Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dimyonos and the Devil

Apparently there is a shidduch crisis in the Jewish world. Shmuel Boteach and Jonathan Rosenblum have both weighed in sharing with us their sagacious advice, as though they had some unique insights into human nature. Truth be told, I don’t see a crisis here. In fact, to be blunt those who do see a shidduch crisis are in dire need of a realty check.

A crisis on the southern border, yes. A crisis with the global economy, yes. A crisis with global warming, yes. A crisis with Jewish philanthropy, yes. A crisis with shiduchim is absurd. So absurd that in one of the discussions regarding the shidduch crisis a known rosh yeshiva is quoted as saying to a bachur hesitating about pulling the trigger on a shidduch said “when you enter the world of dimyonos you are playing in the yetzer hara’s field.” The bachur apparently married the girl and “lived happily ever after”.

What’s amazing is that the rosh yeshiva felt threatened by dimyonos. Dimyonos is the playing field of the yetzer hara, he believed. How tragic for that rosh yeshiva, and how sad for the bochrim in his field of influence, because dimyonos is one of the most beautiful things the brain can produce. It is dimyonos that has created poetry, literature and scientific discovery. It is dimyonos that makes us laugh. It is dimyonos that gives us the courage to do what seems otherwise impossible, like fight for freedom or establish a Jewish state. It is dimyonos that not only sets us apart from the animal kingdom, but is probably the only feature that uniquely marks us as created in God’s image. Dimyonos isn’t the playing field of the yetzer hara; unless your yetzer hara is unchecked and out of control.

Dimyonos is what makes us totally three dimensional. It’s what puts the sparkle in our eye. It’s what gives us hope. It’s what keeps us alive in moments of grave despair. It’s what kept alive our people in the darkest days of the never ending Nazi nightmare. Dimyonos has nothing to do with yetzer hara, per say; it can be a reflection of ones beautiful mind or or a manifestation of a twisted or perverted mind.
Dimyonos is sort of like tofu or the mystical manna sustaining our ancestors during the forty year desert trek. Tofu is flavorless of and by itself as was the manna. According to lore, the manna would take on any flavor a person desired; it all depended on his dimyonos. “Man can’t live by bread alone”; he can actually, but his world will be monochromatic. Stifling imagination suppresses who you are. Imagine living a life time on manna, never imagining it to have the taste of one of your favorite foods! People thrive in monogamous marriages, but there are times when monotony can set in and here is where the imagination can be helpful, add zest and vigor to one’s marriage, revitalizing it and giving it new life.

Imagination in and of itself has no intrinsic yetzer hara or yetzer tov associated with it. Imagination is a reflection of who and what you are. If your yetzer hara is dominant it will surely impact on your behavior as well as your imagination. But if your yetzer hatov is dominant imagine how it could impact on the quality of your imagination. One can assume that those who created so many of the Walt Disney programs that we grew up on were the product of dimyonos enhanced by the yetzer hatov. Had the creators of the Disney listened to that rosh yeshiva we’d be living in a world of black and white. Suppressing imagination doesn’t help deal with the yetzer hara. All it does is repress it until one fine day it explodes.

The rosh yeshiva’s advice “when you enter the realm of dimyonos, you are playing on the yetzer hara’s field. Your focus should be on her and only her” is terribly poor advice. The article ends by saying the couple “lived happily ever after.” Based upon his need to repress his dimyonos I’d question what his definition of happy is!