Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Rant From Monsey

Ezzie - My friend Mordy S. from Monsey e-mailed me with a rant regarding the latest news out of Monsey. That post ended with this point, and this got Mordy typing... Please, read the whole thing. It makes a number of very important and sharp points throughout.

A Rant from Monsey - Mordy S.
"Address the disease, not the symptoms"
Ah, yes, the real point you were trying to make! And oh, how right you are.

To me, it almost seems as if addressing problems and issues within themselves is not the "in" thing to do in Jewish communities. Basically, I feel as if the “leaders” of different communities feel that it’s just easier to ban the internet than deal with the issues of the lack of bitachon among their constituents. It is clear that through their abuse of such a powerful tool, these people obviously have deeper issues.

However, it’s curious that the “leadership” would not ban cars, under a similar line of reason. One is reminded of the irresponsibility with cars that many UO have shown through their wonderful recent display in BoroPark or another already long forgotten story of a certain yungerleit who left his kid to fry in a car during the summer. I mean, driving has become, to some extent, dangerous in the Jewish world in the tri-state area. Are the leadership just so much more caring about the ruchnias and the neshamas of their constituents that imminent harm to their guf and gashmius just isn’t enough of a big deal to make bans? Although, in the Catskills there has been a ban for years in certain bungalow colonies and camps that prohibits bochurim from driving at night or other similar restrictions due to a deadly car accident, so maybe it takes some death to get things stirring.

But I’m being facetious. I don’t expect at all for there to be any real bans put in place regarding driving, and I’m sure something was done in the community where the certain yungerleit accidentally left his kid in the car. And I don’t truly believe that our “leaders” care more or less about any part of us. I believe our leaders care about us as individuals and as a community. And they all certainly know a lot more Torah than I do, so who am I to offer my .02? But here it goes anyway…

While that example I gave on driving might have been a little wacky, the ban that was imposed in certain communities in the Catskills wasn’t so wacky. It was the proper response to a problem that existed. Whether that problem was irresponsibility, lack of experience, or just completely out of the hands of the people who were involved isn’t the point. The point was that the problem was addressed and dealt with. Which is what should be done to ALL problems that currently exist in the Jewish community.

Look at the drug problem/ teens at risk/ going off the derech issue that has not left a single Jewish community untouched. Response? Indeed, quite the movement has taken place to ADDRESS this problem. However, have we so soon forgotten for how long this issue went UNADDRESSED? Does anyone know how long it actually took for Rabbis to start talking about in public, giving shiurim on, and holding conventions about these issues, plagues, diseases, cancers, and everything else they’ve been referred to as in the past. I don’t know when it actually started, but I do know how long it took for many of my friends to get the help they so desperately needed - some almost ten years.

