Pirkei Avot, chapter 2, paragraph 1: "Rabbi (Yehuda HaNasi) said . . . 'Be as scrupulous in performing a "minor" mitzvah as in a "major" mitzvah, for you do not know the reward given for the respective mitzvot.'"
Some segments of the Orthodox community seem to have the same attitude toward sin, not differentiating between minor infractions of halachah (Jewish religious law) and serious, even life-altering, violations thereof. ADDeRabbi has complained about this both in the past and more recently, and has strongly recommended that a "hierarchy of violations" be recognized, acknowledging the fact that some sins are, in fact, much worse than others.
Here's the heart of his post on the misbehavior in Monticello:
"I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry at the equation between immodest dress and drug use. I have been taught that in order to be a good Jew, one must first be a good human being. Being Jewish does not absolve one from being a mensch. All of the behaviors discussed are symptomatic of the ‘at-risk’ youth. And I ask: at risk of what? Becoming Modern Orthodox? Intermarrying? Dying of a drug overdose? Contracting STDs? I think that a hierarchy of ‘risks’ must be catalogued, and fast, lest mountains be turned into molehills and vice versa (like in the old ‘it leads to mixed dancing’ joke)."As I commented there, "I have a serious problem with the automatic assumption, in some segments of the Orthodox community, that there's no such thing as innocent, wholesome activities that involve both males and females in the same place at the same time. Seriously, how intimate can one get with a bowling ball in hand or a mouth full of pizza?"
I read somewhere (given my lack of a decent Jewish education, it was probably on a blog) that the rabbis have said, "If you forbid that which is permitted, people will do that which is forbidden." See here for proof, should you happen to need any.
The Hillel (standing-on-one-foot) version: If you forbid everything, then people will do anything, on the assumption that, as long as they already have the (bad) name, they might as well play the "game" (do that of which they've been accused anyway). If you're going to call me a whore or a womanizer just for talking to a person of the opposite sex in a pizza parlor, I might just as well have sex. After all, what difference does it make in your eyes, anyway?
Bottom line: If males and females have no opportunities to be together under reputable circumstances, they'll seek disreputable ones.
Yes! The OJ community makes insufficient distinction between activities which are dangerous to one's health and/or psyche, activities which violate halakha according to some viewpoints, and activities which are disapproved of from a hashkafic viewpoint. The idiotic conflation of children at risk for unsafe drug and sex use with those "at risk" for leaving Orthodoxy is a prime example.ReplyDelete
I did not read the post that way. I read it more along the lines of distinguishing between "teens being teens" and truly dangerous behavior.
I know, I was adding my own two cents. :-)
G said, " I did not read the post that way. I read it more along the lines of distinguishing between "teens being teens" and truly dangerous behavior."ReplyDelete
Sorry--I probably should have copied more of my comment to the linked ADDeRabbi post: "I agree with you, ADDEeRabbi, that the equation of violations of clothing standards with life-and-death issues such as drug abuse is distressing, to say the least. I'm considerably taken aback that, in that particular community, no distinction seems to be made life-threatening behavior and behavior that the simple presence of a chaperone might nip in the bud."
The ADDeRabbi is pleading for some perspective. Agreed! "Teens being teens," to my mind, means that, since many, if not most, teens are interested in meeting members of the opposite sex, they need *wholesome* opportunities to to do. Talking to a person of the opposite sex at a pizza parlor should not be equated with abusing drugs, which is a life-threatening activity.
Ah, my bad...and don't be modest, that's at least a nickel's worth.
--it's not my dime's worth but...
It seems to me that you're making the same mistake as the point of view you're criticizing. I agree that putting heroin and exposed elbows in the same category is ridiculous. But it also seems to me that it is equally as ridiculous to say that if you forbid activities that are permitted people will do activities that are prohibited. Some people who are already half-way down a dangerous path may decide that they are already going to be shunned so they might as well continue down that path and at least enjoy themselves. But that's not true for everyone, and it probably isn't even true for most people. I don't think people who recognize an extremist position as problematic need to rush to the other extreme in order to effectively point out the problems with the first point of view. Or even to effectively prevent the problems associated with the extremist position.ReplyDelete
As you already know (Shira), I agree most closely with Ariella, while at the same time acknowledging the points above about not equating hashkafic issues with issues such as alcohol, drugs, and the like.ReplyDelete
There *is* something to be said for having 'fences'; at the same time, going past those fences shouldn't make people feel ostracized/terrible as if they've done something over the line. Doing so only results in them actually going over those lines.
"There *is* something to be said for having 'fences'"ReplyDelete
There is something to be said for providing a true education in Halacha which right wing and even middle of the road Orthodox Yeshivos--both girls' and boys'--do not. Knowledge is power. The power to make knowledgable decisions about your Judaism and for teens--that means a split second judgment with not much thought to the ramifications. And what it really means is that if you have erred Halachically according to Orthodox parameters of Halacha, you--even a teen-- will be able to put that transgression into perspective and even if you push through that fence over and over again, you will KNOW the value of what you did.
I am off the black hat, right wing Orthodox train and onto the Modern Orthodox one for precisely this reason.
And all of us right-wing Orthodox Yeshiva students (hear my Ferris Bueller tone) does anyone know the Halachos of Yichud, Negiyah, Iskei Mamon, Onaas Mamon, for boys--Shmirat Shabat...anyone, anyone, anyone???
anon mom- i can help with the yichud and negiah- the other issues- money wise if u you have specific questions feel free to email me (unless you were asking sarcastically)?ReplyDelete
There is something to be said for providing a true education in Halacha which right wing and even middle of the road Orthodox Yeshivos--both girls' and boys'--do not. Knowledge is power. The power to make knowledgable decisions about your Judaism and for teens--that means a split second judgment with not much thought to the ramifications.ReplyDelete
Amen, and extremely well put. With all that said, particularly for teens, having extra 'fences' can still be good. "Look, this is the halacha, and on this there's some hashkafic difference, but in this school we feel that this should be the rule." - I think that's a fine approach.
I agree. Fences good. Knowledge good. Together... great potential.ReplyDelete
I posted the following comment along these lines on yeshivaworld in response to someone else's comment:ReplyDelete
in comment #8 drawkcab says the following in the context of his comment.
“but I think the decision to get into drugs and girls and guys “hanging out together” comes from a lack of an appreciation of who we are and the great things that we as yiddin can accomplish.”
The fact that you did not diffrentiate between the severity of drugs and the severity of socializing between guys and girls is a reflection of part of the problem. Kids get that message and they dont diffrentiate either, thinking that both are just as ‘rebellious’. That’s ridiculous!! Drugs is something that is completely against teva, and it is absolutely unacceptable, while socializing comes from a natural feeling that everyone has. Granted, you dont want your children ‘hanging out’. But if they recieve this message that you send out, that both are equally bad, they’ll just go ahead and do both, why not? ‘Once I’m hanging out with guys at the pizza shop, we may as well go snort drugs…’ Really, people, get a grip on reality!