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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Not My Idea of a Role Model

One of the marketing claims of our local Yeshiva is the close relationship the high school kids can develop with the bochurim in the Beit Midrash and have role models. I think this is a nice idea and ideally we would like our children to meet frum people who love their line of study or work who can serve as positive role models for our children.

So, when I ran into at least 10-15% of these bochurim on a recent outing and was greeted by cigarette smoke being blown in my direction, I was a disappointed to say the least. There was not a bochur in this group without a cigarette in his mouth or his hand.

To make a long story short, this is not the type of role model that we are seeking for our children. At the very least, it would be nice if these "role models" could smoke in places where young, impressionable children don't see them.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about the rebbeim that smoke as well. Add that to the fact that none of them have the guts to come straight out and say that it is assur to smoke because of what it does to your body.

SephardiLady said...

Good point, anon. But, baruch Hashem, I don't belive any of the Rebbes smoke at our Yeshiva.

Anonymous said...

Are you talking about Ner? I would be shocked if none of the rebbeim there smoked. They have so many there it would be a statistical anomoly (sp?) if none of them smoked.

Also, just as bad is the kollel guys who smoke. Plus don't get me started on the "support my learning" line when you see them wasting money on cigarettes.

SephardiLady said...

Not Ner and you are correct that it would be a statistical anomoly if none the the Rebbes smoke, especially so many of the bochurim smoke. Quitting isn't that easy and I haven't seen the yeshiva running a program to help the smokers quite (I'd donote to that cause!). I guess I should have said that I have not personally seen any Rebbes smoking, b"h.

As for supporting those who are wasting money on cigarettes, like you, I agree, don't even get me started. And, when these guys get married and can't afford life insurance because of their smoking and their health, well, don't come crying to me, because I am not a sympathetic ear.

Ezzie said...

In WITS, no rebbeim smoked. Almost no guys smoked - it was not allowed at all, HS or BM. The few who did did so to be "cool", and generally outgrew it... even they only did so "socially" - maybe a few cigarettes a week.

Thank God.

[I've never smoked a cigarette.]

Jewboy said...

Anon-I don't know how much you know about Ner Yisroel (if indeed that is the Ner you are referring to) but in my four years there I did not see a lot of smokers. There were a few, but not many and those who did smoke did so in a clandestine fashion. I guarantee no rebbeim there smoke.

Jack Davidov said...

Okay, I'm probably going to make myself into a bad guy with this one. I used to get upset when I was in yeshiva about these types of complaints. People in the community would be livid if they saw a bachur smoking, or crossing the street against the light. Yet the same people were often lax with Halacha or with the importance of limud Torah. In other words, people held "American values" above Torah values. The community did not value the yeshiva and this was often a way to disparage the institution. I don't think bachurim should smoke, but I think that when people criticize bachurim for things like this, it is usually due to ulterior motives.

SephardiLady said...

Jack, What fun would a blog be without discussion? I am not at all trying to disparage this yeshiva or any other. But, like any other parent, I would like my children to be sheltered from certain things, including but not limited to smoking.

If prefering to avoid holding up smokers as role models is an "American Value," count me in! Many American Values are excellent ones and if they enhance how we live our lives and complement Torah observance, than I can only see that as a positive.

Jack Davidov said...

What I mean, is that people often pick on yeshiva bachurim for certain thing simply because they don't like the yeshiva world itself. Smoking is just a convenient excuse to bash yeshiva bachurim.

In my yeshiva, we were told that we should always wait for the light to cross the street. There were certain people in the community who were fond of complaining about the bachurim not waiting for the light.

One time, I stood at the light while a man across the street stared at me. The "Walk" light flashed and I started crossing. As I passed this man, he turned to me and said, "Smart move!" In other words, he was just waiting for material to bash the yeshiva. This kind of attitude can be passed to children, who will only have venom for the Torah world.

SephardiLady said...

Now I understand where you are coming from Jack. I am certainly not looking for an excuse to bash yeshiva bochurim, just expressing my disappointment that the role models are doing things that I don't want my children exposed to in a "positive" way. Today smoking is so much less popular than when I was little and the few people that I see smoking on my daily rounds look completely "uncool." But, somehow from a kid's eyes, I'm guessing that these bochurim look cool.

As for pedestrians, I get equally annoyed if it is a modern orthodox kid, a yeshiva kid, or a non-Jew. I don't like to almost hit people and I've honked at blacks, whites, and hispanics. Call it equal opportunity, I just don't want to hurt someone.

Anonymous said...

How about having smokers suspended and/or expelled from the Yeshiva ?

Billy Bob said...

Hey Jack, I must have gone to the same yeshiva as you but I cross against the light - I'm a new yorker and that's the way we do things.
The guys made a funny purim video where the 'Rebbi' is waiting to cross the light at night but since it's late the traffic light blinks yellow and so he doesn't cross until the morning when the lights go back to green-red and the 'walk' sign flashes.
IMHO Smoking is not such a terrible thing to have your kid 'exposed' to. In fact, give him a pack and let him cough his lungs out and stink. He will come to hate cigarettes and he won't 'get' the smokers. If the smokers respect their parents, learn well, help out when they're home and are mentchen, then I would cut them some slack for smoking.

