Sunday, August 07, 2005

R-E-S-P-E-C-T -Part 2

This shabbos, I applied a cream that promised to make me invisible. And it worked!!

I attended a family Simcha. I sat at a table with my relatives. Or so I thought. They pretended that I do not exist. For some reason, my hands were there-to pass them things, of course. I have been seated with them at other Simchas, where I have tried to strike conversation and I am rejected and belittled to my face. I blush, look down, swallow my tears, eat my food, and don't talk.

When I saw who I was seated with, I decided to be mature about it and think, "It's just one meal--a few hours." Thank G-d that got me through, because now it's over, and I don't have to see them for a while. But I still wish to discuss what went on at that meal. They didn't look me in the face. They didn't say two words to me. But they seemed to enjoy discussing clothing and shoes and clothing and shoes. Even during the speeches.

There were two other young married women there whom I did not know, but when their young children disrupted the speeches, they looked at each other and laughed, rather than trying to do something about it. They didn't talk to me either. But then again, I didn't try either, so I won't blame them.

The chosson got up to speak, and so did one of his friends. People listened and laughed. Then a Rabbi came to the shtender. I have to admit he didn't look like the "coolest" man, but a young, chashuv Rav. He started to speak about the fact that it is hard to celebrate a Simcha while keeping in mind the Aveilus of the 9 days. It was something I had thought about and looked forward to hearing what he had to say. He wasn't speaking loudly. Then people got antsy. It was noisy when he started, but when he finished, nobody realized except the 5 people still listening. I kept quiet. I couldn't hear, and who would I talk to anyway?

On the way out, I heard people complaining, "That Rabbi spoke way too long..." I didn't time it, but I approximated about 20 minutes. I know that's long for a speech during a meal, but funny how when it's Nicole Kidman or Julia Roberts making the speech--at an awards show, or in a dialogue in a movie--it seems to fly by. Do people really complain that movies are too long? (With the exception of 3 1/2 hour Titanic and others) No. Because they're interested in seeing half-naked movie stars and hot hollywood hunks. So if a man wants to speak for 20 minutes about Torah, then let him.

I know that my hours in front of a TV far exceed the hours I have spent attending Shiurim, but if a man--better yet, a Rabbi-- gets up to speak Torah, how can people treat him with such disrespect? It seems this is what too many people have become nowadays. They have no respect or appreciation for Yiddishkeit. I think this goes back to my discussion about the schools being so busy promoting the outside, they forget completely about working on the inside. So they end up with a bunch of guys in hats and jackets but no desire for Torah. Nice work.


At 8/07/2005 4:07 PM, Anonymous Nachman said...

you have to realize that people's attention spans have gotten drastically shorter these days. therefore, rabbis should realize that and limit their speaking time accordingly. to do otherwise, especially during a long dragged-out aufruf meal, when everyone is dying to go home and take a shabbos map, is simply a tircha d'tzibura. the rabbis have to keep it "short and sweet."

are the people right for interrupting? no. but let's get real. let's look at the other side of the coin. people can't sit still for 20 minutes these days. and if someone doesn't realize that, they must be living under a rock.

and don't bring ra'ayos from people's ability to watch award shows. there's a lot less focusing needed to watch that stuff than to listen to a dvar torah, which requires much more attention. especially on a shabbos afternoon, when everyone is itching to get home.

At 8/07/2005 5:09 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Nachman-I realize that people's attention spans are shorter, but why do you think that is? It's called TV. I also hve a short attention span, even if I am watching something I like, I'll flip around to see what else is on. And yes, LHavdil, a d'var Torah requires much more focus. You think I wasn't itching to get home? But anyway they hadn't even served the main course yet! I don't know if that's good or bad. Better to have everyone stuffing their faces than chattering away like they're at a coctail party.

At 8/07/2005 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nachman, I've been so simachot where the speeches were 5 minutes and the people talked the whole time. There's no excuse for them to act like an ass.

At 8/07/2005 7:41 PM, Anonymous Nachman said...

- If people are talking during a 5 minute speech, then I totally agree that it's inappropriate. There's no excuse for that.

