By M. Rubin, Matzav.com
Let me share with you the following story:
I was once on a bus sitting next to someone else from my community, and he was asking me how I enjoyed living there. I told him that overall I was happy, but amongst other things that slightly bothered me, were the people I felt “didn’t belong” in Lakewood. My example was a couple who lived in my development. The husband only seemed to appear for the occasional shabbos tefillah, and talked profusely throughout the davening. The wife would walk around the development with her snood pushed very far back, and her sleeves rolled up above the elbows. I concluded to my seatmate that such behavior was well below the accepted standards of the community as a whole, and having such people around was not fair to the rest of us who lived in this community because we wanted a more Torahdike standard of living. He then asked me if I lived in such and such development, to which I responded in the affirmative.
“Oh, you must be talking about my brother in-law and his wife.”
I was shocked when he confirmed the couple’s name, and then he proceeded to explain as follows:
When they were younger, the young couple had been “teens at risk” and one of them had actually gone off the derech for a period. Eventually, they settled down as they got older, and a shadchan matched them up. “My in-laws were so happy when they decided to live in this community,” he concluded. “They were so proud that he realized it was better for him to live in this type of atmosphere.”
Ouch. Lesson learned…I think.
Some of us are very confident with our levels of Yiddishkeit, and we don’t want anything that proposes a challenge to that in our lives. Others wish we were better, and acknowledge the room for improvement. Sometimes people make drastic changes to better themselves; sometimes they accept the status quo.
There is also the aspect of people recognizing a better manner of living, and at least wanting to expose themselves and their families to it. Some men know they didn’t utilize their time in yeshiva as much as they could have, or that full time learning wasn’t meant for them, but they still desire the ma’alos of a ben Torah lifestyle. One of my roshei yeshiva once said that it is better to be a janitor of a yeshiva than to have nothing to do with the yeshiva at all.
So how is one supposed to feel? On one hand you might be a very erhlicher yungerman, and you didn’t think that in a place like the community in which you live you would have to explain to your kids that you don’t eat cholov stam, but it really is kosher, etc. On the other hand, how about someone who knows that they won’t have a TV in their house solely by the virtue of being in such a yeshivishe neighborhood, but they still aren’t ready to part with a daily subscription to a newspaper, and they don’t want to be vilified for it?
“Don’t I have a right to want to have a sheltered lifestyle for me and my family?”
“Don’t I have a right to want to live in a community with many bnei Torah, even though I’m not so yeshivish?”
Do two seemingly conflicting “rights” mean that someone is wrong?
What do two “rights” make?