SephardiLady said...

Billy Bob-Welcome. I can guarantee you that if my kid(s) decide to smoke that I'm not paying for it.

Also, I don't feel the exposure is negative when they see a bunch of loosers smoking. But, when they see the nice Yeshiva boy or Rebbe smoke, than it is negative.

Steve Brizel said...

I think that asking a shadchan whether a potential marriage partner smokes and an affirmative response that he or she smokes should be a reason to void a shidduch on the grounds that the person has no regard for his or her health.As non-smokers, we have advised our kids that such an inquiry is mandatory, as opposed to laudatory.

Jay said...

Steve: Do you also ask if s/he wears a seatbelt EVERY time they're in a car? What's their cholestrol at and how many times a week do they eat red meat? Do they exercise or they at risk for diabities?
IMHO I would ask if s/he smokes due to aesthetic reasons and b/c smoke harms infants and toddlers.

SephardiLady said...

I agree with you Steve that this question should be mandatory. There are plenty of unhealthy habits, but smoking is particularily harmful just to the person smoking, but to everyone around them. It is also a terrible waste of money and will shoot the life insurance premiums(something you better take out if you marry a smoker) through the roof.

TzviNoach said...

Having recently been in the shidduch "market," this is one question that I asked every time about young men who were being proposed for my daughter. I was surprised by some of the responses. While some references agreed that smoking was unacceptable, and a reason for not pursuing a shidduch, others reacted by saying "He might take a puff once in a while, but I wouldn't call him a smoker. Lot's of guys do that. What's the big deal?" I found this response astonishing, but very telling. (Needless to say, this young man was a no-go for us.) Also, it seems to depend very much on the yeshiva.

One other data point: My Rav spoke on YomTov about what activities are allowed under m'leches ochel nefesh. Someone (inevitably) asked about smoking, to which he responded: Smoking is always assur, YomTov or not.

Jewboy said...

I am very much against smoking. However, I feel some things need to be understood. First, not all smokers are bad. Many people I knew over the years were good yeshiva bochurim who had a past. In that past, they smoked. They had achieved a lot of growth in their lives and were at a much beeter level in their Judaism, but smoking is hard to shake. A previous Anon suggested smokers should be kicked out of yeshiva. While I am all for discouraging smoking, I think that is ludicrous. A yeshiva can ban smoking inside its buildings, but many reputable yeshiva bochurim would be expelled if such a rule were enforced. To deprive a guy of the opportunity to stay in yeshiva because he smokes is asinine. Rather, yeshivos and schools should educate about the ill effects of smoking. My high school showed us a video of a parent of a student who died form lung cancer induced by smoking. The first part showed the parent calling play by play at his son's basketball game-he was vibrant and funny. Then we saw footage of him in the last stages of his life, when cancer had made him a shell of his former self and he could only whisper. Thins like this should be encouraged, but we simply can't dismiss a young man's character totally because he smokes.

SephardiLady said...

TzviNoach-What you heard is ridiculous and how are we to know a person doesn't smoke if they do?

Jewboy-You are definitely correct that smoking should not be allowed on yeshiva campuses at all.

I don't like the threat of expulsion in general. But, I think that Beit Midrash students, who are supposed to be role models for younger students, should, at the very least, be told that they should NEVER be seen smoking in public. I don't like seeing smoking in front of the Yeshiva. I don't like seeing it blowing from a car filled with bochurim into my car. And, I don't want to have to walk my kids through a group of bochurim to enter the grocery store.

SephardiLady said...

One program I would definitely support seeing in the frum world would be a program to quit smoking.

TzviNoach said...

What you heard is ridiculous ...

Not clear which comment you're referring to. I assume it's not the last (from the Rav).

SephardiLady said...

I am referring to the responses you are receiving as "ridiculous." Either you smoke or you don't. Smoking is an addiction and it catches up to those who engage in it.

Glad to hear this is on your check list. It certainly will be on ours!

>>I was surprised by some of the responses. While some references agreed that smoking was unacceptable, and a reason for not pursuing a shidduch, others reacted by saying "He might take a puff once in a while, but I wouldn't call him a smoker. Lot's of guys do that. What's the big deal?"

Steve Brizel said...

IIRC, Mishpacha carried a series of anti-smoking ads geared at the yeshivishe/chasidishe communities. IMO, the question of whether someone engages in a pattern of conduct that will definitely shorten his or life expectancy and expose them to a subtantial risk of a terminal disease is not a laughing matter. I am not going to comment on the failure of men or women to wear a seatbelt or monitor their health. These are simply issues of pikuach nefesh on which I would certainly be noteh lchumra as to any potential shidduch partner.

Anonymous said...

How about making a poster, perhaps with photos, of people who smoked, were terribly affected by it and passed away at a young age ? It could include famous people, even roshei Yeshiva.

Steve Brizel said...

FWIW, RHS has said that smokers are committing a slow type of suicide by their conduct. That statement is supported by all of the medical evidence on the effects of smoking. Would any of less let their child marry someone who was placing themselves in danger, despite all of the knowledge of the hazards associated with that danger? WADR, smoking is IMO evidence of a bad midah and a character deficiency.

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