04 June 2008


Life has it's way of pushing you forward. If you let it.

I absolutely loved yeshiva. I was a good kid, always toed the line. So what if I wasn't the brightest kid in the class? Who cared? I did better than "good enough". School was predictable, for the most part. There was always the possibility of getting some whacked out rebbi or teacher, but generally speaking, if you behaved and you did your work, you'd do fine. You know, like 1 + 1 = 2. Of course, looking back I see how unfair life can be to those who aren't academically inclined or to those who didn't have the zitsfleish like I did, but that's a separate story. Me? I worked my way through yeshiva actually enjoying it. It's not just that I did well, it's that I enjoyed the learning and assimilation of knowledge. I loved learning, both Lemudai Kodesh and Lemuday chol, for it's own sake. I loved doing well on tests, quizzes and the like. And I loved the approbation that came along with it! And to boot, I was no geek. I had my fair share of extra-curricular activities and friends. So how much luckier can you get?

But then, you gotta grow up. And once again I was fortunate, very fortunate. Because had I been me in this day and age, I'd have been in Kolel for at least five years, doing what was expected of me and possibly enjoying it. And then who knows what would have been with me. But in those golden days, it was just as respectable to take the college path as the kolel path. And so I did.

And then came the time to grow up and get a job. And once again, I was very lucky. It was as if my career was tailor made for me (Or as Baal Devarim might have said, the crevice was placed around the puddle; it depends which way you look at it) . I enjoyed it and did well in many ways. I was like a well paid super mechanic. Use my brain for what it was good at but no executive decision making for me; 1 + 1 = 2. But then, as life would have it, the Peter Principle kicked in and life moved me into a new station that I was not really prepared for and frankly, wasn't looking for. You see, every one's talents lie in different places and mine was not in directing others and certainly not in making decisions for others. I mean, I know how to do XYZ and I was trained how to do ABC, but how am I supposed to know what to do or tell other people what to do? Suddenly, I was no longer on solid ground. Before, I did my job, knowing I'd be successful. Now, it was a whole new ballgame. Deadlines out of my control. Dealing with customers, pricing, billing, motivating, squabbles, juggling, decisions, excuses for others and a whole gamut of unfamiliar headaches. Suddenly I was in different territory where 1 + 1 might = 3. How do I know what to do??!

However, I had what must have been the very best manager in the world; after all he was smart enough to see that I had what it takes!. Well, actually, he was a great manager for other reasons too. And what I had in him was more than a manager, he was more like a mentor. Did I know what I was doing? Not really, not at first. I made way more than my fair share of managerial mistakes. But after a while, I found that I could get by without my mentor. And so I went from one position to another, till I found myself miles away from where I started. And, amazingly, not always on the same page as my former boss.

Astute readers might recognize where I'm going with this.

Recently, there has been several interesting conversations about morality, including one here at XGH and here at Lubab-No-More

When the Frum perspective of life lost it's grip on me, I was suddenly in a quandary. No longer was I on a sure footing of 1 + 1 = 2. After removing my Frum glasses, every action & thought needed to be re-assessed. But how the heck was I, Baal Habos, able to do that? What is right and what is wrong?

I was going to go into the many issues of morality, it's origins if not God-given, etc, but it's all been said before.

However, there are several points I'd like to make.

Some would like claim that OJ morality is perfect, just that we don't understand it or appreciate it. But I say, if that's the case, if believers will go to great lengths to claim the Torah's morality is perfect, it's just that our perceptions are wrong, then why do they go to such great lengths to boast how much greater the Torah's morality was compared to it's ancient competitors?! If our perceptions can't be trusted now with respect to Homosexuality, women's rights and humanity in general, then why appeal to my current perception to build a case for our great morality in the past. To me, it seems clear that was a progression of morality from Biblical times up until Chazal's time. From Chazal's time, morality has still been improving but at a decelerated rate. And now? Well, the Chareidim seem to be dead set on locking things in stone and there is no progress as all.

Also, consider Daganev's claim that Aguna is not a morality issue, rather it's a legal issue. That morality only comes into play after the legal issue has been decided. Or something like that. Does that really make sense? Heck no. Not to me, anyway.

Anyhow, to get back to my moshol. It makes no difference why, but I feel that I want to be a moral person. I'm sure that my OJ upbringing has something to do with it. Maybe it's a case of Nature/Nurture or Phenotype/Genotype. It's partly innate in humans but also socialized. So now, I consider OJ as a starting point, a place to grow from. I'm not saying that I really live up to it in my actions; but on paper, that's my perspective.

The good news, is that I'm finally outgrowing that feeling of being cast off without an anchor.

OJ was my mentor, but I've since moved on.

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