Monday, January 12, 2009

Denomination Doesn't Determine Destiny

Here comes part two of my second to last post.

So I got to thinking, I don't double cover my sheitel even though I'm Chassidish, my Yemenite best friend isn't required to have a middle name like Mazal, and my Litvish friends don't all wear denim. It's weird how silly little things get stereotyped and people come to expect them.

But that's not my main point.

My thought was, after I was mistaken for being S'fardi, that as much as we stereotype other people, we also tend to exclude and try to elevate ourselves to a level above them.

There have been times where I've felt that people looked down at me for having been sick- like I chose it, or like it's something that only people who are "like me" (whatever my group may be) can get. People just assume that these bad things don't happen to them.

Whenever we hear about an accident or get another tehillim name forwarded on our email accounts, or find out about another young person who passed away, we sort of all say "nebech", forward the bad news further, say a perek or tehillim (or not) and then move on.

We kind of forget that these names are real people and that they are people like us. We tend to think that they belong to some "other" group, that live in some "other" universe, that lead "other" lives that don't pertain to us.

We're all guilty of it- I do it all the time.

Part of it is because we are desensitized. Unfortunately, there is so much bad news and we hear it so often, that it loses the dramatic impact it should have on us. But I think a bigger part of it is how disconnected we feel and allow ourselves to feel from each other.

And even those of us who aren't judging people that are different- and most of us don't- we still do think of others as being "not like us". When we read the terrible headlines we automatically say "Oh, but these things don't happen to people like me."

We hear about an Israeli soldier who was killed on the front lines the other day and the first questiona are "Was he frum? Ashkenaz?" etc. Does it matter? He was Jewish. He was one of ours.

I wrote in a post ages ago where a lady at a job interview told me quite bluntly that she was shocked that I was married because she would never let her son marry a cancer survivor. She made it sound like I was born into a coven of little monsters that were all fated to live through some horrible illness at the age of 16. I was the outcast, the different one, because things like cancer just didn't happen to people like her and her precious son.

And I sure hope they don't! I hope she and her son and her family are all well and never have to go through any tza'ar, but still- who told her that she's immune?

And when I heard about those ladies talking about me at the RCCS event, I had to wonder- do they feel better about themselves thinking that I am S'fardi? Did they go home relieved that something like cancer couldn't happen to them because it was only something that happened to "people like her"?

There is no real answer or solution to this that I can think of off the bat except for really trying to internalize the message- "Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Lazah." We are all responsible for each other and we are all interconnected and part of one whole. "Ke'ish Echad B'lev Echad."

I think that this is even sadder than judging other people because when we judge we single someone (or a group) out and put them down. But when we assume that certain things only happen to certain people, we are taking OURSELVES out of the whole. We are choosing to separate ourselves as individuals from the K'lall that we should all feel so privileged to belong to.

So the next time you meet or hear about someone who needs your help- see them that way. As a Someone. As a Person. As a Jew. Forget about the denomination, because in the end, we all share the same Destiny.

May our ultimate destiny be fulfilled very soon! Bimheira V'yameinu Amein!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow!beautifully written, expressed so very well,so true- unfortunately.
we think that we are infallible and "nothing" happens to us... and those things don't happen to people like me they only happen to other people..."
until sometimes those stories that are going around are our stories...
...very sad... we got what to work on...

little sheep said...

you must be talking about some other type of person. my type doesn't ever judge. and nothing bad ever happens to us...

thanks for another piece of food for thought...

anon#1 said...

You put this very well.

I had a hard time relating to the war in E"Y until my mother told me that my cousin, who I've never met, was hit by shrapnel in Gaza. Two of his close friends were killed.

If I can think of every soldier as my cousin, it really brings the point much closer to home.

itsagift said...

Wow!! What a beautiful lesson to take from something so "simple" and I hope we can each internalize this message on our own level!!

itsagift said...

PS Thanks for the good laugh in your first paragraph!!

Anonymous said...

ver very well written. you gave me some food for thought!

Der Shygetz said...

LS"D

You know that I usually really like your posts.

However, you are a bit off with this one.

