For an enlarged, easier to read index click here . To "google search" this site, scroll to the bottom of this page. (This site is best viewed with "Firefox")

(Tips: F11 key enables full screen viewing & Ctrl-F to search the index)


TEEN ISSUES-----how to view role models

whatodo Posted - 11 April 2002 18:00

Green, I was just thinking about your reply. Once upon a time there were these people. To me these people were perfect. I trusted them with everything I had. I thought they would do anything. And then something happened.

This thing made me realize that the only people in the world that I thought were perfect, were not. These people that were so great in my mind, they were bad. I guess that was the thing I was leaning on and they just took it from right under me. That is what makes me think that people are bad. I guess that God is the only one to rely on.

green Posted - 17 April 2002 5:05

I totally agree with you on that. G-d is the only one you can really rely on. And the people who were in those positions apparently don't have a right to be.

MODERATOR Posted - 18 April 2002 15:50

The problem is, adults often tend to "white wash" the acts of role models to their children and students, thinking that if they reveal the truth about someone, the child will no longer respect any role models, which is what I see happening here.

The reality is, there are good, bad, and in-between among adults - and among those who may be in role-model positions for you. There is no Mitzvah to make a Rasha into a Bainoni or a Bainoni into a Tzadik. At least, not to teenagers who are perfectly capable of discerning the inadequacies of their role models.

Rav Hutner's famous letter to a disillusioned student underscores this. He says we have a "terrible sickness" where we portray our role models as perfect angels, when in reality they are struggling human beings.

The Chofetz Chaim, for instance, was not born the Chofetz Chaim. He fought his Yetzer Horah hard and long in order to become what he became. There were times where the Yetzer Horah beat him, where he did speak Loshon Horah, where he was defeated, until, after X amount of time fighting in the trenches, he emerged victorious, and became the Chofetz Chaim.

And today's role models are not even on the level of the Chofetz Chaim. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be role models.

Whatodo, Green, I must tell you that we adults are human beings too. Even the good ones among us sometimes fall. But the thing that makes the good ones good, is that after they fall, they get up and continue to fight their Yetzer Horah, and even if they fall again, they get up and keep fighting. Eventually, they will win. But not always.

There are bad people, true, but just because an adult messed up once, which shattered your perfect-person image of him, does not necessarily disqualify him as a role model. On the contrary, you want to learn form him what to do in case of a defeat on the part of the Yetzer.

Punims Posted - 23 May 2002 17:53

Why did Rav Hutner call that a 'sickness'? I guess it's wrong in the world we live in now, but wouldn't it be nice if everyone can have one role model that IS perfect?

I guess that's what G-d is.

But it is quite disappointing when you try to have role models and then sometimes they disappoint you in some action they do or something they said. It's so hard for a person to trust in someone and think 'at least someone in this world cares about me and knows what they're talking about' and then find out that they're wrong. Or not completely wrong, just that the role model is not perfect.

No moderator, this is not a hint to anything.. just explaining why people think of role models as perfect. It's a security blanket. Everyone wants someone perfect in their life to share things with.

And Whattodo, first of all, you sound like an amazing person, and I wish I knew you in the real world. You sound like someone who I would be able to learn a lot from. But also, I understand what you're saying about someone who learns a lot.

It can be so disappointing to grow up and suddenly become less innocent that Torah does not always make a person perfect. I too thought that was true, until I met 2 rabbis (no, not you moderator) who did things that I just never dreamed rabbis could do. It's the sad truth and worse when we wake up and see it. Sigh.

MODERATOR Posted - 23 May 2002 18:25

Hashem is perfect, but humans are not. To attribute Hashem's characteristics to a human is messed up, but because it is also unhealthy for your soul, your mind, and locks you into an unrealistic perspective of things and sets you up for disappointment, it is called a sickness. It also, ironically, gives us an excuse NOT to learn from our role models, even as we worship them - that is, since they are perfect, we surely cannot emulate them! We can’t reach their level!

And we convince ourselves that our "admiration" for the role model somehow redeems us, because if we can’t be good, at least we admire those who are. Like the people who think that putting a sticker of the Chofetz Chaim on their telephone somehow reduces the severity of their speaking loshon horah. "At least I talk about not talking loshon horah all day" they think.

We end up vicariously living righteous lives through our worship (that’s what it is) of our role models, which alleviates to some extent the emptiness we feel for not living righteous lives ourselves.

Our role models are to be used not as distant objects of worship but as examples of what we can become. That only works if we admit their being like us in our struggle to attain what they have attained already. And what they constantly struggle to hold on to.

No comments: