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Issue 191 - Elevator Pitch
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Publication: Mishpacha Magazine

  Rated by 23 users   |   Viewed 12054 times since 1/9/08   |   27 Comments
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1/9/08

Recommended Reading: Kiruv for Our Children; Walmart is Coming

An ‘Elevator Pitch’ or ‘Elevator Speech’ is a short overview of an idea for a product or service. The name reflects the fact that a short, crisp presentation can be effectively delivered in the time span of an elevator ride – about thirty seconds. Entrepreneurs seeking funding for their ventures and marketers looking to sell their products all work to perfect their ‘elevator pitch,’ as the rule of thumb in marketing and sales is that if you cannot make a compelling case to sell your product or idea in thirty seconds or less, you will have a hard time convincing people to buy what you are selling even if you have their attention for an unlimited period of time. The ‘Elevator Pitch’ has become such a critical component of business culture that countless books have been written on the subject and people attend multi-day workshops designed to help develop, craft and perfect the ideal ‘Elevator Pitch.’

Well, a few months ago I witnessed a remarkably effective elevator pitch for a Torah lifestyle in … an elevator of all places.

It was Thursday evening and I was visiting a family member who was on the eighth floor of Maimonides Hospital in the Boro Park section of Brooklyn, New York. In the lobby, I boarded the elevator, which was filled with individuals comprising a wide range of ethnic and religious backgrounds. One floor up, several people disembarked from the elevator, and two women walked in – an Oriental nurse and an Orthodox woman who was a regular volunteer for the local Bikur Cholim. They walked in mid-conversation, with the nurse finishing a description of her plans for Saturday and Sunday. She then turned to the volunteer and asked her, “So, what are you doing this weekend?”

The frum woman responded with a 100-watt smile and said, “You know, the nicest thing about being Jewish is our Shabbos. For 25 hours, I get to turn off my cell phone and email. I just enjoy my husband and children, unwind from the week – and try my best to get closer to God.” The elevator bell rang for her floor and she exited with the nurse she was conversing with. As she walked out, all of us still on the elevator heard her say to her friend, “You can’t imagine how much I look forward to Shabbos all week long.”

Silence reigned as we rode up the next few floors, but it was quite evident that her words had a powerful impact on all those who heard it. In fact, as the only Orthodox Jew remaining in the elevator, I got a few meaningful glances from the other passengers who were obviously mulling over her words.

My friends, that was about as close to a perfect elevator pitch for a Torah lifestyle as I have ever seen or heard. Judging from the looks of my fellow elevator-riders, they were envious of the serenity in the woman’s voice as she described her Shabbos experience.

If I may take a page from the elevator pitch philosophy, my thirty-second response to the question of how to effectively deal with the colossal challenges of the Internet and technology would be that we need to improve the quality of our home life. I would venture to say that if we all had tranquil, peaceful homes infused with shalom bayis and simchas hachaim, the teen drop-out rate would dramatically decrease and we would be far better equipped to deal with 'Walmart' in the months and years ahead. If our children had feelings for Shabbos similar to those of the woman in the elevator, fewer of them would be populating hangouts and abusing substances.

About eight years ago, a frum woman living in Yerushalayim sent me a fascinating dissertation that she had prepared for her post-graduate schooling. In it, she explored her theory that there was a direct correlation between how children enjoyed Shabbos in their homes and how connected they felt to Hashem.

Over the course of a school year, she interviewed many dozens of girls who were attending the seminaries in her community. As part of the study, she asked each of them to describe the environment of their parents’ homes in four time periods: Thursday night, Friday afternoon, Friday night, and Shabbos morning. Many of the girls wrote beautiful comments about how relaxed they felt coming home Thursday night and smelling Shabbos cooking, how peaceful their homes were on Shabbos, and how much they enjoyed the time spent with their siblings and parents. Sadly, there were a significant number who wrote about the stress and anxiety, about tense Shabbos tables filled with discord and negative energy. The woman conducting the survey then asked these same girls to self-assess regarding their feelings about Yiddishkeit and Hashem.

