Monday, July 31, 2006

Special

Ok I'm back..... as the Zman comes winding to a close.

I was thinking.... about specialness.

Ya see, its pretty much accepted that high self esteem is a good thing. One of the parts of self esteem is the fact that one believes (or feels or understands, depends on who you are) that they are special. We also tell our kids that they are special and try to help them grow into people with a healthy self esteem. I think that a deeper understanding of what special is can be very useful in this endeavor.

My first reaction to the word special was that it means the best, or one of the best, or one of the better. And so following that its quite impossible that everything can be special.

It would seem that everything is like that. A good thing is only good because its better then something else. For example a meal of bread and water doesn't taste good to me, but to a starving man its pure heaven. That's because for me its worse then what I'm used to and for him its better then what he's used to. Its all relative. Pain is only relative to the level of comfort you're used to, a good day just means better then the usual day, a smart man just means smarter then most....... and so it is with everything.

This way of understanding is untrue.

I'll prove it (I'm going according to Jewish philosophy here). God is good even before there was anything to compare him to. If everything is relative then that would be quite impossible. Moshe Rabeinu would be good even if he was the only man on the world, and Bilam would be bad even if he was the sole inhabitant of this earth. These things are not relative.

If you think about it you will realize that anything spiritual is non relative, and non spiritual things are all relative.

Which brings us back to special.

There are two ways to be special. One is by being special relative to others, by being better then others. And the other is by being intrinsically special... period. One is spiritual, the other isn't. Its the difference between a healthy self esteem and haughtiness. If everything is relative then the more people you push down the higher you are. If its intrinsic then everyone in the world can be better then you, and it won't make a difference.

When we help our kids grow and we tell them "you're special", lets try to make sure that we're telling them they are special cuz their special....... and not that they are better then the other kids out there. Let's make sure we give them the feeling of intrinsic specialness, not relative specialness. Its a fine line between emotionally healthy kids and stuck up haughty kids... make sure ya get it right!

Think about it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Atheism

So I was thinking of some interesting stuff and I'm passing it on, thats the purpose of this blog.... a view into the intellectual side of a Yeshiva Bochur.

I had 2 interesting conversations with atheists recently and they got me thinking.

In one the atheist was telling me how he sees all believers as fools, and that the idea of God is a crutch we use to feel safe in an unsafe world.

In the other the atheist and I were trying to figure out why he has morals. After all if there is no God then what makes right right and wrong wrong? Why should there be right and wrong at all? And if intellectually an atheist shouldn't have a sense of right and wrong, then what does makes them feel like there is right and wrong.

So ya might say that we're built that way, that we natrually feel that there is right and wrong and there is no other reason.

I came up with another way of looking at it and I feel there is what to get from it.

While exploring the parameters of this athiests morals we saw that his sense of right and wrong was based on fairness. He saw incest as moral and murder as immoral. I think that the reason unfairness 'must be wrong' to him is because if it wasn't, then the world is a real scary place. Just imagine, you work to get money and someone bigger steals it away from you and he isn't in the wrong! You can't event vent with righteous anger!

In essence the crutch that we use to make the world less scary (according to the first atheist), is really used by an athiest also, its just that he calls it morals.

I think that this is why many atheists are animal rights activists.... its because thier sense of fairness is so important to them emotionally that they take it to a very far degree.... in essence fairness is thier religion.

I can't prove these ideas, however they taste very true.

Think about it.

Another small thought I was thinking in relation to the above is do I take enough advantage of the fact that I believe? Do I sail through a crisis with a calm state of mind because I know Hashem is watching over me and its all his plan? After all according to this athiest its the sole reason I believe! I think I'll take a smidgen of mussar from this atheist fellow and work on my Bitachon a bit.

Think about that also!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Shelteredness

I've been in Yeshiva and therefore have not been able to attend to this blog... I do hope to be able to post when I am around a computer and keep it going till Bein Hazmanim when I can put more time into it.

So the question here is shelteredness. I won't addresss the whole issue in this post as my time is limited and I'm in a mad rush.

I will address one point often made in defence of having less shelteredness. It goes like this "If the person is so sheltered they will be more negatively affected whenever they see anything thats at all innapropriate, hence lets expose them to certain stuff to get them 'used' to it so this effect won't occur".

This argument has many flaws in my personal view, in this post I will attemt to point out the basic flaw with the very foundation of this argument.

In essence this view is that its worth it to sacrifice quality for less sensitivity to damage. To illustrate, a Ferrari loses more value when scratched then an old Dodge Neon, hence its worth it to get the old Dodge Neon if you had a choice of which to have. Or a crystal vase if dropped breaks, but a plastic cup won't break, hence if offered one of the two take the plastic cup. Or a sheltered person with a holiness to him can be easier damged by the world we live in then a less holy person, hence lets be less holy.

I have made my point.

Think about it

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Picky

Here's the deal.
He's being very picky
Cuz he can be very picky
Cuz he B"H has lots of offers
And he's only gonna marry one girl
So
even though he's being rather picky
If he dates the same amount as the non picky
And he gets married to one of the girls he 'picked'
There aren't any more single girls out there cuz of him

So who exactly lost out?

