Monday, July 31, 2006


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.


Blogger anonym00kie said...

that was incredible. ive thought about this lots of times and eventho i think i understood it intuitively, i was never able to verbalize it.. great post.
i think the awareness of that specialness is what makes people happy.. those that cant see themselves as anything more than the material theyve accumulated never realize how much intrinsic worth they have .

10:44 PM  
Blogger FrumGirl said...

Seems logical to me, doesnt everyone go by this train of though...? Oh, there is one other way that special is used... but I know you dont mean it this way... special children are mentally disabled....

11:00 PM  
Blogger Lvnsm27 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Lvnsm27 said...

That's an excellent point about that when someone sees their specialness relative to others, they knock them down to lift themself up. But when it's intrinsic, they don't feel a need to do that.

1:47 PM  
Blogger A Frum Idealist said...

It's also important that kids realize that they are special for who they are and not based on specific results. i.e. if kids are only told that they are special when they score well on tests, if they don't are they no longer special? Obviosuly not, but that's how it will translate in their minds.

9:13 AM  
Blogger trixies86 said...

yup, I agree. you expressed it really well. unfortunatly most people I know gotta feel that they'r better than others to feel special (even if its yeshivish kids making fun of the goyim wearing nothing while they wear long sleaves and skirts)

12:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for that thought. I love emes and I beleive that is what you have written. The spiritual world of the Absolute (Hashem) and the physical world of relativity. There's a lot to be thought about in this area....

4:13 AM  
Blogger Teddy Douglas said...

Two thoughts. 1) I love you and admire your thinking. 2) A look at specialness starts with its definition:
a)readily distinguishable from others of the same category;
b)adapted to or reserved for a particular purpose;
b)distinguished by some unusual quality;

The word seems to imply difference, especially in the context of a distinct purpose. This is the specialness of every individual. We are created for a reason, and this is not dependent on anyone else's talents but our own.

PS I hope you'll blog more often.

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Blogger chanie said...

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