Over-Seriousness Kills Self Differentiation

Therapist Jerry Wise: “Over-seriousness is a reactive state…when we become immature, naive…when we enmesh through seriousness and intensity. This lessens our self-differentiation and clouds our self-awareness.”

“So often, people are talking and someone becomes very serious… If we are the ones becoming serious, it doesn’t feel funny. We don’t see the humor. We’re not flexible. We’re not loose internally. We’ve become solid and rigid. This reflects lower self-differentiation. It tends to freeze us and we become paralyzed inside and we have fewer options mentally and emotionally. Enmeshment and fusion hinders intimacy and calm in a relationship.”

“Over-seriousness is too much intensity, which inhibits relationship fluidity and the healthy relationship dance. Once someone becomes over-serious, it stops the interplay between two people in a relaxed and fluid way.”

“When we become over-serious, it’s like grabbing the lapels of someone else in the relationship. We miss the process of the relationship and we focus on the content.”

“We can get caught up in our own emotional thinking process. We’re not ourselves. We’re a cause or who we think we should be. If you want to find people become over-serious, talk about politics or religion. Some people will become over-serious, preachy, or defensive or reactive, which leads to emotional cut-off and indicates low self-differentiation.”

“When my son called me the worst parent in the world because I wouldn’t let him see his friend Tommy, I said, ‘Yes, I am the worst dad in the world.'”

“In the world of self-differentiation, we don’t want to allow our buttons to be pushed. That gives someone else too much power. When we grow up in dysfunctional families, we tend to have too many buttons to give our power away.”

“When we become overly-serious, we become less self-aware.”

“Let me use the example of the skin. It’s a good organ to think of how we should be. The skin should be moist, supple, smooth, flexible. If it becomes hard, brittle, blistered, dry, solid, then it does not function as well. Our sense of self needs to be smooth and supple, not hard and rigid.”

“Resist, own and resolve your own over-seriousness. When you become over-serious, identify what you need and want because often you probably haven’t done that. Ask yourself, what would I lose or what would be the downside of not being over-serious about this? What fears would I have? What problems would that cause for me?”

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How Did You Die In Your Past Life?

I took the quiz and got this result: “Hundreds of millions of people died during World War II, but your death was quite special.
You died while freeing a Nazi concentration camp and saving the lives of dozens of kids. Those kids survived and lived a full life thanks to you! You should be proud of your-past-self!”

I know this is silly, but I got emotional when I read that and went off to write in my journal.

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The Rebbe On Journalism

From Joseph Telushkin’s biography, Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History:

In 1972, the veteran journalist Gershon Jacobson was considering starting a new Yiddish newspaper (Der Tog Morgen Zhurnal had recently closed) and he went to consult with the Rebbe…

Jacobson should not have been surprised by the Rebbe’s encouragement. An omnivorously curious person, newspaper had long mattered to the Rebbe, as vehicles for both acquiring knowledge and disseminating it. There are people who lived in Crown Heights in the 1940s who recall seeing him heading for the subway station in the morning, carrying four newspapers, the New York Times, the Yddish Der Tog Morgen Zhurnal, a newspaper in French, and another in Russian (the newsstand special ordered these last two for him).

The fact that he was reading newspapers in four languages suggests not only the Rebbe’s unusual linguistic abilities but also bears testimony to his lifelong belief in the importance of having a wide variety of sources for acquiring information. His nephew, Barry Gourary, recalls seeing the Rebbe carefully reading newspapers during the time the young Gourary — who was then six — spent in Berlin in 1929 and 1930: “I remember observing that my uncle was an avid reader of…many daily newspapers. He was very interested in politics. He was also fascinated with military strategy.”

…Newspapers were also recognized by the Rebbe as an important vehicles for disseminating knowledge. Rabbi Hirsch Chitrik, a wealthy Chabad businessman, was once summoned by the Rebbe, who told him of a newspaper with Conservative Jewish leanings that was suffering financial setbacks and was in danger of closing. He asked Chitrik to find out how much money the publication needed, and he, the Rebbe, would supply it (though he did not wish his involvement to become known). Chitrick was shocked. Why was the Rebbe concerned with supporting a Conservative-leaning paper, given that its views on matters of Jewish law and thought were so at variance with those of the Rebbe? The Rebbe told him that each week the publication supplied the right time at which people were supposed to light Shabbat candles; if the paper cased to publish, those who relied on it would no longer have easy access to such information.

