If You Ask Me…

While Rabbi Rosenberg has been writing a column in our paper for years now, readers may be unaware of the tipsy guidance – uh, make that tips and guidance – he provides on an unsteady, er, steady, basis. He is licensed by the Psychiatric Society of Swaziland, specializing in Hypnotherapy, Hypertherapy, Hydrotherapy, and Hippotherapy.

While he normally protects the privacy of his correspondence, in honor of Purim he has agreed to release a sampling from his noted archives sure to instruct and enlighten our readers.

Dear Rabbi,

I am not really a letter-writer, but I’ve been so impressed with your amazing advice that I feel I must turn to you. I teach eleventh grade in a local high school, and boruch Hashem the girls are, in general, very mature and well-behaved. What irks me is that often, as I am trying to get a point across, I notice some of the girls talking. Yes, actually carrying on conversations with one another while I am trying to instill Yiddishkeit in them and infuse them with lessons to last them a lifetime!

Nothing can be more frustrating. I know it might sound minor, but if the girls are talking, then even major lessons will be missed, and they will be sorely unprepared for their roles as future mothers in Klal Yisroel. I tried, of course, to make the classes more interesting, to reprimand them – I even stopped class once to say Tehillim that they would open their hearts to me – all in vain.

Please, rabbi, any advice you have would save many future generations of our nation.

Talked-Out Teacher

Dear TOT,

You are trying to teach and to get your lessons across, but some girls talk while you do so. This frustrates you. You worry about not being able to impart your lessons properly, but have not been able to stop the chattering as of yet.

It is good you’ve written to me, because you obviously haven’t read up on the latest research in this very matter. After wondering why thousands of girls the world over cannot be stopped in their incessant chatter – regardless of disciplinary methods – scientists have researched the subject thoroughly. What they have found will blow your mind.

Yearning for Elemental and Nonsensical Talk (YENT) is an inborn and genetic disorder that is encoded in the very DNA of all YENT sufferers. This is why none of your actions have helped! Likely, many of your students are not consciously aware that they are even disturbing the lessons; they are simply YENT victims.

Be that as it may be, I hope that educating you as to the existence of YENT has already opened your mind. You must change your outlook and teaching methods drastically. Your Jabbering Juniors need help managing a serious disorder and you are merely trying to give them a band-aid. Do you realize the folly of such action? Not only will it not bring these Chattering Children the help they desperately need, it might even aggravate their condition. By so depriving them, you may be truly endangering the future of our Yiddishe mamas.

YENT is a chronic condition. It is debilitating in that it interferes with all normal functions of life. The victim may fall prey to its designs at any time of day or night. For some as yet unknown reason, YENT flares up in its sufferers especially when they are among crowds or on the telephone. Researchers are studying the possibility that heat from other people or from electronic devices may play a part in inflaming the cells most affected by YENT, but nothing is as yet conclusive.

YENT has been found to strike patients even at the earliest ages. There are documented cases of girls as young as two – and even younger – having already developed full-blown YENT symptoms. Early intervention may be key, but so far, little is known in the way of treatment, let alone a cure, for YENT.

The best advice we have for now is to go with the flow. Allow YENT its space. If sufferers are forced to endure long periods of silence, they might undergo a YENT build-up, which can subsequently result in torrents of words just exploding forth in a violent stream at the most unexpected moments. This can adversely affect jobs, marriages and other relationships. Readers may have experienced asking somebody an innocent question, or making an innocuous remark, only to be met with a sudden, non-stop flow of words totally unrelated to each other or to the matter at hand. This, we now know, is the result of YENT build-up.

As a teacher, your Ploppling Pupils are in your hands. Try channeling their YENT towards constructive purposes. Make extra time for classroom discussions. These are a healing balm for a YENT-sufferer’s soul. For some inexplicable reason, free talk on the topic of shidduchim seems especially helpful in relieving YENT. Your Gabbing Girls will positively glow after such periods of release.

You must bear in mind that your Jabbering Juniors will be next year’s Spouting Seniors, and then go on to become Confabulating Kallahs, Sputtering Spouses, Prattling Parents, and Babbling Bubbies. They need all the acceptance and love they can get. Hopefully, among the stream of nonsensical nattering flowing forth will be a compliment for their eleventh grade teacher, who was wise enough to look beyond outer appearances and know a true YENTer when she saw one.

