Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Baby and Bathwater

Note: This post is a continuation from Monday’s post and the comments made on it.

Both Chaviva and Batya mention the possibility of change, and specifically of the need to improve ourselves. This is definitely true. But this in turn leads me to a different point, one especially relevant to any person who is trying to better themselves.
When we embark on a project to improve ourselves, whether it be giving up a bad habit, watch our weight, to become more religious, or to start a new positive activity, the tendency is to go full force. While drastic changes can get us places quickly, we will rarely stay there steadily and solidly as a result. True change involves a process, and THAT requires TIME. Also, the gung-ho method often boomerangs because we do not take into consideration who we are. We often try to imitate others, irrespective of whether their derech (way) is a good one for US.
1) The new baal teshuva (newcomer to Orthodox Judaism) is likely to take on many optional stringencies not required by halacha (Jewish law). In doing so he often bypasses opportunities where he (she) could use their skills and aptitudes for the good of the community and their own enjoyment. This may lead to the person waking up one day and realizing that they threw away an integral part of their identity and well-being. For example, a school might frown on guitar playing, because of the hippie connotations that follow it and because of the blatant sexuality of nearly all popular songs. But if this new baal teshuva would be encouraged to IMPROVE his playing skills, using orthodox music (and perhaps classical as well), he could continue to nourish the musical side of their soul.
2) Overweight people often ask me, when they realize how much weight I have lost, “So what do you eat each day?” My answer is this: that what I eat is not important. Each person needs a healthy eating plan, one designed to suit THEIR tastes and lifestyle.

Often we have a lot of dirty “bathwater” (bad habits) that we want to chuck out. But let us not chuck out the baby with it!


Batya said...

rm, so true. Do the "BT schools/programs/yeshivot/seminars still try a total deprogramming make-over like they did in the 1970's?
Rabbi Goldstein, Mt Zion, was the first to encourage performance talent of his yeshiva boys which attracted some to Torah via music.
I think things are better than they used to be.
Re: weight loss, I also reject the "one size fits all" diet approach. We have to find a way of eating that we can live with and helps us maintain a healthier weight.

rickismom said...

I am sure that many of the school do take a better approach than they did in the 70's. But I see the same one-size-fits-all approach in many regular yeshivot, and we are losing kids to yiddishkeit because of it....