Sunday, May 21, 2017

Tikun Olam vs. Olam HaTikun


The concept of One Above and Seven Below is astoundingly simple. So simple that only a simple-minded person like me could have thought it up. I hang around with lots of fellow simple-minded people, many of whom, like me, do not have a college education. Uneducated chareidim. Still, most of them have no trouble understanding One Above and Seven Below. It’s that simple.

Hence, I am thoroughly amazed at all of the highly educated, hyper-intellectual folks who don’t seem to be capable of absorbing the concept. Clearly, One Above and Seven Below is way under their heads.

Of course, everything is clearly explained in my book. In addition, numerous blog posts were dedicated to summarizing the main principle. One of the earliest ones is Yaakov’s Story from 2008. A bit less than a year later I followed it up with Curing Cancer the Torah Way. And more recently, in 2016, I fine-tuned that with Desperate Measures. All of these posts were incarnations of the same concept but there is a sequence.

In the first of these posts I expressed the basic idea: All social maladies are the natural consequences of not living and acting the way HKBH wants us to.

In the second post, I added another layer:  Even though HKBH calls these social ills “random” – keri – they are not random at all. HKBH picks and chooses what problems to infect the world with in response to a given vice. Hence, I quoted the words of Targum Yonasan in Shmos (20:13) that murder brings war to the world and adultery brings plague (AIDS?) to the world, etc.  This is further verified in Pirkei Avos 5:11.

There is a method to the madness.

In the third post, I went another dimension: Even those who acknowledge the above, mistakenly look at it as Divine retribution for our wrongdoings. There is certainly some truth to this, but it misses the point. This would be so if only individuals who are guilty of the sins suffer from the ills. But the identical terminology of both the Targum Yonasan and the Mishna in Pirkei Avos say something else. These calamities come “to the world”, not specifically to individual people. Even those who aren’t truly guilty of a particular vice will suffer from the hardships because they (the hardships) have come “to the [collective] world”.

Why do they come “to the world”?

I suppose it is so “the world” should be aware that something is wrong. That something needs to be fixed.

But, all this confuses many people who think that our job is to rid “the world” of the problems. To fix the world. Get rid of war and plagues and hunger and agunos and child molestation and to just go on living like we want, without these headaches. Fix the world. Tikun Olam.

Big mistake.

The world doesn’t need to be fixed. We do.

People mistakenly think that the world is everlasting and we are just “dust in the wind” (apologies to Kansas) that passes through for a miniscule portion of Earth’s time continuum. The world is permanent and we are temporary. The world will pre-date us and outlast us. We have at best about 50-60 productive years to make an impact on the world; either we succeed or fail. We are the medium to fix G-d’s world.

The truth is the opposite. G-d doesn’t care much about His world. It’s not meant to hang around forever, anyway. He did not create us to fix the world. He created the world as a medium to fix us. By encasing us in physical bodies and assigning us to spend a miniscule portion of our vast “time continuum” on this planet, we have the opportunity to make something out of ourselves. And the time we are given is all we need. Of course, the masters of Kabbala tell us that most of us, if not all of us, get a few chances, but one is all it should take.

We are also told that there are other places He can send us to get fixed, but this is the only one that we can do it ourselves. It’s the better place.

So, what does all this say?

It says that this world is by definition a place of keri. It’s meant to be a place of war and plagues and agunos and child molesters. These problems can be active or dormant. They can be rampaging through our neighborhoods or locked up in a machsan. These are G-d’s tools. He wants these tools to be around. He is not interested in disposing them. It's just that He doesn’t want to have to use them.

Our job is to keep them locked up in the machsan, not to try to do away with them. To see to it that they don’t “break out” and wreak havoc. HKB”H tells us that even though He created these “tools” and stocked his world with them, it’s up to us to determine if they are active or dormant. Parshat Bechukosai (One Above and Seven Below) and Targum Yonasan in Shmos and Pirkei Avos 5:11 and a host of other sources tell us what kind of behavior is going to, Ch”v, provoke HKBH into letting these “destructive” tools out of the machsan.