This example is a microcosm of how issues are addressed in general throughout the greater Orthodox communities. It’s got to take EVERY community to feel, it’s got to claim MANY lives, it’s got to decay, ruin, and destroy entire families and relationships. Basically, it’s got to become an issue before it can get the proper response and dedication it deserves. Instead of dealing with each person and need, we wait until most of us, or even everyone feels the same needs. It never takes just one time, just one person, just one little issue. It’s not one act of abuse that a father carries out. It’s got to be at least one father in every Jewish community, and one family on every block of those communities. It’s not just one girl who gets abducted for $50,000 of reward money to suddenly appear. It’s after this same thing has happened in Monsey a year or two ago, and then again in Boro Park a couple of days earlier. We’ve got to wait until how many girls die of Anorexia before you hear about it spoken publicly in every HS and seminary? These are just a few that have finally been addressed. But what about all the other problems that “only happen here and there” so they just get swept aside or dealt with in private, instead of being a source of information or growth to the community and contributing the overall knowledge of the issue.
Does anyone know how long it actually took for Rabbis to start talking about in public, giving shiurim on, and holding conventions about these issues, plagues, diseases, cancers, and everything else they’ve been referred to as in the past. I don’t know when it actually started, but I do know how long it took for many of my friends to get the help they so desperately needed - some almost ten years.
I’m curious to see what’s going to happen over the next 5 to 10 years, as thousands of Orthodox Jews continue to dig themselves deep into debt. I want to know how some of these people that go to Florida every Pesach actually plan on paying off their credit card bills. I want to know why these people even go in the first place while they can’t even seem to pay full tuition for their children’s yeshivos. Does any Rabbi ever discuss the economic situation that exists in the Jewish community? You hear them discussing the “keeping up with the Johnson’s” theme every now and then. But even that seems like it's not the "in" thing, for it might upset some of the donation-giving populace who pride themselves solely on their beautiful and pleasure-filled possessions and who live just to hear their own names being announced in public. So yeah, it’s not a problem. That’s it, it’s just not an issue, since bankruptcy and fiscal irresponsibility has not caused enough harm and damage to the Jews yet.
Basically, it’s got to become an issue before it can get the proper response and dedication it deserves. Instead of dealing with each person and need, we wait until most of us, or even everyone feels the same needs. It never takes just one time, just one person, just one little issue.
But to me, all this is obvious. One of the characteristics of a Jew is busha. Jews are embarrassed by their problems, but even worse, they’re embarrassed about what their neighbors will say about their problems. The non-frum seem to talk more about Jewish guilt than the Orthodox, and I went to Ner Israel for high school so I know a thing or two about guilt. Basically, between the guilt, the neighbors, and whatever else, us Jews have enough other junk to deal with in addition to the actual problems themselves. But the main deal is that we have busha. We are just too embarrassed to bring our problems into the view of the public in order to deal with them and learn from them together. There exists no open-aired environment where one can speak freely. Why is there no Jewish AA or why aren’t there any public Jewish support groups? And if there happen to be some that I’ve just never heard of (which is entirely likely), are they public groups that are properly publicized, supported and encouraged or are they still riddled with stigmas that the rest of civilization has shed years ago? Do people realize how much good they can do for the community if they share their problems with others and how many people with similar problems can benefit from the common goal to reach a solution?
I’m curious to see what’s going to happen over the next 5 to 10 years, as thousands of Orthodox Jews continue to dig themselves deep into debt.
And yes, I know I’m being insensitive to all the people that have very serious, very personal, private psychological or medical problems. But people have to realize that they are not alone. People will do sick twisted things for different reasons, and some will feel guilty afterwards and long for help, while others are too sick to realize they even have a problem. But both of those people need help, and they need to know that there is somewhere to go to get help. If there is no problem, there is nothing to fix. So instead of dealing with problems, we avoid, deny, or ignore them. And then finally when something is too big to ignore, we just make one broad sweeping move that’s supposed to make sure it never happens again. And we manage to avoid the actual causes and intricacies of the problem itself, in order to avoid anymore twisting of the knife in the heart of the already ruined parties.

One more example that I think is a decent analogy is the different types of yeshivas that exist in Israel, and it probably even applies to yeshivas in America. I attended OJ, and people would say about OJ that it did nothing to help somebody’s actual problems. Rather, it would give people a hashkafa, a sort of “thorough chareidi-ish brainwashing” and then spit them back out to the world as a completely different person. Now, whether I agree or disagree with that assessment of the yeshiva is irrelevant; however, when one looks at the purpose of another yeshiva, one can see a more specific goal.
Do people realize how much good they can do for the community if they share their problems with others and how many people with similar problems can benefit from the common goal to reach a solution?
People know why Neveh Etzion exists, and it serves its purpose well. There were many success stories and also many bumps in the road, but they, as well as other similar yeshivas, are there to deal with specific issues, and most of them put a real effort into really dealing with them. They apply modern techniques and keep on top of their fields, and that’s why they succeed. They acknowledge the issues, and work on them. Why does it only have to be yeshivas like Neveh that keep on top of stuff like this? Why doesn’t every yeshiva address all types of issues.

The answer is because even yeshivas have busha. Yeshivas don’t want to be labeled “that type of place” and in order to avoid being referred to as not-as-shtark as the next place, they can’t discuss certain things and then real personal and psychological problems go unnoticed, or just don’t get dealt with correctly.

So then what is the disease? Is the disease embarrassment, or is it just natural for Jews to be embarrassed? And should we work on breaking down some of these communal restraints, or in the air of tznius, should we continue to stay quiet and private about any personal issue? Like, I said earlier, the leaders know a lot more Torah than I do, but I just feel like something has to be done. I feel that proper communication of any feelings can build so many bridges. If every Jewish community actually worked on communicating how they feel about each other and realized how many of the same problems they all have to deal with, Moshiach would be here already (that’s just what I think). And when I say communities, I don’t mean a couple of rabbis in the bigger shuls getting up and speaking while half the place is out making kiddush, and the other half is snoring. I’m talking about people who live on the same block and don’t even know each other’s names. People that daven in different little shteibels with completely different upbringings and hashkafas, getting together for a shaloshudas (seudat shlishit) every other shabbos in a different shul, just so they can discuss what they’re all facing as Jews together in the same world. And it’s not even that hard to do - but it won’t happen, ‘cuz there aren’t any problems.

Problems? What problems?

Powered by WebAds