Think about it


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Class

I’m new to the whole blogging scene and in my first week of discovering em I've read tons n tons of material, posts n comments.

So after reading for a while and bumping into some stuff which aren't helpful for a bochur to be reading (yes that’s why internet is banned in Lakewood) I realized that there was lots of such stuff in the blogs.

Now I understand that those blogs were created partly to have a forum to discuss these taboo subjects, and I also realize that its difficult to keep set boundaries on what can and can't be discussed.

The thing is that once ya cross a certain line from dry intellectual clinical conversation to 'hey this is fun to talk about' then it gets complicated. There are the obvious issues which go without saying. I feel that there is another issue, it has nothing to do with yiddishkeit per se, its a practical thing.

It goes like this. There is a certain feeling to not doing certain things, even if they are staring you in the face. Its the part of tznius that we all instinctively feel, the part that makes us feel ashamed as a human being to walk around with no clothes on in public (or even in private). Its why many of us don’t cuss (even without the 'Jewish' issues that are involved), and even those of us that do, there are certain things we won't say. It's why certain things aren't said, even jokingly. Its why we don't act in public like we do in private, and why even in private there are many things that aren't done even though they are technically 'ok'. There are millions of examples.

Its called class.

I think class is our inherent humanness in action. All of the things that go into class really don't make 'sense' and an animal would never get it (y'all never saw a cat wearing clothes) its the part of us that’s human, the elevated part of us.

I do think that being classy isn't a burden, its the appreciation for the finer things in life. It's choosing a fine wine instead of Coca-Cola, a real gold watch instead of a shiny cheap one, or a sautéed mushroom instead of potato chips. Once again these are things that a cat would never understand.

With all this 'high talk' I still realize that one doesn't live on wine and books alone and we need for our base nature to have an outlet and thrive.

In conclusion (whew) after reading the other blogs out there I saw that there was more 'potato chips' then 'fine wine' and although we often need our bag o chips (and they are very good chips!) there is definitely a niche for one trying to offer the fine wine.

So that’s really the aim of my blog and the idea behind it all. I hinted to this in my first post but its spelled out here chapter n verse. In a practical sense this means that I will try to stay away from a more tiltillating style and stick to the dry intellectual way of talking bout stuff. Lets see how long I hold out. ;)

On returning home

I've been away from home for quite a while and now I'm back. It was real exciting to be home..... at first. Then the fighting started.

Ya see I was very surprised by how easily I got angry and upset and into fights at home (with my parents and siblings) compared to the way I'm in Yeshiva. In Yeshiva I'm a very easy going guy, very nice, and I almost never get provoked. But at home its a whole new story, my temper is hair trigger and its real ugly.

At first I didn't understand it, is it that those in my family are so hard to get along with? After all in Yeshiva not everyone is the sweetest guy in the world, (to put it mildly), and yet I don't fight with them. So even IF my family are hard to get along with I should still be able to have a civil relationship with them at all times.

Out came the cigs and I started thinking. In my head I compared a scenario that turned into a fight in my house with a hypothetical scenario in Yeshiva with a real difficult person. I realized two things. 1) In Yeshiva the fight never would have started because I would have given in to the difficult guy in the first place, to keep the peace and to be civil. However at home I was not giving an inch. 2) In Yeshiva even after the guy would insult me I would agree with him jokingly and just laugh it off, but at home the insult bothered me.

On the surface I think the explanation is very simple. I have worked very hard on becoming someone who thinks before acting in the social arena. That often results in me giving in and not acting stubborn. BUT I haven't transferred that to my life at home, hence at home I'm holding where I was 6 years ago in that subject.... and its not pretty at all. This also applies to the fact that it took me many years to learn how to laugh off an insult, and that too hasn't been applied with regard to my interactions with my family. And so it results in me acting according to old habit, which is don't think before acting... its all knee jerk reactions, and my knee jerk reactions land me where I don't wish to be.

There is no question that it goes deeper and that there are many many layers to the proverbial onion, but it is quite late and I gotta get up to daven tomorrow ;)

I'm curious is this applies to many of you n if ya could share your thoughts maybe we can understand this whole phenomenon a bit better.

Lets give it a try :)

Hiya all. This is my first try at blogging....... kind of an experiment, let’s see where it goes. I'm a Yeshiva Bochur learning in a large Yeshiva and I'm going to be sharing some of my thoughts and ideas here on this blog.

The plan isn't to have an outlet to confess my great sins and evil doings (of which I assure you are many), as I feel that those things are private and not so appropriate.... even in an anonymous forum. But more on that a different time. I plan on this being more idea sharing, and it will be unique in the sense that it will be the thoughts and ideas of a Yeshiva guy. Of course the temptation to talk about taboo subjects is there and we'll see how well I keep to my resolution.

Part of what made me decide to blog was reading semgirl and elishevas blog. I think that both of em write beautifully and they both have an incredible talent for the written word. Although I write very dryly (as hard as I try I'm just not a talented writer) I still have an appreciation for someone who can do the job right. And so here we go!