Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My view on "Looking at the Good"

I'm a bit of a procrostinator, so if this post makes no sense, please keep in mind I have an essay due tomorrow so I'm trying to rush...

I just returned from a shuir in which the Rabbi was speaking about the fact that Jews managed to survive throughout all the years because they always had a sense of community. He mentioned that before each event in which Jews got "abused" (in whatever sense by the goyim) it was directly resulting from the Jews fighting amongs each other. He went on to say that nowadays there is an overwhelming amount of good that negates the bad in the community. So ofcourse I got skeptical, and he saw it in my face (he is my rabbi), and he asked what the problem was...so ofcourse I mentioned that there is no way we are a "community" in any sense of the form. So he mentioned a shabbaton he was on in which some girls there had peircings and had never experienced a shabbos in their lives. Blah blah...I was like "ooo...one whole shabbos, now what?" And then some man (no names) kinda interrupted the conversation and so we went on with the shuir.

Here is where my skepticism (pessimism may be the better word here) kicks in.

1st he mentioned all the good things going on in the community. He said how when Hatzolah is called they never discriminate amongst the type of Jew, they'll go and save lives. Then he said about the shabbatons and all the charity to the poor, and all the good in Israel that came over the summer during the war with Lebanon, when all the Jews had to flee North. And all that.

So there I was flipping out, shaking my head 'til the end of the shuir. I was thinking, "good, huh?"

Ok, so Hatzolah I did say was good, and no normal person would ignore the plea of a dying person (even goyim!). Then all the other stuff...Take kiruv.. so you make a girl frum, Mazel tov. What now? Now, you get to show off that you are a successful inspirational speaker. That looks super amazing in terms of shidduchim for your children (in most circles), as well as getting your children accepted into the "right" schools. What happens to the chesed case that is now a BT? Now they're stuck...why? Because if they became frum too much to the right their options are very limited. They can either marry only a fellow BT or someone with "tzaros" in the family (divorce, down syndrome, diabetes 3 generations up, lack of white tablecloth usage on shabbos etc.,) If they "only" became modern, it may be easier for them (depends on the community and how modern is modern...)

Then there's those that may argue "what if they're already BT, whats in it for them to do kiruv?" And honestly, I cannot tell you for sure, but its totally selfish. Like for example, one of my teachers in HS (I was in a kiruv program at school) was one of those super frummy lubavitch. Not sure she beleived the rebbe was moshiach, but she was super obsessed with discussing "what will happen when moshiach comes" Anyway, my class was half already frum and half not frum at all. Everyone was on a different level (whether frum or not) but as a general breakdown, it was half/half. One day this teacher was lecturing about something, and somehow the conversation came to the idea that "moshiach isn't coming because Jews don't keep shabbos" I don't completely remember how this happened but she particularly picked on one girl (whose older sister happened to be frum) and attacked her! "Why don't you keep shabbos? Your sister can do it, why can't you. YOu should be frum, its because of YOU that moshiach isn't here yet." The teacher ended up making the girl cry.

Now, I have no idea what this teachers motive is in doing kiruv but I think it is a safe bet to assume its a selfish one, because she wants to make more people frum so that moshiach comes quicker. Hmm...anyone see the good?

Then theres other people I know who do kiruv and specifically focus on girls from divorced families or abusive home families. These people, probably a large percentage (I doubt more than half though) do this out of good intention. It really is sad to see some of these kids, and inviting them to your home, and making them comfortable with a community is really amazing. However, there is so much selfish motive in it. Like for example, I know of a family like this. They do a tremendous amount of work. Every shabbos their houses are open to these girls, they help them overcome the struggles and scars they may have ended up with, to make them really feel good about themselves...and then what. Then they're stuck. They still are deemed products of a "dysfunctional" home (as normal as they maybe) and are still hindered in their abilities to properly fit in within the frum community. I asked one of these people if they would allow their son to marry someone that was a BT from a divorced home after they become all "normal" like they claim they make the girls. She had nothing to answer, she just changed the subject.
So what is the point of doing the kiruv definitly not for the good of the person becoming frum, because in many communities the fact that one is a BT is an automatic hinderance to their starting a family or being accepted into certain schools (depends on age).

