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DOWN WITH SWEETS

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities

Candies are given as rewards in school. Why are the yeshivas equating reward with materialism, and unwholesome at that! Bad for mind and body. Stop it already!
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candy

Photo Credit: YY

Candy Time Again: Another concerned reader’s perspective

(See Chronicles of Sept 28 & Oct 19)

Dear Rachel,

Your response to “Concerned Bubby” about the candy problem is disturbing indeed. But it reflects a much bigger problem. As a guest in many frum homes, chassidish and Litvish, I’ve witnessed this obsession with sweets getting completely out of hand — a health problem you merely pooh-pooh away. Shocking!

What you don’t seem to understand is that training children to overindulge –especially on sugar – sets them up for a myriad of health problems as adults. You are literally grooming the bodies’ cells for obesity and diabetes.

As an example of this insanity: A mother told me that her son (about 6 years old) already had a mouthful of cavities. As I recall, nearly every tooth. Yet, Shabbos he was still given candies and sweetened drinks. Is this not insanity?

I have seen kids proudly show me their spoils from shul, loads of sweet “junk.” More than they could possibly eat.

The glut is especially high on Purim — before Pesach. Is this some masochistic tendency? Mommies just adore cleaning and hunting for sticky chametz in drawers, closets and under beds.

Candies are given as rewards in school. I remember when we got stars and stickers. Why are the yeshivas – our “frum culture” – equating reward with gashmius (materialism), and unwholesome at that! Bad for mind and body.

Stop it already!

We can learn a great deal from the Biblical commentator, the Ramban, who discusses “Naval Birshus HaTorah” – being disgusting within the framework of Torah. Just because something is kosher does not give us license to gorge.

As far as what you stated about maturity, I have heard many a time that famous “adult” excuse at the Shabbos table for overeating: “I’m eating for the extra ‘neshama‘ (soul) I get on Shabbos.” Please!

But this is just a symptom of an overall “sickness.” At one time families were so poor that cakes and candies were luxuries. Now, luxury is the norm in many Orthodox homes. We are furthermore obsessed with any cuisine alien to Judaism, be it Japanese, Chinese, Italian… so long as it is something exotic and expensive.

Our frum culture today actually mirrors the goyish society we are so intent on avoiding. We have lost the sense of Yiddishkeit, of really feeling Jewish.

Most of the songs on Jewish radio are just rock music adapted to Tehillim. And wedding music must blast like an acid rock concert. Even today’s chazzanim are more “entertainers” than the sweet singers of old in baal tefilla style. (As my zeide a”h was a chazzan, I know.)

Mishloach Manos is given the way non-Jews give Xmas presents. We have lost the whole idea Mordechai and Esther intended. We are required to give two prepared foods to a fellow Jew. But no, everyone in the “shtetl” has to get one and everyone must outdo the other. Keep up with the Shapiros… the more expensive and lavish, the better.

The same with weddings and simchas in general — thousands of dollars are spent on but a few hours of celebration.

Then you read about children starving. Has this frum culture no shame? Does just stamping a kosher sign on something make it Jewish or Torahdik?

We read about the lulav and esrog symbolizing the achdus of all Jews, and yet self-righteous individuals view other Jews with disdain because they practice different minhagim (customs).

How many chassidic sects fight each other?

As far as summer camp is concerned, when did that start? Children stayed at home and helped their parents, or found something to do to earn a little money. Each generation is getting more and more spoiled in gashmius and more and more starved in ruchnius (spirituality) — as in understanding, kindness, self-sacrifice and respect of others and especially elders.

These young minds spend all day in school during winter and then are thrown into summer camp, away from the very people who should be teaching and molding them.

In light of all this, is it any wonder our frum kids are going off the derech? What else are they seeing but hypocrisy and parents who don’t want to spend time with them… to bond, to talk about their problems, to feel WANTED?

The yeshivas are no less to blame, encouraging this sense of hypocrisy. Why should yeshivas have instances of bullying and other abuses? Where are the teachers? Where are the parents?

How many Talmudic sages did manual labor to earn a living? But if a boy is not a Gemarakup, he is ostracized and thrown out. Can’t he equally serve Hashem and his fellow man with an honest trade?

All these problems are interwoven and related. Stop masking these ills under the rug of “frumkeit.”

Wake up! Wake up! We are “Naval Birshus HaTorah.” We have lost our sense of kavanah. Look at yourselves in the mirror, at what’s happened to us.

Maybe then, Moshiach will really come!

B’Ahavat Yisrael…

Dear B’Ahavat,

Are we talking about the same column? Don’t recall pooh-poohing the “candy problem” at all, but perhaps it was my brief response (due to lack of space) that gave you that impression.

Here again I find myself with limited space to reply in but with enough to reiterate that I do believe the concern to be very real, and while many homes can do with a drastic overhaul of their disturbing food trends, many more are coming around to appreciate the value of good nutrition and all that it entails.

Though there is merit in the other issues you raise, some of your assertions are debatable. For now, let’s just say that things may not be as bleak as you paint them.

I suspect readers have plenty to say and look forward to hearing their varied opinions. Thanks for chiming in with yours.

To tell the truth, your gloom and doom perspective has left me pining for some comfort food. I think I’ll go unwind with a glass of mellow red wine and some of my favorite chocolate… the dark, healthy kind, of course. Till next week then….

* * * * *
We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to  rachel@jewishpress.com  or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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