Sunday, February 14, 2010

Resisting Change

I recently changed the background on a communal blog, and the outcry against it was almost vitriolic. But I began to wonder - why don't they like the new background? Is it because they really don't like it, or just because they don't like change?

Change is something that happens whether we like it or not. It happens in all parts of society - fashion, technology, education etc. But when change comes, are we supposed to embrace it or guard ourselves against it? Is change good or bad in itself, or is it something that we have to determine, for each individual change, whether we want to incorporate that change or not?

Changes in fashion, for example, can either be more tznius or less. But every season, every time I look at a piece of clothing, I have to decide whether or not I think it's tznius. I personally don't think that the bell sleeve look is so tznius. But that's my opinion. I know others differ. This is a change that I personally decided to resist. Others chose differently.

Changes in technology are also a great example. There was a public outcry from the gedolim against the Internet. But all those who are reading this clearly decided to utilize this change. The Internet itself is nothing but a gate. It can lead to good or evil. You can use it to read divrei torah, or look at pritzus. Every so often I ask myself whether I should give it up, but every time the answer is that at this point, I can't live without it (scarily enough). On the other hand, I have not chosen to embrace television. I do not own a tv, nor do I want to own one. I have made a decision not to allow myself to embrace this change.

I know I'm kind of rambling, but I'm exploring this question in my thoughts as I type. I think that I think that change is something that has to be evaluated in itself. There is no blanket rule to allow or disallow change. Without change, society would be nowhere. But we are a people that traces our heritage back to 3,000 years ago. We are Am K'shei Oref - a people with a strong neckbone - who are meant to resist change.

On the other hand, if we don't allow for change, we would be nowhere. I don't remember which Rav it was, but one of the Rabbonim in Yerushalayim of old (the Old Yishuv, I think) decided that the chareidi community should start to speak Ivrit even though it was prompted by the Zionists. He realized that the chareidim would lose more children to the Zionist culture if they didn't speak the language. He decided to accept change for the betterment of klal yisroel.

We too, with the guidance of our chachamim, have to decide what changes must be made, and which must be guarded against.

Happy choosing!


Hasya Ya'ara said...

Change is a mixed blessing.

Staying Afloat said...

Yeah, change is scary. So often, it's about the unfamiliar. My shul that I grew up in changed the carpet once and everyone was annoyed- now it's all we remember.

As a frum Jew, obviously I see that certain things are constant and unchanged. But often we apply them differently- oil shabbos lights become beeswax become tallow become white wax and back to oil, etc. As the mother of E., I see how crippling it can be not to accept any change in how something is done.

itsagift said...

Life is full of changes. And many of them are not in our control. We need to remember Who is really in charge and strengthen our emunah so we can accept them!

Also, this just reminded me of a mashal I heard - life is like a spiral staircase, although every year we seem to be in the same place as the year before(we have the same yomim tovim every year), we should really be climbing higher and higher...even though the year is like a cirlce, and we end up in the same place year after year, hopefully, we are moving to more elevated spiritual levels!

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