Sunday, August 02, 2009

besoros vs. shemu'os

Sorry in advance for the little rant: The Mishna in Brachos 9:2 speaks about the bracha that needs to be said on "besoros tovos" (good news) and the bracha said on "shemu'os ra'os" (bad news). The meforshim ask: why does the Mishna switch its terminology? --either speak of besoros tovos and besoros ra'os, or shemu'os tovos and shemu'os ra'os, but be consistent! The answer is that "besora" means something told from one person to another. You have good news, you tell your neighbor and let the word spread. "Shemu'a" means something heard. Bad news is something you happen to overhear, not something your friend needs to tell you or you need to pass on to others.

There is a tremendous chilul Hashem when the wrongs of our community make it into the secular newspapers. But just because a story is out there in the NY Times doesn't mean it has to be the topic of conversation on every blog, on every so-called Jewish media outlet, bein gavra l'gavra of keri'as haTorah in shul, between your buddy to the left eating the cholent and your buddy to the right eating the kugel at kiddush, between courses at lunch, and brought up again at shalosh seudos for a news update in case anyone knows something else interesting. Not only do we have the stories themselves, we have the typical organizational responses, we have the critiques of the responses, the critiques of the critiques, and so on...

Where is the to'eles and constructive value?


  1. The problem isn't with discussing the news, it's with the lack of to'eles.

    IOW, if the discussion were about how to make a more moral culture so that people wouldn't have such lapses of judgment, I doubt you would object. Like the asifa the Agudah advertised which drew an audience of 2,000.

    The real problem is the prevalence of leitzanus, the conversations and blogs whose sole purpose is to criticize others so as to feel better about oneself in comparison. Thereby actually avoiding doing something productive.

    There are blogs we don't allow links to on Avodah or Areivim because this characterizes too many of their posts.

    Haging out with koferim is not as dangerous; many people are strong enough to read someone else's claim and have no problem realizing that an answer exists -- even if they don't know what it is.

    Leitzanus uses sarcasm and cynicism to operate on an emotional level, so that each impression gets under the conscious barriers and whittles a little something away.


  2. Exactly - discussing these events is incredibly important. It should be focused on two questions: "why did this happen" and "how can we make sure it doesn't happen again"

  3. Good points. Those conversations have a big to'eles.