Four Points for Renewal

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10 Responses

  1. S. says:

    >The Baal Shem Tov in the eighteenth century and Rav Yisroel Salanter in the nineteenth found themselves in such periods. Each saw their community’s young being drawn away from the traditions of their families by the allures of “enlightenment”.

    How can this be said about the Ba’al Shem Tov? Wrong time, wrong place. There wasn’t even a spark of “enlightenment” in early 18th century Ukraine/ Poland.

  2. Dovid says:

    “Indeed we are understandably stressed by the demands of contemporary observant life. Finding time for prayer and study in extremely hectic lives; bearing the huge burden of financing our children’s Torah education; juggling the needs of our growing families and institutions; nothing is easy. When we look in the mirror we see the lines of stress and the tired eyes. And it ain’t pretty. Yet we must not succumb to the pressures of our responsibilities and allow ourselves to project the feeling of “Iz shver tzu zein a Yid”. We must demonstrate instead a Simchas haChaim, a joie-de-vivre, which will truly attract our children to join us in the path to fulfillment and true life.”

    This really hits the nail on the head, and IMHO this might be the most crucial point of all. We’re encouraged to have large families, which means we need large incomes, which means we have less time to spend with these many kids and tend to the endless needs that they have. I can only speak for myself, but at times I find this lifestyle a complete logistical nightmare that leaves us, the parents, worn out and worn down, hardly conducive to insipring our kids with a love for Torah and mitzvos. I wish there was a way to make frum family life easier and more manageable so that we can truly experience and generate in others the simchas hachayim that our children need.

  3. tzippi says:

    The first commenter says that a particular point really hit the nail on the head. Rabbi Hauer hit all the important nails, or maybe hit the same nail from different angles. What concerns me most, most days(especially the days I’ve spent too much time on the computer), is the last point. There are large numbers of fully and truly observant Jews who’ve forgotten the imperative of “deracheha darchei noam.” We can be stressed to the hilt – due to financial issues, medical, etc. – but we can and still should live the kind and gentle lives of children of Avraham Avinu.

  4. Dovid says:

    Tzippi –
    The media puts the spotlight on all the bad things that go on. But much (most?) of what happens in the frum world is good. Of course, every dishonest frum person is one too many, and I definitely agree that this must be addressed urgently, but the situation is not quite as bleak as you would think reading Jewish media.
    Just a bit of nechama as we go into Tisha B’Av.

    She’nireh be’nechamas Tziyon

  5. Nathan says:

    Babylonian Talmud, tractate Baba Batra,
    page 21A, 13th line on page:
    The students whose teachers became angry at them
    would rebel and leave…

    Kav HaYashar, Chapter 23:
    If you see that people, especially your relatives
    or children, are headed in the wrong direction,
    first pray that they stop sinning and repent.
    Only rebuke them if you see that your prayer did not help.

  6. tzippi says:

    To Dovid: it’s too close to Yom Kippur, and it’s certainly too close to Tisha B’Av, but I do know that, and a lot of thinking people even outside our circles do. I was particularly thinking of the reactions and comments to some of the news stories.

  7. Yair Danielsohn says:

    Building on Rabbi Hauer’s brilliant and desperately important piece, may I throw out a few sugestions as to actually implementing these theories, in a concrete way, in our practical lives?

    Idea #1: Institute a national essay drive on the topic of “Why I am proud to be a Jew”, or “The beauty of Jewish Life”,or “The central role of ethics and good relationships with others in Torah”. These on either a late elementary or high school level. When kids have to research and actually think about these topics, they will undoubtedly gain a real connection with the concepts. Hopefully, they will even involve their parents in their research. This kind of project could realy put these ideas (back)on the map of Jewish life!!

    Idea ##2: Work to include “Ashreinu mah tov chelkeinu”, and/or on a different plane, “tzedek and yashrus” as official topics in our schools. It is not enough for teachers to attempt to put emphasis on these concepts whenever they come up during the normal course of learning. We have reached the point where they must become part of the curriculum. This will accomplish two things: 1) It will ensure that the concepts get addressed, 2) The very knowledge that special classes are devoted to these ideas will create a powerful attitude toward them.

    Idea #3: Institute, through some venue, whether it be Agudath Israel, Ou, or anything else, Ashreinu mah tov chelkeinu Month (or year!) during which rabbis and adult education workers devote special attention to the beauty and joy of Jewish life. The same for the areas of justice and interpersonal relationships.

    I feel that unless concrete steps – even small ones – are taken, our inspiration and vision will fall by the wayside.

  8. tuviah says:

    i think that many people who are partially observant like myself find it hard to imagine taking that leap into a kind of observance that will tax us so much.

    the idea that the lifestyle is so valuable is double-edged — it can be valuable, but it can be a great burden in many ways. i am not certain that the lifestyle is the same as Judaism. I think that the lifestyle can in some ways supplant Judaism — as it takes so much time and effort to do things halachically.

    I have seen people who have left the derech — and they are in many way MORE appreciative of life now. They are not druggies, or sex-addicts. They are very responsible individuals who just were a) not sure of Torah as the word of G-d, and b) in some cases, not sure there was a G-d.

    But “c” is also important: they continue to live good and ethical lives — they stay in touch with the frum family they come from, and they are not crazy or irresponsible or on drugs.

    I think that frum living is assumed to be better — but I think that any way you live can feel bad. It depends on the person. Lifestyle-ism is almost never what it’s cracked up to be.

  9. cvmay says:

    Yair, those ideas are commendable and easily incorporated into any Yeshiva curriculum. Children need to be taught yashrus & tzedek, we are assuming that these important ideals are learned by osmosis.
    Thanks for the innovative ideas, cvm

  10. Moshe Schorr says:

    Dovid says; “We’re encouraged to have large families, which means we need large incomes, which means we have less time to spend with these many kids and tend to the endless needs that they have. I can only speak for myself, but at times I find this lifestyle a complete logistical nightmare that leaves us, the parents, worn out and worn down, hardly conducive to insipring our kids with a love for Torah and mitzvos.”

    May I ask a question (and not be branded an apikores)?
    Where is this “encouragement” coming from? When I was growing up in the 1950’s, most families were two kids and most moms were stay-at-home. Nowadays it seems, less than 5 kids is a “nebich”, and most moms are working hard. It does sound like a “logistical nightmare”.

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