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Unread 04-24-2002, 01:04 PM   #1
Jude
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Control and Responsibility

This actually applies to everyone, not just teens but that's true of other topics in this section too ... And if you read about teens you read about "hormones," so I thought this topic belongs here.

I read that according to The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy & Childbirth, "as the reproductive hormones suddenly kick in, levels of a brain neurotransmitter called serotonin will drop, causing irritability, tension and tears. It's biological, not psychological."

The article went on to say that the author hoped people would bear with her and her mood swings and be understanding.

My question is: It's certainly true that hormones rise and fall, and that they affect us biologically. That being said, how responsible are teens (* * * * * * * * and adults) for their actions and reactions? Does the Torah expect us to be in control of ourselves no matter what? Can we possibly be in the category of unus (forced and not responsible) when our hormones rage?
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Unread 04-24-2002, 02:00 PM   #2
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BS"D What fascinating questions you come up with, Jude...

See Tanya Chapter 30, explained on this link: http://zalman.org/tanya/book-1/21-30/chap30.htm

I will quote from there:

But if the misdeeds of the kal shebekalim are indeed attributable to his environment and to his passionate nature, why does he deserve his derogatory appelation?

To this the Alter Rebbe replies]:

In truth, even he who is extremely passionate by nature, and whose livelihood obliges him to sit all day at the street-corners, has no excuse whatsoever for his sins, and he is termed a rasha gamur ("an utter evildoer") for not having the dread of G-d before his eyes.

For he should have controlled himself and restrained the feeling of desire in his heart because of the fear of G-d Who sees all his actions;

This [fear of G-d would have enabled him to overcome his desires, despite the difficulties imposed by his surroundings and his nature] for, as explained above, (5) the mind has supremacy over the heart by nature of one's birth, [i.e., it is man's inborn characteristic that his mind is able to master and restrain his heart's desires].

Truly, it is a great, fierce struggle to break one's [evil] nature which burns like a fiery flame, for the fear of G-d; indeed, it is like a veritable test.
----

I.e. despite the tremendous difficulty involved (which is certainly the case when hormones rage) the kal shebekalim IS held responsible for his sins.
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Unread 04-24-2002, 02:17 PM   #3
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thank you noahidelaws!

I'm not sure though whether environment and passionate nature, specifically the latter, is equivalent with a biological process of the body. Your nature, or teva, is your emotional make-up, whereas the rise and fall of hormones is something else entirely.
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Unread 04-24-2002, 03:58 PM   #4
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BS"D Sorry, I don't understand you, Jude. One's nature IS biological. They are both biological. The difference is only that one of them is from birth ("congenital") and the other is associated with a specific time - puberty/adolescence. But they are the same in that they are both natural processes and as such are dictated by Hashem, so whether they come on the person is beyond his control.

Though perhaps there is another difference: a) most people have raging hormones during adolescence but b) most people do not necessarily have a very strong yetser horo in general i.e. throughout their lives.

Still, what does the Alter Rebbe say there? That a kal shebekalim is expected to restrain himself. So surely your average teenager who, despite his struggles, could hardly be described as a kal shebekalim, is espected to restrain himself.
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Unread 04-24-2002, 05:24 PM   #5
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in theory, we all should be capable of attaining full control over our desires, but its not that simple...

bc when you have a situation where the desire is right in front of you (ie, cake), you dont think anymore...you're down to the animalistic instincts and its a lot harder to tell yourself that you're human and in control of the situation
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Unread 04-24-2002, 05:32 PM   #6
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again, teva is far different
teva is whether you're mara shchara (inclined to gloominess) or mara levana (more lighthearted), whether you're a kana'i (zealous) or cool and reserved, whether you're introverted or extroverted, mystically inclined or more down to earth, spontaneous or more rigid
get it?
that's not about hormones or biological processes!

and I emphasize that this thread pertains to other people besides teens, consider women post partum ETC.
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Unread 04-24-2002, 05:36 PM   #7
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BS"D ChachChach: (Here we go again... ) See Tanya ch. 14 towards the beginning where it is written that even at the moment of temptation to (forbidden or even) permitted pleasures, it is within the power of a Jew to restrain himself from this indulgence by reminding himself that he thereby severs his bond with Hashem.

