Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Middos, Anyone?

My grandmother recently ventured into my neighborhood. She was here for an appointment, and figured she'd make a quick visit to a friend. She got out of the car right in front of the woman's house, and told me to drive around the corner, and come back to find a parking spot. The hostess said she'd send someone out to help my grandmother up the step.

When I returned, she was still outside. She told me that the woman had not yet arrived, she spotted a young Yeshiva boy, (about 15 years old--I saw him as I drove up the block) and asked him to help her up the one isolated step, which did not have a railing.

"Can't." he responded. "Can't you do it yourself?" he asked. "Do you think I'd be asking you if I was able to do it myself?" my grandmother answered. "I can't help you." The boy repeated, and started to walk away. "Do you want to be a Chossid Shoteh?" my grandmother asked. He was gone.

After reporting this to my friends, they were Dan L'Kaf Zchut. "Maybe he was in a hurry," one suggested. "Maybe he isn't strong enough." "Maybe he didn't know what he had to do." "Maybe he ...." But I had answers for all of them.

Stories like these are further proof that some Yeshivas (since I know young men who would never hesitate to help an old woman, even if it does mean touching her) are forgetting the idea of Middos. They're learning the Halachos, and the restrictions, but what about helping someone??

This story also reminds me of a book that I read when I was little, so if I screw up details, forgive me. There were two kids who decided they were going to do a big Mitzvah one day. They sat on the couch, waiting for their big Mitzvah. As they sat, they turned down many "small" opportunities for a Mitzvah, like a parent telling them to do something, and others. The irony of the story was that they were trying so hard to do a mitzvah, they completely disregarded so many mitzvos presented to them.

This young man was met with an opportunity to do a Mitzvah. But he chose not to, foolishly thinking that the mitzvah was not to touch an elderly lady.

Is it the Yeshivas? Is it the parents? Is it just him?

20 Comments:

At 4/25/2006 3:53 PM, Blogger Semgirl said...

Michelle, I love your blog and you seem like a sweet girl, but this just a cheap knock-off of posts Elisheva and I wrote months ago.. Im sure that you can do better..

 
At 4/25/2006 5:31 PM, Anonymous Michelle said...

I don't think so. I may have written about the same issue, but I used a different anecdote that I felt was important to share. I think there will be many times that bloggers' content overlap, and as long as there is no plaguerism, I think it's fair.

Since you wrote about Shidduch Pressures, am I forbidden from doing so? etc.

Thanks

and PS I AM a sweet girl.

 
At 4/26/2006 3:31 AM, Blogger JBL the first said...

Of course you are right about the middos but there are halachos that come before them. The chusid shoteh here is totally not applicable, as the mashol the gemorroh gives is about a lady drowning and he won't help. If the gemorrah could of given a much simpler mashol why does it go all the way to the extreme pikuach nefesh? The torah is the one that decides what are middos and when, NOT US. Think of millions of times we are obligated to an halacho and may not help someone.

 
At 4/26/2006 8:51 AM, Anonymous Michelle said...

jbl-interesting thought.

I appreciate that you a) ID yourself, and b)don't attack me at all. You simply state your argument CALMLY and maturely. Well done.

I still think though, that in this situation, since there was nobody else around, he should have helped my grandmother. Did he know that I was driving around the corner and would return within 2 minutes? Nope.

But, yes, there are other situations where Halacha precludes helping someone. (is preclude the right wrod for that? Whatever, you get it.)

 
At 4/26/2006 10:02 AM, Anonymous Chani said...

Ask a rabbi(Rabbi S.?) about it & get back to us. If we don't know the answer, how was this boy supposed to? He was probably very flustered by your grandmother's request & didn't know what to say. I would love to know what he should have done according to halacha.

 
At 4/26/2006 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever the halacha is, there was still a lack of respect shown to an elderly woman. The boy did not have to say "can't you do it yourself". There are polite and respectful ways of refusing that I think were sorely missing.

 
At 4/26/2006 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to Rabbi Abadi (kashrut.org), the boy should have done it! What a schmuck....

 
At 4/27/2006 4:10 AM, Blogger almost_frei said...

Great post, terrible story.

I especially liked the way your grandmother responded to the situation...

I think that answers your question.

First and formost ITS THE PARENTS! Your grandparents and parents I am sure taught you to have derech eretz for people and not be a shotah.

I feel terrible that your grandmother had to experience this type of behavour. May she be zoche to a long life of nachas from you and the rest of her family, and never be subjected to this type of shtus again.

 
At 4/28/2006 1:25 PM, Anonymous Rachel said...