Analysis of the data collected in her study revealed a stunning correlation between the two components of her study. Those with positive Shabbos experiences were more spiritual and observed mitzvos more regularly. Most of them reported that they planned on sending their children to the types of schools they attended and wanted to parent their children the way they were raised. Conversely, the girls who reported stress at home were far more disconnected spiritually and more inclined to reject the values of their parents. And these patterns were consistent in girls attending charedi and modern Orthodox seminaries.

So while our attention may be focused on the external challenges we face in today’s environment, we may be better served turning inward and improving the quality of our home lives. In fact, I strongly feel that … sorry, it’s the eighth floor. Gotta go.



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1.     1/9/08 - 1:52 PM
Anonymous

Can I get a copy of her dissertation? Very interesting. VERY VERY TRUE!!!!!


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2.     1/9/08 - 3:32 PM
Mrs. Y. Homnick

I think it's a wonderful article and true, but alas, the numerous defensive parents among us will see it as your pointing the finger of blame at them for their children gone astray. They prefer attributing the problem to mazal, society, genes, bad teachers, yetzer hara - anything but themselves.

I would add one more ingredient to this:

I would venture to say that if we all had tranquil, peaceful homes infused with shalom bayis and simchas hachaim, the teen drop-out rate would dramatically decrease

and that is - a loving, quality relationship with each child.


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3.     1/9/08 - 4:08 PM
yoni

that makes alot of sense, and I very much agree.


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4. Very interesting article     1/9/08 - 4:51 PM
MB - New York

I daresay that sometimes what parents view as a nice Shabbos is not seen by children with the same set of spectacles.

It would be very fascinating to have a study of parents/ children who would rate the levels of importance of different aspects of a lovely Shabbos vis a vis: on a scale of 1-5, 5 being the highest)

MEALS - duration, subject of conversation, divrei Torah, Zemiros, type/quality/variety of food, guests

HOME - cleanliness, orderliness

AFTERNOONS(in summer), FRI NIGHTS(in winter) - community activities, sibling games, alone time, rest time, friend time, entertainment of guests

and, although this is not part of Shabbos - the time spent 30 minutes before Shabbos - mad rush, finishing touches, extra dish etc.

For example, as an adult, I enjoy guests. Children can, too, but sometimes they can get ignored in our quest to be a good host and entertain the guests without remembering that our kids come first.

This theory is an eye-opener! Thank you!


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5. exception to the rule     1/9/08 - 8:46 PM
M. K. - Brooklyn

While I agree with the idea of the article and I could understand the responses, my family, I guess is the exception to the rule. I recall a lot of tension on Friday in my house growing up, my mother always worked and there was always so many last minute things to get done. B"H, most of us are married and we are following in our parents footsteps. Albeit we try to get shabbos ready starting Thursday since I don't want my kids to have that rush feeling, and when I do I cringe remembering my past. As far as enjoying Shabbos, with little children, especially girls who love to color, cut and glue, Shabbos is very hard for them. I went out and purchased special Shabbos toys, Shabbos cereal (sugary ones) and I must say, B"H it worked and of-course my girls school's emphasis the beauty of shabbos also helped. My daughter now writes on her blackboard before shabbos that she loves shabbos. A little planning goes a long way.


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6. Dissertation     1/9/08 - 9:13 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

#1:

I was sent a digital copy of it when it was published, but shortly thereafter my computer crashed and I lost the file. (I guess that is the modern-day version of the-dog-ate-my-homework).

If the woman who wrote the dissertation reads this, please get in touch with me. I'll be glad to post it.

YH


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7.     1/9/08 - 9:17 PM
Anonymous

I wholeheartedly agree that warm , positive associations of Shabbos are a vital part of growing up with a healthy attitude toward yiddishkeit in general

But a house which is stressfull and discordant on erev Shabbos AND remains so on Shabbos itself is probably stressful and discordant on Tuesday as well and children will reject identifying with their parent's derachim even if the areas of friction have nothing to do with yiddishkeit.