- And Michelle, ADD and lack of attention span comes from a lot more than TV. Beware of oversimplifying a complex issue. Some people innately have a shorter attention span. Others are affected by their peers. Some are affected by the society in general, which is so fast-paced, perhaps more than ever. The fact of the matter is, even the most insulated among us have been adversely affected by society. Is TV a contributing factor to a short attention span? Yes. Is it the only cause, or even the main cause? No.

- With that in mind, anyone that drones on and on, oblivious to today's short attention spans, shouldn't be surprised that they're being interrupted.

I think 5 minutes is a reasonable time to expect people at a simcha to stay focused. They're not there to hear a whole shiur, but as per Pirkei Avos (i think in perek 2 or 3), words of torah at a meal are certainly appropriate.

And if people can't listen for even 5 minutes, they either have zero kavod hatorah or serious ADD issues.

- at some simchos, the women cannot see the speaker. Now, i've never been on the ladies' side of the mechitza, but I know that i pay a lot more attention to a speech where i can see the speaker than when i can't.

Perhaps to preserve kavod hatorah, we should ensure, maybe even demand, that the ladies are able to see the speaker. (I know there may be some tznius issues, but i find it hard to believe that those chumros outweigh the potential bizayon hatorah.)

And don't bring me proofs that ladies talk even when they can see the speaker. perhaps after so many times tuning out, they've become accustomed to not paying attention to any speaker.

At 8/08/2005 2:01 PM, Blogger EN said...

Michelle, your right on target with this pint. People have no respect for speeches. It used to be, a Rav spoke until his legs hurt and people listened to every word like it was dimonds. Why has our generation fallen so low?

At 8/08/2005 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even if you have a short attention span and can't concentrate and/or follow along, why not sit quietly, albeit spacing out? No excuses.

At 8/08/2005 5:58 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Nachman, point taken. About the ladies not being able to see the speaker, I completely neglected to mention that issue. At this particular Simcha, we were able to see the speaker. However, I cannot agree with you more that it is imperative that the women be able to see the speaker. 100%. I get very upset when women can't see the speaker. That gives them a license to talk.

Like in school, once or twice a year, we'd have an assembly over the loudspeaker from some convention (sometimes in Hebrew or Yiddish, neither of which 99% of the school can understand decently) and it was a waste of time. It was a foreign language and the speaker, no matter how Chashuv was miles away, so once he used too many complicated words, he lost me.

I also completely agree with the last anonymous-just space out. I daydream. It goes by so quickly, and if you follow the speaker with your eyes, you're okay. This way you're not disrupting and you're not bored.

At 8/11/2005 2:59 PM, Blogger Elisheva said...

Michelle, Hi!

Just found your blog, and it's great! And you are so right about the speeches. I think it is very rude when ladies talk during speeches, even if we can't see. Tho obviously it is very nice when we can see the speaker.

I was at a simcha recently in my neighborhood where the balei simcha hired two younger girls two keep the little kids entertained after they ate, so that they wouldn't disturb the speeches. I thought it was a nice idea.


At 8/11/2005 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 8/11/2005 5:24 PM, Blogger Josh said...

Your blog is quite the eye opener. So much to say, but I'll have to keep coming back and saying it in small amounts, or my brain might pop.

At 8/11/2005 10:52 PM, Blogger The Rabbi's Kid said...


Good point. Firstly I do beleive Rabbonim should realise who they are talking to and if people aren't listening they should tell a joke, a funny story, or hurry up and finish.

ALso, women shouldn't have to be barricaded away in the corner, there are plenty of ways of building a mechitzah that is resepctable and treats the women with honor.

FInally, the talking is symptomatic of a basic lack of respect, I'm not sure if it is a frum thing or a Jewish thing, people generally do not have sufficient respect for others. Period. But frum people should know better.


At 8/12/2005 11:25 AM, Blogger Elster said...

Hey, just discovered your blog and will read it when I have more time.

When I was younger (read from childhood till about 23 or so) I was pretty shy. I still am. But I've kinda forced myself to be more outgoing. It keeps me from becomeing too invisible.


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