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Open Mindedness

People are very open-minded about new things - as long as they're exactly like the old ones.

Charles Kettering

Many people extol the virtues of open mindedness. Being called close minded is never a compliment. Sweetest friends! I am sorry to note this, but there are VERY few people out there who are truly open minded.

In Jewish circles open minded is really just a euphemism for someone who doesn't believe so strongly in G-d or His Torah, enjoys contemporary entertainment [read: movies, television, internet] and is in favor of attending University - the more open minded, the more secular the University. In short, someone who is "chilled out" about Avodas Hashem. If he is excited and passionate about his beliefs then he is called a close minded fanatic.

I know many such open minded people. Many are amongst the MOST close minded people out there! They aren't interested in any opinion other than their own! Proof positive: Try gathering evidence from completely non-Jewish sources about the harms of modern entertainment [like the research that shows that someone who sees sexual promiscuity is more likely to be sexually promiscuous, ditto with violence] and present it to someone with a you know. See how receptive he is to the very idea that he might have to change his lifestyle.

Many shuls will invite a scholar-in-residence to address the community if he is "left of left" but NEVER a Rabbi from Bnei Brak or Monroe [not Earl The Pearl but a Chassidic enclave]. I want to ask the Rabbis of these shuls - why don't you try to open up peoples minds and allow them to hear something DIFFERENT! [Of course, this goes both ways. Many on the "right" also don't want to hear anything different.] It is FUN to hear that Charedim are a bunch of crazy fanatics still living in their caves and that WE are the enlightened. "Look at those parasites! They don't work so they steal." But maybe WE are living in spiritual darkness?! OUCH! People don't want to consider that - and if you suggest it then YOU aren't enlightened. Maybe it is your fault that in Yeshiva High Schools drug use is so prevalent? No! Let's talk about how Rabbis are really a bunch of money hungry, child molestors.

Sweetest friends! As long as people are close minded they wil only want to look at others and ignore the mirror in front of their own faces. This is why so many people have fractured relationships - they are unable to understand things from someone elses perspective.

I will tell you what open minded truly means [according to my understanding]: Someone who is open to the infinity of G-d that he made available to us in this world. So he learns Moreh Nevuchim [Rambam], Sefer Haikkarim [Rav Yosef Albo], Ramban, Maharal, The Vilna Gaon, Rav Kook, Rav Solovetchik, Rav Amiel, Rav Reines, Tanya, Rav Tzadok, Rebbe Nachman, The Chazon Ish, Rav Chatzkel Levenstein, The Lubavitcher Rebbe etc. etc. He wants to learn it ALL! His mind is open to anything that will open up new vistas of Godliness before him. An open minded person doesn't have time for most of the nonsense in newspapers or television. He knows that such material doesn't open up his mind but contaminates it.

A open minded person spends time with various types of Jews to find out what they are really like from the inside. For example, I have yet read an accurate description of Chassidus from someone who was himself not a Chossid. An outsider just doesn't get it. The same applies to a Yeshiva. You only know what a Yeshiva truly is unless you attend one and live it.

When a person is only willing to see this world he is close minded. Open minded means to live eternity.

So, how many open minded people do you know?

Love and blessings!!

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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