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8. Shabbos tables     1/9/08 - 9:35 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

#7:

Actually, I have found that many families who have serene homes during the week create stress during their Shabbos meals by having unrealistic expectations of how long kids can sit at a table (after a long week in school), or expecting kids to sit quietly while adults are conversing.

Here are columns that i wrote on this subject

http://www.rabbihorowitz.com/PYes/ArticleDetails.cfm?Book_ID=105&ThisGroup_ID=261&Type=Article

http://www.rabbihorowitz.com/PYes/ArticleDetails.cfm?Book_ID=768&ThisGroup_ID=261&Type=Article


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9. Family Time     1/10/08 - 5:19 AM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey/NY

Rabbi Gil Student, over at hirhurim,

http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2008/01/shabbos-elevator-pitch.html

takes issue with the concept of family time being included as a value for Shabbos.

Here is what I posted in response to his thoughts.

------------------

Reb Gil:

Thanks for offering a different slant on my column. Dissent is always helpful as it brings clarity.

Allow me to share a profound thought that an elderly, very respected chasidishe yid shared with me years ago when i first began writing about teens at risk.

He said that for Shavuos, chassidim used to travel to their rebbes. And due to the cold and cramped quarters, Succos was primarily a male-only event -- in practice and in preparation.

As a result, he said, it is only observed by frum Jews. Pesach, on the other hand, where woman and children are actively involved, was transmitted to all Jews and is observed by nearly all shades and stripes, observant or otherwise.

His comment really got me thinking.

Yakov Horowitz Monsey NY


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10.     1/10/08 - 9:21 AM
yoni

Y'know, it really would be very nice to have a guide to making shabbos a happy time for your children.

although one thing I would strongly suggest is spending time to play games with them or read to them, as much as they are willing to partake in. (always durring the day, and preferably at night as well.)

and also, let your boys get involved in preperations for shabbos in a concrete way. Its a mitzvah, it will likely increase their appriciation of shabbos, and also it will teach them better middos when they are married. (don't we say that the rabbis would always make sure to contribute to the work for shabbos? isn't this chinuch?) and don't preferentialy devide tasks in to boy/girl tasks. (besides, if you send your boys away to yeshiva, they really do need to know how to do things like laundry.) and anyway, its fun to have the whole family participating in one thing with a common goal, and if a three year old breaks a couple of eggs, big deal. Three year olds both want to be helpfull, and they're clumsy, and we'd much rather not break their habit of being helpfull so that they wont want to be later in life.


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11.     1/10/08 - 9:29 AM
yoni

and rabbi, I don't think that the explanation about shevuot really works...

A the reform still do chanuka which was largely only lit by men, and

B those in europe who abandoned yiddishkeit by in large abandoned pasach to

C which is not the case in america, where the chassidic movement was tiny, and even here where reform came they largely wiped out pasach as well (except for a heavily modified seder, at which they frequently ate bread as well as matza)

D but conservative jews who origionated in america did not give up pasach. They often keep pasach and not only that have completely kosher homes on pasach, they kasher the entire kitchen, toss out all food that even has a K on it (if they accept that as a kosher standard the rest of the year) and kal v'chomer everything that isn't actualy kosher, and use only kosher certified foods. This practice bled down to the reform jews of many stripes, such that they keep much improved standards on pasach.

The real question for me is what happened to shevuot?


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12. Reb Shlomo on Shabbos     1/10/08 - 9:30 AM
Azriel Ganz

I have heard in the name of Reb Shlomo Carlebach, z'l, that he often wondered why some Holocaust survivors who had been frum prieo to the war rejected Hashem after the war while others remained frum despite their harrowing experiences. Reb Shlomo stipulated that, in his experience, the people who remained frum had memories of warm, loving Shabbosos with their families prior to the war and yearned to return to those experiences while those who rejected Hashem did not have such warm memories of Shabbos.


