Monday, August 18, 2008

"G-d the Father" and "Father the god"

It's time to do a little cheshbon haNefesh. Not for myself - I have another few weeks for that -but for my Blog. My Blog is about one month old and what has it accomplished?


Some of the hard statistics are as follows: My site counter reports 1140 visitors, an average of about 40 hits per day although I myself may account for 5-10 of those daily hits. So far I have posted 32 items. Half of which did not draw any comments. The remainder drew on the average 1-3 comments. Almost nobody suggested answers to my Parsha challenges and nobody likes my jokes. My conclusions: I have a very modest amount of viewers who are very modest about posting comments.

But there are some exceptions. One notable exception was an item that I posted on August 6 which was itself about doing cheshbon haNefesh entitled We Are Not Judging Him, We Are Judging You. In this post, I dramatized how a session of the heavenly court would be conducted. Not unexpectedly, this post drew a higher than average amount of comments from my more modest than average viewers. In these comments, I received numerous compliments - condescending, presumptuous, arrogant, sickening, disgusting, azus panim, and (off line) playing with fire. How can I have the chutzpah to personify G-d?

I followed up that post with a second one in which I expressed my true feelings about cheshbon haNefesh but was no less presumptuous and condescending as the first. I truly expected to see the next morning another onslaught of modest compliments.

But I got silence. Save for a single inquisitive (though challenging) comment by one loyal reader who - if he doesn't watch his step - may wind up becoming a genuine fan, I got total silence. It was like you could hear a pin drop in cyberspace.

What happened?
Did my message get through or did my antagonists sign out?

I suppose that I may never know. Nevertheless, for those few who are still with me, I still want to deal with the main complaint:
How dare I be so condescending and presumptuous (aside from this being a common trait of a card carrying chareidi)? How can I pretend to know how G-d passes judgement?


Well, the answer is quite simple. I am a god (note - small "g").


No, of course I am not an Infinite, Divine, Immortal, All-Knowing, Omnipotent, Merciful G-d (HKBH). There is only One of Him.
I am a limited, mundane, clueless, powerless, self-serving god. But still a kind of a god, because....


I am a parent. And a parent is god, or, at least, a surrogate god!

We refer to G-d (HKBH) as Avinu Malkenu - Out Father and Our King. G-d's relationship to us is sometimes as a father (midas harachamim) and sometimes as a king (midas hadin). We chareidim are taught (I can not present sources right now, but so I was taught) that the reason that G-d (HKBH) created a world where there are parents and children is so that by our experiencing the parent-child relationship, we can know how to relate to G-d and how G-d relates to us. Likewise, He created a world with kings and servants so that through experiencing the master- servant relationship, we can further understand our subservience to G-d.


As long as this is so, then those of us who are fathers and those of us who are kings (or despotic Prime Ministers) need to look up at G-d to figure out how to do our jobs. If G-d is the supreme parent, then a parent is a surrogate god. And any parent can gage the feelings and attitudes that G-d has toward us by way of the natural feelings that s/he has toward his/her children. That's why G-d made these the natural feelings.



Now, I can really relate to this because I am a full time parent. In a few places in my book, I refer to HKBH as "G-d the Father". And frequently I see myself as "Father the god (small "g"). I wrote in the Acknowledgements of my book that I need more than two hands to tally up my kids. I wasn't joking. I have quite a brood. And they are very close in age (no multiples). My job is to be the father, but I have to learn the technique from G-d (B"H, I did get some great training from my biological father, AMV"Sh. He taught me all the basics and the key rule that once you are in it, you are in it for "the duration").

A father is a surrogate god with all the bells and whistles: he must "create" his children, he must provide for his children, he must impart knowledge to his children, he must nurture his children, he must heal his children. He also plays the "king" part. Especially when he's got lots of children. He must form his children into a society, he must set rules, he must enforce the rules, he must judge and he must reward and he must punish.

Part of being a parent is being a judge and the Torah calls a judge "god" (Shmos 22:8): עד האלהים יבא דבר שניהם אשר ירשיען אלהים ישלם שנים לרעהו

As the legislator, enforcer, and judge in my house I have a few rules of my own. One of them is אי תפיס לא מהני . No kid can grab anything out of another kid's hand even if the item belongs to the grabber. This is in an effort to avoid the case of "Shnayim ochazim b'library book" so that the case does not get resolved in "yachloku" before the dayan even gets there.

Likewise, when my kids have a spat, there are rules. The first rule is: Tatty doesn't like to settle spats. I do not allow one kid to tell me lashon hara on another for no purpose. If the spat is over, I don't want to hear about it. Complaints are only valid when an issue is unresolved. In that case, we convene a bais din (usually presided by a yachid mumcheh - yours truly) and it follows the Halachos of bais din. One kid cannot present his case until the other one is present. The תובע speaks first. If there are עדים, we call them. No עד מפי עד .


My kids all know one thing - no one is more of a yachson than another. And they know that they are going going to get grilled. When each kid is asked, "Why did you have to do that?" they know that it won't pay to answer, "Because first he ..." Each one has to answer for whatever they contributed to the spat. Each one is also asked why he could not be mevatter (forfeit) on his position. He understands that that is expected of him as well. If I do determine that one party is the primary perpetrator, I administer godly justice. Usually the wrongdoer is ordered to ask mechila from the wronged.

Incidentally, although there are no yachsanim among my horde, there are still incongruences. I expect more restraint and forfeiture from an older child than a younger one and I have differing expectations from the boys to the girls.

And there is one thing that I do not countenance at all. If one kid thinks that another kid did something wrong, he has no business blabbing about it to any of the other kids. This kind of infraction can earn a kid the worst punishment imaginable - a tongue-lashing from Tatty. And anybody who has read my Blogs can tell that I know how to give one.