The Mevakesh Ksofim, in perek 80:90, defines the concept of ahavas Yisroel as pertaining to only:

Men who wear the same color, style and brim size hat as you do as well as the same length of payos.

Women who wear the same type of hair covering as you do, use the same color tablecloth as you do, and whose cholent and kugel recipes come from the same shtetl as yours.

Any who do not conform exactly to your own (and that of course means the mechaber's own) standards and minhagim are not considered part of the klal, and the segula for avoiding their fate is to loudly yell "Shygetz Aross" when they pass, as well as to torment them with placards and posters pointing out how they are completely wrong in their kefira, and how their leaders are from the descendants of Koirach. It is especially meritorious to torch their places of worship (preferably with a kerosene soaked Tzionishe flag), but only if you have somehow placed an insurance policy on said properties in your own name or that of your wife, children or phantom chessed fund.

Only by separating our hyliger selves from the rest of self-proclaimed klal Yisroel who are clearly of the erev rov who walk in the way of Korach can we continue to enjoy the many Federal, State and municipal benefits of this golus!

Only thus can we be sure that this

So? said...

ha! ONLY in NY!

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right and unfortunately is so true. On the same note i gotta tell you that you were great at the party (yeah the wb. one and no i did not think you're sfardish and yes i realized you're chasidish, and no i do not care to which chassidus you belong to :)anyway, it was amazing to watch the video and hear you speak! keep up your wonderful work!

Anonymous said...

It is sooo true. i used to live in Israel during the intifada and at least once a week we heard about another bombing attack. I lived through it. Few years ago my family moved to the united states, and about a month ago i went to the Bais Yaakov convention in canada and they made a beatiful slideshow with some pictures from the bombing attacks in Israel, afterwards me and my friends were discussing it and i tried explaining to them that in all of those awfull pictures people really got hurt people died, and one of my friends told me its really scary when you think about it this way
but this is the trueth, we hear stories we see pictures and we just keep on going without paying attention
RK

Boro Park Chic said...

tzipi- big fan....but this post reminded me of the stuff in your book you write about that I didnt care for- like, naming the ppl at Rccs who said things- I mean, did u mention they cam eout to SUPPORT Rccs...also, you are ALOS guilty of JUDGING...you seem to be judging those who judge- and you have no idea why they say or do certain things- acceptance should work both ways.
Love your blog- mostly very insightful and inspiring

J.A.P. said...

Boro Park Chic- no one at RCCS said anything negative. I kept saying over and over how impressed I was at the turnout- it was a rainy and icy night and still over a thousand people showed. I was very moved by the fact that they came.

The only thing I remarked on was the comment someone made on my background- and not in a bad way. I didn't see it as a negative. I thought it was funny and it actually made me think of the way we analyze dumb celebrities all the time. I just chose to use the anecdote and take a lesson from it.

And YES, I know I judge people who judge. I've said so myself, many times. It's in the post. I never claimed to be above it or to be anything close to perfect.

And I'm very sorry if there were parts in the book you didn't care for. I was 16 at the time it was written. Trust me, there are things about my 16 year old self I don't care for either, like the fact that I had cancer, or that I was an obnoxious brat...

But always happy to hear from a fan!

Future Survivor said...

I got your DVD, its great!! I am going to take it to the hospital and show it to my co-patients. I think it would be fun to watch it together with the IV poles...

Zeeskeit said...

Ok...so i'm a bit behind on your blog....

I can't agree with you more on this blog...

HOWEVER, I personally, and I know others like me, who hear about a tragedy and really DO internalize it...."Imagine if it happened to me, my children, etc." It's very hard to live like that....It's something that catches up with you...Unfortunately, there are SO MANY tragedies, that you NEED to detach a bit. I empathize by trying to imagine if that were me, and then YES, I detach and thank Hashem that it's NOT me. You can't live your life thinking about everyone's tragedies all day long! Say Tehillim, daven but don't harp on it...It's not good for you...

I hope you understand my point - People who really can EMPATHIZE (not sympathize) may have a hard time since they take it so to heart that they learn to "move on" and seem detached....