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13. shavuos     1/10/08 - 9:42 AM
yakov horowitz - monsey ny

yoni:

shavuos is a also a yom tov that is centered around Torah learning as well, which would make it more difficult for a non-observant jew to celebrate.

i don't think that the comment of that chassidic person needs to be read like a tosfos. his general point was that when we only gear things to parts of our community, it is only natural that others will fade off.

if one's shabbos table is devoted to discussing deep Torah thoughts (or lehavdil mortgage rates) which 20% of the people are on board as opposed to a general environment of zemiros, family time, menucha and positive energy, our kids may fade off as well.

i think the current emphasis on primarily gemarah b'iyun is doing the same thing to many of our kids. (OK, i'll get off the soapbox)

yakov


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14.     1/10/08 - 10:08 AM
yoni

Oh, ok. :)

that makes perfect sense then.

thanks. i tend to read things that way.


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15. family time     1/10/08 - 11:54 AM
Mrs. Y. Homnick

Likewise, I don't think the comment of the woman in the elevator is meant to be analyzed like a Tosfos. She wasn't providing a list of taamim for the mitzva of Shabbos. She was expressing her love for Shabbos and why she enjoys it. Similarly, when someone looks forward to the Shabbos chulent or nosh, it is not because delicious food is one of the reasons to keep Shabbos. One is supposed to have oneg Shabbos although oneg is not the reason for Shabbos.

So although I agree with G. Student that family time is not one of the reasons for the mitzva of Shabbos (I once contacted an outreach website to express my amazement that in their presentation of Shabbos they said nothing about G-d, which is what Shabbos is all about - G-d creating the world and resting on the 7th day, and emphasized family time) nobody suggested that it was.

There is a mitzva to teach Torah to one's children and to ensure that the next generation observes the Torah and its mitzvos with love and fear of Hashem and joy. The primary way this is achieved is by running a home with love and fear of Hashem and joy in serving Him. When children feel that Shabbos and Yomim Tovim at home are joyful experiences that they look forward to, we are well on our way to raising ovdei Hashem.


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16. great idea, how in practice     1/10/08 - 11:59 AM
Nechama

Not everyone likes the same sort of things at the Shabbos table. While three quaters of the family wildly love a quiz, another (smart) member of the family hates the stress of it. While some people love singing, others get a headache from it. Especially looooong songs, I will mention no names. Some hate zemiros sung by just one person, and only like harmonizations. Some love discussing current affairs and some can't handle when parents give individual attention to the little ones. And many times one parent wants to make it fun for the kids, and the other parent wants to copy his/her parents's adult style meal. So I understand the principle, but how in practice?


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17. Medieval Shabbos, vitamins and family time     1/10/08 - 2:31 PM
Rubo - Sharon, MA

A wise healer I used to frequent once suggested I take vitamins. I said since I eat healthy foods and exercise I do not need to take them. She said that if I lived pre-industrial revolution she would agree. But nowadays, with the air so relatively polluted and the fruits and vegetables so chemical-ed, and the stress our 21st century lives put on us, we are just less able to assimilate what nutrients there are still left. I would hazard to say that the Yiddishkeit of the average medieval Jewish family was much deeper and richer than ours. The families (and communities)themselves were certainly "tighter." Perhaps R' Saadia Gaon or the Chinuch did not need to include family time as this "nutrient" was part and parcel of their entire life. We, on the other hand, with so very little of this essential vitamin in our own lives (let alone in the wider culture), should probably be taking a horse-pill of it on Shabbos!


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18. For Nechama     1/10/08 - 3:44 PM
Anonymous

In kindergarten we learned to take turns.Each member of the family should get to choose one activity and everyone should respect the choice and cooperate. That way we are teaching that every member of the family deserves respect and every member of the family is valued.The best thing we can teach our children is to work together as a family with the goal being a peaceful pleasant experience.It is their best marriage and family training.


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19. Stress     1/10/08 - 3:51 PM
Ak

Hi,

Imho , socializing with outsiders is dicouraged on Shabbos as ooposed to Yom Tov - the limitation on cooking , the Chazal - a heter to say Shalom to a fellow Jew on shabbos was given with a lot of difficulty.

