Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Modest/Unassuming E-Behavior

I have probably written a couple of dozen of fewer letters in my life.  Many were written on the paper with alternating solid and dotted lines as guides for capital and small letter size.  The problem with writing a letter is that is takes time and thought (both of which seem to be at a premium).  On the other hand, I have written thousands of emails.  It is easy to write, easier to forward, and takes almost no effort to send a response.  As a consequence, it doesn't take much thought, either.  Even better/worse, whereas making a CC used to require a pulling out actually carbon paper, it now requires simply adding an address... or just pressing "Reply All" instead of "Reply".

Yes; I have a point.  I recently witnessed a distressing interchange on a moderated email group.   A told B that he should join the group, which is moderated by C.  In case you don't know, a moderated group means that membership needs approval by the moderator.  B was denied membership because the moderator didn't approve it within 14 days.  A forwarded that email to the entire group and added a comment taking the moderator ("you know who you are") to task for not having the common decency to give B an actual response.  C replied simply that it was an oversight and a personal invitation had been sent to B.  A followed up a few days later with an email to the group offering a sort of apology for the first email.

There was an obvious lack of "dan l'chaf z'chus" (judging one's fellow Jew favorably), which is a likely d'oraisa obligation according to sefer Chafeitz Chaim (and others).  Moreover, the follow-up apology email does not completely settle the matter, as someone might see only the first email.  Of course people make mistakes and it is appropriate to apologize; I am just noting that these kind of public sins are pernicious; complete atonement is very difficult.

All of this could have been avoided with a private note to the moderator.  "he'vei tz'nu'a" is not about hemlines, it is about doing things in a way that doesn't draw undue attention.  The bi'ur halacha (siman 3, d"h "y'hei tz'nu'a") extols the virtues of modest/private/unassuming behavior and even notes that the Sefer Mitzvos K'tanos counts this as a Torah obligation.  That obligation extends to email/facebook/etc behavior just as much "real" life behavior.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…