Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ideas on Making Yiddishkeit the Most Exciting Thing in Your Life

"Duvid" has wrote me a couple of e-mails in response to my post the other day about the quote from Rav Freifeld that "If the only way we can sell our children on Torah is by forbidding everything else, then we are bankrupt." He gave me permission to publish them because I think his ideas are worth sharing! Here you go:

First of all we should understand that it's impossible to make yiddishkeit more exciting than rock concerts. Ze kneged ze asa Elokim, implies that the sitra achara can be just as powerful (or seem so) as the kdusha. But it also implies that we CAN make yiddishkeit AS exciting and a rock concert!

Second, it's important to understand that the solution already exists, we just have to look in the right place to find it.

Now, we really have to define what we mean by excitement. When people go to concerts or soccer games they don't look for intellectual or emotional excitement. They look for the type of excitements that GETS INTO THEIR BLOOD AND BONES! If we can truly provide that in yiddishkeit, then we've almost won the game.

So first of all, this type if excitement does exist in yiddishkeit. If anyone want's to FEEL yiddishkeit IN HIS VERY BONES he's better go to Meron on Lag Baomer or to Uman on Rosh Hashana, and I think it is important to have these experiences from time to time, even though obviously yiddishkeit is not about "experiences", and even when experiencing these things one should not look for the experience but rather concentrate on one's avoda. However, the experience of feeling kdusha in one's very flesh is indeed very important, and should, and even must be felt to some extent every time one davens or does any davar sheb'kdusha. Like David Hamelech sais many times "bsari - my very flesh...". I think only then one will not pay any attention to a rock concert...

Now, we gotta discuss things that have crept into normative yiddishkeit that actually work against this concept. May be some other time...

That's as far as excitement. Of course, there're more things that contribute to people leaving yidishkeit unfortunately.

Our yiddishkeit should start shifting from being exclusively intellectual / mussar oriented to being EXPERIENTIAL. There's an undercurrent attitude in yiddishkeit now that sais experiences is not what yiddishkeit is about, they're sort of like a b'dieved thing... Or that one is not ready for these experiences untill he'd finished all of Shas... (I've witnessed in one yeshiva, after an unusially labedik dancing at kabalas Shabbos, the rosh yeshiva gave his dvar Torah in which he implied that one should not really do these things unless one learns Gemora 17 hours a day...) I think it's important to realize that experience is an integral part of yiddishkeit, and one has to properly cultivate those experiences, as well as properly prepare for them (and that's something that mechanchim should davka be thinking about, how to guide kids to experience spirituality in a proper way).

I have to say that this shift would require of us to drop some litvishe tendencies in favour of adopting chassidish ones (i don't know if you want to post that). (DY: :-D)

And most importantly, we have to remember what we're up against. If it's rock concerts, then the holy experiences we have have to match them! That's why I mentioned davka Meron and Uman...

There's more I could write, but let me just tell you of an experience (not the type i was writing about, just something i observed) that i had rescently, that's connected to your post:

Two Shabboses ago we visited my wife's cousin, they live in Bat Ayin, a yishuv south of Yerushalaim on the way to Chevron. It's a "Chabakuk" kind of place (you know, Chabakuk stands for Chabad, Breslov, Carlebach, and R' Kuk :-) ) with all different "spiritual" types. On Shabbos morning I went to the Breslov minyan. So after davening they danced a bit, and then put tables together, made kiddush, and sat down for what's called "sichat chaverim" (that's actually a part of their avoda, not stam)... Boy, was that something I enjoyed seeing! First of all, they start with a joke. B'davka. As they sat down they said "yesh l'mishehu b'dicha?" So they came up with some old joke that went something like "whats in common between a Breslover and a Subaru? - that they're always doing tikunim..." Then they read a bit from the sipurei maasiyos, and then they started this free flowing, funny, friendly conversation (there were about 15 - 20 of them), all revolving about holy topics, avodas hashem, how to overcome obsticles, how to be "tamim", etc. What impressed me about it was that it just seemed so natural! As if that's really what they want to talk about and nothing else! And they were funny too. And when some of them started arguing and it got beyond a certain point they all started singing... Teanagers and kids were sitting at the sides and listening in, enjoying every minute. I honestly can't imagine one of those kids thinking of yiddishkeit as boring... And after they finished, they put on their shtreimels (those of them that wear shtreimels - they're all dressed differently), and went home with their M16s hanging over their golden Yerushalmi bekeshers... Loooove that.


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1 comment:

A Talmid said...

If only we would all have kiddushim like the one described. The typical kiddush in many shuls (ranging from modern to heimesh) in NY has people trying to out drink each other and conversations about sports and business. Although this may look exciting to the kids, it is unfortunately the wrong kind of excitement since there is very little Yiddishkeit in this. Contrast this with the Kiddush described. They are still enjoying the cholent and kugel, but the main part of the Kiddush is the Avodas Hashem.