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!