Friday, December 10, 2004

Restrictive?

Iwas talking to my brother (yes, I do that occasionally) today, and he said something fascinating. We were discussing whether being frum (Orthodox) is restrictive or not. He said, "You can't fly. Do you find that restrictive?"
Just thought it was inerstin'

Edit: After a little discussion, we decided that doing drugs would be a better example. You physically CAN do it, but you don't (I hope!)-why? Because it's proved to be bad for you. Well, if The Doctor says that something is bad for you, why would you do it? (I know-believing in a Supreme Doctor is an entirely seperate argument...but in my personal case, I do!)

25 comments:

Stx said...

Hmm I see what he's trying to say...But one is a choice. The other isn't.

Unless I'm misunderstanding somehow...

aishel said...
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TRW said...
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aishel said...
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TRW said...
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flairrah said...
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A Simple Jew said...

Hi - I just wanted to let you know that I added you to my blogroll :)

TRW said...

Thanks! I'm honored!

leati said...

Technically, one can fly (with external tools such as an airplane only, of course), so it's not that restrictive.

I think a better example of restriction would be something you want to do but hold yourself back from. Music, movies, television, etc. are all a 'normal' part of our society, yet some Orthodox Jews see them as something that should be limited, if not completely restricted.

I could do drugs, I can even fly (jump off a building and splat on the ground, but between the jump and splat, I'm flying!), but I don't really want to. I think a restriction has to include a desire. If there's nothing being desired, there's no restriction.

Stx said...

Uhh hate to say this, but I think that was kinda his point. Meaning that they're only restrictions if they're something desireable, something worth doing. Are you restricted because you don't jump off cliffs? Are you restricted from sticking your arm in a fire? No, those aren't restrictions, they're just common sense things that you would stop from doing because they're...uh...harmful. To put it mildly.

And that's what TRW's saying. If you believe in frumkeit to the point where doing anything against frum ideals is ludicrous, if you understand the "obviousness" of the perfection of yiddishkeit, and you have complete bitachon that Hashem knows best...then where are the restrictions?

leati said...

That being Orthodox IS a restriction because there are things one wants to do but can't because of the religion. Most frum people didn't choose to be frum, they were born into it. It's not like they had a choice growing up whether or not to be restricted...they were just following their parents and what they were being taught. Whether or not they take that education and grow from/with it is another story. My point is that I don't understand how your brother put the connection between something undesirable being unrestricted and Orthodox Judaism.

leati said...

I think I confused myself - allow me to clarify: Even if you understand that "anything but" is completely insane, it doesn't take away the fact that you're dealing with the rest of society saying the opposite. Understanding the "obviousness" of the perfection of Judaism doesn't automatically dissolve away all the desires. Although it makes it simpler, it's still not easy - which makes the effects of the restrictions still active. Is that a little clearer?

TRW said...

"Most frum people didn't choose to be frum, they were born into it. It's not like they had a choice growing up whether or not to be restricted...they were just following their parents and what they were being taught...My point is that I don't understand how your brother put the connection between something undesirable being unrestricted and Orthodox Judaism."

But that's what I'm trying to say-it's all about taking what you've been 'brainwashed' and making that decision-understanding why you do what you do to the point that a so-called 'restriction' is undesirable and therefore no longer restrictive.
I had a substitute once who made a comment that I'll never forget: If you don't have a reason why you're frum other than that your parents made you that way, then you need to do some serious contemplation about your reason for living.
It's like I told MisNagid-You only have one life to live-why would you live it a lie if you feel so strongly that what you're doing is wrong? Either learn how your issues (with anything-in this case, frumkeit) can be explained, or change your lifestyle to fit with your ideas. If Judaism is false to you, why are you still practicing it?
If the life you're living is so false, change it-it's yours!!
(Sorry, leati, that wasn't at you...just one of my soapboxes...)

TRW said...

Leati #2-Sorry, I was posting when you wrote the second blog and didn't see it. Yes, it's hard, but understanding it as something impossible helps a lot. Like I said before-knowing why you do what you do makes life so much clearer!

Stx said...

Besides the fact, that's why the "drugs" mashal works so well! You wrote:

"Even if you understand that "anything but" is completely insane, it doesn't take away the fact that you're dealing with the rest of society saying the opposite. Understanding the "obviousness" of the perfection of Judaism doesn't automatically dissolve away all the desires. Although it makes it simpler, it's still not easy - which makes the effects of the restrictions still active."