What is the point? Selfish motives...it looks good on the "resume" any "resume" infact. It looks good to say "Hospitable" even when searching for a "secular" position, just like it looks good on the "shidduch" resume or on the HS applications, and so fourth.

Whats good? The selfishness? I don't think so. I was so naive when I became frum. I thought "Wow,, the girls at HS will be so nice, so great!" After all, religious people tend to be known as being nicer and friendlier (the whole missionary attitude goes hand-in-hand with being nice).

No, HS was the worst. Had I been allowed to be in the yearbook (totally different issue though) it would've said that I graduated from my program, not the HS. Nope, the 3 years I spent wearing that ugly uniform, and taking "secular" subjects with the "main" school, definitly does NOT qualify me to be part of the yearbook as a first class citizen. and you know what the excuse is? The excuse was, that if they allowed it to NOT say the programs name under our pix, then if someone sees us dressed "untzniously" or in a treif place, they don't want people to identify that behavior as the norm, and writing my schools name would avoid that. So, why would the school agree to host my program to begin with? Only one thing...Selfish motives! because if they really gave a damn (pardon the language) they would've done what would've made the girls feel good, and cared about the girls feelings.

I can go on and on, but I really have to write my essay.


Jessica said...

Your school was creepy.

frumskeptic said...

yup. one of the best girls schools in Brooklyn as well.

Anonymous said...

umn- bit too general and unfair to say that anyone who does Kiruv has selfish motives. in the Torah it is said that we have to take care of one another and when ppl do it, even if it IS for selfish motives, it still should be done. so u incinuating that it shouldnt be isnt accurate. and not e/o does it for good shiddichim, as a matter of fact- like u pointed out before- dealing with BT isnt always 'good' cos they can be a 'bad' influence and so some ppl actaully try to stay away- and so in fact it'd impede on thier shidduch situation. the fact that ppl dont wanna marry BT thats the mishigayos of our community- and goes along with that list that u posted that included not having a white tablecloth lol. Also, important to remember that not e/o is cut out for doing kiruv work, like not all men are cut out to sit all day and learn- so, there will always be bad examples of teachers making girls cry etc. *not that im saying that teacher can be excused she absolutely can not be* I'd also would like to comment on the argument u made about its selfish to make ppl BT cos then they are stuck btwn dysfunctional families and or whats 'normal' and then being frum- in which they dont really have a place to go etc and it really puts them in an awful position in life- umn-i dont find that a reason to NOT let someone know about the religion- the fact taht being religious can turn ur whole life upside is completely accurate, and it creates a lot of family problems ( i can attest to taht personally) but i hope we all would like to agree that making a jew religious and making them realize that 'right' path in life is worth the struggles they might have while still living at home...its deff. not a reason to avoid all nonreligious jews. In the world i mean- we are a tiny amount of ppl and its rediculous to turn urself away from Kiruv if u want to keep this nation going.
Lastly- just wanted to make the comment about the School- even tho wot the rule was abou the yearbook - was a bit hurtful to specific ppl *not naming names& bc they really became part of the school etc majorty of the girls indeed did not feel part of the school nor did they want to be. they didnt wear proper uniform - meaning weren tznius. theydid go out and prade in jaeans *under thier uniform*n and eat non kosher et cetc etc and the trush is- if u did prit those faces under the school name it WOULD give them a bad rep. and i dont thin any of those girls actually cared about ti they ony made a big fuss cos thats what they loved to do- to make a big fuss bout how they werented treated equally, well they never tried to make themselves part of the school u cant be part of an obviously religious school while u come in with 10 inch platofroms and red nail polish and open blouses. on purpose. obviously, right? they didnt try and they didnt want to try. and that whole program was designed for jewish refuggees so that they can get a good education- expecting that they'd actually want to return back to the fold that thier former country took them out of NOT spit into the faces of relgiious ppl and call them crazy and abnormal which a lot of secular refuggees of taht sort do. and both of us can attest to that

frumskeptic said...

