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Spiritual Growth for Jews

Can There Be Too Much Socializing?

Posted on | December 9, 2005 | By Meyer | 5 Comments

Shalom:

I began the teshuva process slightly over ten years ago. B”H, I had the fortune to attend a wonderful yeshiva that emphasized, amongst other things, always being a kiddush H-shem. Now that I have been out of yeshiva for a number of years and have lived in frum kehilos around the world, I have had the chance to implement this teaching in practice. Frum kehilos are, I think, amazingly special places with incredible people and institutions. Nevertheless, there are always challenges (especially in chutz l’aretz) – not speaking in shul during davening, not speaking devarim betaylim in shul, keeping a learning seder kovayah, being involved in tsarchey tsibor, making a kesher with a rav, being socially involved, etc.

My current community presents a new challenge. It is a special place, that places a great emphasis on socializing. Kiddush after davening on Shabbos lasts for an hour and lunch after that for the rest of Shabbos in the winter and until 500 pm (or even later) in the summer. Weekday activities are much along the same lines — very heavy on socializing. As much as we love to socialize, we are starting to wonder what is the appropriate balance of activities.

Does anyone out there feel that his/her frumkeit is in danger of too much socializing? Please don’t get me wrong . . . I love being with people and socializing. But that is the problem – it is so tempting to sit, schmooze and socialize that other things, such as family time, learning, tsarchey tsibor, etc., can be compromised.

I truly believe that friends are of paramount importance, but I never thought we would be overwhelmed by too many socializing opportunities. Now we are suddenly thrust into this situation and we like it alot, but we’re trying to find the balance. Does anybody else have any thoughts about this issues?

Kol tuv.
Meyer

Comments

5 Responses to “Can There Be Too Much Socializing?”

  1. David
    December 9th, 2005 @ 12:37 pm

    Meyer, you misanthrope! Just kidding, how are you and welcome aboard.

    I don’t have the particular issue with too much socializing but I think we all struggle with the question of determining how much of our limited time to put in to the various areas of our lives (the majority of which you hit on in your post).

    IMHO (Now I’m starting to use these cutsie acronyms, is there no hope for me?), you have to look at each of these things as “opportunities” and not requirements. You don’t have to hit every social event or every lecture or shiur especially when they begin to impede on “family time”.

    I’m a big fan of “time leveraging”, doing two things at once. In your particular situation, if you can incorporate socializing in your, for example, tsarchey tzibbur you wouldn’t be sacrificing one for the other. I am personally involved in many different areas of tsarchey tzibbur and almost always try to shlep in one good friend not only for the help but to socialize at the same time.

    I also think that every community brings a different flavor and hopefully more than one. Since you mentioned that your new community is very socially oriented, it could be that your prior one was the opposite and so, in contrast, the present one seems very social. Or it could just be that southern hospitality.

    Good Shabbos, y’all.

  2. Mark
    December 9th, 2005 @ 1:28 pm

    From a practical point of view, maybe you can sneak away for 10-20 minutes during the Kiddush and pick up a sefer. I’ve seen a lot of people in my Shul do this and since the spend some time at every Kiddush, they avoid the anti-social label.

    I’m always am a big fan of David’s idea of trying to transform the schmoozing into forms of Chesed. And giving a friend helpful ideas and suggestions or just showing real concern for how things are going is definitely a Chesed.

    And you could always share a good vort.A friend told me just this week that he had a Rebbe who would share every prized vort with at least 3 people in order to so-to-speak, acquire it through a form of Chazakah.

  3. BTA
    December 11th, 2005 @ 3:21 am

    “kiddush H-shem”

    I’ve never seen Hashem hyphenated before.

  4. Larry Lennhoff
    December 11th, 2005 @ 10:43 am

    I’d love to have your problem, actually. As a childless couple in an O community, pretty much the only time we see people together is on on Shabbat. I also see folks during shiurim, but there is generally only a couple of minutes of socializing before and after the shiur. I feel isolation is more of a threat to my personal frumkeit than over-socialization is.

  5. Phil
    February 14th, 2006 @ 8:48 am

    Hi Meyer,
    I share your frustration when the conversation during the socialization turns to shtus. When this happens I formulate a plan on how to segue the topic into one of substance, Torah if possible. (Well, as long as I haven’t fallen into the shtus, too.) If you’re a quick thinker, you can turn around a conversation at the stop of a dime. — But even then, make a commitment between you and your wristwatch, and stick to it. (I make it sound so easy, don’t I?)

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