Sunday, August 06, 2006

Moshav Leitzim II: Advice

You may not have learnt these Halachos because your teachers feel that the students have to grow step by step and not demand of themselves everything at once, which of course is correct.

DON'T DEMAND PERFECTION of yourself. These Halachos should be your goals, your target. You should put in an effort, but don't demand or expect success immediately.

The fact that you do Aveiros does not mean you can't live your life, it means you are LIVING life. Life is a struggle. And the posuk says "Sheva yipol tzadik v'kom" - The Tzadik falls seven times before he is able to stand. So if you try to stand but fall, and try again but fall, etc., you are on your way to becoming a Tzadik. Because all a Tzadik can do is put in the effort. Please refer to the letter of Rav Hutner that was excerpted in the "Self Esteem" forum. Please get a copy of it and keep it in your purse. Whenever you feel like you've fallen, take it out and review it.

It's part of the Yetzer horah's tactics to convince us that "I did an aveirah so how can I live with myself". That causes "atzvus," which is poison for the soul.

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Reading these books for the purpose of getting your high school diploma is not prohibited, since there is a practical and legitimate purpose in getting your HS diploma.

As far as the inappropriate material is concerned, without knowing exactly what it says, I would be doing an injustice by advising between you and your school without hearing both sides. My suggestion is that you go to whoever is the Rabbi of your school and show him exactly what it is that you find objectionable

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There is a time and a place for humility. And a time and a place for being proud. When someone else is doing something wrong and you are not, it is misplaced humility to say "Well, I cannot believe that I am doing something right and they are wrong". Such a case is the time for pride and sticking to what you know is right.

However, the fact that you do not read non-Jewish novels and others do does not mean you are frummer than them. Being frummer than them would mean all of what you do is, in the big picture, more frum than they are. One detail that you do better does not make you more frum. But regarding this detail, you are doing what is right.

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That you think "it should" be OK to go to movies as long as "it doesn't affect you", does not change the Halachah that says you cannot. It has nothing to do with whether the movie "affects you". It is prohibited under moshav letzim, which is a different law.

As far as the Yetzer Horah of wasting time goes, television can be close to addicting. To break away, or reduce your "intake", you might want to find something to replace the TV with. Perhaps spending more time with your friends, or on the computer (at something not destructive, of course), or listening to music. I know one kid who I told this to, and he spent his TV time downloading music from Napster and burning the songs onto CD's. It was like a new hobby of his, and it worked.

And please, do not assume that the TV does not affect you. The effect of TV is very subconscious. Proof: Advertisers spend sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars for a 30 second commercial, which, when you watch it, goes in one ear and out the other, and you would never think that it left in your brain a “message” to buy the product. But it did. Usually, just with a picture, a jingle perhaps, and 30 seconds of your time. And even when you go out and decide to buy the product, you may not realize that it is because of the commercial. So, too, watching hours and hours of TV affects your mind in ways that you cannot perceive at the time, and often, cannot perceive ever. But it affects you nonetheless. This is one area where even the secular world is smart enough to understand. All studies on TV, without exception, bear this out.

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It is permitted, everybody according to his level, to do what they need to relax in order to refresh themselves for Avodas Hashem.

But moshav letzim activities would still not be permitted, even under those circumstances.

As far as any individual goes, you would have to ask them why they do what they do. Without hearing their side, it would be wrong to draw any conclusions. Nobody can speak for anyone else. I can only tell you the general Halachah.

However, please understand that adults are human beings too, even "choshuver" ones, and that we are all trying to grow in our madreigas, even if we are not teenagers. Hopefully, by the time you are 20, 30, 40, you will be higher than you are now, but you will not be perfect. There will always be things you need to work on.

This will not make you a "hypocrite," it will not make you "no better than anyone else," it will make you a human being. You, "me", and I (I believe I said that correctly) are all in the same boat. Maybe some of us have a better seat, maybe some of us have been on it longer and know how to sail it better, maybe some of us are more skilled or talented at it, but all of us are struggling to go higher than we are today.

If all adults would be perfect, then we would not need them on this world anymore, because they would have finished their job here. If we are here, that means we have what to improve.

Teenagers often feel that adults have to be "perfect" to be role models. It's not true. Nobody is perfect. Adults are supposed to know more than teenagers, and try harder, and that's what makes them role models.

"Seven times the Tzadik falls and then he rises up", says Shlomo HaMelech. This shows that just because a person falls seven times does not mean he can't be a Tazdik.

So please don't fall into an "all or nothing" mode with your role models. If you expect everyone to be perfect, you will eventually be disappointed in everybody.

What you should look up at in your role models is the fact that they give their life to help people and to serve Hashem, and that they gathered up much good knowledge on the way.

Don't look for people who are perfect to be your role models. Look for people who put in the most effort. Even if they fall 7 times for each time they rise - they are the real Tzadikim.

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It's hard to break any habit, including this. Self restraint is definitely necessary.

But perhaps you could find another activity instead - such as browsing the web (obviously only places that are not worse than what you're seeing in the movies or TV) or limiting yourself to renting videos or DVDs?

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