Monday, October 10, 2011

Judgmental? Me?

I went to B&H to buy an electrical accessory, and I was being helped by (who else?) a chassidishe fellow. Pathetically, I felt a need to prove my heimishness, and began to shamelessly drop Yiddish terms, which he was rather unimpressed by.

While waiting for my item to be fished out from the basement stockroom, a Hispanic worker came by and they chatted. She was complaining about having to greet the customers in the doorway as the cold air made her shoulder ache. 

She walked away, and the chassid said that she had just gotten a tattoo on that shoulder. 

I expressed my perplexity in terms of tattoo allure - the pain, the permanence. 

He looked disapprovingly at me. "It's another lifestyle," he admonished. 

That really gave me something to chew on. 

Divisiveness nowadays is based usually on the flimsiest of premises - skirt length, Cholov Yisroel vs. Stam, velvet or knit kapul. In other words, sinas chinum: baseless hatred.

Many smaller communities outside New York are more welcoming of their fellow neighbor. A relative of mine in Australia doesn't eat in the house of her best friend - there's a real problem with her kashrus, but they are still BFFs. In many areas, everyone does their own thing and no one holds that against them. 

But I think the divisiveness stems from another area; I think many of us don't trust ourselves, and in order to feel as though they are "proper" they have to alienate themselves from true, kind, frum people for rather shvach (weak) reasons. 

These people are not the "chaver ra." That person will incite others into bad behavior. They simply don't do things exactly like you.

Acceptance is the understanding of who one is, yet welcoming those whose lifestyles are not the same.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz wrote an article called, "Why Doesn't Religion Make Us Better People?"
. . . that of the person who is very particular about religion, but sees it only as a form of ritual. For him, religious practice does not have any meaning — except for going through a routine in a particular way. While such people may be good or evil by nature, ritual life may become mechanical. Over time, they may be more and more involved with meticulous observance. They may measure others only by the way they, themselves, practice religion. They may see observance as an excuse for avoiding any good deeds that are not part of the ritual. And sometimes ritual practice even serves as atonement for very immoral behavior in other arenas, or for belittling or despising other religions. They see God as an idol that demands sacrifices — the sacrifice of other human beings.
This line that ends off with nutshells it: 
Both wisdom and faith work much better when the worshipper identifies with them internally rather than being tamed to show them off externally.


Mystery Woman said...

Great post!

%Shocked% said...

"I think many of us don't trust ourselves..."

"These people are not the "chaver ra."

As Mystery Woman wrote, great post, but I'm not sure if I agree with the second line I quoted from what you wrote. The first one is absolutely correct, and although the others are most definitely not "chaver ra," it's potentially "dangerous" to befriend them. It takes a very strong person not to be influenced by their friends and surroundings, and spending time with someone who doesn't adhere to the same standard one has opens one them up to making negative changes.

One of the explanations for the grievance (Chazal say we can't call it a sin) made on David Hamelech was that he asked for a nisayon. Allowing influences in your life that are negative, or even neutral, is asking for a nisayon. It's possible to overcome it, but is it worth the risk?

Princess Lea said...

I think, that providing that someone else is a mensch, one doesn't have to worry about negative influence. If they don't keep Judaism exactly like you, does that mean they still cannot benefit from friendship? And look at it this way - one may have a good influence on them, rather then the belief that one will be dragged down.

I have faith in us that we can be strong in our practices and be welcoming of our fellows.

%Shocked% said...

People are influenced by others= fact. That works both ways, for both the good and the bad. It has nothing to do with who they are as people, mensch or otherwise. They can be the sweetest person around, but if they're constantly doing, or not doing, things that aren't what you do, you'll eventually become desensitized to it, and quite possibly would start doing it yourself. It's human nature. A few eons ago, I had never heard the term "shomer negiah." It had never even dawned on me that not touching a girl is anything but a straight-up halacha and not a "shmirah." After hearing the term again and again, the severity of it lessened. I couldn't help it.

I didn't address that at all. You could ask the same thing regarding anyone. A cheshbon has to be made. What can I gain? What can I lose? In which areas do they she keep Judaism differently? Is it something I have no problem with or something I have, and do, struggle with. For example, if a girl is working on her tznius, don't you think it would be a big mistake for her to start hanging out with a girl whose standards are way off the mark for what she believes to be halacha?

Agreed, but only after the above (or one similar) cheshbon has been made in my humble opinion.

Princess Lea said...

"Shomer negiah" is a new invention - it didn't have a term. Halachically, men and women shouldn't touch; that's it. I never heard "shomer" before I came to college, and I was mocked by my irreligious classmates that as an "O girl," I don't touch. There's more to Judaism than that, people.

The way I was raised is that we were taught right and wrong. Sure, when one is young there is more concern in terms of influence, but, please, we're all big kids now. Bechira is bechira. Either one understands what they believe is to be right, or they can lock themselves up in the closet.

I have more faith in people's willpower to distance myself from other religious people.

However, if someone is a loud-mouthed jackass, he's a chaver ra. And I'm not going anywhere near him.

%Shocked% said...

I'm well aware of that lol.. And I'm bothered that there is a term! I've heard that the orthodox are given hell because of their hakpadah on halacha and it's really sad.

100%, there is more to Judaism than that, and it's unfortunate that there are so many people who don't recognize that.

I respectfully disagree. Scientists say that even before children are born they're being influenced by the surroundings outside their womb. I believe chazal says something similar. Hearing curse words won't lessen your sensitivity? Reading romance novels won't diminish what is supposed to be treated as a holy act? I don't see how it's possible to be more than casual friends or acquaintances with someone whose standard of keeping halacha is significantly below one's own.

As well, accepting the influences is dangerous. There's a well-known story (which I don’t remember verbatim) that Rav Pinchas Sheinberg once got very excited when he heard that the Yankees won the World Series. He explained that he wasn't excited that they won, but that he felt nothing at all. He said it took him 70 years to not even get a little bit happy when he heard that they won. Regaining a sensitivity is a lot more difficult than losing it.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't have friends who are of different sects. I'm saying that some sort of cheshbon needs to be made.

I'm not sure what that has to do with the post, and I hate assuming things, so, I'll ask. Are you calling me a loud-mouthed jackass?

Anonymous said...

You don't need to drop yiddish to sound heimish. You have an accent.

Princess Lea said...

Shocked: No, I was not calling you a loud mouthed jackass. I had read an article recently where the speaker was saying that we are taught to distance ourselves from a chaver ra, and people don't do so because they want to be nice. I happen to know a few loud mouthed jackasses that nice people should rather not be friends with. When they enter the room, I leave. I just don't want to be around such a toxic personality.

I am saying that one can be influenced badly - by the toxic personality such as the loud mouthed jackass. Then there is another type of person, who is frum and proper but don't do things exactly the way you do. My argument is that we should consider ourselves strong enough to be friends with them, but distance ourselves from the chaver ra.

Princess Lea said...

Bad4: It's my dentalized T, isn't it?

%Shocked% said...

It's a good thing I didn't assume then :)

I agree, of course, that we should say away from loud-mouthed jackasses lol. They can all hang out together. I hear where you're coming from, but I still think a cheshbon needs to be made. But I hear and agree with the main point of your post.