Last edited by noahidelaws; 04-24-2002 at 05:43 PM.
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Unread 04-24-2002, 05:43 PM   #8
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the cake: lucious, creamy, heavenly

you: dont eat that....(drool begins to form)

the cake: still lucious etc. in fact, the more you look at it, the softer it looks, the more tempting it becomes

you: umm...where was it? right...i will not eat that...i will not be cut off from Hashem

the cake: when you think about it, its only a small piece of cake, right? i mean, how bad can that be? and Hashem did create cakes for the purpose of being eaten (drool has begun dribbling down chin). and it looks so good, so chocolatey, so sweet...so moist

you: umm...right....umm... *wipes drool off chin* umm....i can control my-yeah, whatever, its only one piece

gulps down the cake.



i guess it takes more than just thinking...maybe if you walk away from the table.
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Unread 04-24-2002, 05:52 PM   #9
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BS"D ...I wonder if this is also something related to hormones ETC.?

Jude: no, teva as discussed in Tanya there refers simply to whether the person was created with a strong, intense yetser horo or a weaker, more easily subdued one.

Last edited by noahidelaws; 07-12-2002 at 02:39 PM.
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Unread 04-24-2002, 09:39 PM   #10
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fluctuations in hormonal balance, which can cause all sorts of irritable emotions, feelings of depression, sadness, frustration- you name it-re. girls, pregnant women, adolescents- has zilch to do with one's nature and how passionate they are!

the resultant feelings, which obviously do not help one's Avodas Hashem and can hinder it, should not be put in the same category as similar "downs" which come from the Yetzer hora.

these hormonal ups and downs are a physical reality, which affect the spiritual as well.
but their source is not spiritual...
whereas "regular" taavos and low feelings can be much more easily dismissed, because it comes from a spiritual source...
thats my take
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Unread 05-02-2002, 10:55 PM   #11
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this is a pretty interesting topic. all I can say is that i think we girls are kinda lucky that we have our hormonal changes to blame everything on. We can always use it as an excuse. Anyway, I think that we are responsible for what we do when our hormones are jumping because we are stilling yelling at the other person or whatever. Also, everybody goes through the same stuff basically, and not everybody lets it take them over, a mature person doesn't use it for an excuse. Anyway, what kind of stuff are you talking about ( if we would be responsible for them or not)

Last edited by RavLub; 05-04-2002 at 10:14 PM.
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Unread 05-19-2002, 03:34 PM   #12
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BS"D WJ: It seems to me that having a strong yetser horo is not just a spiritual, but a physical phenomenon. See Rambam Hilchos Deios 1:2 who explains that there are different behaviours:

Some are only the result of environmental influence alone.

Then there are people who are born with a hidden inclination towards certain behaviours, which is then revealed through such influences.

Then there are traits that are so much part of the personís nature that they manifest themselves naturally without any environmental influence needed.

(E.g. I have a little cousin who almost from day one was running around and active. Now he is very outgoing Ė he runs up to everyone and smiles and asks how they are. This is obviously not environmental, but genetic.)

This applies to both positive and negative traits.

<<I think that we are responsible for what we do when our hormones are jumping>>

This is pretty convincing for me, since you seem to be in this situation yourself!

<<Anyway, what kind of stuff are you talking about ( if we would be responsible for them or not)>>

Umm, it looks like Jude is talking about the kind of thing that you are talking about, amongst other similar things...
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Unread 08-11-2002, 09:21 PM   #13
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<<Anyway, what kind of stuff are you talking about ( if we would be responsible for them or not)>>

for example - being responsible for not responding nicely or patiently to people, being responsible for being b'simcha ...

I read a great illustration of choice and responsibility about a couple where the husband often spilled coffee on the kitchen floor in the morning when he made himself toast and coffee. He wouldn't notice he had done it and so he wouldn't clean it up. His wife noticed it though (of course!) and would ask him to be more careful, which he always promised to do, but ---- he would spill it again. At times he'd be flabbergasted when it was pointed out to him. He couldn't understand how or why it kept happening, despite his resolution to be careful.

He and his wife had many discussions about this, some warm and friendly, but not all. And he kept on spilling the coffee.

One day, as he worked to get the coffee stains out of the floor grouting, his wife said: "I really don't know what to do about this. It's so frustrating. We've had a million conversations, and it keeps happening." Once again, he told her how bewildered he was that they still had this problem.