Michelle, I read your blog all the time and never comment because I am not really part of the Jewish Blog world. However, I felt the need to today. I thing this post, as you have written about before, is proof of the bigger underlying problem. The idea of NOT doing what is technically against halachah (I.E. shomer negiah) overshadows the obvious mitzvah of aiding the elderly. It is similar to the embarrasment that often occurs when a non-frum or non-Jew is unaware of Shomer Negiah and extends a hand, and is rebuffed by such an offended look as to avoid breaking shomer negiah that the whole idea of not hurting someone's feelings, esp. in front of others, flies out the window. It seems like there needs to be a better sense of balance given accross the board. Yasher koach! And gut shabas.

 
At 4/30/2006 5:17 AM, Blogger Jew Speak said...

I found the perfect quote for you!

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter said: "One can possess broad Talmudic knowledge and be a fountain of deep penetrating analysis and yet he does not deserve to be considered a true talmid chacham (Torah scholar). If he has not allowed his Torah knowledge to refine his character and restructure his personality, he is an am haaretz (boorish ignoramus) who happens to know how to learn."

take from here

 
At 4/30/2006 6:25 AM, Blogger jew-unit said...

big deal this is a story of typical yeshiva kid who just lives life the same way you walk down a narrow hallway.no feeling around just straight .no thinking about other people just the newest chumrah from their rebbe.....kavod haWhat

 
At 4/30/2006 7:44 AM, Blogger Datingmaster, Jerusalem said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 4/30/2006 8:40 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

Jew Speak--Thank you SO MUCH for that quote!! I guess if I would have done adequate research, I would have found it, but you did it for me, and if you don't mind, I might use it in a future post. The quote basically summed up what I had been saying, but is more concise and gently worded. So thanks again.

Jew Unit-you got that right. But you seem resigned to it. I guess there's not much we can do, but TRY to give children the proper Chinuch at home.

Thanks for the great contibutions, keep em coming.

 
At 4/30/2006 8:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to share a true story. I was a 16 year old Yeshiva boy and my two friends and I were returning home at 8pm from Mishmar. We had just missed the coney island bus so we decided to take a different bus to the train station. As we were boarding that bus 2 nicely dressed bais yaakov girls asked us if we knew anything about the coney island bus. My two friends refused to acknowledge them and so I answered them that they had just missed the bus and it comes infrequently at that late hour. I was shocked at my friends. Why didn't they answer? They responded that 'they don't talk to girls'. I was stunned. I didn't either 'talk to girls' but this was ridiculous. The girls were at least 75 feet away from us and all they were asking us for was a little info so they wouldn't be stuck waiting in the cold for a bus that doesn't show.
I think that we all got the same message from the yeshiva and our parents. The difference was that I had sisters while these boys did not. I was able to see these girls as regular human beings who needed to know something and not as the yetzer hora in disguise.

 
At 4/30/2006 6:16 PM, Blogger Lakewood Venter said...

Was it a Lakewood bochur??

 
At 4/30/2006 8:55 PM, Blogger Lakewood Venter said...

Thanks for being the first to comment on my blog! As soon as I figure out how, I will definitely post a link on my blog to yours!
L'Chaim!

 
At 5/04/2006 6:20 AM, Blogger The Truth said...

Without mixing in to the argument was he right or not.

Why don't you blame the gracious hostess who probably doesn't have any cards to defend herself. She knew an elderly lady was supposed to arrive and even promised to send someone out. Except if she had a real good reason, she should be getting a big mouthful.

 
At 6/21/2006 9:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking as a 15 year old yeshiva bocher...

Most 15 year old kids know the entire breadth of Halacha. If a person of that age is put into such a situation, he will most likely feel awkward and not know exactly what to do, especially if he doesn't know a psak halacha regarding that specific situation. Since, according to some, "shomer negiah" is a potential yeherag ve'al yaavor, it is perfectly logical that the kid would, in the spur of the moment, act toward the side of caution. You cannot expect a person who doesn't deal with those scenarios on a daily basis to have enough practical experience to know how to tactfully deal with the situation.
Many aspects of derech eretz must be learned from "field experience," and you cannot expect everyone to have such experience.

 
At 6/21/2006 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry. In the last post I meant to say "don't know the entire breadth of Halacha"

 
At 7/05/2006 7:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to tell you that it is experiences exactly like these that make me regret becoming a BT. Unfortunately the reality is that the community seems to believe this is right, and to teach it's kids to behave like this. I could go on and on- the kids shoving you out of the way to get to the food at kiddush, the garbage and dirt in and outside of the frum homes, etc... Not what its cracked up to be.

 

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