I once heard a great Jewish leader, Stuie Wax say, “If you wanna understand what is going on in the world for the week just look to the Parsha.” It doesn’t surprise me at all that this week’s parsha is entitled, “Re’eh” meaning to see. Because this week I had to check my contacts prescription a few times and check in within to see myself and hold onto who I truly am.
We all want to be seen. We all ultimately want to be seen for who we really are by someone else. In the dating world I hear people say all the time, “I just want someone who can really get me (or see me).” I think largely the problem may be that we don’t always get or see ourselves, so we hope that by someone outside of ourselves seeing us perhaps we’ll have a better chance of seeing ourselves too.
I always found it odd that the way we see the world is through our own eyes. Without a mirror and good vision its hard to see what we look like on the outside. And without some serious deep self-reflection, patience, self love and compassion, it is challenging to see ourselves. Without truly getting ourselves can we see an other?
This week, I experienced a painful moment in which I felt completely seen in the wrong way. The moment took place via an email exchange on a dating app.
I’ve struggled with being on dating apps which aren’t just for Jewish people, because I only date Jewish men. Men and women are so different anyway why bother with dating someone who is within a different cultural/religious space? However, I also know that dating can be a numbers game and its good to put yourself out there as much as you can probably tolerate. This week I came across a very nice profile. My first question as usual out of the gate, “Are you Jewish?” to which he answers me this whole diatribe about me being “nazi-like for requesting that information” and I should really “think about” whether or not I want to start classifying people the way that Nazis did. I was shocked by his comment. I took a deep breath and because I realized this could be a great teaching moment, answered him like this:
“If my faith wasn’t so important to me and I hadn’t seen so much divorce in my life I might agree but I think men and women are so different as it is, when you add in ‘passionate about a particular faith’ it can get very difficult to raise children. I can’t even date guys who are Jewish but atheist-it just doesn’t work. Nowadays so many people are so not into religion, I could see why you’d dump such a disgraceful term onto me but it could be quite offensive. To compare us to Nazis is quite extreme just because of who we want to marry. Would you tell a vegetarian looking for a vegetarian the same thing? Or someone who was an ultra liberal looking for the same political view? I have friends of all colors and types but when it comes to marriage it’s a different thing for me personally. Thanks for allowing the dialogue. I wish you only the best in dating and everything else.”
And I thought to myself: When did religion get such a bad name? Being staunch against any religion is also a religion within itself. To be so offended by someone who has a particular belief system is that the ultimate goal? What happened to appreciating and learning about our differences?
What happened to conversations about how we may hurt one another and the ability to move on? I wish for a day when we can see one another and not be so heated in the head. Its amazing to me how “holy” our speech has become at work, or on the college campus from a certain point of view. It seems that if you subscribe to that point of view then you’re allowed to speak your mind but if you don’t you can be chastised for speaking. I am the first one to admit that bullying is an issue and that we must be careful in how we speak. I learn all of the time that certain things can be taken in the wrong way. I try to be as aware as possible when that happens and welcome dialogue about making things better going forward. However, sometimes I wonder if we may be going too far with our precautions for it such that the underdog can at times be very subjective and people don’t always make room for that. Who decides who is really oppressed in a given moment and if a person does make a wrong move how is that being handled?
Someone whom I shared this dating app episode with later on that day told me that if someone had approached her with that statement, she would’ve been “bitchy” back to him. At that moment I told her, “Well, call me foolish but I would rather take the few moments to speak with that person further and tell him a bit more about my point of view, and get to hear why he would say such a thing, because you never know if it can be a learning moment for both of us.”
In this week’s Parsha Moshe says: “I place before you today a blessing and a curse.” Moshe is referring to the blessing coming when we fulfill G-d’s commandments and a curse if we abandon them. This week I was reminded that every situation we are in could also be seen as a blessing or a curse. Sometimes the situations require us to dig deep and think about which category it will fall into.
I’m one of those hopeful romantics who believes that ultimately every situation is a blessing even if it feels like a curse. There’s always something to learn something perhaps we didn’t see right away. I pray that all of us especially in the difficult moments has the courage to ask G-d “How should I be looking at this?” And then take the time to breathe and listen deep within, in order to trying seeing things from the right point of view. And if the person whom we offended unknowingly is still around and can dialogue about it, may we have the courage and patience to sit and learn with one another. If we can take just a few minutes to dialogue you never know how much education on “seeing things in a new light” can take place.
Barbara Heller is a writer, actress, singer, educator, and voice over artist living in the Pico Robertson ‘chood. She often finds herself doing voice match for big celebrities in Hollywood movies, or writing one of her films, or new media projects in coffee shops. She loves Shabbat in the ‘chood, and enjoys baking and meditating. Check out more of her creativity at: www.BarbHeller.com and https://www.facebook.com/Barb-Heller-Writer-Producer. SixDegreesOfKosherBacon is delighted to have Barbara as a guest blogger this week.