Friday, June 24, 2011

Going Half-sies

halfsies.jpgThis article about the (apparently) large numbers of Orthodox teenagers texting on Shabbat, an activity that is forbidden according to Jewish law has gone viral throughout the Jewish blogosphere over the past few days.

There is, of course, a comment thread a mile long following the article. Here, in a nutshell, are the types of responses I've seen:

1. These kids and their parents are hypocrites for calling themselves "Orthodox."
2. There is no such things as "half-Shabbos," just like there's no such thing as being "a little pregnant" - you're either in or out.
3. These kids are addicted to their cell phones, how horrible, we should take them away from them right now but especially on Shabbos because it's clear they can't make any decisions for themselves.
4. Does half-Shabbos lead to half-kashrut? This is a slippery slope and we should be worried/scared/horrified that there are any kids that consider this okay. What will happen to observant Judaism????
5. It is sad that these kids' parents are working so hard to raise them/educate them/put a roof over their heads and this is how they repay them.
6. There are plenty of Orthodox people who disobey other Jewish laws, this is no different. *shrug*
6. Texting isn't actually forbidden on Shabbos, so they can do what they want.
7. You're an idiot, texting is definitely forbidden on Shabbos, check your sources and shut up until you do.

Wow. These responses fall into a few large categories:
  • Judgemental
  • Inflexible
  • Apathetic
  • Scared

Are those the attitudes with which we want Jewish  behavior to be challenged?

I've seen a few responses that say, "I understand." or  "They are just exploring."  Those are loving, and sort of understanding.  Still not helpful, though.

I haven't yet seen one that says "This is a challenge to us to better engage them in conversations on the sanctity/beauty/importance of Shabbat, so see what they think and how they feel."  

Huh. Thoughts?

(Photo credit: Dallas Poague 2008)

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