Inspired by Reb Kalonymos Kalman's ideal of a group of people coming together with the common goal of enhancing their service of God, increasing their sensitivity to all things spiritual, strengthening their love of acheinu kol beis Yisrael, and unlocking the enormous potential that we all have to cleave to the Almighty.

Interaction and discussion of practical ideas and concepts toward this end, culled from any Torah true source is welcome and appreciated.

Observations and personal experiences are also welcome; the point is to grow!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter on writing

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter said, "Writing is easy; erasing-very difficult."

(as sited in "The Story of Rabbi Yisroel Salanter" by R Dr. Zalman F. Ury)
Cross-posted here.

Erasing seems to mean that either we made a mistake or have changed our thoughts, as expressed in the written word.  Admitting that a mistake was made isn't always the easiest thing to do.  I think this is what R Yisrael is getting at.  The digital version of erasing could be the delete button (which requires no effort and isn't even seen by a reader) or using strikethrough.  

The hashkafic implications of strikethrough

From Wikipedia:
Strikethrough (also called strikeout) is a typographical presentation of words with a horizontal line through the center of them. Here is an example.
It signifies one of two meanings. In ink-written, typewritten, or other non-erasable text, the words are a mistake and not meant for inclusion. When used on a computer screen, however, it indicates recently-deleted information. (The difference is that in the latter situation, the struck-through text previously was a legitimate part of the document.) It can also be used for humorous purposes, such as something that normally shouldn't be shown is shown anyway, but with the striketrough put on, rather than the text being deleted.

I admit, using strikethrough is nice, once in a while.  The new version of Blogger in draft allows one to publish using the typographic element of strikethrough.  In life I hardly ever use a pencil, I prefer pen.  When taking notes, if I make a mistake I simply mark it out with a pen.  I have no problem with this.  With writing (non-digial) I try to give as much of a finished product as possible, mistakes included.

When it come to Yiddishkeit and mitzvah performance, I'm not so sure where I stand on strikethrough.  One one hand, it's important to show ourselves and others that we make mistakes, think before we speak, and attempt to even take back things that we say (this can also be done with the DELETE or BACKSPACE key).

On the other hand, there is much to be said for a "finished product"' that represents hard work, rough drafts, editing, and spellcheck.  There are stuggles that one may have and accomplishments that one may have made that result in the "finished product".  These struggle and accomplishments might be of a private nature that only a close friend may know about.  It may be that only Hashem was privy to know of these things.

When it comes to giving chizuk, by showing somone that I made a mistake in a certain area, and thus, exercised a strikethough on a particular thought, action, or word is important. However, showing the process involved in correcting something or doing teshuva seems to have even more merit, in my mind, as the total end result should be shelaymus (perfection).  While the goal of reaching a level of shelaymus is admirable, remembering the process that got you there is just as important.
(Adapted and updated from a post written here)

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