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From: rhendel@king.mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Sun, 21 Jul 1996 19:36:32 -0400 Subject: Modern Educational Theory, Rebbeim, and Secular Subjects What is superior sensitivity in Rabbinic responses to questions?: S1--SENSITIVITY 1: Try and respond in such a manner as to get the person to do as many Mitzvoth as possible. S2--SENSITIVITY 2: Try and listen to what the person is asking and if possible provide them with it---do not bombard them with the fact that they have the "opportunity" to do lots of Mitzvoth and practice Middoth. I give 3 examples in which I argue that S2 is superior:Examples 2 and 3 come from recent MJs. EXAMPLE 1: In college a group of students chipped in to buy Pesach meals. There was left over money. The chairman of the meal committee announced that the excess money would go to Charity. Not being involved (I went home that Pesach) I protested that Charity should not be forced on people...rather, the money should be allocated in some fair way and returned to the students. After a lengthy debate (including a debate on whether the matter should be solved by going to a Rabbi/ Bethdin) the students got their money back (Some thanked me and when I asked them why they didn't speak up they explained they were embarrased to speak against Tzedakah) EXAMPLE 2: It was reported that a person davened Maariv three times in a Shivah house and when she asked a Sheilah (if she had to always daven maariv because it was like a neder) was told yes (and her husband thinks it fantastic).(S1) But several people have suggested that since she asked she really didn't want to continue the practice forever and maybe it would be better to find a heter (S2). EXAMPLE 3: Recently a person, Anonymous, mentioned she had taken a vow at 12 to always cover her head. Now at 22 she was upset because she went to a synagogue where her Talith looked very peculiar; she said she broke her vow but "had a blast". In response to her question a woman of 40 suggested that she had lived like that for a long time and offered her the possibility of shairing with her. Another person then commented what sensitivity was displayed at the offer. In my mind however Anonymous clearly stated that "she had a blast" at living differently and felt compelled to violate her vow. I believe that real sensitivity dictates finding her a heter (not making her aware that she really wants to behave differently). These three examples suggest serious discussion about what the goals of a Posayk should be when they have options and what real sensitivity is. In closing I respectfully point out that the mystics when they wished to coin a term for Moses could find no pithier expression then THE FAITHFUL SHEPARD (Reayah Mehaymnah) which as the Sages explain refer to Moses listening capacity (since a Shepard must "infer" a sheeps need from its behavior).