maddict: I didn't fully mean to imply that kiruv is bad. It came out wrong. I was annoyed (still am). Plus, I am in most cases against it, because in most cases it IS for personal/selfish reasons. And while it is looked at in a few communities as a negative towards shidduchim, in most communities "kiruv" or any form of chesed is 10,000x's a positive...in shidduchim they completely forget that a girl doesn't know one thing about her what her younger siblings are learning in school or their favorite subjects, but totally LOVE that she goes out and tutors a fellow community member in the name of "gemach" or "chesed"... Charity begins at home, ever hear of that one?
I know of a particular "kiruv" rabbi who specifically outreaches to "russian" people, and his youngest kid was evaluated by Speech therapists and the girl was totally unable to speak any language but spanish (live in Nanny langauge)... yup...but they're totally into kiruv...props for them? I dont think so...not on this planet...ohh..and after speaking to their 2 older sons (who are totally underdeveloped btw) they do not brush their teeth!!!!!! THey use "spicy water" which I later realized must be Scope/Listerine or w/e considering they described it as Blue.

Then theres the girls that were "untznious"... that was not the majority of the girls..atleast not the years I was there...and if they were so disrespectful to the school, why'd the school put up with them?
OH yea, I remember, so that they can brag that they have a kiruv program... yup...
ohh...and how come the girls that actually were tznious (and many were, many left the school super duper frum) how come THEY couldn't be "part of the school?"
Nope...its selfish there...is EVERYONE selfish in their kiruv? Nope, I dont think so.. there are genuine people, but I haven't met too many of them.

Anonymous said...

Teh reason why the school had that program and continued to have it even tho there were bout 3 grades worth- meaning when i was there the whole HS in that porgram going from 9 to 12 were really not good. and only when i was in 11th and 12th did nicer girls come in and thats bc the program started to become choosier cos they kept getting complaints bout the girls they were accepting..anyway- the reason why the program i still running is bc it was started by the founder of the school- and whil he still lives and his children take over that program will last- and he opened it up bc he as a lil boy came to america and i guess he felt that everyone should have a chance to go BACK to being religious like it used to be Europe. absoultely NOTHING to do with how it makes the school look bc it actaully makes the school ook bad cos the regular girls do not like and get badly influenced by the girls in the program.

about those specific cases- uh yea wtvr so u know a couple of ppl who work more than they stay home, i'd imagine money has something to do with it, bit more than the idea that they rather spend time with ppl who are BT than their own kids...and being underdeveloped im sure was a genetic factor, right? not cos the parents are home lol. but thats a side point anyway.

oh and Chessed does start at home..and then u psread out and share the love with the thousands of other ppl who dont have ppl to help them at home- thank god families havea lot of siblings and so forth- if one girl decides to go to anursing home on sunday it doenst maker her a bad person lol...or if she decides to spend it with some girl who wants to know bout God..whichever.
You cant swear that majorty of Kiruv is for selfish reasons cos u dont konw majorty, u might think u do, cos uve seen parts of the system, spoken to some of the ppl, but thats not wot the movement is at large..

frumskeptic said...

maddict: "anyway- the reason why the program i still running"

not running anymore. no more funds.

"absoultely NOTHING to do with how it makes the school look bc it actaully makes the school ook bad cos the regular girls do not like and get badly influenced by the girls in the program."

Why are you using the term "regular" to imply the "non-kiruv" girls?

"i'd imagine money has something to do with it, bit more than the idea that they rather spend time with ppl who are BT than their own kids"
Actually, the Reb. cannot work legally, and therefore literally only worked to "get away" from her kids. Actually admitted it. sick sick world..yet she does kiruv!

"if one girl decides to go to anursing home on sunday it doenst maker her a bad person lol...or if she decides to spend it with some girl who wants to know bout God..whichever."

Yes, but if HER grandmother was in a nursing home, and she didnt visit HER grandmother, doesnt that make her mitzvah seem alittle bit less of a chesed, somehow?

