Last week the Jewish Press ran an article titled “Where Have All Our Middos Gone?”
The article has generated some buzz and this week the Jewish Press printed a fantastic letter to the editor written by R Micha Berger.
The letter can be found here, by scrolling down the page or you
can just read this:
Re: Soferet Dugri’s front-page essay “Where Have All Our Middos Gone?”
I agree this is a burning question. Perhaps it is the greatest issue we must address today for our own souls, as well as to stem the tide of children choosing to leave Orthodoxy. And how much easier kiruv would be if people exploring Torah observance didn’t encounter such situations, either first hand or in the newspapers?
But rather than lament the loss of middos in the frum world, let’s do something about it! We can benefit from centuries of conceptual development and techniques for improving our middos. Notably R’ Yisrael Salanter and the Mussar movement produced an actual plan one can follow to create a middos-centered Judaism. R’ Shlomo Wolbe, zt”l, has step-by-step instructions in Alei Shur, Volume II, Section 2, for running groups that work on their middos together.
We at the AishDas Society (www.aishdas.org) have experience setting up such programs, and would be happy to help your shul or community get started. We can also assist with one-off events such as providing speakers, a shul Shabbaton or Yom Iyun, etc. Feel free to contact us at the above site for more information.
In Highland Park, New Jersey, there is an initiative called ACTT (www.actt613.org), an applied approach to working on one’s middos that has the support of the community’s rabbis. Look into that as well.
Haven’t we gotten beyond the point where just acknowledging a problem exists is considered a step forward? If we continue to sit around lamenting the situation rather than working to fix it, things won’t ever actually improve.
Rabbi Micha Berger
Rav Micha Berger is an excellent talmid chacham with the best intentions.
Unfortunately he’s fighting against established history.
Good times with wealth = Jews behaving badly
Bad times in poverty = Jews working on their piety.
Right now it’s good times with wealth. We are Am K’shei Oref and we won’t change.
The shift from the Torah ideal being ehrlachkeit to frumkeit isn’t that old. About a generation and a half or so.
As for current “good times” and our wealth…
First, bad times in poverty = Jews working on their frumkeit. When hishtadlus is failing, people appeal to G-d. I’m not sure working on ehrlachkeit follows that cycle.
Second, yeshiva tuition discussions seem to imply that for many of us, it’s not a period of wealth.
The newspaper carries middos disaster stories from the frum community with sad regularity. Isn’t it time for the pendulum to swing back? All this frustration across the blogosphere, or at late night emergency tehillim gatherings, none of it will motivate change?
Last, and the most important issue. Even if I am bucking the trend and societal tendencies, it is obligatory to keep on trying. “Lo alekha hamlakhah ligmor, velo atah ben chorin levateil mimenah.” Even if all AishDas’s efforts only change a few dozen people, we will have accomplished something very valuable.
(My original intent was to try to have a subcommunity in time to raise my children in a healthier environment. As everyone keeps on saying, this kind of chinukh requires role models. For the eight of my children who are adolescent or beyond, that goal wasn’t met.)
Shabbos shalom umvorakh!
I’d add, Garnel, that change (growth) is part of life. Being an “Am K’shei Oref” only means we have to work harder than others to truly grow.