Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart
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Sunday, 30 August 2009

We All Pick and Choose

There was a recent story across the internet that dealt with the ongoing civil war within the Satmar clan.
For those who don't know, there are, or at least were, two Satmar Rebbes. Both are sons of the previous one and both claim that they were designated to be the next Rebbe. In the Jewish spirit of compromise and peace, they have set up rival courts, each claiming to be the only legitimate inheritor of Reb Yoelish, z"l while denouncing the competition as an imposter.
And then one of the brothers died recently. You'd think there would be an outpouring of grief from the surviving brother. After all, beneath all the differences are the strong bonds of family. So when the Satmar clan of the deceased brother announced its intention to bury their leader in the family plot in Brooklyn, the surviving brother who rules the clan in Brooklyn happily said... no!
Now there is a strict Jewish rule that deceased bodies must be buried as quickly as possible. Yes, there is some flexibility when it comes to honouring the dead, like waiting for family to arrive. However, these cases are limited and personal pique is not one of the acceptable reasons.
Unfortunately this is something almost all of us as frum Jews are guilty of - picking and choosing. How many times have I watched people who are medakdek on the kind of milk they'll drink and meat they'll eat wander late into shul and spend the entire time talking? The same person who freaks out if he sees a little girl running through shul without socks under her sandals has no idea about the issur of loshon horo when kiddush club starts.
No, none of us is perfect and that's built into the system. As Chazal say, the Torah was given to human beings, not angels. We will all make mistakes. The danger is when we refuse to acknowledge those mistakes. Then our strictness in other areas becomes a hypocrisy. If we refuse to hold by the local eiruv because it doesn't conform to all the stringencies we think it should but then treat others rudely, are we living up to God's expectations?
Chazal tell us further that those who overlook faults in others are more likely to have God overlook their faults. Perhaps the message for Elul from this is that each of us needs to be far more concerned with our personal behaviour and relationship with God than with our neighbours'. I have enough to worry about myself without taking on responsibility for telling others what to do. God wants the heart, we are told. Perhaps if we give it to Him more freely instead of worrying about all the minutiae, we will become better Jews for it.

5 comments:

Shalmo said...

"those who overlook faults in others are more likely to have God overlook their faults. Perhaps the message for Elul from this is that each of us needs to be far more concerned with our personal behaviour and relationship with God than with our neighbours'. I have enough to worry about myself without taking on responsibility for telling others what to do. God wants the heart, we are told. Perhaps if we give it to Him more freely instead of worrying about all the minutiae, we will become better Jews for it."

GOOD post! - Wish the half of my haredi family could take that advice, God knows they need it

SeekingJustice said...

Inability to acknowledge mistakes is a dangerous place to be for a person. It leads to "I can do no wrong" position and there is no return. I recently heard a lady telling someone: "It is not my fault, I just got bad advice". How you can explain that there is a big difference between receiving an advice and actually taking. Once you follow someone's advice, you are accountable for your actions, not the person who gave it to you.

Recreational Musings said...

It is easier for all of us to see others faults, but too rarely do we take time to notice our own shortcomings.

Thank you for the post. It struck an inspirational note for me.

Gave A Get said...

There is a famous stroy about the man who kept milk in the fridge in a Shul in Boro Park.

He labeled it Private and for a a few days in a row, folks would use it for their coffee.

He then labled it "Cholov Stam" and no one ever touched it again.

Is this what we have become?

Anonymous said...

I believe that you got the story wrong. A Chosid from Williamsburg died and was not allowed to be buried in Monroe in the old Bais olmin. (per NY Post)