ALso...if she spends the entire time teaching a stranger about Gd, who is gonna teach her younger single? Chinuch, as well as chesed begins at home. Her sister, while young, may need actual answers, not "hashkafos" to keep her satisfied. or else she WILL end up "at risk", which is a major phenomena in the community as of late...Kiruv begins at home... I am BT, and by no means am I kiruv case. just chose the HS out of supposed "convenience" to my situation.

And I think I'm safe in assuming majority of frum people are pretty selfish in this stuff. Why else would they care so much about making other people frum, and then LITERALLY limiting their abilities in remaining frum...marriage, school acceptance etc. Its cause they like to "show you off"

Should kiruv be banned? This commercialization of it... definitely.

frumskeptic said...

her younger single...hahahaa
only i can do that

her younger sister****

Anonymous said...

im using Regular to imply the girls who are part of the school REGULARLY and not thru a PROGRAM.

how do u know whose grandmother is in what nursing home ur takling on such assumptions that its a completely invalid argument. all im saying is u cant bash Chesed bc u ASSUME that they are neglecting hoem duties bc of that chesed. u dont have a clue, and even if u know five girls who do do it, u stil cant bash chesed ouside the hwome!

i agree that tehre is a sense of showing off attidue btwn BT and FFBs- and its a horrible thing. i mean it started from u not getting involved with bad influnes and so forth but it evolved into somethint much worse.

i dont hink banning of anthign is right. such word usage, is too radical and one way and nothign bout the topics discussed can be judged from such point of view. and u do that thru out ur whoel blog, including pretty much rebuking girls who do chesed lol.
topis such as kiruv which are so wide ranged and mulit faceted and GLOBAL cant be pin pointed and cricized with such finality.

frumskeptic said...

"how do u know whose grandmother is in what nursing home ur takling on such assumptions that its a completely invalid argument."

I meant generally. But alot of rebbeim and frum people generally have noticed this trend. more and more people do "chesed" but hire "Maria" to take care of their children. More and more girls spend countless hours baking challot to give to the "needy" but do not help their mothers in the houses...this is something I see (newspapers) and hear about all the time. They dont know how to get their children back!

"all im saying is u cant bash Chesed bc u ASSUME that they are neglecting hoem duties bc of that chesed. "
I'm not bashing Chesed!! OY!! All for it. I like good people. I dislike fake people, thats all. And like with Kiruv, Im super against all this commercialization. Why you go and talk about the little kid you tutor and keep stressing how YOU VOLUNTARILY tutor him...go and just do it. no one really cares.
"i dont hink banning of anthign is right."
I guess that was an extreme. But commercialized kiruv is usually just a tool used to "hang-out" and doesnt accomplish that much. Kiruv begins at home, and many times shold remain there..as in, invite your neighbor over for a meal, s/t cliche like that. not everyoone is open to it, but if you go out running amok searching for them, you may end up only attracting people in it for the "thrill" of getting free meals and free opportunities to hang out...which ends with alot of time and money spent. and for what? a "holier-than -thou" Judaism is all we have to show for it.

"and u do that thru out ur whoel blog, including pretty much rebuking girls who do chesed"

Nothing against girls that do chesed...or guys for that matter. As long as they are doing it for the right reasons.

Jessica said...

its funny what new york schools consider to be their "best" schools.

The Babysitter said...

That was really mean of the teacher to pick on the girl like that and say why aren't you keeping shabboss...
but that reminds me that some speakers use that as a scare tactic hoping it will help change them.
Think of R' Amnon Yitzchak he's excellent at doing Kiruv, I don't think he has any selfish motives. But if you watch some of his videos he sometimes uses scare tactics, like a woman who hadn't had children, he told her if she covers her hair then she'll have a child, and she was crying and everything, but she gave in and then the next year she had a child.

frumskeptic said...

I hate the idea of the scare tactic. it absolutely irks me. Especially since MOST normal people would see right through it and actually NOT become frum. And if the tactic works and makes someone frum, it usually ends up backfiring with children or grandchildren somewhere down the line.