Dignity Is A Jewish Virtue

So I can sleep at night, I like to whip myself on my blog until I’m bleeding.

That way I don’t feel so bad about the gashes I deliver to others during the day.

I feel that if I’m rougher on myself than on anybody else — except Thane Rosenbaum — then I can be forgiven my sins and live to daven another day in an Orthodox shul.

I feel that I can do what I want and who I want so long as at the end of the day, I climb on my virtual cross, hammer some nails into my hands and feet, and scream, "Father, father, why has thou forsaken me?"

Yet during the many hours of the night when I toss and turn on my floor, I fear that I have not been true to my religion (and my whole sense of self is wrapped up in my embrace of Judaism).

Public self-flagellation is rarely a Jewish virtue. It’s particularly rare in Orthodox life. Instead, one is supposed to treat oneself with dignity and then extend that good treatment to others. I by contrast treat myself horribly and then extend that to others.

The Jewish tradition (the Chofetz Chaim in particular) says you shouldn’t speak lashon hara about yourself. You shouldn’t trash yourself publicly — not on a blog, not on a pulpit, and not on a cross (virtual or real).

This teaching is my cross to bear.

Oh wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this burden of sin?

Sleep, sleep, where art thou? Why do you flee from me when I chase you? Come cover me with your oblivion. Make an end to my foolishness. Make my mind stop spinning. Make the demons go away.

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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