His wife announced, "I know how we're going to solve this. Are we agreed that you should not spill coffee?"

He answered, "Of course!"

"And are we agreed that you are physically able not to spill coffee?"

"Of course," he said again.

So his wife said, "Okay, I want your word that any time I find spilt coffee on the floor, you will owe me $500."

"500? Isn't that extreme?" he asked.

She replied that spilling coffee for 17 years was also extreme ...

Realizing that she was right, he agreed to the deal, and you know what? He analyzed why the coffee spilled and he never spilled coffee again.

So what's the moral of the story? There are people who say they're trying the best they can, and they might say that sincerely, but ...we only know if we really mean it when the stakes for failing are high enough to make us REALLY try!
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Unread 08-11-2002, 11:45 PM   #14
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zee hut em gut dergangin der yuren - what an eishes chayil, so youre saying that you judge by the success how important it is to him - maybe it was TOO important to her? maybe she needs therapy?He DID try not to spill, but until she made it into one of the sholosh chamuros he wasn't successful - so the lesson is to peger your husband untill you panic him into fulfilling your every narisher wish.
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Unread 08-11-2002, 11:55 PM   #15
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i think u sorta missed the point...?
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Unread 08-12-2002, 12:02 AM   #16
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I see her point and am being cholik - do you get my point?
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Unread 08-12-2002, 01:19 AM   #17
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uh, i guess not.
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Unread 08-12-2002, 08:08 AM   #18
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I was just saying that you can hound a person until he fears for his life to do something but it doesn't mean he didn't have the right amount of respect for it before.
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Unread 08-12-2002, 10:18 AM   #19
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let me guess ... you keep on innocently spilling coffee on the floor and your wife ...
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Unread 08-12-2002, 12:04 PM   #20
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ok, i get that part, rc. but wasnt the original q' if we are responisble for our actions? if someone can force u to do something, (wiht threat of $500) means you CAN do it in the first place. (do i make any sense?)
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Unread 08-13-2002, 09:14 AM   #21
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I think the point is, you cannot compare what a person can accomplish when under extreme pressure, to what you expect of him on a daily basis. Do women really want men to constantly feel that they are under the gun? Women in general are more detail oriented- I didn't make this up - this is from Chazal - that the avodas perech in mitzrayim was that they gave men womenís' work. Since this comes naturally to women, women cannot accept that a man is actually trying to do what she wants if he doesn't actually do it, since it seems so easy to her. [kimivuor b'harchovoh b'sefer ham'fursom men are from nevel and women are from kremenchuk]
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Unread 08-13-2002, 10:53 AM   #22
Jude
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this thread is not about men vs. women at all! It's about control and responsibility in one's own life. The example of the coffee spilling could just as well have been an example of coming late to minyan or not being ready for candlelighting on time. What if a man/bachur had to pay $500 every time he showed up late? What if a woman had to pay $500 for every minute passed the official candlelighting time, she was late? What if you had to pay $500 for every missed Chitas or Rambam?

And the point is not a monetary kenas (fine) either. The point is what does it take to make you treat something seriously? It doesn't even have to be something b'gashmius. The question can also be asked: what ignites your ratzon as in the Click thread (General forum)?
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Unread 08-20-2002, 12:40 AM   #23
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Quote:
I think the point is, you cannot compare what a person can accomplish when under extreme pressure, to what you expect of him on a daily basis.
I don't want to mess with you Jude... but I think that what Vusveisich says IS the point of the thread. It's not fair to expect so much from someone who is going through a bad case of hormones! (or whatever other external factor it is...)

You may consider it a real issue, but it's not realistic to expect someone to treat EVERYTHING seriously.
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Unread 08-20-2002, 10:40 AM   #24
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<<It's not fair to expect so much from someone who is going through a bad case of hormones!>>

first, about "fair" - fair? who's talking fair? what does G-d expect of us?

second, are you referring to a temporary state of affairs, or a lifetime of external, mitigating factors

<<it's not realistic to expect someone to treat EVERYTHING seriously. [/b]>>

again, who me? what does G-d expect?
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Unread 08-20-2002, 01:22 PM   #25
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I personally find G-d pretty fair usually...
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