Monday, January 26, 2015

Frum or Facade?

Scott was always being told by this father “don’t go out without your hat. If you don’t want to do it for yourself at least do it for me.” Scott could never understand why it meant so much for his father to see him with a hat on if it didn’t mean that much to Scott himself. What was dad gaining by forcing his son to wear a black hat?
But it was more than just the hat. Scott grew up never feeling that he was enough for his father in any area. He wasn’t fast enough or smart enough or organized enough or ambitious enough. In fact all of the qualities that dad excelled in were the qualities that he found fault in and criticized in his children. 
Scott’s dad emphasized many of the external aspects of Judaism and pushed them on his children but he didn’t spend time sitting and getting to know them as individuals.  The “white shirt” “polished shoes” and freshly pressed “dark suit” took precedence, in Dad’s mind, over the inner emotional lives of his wife and children. Everything had to look fabulous. 
It wasn’t that praying three times a day with a quorum of ten men was not important, it just seemed sort of empty to Scott. What was the point? He didn’t feel it and the more his father yelled at him to go the less he felt like going. Scott knew intellectually than these issues were important to his father and others, but he could never figure out why they were not important to him. Scott’s self-esteem suffered from not being compliant with his father’s expectations of him and he drifted even further away from Judaism. 
Scott heard his father say: “I pray every morning at 6 am; and I’ve learned a page of Talmud a day for the last 20 years.” Scott thought to himself “yeah for you. I still think you’re a jerk” but he didn’t know why. Scott, like many kids who can’t put their fingers on what’s wrong with their parents end up thinking there is something wrong with themselves. 
In Scott’s mind it was obvious why he was the bum and not his father. He was the one who was cutting out of school and failing. His father never behaved that way. He was the one who was hanging out on the street and drinking all night. His father never behaved that way. He was the one who kept getting thrown out of yeshivas. His father certainly never behaved that way; 
On the contrary, Scott’s father was a popular guy in their community and well-liked by Rabbi’s who he gave charity to.
So who was Scott to blame beside himself? Continue...

With the greatest blessings,
Dr. Zev Ballen

Dr. Zev Ballen