In the Mind of a Chasidic Actor

By Chaptzem
The entire Chasidishe community is stunned. A Chasidishe yingerman was about to star in a major Hollywood film production alongside a female actress. Boruch HaShem, the proper authorities were notified in time and the right amount of pressure was applied in the right places and the plot was foiled. The yingerman backed out of the production, said goodbye to his would-be Hollywood acting career forever. The yingerman then got up and publicly apologized to the entire community and to his family whom he had so deeply shamed and begged for forgiveness. In the following days after this story broke there had been many, many questions posed about what had transpired. What on earth was this yingerman doing? Was he out of his mind? What did his wife and family have to say about this? Where did he even come up with such an outlandish idea? The theories and accusations were abundant. And so was the backlash. So much so that the yingerman had to leave the neighborhood with his family for a while to get away from it all. The truth is, the questions are strong and many and are not easy to answer. However, there are some much deeper and more relevant points here. For instance; what was going through this yingerman’s mind when he made this conscious decision to actively seek out a Hollywood film role? What was his thought process at the time? What was he feeling that he so badly needed to tell the world as he simultaneously acted out this scene both realistically and metaphorically? Before we go around with our de facto holier than thou attitude and blindly pass judgment on this yingerman, we need to try to understand him, his life and his matziv a bit. If we want to know what caused this whole story to take place and what led up to it, we will have to put our preconceived notions aside for a little while. Even more importantly, if we really want to address this issue so that it doesn’t become the norm we have to open our minds and try to understand a bit. Let’s break it down and analyze it a tad. We have a yingerman who was born and has been raised in the same insular community. He has had all those stringent values instilled in him from day one. He has a wife and three children. He has a job and friends and is an active member of his community. Yet this yingerman chose to go against everything he had been taught since he was a baby. Why? For what? What did he plan to gain from

all this negative attention? Is it at all possible he was trying to communicate something with his acting-out that he couldn’t do with his words? Is it at all possible that all those years while being a regular rule-abiding yingerman in the community he had something on his mind that he needed someone to hear but just didn’t know how to get it out? Or maybe he even tried to and no one would listen to him. Did anybody ever try to understand him and what he may be going through while being a yingerman in the system? The fact is there is currently a major breakdown of the system. Too many yingerleit are just going through the motions but are not really feeling anything. They daven and they shuckel, yet they barely even remember doing any of it or why they even did it for that matter. They go about their daily lives satisfying their fiscal and religious obligations with the same and equal fervor, or lack thereof. The question is; why is that? What is causing a whole new generation of young men being raised in the most religious fashion to not even feel a thing? Why are these truly Frum raised yingerleit just going through the motions and not feeling a thing? Where is the disconnect? Furthermore, with so many unanswered questions here, why is everyone so quick to judge this yingerman? Has anyone tried to understand his motives for what he was doing? Does anyone think that he did this just because he needed some extra cash? Could it at all be possible that this yingerman isn’t crazy at all? Could it at all be possible that he is smarter than we think? Could it at all be possible that he was trying to send the world the message that he just wasn’t feeling any connection to his Yiddishkeit? Could it all be possible that he feels no greater connection to being a Chasidishe yingerman than a Hollywood actor playing one feels? Take a deep breath and think for a moment. Take a moment and just mull it over. Put away the objectivity and try to be open-minded and impartial for just one minute and really think about it. The problem is we are putting too much emphasis on doing and not enough on understanding or exploring why we are doing it in the first place. We teach our children in yeshivahs for many years all about the rules and regulations of being Jewish and Frum. Yet we barely spend a couple of moments to reflect on or contemplate our feelings and emotions about our religion, our upbringing and what it all really means to us.

When was the last time anyone spoke to bocherim in a yeshivah about what it meant to them to grow up as a Frum person? When was the last time that anyone thought about checking-in with a bocher how he was doing emotionally or spiritually, how he was dealing with his obstacles in life? It is this inattentiveness to the emotional and spiritual facets of the person and by proxy the soul, that end up leading to this break-down and disconnect between doing and feeling. A person will only go through the motions and just do for only so long. If you wait too long to color-in the emotional and spiritual parts of the picture, you will more sooner than later end up with an empty shell of a person that will no longer see or feel any importance or obligation to just even do anymore.
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