And why?

So that we can mold our character to be the type of people who don’t need these tools. So we can be metaken ourselves. We don’t need to fix the world. We need the world to fix us. This is the Olam HaTikun!

And all this is so that we will be capable of dealing with the Next World. התקן עצמך בפרוזדור - כדי שתכנס לתרקלין!

Now, isn’t that simple?

This is what one of my mentors, Reb Moshe Chaim, calls “the path of those who can think straight”.

Alas, so many others who spent more time in college than in Yeshiva and are a whole lot smarter than simple folk like me don’t sign on to this. They want to cure sicknesses, and free agunos, and eradicate child molesters and make this world a better place, instead of making themselves better people.

They want to destroy G-d’s tools instead of convincing G-d that there is no need to use them and to just put them back in the machsan. The result is that the tools do not get destroyed (G-d created them for a purpose and wants to keep them around) and they don’t get put back into the machsan, either.

Perhaps, we can get better results.  I have a few very simple ideas.

Im yirtza Hashem, we will discuss them in the next post. In the meanwhile, please steer clear of the machsan. It's where the wild things are!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Out of the Freezer


Indeed, I haven’t posted anything in quite some time and, from the looks of things, I don’t think anybody noticed.

Part of the reason I haven’t been writing is that there is not much I care to write about. The two major topics I have been discussing of late are Child Abuse/Mesira and the Shidduch Crisis. I basically exhausted these topics. I am not interested in writing about Trump (I happen to like him) and there is no need for me to write on any issue where I have nothing to be “mechadesh”.

Another reason is that I have been quite busy. Thus, I want to present a few personal news updates which will, among other things, explain why I have been so preoccupied.

The first update is that the star of my Shidduchim posts, my tachshitel “Yossi”, has finally pulled it off, B”H. He is engaged. This is not really fresh news - it is about six weeks old; as of Rosh Chodesh Nissan, to be precise. This grand event, coinciding with the Pesach rush, was in itself enough to keep me away from my keyboard.

To briefly recap the story, my Yossi ran off a bit less than two years ago to the Goldene Medinah at the ripe age of 24 ½.  We initially avoided sending him to BMG partly because they are very strict about the “freezer” and since he would enter in October, very close to 25, we wanted to avoid it. After a year of good learning and mediocre dating in the off-Broadway theater, we understood that he is not in focus on the radar screen so we bit the bullet to transfer him to BMG. I implored the Powers-that-Be to waive the freezer requirement but they just gave me the cold shoulder.

So now he is “frozen” until Tu B’Shvat and we got him a return ticket to come home on 2 Nissan - a span of a mere six weeks; but only four weeks until Purim when things grind to a halt. He won’t have time to date while he’s here during Pesach, so this automatically meant that he probably wouldn’t warm up (thaw out) until the following zman. He would probably be out of business until Chodesh Iyar. At his age!

Even if he gets lucky right out of the starting gate and hits it off with his first or second prospect, it would mean finishing up between Purim and Pesach, a time that would be impossible for me and his mother to scoot in to the US to close the shidduch.

Well, I have my ideas and HKBH has His.

The first girl kept him busy for three dates but then fizzled out. There was barely time to get involved in another parsha, but we put in a call for a local Lakewood prospect right before Purim.

Jackpot! (Or am I supposed to say:”Bingo!”?)

Now, in my Shidduch posts, I was constantly preaching about two things: promoting web cam long-distance dating and writing eye-catching resumes. Yossi was meant to be my laboratory rat, so, how did we fare?

Well, we never actualized Skype dating. Not for any earlier girl and certainly not for this one. The fact that she lived in town with her folks not only made the old fashioned dating rather painless, but for the later stages, Yossi didn’t even need a car. She picked him up with hers. Saved us a bundle.

So, as it turns out, Yechezkel Hirshman, the great pioneer of Skype dating, sidestepped the entire concept and bowed to tradition!

Well, not 100%.

