Since Thursday, I have been chewing over the quote that Chana, from the Curious Jew blog, brought from Off the Derech, by Faranak Margolese.
This was a letter that a recently rebellious son left for his father after they had started to reconcile with one another:
We are both blind. You don't always see how much I have done for you and I don't always see how much you taught me. But you think that I took the Tablets and I just threw them to the ground. That's not what happened. They were too heavy and they simply dropped from my hands.
That being said, I would like to darshen this young man's words a little bit. If observance ("The Tablets") really were too heavy to carry, then everyone would go off the derech. The problem is not that they are too heavy. The problem is when they are made to seem too heavy, or that to a specific child/young person, they seem too heavy.
As I said the comment section of my recent post on why people to away to hotels for Pesach, any amount of avodah seems burdensome when it is merely seen as drudgery. When parents and teachers create a Yiddishkeit that is full of negative associations, guilt, pressure and judging, then halachic observance will feel "too heavy" and may slip out of the hands of the next generation.
Our job as Jews is to live a Yiddishkeit and teach a Yiddishkeit to our kids that is positive, full of love, and is designed al pi darko, specifically for each person so that no one feels like they are a square peg being shoved in a round hole. That way, we can avoid bringing up our children in an environment of "negative Yiddishkeit."
Negative Yiddishkeit is one major problem when raising our children and ourselves. Empty Yiddishkeit is another major problem that I want to write a little bit about tomorrow. I would say that negative Yiddishkeit is a larger problem in the "frummer" parts of the frum community and that empty Yiddishkeit is the larger problem in the more modern or less frum parts of the frum community. Although I think that much of the time, both problems exist in both communities.
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