Unconditional Love Not Unconditional Praise

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11 Responses

  1. Micha Berger says:

    FWIW, R’ Shlomo Wolbe and lbchl”ch R’ Abraham Twersky are strong supporters of building self-image. Rabbi Twersky associates ga’avah (egotism) with poor self esteem. Someone with healthy self esteem doesn’t need mechanisms to support himself. The braggart and the person who judges others poorly are motivated by a need to prove themselves worthy, at least by comparison.

    And the entire Slabodka branch of Mussar is built upon gadlus ha’adam (the greatness of man). Look how many of the leaders of the past two generations were only great because the Alter of Slabodka managed to show them their gifts, and taught them to aim high, to live up to those gifts.


  2. Mordechai says:

    Wow, I am very happy to see this. Finally, some ‘common sense’ !

    In recent years, there has been a deluge of lectures and emphasis on self-esteem as cure-all in the frum community, presumably due to the influences mentioned here As usual though, the frum got into it long after the others.

    Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski and others have been stressing and praising it to the sky (I think there is even a book ‘Twerski on self-esteem).

    I have been suspicious of this extreme ideology andd warned against it, but have been ignored, or worse, and seen as being old-fashioned and out of touch.

    It’s so nice to be vinidicated finally !

    The question is – will the frum self-esteem industry change course now, or will they keep on promoting it extremely as before, perhaps only shifting course after a few years, in line with the standard lag of a few years until ‘new wisdom’ penetrates the ‘frum’ community ?

  3. Jewish Observer says:

    ” Finally, some ‘common sense’ ”

    – the post about not making life decisions based on blogs is also common sense

  4. David says:

    Jonathan Rosenblum is the greatest.

  5. Joe Fisher says:

    I for one am not going to play with fire and “tough love” my children, regardless of what the annual college kid interviews are saying.

  6. Jewish Observer says:

    “Jonathan Rosenblum is the greatest”

    – let’s see what happens when he fights Joe Frazier

  7. ursula schwartz says:

    self-esteem needs to be connected to action. when it is disconnected from what we do, the result is an amorphous sense of grandiosity or narcissism, which is really not very helpful. when a sense of esteeming one self is connected with what we do, the the possiblity opens for us to create a sense of self-esteem, to look at less then glorious moments not with denial or any other form of justification but rather as an opportunity for self improvement. i think, that praise that is unrealistic, disproportionate, or too global is at best confusing to a child. ursula

  8. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “self-esteem needs to be connected to action. when it is disconnected from what we do, the result is an amorphous sense of grandiosity or narcissism…”

    I have wondered if self-esteem is inherent or connected to action. In Judaism, the most famous source that is given is “beloved is man, for he was created in the image of G-d”. This points to an inherent source of worthiness which people can internalize. Yet, it can be more difficult for people who do not accomplish in ways that society recognizes to maintain self-esteem, such as those with a disability, someone unemployed, or elderly people. So we see that self-esteem and happiness are partially connected to action and accomplishment as well.

    I think that both are true; self-esteem is partially related to action and the outer world, but it is dependent upon how one internally experiences life, sort of like “who is rich, he who is happy with his portion”.

    One quote from one of Branden’s later books is “self-esteem, then, is a function, not of what we are born with, but how we use our consciousness–the chices we make concerning awareness…” One changes his or her inner world not only directly(eg, awareness and meditation), but by effectively making use of one’s inner world through action and interfacing with the outer environment, what ever givens the latter is.

  9. dovid says:

    “let’s see what happens when he fights Joe Frazier”

    I am afraid JB stands no chance even against Jewish Observer.

  10. Bob Miller says:

    “Not by might and not by power,,,”

  11. Jonathan Rosenblum says:

    “I for one am not going to play with fire and “tough love” my children, regardless of what the annual college kid interviews are saying.”

    Neither am I into tough love, and it is clear that few kids today are built for it. But there are plenty of ways to convey to love without piling on unearned praise. For starters, hugs and kisses. Even my 14-year-old still loves to get a big hug and kiss from both parents before heading off for yeshiva in the morning. And an alert parent can always find something to praise, and no matter how small the occasion for that praise, it will be more meaningful than that which is slathered on to salve parents’ guilt for having no real involvement in their childrens’ lives. In short, I’m all for warmth, talking to your kids, praise, encouragement, family trips in the summer, etc. But with praise, like most good things in life, there can be too much of a good thing, and there is definitely a right and wrong way to give it.

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