Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Treppenwitz and Truth - Stairway to Heaven

I have previously voiced my reservations about my involvement in the Blogosphere. I see it as a lawless frontier - the Wild West of Cyberspace where one shoots from the hip and asks questions (or posts comments) later. Where suspected "horse-thieves" are hanged without trial and strangers are run out of town. One-on-one duels and mob lynchings are daily occurrences. And the sheriff is drunk. Before long, one learns who the quick gun slingers are, who to stand next to and who to steer clear of.

Now, for the bad part.

The Blogosphere is very time consuming and seductive. It does not take much effort to get "sucked in" and networked to a vast range of very vocal people, some of whom have very hostile opinions toward the Torah oriented Orthodox community. In short, it is not the most favorable venue for Avodas Hashem. I can only justify my presence in the Blogosphere on three accounts: (1) Commercial - I wrote a book so I have a product to sell. This is the main reason that I plug the book wherever I can (oh, no --- again with his @#$%^& book? Won't he talk about something else for a change?...) and (2) Spiritual - I try to convey Torah thoughts as much as I can and (3) Ideological - it does provide me with an additional (low cost) forum with which to communicate my message and to accomplish my "mission" (more on this later).

That said, I didn't know how to react to the International Jewish Bloggers Convention. For the most part, if I cannot really justify blogging to myself, I cannot justify participating in a convention of bloggers (mosif chet al pesha!) but yet it did tempt me because:
  • I am an American Oleh
  • I am a nascent blogger (whether I am proud of it or not)
  • I live in Har Nof and Beit Ophir and Nefesh B'Nefesh are right up the block.

I made Aliyah shortly before NBN opened for business but I have a strong affinity for NBN. One reason is that I admire their goals and their accomplishments. Secondly, I have benefited from some of their services in Post Aliyah. Thirdly, one of my siblings is a key member of the organization and was a key member of the broadcasting team for this event. Beit Ophir, besides hosting NBN, also hosts the Mercaz Haredi L'Hachshara Miktzoit (Chreidi Center for Vocational Training). My guess is that most bloggers do not even know that this place exists. In any case, I have paid numerous visits to both offices.

Despite these tempting circumstances, I never seriously considered attending it. I have quite a life outside of my book and blog (although you would never know it) including learning sedarim. Nevertheless, I did register for the live webcast so I could tune in and "lurk". I thought it would be of interest to see what some of these feared gunslingers look like.

I did not tune in at all on that evening but a follow up email informed me that the webcast is stored and available for viewing at my convenience. Last evening I thought it may be convenient , so I tuned in. I didn't expect to make it a long visit, but I wanted to hear the pointers for successful blogging. Hey, if I'm blogging, I might as well succeed. That would have been about a half hour investment, but the ante was upped when Bibi Netanyahu got up to speak. I was thoroughly transfixed for an additional 40 minutes.

It was Bibi and one of the first three panelists who made my visit worthwhile because these two provided the most useful advice. The panelist that interested me was David Bogner from Treppenwitz. Two interesting concepts came from him.

The first was the meaning of the term treppenwitz. It is a German term that literally means "stairway wisdom" and is an expression for the better response one should have given after it is too late to give it (when he is already out the door and on the stairway). I will come back to this shortly.

The second concept was his entreaty to "be nice". This can be quite challenging for cynics like me when we are discussing highly charged topics. Yet, believe it or not, it is still one of my goals, whether I achieve it or not.

Bibi's message spoke more to my soul. He said we as Israelis, and we as Jews, and we as bloggers, have one invincible weapon which, if we use it properly, will guarantee our survival in the lawless Wild West of Cyberspace. It is the power of Truth. The truth cannot be refuted, but it can be bullied away if it does not assert itself. As such, one must speak with Truth and conviction.

Now I want to return to David's flagship concept - treppenwitz. My guess is that all bloggers suffer from it. I don't think I have published a post yet that did not need fixing after I pressed the "Publish" button. (This does not mean that I always fixed it!) In my previous post, I mentioned that if I would have been more familiar with blogspeak before I put out my book, I might have used better ways of expressing myself.

That's treppenwitz.

Another aspect of some of my most recent posts is my elaboration on my "1A7B Mission". After I closed the last post, it occurred to me that perhaps I can summarize the main mission of 1A7B in three words. Another treppenwitz. But, because it is so important, I am coming back up the stairs to knock on the door.

My mission with 1A7B - in three words - is: To Neutralize the Acid. Of course, this is what I clearly wrote in the Introduction of the book that it is to "reduce the hating and shunning".

But how to do it?

Bibi gives the answer: with Truth and with conviction.

That has always been my goal and that has always been my method. To look behind the facades and distortions and to see what is really going on.

But it is dangerous work. Acid is caustic. It is painful to handle. It will burn through everything unless it is neutralized. It must be neutralized with Truth. Unfortunately, the neutralizing Truth may also be caustic. It may also be painful to handle. And it has to be presented with conviction.

And, if we listen to David Bogner, we also have to be nice.

In the Wild West, it isn't easy.

רבן שמעון בן גמליאל אומר: על שלשה דברים העולם עומד: על הדין ועל האמת ועל השלום, שנאמר (זכריה ח, טז) " אמת ומשפט שלום שפטו בשעריכם".


1 comment:

BravejeWorld said...

why do you have a guilt complex about blogging? You seem to be very torn between the idea of blogging and at the same time enjoying it. Its ok... you're allowed to enjoy blogging!! :-) As you say at the end of your post, its an important thing to do..to get your message out and reach people who may not think like you and persuade them otherwise... good luck!