Regaining Sensitivity

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    We live in a country that is flooded with inappropriate pictures and illicit reading material… As much as a God Fearing Jew can attempt to segregate him/herself from these things, anyone not living in a bubble has seen something or other. And we lose that sensitivity… That thing that bothers us inside. IS there any way of regaining that feeling? Being bothered again?


    Interesting that you brought this up now, since I’ve been meaning to do something similar for a while. I’ve been noticing, lately (maybe in the past 8-12 mos) that people, like those who daven in a minyan three times a day, and very frum girls use four letter words without batting an eyelash. Maybe I could understand it if it happened once in a long while, but I’m not so sure thats it. I’m not looking out for bad in people but at some point its too much. In my opinion, Frum Jews are well above unclean language, and doesnt it say one of the reasons we were zoche to Yetzias Mitzrayim was because we didnt change our language? We have to do better.


    Be Happy

    I think you have opened an important topic. It touches many aspects in our everyday life. whether doing things, which, would never have been done years ago, saying, reading etc.

    I think the one thing that can help us regain that sensitivity is learning, whether it is Chofetz Chaim on Loshon Horoh or Rav Falks sefer on Tzinuus,or Shabbos.


    I see this when my kids (who do not go to movies and do not have a television) get together with their cousins that do. The difference is shocking. And when I point this out to my mother, she simply does not see it. But once I point it out, she says, “yeah, you’re right”. Bottom line: repeated exposure to vulgar things dull your senses.

    Mussar Seforim do a good job of cleansing your mind from accidentacl exposure you refer to. If that is not your cup of tea, there is a terrific tape series by Rabbi Buchwald of National Jewish Outreach that put human relationships in a context for today’s society. It will change the way you look at the human relationship in a way you would not believe


    Interestingly enough, in Loshon Kodesh there are NO four letter words (any such obscenities come from the Arabic languages). Yiddish is another story.

    Bad language reflects the inability on the part of its user, to speak intelligently using other words. If frum people are speaking that way, it is not only that they have absorbed the local vernacular, it is that they are too blase to speak English properly. JMO


    i agree 100% the finer sensitivities in language, tznius (not even spking about DRESS, but b/w men and women) have definitely dulled if not disappeared in some places. THings that are definitely not Halacha but simple sensitivities that were once natural are sometimes mamish non existent.

    Maybe i’m very uneducated but what does “four Letter words ” mean? maybe i’d rather not know.


    The term “four letter words” refers to curse words, since many contain 4 letters.

    But if you never knew what that phrase meant, kol hakavod.


    I’m not even talking exclusively about Four-Letter words… As someone who recently became a Ba’al Teshuva, i never even saw a problem of hanging out, having relationships or even conversing with girls i wasn’t married to. Now that i’m frum, and not married, i can’t seem to shake those previous interactions i had. (four letter words always felt wrong, and weren’t something i had trouble with)


    My husband was like P-CSEAS. Even though he grew up in a non-frum home, he never used bad language or acted inappropriately. There is such a thing as inborn tznius and gentility. I personally do not believe there is anything wrong with boys talking to girls. On the contrary, I think it is healthy and natural for people to be comfortable talking to the opposite gender, as they surely will have to do when they begin dating for tachlis, go out into the workforce, and have to deal with all types of people.


    First off, welcome back, P-Cseas! (and would you please shed some light as to what your screen name means?)

    While I’m not a BT in the literal sense, I do have my share of struggles that I still work on every day to overcome, holdovers from my early days.

    I like to think in terms of the board game, Othello. Each flip does more that just add a piece to your tally; it eliminates a piece from your opponent at the same time.

    I work in a mixed gender, mixed religion office. As you can imagine, its hardly a bais medrash atmosphere. From time to time, I have something witty to add to an office conversation, but (on my good days, at least) I measure what I’m about to say / do by thinking, “is this going to be mekadaish shem shomayim, or is this going to be a chilul hashem? Is it rightous, or is it nivul peh? Would I say this in front of my Rov?

