Chillul Tefila Bifarhesia, as well as halachicly challenged verbiage and dress, are external manifestations of a critical lack of personal yiras shomayim which has lethal consequences.
I was at a recent fundraiser on behalf of Israel’s Beit Halochem institutions. In Hebrew, beit halochem means the house of the warrior and that is what these centers are – a home away from home for disabled Israeli soldiers and wounded victims of Islamic terror and violence. These rehabilitation centers provide the disabled with a user-friendly environment where they can socialize and participate in sports and related activities designed to increase physical fitness and enhance mental well-being and self-esteem.
One of the beneficiary’s of Beit Halochem’s state-of-the-art facilities was a young man in his early 20′s who heroically attempted to rescue his commander while under attack four years ago. He was paralyzed from the waist down. I was struck by the sadness that never left his eyes, even when he smiled on occasion. I was tempted to go up to him and tell him to stop feeling sorry for himself, that yes he could no longer walk but should appreciate what he could do – move his arms and feed and groom himself and see and hear and think. “Get over it, I thought and move forward.”
And then it hit me that I was acting in a manner that I find offensive in others – being a “backseat driver” – making judgments and decisions on a person’s actions and behavior without having any clue as to what it was like to be in his shoes. Who was I to tell this young man who could not play tennis with his friends, or dance at a simcha, or even get up and help himself to a snack from the fridge – to lighten up and be happy? I have no experience whatsoever with his predicament and I had already formed an opinion about how he should deal with it.
Unfortunately, there are too many ‘back-seat’ drivers in our lives, know-it-alls who feel they are doing you a favor micromanaging your life, negatively evaluating your feelings, your reactions and your actions and telling you how you should think, act or feel. They have no idea what it’s like to be in the situation you’re in, but they insist that they know what is best for you. A friend going through a nasty divorce from an emotionally immature spouse shared with me how another friend, happily married, asked her why she just didn’t sit down with her husband and discuss their issues instead of running to a divorce court. She and her husband also had their disagreements but would talk about them and come to a compromise. Being married to a mentsch, she had no idea what life was like with a close-minded, controlling individual and that sitting down and “talking” was not an available option in this case. It was “his way or the highway.” In another instance, another woman opined that a friend was grieving too much and for too long over a stillborn baby. After all she had other children and could still have more. This self-appointed “feelings police” was making a judgment, as I almost did, on a person’s state of mind without having an inkling of what they were living through.
They say that the road to hell is paved with the best of intentions. There are many people who truely believe that they know better than you how to live your life. As a result of their constant meddling and the imposition of their ‘superior’ advice – almost always accompanied by belittling and criticism – even those with healthy self-esteem can begin questioning their competence and become flooded with self-doubt. They are at risk of becoming insecure, afraid to take the initiative because of diminishing confidence, often allowing themselves to become controlled and dominated. It’s crucial for ones future emotional and even physical well-being to stand up and be assertive and basically tell these people – if they are chronic “back seat drivers” to “get out of your car.” If they continue their demoralizing antics, if they refuse to respect and validate your feelings, if they make you feel guilty or inferior or weak, then it may be time for you to press the “eject button” and remove them from your life. In most cases, these individuals feel small themselves, they have deep feelings of inadequacy which they try to shore up by imposing their opinions. Hence you may have a man with low self-esteem being a very controlling, dictator-like husband and father, or a mother-in-law making herself feel important by wanting to teach her daughter-in-law how to cook and clean the ‘right’ way. Advice and chizuk, even opinions, are good things – but only when they are offered in a manner that will make a person feel better about themselves.
We are all guilty of judging people. That is human nature and often we mean well. But isn’t it rather arrogant to think that you belong in the driver’s seat in a car that isn’t yours?
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Nearly half a million of them fought in Red Army uniforms, under communist slogans but with a personal vengeance that was solely the result of Jewish experience. More than the “Greatest Generation,” they were the living superheroes hidden in plain sight.
It’s all over.
The orchestra is still, the lights are dimmed. Your simcha outfits hang in your closet, silent witnesses to a time you will treasure in your mind and heart forever.
After noticing that you can’t log into your computer, your pulse quickens as you are called into your supervisor’s office. S/he has some bad news. You are being laid off. You have 15 minutes to clean out your desk and surrender your cell phone before security escorts you out of the building. Job termination, especially in the corporate world, can be heartless.
