Dale Carnegie next door

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6 Responses

  1. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Having stereotypes is not evil. It is a necessary adaptation to living in large societies, where we meet unknown people all the time. Otherwise we’d be making avoidable errors like offering food to Muslims during the day on Ramadan (Tishrey until the next Jewish leap year).

    Stereotypes become a problem when:

    1. We trust stereotypes instead of treating them as heuristics which may or may not be true. For example, most Arabs are Muslims, but some are Christians.

    2. We refuse to change our stereotypes, or accept that they don’t apply in a specific case, when faced with conflicting evidence. Not all Muslims observe Ramadan, just as not all Jews observe Yom Kippur.

    In the case of Charedim from the Chiloni perspective, though, there are two additional factors:

    1. Lack of personal experience. I lived in Israel until I was 24. At school, I was surrounded by other Chilonim (and one girl who became Ba’alat Tshuva). In the military, I worked with other Chilonim and Dati’im. When I went to Tel Aviv University, I studied with Chilonim and Arabs. My high tech workplace had Chilonim and Dati’im, and one woman who may have been Charedi but didn’t speak about her personal life enough for me to know.

    It’s hard to correct stereotypes when you don’t bump against the reality.

    2. The Chiloni mind well and truly boggles at the concepts of Da’at Torah and Emunat Chachamim. The nearest thing is the Chiloni world is expecting the Supreme Court to rule based on justice rather than the letter of the law, thus giving the Supreme Court the right to decide what is just.

    The difference is that the Supreme Court is only used in this capacity a few times a year. Da’at Torah is, if I understand the concept correctly, a daily thing. Giving anybody that kind of power over oneself is not something that’s easy for Chilonim to understand.

  2. Micha Berger says:

    There was a paper written suggesting that an essay in Mikhtav meiEliyahu was based on the Reader’s Digest summary of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Whether or not you buy it (I find the parallels a little stretched), R’ Aryeh Carmell zt”l, who compiled Rav Dessler’s writings and notes of his classes into Mikhtav meiEliyahu, reports that Rav Dessler thought that Carnegei’s methodologies had much to contribute to Mussar. His worldview, being focussed on pragmatics rather than being a holier person, not as much.

    Chassidim in general are very open to exploring such theories — in places where they have no mesorah about how such things are done. Their special ed programs are also often using very modern systems. If anything, I would complain that sometimes they go beyond the leading edge into what we in the computer fields would call the “bleeding edge”, so new you get all the mistakes that others could have weeded out for you.


    PS: R’ Aryeh Carmell was niftar in Tishrei and now the Tzitzi Eliezer (just today)! 5767 started with a hard couple of months.

  3. Michael Spilzinger says:

    I know that this was not the thrust of the article, but I just wanted to mention that reading Dale Carnegie actually gave me a greater appreciation of the depth of the knowledge that Chazal had in understanding human nature.

    It seems to me that people go through life thinking of Pirkei Avos as a book of ethics for the ethical minded. I now see it as a guidebook to getting the most out of our relationships, whether with G-d or with man. If you are not motivated by the Lishma of being ethical, then at least learn it for the Lo Lishma of being more successful in life.

  4. Ezzie says:

    This was an excellent post. I would add that it applies in all directions, though people tend to lump charedim together faster simply because they tend to dress alike and often do things in groups.

  5. Raymond says:

    When I read some of Dale Carnegie’s books as a young teenager, it probably did me some good, or at least gave me the tools with which I could enhance my relationships with people. However, when I read his most famous book again when in my early 40’s, I had to put it down, because it was just too elementary to sustain my interest. The Pirkei Avot is just so much deeper than anything Dale Carnegie ever wrote; the same is clearly true about any book in the Tanach. So why would religious Jews who study our Holy Texts on a daily basis need a Dale Carnegie course? Is there something I am missing here?

  6. Rivka W. says:

    While we don’t believe that Torah can be found among the non-Jews, we do believe that wisdom can be. Moreover, while I would agree that Pirkei Avos is far deeper than any self-help course, it’s a bit lacking in specific, practical steps to become comfortable speaking in public, for example.

    Being open to wisdom from sources like Dale Carnegie is not a detriment to Torah. Quite the contrary, using all the appropriate tools available to us is the Torah derech, is it not?

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