Posted by Chava Tombosky
I’ve done it. It’s true. I am full of shame and unrelenting disappointment in myself. But after ten years of being TV free, I have finally caved. The cable guy wore me down. Being in social conversations where I felt like the odd man out wore me down. Not getting the chance to see public humiliating statements made on live TV by seemingly heroic folks wore me down. Feeling guilty for not having enough empathy for tornado victims because I couldn’t see their pain in live coverage wore me down. More importantly, not being able to sleep because my father died suddenly wore me down. That’s right, I’m going there. I’m playing that card too. Because that’s what people who live with shame for bad behavior do, we throw out the “My father dropped dead card” every now and then in order to make the judge-full feel guilty.
I’m not going to lie, since I’m in full confession mode, Dancing with the stars and American Idol wore me down too. Mainly it was about helping to curb my anxiety, and getting to watch the news. And commercials, I really like commercials, especially the ones that affirm my motherhood skills because I’ve chosen a healthy brand of paper towels that pick up everything in one full swoop therefore protecting my family against salmonella. I am a great mom because I buy Brawny, finally some validation.
The first day I got the television hooked up, it took me forty hours to figure out how to turn it on. Mostly because it came with this over complicated remote control that had way more buttons than the old ones. Back in the day it was relegated to on/off, channel up/ channel down, volume loud /volume low. Now there’s a whole plethora of options like Tivo record, multi channel view, menu. Speaking of menu, I got excited with that one. I was hoping by pressing menu, a real menu with food options attached to the television ready to take my order for home delivery was behind that little button. It wasn’t.
After I figured out how to turn it on, I decided to flip through some channels, you know, just as a test run. Six hours later, as my eyes swelled with deep biting pain and my sofa collapsed from my bottom intruding in on the cushion for an un-G-dly amount of time, I finally dragged my overtired body to bed. It was four a.m. I woke up Robbie. Because that’s what good wives do to their husbands in the middle of the night when we can’t sleep. We wake up our husbands to report that there are over 900 channels waiting to be seized and watched in the living room downstairs behind a locked cabinet that shamefully awaits my return.
The truth is I hate having a television in our home. I feel like my very holy sanctuary has been intruded by the outside world filled with fighting housewives who have no shame and don’t mind talking about one another behind each other’s backs and overcomplicated recipes and fancy cake shows, thereby proving once again my less than competent skills in the kitchen.
The first day after my night marathon with this box of shame, I came home from my morning run and walked into my quiet house that reminds me how my kids are getting older and how little time I have left being a full time mom, and I realized that, that, that- I have TV! “Don’t do it!” I said to myself. Just walk away. Have a little self-discipline. You have writing to get done. You have projects to work on. Don’t do-
And then I did it. I turned it on. I flipped through the channels for the next six hours. Ya, I folded laundry throughout my day, and convinced myself “I was productive.” Robbie came home after working really hard that day. “How was your day Chava, what’d you do?” I gave him one look like a deer caught in headlights. He nodded his head and then followed it with, “Oh no you didn’t.”
Remorse kicked in. I was caught with my hand red handed. And so began the walk of shame that has bestowed me for the past ten days. Although I have refused to turn on the TV again during the day hours since that first frightful incident, I have watched several hours each night and have gotten caught up on enough shows to be able to hold shallow conversations.
Oh there has been that moment here and there that has justified this new decision, like getting to watch Bebe Netanyahu address congress live and finally getting the tornado scoop and the Middle East latest. It has lessened my own personal tension and allowed me to zone out when my mind starts racing with fear, regret, and frustration. However, I still walk in shame and feel like this was probably a very bad mistake. A very seriously bad mist-
Wait what time is it?
I gotta wrap this up; we’ll talk about my issues with shame next week…..
The last Oprah’s on in thirty minutes.
(I know I said I wouldn’t watch TV during the day, but this is different. It’s research. Being a writer, I can play that card as well.)
4.11.13 at 9:59 pm |
3.10.13 at 11:38 pm | Next week I kept telling myself. Next week I will. . .
2.7.13 at 9:55 pm | “You know, there is one other wine in the house. . .
1.21.13 at 12:58 am | One of our generation's biggest problems is the. . .
12.21.12 at 12:23 pm | ....immersing ourselves in this tragic news. . .
11.14.12 at 5:17 pm | Do our negative thoughts and fears have the power. . .
