Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
Earlier this month, I spent the July 4th weekend at an out-of-town Shabbaton. Getting together with other people is always an educational experience for me in terms of being exposed to quirks - both good and bad – of other human beings. There is always something to learn when people interact with strangers and friends alike.
I therefore was not surprised by the various attitudes and verbalizations I witnessed during the course of the weekend. Predictably, some were positive and inspiring – others could be
considered funny – if they weren’t so sad. There were the usual manifestations of the three dysfunctional C’s - Critical, Cranky (kvetzy in Yiddish) and Cheap. These traits are actually
symptoms of unhappy individuals who do not allow themselves to be b’simcha due to impaired self-esteem.
For example, there were a few of what I call the “born again” health food enthusiasts who pointed out the cholesterol-raising fried chicken, the fatty mayonnaise-drenched salads, the bleached white flour rolls, the high-sodium whitefish, and the artery clogging kishka. Instead of just enjoying the meal and quietly avoiding the food they felt was not for them – they felt compelled to complain and be negative – traits that are not conducive to attracting potential mates.
As it is known to happen on hot, humid days, the air conditioning conked out on the bus that was made available for those wanting the convenience of door to door service. There were
many disgruntled consumers who vented and focused on their discomfort.
I too was hot, but we weren’t in a sweltering cattle car headed to Auschwitz, so how could I possibly complain? Compared to what our ancestors had to go through since the Churban haBayit and the Exile – we have it amazingly good. A few inconveniences here and there in our comfort zones are just that – inconveniences. (Putting things in perspective can do wonders for your mood and your mental health.)
Rides home were sought for those who refused to go back in the bus – even though the evening ride would be cooler – and drivers approached who had room in their car. Some insisted on monetary compensation for taking on a passenger - in the $30 to $40 range. I
couldn’t help but wonder what happened to the concept of just doing a chesed.
But compassion for the people who are captives of the Almighty Dollar is in order.
Life must be miserable for men and women who allow themselves to be imprisoned by money. Their daily lives are spent in conflict and self debate – arguing with themselves if they should
buy this or that or forgo it, wondering if they got the best possible price for their trip, their outfit, or their car. They do not allow themselves the freedom – after doing some reasonable accounting and justifiable bargaining – to part with their money, go on with their lives, enjoying their purchases or expenditures. Day after day, they worry if they got the ” best deal” and miserably berate themselves if they didn’t. Their energy and thoughts revolve around
pennies - instead of unconditionally embracing life.
Case in point – a participant in the Shabbaton who got lost on the way asked for a partial refund on the cost of the weekend because of extra money spent on gas. No doubt this person’s ability to have a good time was frustrated by a sense of financial loss.
Towards the end of the weekend, I saw both men and women with frowns etched on their faces. Again, they “didn’t meet anyone”. These people are also enslaved – by their relationships or lack of them. They can’t be happy unless they are “seeing somebody” and even then, they allow a lot of stress and distress into their lives.
These have not yet come to the realization that the key to one’s happiness doesn’t lie in a “significant other.” It lies within.
A comment I heard at the Shabbaton sums it up. “The only thing marriage cures is being single.” In other words, if you are an “unhappy camper” single, your problems won’t be fixed by marriage. You’ll just be a married unhappy camper and very likely make your spouse miserable.
You have to like yourself; you have to respect yourself first. It is very unlikely that a spouse can change you if you feel you are not worthy of being liked or respected. And you will sabotage any attempt to do so - without meaning to consciously.
Years ago, I heard a rather disturbing saying which I reflect upon from time to time. “Singles wish they were married, and the married wish they were dead.” This statement puzzled me until I realized that single people who are unhappy think marriage will resolve their woes. Once married, they see that nothing has changed and since their last hope for happiness – marriage – wasn’t the “magic pill” they were counting on, they “wish they were dead.”
Feeling good about yourself has to come from within yourself. Marriage isn’t a quick fix for what ails you. You need to like yourself in order to be happy – single or married.
How to feel good about yourself? Be a good sport when things don’t work out 100%. Don’t sweat the small stuff, especially the loss of relatively minor amounts of money that at the end of the day won’t affect your lifestyle. Look at the whole picture and appreciate the blessings you have. Taking them for granted cripples your ability to value and take pleasure in your day to day activities – like dressing yourself, feeding yourself, and climbing up stairs.
