Question posed to Menachem Bluming this week: Should Confederate statues be taken down?

Here’s a thought:
I will leave the resolution of this conundrum to others while I focus on a more fundamental aspect of the matter.

A statue, any statue, is purposely made to look solid, imposing and, above all, enduring – able to withstand the vicissitudes of time and even to seem immortal, as the very word monument (a lasting public tribute) implies. But, in reality this is all only an illusion.

As powerful as these monuments may seem, the truth is that they are ephemeral and transient. What is now being so powerfully demonstrated, is that these monuments only last as long as the ideas they represent endure. The moment that societal sensibilities shift, they can be unceremoniously taken down and shipped off to the closest dump. This is not just a contemporary condition but has been the way of history from time immemorial.

Have you ever wondered why there are no Jewish monuments? Even King David, who fought and was victorious in many wars and secured the land of Israel, didn’t have a memorial erected in his honor. The Torah states “You shall not erect for yourself a (stone) pillar which the L-rd your G-d hates” (Deuteronomy16:22). And, in all of the archeological excavations that have been done in Israel no monuments have been discovered – because none were ever erected.

So what do we, as Jews, do as a memorial?

Stone and metal may look impressive for a time but are temporary. Torah, on the other hand, our four-thousand year old legacy and the spirit of the Jewish people, endures forever. In this vein, the Book of Psalms,composed and edited by King David is the greatest monument to his life and is still recited by Jews around the world today.

It is for this reason that the Talmud informs us that great Jewish sages were memorialized through a custom derived from the Book of Jeremiah and King Ezekiel by erecting a house of study in proximity to the gravesite. Our sages understood that transmitting the knowledge of Torah to future generations was the greatest form of memorial.

Today, this custom has evolved and the Jewish way to leave an enduring legacy is to provide for Torah study and Jewish life for future generations.

R’ Menachem Mendel Bluming, RSK and Chabad.org

My Husband is Often Late and I don’t Want to be a nag; Question posed to Menachem Bluming this week:

Question posed to Menachem Bluming this week:

My husband just doesn’t seem to get it. He came home over an hour late last night without so much as calling to tell me that he won’t be on time. This is the fifth time he has done this and we are only married three months! It may seem petty but it upsets me greatly. I don’t want him to see me as a nagging wife. What should I do?

Answer:

There is something you need to know about men. They are loners. Being in a relationship is unnatural to them. They do not automatically think about how their actions affect someone else. The default emotional state of a man is loneliness.

This is not true of women. A woman has an innate sense of relationship, of connection to others. A woman naturally shares of herself and bonds with others, a man does not. She is a relationship being, he is a lonely being.

Of course, it is a huge generalization to say that all men are loners and all women are connectors. Generalizations are never accurate. But to say generalizations are never accurate is itself a generalization, and thus not accurate either.

So let’s generalize: Man’s natural state is to be single. Woman’s natural state is to be in a couple.

There is a solid base for this theory. It stretches all the way back to the beginning of time, to the first man and the first woman, Adam and Eve.

Adam was created alone. His original state was that of a bachelor. But Eve was created from Adam. She was never single. Eve by her very nature was a relationship being, because she was created with her partner next to her. She had an inborn sense of interconnectedness, she intuitively knew that we are not alone in this world, that our actions impact others and that we must be sensitive to those around us. This was innate to her psyche, for she was never alone.

But all this was new to Adam. He had to learn what a relationship means, and how to be aware of another, for at his core he was a lonely being.

Adam is the essential man, and Eve the essential woman. And so until today women are relationship beings and men are lonely beings. Not that all women are good at relationships, and not that all men are hopeless hermits. Rather, women are more likely to know how to bond with others, and men are more likely to need to learn how to connect.

So your husband has no idea why you are upset when he comes home late. He may be thinking, “Why can’t she occupy herself until I get there? Is she so insecure that she can’t look after herself for an extra hour or so?” What he doesn’t yet understand is that while he is a loner, you are a connector. You don’t need him to be physically with you all the time, but emotionally, he must be with you all the time. If he would just call to say he is late, you will not be feel alone, because he showed that he cares, he has bonded with you.

Eve’s mission was to help Adam come out of his isolation and learn how to connect. You need to do this too. Explain to your husband that it is not his lateness that upsets you, it is that he wasn’t considerate enough to communicate his lateness to you. Help him understand that he is no longer alone, and show him how beautiful the world is when shared with someone else.

Give it time. You can’t cure existential loneliness overnight. But if you persevere, with gentleness and love, he will open up that lonely place inside him and let you in. Then you can share your lives in your own Garden of Eden, and never be lonely again.

Rabbi Moss, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Bluming, Chabad.org

Question to Rabbi Menachem Bluming this week:

Question to Rabbi Menachem Bluming this week:

I like the idea of a day of rest. But why should I start my day of rest at a prayer service? Aren’t there better ways to start my weekend?

Here’s a thought:

We each have our own way of spending the weekend. Some play sports, others watch television, paint, write or just vegetate. But often we find that even though we are chilling out, somewhere in the back of our minds is that nagging feeling that we still have a pile of work waiting for us. We indeed left work, but work didn’t leave us. Even while we are enjoying the weekend we are already dreading Monday morning.

There needs to be a transition. It is not enough to stop working; we must leave work behind. We can’t simply collapse into the weekend; we have to welcome ourselves into it. Only by consciously stepping out of our work week and ushering in our day of rest can we truly relax and rejuvenate. Then we will be ready to face the coming week with renewed purpose.

That is the secret of the Friday night service and why it is so critical : to take a moment to breathe out the week, and breathe in Shabbos.

Rabbi Menachem M. Bluming Rabbi Moss and Chabad.org