4.11.13 at 9:59 pm | (14)
10.21.10 at 12:17 am | She doesn't save a thing...... (6)
9.22.10 at 6:34 pm | Lucky for us, we don’t have to wait a year to. . . (5)
May 19, 2011 | 5:47 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
Obviously this has been a very hot topic and many people have been weighing in their opinions on the matter. I’ve had a lot of different comments posted, some very insightful, others clouded by emotion, and some just plain scary postal. One of my dear friends who is a proponent and speaker for NVC, a form of enlightened communication also known as “non violent communication” weighed in her thoughts and I just had to post them here on my blog. Brenda Harari has her PHD and is a natural born educator, speaker, and writer. She is very outspoken and has spent much of her life dedicated to being a proponent for individualized teaching. I really appreciate her point of view and often go to her for advice as she is one of the most level headed people I know and respect. She also gets the best pedicures and has great looking toes. Here’s what Brenda had to say:
“Yes, so many people are asking these same questions. I’ve had very strong feelings and a great deal of sadness around this issue, that I haven’t yet verbalized or processed. So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to do it here, and having you as an audience helps. (little did she know she’d have a wider audience than just me)
So, when I saw the jubilation and celebration that night, I felt sick to my stomach. I felt like we were back in the dark ages, stoning the accused and deriving sick voyeuristic pleasure from the same horrendous violence that we condemned. I don’t know if I could put my finger on precisely what it is that makes me feel so sick about it, but there are (at least) 2 issues, and I’m not sure how these relate to torah, but I’m sure you can tell me….
First, the bottom line is, like it or not, we are all connected in humanity. Some of us choose in life to represent evil and some of us choose a higher path, but Bin Laden, like so many others before him and behind him, represents painful, pitiful elements of humanity our humanity. Who the hell are we to derive pleasure from extracting justice? Are we G-d?? Are any of us devoid of blame, to the extent that we should be dispensing and reveling in serving justice???? Puh-lease!!! I for one, am not.
Am I glad he’s dead? YES! Unequivocally. And given the chance, I would have been more than willing to pull the trigger, but to revel and celebrate it? It seems ludicrous to me. Misguided and shameful. What we should be doing, is mourning the cycle of violence, death, and destruction and honoring the people who died at his hands - not by celebrating his death, but by taking a real and authentic stand against evil- and wrong-doing to create some shred of meaning out of the senseless deaths of so many. But it did not look to me like those people clamoring in the streets were “standing up against evil”, they were, it seemed to me, joining in a mass-mentality of mindless revelry, that didn’t at all reflect the somber reality of the thing they were “celebrating”. Real action against evil takes place first inside of each of our hearts. It’s a quiet reflective practice - a moment of silence would have been much more appropriate than clamoring in the streets, if you ask me. From that reflection, emerges action. As I understand it, action takes place first in our hearts, then in our minds, and it grows from there - to the ways we educate our children, the ways we live our daily lives, and the contribution we make to the world. Action is something we each choose every day, throughout the day, in the small choices we make - how we respond to an angry driver, how we respond to a despondent teenager, or to an obnoxious boss. What we witnessed after the death of Bin Laden wasn’t action it was reaction, a misguided attempt to draw meaning out of something that was basically meaningless. Whether Bin Laden died 10 days ago or lived actually has very little to do with the future potential for world peace. What does create the possibility for peace lies in each of our hearts. I was so saddened when I saw the reaction that I did, as it was evidence to me (and I suppose to G-d, right?) that we are just as enslaved now as we were in Egypt. The cycle of misguided violence continues.
Only when we take action - in our own hearts and in our own minds and in our own lives - will any of us have a chance at what I believe you call redemption and Moshiach. Don’t you think???”
Oh I think alright, couldn’t have said it better myself.
May 11, 2011 | 1:29 pm
Posted by Chava Tombosky
This past week when Osama Bin Laden was finally laid to rest, I couldn’t help but notice the many tweeter feeds that were clearly uncomfortable with celebrating his death. Contrarily, I was not feeling a tinge of guilt while celebrating myself, and wondered if this attitude I had adopted was inappropriate or befitting. What is the real attitude the world should share on the demise of Bin Laden? Should we celebrate in his death or mourn quietly? Should we revel in his demise or take the more diplomatic approach and remain stoic? The world became witness to evil plots in the last decade that have senselessly murdered many innocents. By looking into this past week’s parshah, we can understand without a shadow of a doubt just how misguided this evil mastermind was and what we are to learn from him- or not learn from him.
The Torah mentions in several places how to handle enemies of life preservers. It points out how we are not supposed to use any of the spoils captured by an enemy. It reminds us not to celebrate in our enemies demise, as we are encouraged to dip a little wine out of our cups during the Seder while we read the ten plagues each year. There are countless times in the Torah that we are encouraged not to celebrate in the death of G-d’s creations. In this week’s Torah portion there is a relevant law that seems archaic yet has timeless wisdom, which sums up what made Bin Laden’s misdeeds so incredibly evil and justifies the world’s celebration in his end.
This past Shabbat, the Torah portion, Parshas Emor, discussed the role of the Priests in the Holy Temple, which lead to the discussion of approved sacrifices that were to be brought to the alter as a gift to God. Sacrifices are an interesting topic, and many are uncomfortable with the idea of sacrificing an animal as a G-dly service. However, before temples were built as prayer meetings, the Jewish people connected to G-d by bringing sacrifices to the Alter in the Holy Temple. They brought fruits, incense, flour mixtures and of course animals. Although some might feel that today sacrificing animals borderline as barbaric, (especially vegans and those who work for PETA.) there is much to learn from the detailed commandments revolving around the slaughter of animals. For by learning how to treat animals, we learn how to live as human beings. If Judaism, the oldest religion in the world, is meant to have a high consciousness that teaches human beings how to behave with the utmost morality, than surely there is much we can learn from these ancient rituals. By learning about death, we become armed with the knowledge of how to preserve life.