We did not need to use Skype for any dating, but, if you recall, I noted that the engagement took place on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. I was in no position to fly into New Jersey and her folks were in no position to fly out here. So, how did we meet?

You wanna guess?

That’s right, we had the parental tete-a-tete and closed the shidduch with a Skype meeting. I had to drink my own schnapps. But, again, I saved a bundle! So, at the end of the day zman, Skype amounts to something.

Of course, the circumstances that call for Skype dating are still in place along with a whole stack of girls whose resumes were shoved aside, so I am still promoting it.

Did I mention resumes? Ah, yes. What happened in the resume department?

Here, as well, there is nothing to trumpet about. Her resume was written very run-of-the-mill. It looked just like any average resume, nothing eye-catching about the style or layout. No “בס"ד “, no “special interests”, no telephone numbers of mechutanim, and no grandparents (I’ll be fair – only one of them is still with us). Not much background information about the parents, not even her mother’s maiden name.

Of course, the vital statistics that were on it were very favorable, she was conveniently located, and, what was most important, she is actively interested in coming to live in Eretz Yisroel, which had been a major sticking point for Yossi throughout this whole undertaking. So she had the ammunition to catch our interest even though her resume didn’t meet my standards.

When it’s the right one, it’s the right one.

Still, for those young ladies who aren’t as conveniently located, don’t have such positive “vitals”, or concur with a special need (such as to settle in Eretz Yisroel), it really pays to have a resume that stands out from the crowd.

So much for Yossi, may he and his intended build a bayis neeman b’Yisrael . He is getting married in Lakewood in Tammuz, IY”H
…and this will cost us a bundle.

Incidentally, my Yaakov is still out there and I’ve got two newer ones in the parsha.

The second update is my latest quest for a lucrative career which touches on the subject that I am aiming to discuss.

My Technical Writing career came to an abrupt standstill almost two years ago (which explains why I came back to blogging). I had mentioned in an earlier post, that as a backup, I undertook adult education in counseling and CBT and later, a certified course in Rabbinical marriage counseling (Yiutz Nissuin Rabbani). To date I have not been able to ply these skills commercially. This is partially because people are not so willing to invest the necessary resources into preserving their marriages.

As such, I took the logical next step of going where the money is – divorce court (Beis Din). I am now studying to be a Toen Rabbani.

If you can’t help ‘em stay married, you may as well help ‘em split up!

In the course of all the above, I learned a tremendous amount about Human nature, what goes on in people’s bedrooms, and what the divorce industry in Eretz Yisroel is really about.

This is a crash course which we are trying to squeeze into 18 months. Two tests on Choshen Mishpat, two tests on Even HaEzer, two tests on divorce laws and Beis Din practices, and a final oral exam by the Rabbanut. I have a test in two weeks and another one four weeks after that. This is a grueling course and it’s been keeping me busy and will continue for a bit, so I won’t be posting much.

I do need to say this:

This course is given by a branch of the same institute that taught me the Rabbinic Marriage Counseling. The marriage counseling part is called YaNaR (Yiutz Nissuin Rabbani) and the Toen Rabbani (and dayanus) part is called ShoHaM (Shaarei Halacha U’Mishpat) both of which were founded by Rabbi Meir Assor.

His story is that he used to be a Toen Rabbani and he recognized that so many of the broken marriages that open files in Beis Din were potentially salvageable, or could have been, if only the parties had proper guidance earlier on. This needless carnage broke his heart and he set out to train people to provide the necessary guidance to distraught couples. May his venture be blessed.

As his institute expanded, he added the Halachic branch to train Rabbanim, Dayanim, and toanim. Ironically, Rav Meir Assor began as a Toen and retrained himself to be a Yoetz Nissuin. I began training as a Yoetz Nissuin and am now retraining to become a Toen.

In any case, as is my style, this entire post is meant to be a preamble to the subject that I really wanted to discuss, which, indeed, is the issue of Shalom Bayis. Likewise as usual, the preamble is a post in itself and overshadows the main topic, so I need to break and leave the topic for a future post.

If I have the time to get to it…