A more important question is how does one contribute to the pre- shabbos stress , or even on shabbos and whether one's reactions to getting one's buttons pushed increases stress and disconnection in the family. In a sense we miss out on real shabbos preparation , coming spiritually tuned in to Shabbos and not stessed out by focusing on cleaning , how many dishes we prepare and inviting guests. There are plenty of triggers during shabbos as well and trying to collaborate and problem solve will help find lasting solutions to problems


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20. Turning Inward     1/10/08 - 10:05 PM
Baruch Horowitz - Brooklyn, NY - borhowitz@yahoo.com

Very thought provoking article; I was just discussing it with someone. He argued to me that there can be stresses in Shabbos and in family life, as in other aspect of Yiddishkeit. I told him that that's part of the point, that one must focus on creating a positive atmosphere ; not that there is never any element of "shver", but that one should not focus solely on the difficulties(in addition to trying to ameliorate them, as mentioned here) by saying "es is shver tzu zain a yid".

Regarding the general point of turning inward, I like to look at precedents in history. I was thinking,for example, of an observation of R. Chaim Brisker as to why simple craftsmen in his generation remained observant; he said(to generalize, from Birchas Shmuel) that it had to do with the strength of their education at a young age. The general point, relevant here, is that if one would want to imitate that, it would require positive experiences in home and school at a young age to cause a strong foundation for later in life(obviously the question is how to create such experiences).


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21. from a child's viewpoint     1/11/08 - 12:09 AM
TZager

I found this article interesting and I asked my kids the same question. How do they feel when they know it's Thursday nite/Friday and they know Shabbos is coming. Their response paralleled something that I think I heard from either R' Horowitz or R' Brezak at a shiur. At the shiur the speaker mentioned that his kids told him that they loved Shabbos afternoon at a certain neighbor's house. Why? Because the father made great Shabbos parties. The speaker's point was NOT that Shabbos should be about the nosh BUT that we have to make Shabbos exciting for the kids. As the kids get older they will graduate from excitement re: nosh to excitement from zmiros or excitement from discussing the Parshah etc. From my kids I got various answer that matched their ages. The youngest (age 2) loves the wine and the soup and the "ssert" (translate -dessert), the 5 year old loves the food and the games and serving the guests, the 8 year old loves "hachnosas orchim" and the Parshah talk and of course the food. (They all seem to like the food - including my husband- so some things don't change. But I do think that food and gashmius in the right context contribute to special memories that they take with them. As for the stress - kids can and should help out in ways that they can cope with. It teaches them responsibility and enables their name to be mentioned when we do "THE CHORES" speech at the Shabbos Table. Thank you _____ for vaccuming Mommy's bedroom, Thank you ______ for cleaing up the toys etc...." They love the special attention and I love their help. And I have long ago given up on perfection in how things are done so I am much calmer too!


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22. Ha Karat Ha Tov     1/11/08 - 12:04 PM
Yehudit - N. Hollywood

Dear Rabbi Horowitz, I am so greatful fot your articles. They give me so much chizuk, and direction. I appreciate all of your efforts for the Klal! You and your family should be Blessed in all ways...


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23. Shabbos is the Foundation of the Home     1/14/08 - 4:19 PM
Sherree