Similarly, when speaking to Jacobson, the Rebbe mentioned in passing the role newspapers could play in educating Jews who might not otherwise be reached. He told Jacobson of an incident from the 1930s, when his father-in-law, the Frierdiker Rebbe, lived in Warsaw. “He said to me that I should go find a newspaper that will publish his talks. So I came back with a list of three or four newspapers and my father-in-law said, ‘In all of Warsaw there are only three or four Jewish newspapers?'”

“I answered, ‘No, but these are the religious ones.’

“And the [Friediker] Rebbe said to me, ‘If I want to reach only religious Jews, we could put these writings in every shtiebl and shul in Warsaw. I want to reach Jews who don’t go to synagogue.'”

The Rebbe told Jacobson that he eventually found a Socialist-leaning paper that was willing to publish his father-in-law’s talks.

But the Rebbe didn’t penetrate only the world of Yiddish newspapers. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik spoke with great admiration of Chabad’s impact on the American press: “In the past, when a Jewish issue came up, the major newspapers such as the New York Times would only cite the viewpoints of representatives of Reform Judaism. Orthodoxy did not exist for them. Nowadays, the Lubavitch movement has placed Orthodoxy in these newspapers, and on the radio and television” (interview in Ma’ariv, October 28, 1977).

Jacobson soon went ahead with his decision to begin the Algemeiner Journal. In time, as the newspaper became known and its influence grew, a local Crown Heights rabbi suggested to him that a group of rabbis check over the weekly paper in advance to make sure the content was appropriate.
“Did anyone ask the Rebbe about this?” Jacobson inquired.
The rabbi said: “We think this is what the Rebbe would want.”
Jacobson went in to ask the Rebbe, telling him that some people wanted to set up a kind of rabbinic supervision bureau to determine what should and shouldn’t be put into the paper.
The Rebbe smiled: “And what will you do if these rabbis decide that the newspaper should be closed down?”
Jacobson said: “So what’s the Rebbe’s opinion?”
The Rebbe lifted his hands in a way that was clearly dismissive of the other rabbi’s message to Jacobson. “What do rabbis have to do with a newspaper? A rabbi should pasken [rule] that a Jew should be learning Torah all day, and every second that’s free is bittul Torah [wasted time that should be spent studying Torah]. So how are rabbis going to issue a ruling regarding a newspaper when they should be telling a person not to read newspapers but to study Torah? Newspapers are for people who don’t listen to rabbis or who don’t ask rabbis. And when you put into the paper a few words of Torah, you will be reaching such people.”
To make certain he was clear about the Rebbe’s attitude toward the direction the Algemeiner Journal should take, Jacobson asked if the paper should establish a formal affiliation with Lubavitch.
This, the Rebbe opposed: “A Lubavitch newspaper is a contradiction in terms. You have to look at everything in terms of its mission. The mission of Lubavitch is to help people access their Jewishness [Yiddishkeit]. The mission of a newspaper is to have more readers and be a successful media outlet. A newspaper has its goals and Lubavitch has its goals. As far as your editorial positions are concerned, that’s your decision.”
These thoughts in particular were refreshing and liberating. Newspapers and magazines published under Orthodox auspices generally adhere to a very restricted editorial line, more or less identical with the beliefs of the publisher or the organization supporting the publication. However, because the Algemeiner Journal had no organizational affiliation, Jacobson could follow his instincts and keep the paper open to opinions with which he — and the Rebbe as well — disagreed.

…Gershon Jacobson felt bad and told the Rebbe that he wanted to apologize for publishing an article that caused so much aggravation…

The Rebbe assured Jacobson that he had done nothing for which he needed to apologize. “You have to do your job, I have to do my job. You’re a newspaper. You’re not supposed to be censoring opinions. What I’m saying is what I have to do.”

…The Rebbe smiles at the journalist [left-winger Nathan Yellin-Mor] and told him, “I read your column every week.”

“God blessed you with the ability to write, so you should continue using your talent and use it to the fullest, and continue to write and God should bless you that you should be successful.”

“Not everything one reads does one have to agree with. You have to continue writing and, hopefully, as you continue writing you’ll come closer to emet [truth] as you evolve and become a better writer.”

