Tuesday, December 25, 2007

This is An Excuse

I'm pretty sure no one's noticed, really, especially since many bloggers go through many periods of time during which they post nothing. Due to laziness or busy-ness or apathy or exhaustion. Sometimes writer's block. I could go on. My point is, no one is expecting or needing an excuse from me on why my posts have been slow lately. So I guess this is just for me, really.

A lot has been happening with me personally these last two and a half months or so. And I don't blog about personal stuff, generally. So since my head has mostly been filled up with personal stuffs of various natures it hasn't been filled up with stuff I could post about. (And if it is in some other place, then clearly it is not here....) So. Perhaps, as E-Kvetcher recommends, I finally have "enough stimuli" to keep me busy. Although, not at all ironically, not one whit less angsty. Such is life.

An amusing tidbit; one of my bestest friends ever in the world got married this weekend. At the kabbalat panim she blessed me that my life should be simple and without struggles. I honestly did not know what to make of that. But I love her so I said "amein."


Blogger Tobie said...

Yeah, a sardonic snort in response to a bridal blessing is probably frowned on by the strictest manners authorities.

5:51 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

Gotta give your pal credit... at least she knows what you need.

(Sitting in the airport, waiting for a flight to Chicago and I'm obsessed with you and the windy city :)

7:52 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

hey, really? I'm actually here this time! but I suppose it would be against all blogging rules for us to actually meet in person, wouldn't it?

the thing is, I'm not sure that that's what I need. and in principle, I'm sort of opposed to it. but you can't fight a bride on her wedding day, so....

11:37 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

I'm not actually staying in Chicago... was just on my way through.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

And what's wrong with living the simple life?

5:17 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

Besides, today I happen to have been wearing a white shirt- a remnant of this past Shabbos and easier than doing the laundry.

You might have mistaken me for being Chareidi ;)

5:56 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

I'm very into the concept of struggle as a way of life. if you stop struggling, you stagnate. kind of like the much debated ladder/slide/escalator metaphor.

and come on now. you're chabbad - you can get away with white shirts anytime.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

So you don't ask Hashem every morning "do not bring us to struggle nor to the dominance of the Yetzer Harah?" Do you say these words for naught? Can you really believe there's some sort of ideal in struggling? It's more likely that reaching an ideal is merely in spite of the struggles and not caused by them.

Simplicity is bliss.

6:01 AM  
Blogger Tobie said...

Wait, where does it say that? It says don't give us tests or deliver us to evil people...but I don't recall the words that pray for no struggles at all.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

nemo, tobie's right, and it isn't a differece in nusach.

the word is "nisayon" which means "test" or perhaps "conundrum"

but it basicaly beans don't give me a situation where the water is muddy and i'm not quite sure what you want me to do.

8:02 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

>Although, not at all ironically, not one whit less angsty.

I wonder if you and I are talking about the same thing when we say 'angst'?

I mean a sort of directionless feeling of intense anxiety and alienation and dread.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

I admit that I translated it a bit loosely, but I think the difference is negligible to the point. The whole paragraph is talking about simple, unhindered service of G-d.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

HNC- "but it basicaly beans don't give me a situation where the water is muddy and i'm not quite sure what you want me to do."

... struggles and internal conflicts, in other words?

11:19 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

(Sorry I'm using up so many individual comments here...)

The word 'Nisayon', I believe, more properly refers to physical struggles, as implied by it's juxtaposition to 'Bizayon' which probably refers to physical embarrassment. That would mean that you don't want Hashem to challenge you with tragedy, fatal tests of faith, suffering, oppression, etc.

Or, you could look at both words (Nisayon and Bizayon) in the context of the entire paragraph which speaks about circumlocution of sin and punishment, in which case the words are talking about spiritual plight. In other words, may we not have to have trials, doubts, and of course, "struggles."

11:35 AM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

no... I shouldn't think so.

There are cases where what one should do halachicaly is not at all clear.

There is, for instance, the statement of the gemorah that "sometimes the violation of the law is it's fulfilment". There are cases where all of your options are no good, and one finds oneself in a situation where one must make compromises.

And then there are simply areas that are so grey you just simply don't know. Take, for instance, issues of pekuach nefesh. Big, big issue. Can it be solved? absolutely! But, sometimes in cases like that, the right answer is not so clear, or how about doubtfull pekuach nefesh, or something similar.