When I was 17 and graduated from HS, I went straight to work in the city for a govt agency. I was the cute young religious girl, and for some reason all these non-religious jews kept coming over to me with their stories how they came from a religious home, and they are no longer religious. As if l'havdel I was "Mother confessor". One said their parents don't eat in her home, the other said her parents bring their own paper goods and buy a fresh cottage cheese and so on. One said she kept a kosher home she only at treif on the outside. These were the "older" crowd. A young attorney who came over to "confess" started up with me and said "don't you find it hard to stay religious and kosher" I refused to let him off the hook because he was under "30". I said "Are you kidding me? Here in NYC?. Even the aluminum foil and toothpaste has a hechsher." He went on to tell me he was brought up in a religious home and he went to yeshiva, the whole nine yards. But he kept pushing the envelope and asking me questions because he was truly ashamed of himself in front of me. Finally I smiled at him and said "Tell me David, what do you do on the weekend? What do you do on Saturdays?" "OH" he said, "On Saturdays, I wash my car, my wife has me shlep the laundry to the laundromat and she makes me clean the garage. I get to do the "to do list" and we usually shop for groceries. Then we do the heavy cleaning, you know, vacuum, windows, move furniture, etc." Again I smiled. I asked "Do you want to know what I do?" He said "Yes, what do you do?" I said "NOTHING! it's Shabbos remember?". "I can't cook, answer a phone or drive anywhere. I can't use money or any electronic device. All the food I eat was prepared before sundown on Friday. I don't get unexpected visitors because no one would walk too far not knowing if I was home or not. So basically I eat, go to shul, rest, sleep, go for a walk, read a book, visit a friend. You know, pretty much nothing. But your Shabbos sounds really exhausting!" He nodded and said, "yeah by the time Sunday morning rolls around all I want to do is pick up a paper and drink my coffee."

When you make Shabbos the focus of the home, and try to bring a little bit of Shabbos into everything you do, you strike a balance of harmony, kedusha, spirituality and happines in your lives. When everything you do is with the perspective of "looking forward to Shabbos" instead of I can't wait for Shabbos to be over, there is a different atmosphere in the home, an atmosphere of tranquility and peace. Now we don't have to take that literally and say everyday, this piece of cake is for Shabbos don't eat it. What I mean is to understand that when you bring Shabbos into the home, the Shechina comes in as well. Maintaining a bit of Shabbos, Shechina, in your home on a regular basis, practicing the true Torah values of chinuch, family, hakoros hatov, kibud av v'em, hachnosos orchim, chessed, tzedakah, Shalom Bayis,etc. you are perpetuating the true role models necessary for your children to follow and to keep the harmonious melodies of Shabbos pouring forth during the week, into preparation for Shabbos and culminating into beautiful and amazing Shabbos experiences.


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24. your article is important and informative!     2/28/08 - 2:35 AM
avrohom czapnik - la - jleoutreach@yahoo.com

thank you for all you do.

i have quoted you and read aloud sections of this article in several of my lectures.continued hatzlacha and nachas!


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25. Id love to see this dissertation     7/3/09 - 2:42 PM
Anonymous

Anyone know if this is posted anywhere?


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26. Thank you, and correction     7/5/09 - 5:32 PM
Anonymous

I've been reading your emails and website postings for a while. I appreciate your points and thank you for your hard work on behalf of our community and children. This article makes some wonderful points of how Shabbos should be treated in the home.

(I do want to point out, however, that the nomenclature accepted today is "Asian" and not "Oriental". Apparently people find "Oriental" derogatory and "colonialist".)


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27. Scientific?     8/16/09 - 2:11 AM
Anonymous

I certainly believe that there is a strong correlation between a warm, relaxed, enjoyable Shabbos and the children's connection to yiddishkeit. However, without seeing the study inside (only what was presented above), it strikes me as being unscientific to suppose a causative relationship. It could be that the children who are more dissassociated with Shabbos view the Shabbos preparations as stressful and tense while those that are connected see it as part of the positive process (9th innings of tied baseball games are tense, but that is the fun!). Having an outsider rate negative tension levels in the home might remove this factor.

It also could be that the religiously dissociated child creates the negative atmosphere and tension in the house, and not the other way around. (Here the outsider's rating wouldn't help, but perhaps measuring the home's tension level on a week that the child wasn't home might address this.)

I am not a scientist to suggest more, I have not seen the study, and I do believe that there would be a causative correlation, but I have learned that many of the studies presented are flawed, and not scientific.

I would guess that tension in the home even totally unrelated to Shabbos or any mitzvah would have a causative relationship with the children's interest in embracing their Torah lifestyle. I would further guess that tension at home has a similar causative effect on a child’s embracing a non-Torah lifestyle of their parents (whether religion, ethnic, cultural, social action, etc.).

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