And is it any tougher to "just say no" to drugs? But if you understand what it's doing, if you realize that you're not just giving in to the little lemonhead boxes, but that you're actually protecting your health--something that you WANT to do, of course!--then it's not a restriction at all. If anything, your "buddies" who are "using" are the ones who are restricted; they're at the point where they can't even tell that what they're doing is self destructive!

Mrs. Frand (yes, that's Rabbi Frand's rebbetzin, and yes, we at BYB were zochos to have her for a TEACHER. Amazing, isn't it?) said something in 10th grade that stuck with me. She said that the whole "dieting craze" has come about in order for us to better understand yiddishkeit. So let's say you're going to a party, a kiddush or something. And you tell your friend, "Whatever happens, don't let me eat ANY cake." And you get there, and there's this huge tower of strawberry shortcake perched on the doilied tablecloth, dripping with syrup and frosting and [fill in your favorite topping here]. And you reach out and lop off a huge piece of the marvelous beast and dump it on a flimsy plate and jab a fork into it and raise it to your mouth--and a hand comes out of nowhere and grabs your wrist and points the fork away and whisks away the plate.

What's your reaction? Is your friend being mean? Is she restricting you? No, she's merely stopping you from doing something that, were you in a sane frame of mind, you would NEVER want to do!

And when I say "sane," I mean it. See Rashi on one of the first few psukim of mishlei, who quotes a midrash that says that a person only does an avera "im nichnas bo ruach shtus"--if he's been overcome with temporary insanity. And Hashem telling us to keep the mitzvos is pretty much forcing us to stay sane.

Restrictive? I think not.

leati said...

Walking around in pants out of the house (i.e., at the gym), listening to non-Jewish music, socializing with boys before marriageable age (whether online or in person), etc.

You're not doing anything against halacha. Your head is telling you it's perfectly normal, but your heart tells you something is off, it's not 100% and you know it. What is it? Those restrictions you grew up with.

Btw, it took me a long time to think of some examples... I guess it says how restricted I feel :)

Stx said...

Umm....*stuffs fist in mouth*.

Uhh....*jams it further down throat*.

Not against halacha? I disag--*bites tongue, which is hard to do because hand is in the way*.

I'll be quiet now.

TRW said...

It's not against the letter of the law...you CAN wear pants at an all girls' gym; you CAN technically talk to the opposite gender; you CAN listen to non-Jewish music. It's a question of spirit of the law and hashkafa, but there's no HALACHA per se against it.

leati said...

Stxy, you were saying? (Can you see me blinking innocently?)

Like TRW said, it's not in the spirit of the law. But against halacha? I think not.

Stx said...

Answer #2--Look in Sefer HaChinuch, Mitzvah #188.

Answer #1--And the answer that matters. Who defines what "halacha" is? The response of somebody on this blog, when I spoke with her in person, was "Find it for me in the shulchan aruch, in the mishna berurah, in straight halacha somewhere." Maybe this should be the start of a new topic. I disagree that just because something can't be found in the mishna berurah, it's not a halacha. (Yes, straight out halacha, not hashkafa.) Anyone wanna take this one outside?

Eli7 said...

So how do YOU define halacha, stx?

shtieger said...

Hey everyone, I just started a blog so that I could comment.
I think that the drug example is perfect. Although society imposes a little bit of it's own will by making it illegal, if you want to take drugs, you can. However, most people have a self-imposed restriction because they believe that drugs are bad for you. Most people have never seen the "proof" that these drugs are bad for them, but they believe in the information which says that it is so. This might be from the newspaper, a movie, or from a medical textbook, but we believe that the people who give this information know what is best for us in this regard.

Anyone who identifies themselves as a frum Jew, should understand that they are saying that they believe the Torah knows what is best for us. If eating pig is assur, it must be for our benefit. The same should hold true for most "restrictions", if it is restricted, then we should believe that the Torah knows better than us.

Just like someone who smokes marijuana may know that it feels good, and therefore chooses to disregard the medical ramification, so too someone who enjoys things that are assur, is simply choosing to disregard the spiritual ramifications. The real problem lies in the definition of what is assur. That's really a different topic, but I just wanted to defend the mashul.

Stx said...

Welcome aboard, Shteiger! Can't wait to hear more from you...

(Btw, do i KNOW you? Hmmmm)

shtieger said...

Thanks for the welcome...I guess you may know me, but I sure don't know you.

PsychoToddler said...

I posted something similar on my blog about my daughter and a guitar recital and kol isha. To the outside world, (and maybe my daughter too) kol isha sounds very restrictive.

I like to think of what Capt. Kirk says to Charlie on Star Trek: There's a million things you can have in this universe, and there's a million things that you can't have. If you can understand that sentiment, Orthodoxy gets easier to live with.