I have always had a problem with the Omer. Doing the mitzvah of counting the Omer was of course pretty easy. Remembering to start the second evening of Passover and remembering to stop the day before Shavous took a little concentration but somehow I always managed. No, for me the nagging problem was always why was I doing this in the first place, other than the fact it was a biblical (according to the Rambam) commandment.
With the semi-mourning period of Sefira behind us, and the festival of Shavuot as well (as evidenced by the tightness of our clothing due to over-indulging in irresistible versions of cheesecake that is an integral component of celebrating our receipt of the Torah), our community can look forward to participating in joyous engagement parties and weddings.
Dear Dr. Yael:
Do you really believe that the Internet is the reason why the divorce rate is so high among young couples? This may be so in some cases, but what about the fact that many singles are pressured to get married at a young age despite not having any idea what they are looking for in a mate? And add to that the fact that many are pressured to make a decision about marriage after dating for a very short period of time.
From the moment they stand under the chuppah, newlyweds have two years to enjoy the special bliss that new love brings. This new finding, reported by the New York Times, is based on a study undertaken by American and European researchers. 1,761 people who got married and stayed married over 15 years were followed. The research shows that after two years the couples moved into a more companionable state in their relationships.
Shel Silverstein’s 1974 poem “Where The Sidewalk Ends” is intended to paint a magical picture of a world of peace and serenity far away from the “black and dark streets.” At the time, perhaps the end of the sidewalk was a place that was “measured and slow.” Today, however, for many parents, where the sidewalk ends can feel like a scary place.
The next chapter of the award-winning novel.
Florida is famous for sparkling water. We have the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico surrounding our coast. We have bays, lakes, canals and, of course, an incredible abundance of swimming pools in homes, resorts, apartment complexes and city parks.
The buzz is back as Camp Gan Israel Florida Overnight gears up for another fantastic summer, CGI Florida style. What makes CGI Florida so different from all the other overnight camps? It’s all in the details.
Leah Katz, a TeenZone camper at Oorah’s TheZone summer camp and an 11th grader at Midwood High School, read her winning essay about how TheZone changed her views on Judaism at the Jewish Heritage Awards Ceremony held at Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes’s office in April. The purpose of the Jewish Heritage Essay Contest is to acquaint public school students with Jewish history and customs and to help foster a deeper understanding of Jewish culture. The contest is open to students of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. Leah’s essay is reproduced in full below.
Moshe Sharett, the head of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department, visited Egypt in 1945. In Cairo he met a most remarkable young woman, a beautiful journalist who was the darling of Egyptian high society – from high-ranking military brass, to culture icons and Muslim sheikhs, to the court of King Faruk.
The two proceeded to talk about everyday things and surprisingly her mother-in-law did not find anything else to criticize. This occurred a few more times, with my client changing the topic every time by complimenting her mother-in-law or mentioning something positive about her.
One of the subjects I was taught as a young child in school was Tefillah. Since we spoke only Ivrit during our Limudei Kodesh and secular Hebrew studies – literature, creative writing and Jewish history – we pretty much understood the words we were davening.
Shortly before Pesach, I received a rather agitated call from a long time reader of The Jewish Press who pleaded with me to write a column regarding what she insisted was the unwarranted high cost of Pesach food – in particular shmurah matzah – and how hard it was for young families to pay what she felt were over-inflated prices in order to keep strictly kosher.
The price of deliberate obliviousness is very high – emotionally, physically, socially, and financially.
How is it possible that a person of seemingly normal intelligence (nowhere does it say he is simple) not have the ability to ask a question – to not react and enquire as to the why of the hustle and bustle around him?
It was one of those cold, rain-soaked evenings – the kind that make you look forward to a hot drink, a good book and a soft couch to curl up on. With those happy thoughts in mind, I proceeded to cross to the other side of the street.
The other day I was shopping at a large supermarket and happened to go down the frozen foods aisle, past the endless freezers containing every imaginable flavor, shape and size of ice cream. I rarely buy. Rather I am like a tourist in a museum – gawking at wondrous objects that I know I can’t take home with me.
He stood his ground despite the intense pressure to do what everyone else was doing. His integrity was more important to him than “fitting in.”
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/getting-out-of-the-drivers-seat-in-someone-elses-car/2005/05/18/
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