Wednesday, October 29, 2008

At a shuir

Imagine this situation:

You find yourself at a shuir/speech and you find out that the speaker is someone who has blatantly lied to you on numerous occasions.

You find yourself in this awkward situation of not knowing whether or not you should walk out of the room or just stay-put and listen, just to avoid the drama of people noticing that you're leaving the shuir- something you would never do otherwise- which may get them suspicious and/or vocal about their curiosity.

So you decide to stay-put (to avoid the loshon hara and drama, leaving would ensue) only to find out that the topic of the shuir is about lying.

Throughout the shuir the speaker makes excellent points on why lying is bad and gives excellent examples and explanations on the consequences of lying. But you can't seem to really appreciate the points because you really know the speaker, and you know that everything he's saying is truly hypocritical in your eyes, and taking his words seriously just makes you feel somewhat inept.

During the speech you try not to laugh.

Finally the speech is over and your friend starts going on and on about how amazing the shuir is. What do you say to her?

You can't lie and say "wow the speaker was amazing" because the very reason you didn't like the speech was because of the speaker. But if you say anything (assuming you're talkative) neutral, such as "the content of the speech was excellent" your friend may notice something is off.

What do you do?


Child Ish Behavior said...

Well, you could lie. I mean the person telling you not to did it themselves. It can't be that bad. ;)

frumskeptic said...

but then you can't be mad at them for doing it themselves. Cuz you're one of those people.

Child Ish Behavior said...

Or you can tell the truth and say,"Well, I can't tell a lie...or Loshin Hara"

frumskeptic said...

but your friend would assume if you say "I can't tell a lie" means you didn't like the shuir, which technically would be true, but not in the way she'll perceive it.

If you say "Loshin Hara" she'll know its something personal. You wouldn't want her knowing that.

Child Ish Behavior said...

True, but then you would have the best of both worlds. Halachically kosher, Morally bankrupt.

frumskeptic said...

"Halachically kosher, Morally bankrupt."

Doesn't that describe a lot of todays frum leaders?

Child Ish Behavior said...

I don't think so. That would be loshin hara on a whole group of people I know nothing about.;)

frumskeptic said...

Ah Yes...loshon hara, the cop out answer for anything.

Imagine if more people spoke loshon hara about shabbatai tzvi, hwo much better off so many Jews would've been.

frumcollegegirl said...

can you say catch-22?

frumskeptic said...

fcg- :-)

Ophir said...

Reality is that everyone lies. I don't think the speaker realized they were lying when you thought they were. Just say you liked the speech and don't make a scene about it. Makes your life a lot easier.

Mikeinmidwood said...

Just say it was well put together.

David said...

"Quite a speech; I wonder how many people are truly able to live up to those lofty ideals?"

And let it go at that.

Sally Hazel said...

Hmm. Try to find out re: speaker before going to the shiur? Or, start coughing violently until you can walk out ( and people would feel bad for you instead of thinking that you've been disrespectful).
And why not tell you friend that you liked the topic but didn't like the style or the way the speech was delivered? Something to demo that you basically didn't like the speech?

DYS said...

Sheker can have many forms. But a white lie that harms nobody to spare somebody confusion and pain should be fine.

"Sheker" is a whole concept that includes intent and concequences, while "to lie" is a simple verb.

Lying can be a tool for "emet" if it's used in the right way.

Moshe said...

Stand up at end of speech and tell the speaker, "Healer, heal thyself."
And then walk out.

mlevin said...

Moshe - if you do that in a large crowd, you'd be lynched for dishonoring a Rabbi

Moshe said...


Joodah said...

Many rabbis sinned, from Talmudic times all the way to present. Rabbis engaged with harlots, others who lied, cheated on their wives, and stole money; They can be addicts and alcoholics just like us.

A rabbi who is an alcoholic who gives a shiur about alcoholism isn't a hypocrite in my eyes. Perhaps it is a way of redeeming yourself, by helping others not become what you have become.

I'm not saying this guy was doing that, but an important thing to ask is, look past the man. were his words true?

If they were true, and their sins weren't hurting anybody, then I would say nothing.

If they were hurting others with their lies, I would speak up, probably to the president of the shul.

Moshe said...