…When Jacobson was preparing to go to Rome to cover Vatican II, the 1962 conclave of the Catholic Church convened by Pope John XXIII, the Rebbe advised him to read extensively about the Vatican and to make a concentrated effort to learn about a variety of Church practices so that he would be a far more informed and trusted journalist. One example the Rebbe offered was being familiar with the secret behind-the-scenes proceedings of choosing a new pope. This sort of wide-ranging knowledge, the Rebbe told him, would gain him access and credibility with the people in the Vatican with whom he needed to speak and would also encourage them to speak to him in a more forthcoming manner.

But perhaps nothing so forcefully demonstrated to Jacobson the high regard in which the Rebbe held good journalism as his annual presentation of matzah to the journalist before the Passover Seder, along with the blessing, “It’s a commandment to tell the story.” …Jacobson understood the Rebbe as saying: “Your job is to tell the story of what’s happening in the world. Understand that what you are doing is a mitzvah, a commandment to tell the news and to tell the truth, and to give people an accurate and comprehensive understanding of what’s going on in the world.”

The Rebbe’s respect for journalism when done well was understood in a yechidus with Moshe Ishon, who had previously worked as a reporter for the Israeli newspaper HaTzofe, published by Mizrachi, the religious Zionist party; now, though, he was serving as a representative for Israel’s Jewish Agency in New York. Ishon came to the Rebbe seeking advice: He had been offered two jobs, either an elevation in his position with the Jewish Agency or to become the editor in chief of HaTzofe. Which should he take?

To the Rebbe, the answer was so obvious that it required no further discussion: “The newspaper, of course.” He pointed to the variety of newspapers on his desk, among which was HaTzofe. “You see that I value journalism, because it fulfills a very important mission; it influences, it creates public opinion. If the journalist understands the mission he has, he has the power to sway public opinion and to influence the public to approach a subject properly.”

Ishon followed the Rebbe’s advice and served as HaTzofe‘s editor in chief for sixteen years.

…When Yehoshua Saguy, director of AMAN, Israeli military intelligence, met with the Rebbe, he was staggered — as Yitzhak Rabin had been — that the Rebbe was “very acquainted” with all matters, including minor ones, going on between Israel and the Arab states. What particularly struck Sagay was that while he himself knew of all these things, it was because he spent ten hours a day reading newspapers and intelligence reports, whereas the Rebbe seemed to have acquired his detailed knowledge by means that Saguy could not comprehend.

Another journalist, Herbert Brin, described in detail his 1954 meeting with the Rebbe, a meeting that was remarkable, particularly because it lasted six hours and was with a man whom the Rebbe had never previously met. Brin had made a decision a short time earlier to leave the Los Angeles Times, where he had been a successful feature writer, and start a Los Angeles-based Jewish newspaper. His motivation was a sense of guilt for not having previously done more for the Jewish community, particularly during the years of the Holocaust. As Brin explained to the Rebbe, he had always been a proud Jew, but not a knowledgeable or observant one…

“Do I have a right to act as an editor and write editorials for a Jewish newspaper, when I know so little of Yiddishkeit, when I can’t even daven [pray]?”

…[T]he Rebbe tried to reassure Brin concerning his lack of knowledge…

The Rebbe stood up from his chair, walked toward Brin, and reached into his pocket. “How much is a subscription to your newspaper?”

“Three dollars and fifty cents.”

The Rebbe took out three dollar bills and two quarters and told Brin, “I want a subscription.”

After giving Brin the money, the Rebbe looked him square in the eye and said, “Obviously you’re a learned man. You’ve read a great deal. Do you have a right to withhold that which you know?”

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As Though He Were Human

A Lubavitcher told me he didn’t like this Joseph Telushkin’s biography, Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History because “it treated the Rebbe as though he were human.”

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Mizrahim Vs Sephardic Vs Ashkenazi Life Results In Israel

Mizrahim (Jews from Arab lands) average IQ is about 90, Sephardic average is about 97, Ashkenazi average is about 112, hence their disparate life results and lack of integration.

These basic facts of life are missing from this long Mosaic magazine essay on the Mizrahim:

The state’s founders had wanted to save the Jews of Europe, but Israel had not been created in time to do that. Instead, it ended up saving the smaller but far older Jewish world of the Middle East, to which few of the founders had devoted much thought. They had not been expecting these strange people, who reminded them of a region few of them particularly cared for and which was at war with them. But the state needed citizens, workers, and soldiers, and besides, ingathering the exiles—all of the exiles—was seen as a mission of nearly religious import. The state went to immense lengths to absorb them.

