Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Value Of Simple Life

14. Rabbi Dosa ben Hyrcanus said: Sleeping away the morning, drinking at noonday, childish playing and sitting in the meetinghouses of the unlearned remove a man from this world.
Pirkai Avot chapter 3:14.
There is an interesting discussion which has started by a post on AIWAC " Does Modern Orthodoxy Not Believe In Fun?" The article is the second part of a post defending watching TV. Its gist is that there are some things in life, which we do not for any great educational or moral reason - but just for fun.

"“Edutainment”, then, is a flawed answer to a true need. We need better ways of handling play, not forcing “seriousness” down our students’ throats 100 or even 90% of the time. Rather than seeing it as either a sworn enemy or a tolerated pest, we would do well to study and understand play as a natural phenomenon of life. Sometimes people really do need to shut off their brains, overheated from 24 hours and 7 days a week’s worth of “mission, mission, mission”. Sometimes Shabbat really does need to be an actual day of rest."

The art of not justiyfing your fun with some educational pretense is hard to muster. Even in this short quote above we find AIWAC trying to give  a short justification - "People really do need to shut off their brains". I am willing to declare that there are some things I do just because I enjoy them - and not for any benefit whatever. This clarity is often lacking. It is all too easy for us to try and justify those things we love with flimsy reasoning, when in truth our liking them is all the justification that we need. This is obviously not true for things with genuine downsides - excessive alcoholism, smoking, sleeping all day etc. However there are many things which are in their essence harmless. That is why I've never yet understood the Mishnah quoted at the beginning of this post.

(Well perhaps the childish playing)

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