All of these rules have a startling effect. When the combatants know up front what's in store for bringing a spat to Tatty, they quickly realize that being mevatter has its advantages.

This is how a Human father, father the god (small "g"), deals with his children. He doesn't like to see his children not getting along and he holds all of them responsible for it.

G-d the Father doesn't like to see his children not getting along either. Why should He deal with them any differently?

בנים אתם לה' אלקיכם, לא תתגדדו

11 comments:

G said...

one loyal reader who - if he doesn't watch his step - may wind up becoming a genuine fan

Consider this the first joke that produced a laugh.

G said...

And any parent can gage the feelings and attitudes that G-d has toward us by way of the natural feelings that s/he has toward his/her children.

There's that arrogance rearing its ugly head again.

Baruch said...

Each one has to answer for whatever they contributed to the spat. Each one is also asked why he could not be mevatter (forfeit) on his position. He understands that that is expected of him as well.
Please consider this in your personal cheshbon hanefesh for this Yom Kippur and in your considerations of what your book and blog will in actuality contribute to klal yisrael. Did your attack on Mrs. Shear help to increase unity in klal yisrael? Did your claim that the "Chatam Sofer...[in espousing hadash assur min haTorah] was merely echoing an age-old truth to his followers because there was a danger that they may lose sight of it," help bring people to Judaism? And why can't you be mevatter your position?

On another note:
You're not the only guy who attempts to emulate G-d by creating ourselves through self-improvement. See Halachic Man on this point. But, and this is a key point, nobody's daas is perfect.

Somebody who disagrees with you in regards to certain aspects of the Shear affair may very well believe his opinion is the one which G-d would take. For example, I felt (see my earlier comment) that in at least one place you included unnecessary lashon hara about Mrs. Shear and, as she is not a knowing kofer, that is forbidden according to hilchos lashon hara. I think you owe both her and the Ribono Shel Olam an apology.

I also felt that you belittled a position taken by Daas Torah. You wrote that G-d will say:
"And to top it off, you needed to circulate emails to the whole world! People are talking for months about how the wild chareidim spit at you and kicked and beat you. This is one of the biggest Chillul Hashems of the decade."

Mrs. Shear wrote:
"When I publicly disclosed the beating I received on the #2 bus going to the Kotel last November it was after consulting with daas Torah and after lots of soul searching. I did not relish the black eye this would inevitably give Chareidi Jews, and I was uncomfortable associating my name with such a grievous event."

Meishiv K'Halacha said...

People take blogs too seriously, trying to psycoanalize the author, and understand things on a deeper level. Others just don't get satire.

From one condecending commentor to one condecending blogger, Keep up the good work.

Baruch said...

To take two quotes from my good friend Joel Rich:
1) Here is the advice an old lawyer gave a young lawyer once. The old lawyer said, 'If the facts are on your side, stick with the facts. If the law is on your side, stick with the law. If neither the facts nor the law are on your side, pound on the table and scream.'
When you see the other party ranting and raving it’s probably because neither the facts nor the law are on his side."

2) "WADR math students are always warned that when someone says 'clearly' in a math proof (especially when accompanied by the waving of hands), they are hoping that you will not notice that they haven't proved their point."

2)

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

Did your attack on Mrs. Shear help to increase unity in klal yisrael? Did your claim that the "Chatam Sofer...[in espousing hadash assur min haTorah] was merely echoing an age-old truth to his followers because there was a danger that they may lose sight of it," help bring people to Judaism?

I think the juxtaposition of these two positions is ridiculous.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

Mrs. Shear wrote:
"When I publicly disclosed the beating I received on the #2 bus going to the Kotel last November it was after consulting with daas Torah..."


Technically speaking, she doesn't say she was complying with daas Torah. She only claims to have consulted with it. This leaves open an equal possibility that she accepted or rejected that consultation.

It also raises the question of who does she consider daas Torah? Her pulpit rabbi, perhaps?

Not assuming anything, just asking questions about Baruch's serious accusations...

G said...

FKM-

Correct, those are serious questions about serious accusations.

Are you prepared to deal with answers to those questions that might run contrary to your positions?

I only ask because if not then a)it puts your questions into a very different light and b)it doesn't really matter what the answers are.

Baruch said...

"serious accusations?"

FKM, come off it.

Either you don't read too many comment threads, or you really think everybody bothers to confirm and verify every idea or impression they have floating around their head.

I see a comment thread as an opportunity to get an education and test my impressions against the impressions or facts that others challenge it with.
You apparently see blog comments as a formal presentation of people's differing polished well-thought out opinions.

"Wow."

Anonymous said...

Yechezkel,
"nobody likes my jokes" -

At the risk of sounding sycophantic, I love your jokes, and the sharp and witty style in which you couch your opinions, which IMO are right on the nail, is refreshingly "kemayim karim al nefesh ayyefa" - I think you are the nearest equivalent to P. Hovav of Yated - but more urbane and less insular. I would even go so far as to say that your talent is wasted on technical writing and internet blogs - if Y. Rosenblum can make it to wide circulation publications like Hamodia and Mishpacha - why can't you?

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

To G:
"Are you prepared to deal with answers to those questions that might run contrary to your positions?"

Yes, I believe so. I would prefer that Mrs. Shear did the right thing rather than the wrong thing.

"I only ask because if not then a)it puts your questions into a very different light and b)it doesn't really matter what the answers are."

I don't see the relevance of the stance of the questioner if the questions are valid independantly. If you don't think they have independant validity in challenging Baruch's accusations, please explain why not.