The process was made more difficult by the contempt some European Jews felt for Jews from the East, and by the immense cultural gaps that divided the populations. Those gaps were not imaginary. Some of the newcomers did hail from places where standards of living could accurately be described as medieval—even if things were not much better in some parts of Europe, and even if many Middle Eastern immigrants came from places far more cosmopolitan than did many Europeans. One official was of the opinion that the immigrants from Arab countries displayed “mental regression” and “a faulty development of the ego.” “Perhaps these are not the Jews we would like to see coming here,” wrote another, “but we can hardly tell them not to come.” Saying that their absorption succeeded beyond reasonable expectations—as it unquestionably did—is not to deny that it could have been handled far better or that the country is still paying the price for mistakes it made all those many years ago.

And today? Ethnic lines are fading in places but are still very much present; social and economic gaps are narrowing slowly but have by no means closed. One recent study found that Mizrahi Jews occupy only 29 percent of managerial positions requiring a university degree, as opposed to 54 percent for Jews of European descent, and that a poor person in central Israel is three times as likely to be descended from immigrants from the Middle East as from Europe…

The academy and the upper echelons of Israel’s political system tend to remain, largely and regrettably, the province of Jews of European descent…

…Thanks to intermarriage between Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews, and to the increasing openness of the Israeli mainstream to Mizrahi religious, political, and cultural norms, I believe it is fair to predict an accelerating erasure of the ethnic divide. But I do not want to exaggerate: that divide remains deeper than many Ashkenazi Israelis would like to think, and its disappearance is still many years away.

Working in Israel’s favor in this respect is the fact that Israeli society is strikingly fluid; dramatic and rapid change is possible here as it isn’t in more staid places. The challenge is to stop picking at the scabs of the past and to stop seeing the national project through the lens of old dividing lines: left vs. right, religious vs. secular, Ashkenazi vs. Mizrahi. Though the political system and many intellectuals have yet to catch up, most Israelis now exist somewhere in the middle. Instead of ignoring the reality, let alone bemoaning it in light of some imaginary past of khaki shorts and songs around the Palmah campfire, wise statesmen and thinkers should be considering how to forge, from all of our society’s constituent parts, the second phase of Israel’s national existence, the phase that comes after the expiry of the founding generation. Those constituent parts are, of course, a source not only of potential comity but of tension and fractiousness, so it is fair to question whether the necessary trick can be pulled off. Anyone considering what has been achieved over the past 66 years has reasonable grounds for optimism.

…But if we place the story of the Jews of Islamic countries at the center rather than at the margins of our consciousness, we see that Israel represents a continuation of the past as much as it does a break with it. We Israelis are Jews in the Middle East. That we are free, safe from persecution, and in charge of ourselves—these things are new. But that we are here? There is nothing new about that at all.

Not many people are interested in the stories of low-IQ people. Smart accomplished folks tend to be more interesting.

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Is America’s Big Problem A Lack Of Decent Schooling?

My former UCLA Economics professor Russ Roberts is out with a new book (How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life: An Unexpected Guide to Human Nature and Happiness). In an interview with Reason magazine, he says: “I wish more people had access to the good life in the United States. I wish more people had access to decent schooling.”

Lack of decent schooling is not one of America’s big problems. American blacks do better on their PISA scores than blacks elsewhere in the world. Same goes, generally speaking, for hispanics and asians and whites in America. “So white USA is basically an OECD country, the rest of the USA is third-world.”

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Deadline Vs Due Date

JNS.org: “Telushkin, likewise, said he now refrains from using the word “deadline” for a project because it connotes death; he now uses “due date,” which ironically connotes exactly the opposite—birth.”

Friends who love this new book said that they tried to change from using “deadline” to “due date” but gave up after a few days. They contrasted themselves unfavorably in that respect with R. Telushkin.

“Telushkin is a professional Jew,” I explained. “He writes a book and then the book writes his life. It is in his professional interest to make this change last because it shows how much he’s been moved by the Rebbe and therefore it makes him and his book more compelling and heh opes you are more likely to buy it, recommend it and to come to his speeches. Professional Jews keep the Sabbath for a living. They teach Torah for a living. They preach righteousness for a living. They have more incentive to do these righteous things than regular Jews because they make money from it. If professional Jews weren’t Jewish for a living, they might not be nearly as righteous and Jewish and probably wouldn’t make as many dramatic changes to their lives such as not saying ‘deadline’.”