There are so many places were its hard to see and figure out what is really right.

In some ways like avraham's command from g-d to sacrifice his son. He could have, quite legitimately, said, I don't know what this is, but it violates g-d's other words to me, and therefore I'm not going to follow it. I don't know what I'm supposed to do, but I do know that you already told me that human sacrifice is simply wrong (at least from rashi's "he knew the whole torah" perspective).

I'd have hated to be in such a nisayon which had no multiple valid answers.

I picture it sort of like star trek's "kobiyashi maru" simulation. You're on a mission to go somewhere, and all of a sudden you get a distress signal (from your own race's ship) from across the neutral zone (which you can't cross) and so do you violate the law and save the person, or continue on mission? except there is a twist. There isn't any kobiyashi maru to save, its only those klingons trying to lure you in to kill you for some reason.

Its called the "no-win scenereo".

YOu pray to hashem not to make those happen to you. Where you have to compromise deeply held values for other deeply held values.

in a short and drastic way, like not stranding you on an island where they only serve two things: Shrimp and pork.

What are you to do? You don't want to eat the pork, but you also aren't allowed to commit suicide. (and perhaps we should add that you don't know how long you'll be there. Will you get picked up before you needed to eat, and perhaps you could have gone without food for 4 days, and simply not eaten, and only eaten when you got back on the ship with kosher, or at least not grossly non-kosher, food?)

11:37 AM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

Nemo, as for bizayon, imagine it this way:

You're walking down a hallway and you're the only one near by when you hear some girl struggling and sounds like she needs help in the broom closet. Well, you walk in, two other people run quickly out, and her friend slams the door on you and two crazy, sometimes flirty teenage girls still figuring themselves out, and still quite interested in boys.

Oh, and the room is pitch black, and you can't see a single thing.

What do you do? you know that the girls are in the room, but you can't see them. Do you walk around to turn on the light so you can find the knob and lock (that they turned) to get out of there, groping around in the dark and risk accidently touching one the girls (g-d forbid) or perhaps just walk up to the door, only to discover one of them is right at the door? do you just sit there emberassed and ask them to open the door so you can leave?

What do you do?

and suppose that when you finaly do get out, that their father is passing right by, and now you have to hastily explain the situation would an explanation that while valid, sounds fishy, suspicious and lame, and begs the question why you didn't just go out imediately? (which might have been because you were to afraid of accidently touching them, because one of them was very flirty, and you din't want that particular test on top of things. For the moment they weren't touching you, although maybe teasing you, but perhaps if you accidently bumped in to them they would?)

this actualy happened to me once, minus the meeting someone on the way out. I was so nervous about it, and so emberassed, and just glad noone was passing by. (I must have spent 30 minutes in there stewing, although it felt like an hour.) The girls were holding the door shut because in fact they were playing a rubber band fight with two other people, and hence one of them was holding shut the door and I didn't think would let me out for fear of reprisal from their opponent.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

HNC- Firstly, the Halacha is pretty clear that when there's even a doubt of Pikuach Nefesh, it not only supersedes the entire Torah, but, for that moment, it IS the Torah- that you MUST eat the non-kosher.

Secondly, I'd say that that is only a permutation of "Nisayon" but not the defining example of the word. In other words, that could be one of the tests that a person is put through to chose whether to steadfastly keep Kosher in a time when Kosher is unavailable, but that's only "Nisayon" that a person could go through. Although, I'd like to think that the paradigm of Nisayon would be more life and death, say like a "kill him or die" or "bow down or die" situation.

But, like I said above, "Nisayon" can play itself out in a multitude of ways, both within the person's psyche or Yetzer and in the person's behavior and circumstances. And, like I said to Miri, I don't think either are an ideal that we should hope for.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Miri said...

"I mean a sort of directionless feeling of intense anxiety and alienation and dread."

Yes, that's about it.

Yoni and Nemo-
I think Yoni's right about it meaning "Don't put me in a situation where I have absolutely no idea what the right thing to do is." But at the same time, struggle is about figuring out what the right thing to do is. So....you're both right.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

Re 'Bizayon:'

I'm not sure I fully understand the scenario that you've painted, but again, that is a permutation of 'Bizayon' but isn't the be-all definition. There are many ways to be embarrassed and many situations that we ask Hashem to help us avoid. You don't always have to be doing a good thing when that happens.

