Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dorian Gray vs. His Portrait

A fellow shul-member approached my mother telling her that she is quite impressed with my davening.

I was taken aback. My davening is not exactly stellar. While in high school I was able to enter a plane of trance-like prayer to the point that my head buzzed upon surfacing, my davening nowadays is rather pathetic. I'm unable to focus the way I would like, easily distracted by the silliest thoughts ("She wore that? But she's so pretty! Why would she put on a horrible waist-obscuring top like that?") While my nose may be piously planted inside the siddur, believe me, my head is elsewhere.
We really only see the outward appearance of people. Not the inside.

One never knows what is going on in other people's lives. No one knows what goes on behind closed doors. Some may think that others are enjoying wonderful lives; maybe they aren't. Nor do we know the true worth of a person based on the outside. 

When I left the "ghetto" for the outside world (college) and met other Jews (waddya know? There are other types of Jews!) it definitely took my brain some time to recalibrate. I found myself focusing on another's personality rather than the outward appearance I was used to. 

After meeting many amazing, admirably religious people who would not qualify as "tznius" by my former BY, I no longer use rulers as a gauge for individual worth. While I abide by the hems/sleeves/collar requirements  for myself (with a little wiggle room) I do not expect another Jew to. 

Take as well the concept of physical beauty. How often have I met someone, male or female, thinking them to be oh-so-bad looking, but after ten minutes in their company they have become the most beautiful person in the room? Perhaps they don't photograph well, but if they are given the chance to converse one-on-one they are positively stunning. 

A while back there was a "controversy" - Michell Bachmann was featured in Newsweek, and the cover photo made her look loony.

Jon Stewart (hysterical, as always) said that there are many things that can be said about Michele Bachmann, but she is definitely photogenic. Therefore, Newsweek had look long and hard to find an unflattering shot. 

You don't need a bad photo to prove she's crazy, Jon said, "Because that's what her words are for." (Example: The HPV vaccine causes mental retardation in 12-year-olds).

Let us give the non-photogenic a chance. Because the ones that look great aren't necessarily keepers.


Yedid Nefesh said...

It's funny cus at shul im so distracted, i notice every thing that go on and i do get impressed by other people's davening but i dont go around saying it, its so personal!

Princess Lea said...

I suppose that the key is to be inspired by others' seemingly absorbed davening, but still not to assume anything.

Yeah, I would have preferred if the lady hadn't mentioned anything. Now I feel all guilty that I am masquerading as a good davener.

%Shocked% said...

I'm of the opinion that "masquerading" as a good davener could lead you to actually become a good davener. The other way you could look at it is that you could try and "prove" to yourself that the outside matches the in- improve your davening if you feel it needs improving.

"After meeting many amazing, admirably religious people who would not qualify as "tznius" by my former BY, I no longer use rulers as a gauge for individual worth." I'm guessing you mean religious level? If that's the case, beautifully said.

Princess Lea said...

Yes, by religious level. Frumkeit is not based on an arbitrary decision by a few as to what qualifies as "tznius."

%Shocked% said...