Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Erachet had a good post recently about balancing what you read and what you don't.
One summer, I interviewed at a Literary Agency for a summer internship. They told me at the interview that, if I got in, I'd have to read all different kinds of manuscripts, from adventure to historical fiction to, yes, pornography. Believe it or not, they told me, there is such a thing as good pornography. I wanted to throw up. So when they asked me if I'd be interested working in their children's books department instead, I very readily said yes.
She discusses the balance necessary and how people should think about approaching reading, TV, and the like while trying to maintain that balance. On the flip side, here's R' Horowitz discussing what happens when people take the other extreme:

A close friend of mine owns a business in an area with a large charedi population and is always looking to provide avrechim with jobs. His ‘entrance exam’ is rather simple. He gives prospective applicants a pad and paper and asks them to write two paragraphs in English expressing the reasons they would like to land a job in his company, and then to turn on a computer and type those lines. His thinking is that if an applicant cannot perform those two tasks, they are useless to him in his business. Suffice it to say that this would probably be my last column in Mishpacha if I shared with you the percentage of applicants he turns away because they cannot do that.

In more than twenty-five years of dealing with at-risk teens I have not noticed a lower drop-out rate among kids who are raised in more sheltered environments. In fact, my experience leads me to support the observation made by my colleague Reb Yonasan Rosenblum, in a number of columns in these pages over the past few years, that out-of-town children have a lower drop-out rate than those who are raised in very sheltered communities.

The first part of that is more sad than anything else - we're talking about men who are willing and able to work, but due to their (lack of) education thanks to the frum community they grew up in, they simply will not be able to get a decent job. The latter part is more interesting, noting that sheltering does not seem to have the advantages it should, and that if anything, having more exposure would help them not only in terms of careers and the like but even in terms of staying healthy and religious. R' Horowitz even concludes with a message about poverty and how it undoubtedly a colossal risk factor in many areas, and that this sheltering causes poverty.

As with anything, a proper balance is necessary. Parents and educators should work on exposing kids and students in the proper way, and should take more confidence in their own ability to expose kids to subjects that include many shades of gray and explain how to approach them, rather than avoid them or whitewash them. It is far better to educate and allow people to decide for themselves what to pursue and what to avoid, and realize that with that education and self-awareness they'll more often than not make the right choice, than to hope that they never come across whatever issues may exist.