    Each time I choose right, that adds a little sunshine. If chas V’sholom I don’t do us proud, I resolve to try harder next time.

    Will you / I be able to turn back the clock to the way things once were? Who knows. But each time we choose right over wrong, we simutaneoulsly win a game piece and snatch one away from the Samach Mem.

    Keep up the good work, P-Cseas!


    Thenurse – thanks for the clarification

    I’m a little edgy about sharing the sensitivities i’m talking about. but i’ll share some. I mean if working in an office with both women and men, neither should be addressed by their first names. Ex: Mr ________ Miss _________ and if needed when calling eachother also introducing oneself as MRS/MR etc It sounds so silly, yet it is very profound. It sets a certain HEALTHY distance. THats the way it SHOULD be. also not making eye contact, and only speaking about WORK related issues. and NOTHING else.

    OOmis i STRONGLY disagree with you. It is only NATURAL for boys and girls NOT to be comfortable conversing and it should remain that way – even AFTER marriage. (Obviously not spking about with one’s spouse) Many tend to think that once someone is married they can now be more comfortable conversing with people of the opposite gender. They are GROSSLY mistaken. THe halachos only become more machmir if someone is married. It’s just that they are now more comfortable with each other. This is something that makes me SOOO upset and i see it all over.


    BP Totty: It’s just my new (religious) name. Pinchas Chaim Shyankel Edwin Avi Shmergis…(but seriously, it’s just nonsense)

    My main concern is the fact that since it has become so normal for me to act a certain way, think a certain way, and sometimes deal with other people a certain way, when you start learning about Judaism and how things are halachically assur, the mindset is still weak… And mindset is not that easy to change.

    One of my Rebbeim told me that he was watching a National Geographic (don’t freak out, i’m not trying to be extreme) video with his son, and being the gentle person he was, he couldnt watch the Lion devour the gazelle (or whatever…) now obviously on a much different level, just to be able to turn my head in disgust from ads, speech, the like… is something to strive for


    Just as a proof to what sofdavarhakolnishma said that it’s more chamur once someone’s married-hilchos yichud is d’oraisa for married and d’rabanan for unmarried.


    We are all baalei Teshuva and we all do teshuva every single day as we all have opportunities at every given moment to do so. So yes we can change and we can re-sensitize ourselves if we CHOOSE to do so.

    WE can choose to not infect our ears with foul language. We CAN choose to not infect our sensitivities with off color jokes or even mother-in-law or wife jokes for that matter. WE can choose to turn off the TV (or throw it out), turn off the video, computer, cell phone, etc. We can choose to throw out the magazines, newspapers, books, etc or monitor what comes into the house including the radio AND we can choose to say to others when we are out of the house “I would appreciate if you would refrain from that language when we are together”. If you frequent a store where the workers are foul mouthed or dress too “slack” speak to the owners, you can always find another store.

    As far as speaking to the other gender or addressing them as Mr. or Mrs., it is not always possible or appropriate to maintain that kind of distance. If everyone in your office is informal and called by their first name and you especially are the youngest person there, you would look like an absolute uncooperative snob to insist you be addressed formally. Of course you may set other important boundaries regarding religious issurim and sensitivity issues, but the formality issue is something you might have to compromise on.


    I would just add that, each time you choose righteousness over crassness, the next time you’re faced with a challenge, its much eaiser. Its what is called in Rav Desslers writings as “your bechira point” (the line which you find yourself challenged)

    I may not be tempted to knife someone, but boy am I tempted to slander a person who wronged me! But each time I control my temper, it gets eaiser the next time I’m faced with the same temptation.

    Same thing with your example. Few of us are tempted to violate # 7 of the 10 commandments. That’ simply below our challenge point. The trick is to make inapproriate speech of the same topic just as out of bounds. Training and constant vigilance gets you to that point. We’ve all walked this path to some extent. You’ll get there too.

    Be Happy

    I think to regain sensitivity we must think before we speak! Once said words cannot be recalled and they can hurt.

    I do feel very strongly that we have to mantain a division between male and female – Basic Tzinuis.

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