Rabbi Akiva was quoted saying many centuries ago, that if he had to describe the entire meaning of the Torah on one foot, he would have said “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Under the theme of loving your neighbor as yourself, there is the ultimate lesson that is the umbrella theme, which culminates all laws and Torah thought- “Breathing and not breathing- how to live and how to die.” Separating milk and meat and the laws of Kashrus has to do with food that represents life (milk) and food that represents death (meat). Passover is a celebration of living life with freedom, yet also a recognition of death (the slave laborers murdered at the Sea by the hand of G-d). The holidays of Chanukah and Purim represent the fight for life in the shadow of death. Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, and Shavuot mark the holidays that celebrate how to live life and honor it. The laws of family purity all point to how to preserve life through sex and intimacy. Every single commandment has this theme in one-way or another.
These two diametrically opposing contradictions, life and death, have been the basis for the world’s constant search for understanding. How do we live? Does life have meaning? How do we live knowing death exists? And how do we live knowing they both fit in this world? How do they both fit into this world? Last week was Yom Hashoah where Jews from around the world honored the many who died in World War Two. And this week, is Yom Haatzmaut, just days later we have celebrated the many who live today and who have fought to create life in a lifeless land that is now booming with vitality. This constant contradiction is at the corner stone of our existence. So which is it- are we to live or are we to learn how to die? Is life for the purpose of preserving loss or for the purpose of avoiding it and achieving life?
As it is written: When an ox or a sheep or a goat is born, it shall remain under its mother for seven days, and from the eighth day onwards, it shall be accepted as a sacrifice for a fire offering to the Lord, An ox or sheep you shall not slaughter it and its offspring in one day.”
In describing the animals that were to be brought as sacrifices, the Torah clearly mentioned how it was absolutely forbidden to bring a baby calf on the exact day that his mother was to be sacrificed on the Alter and visa versa. On the eve of Mother’s Day I found this law stated very profound. The Torah spent many chapters detailing how to sacrifice an animal, which animals were permitted and how to carry out the deed of killing with great detail. How we kill animals must be done with dignity. A mother and her calf must not be killed on the same day. The relationship of family must be preserved even through death. How an animal is killed can elevate or disintegrate society. For if there is no honor towards animals, the protection for human life dwindles as well.
The Torah is a blueprint for our lives and it is here to tell us how to create a world with a high moral compass. Every commandment in the Torah clearly points to how to live, but it also points out how to honor the un-living as well and how to die. For by preserving how to die, we essentially preserve life. Do not slaughter a mother cow with his calf.
When an animal is born into the world, it remains an animal. It does not evolve. It does not search for truth or for meaning or have aha moments. An animal stays exactly the way it is when it comes into our world, as it is when it leaves it. The truth is when a human being does nothing to elevate the world for the better by celebrating life and actively pursuing the preservation of life, he becomes no better than an animal- or worse he becomes a destroyer, an exterminator, and even a callous murderer like animals naturally do by instinct.
During the course of the next few weeks we will be preparing ourselves for the giving of the Torah. Every day during these seven weeks, between Passover and Shavuot, the Jewish people count the Omer, and spend every day refining their character- another theme in Parshas Emor as well. It’s no accident we read this Parshah at this exact time period when the world witnessed the death of a person who spent more time killing others than achieving self actualization thereby reminding us the importance of working to refine our own behavior daily.
When a baby animal is born it has to live through a whole week. It cannot be brought as a sacrifice before it has remained on this earth through at least one Shabbos. Shabbos is the recognition of creation, the recognition of life. The Torah is stating something very profound in regard to this law of how to sacrifice an animal and how long to keep it alive before it could be used as a sacrifice. The Torah is revealing the essence of Judaism, which is the importance and sacredness of preserving a life for the purpose of creation. God created the world for man. He created the world for life. If we are to honor life, we must also realize that Shabbat is the moment we stand back to stare at life and the preservation of it. If we kill just to kill for no purpose other than our own pleasure or material gain, than we are no better than animals and we are not being God’s keepers to the precious life we are given.
The Torah teaches how the importance of bringing Sacrifices to the Temple remind us that our connection with G-d is there to support our quest for living. Through death we become aware of the gift of life. A baby calf shall not die with his mother. There are rules about how to preserve life. There are rules and on 9-11 those rules were not preserved. They were thrown away as if the preciousness of life was to be disregarded.
So what is the answer to how we should feel towards the demise of this mass terrorist? Bin Laden died. That is a fact. He was killed and refused to surrender thereby creating and manipulating his own death. I will not be happy that he chose death, for he is another human being, another creation who failed to live to his potential. But I will celebrate in the keepers of life winning the battle over the grim reapers who have refused to uphold the treasure we have been given for such a short sweet period of time, the treasure of life.
May Mashiach come finally and wipe out death completely, thereby bringing us into the ultimate era of peace and the constant state of life as the world was intended for.