Solely In Black and White: Question of the Weekend: Dissimilar Change

Friday, August 20, 2010

Question of the Weekend: Dissimilar Change

Time For Change

Here is an interesting question I received by email from a reader, although I apologize for not posting it earlier as it slipped my mind. Being that we are in Elul, this question might have practical aspect to it as well.

What were to happen if you decided to stop doing a certain activity in order to better themselves, such as: abating from watching movies, diminishing the amount of secular reading material they consumed, discontinuing their habit of listening to non-Jewish music, deleting their Facebook account… etc…. whatever this item may be, it is now something that you have chosen to no longer partake in, would you date someone who did? 


  1. I don't think that could be answered in a vacuum, nor can it be a "make-it-or-break-it" in deciding whether or not to initially go out with someone (is that what the question referred to?)
    Regarding my first point - for example, if someone used to watch movies/TV very often with no regard to content, and is now at a stage where they limit and filter the amount they watch, then that is someone who seems to have honestly made a choice to change their habits to better adhere to Torah. As opposed to someone who always filtered/limited what they watched, and still does. This difference is the process, and what one can tell about the person from hearing about the "journey", so to speak. IMHO, it's not what they do, but why and how they do what they do.

    Good topic for discussion!

  2. @aminspiration:
    I know, it really is! Well… the person who asked the question is a humble and intelligent commenter on the blog and I wouldn’t want to overly praise them publicly…. :-P

    My answer to the question would be as follows:

    Similar to how Happy Medium concluded, it would depend on what and why someone changed. If one decided to change their goals with the intention of pursing a growth oriented lifestyle then perhaps they shouldn’t go out with someone who isn’t on the same page. Also, some “changes” that people take upon themselves are changes that they expect others to keep as well. Nonetheless, some changes are minuscule and things which are trivial in the scheme of a relationship. Like Happy Medium said, this question really cannot be answered in a vacuum. However, even if the two were to go out, the topic, or their particular newfound divergence, should be discussed early on.

  3. i think a main part of a relationship is respect, so if you can respect the person even if he/she is doing something you've stopped doing, then why not?

  4. @tembow-
    the question i think is can u respect someone and live with them if they are doing something that you have deemed inappropriate.
    also to add to the question, is it conducive to have one parent who holds of one thing while the other doesnt?
    for example- if one parent keeps cholov yisrael and the other doesnt..what happens to the kids? is it ok to send mixed messages to them?

  5. I think that it depends on whether it is one thing such as not watching movies that differs between the couple- or a few things- ie: movies AND music AND tv....once its more than just one it's an entirely different's a matter of respect and as aminspiration mentioned- presenting a united front to the children. If the child feels one parent is more leniant- they'll go to that parent when wanting to do what the other parent doesn't approve of- and then the parents will disagree on how to react to the child- causing major shalom bayis issues. One of the most important things to look for in a mate is similar's a very hard question to answer without context....

  6. In true Jewish fashion I will ask another question: Do you deem the action you no longer do to be inappropriate or something you just don't do to better yourself? For instance, some people take on cholov yisroel but don't consider non-cholov yisroel food to be non-kosher. And some do believe that unless dairy is cholov yisroel it is "treif". There should always be an open minded approach to other people.

  7. Yes u shud be open minded but there is a diffidence between ur spous and other people in the standards u hold. Very nice to have ahavat yisral and tolerance for everyone but it's different when it comes to what is bought into your house and what u condone in front of your children.

  8. What if someone decided to watch what they say? To treat Shabbos with more respect? To treat their parents with more respect? To watch their actions to prevent a chillul Hashem? To focus more on davening? Working on oneself to become more generous?

    The things mentioned as "changes for the better" - I'm not giving up on those anytime soon. That's about secular exposure, and I, personally, do no consider that limiting it necessarily results in becoming a better person. I think everyone has a personal barometer in how much affects there spirituality.

  9. I agree with what you're saying Data- things like no TV or yes TV no movies or yes movies are the barometer by which a lot of people today measure frumkeit- but they certainly do not indicate closeness to G-d. I feel like these things are sometimes the only way many people in our society know how to quantify what a religious person is. It doesn't mean this what truly makes a person a growing person. It's societal and cultural- not necesarily spiritual.


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