Here goes the launch of my new series: WWYD?

Christians ask WWJD? Dale Carnegie suggests asking WWLD (what would Lincoln do?). And Judaism might say WWHD (what would Hillel do?). Some of the women that study Judaism with me joke around and say WWRD (what would Ruchi do?)! I’m going to be sharing some questions for advice that I get and answers I’ve offered – based on how I understand Torah to guide our life’s daily choices. 

WWYD = what would you do in that situation?
Questions will be shared anonymously and with permission only. Feel free to submit! 

Here we go:

Hi Ruchi,

My family became religious a number of years ago, and we are careful about the media that we allow in our home.  We don’t have a TV, and, with three young children, can and do filter what they see on DVD and the like. 

Recently, my daughter was sharing something she learned at school about how everything we see has an impact on our soul, and therefore, we need to be careful about what we expose ourselves to.  I wholeheartedly agreed, and so did my husband, who, while walking by during this conversation, remarked (not unkindly), “Oh, just like [insert my favorite rap music here].”

I was a little annoyed, and had a private conversation with him about undermining the other parent, yadayada, but if the truth must be told, he’s right.  This rap music is not good for my soul, and I know it. I have three CDs, and I’m just not ready to give them up.  Anyway, I can just access it on you tube whenever I’d want, so is there a point?  Thoughts?

Dear Rap Girl,

Can I just make a few observations?  I really admire your honesty.  Your husband said something that you didn’t appreciate, but you used the opportunity to seek the truth.  I think that’s cool.  Also?  I love that you and your daughter can converse about stuff like that.

Now, to your point.  In sum: you know you should probably dump the music, but you don’t want to.

So this is a if and an how.  Should you dump it, when it can be accessed anyhow?  If so, how to do it so you don’t feel deprived and resentful?

In answer to the first question, yes.  I think you know that already.  In terms of you tube, I think there’s a difference between owning content that exists in your home, and being able to access it online (which is everything).  If you are reading this blog, chances are you have internet access of some sort available to you on a regular basis, and thus, in theory, can access everything under the sun.

I remember once our rabbi telling us that one idea of mezuzah is that it shows that our homes are supposed to be an oasis – a cocoon – of spiritual and emotional safety.  What objects, items, reading material, conversation, media, exists in that home should be mindfully and carefully selected.  Having CDs in your home that you feel are not spiritually or psychologically healthy is something that should be examined through that lens.

Now the next question: how?

I’ve seen many a convert or newly-religious individual forsake too much.  Whether personality, artistic expression, humor, or other outlets – often, people feel they need to dump certain things, either to “fit in” with an overly strict model of integration, or to devote more time to mitzvah activities.

This is a big mistake!  God wants us to use ALL parts of ourselves.  He wants us to bring our creativity, our passions, our artsiness, all of it, to the table.  I love when I meet formerly non-Orthodox people who have all kinds of cool aspects to their lives.  It enriches everyone.  And often, the person who feels he has to dump everything that made him “him,” will wind up resenting it and feeling alone and lost, not knowing who he is anymore.

To that end, I counsel care in the dumping.

I think you need to set up a graduated program of purging your music.  Maybe give one CD away today, and another in a month (or three!), and onward till they’re gone.  Or do this on whatever schedule feels right to you.  The point is, you’re doing it.  Share with your kids what you’re doing.  It’s such a great lesson, and one they will never forget.

Good luck, and happy purging.

Ruchi @ OOTOB

…and what would YOU do?