I returned as a dorm counselor in a post-high school yeshiva program while I learned concurrently in a different yeshiva. There, the rosh yeshiva made it his business to insert half-an-hour a day of marriage preparation classes, as learned through the sefer of Rabbi Ezriel Tauber shlit”a. In those sessions, we were not only exposed to Rabbi Tauber’s insights into the Torah outlook on marriage, our rosh yeshiva peppered the discussion with his own experiences in shidduchim, as he himself mentored every student from his first thought to get married, into dating, engagement, and well into his first years of marriage. Not only did I personally benefit from the careful guidance of the rosh yeshiva through my shidduch and marriage, but after eight years, I remain in the yeshiva, trying to soak up his experience and trying to spread his message to the world.
In addition to writing, I spend about a third of my hours awake learning Torah. In the other thirds, I edit for a book publishing company, imbue valuable life lessons to my adolescent children while attempting to mitigate their bickering, prepare our house for the arrival of the Shabbos Queen (this is a week-long endeavor), and try out new chulent recipes. Oh, I also drum on anything that makes a sound when banged.