Thursday, April 23, 2009

Playing With The Neighbors

It is surprising, sometimes, how vivid our memories are. Sometimes, without any intentional desire, I am suddenly drawn back into a memory and relive it, with all the sensations, with everything I felt at the time. I hesitate at times to talk about events that pain me, because to talk about them, unless I do so on a very superficial level, is to relive them.

I remember a time when I was in 6th grade, probably about 11 years old. My mother had asked me to welcome a new couple into our neighborhood. Excited, I had taken the cake or whatever the welcoming gift was, and I and Dustfinger, who was probably about 8 at the time, traipsed on over. We were both dressed in long-sleeved shirts and pants. I had on green pants, as I remember. We knocked at the door and the lady of the house opened it. I asked her whether her daughter wanted to come bike-riding with me. She looked me up and down, thanked me, but said no.

Only later did I find out that her daughter wasn't allowed to play with little girls who wore pants. That day, I didn't know why she looked at me that way, why it was that I was found wanting. All I knew was that there was something about me that she didn't like, and I didn't know why. It was so undeserved, and so cruel, and it has left an impression on me to this day. I remember all the pain and confusion I felt then. Innocently, I had tried time and again to try to play with this little girl, and each time I was refused.

People who judge children by their attire and not by the pureness of their heart commit a grave wrong. There is something of value in teaching another person that one doesn't have to act the same way that others act, but can nonetheless respect them as people, reach out to them, and act kindly towards them. This is the way we were brought up in my house, and we would meet people who were both more religious and less religious than us, and would honor them either way.

I believe that God loved me as the 11-year-old-girl I was. I believe He knew that I intended no wrong against Him, that I loved His world of sky and sunshine and wind and snow, this miraculous world that had been given to me as my plaything and my universe, to shelter and encompass me. I do not see why mortal men should attempt to be holier than God. All this talk of being concerned about how other children "influence" other children religiously is somewhat ridiculous. Are your children so frail that they cannot understand that you do certain things in your house, and other people do certain things in theirs, and we approach each person with love, regardless? And if they are so frail, why is that so?

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

So now your o to the next book.....

which definitely over simplifies tings, but I do not think just because someone worries about influence from one child to the next would in any way condone what that woman did

Chana said...

Anonymous 1:22,

It's all one book...one's life...isn't it? Everything advances to make you who you are. One can't talk about one part of one's life without thinking of all the different parts.

If you disagree with the woman, that suggests you would not do that to anybody yourself, which is a wonderful thing and makes me glad.

Anonymous said...

that is the definite truth

who would agree with that woman?!? who would think that your average anonymous would do such a thing?

and if i am correct in my suspicions as to which book you are reading now, there are some brilliant insights by some special people in there as well

Chana said...

Which book do you think I'm reading? I have to confess; I most recently printed out and read R' Avraham Korman's ideas regarding Bar Kochba and the Oven of Aknai, which were very interesting. Next on my list of books to read is The Lies of Locke Lamora, but I'd have to walk over to Borders to do that, and right now I am supposed to be writing papers...

Anonymous said...

did you see any support for it?

guess i am wrong but your reference to children influencing others brought to mind a certain book which I believe you once said you wanted to (re)?read

Chana said...

Yeah, what I understood of it was interesting.

Which book? Please remind me!

Anonymous said...

the question is more why would someone say it? (as i read it as well) interesting is good, definitely original im just wondering -why?

faranak margolese's book

Chana said...

Why not say it? Originality is good.

Off the Derech? Silly, I read that book before I even came to Stern! ;) But it happens to be I have it on my desk, how odd...as I had reread it recently..

Anonymous said...

reread i believe i wrote, and it can work when it has support-not when its based on not much and "assumptions" w/o much basis at all

Anonymous said...

especially when attributing *political* motivations to people

Chana said...

Did you see on pages 346-347 of the book that the "prominent educators" Margolese asked about the meaning of the word "frum" included Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro, Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, Debbie Greenblatt, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi Norman Lamm and Leah Kohn? Now, where else would you have all these people's names listed together, I wonder...

Anonymous said...

and 2 of them even said pretty much the exact same thing almost to the t...

Anonymous said...

what did you think of that answer?

Chana said...

So I rewound in order to answer your question properly: The idea, in and of itself, is an absolutely beautiful idea.

Anonymous said...

i think so too, as everyone has their "tests" and that is why it is wrong to judge someone- ironically- even for judging others-everyone has had their own set of circumstances to deal with-and we try to understand even if we feel we have a right to judge as we see it

Chana said...

I know and believe that everyone deserves a sympathetic view...I do.

Anonymous said...

thats a very special thing-it doesnt always come easy to many

Chana said...

Lucky for me, I had an excellent teacher to instruct me. ;-)

yesod shel limud said...

this post interested me i believe the answer to the question posted is an insecurity people judge others by look because of ego burst
I'm so sorry that happened to you and you should grow from the experience and make stronger it interests me as well that people tend to over dress out of fear and feel they are able to through it to be closer to Hashem it is my Bracha that you find your way to Hashem regardless of look and remain true to yourself have a great day tl bb

Ben Rosenfeld

Neil said...

"Are your children so frail that they cannot understand that you do certain things in your house, and other people do certain things in theirs, and we approach each person with love, regardless? And if they are so frail, why is that so?"

As a father of kids ages 9, 6, & 2,
I think that the issue isn't that kids are frail, it's the parents. If you are not strong in your yiddishkeit and think that you are "frummer than thou" to augment that insecurity, then you end up having kids that won't play with someone b/c they wear pants or have a different kippah.

Check out this statement from R Shimon Schwab...
http://uberdox.blogspot.com/2008/05/rav-schwab-quote-from-these-and-those.html

Great post!

yesod shel limud said...

Thanks Neil you are the Man well said thusly proving my point Chana i wish we can talk soon it has been a long time even off of email what is up have an excellent shabbos and looking to keep up in the future be well tlbb

Ben Rosenfeld

Jewish Atheist said...

If their children realize that you can be a good girl and still wear pants, then they'll start questioning why they can't wear pants. And why, challilah, they have to be Orthodox at all. What if they realize non-Orthodox girls can be good girls, too?

yesod shel limud said...

Jewish Atheist i don't believe you're right i think people if they can find a way to be at ease it can bring out there own way to find what is true by saying if they can't wear pants not jewish is a little farfetched the assumption isn't you wear pants not orthodox they would ask why can't we wear pants and be able like such to each his own way though tc bw ab tlbb

Ben Rosenfeld

Jewish Atheist said...

LOL, what?

yesod shel limud said...

Let me reclarify the children asking why they can't wear pants should not lead to a question of orthodoxy i think the point of the children asking why they can't wear pants is why they need to be the way they are
and to that the answer should be because this is what the parents have done consider what i'm saying tl bb

Ben Rosenfeld