What I meant by placing 'Bizayon' in the context of spirituality is best explained by Chassidus as "Yiras Boshes" or fear of embarrassment. What it means is that we, our souls, will feel dimunitive and ashamed by our sins.

11:55 AM  
Anonymous Miri said...

sorry that was a little simplistic, i'll elaborate. the thing is that spirituality, holiness, torah knowledge, etc is all useless if not applied practically to everyday living. the process of figuring out how to do this is in itself a struggle. and it is a constant struggle. that's what the religion is supposed to be about. plus, it keeps us sharp. But we're not supposed to ask for tests (like the Dovid and batsheva situation) bc everyday life is supposed to be test enough.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

Miri- I would call that work or effort, but that's not struggle. Struggle is conflict and conundrum; does G-d exist, why should I do what He wants? Struggles are hurdles that need to be overcome, not ladders to clime.

If I may, noting everything that I've read on your blog, it's not just effort in the application of the Torah that you need, rather you have some very intense struggles and thoughts that bog down your feelings. Your friend was prophesying when she wished you no struggles.

12:23 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

>An amusing tidbit; one of my bestest friends ever in the world got married this weekend.

This wouldn't be the wedding Rabbi H Maryles just blogged about, would it?

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Miri said...

As a matter of fact it was. Did you read that? The kallah's family was a little upset about it....

1:47 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Upset about the post or the wedding?

1:49 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

Jumping in a bit late, but I think that the source of praying for no tests is the gemara story where David, eager to be as cool as the Avot, asks Hashem to test him. Hashem agrees, hits him with the Batsheva thing, and then David feels really stupid.

Lesson of the story: we don't want the really hard moral challenges because who can say if we will pass them. Not sure if that's quite the same thing as wanting a life free of struggles. After all, growth is only achieved by overcoming an obstacle, otherwise we'd stagnate and become boring and anyway, if we wanted a struggle-less life, we probably should not have been created. In summary "Life is pain, Princess. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

Also, am I the only person who can't read this discussion without thinking of Twain's "The Man who Corrupted Hadleyburg"?

3:40 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

the post. first of all, there were some inaccuracies when describing chabbad custom; also, they felt that they were being lumped in with the Meshichists which they are most definitely not. I mean, it was definitely a "mixed marraige," and there was definitely some community tension, but certain family members felt that there were unnecessary insinuations. the truth is, it wasn't a particularly harmful or hurtful piece of writing, just a little...misguided? I don't know. I felt like he didn't really make much of a point, and rather snidely at that. my personal opinion was that it was a sort of pointless post. btw, can you link me to his blog? I haven't been able to find it.

3:43 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

maybe you're the only one who's read it, sweetie. ;)
(Although it would surprise me if e-kvetcher hasn't...)

3:45 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

R Maryles' post

7:04 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

No, I haven't read the story, but I plan to remedy it by tomorrow...

I love the Internet

7:12 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

I found it a little tasteless. Myles doesn't miss an opportunity, or for that matter, MAKE an opportunity to express his same 'ol gripes with Lubav. For those of us that were paying attention (not that I'm in the habit of reading his blog) he's made his point a few years ago and has been repeating the same thing over and over again while constantly insisting that his best friends are Lubav. It's just boring if you ask me.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Lubab No More said...

> certain family members felt that there were unnecessary insinuations

Which family members? My inside source got the impression that they were all cool/pretty excited about the article. The father of the kallah even made a speech at the wedding to the same effect as what Maryles blogged about. Do you hear differently?

Did you go to the wedding?

10:26 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

Don't know who your inside source is, but now I'm curious. Not all the family members were upset; mostly the mother of the kallah, and the kallah herself was irritated by it. And yes, the father of the kallah DID in fact make a speech to that effect at the wedding. Wonder where Maryles got his material from?

11:16 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

>Did you go to the wedding?

No, I don't know anything about this. I just read his post, and read Miri's aside and put two and two together.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

although, as it happened, there were at least two other chicago weddings that night, so it could just as easily not have been the same one.

12:56 PM  

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