If he's an alcoholic, he probably knows he has a problem. If the guy constantly lies, I'm sure he doesn't think it's wrong.

frumcollegegirl said...

reminds me of the time i went to a shiur that was all about taking control of your desires, and not letting what you want, control what you do, blah blah. when i walked outside after the speech, the speaker was standing outside smoking

Moshe said...

too funny
The funniest thing about smokers is watching them outside the shul erev shabbat, in freezing cold, smoking their last cigarette while shivering and jumping up and down.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

כתוב "מכל מלמדי השכלתי" י

The Candy Man said...

I'd tell my friend the truth - that the talk was good but the speaker is a hypocrite. When you try to avoid the truth, things only get worse and worse.

The Raz said...

It’s like a fat dietician teaching you how to eat, a doctor who’s a smoker, a dentist with bad teeth, an alcoholic telling you not to drink.

On the one hand your first instinct is to say, who are you to give me advice? On the other, they are an example of how addictive bad behavior can be?

It kind of reminds me of a struggle I know a lot of people have with honoring your parents especially when your parents were physically or sexually abusive. I’ll skip most of the speech but one of the tale end points is that parents are a way for you to learn how to be a good person, through watching their good and bad behaviors.

Take the good from the bad. If anything, his words may be true even if he struggles to live up to them.

After all, the fat dietician may not be healthy, but she also exemplifies how addictive bad behavior can be and thus why you don’t want to start down that path. Even an expert can fall into the trap.

P.S.- I like your blog. It’s a new weekly addition for me and inspired me to post a story myself. Something a little more care free and funny about growing up frum. Keep up the great work.

mlevin said...

"It’s like a fat dietician teaching you how to eat, a doctor who’s a smoker, a dentist with bad teeth, an alcoholic telling you not to drink. "

Your other analogies make sense, but I would take offense about this one. Not everyone goes to the dietician for weight loss. There are many other reasons to see dietician. 1. Weight gain - not everyone has weight problems. There are people who are literally having problems gaining or maintaining a healthy weight. 2. Cholesterol problems - you could be skinny with high cholestorol and at risk of a heart desease. 3. Diabetes - people need to watch their sugar and learn how to contol it between medications or they will literally die. 4. Kidney/liver problems. 5. Specials sports/competition requirements. 6. Sleep problems/stresss. 7. Dipression.

There are more reasons to see a diet specialist to the one I listed above, being overweight is just one that is hiped up on TV and fashion magazines

Anonymous said...

I don't understand. Didn't you know who was giving the shiur? Not criticizing you, just wondering.

Ichabod Chrain

frumskeptic said...

the Raz- :-).
You make a good point, but separating the speaker from the speech isn't always easy, and sometimes being in the presence of someone with how should i put it...bad middos... will make it hard for you to NOT do what they do and instead do as they say.

IC- usually you know who the speaker will be, but sometimes there are subs, or change of topics and so on.

course the chances of someone being in such a situation are definitly slim, but it happens

shoshi said...

That's an interesting question about hilchot lashon hara.

Are you sure you are not allowed to reveal that this person is a liar?

Because there is an issue about fooling the public.

The Raz said...

(Mlevin) You are correct and I knew that dieticians do more then simply help with weight loss. I was being general and your points are all correct. I’ll try to be more specific in the future. That being said, dieticians, at least in my region, usually have to focus mainly on weight loss which in turn helps with cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. I am not “making offense” of over weight dieticians but being that being over weight IS a health problem, they should model the behavior they expect out of their patients, and that point there is precisely the challenge in this post.

How do you respect someone who can’t follow their own advice?

Answer, you try to separate the person from their words.

Of course some times that is impossible, if you know the person speaking isn’t struggling but truly lying, truly pulling the wool over others eyes. In those cases, well, that demands a completely different course of action and maybe that is the kind of person this author really was talking about. Maybe I gave the benefit of the doubt when I shouldn’t have but it’s worded so broad that it is difficult to tell how bad this person is and that would dictate how she, or any of us, should react in this situation. If this person really is this bad, hmmmm, I see your conundrum.

I’d start by talking to the speaker. Go right up and ask to speak in private and address the issue. Either you will find it is a miss understanding or that the person really is that low of an individual. In the end, you will more clearly know what to do next and have new material for a blog.

Anonymous said...

"The speech was excellent, however for some reason it is not effective, I have already heard this lecture elsewhere and people who would have benefited from changing their ways, did not seem to be moved at all. I wonder what could be done to improve it, but I can not think of anything, it seems just perfect and yet I can tell you some people listened to this and were not moved."
(and who knows! may be someone in total naivete will remind the speaker that polishing words is good, but "words that come from the heart enter the heart"....)