Most importantly, like yourself and be b’simcha. When your yetzer hara tries to make you critical of yourself – and hence others - remember – you are one of a kind, and G-d put you here because He felt you could improve the world by your existence. Hashem knows your value – it’s time you did as well.
There is a well known song with the lyrics: “When you smile, the world smiles with you.” Try it – it works!
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Everyone is always looking for cute yet simple and inexpensive ideas to enhance their table at special occasions. Here are some attractive ways to create that festive look. Whether you use china or plastic, your guests will surely be delighted with your charming setup.
Wouldn’t it be great if you had a chavrusa working with you, guiding and helping you in your work environment?
What made an M.I.T. scholarship student, taking time off from his doctorate in medicine, to backpack, and then decide to backtrack, chuck it all… and get a haircut? Perhaps it is easier to understand a Harvard law student becoming enamored with the logic of Gemara and settling down to struggle with the intellectual challenges of Aramaic acrobatics.
JetBlue flew an empty aircraft from Boston to JFK to assist us. The care and concern of the flight attendants was amazing. They were astounded by our group, so much so that at the end of the flight, the captain related for all to hear that he was truly impressed by the care that the HASC counselors provided for the special-needs campers – all of whom have physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. We did our best to demonstrate a true kiddush Hashem.
Q: What does twice exceptional or 2e mean?
The battle over partnership minyans is just the latest scuffle in the war over women’s roles in the Orthodox community.
Last month’s column outlined some efforts during the first half of the nineteenth century to establish Jewish agricultural colonies in America. In only one case was a colony actually established.
According to Maimonides, the great medieval Jewish scholar, “Gifts for the poor [matanot l’evyonim] deserve more attention than the seudah and mishloach manot because there is no greater, richer happiness than bringing joy to the hearts of needy people, orphans, widows and proselytes.”
Having everyone home on a snow day can be a lot of fun – the first few times it happens. Once snow day number six hits, perhaps not so much and the real creativity has to come out.
Imich was born in 1903 in Poland, where he later earned his Ph.D. in 1927, despite the best efforts of anti-Semitic professors to sabotage his thesis
Never sacrifice the people who matter for anything of lesser importance…
Hannah believed that one must learn about the evils of the past so that they aren’t repeated.
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that is precisely what almost always happens in situations where a reference knew someone had serious but hidden emotional issues, but did not reveal the information to the person making inquiries.
Time never stood still for anyone – why would I be the exception? In my hubris, I thought that somehow I would live forever – and I suspect we all have secretly felt that way, even though we know it’s a fantasy.
Outside is a winter-white wonderland replete with dazzling trees, wires, and sidewalks seemingly wrapped in glittery silver foil. It’s quite lovely to look at, which is about all I can do since I’m stuck indoors. Icicle-laden tree branches are bent and hunch-backed by the frozen heaviness of their popsicle-like burden, and the voices squawking from the battery-operated transistor radio I am listening to are warning people not to go out since walkways and roads are extremely slippery, and there is real danger from falling trees.
Let me begin by congratulating my dear machatunim, Soraya and Jay Nimaroff, on being the recipients of the Community Service Award at the Sderot Hesder Institutions 18th annual anniversary dinner.
But even though their medical situations were similar, how they mentally dealt with their new status quo was often as different as night and day.
How confusing it was growing up with conflicting messages. On the one hand, we were told, even admonished, to eat everything on our generously piled up plates (it was a sin to waste food), yet we were made to feel like we were a lower form of human being if we were overweight.
While in New York recently, I was invited to see a performance of “Waiting for Godot” – a multi-layered play on the human condition that I was introduced to in high school. What was fascinating and unique about this particular production was that this renowned play was being performed in Yiddish – with English and Russian subtitles beamed onto a screen for non-Yiddish speakers. (Staged by the New Yiddish Rep, at the Castillo Theatre, and directed by Moshe Yassur, it stars Shane Baker, David Mandelbaum, Rafael Goldwaser, Avi Hoffman and Nicholas Jenkins.)
Now and then my Bubby would open up about what she went through in the camps, of what she witnessed… From time to time she would talk about her baby sisters – twins – and how she would sew them identical dresses and braid their hair the same way challenging everyone to guess who was who.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/whining-and-dining-nickel-and-dimeing/2004/08/11/
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