Friday, August 15, 2008

Cleanliness is next to Hashemliness

In my community there are occasional problems with 'frumming out' - a phenomenon where kids become much more stringent religious than their parents.  Parents could either take advantage of this trend or nip it in the bud with the following lesson:

The quote below is from Rav Shlomo Aviner's On the Air #46 a summary of his twice weekly radio broadcast.  The shows can be heard at

Clean your room!

Q: I am eleven years old. I do not like cleaning my closet and it is pretty messy. My parents say that it is important. Is it important to have a clean closet?

A: Yes, there must be order. If a person has a clean closet, he also has a clean head. If he has a messy closet, he also has a messy head. If he is not responsible in his closet, he is not responsible in life. If he fulfills the mission to clean his closet, he becomes accustomed and educated to accept other missions and advance in them. Therefore, there should always be order. I understand that it is difficult for you to clean, but you need to see this as a challenge and begin in stages. Let's say that your closet has eight different areas, you can clean one or two areas a day. It does not matter how much as long as you are progressing. In the Mussar Yeshivot, there were two opinions regarding order. Some said that order was a preparation for serving Hashem. Others said that order itself was serving Hashem -- not serving Hashem like observing Shabbat, but serving Hashem nonetheless. The Master of the Universe created the world in disarray as it says (Bereshit 2:1): "And the earth was chaotic and darkness was upon the surface on the deep." Hashem organized the world and He asks us to continue to organize the chaos that is in the world.

I find it interesting that Rav Aviner does not mention kibud av v'aym in his response.


Anonymous said...

What disturbs me about R. Aviner's post is that he makes a blanket statement without understanding that some kids have "issues". ADD, ADHD, Asperger's etc, are rampant and there are real reasons why some kids (and adults) have difficulty with keeping things tidy. Is he going to tell such people that they are un-Godly and irresponsible? It seems to me that R. Aviner is the irresponsible one here.

Larry Lennhoff said...

Well, it is a radio show, and we are lacking context. Also, suppose someone does have ADD, Asperger's etc. Does that mean they are completely freed from responsibilities for their actions,
or that they should have fewer responsibilities, or does it just mean we give them more support than we might need to give someone without their "issues".