"From Moshe till Moshe, there arose none like Moshe." (famous Jewish folk saying)

Monday, January 31, 2005

Heal the World

I am not a big fan of Michael Jackson but my wife loves his music and the way that boy (I think he’s a boy) can move. I have all sorts of jokes about the guy in my repartee but most of them are unfit for printing. I do like the one about that little guy Webster…remember him? He was pieced together over the years from all the parts they removed from Michael …but I am getting off topic. Driving to Jerusalem this morning, I was listening to the Thriller CD that was left in the car. The last song on the CD is called Heal the World. For some unexplained reason, tears welled up in my eyes and I began to cry. As I listened to the words of this song, I could hear the voices of children singing about a better world, a better place and a life worth living. Now it is not uncommon for me to cry when moved my emotional moments. My father is, grandfather and my great-grandfather were “softies” as my Zadie would say. I seemed to have inherited this generic trait. The Lenscrafter commercial on the radio made me cry and I cry during movies where animals die. I was such a basket case during the movie My Dog Skip, it scared my kids! This is why I avoid movies where people die of natural causes. So yes, I am an emotional person and I do my best to suppress this. I have told my son that real men do cry, but there is a limit. I mean, was there really any reason to cry during the movie Against the Ropes, starring Meg Ryan, probably not.

Last week as part of my travels, I was in the US for the international conference for Jewish outreach professionals, AJOP. It is a great event where those involved with kiruv from all over the world come together to share ideas, programs and creativity. Many prominent rabbis are in attendance to provide chizzuk, inspiration and guidance for the many challenging circumstances these young rabbis face in a turbulent and often unforgiving world of community service.

During my travels it is often very lonely and I have way too much time on my hands to think, especially when I am driving. (Yes, Torah tapes, yes news, yes, music but most of all I think, think, think) For me, unfortunately, this is a dangerous thing…almost a work hazard. Recently, I have had something new to think about. Because of the new blogging culture, that I have been introduced to and we are all apart of. I have been introduced to pain and suffering on a magnitude I can’t explain. I have read the plight of young woman who have been physically and sexually abused, teens contemplating suicide, “frum” people leading hidden lives, those struggling with gender identity, off the derech teens who want to return and a “system” that wont welcome them back. To read about their pain and suffering and not be moved by their devastating “real life” experiences would not be human.

The anonymity of blogging has given people an outlet to express their pain and I imagine this can only be good. But for someone like me to read these tales and not be able to help in anyway is so very painful. I am not a therapist, (although I am married to a great one) and I do not feel I am slightest bit equipped nor do I have the time necessary to confront the intensity of pain that burdens these souls. I have read only a few blogs, linked to a few, linked to a few, etc., etc., etc. There are so many, there is so much pain, it saddens me terribly. How can I help?

I have the privilege of being involved with outreach and youth work for over 25 years, sometimes as a volunteer and sometimes as a paid professional. I would wage money on anyone who could quote me as ever saying that, “I made someone frum.” I would never say that because I don’t believe it to be true. No one makes people frum. People decide to make these tough choices on their own. A good kiruv worker may facilitate a process, but never more than that. I could probably tell you how many people I have “turned off” over the years, this is much clearer for me to see. So to all those who invested in me, holy community funds, over the years, where is the return on their investment? Is the world a better place? OK, yes, I admit, I am doing my weekly, monthly or hourly DM/self esteem bashing, but this is the first time I am committing this to print. SO now it’s not only in my head anymore. I am probably harder on myself than anyone; I think it is supposed to be that way, I think?

To be continued, maybe:

I love you, DM! (in that platonic, we've-been-friends-forever sort of way)

Why should you be harder on yourself than on others? To the extent that you have compassion for others and do not judge them harshly, perhaps you should have equal compassion for yourself?

We're all doing our best, DM. I know you are. And the results are good. Look at your family. Look at all the people in the US who miss you. And the people all over the world who rely on you to help them do their jobs better. You are awesome.
I just found you by way of Chayai Sarah. I just read your last post. I will make time to add you to my regular reads.

I think I understand how you feel, in a way. But in a backwards way. I am newly frum and my community, which is basically wonderful is also basically terribly dysfunctional and not a community at all. Since this came to my attention (and I would have been much happier if people would have stopped confiding in me about this person and that person and that family and this one said that... etc.), I want to do something to repair the community. To make everyone love each other again and then maybe even like each other or at least not say bad things about each other. Do you know what I mean??? Maybe it's not exactly what you are going through, but the pain in me is very real and I'm very sensitive to this and it breaks my heart. And sometimes when I do cry about it, my husband just shakes his head. He understood what was going on from the beginning.

Sorry to ramble on. Just seemed like a good place to do it.
yetta, i know what youre going through, its happening in my community, too, chaval. mostly only about one family though...maybe one or two more, but mostly about one. and not only that, the man of the family is in the higher ups of the shul, one of more frummer ppl in the shul (whatever that means, however one measures that). ppl look up to him, he is mamash a baal chessed, tzedakah, mamash every good middah a frum jew wants, he has, and yet, ppl are speading rumors about his family. its ridiculous. the seceratary is even spreading rumors. he spoke to the rabbi and, the rabbi, he is a really good rabbi, but he hasnt done anything yet. why ppl have this urge to spread false rumors about such a tzaddik, is beyond me.
DM, i know for a fact you helped people come back on the derech. it is impossible for you to not have helped anyone come back, simply impossible. and i doubt you turned off that many ppl--the fact that you turned off ANYBODY is a little eh, but the only reason why i would agree with that, is because of the law of averages, and not everyone can get everybody, chaval. as i like to say, even barry bonds strikes out once in a while. but DM, it hurts me too, to see all these kids, and everyday in MTA, having a total disregard for HaShem and his Torah HaKadosh. i wish i could do something--but i know they wouldnt listen to me. the only hope i have is that yeshiva--whichever one they go to--in EY, or elsewhere, can help them see the real derech again.
its gam zu l'tovah, DM, as you know. sometimes, the only way you can help, is just to daven for all this rish'a and bad stuff in this olam to disappear, and for Moshi'ach to come soon. as annoying it may be, someitmes its the only thing.
ive been thinking recently, about bitachon, and gz"l, and ive realized that they're intertwined somewhat. we have to have bitachon, that gz"l. and bitachon isnt that you trust HaShem will have it turn out for the better (ex. one saying they have bitachon someone will get better), it's that whatever happens (wether this person has a refuah shleimah, or, HaShem invites him to learn in the Beis Medrash On High), you trust in HaShem that he did whats best.
Divrei Moshe, as one of my rebbeim, and BH for a long time, and iyH for much longer, there's no way i feel comfortable giving you chizzuk, i am simply talking to myself, but, as rabbis say to their congragents, i am inviting you, and whoever else wants to, to listen.
i love you too DM.
Deal all who posted here and those who called and sent me personal e-mails. I appreciate the perspective, the encouragement and your friendship. Just trying to confront reality in a meaningful way. DM
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