In a 1993 lecture on Genesis 27, Dennis Prager said that a major reason he began teaching the Torah verse-by-verse was to give himself more of an incentive to study Torah. “It is a total flaw in my character that I would not study the Torah regularly if I did not have to teach it.” (Gen. 39 lecture)

Posted in Dennis Prager, R. Joseph Telushkin | Comments Off

HIAS Lets Bibi Have It!

A friend says: Do did you hear the big news? HIAS “scored” Bibi on his treatment of African refugees.

To be clear, Israel rounds up the African refugees, throws them in the camp, and when they can’t take it anymore and beg them to let them go back to where they came from, deports them.

But now HIAS, the leading Jewish organization in charge of setting tribal I mean communal demands for Amnesty, keeping the border open so the problem continues despite polio-like outbreaks and respiratory plague among kids no big whoop, has noted that THEY are DISAPPOINTED!


To be clear, Netanyahu is not some Indy-minyan hippy who is going to apologize and change policy because the tribal left is disappointed.

Let’s look at what Netanyahu himself said to his liberal friends recently on the matter:

Netanyahu: Israel has no asylum seeker problem – only illegal job immigrants

Prime minister responds for first time to High Court ruling ordering state to close detention center for asylum seekers, says Israel can’t afford to be engulfed by these ‘job seekers.’

But HIAS made their statement, right? It’s not like we can’t keep pressing the US just because Israel has a different view!

It’s not like the mainstream of organized Jewry believes, “Majority rights for Israel, minority rights for the U.S.”

After all, HIAS said they were disappointed! So I don’t want to hear anymore of this nonsense about how American Jewish orgs haven’t done everything they can.

They have done everything they can to show where their loyalties lie, and where their enduring hostility lies.

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When Your Community Gets Overtaken By Immigrants

I love Persian Jews. They’re about my favorite immigrants. They’re high-achieving and their women are smoking hot.

Not all Ashkenazi Jews share my sentiments. One guy was telling me why for the first time ever, he didn’t go to his shul this High Holidays. “My father’s name is on a plaque. His father’s name is on a plaque. And now they’re doing the service in Farsi.”

American neighborhoods are getting swallowed up by immigrants far less productive and law-abiding than Persian Jews.

I’ve heard some Ashkenazi Jews mumble about the need for a white synagogue. They don’t like it when their previously dominantly white Ashkenazi shul is overtaken by an alien and dark-skinned Mizrahi, Persian and Sephardic horde, speaking in a strange accent, practicing strange customs, and changing the traditional Ashkenazi service with their own melodies and methods. Some of my Ashkenazi friends are wondering about how to put up a “Whites Only” sign on their shuls in a way that will cause the least offense. We’re talking about a salute we can use with each other and the need for racial pride and pure bloodlines.

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I am thinking of forming an anti-snark league

What do the Gedolim say about snark, irony and sarcasm?

Chaim: “Good question! Is there any of this in Torah? If not, then Yidden don’t need it.”

If Yidden can make a parnassah from snark, then it’s a mitzvah.

Simcha Fisher writes:

Our college chaplain used to preach often against sarcasm. This always baffled me, and made me assume that the poor fellow, though clearly holy, was a little bit clueless. After all, a stroll through the nearby woods would show him that the students in his care were engaging in much worse sins than a little snarkiness!
Now I think two things: (a) of course he knew what was going on in the woods; and (b) he was onto something. Sarcasm is the younger, rather juvenile sister of irony. Irony is wonderful as a literary vehicle — but as a lifestyle, it’s deadly. A habitually ironic point of view trains us to see the world at a distance, to never approach our consciences directly.
A habit of irony creeps up on us. Take, for instance, the guy who watches a comedy TV show that ironically features scantily-clad young women parading around. This recurring feature is a big joke: the audience would never actually watch a show which was so gauche as to actually feature scantily-clad young women parading around! That’s for rednecks! This show, however, is poking fun at that kind of show; it’s a send-up, a spoof, a clever commentary on the kind of yahoos who will sit and watch that kind of thing. And a sophisticated guy will show how above it he is, by sitting and watching that kind of thing — wearing, he imagines, an armor made of irony.

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