Torah Thinkers Forum

Sensitivity vs. Insensitivity


Sensitive - I have a good friend who goes out at 5 am for a walk of an hour or more three times a week with a large number of empty bags in his arms, and goes up and down the streets of different neighborhoods in Jerusalem looking for trash that is lying on the sidewalk or street. He bends down, sometimes a hundred times an hour (try it, it isn't easy) picking up the trash and eventually depositing the bags in trash receptacles. Occasionally a passerby will stop and ask him why he is doing what he is doing, and he answers 'We live in a holy country, don't we? We should all do our part in making it a cleaner place for everyone'.

He is sensitive to the holiness of Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.

Sensitive - I know a young woman who is very careful when she shops for her family, to only buy fish that are sustainable. Sustainability means that there is a balance between the amount of fish that are taken out of the ocean and the amount of fish of that species that remain in the ocean, so that the fishermen are not causing the species to eventually become extinct. While she realizes that her not purchasing that type of fish won't make a dent in the problem, she doesn't want her dollars to contribute to the problem.

She in sensitive to the world's environment.

Insensitive - A few years ago I visited a family of cousins of ours in New Jersey. They showed me a beautiful picture of the whole family dressed up in their best clothes, sitting around a Pesach Seder table on the first night of the holiday. I knew that they were observant Jews, so I asked them how that picture got taken on Pesach, when obviously it would be impermissible to take a photo on that holy day. They told me that an uncle had been visiting who was nonobservant, and he took the picture of the family.

They were insensitive to the holiness of the day, and felt there was nothing wrong in participating in an act (even though they took no physical action) that was causing a desecration of the holiday.

Insensitive - A month ago, at the edge of my neighborhood, a multiplex movie theater opened, and it shows movies there 7 days a week. There has been an influx of cars of secular citizens who drive to the complex from other parts of the city as well. Last week observant friends of ours told us that they had visited the cinema during the week, and told us of how they enjoyed going to the movie theater that was an easy walk from their home.

They were insensitive to the fact that they were spending money there supporting an enterprise that was degrading the observance of Shabbat in our neighborhood in Jerusalem. Even though their patronage of the cinema will not make a difference in whether the enterprise is successful or not, I feel that anyone who is sensitive to the honor of Shabbat should not be attending such a place, any day of the week.


I mentioned this example of insensitivity to a number of observant friends in my neighborhood, and was surprised that a fair percentage of them did not agree with me. Am I being too sensitive? I don't think so.




COM_EASYBLOG_GUEST Sunday, 16 June 2019
Last updated on: 06/16/2019
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