Frum vs. Religious
I've been having an ongoing conversation with a friend about the difference between being "frum" and being "religious." It's still a working theory, so bear with me while I try to work it out.
According to my friend, being frum is about keeping up appearances. It's about the clothing, the hats, what other people see. It can also be about a mindset - that non-Jewish practices are not what we are supposed to engage in, that you shouldn't go to a movie theater, that Jewish music is preferable to secular.
Being religious is a different matter. It's about a spiritual connection, about serving God, following halacha with the correct intent. It's about living Torah internally and really feeling it in one's heart.
You can be both frum and religious, one or the other, or neither. I think there is some allegory to the four species on Sukkot, but I don't know it well enough to use, so I won't.
One can be frum but not religious pretty easily. You wear the right clothes and talk the right talk and play the part. But when no one is looking, things might change a bit. There might be a computer with a DVD player at home, maybe you feel skeptical about a lot of beliefs, maybe you engage in behaviors that you wouldn't in public.
I also know a lot of people who are religious without necessarily being frum. They have a very strong belief in God, in Judaism and a huge connection to Jewish life. Maybe they keep Shabbos and kosher; maybe a lot of other stuff. The important part is the intention and the connection they feel. They really desire to serve God in the best way that they can. This may or may not include being strict in many areas.
There are those who are neither - maybe they observe some jewish practice, maybe not.
And there are those who are both - they sincerely serve God and follow the Torah to the best of their ability, sometimes going above and beyond necessity. They put up fences around themselves and the laws in order to make sure they are not tempted to break them. They honestly and sincerely are frum, religious individuals and they care deeply about what their actions, both in public and private, say about them. I think it's a rare thing to see, but it is beautiful.
I've been trying to figure out where I fit in the matrix. I'm not sure.