Y. R.

– – – – –

Dear Rabbi,

I have a very serious problem and I am too embarrassed to share it with anyone. I am desperate and hope you can help me.

You see, every night, as soon as I start falling asleep, I hear these whirring sounds in my mind, something like an engine starting up. My entire body tenses, and I feel like I am recklessly speeding down a highway. I cannot slow down, try as I may. Sometimes, I even find myself making audible roaring noises from my throat!

I sleep in a yeshiva dorm, and needless to say, this is mortifying. I excuse myself to my friends by telling them that I have an asthmatic, wheezy snore. But I know better.

I get this terrible fright of crashing or of getting a ticket. I even bought a radar detector, which I keep next to my bed always. This cost me a lot of money, but I can hardly afford a ticket. I don’t even have a license yet, and there is a possible jail sentence for getting caught driving without a license.

The worst part is that every time, just as I am speeding out of my mind, I stall. The noise stops, my body loses all its pent-up energy, and I am left feeling more stupid than ever. Can you imagine? Stalled, in middle of nowhere, with no license and no way of getting back!

This is getting to me. I feel like I am losing my mind. Please help.

A Desperate Driver

Dear Desperate,

I sympathize deeply with you. You must feel so lonely, stranded every night all by yourself. Do not lose hope, though. Help is available!

First, let us discuss the possible reasons behind your behavior. This can shed light on how to address it. You state that you are embarrassed to share your problem with anybody. This is a clear sign of Drastic Unease with Humans (DUH), a newly-discovered disease where the sufferer withdraws from the world of people, horrified of anyone so much as looking at him.

DUH is extremely unhealthy. Though generations knew otherwise, today’s professionals teach that one must never be shy. Ours in an open society, where nothing is too sensitive, too sacred, or too special to be kept quiet or low-key. Every heimishe paper and magazine carries weekly features and stories discussing the most sensitive and private issues for all kids, teenagers and adults to devour and sensationalize. No one even thinks anything is wrong with this. Just let everything hang out, right? Shyness is an extra and cumbersome burden. The fact that you are embarrassed by your dreams is a clear sign that you are suffering from DUH.

Is it any wonder, then, that you dream the dreams you do? Your inner self, desperate to get away from the world of people so as to finally be able to express itself openly and without inhibitions, seeks escapism every night. It is also possible, even probable, that in your bashfulness from people, you view them as driving you crazy. Subconsciously, this causes you to go into drive – or overdrive – when you seek your escape.

Needless to say, this is very dangerous behavior. When your body tenses up, you are losing precious body oils. What if you were to run out of oil in middle of your nocturnal trip? You could burn your engine! Besides, in your desperation to get away, you seem to be accelerating much too quickly. Assuming that you are driving your father’s old Camry, I doubt your car can take this abuse much longer. This behavior has got to stop.

How do we go about that? Well, one of the main factors in DUH is low self-esteem. Because you believe that you are unworthy of being human – or even of existing – you automatically shy away from any other humans, who you are convinced must surely disapprove of you. Not having self-esteem means not having self-confidence. Your mantra becomes, “I am so unworthy, surely I have no skills with which to deal with challenges.”

Is it any wonder that you always go into a stall? Here you are, speeding, out-of-control, with no license, and with no idea where you’re going. Any normal person would slow down, pull over to the side, and think things through to a workable solution. Not you. You don’t believe in yourself. “I couldn’t reach a solution even if I wanted to. I’ll never figure out what to do.”

You panic. You stall.

You must take back control of your life. While some might suggest that you simply work out a way to awaken yourself as soon as you start cruising, that would merely be avoiding the issue. It will never do as a working therapy. Don’t worry, though. Here is a two-pronged method that can work:

1) Positive reinforcement. You must regain your self-esteem – the root cause of your issue. As soon as you find yourself going into gear, start playing Positive Reinforcement Digital Messages (PRDMs). “I can drive. I am a great driver. With all my nights’ experience, nothing can faze me.”

The moment you start speeding, tell yourself, “I will not get caught; I am too smart for that. I can easily avoid any law-enforcement vehicles.”

When your throat begins its roaring, just pop your next CD into your car’s player. “I have nothing to worry about. I’ll get a new muffler. I can do it. It’s no big deal.”

Keep playing these PRDMs, even though you don’t believe them at first and you feel silly. Remember: No one can hear them besides for you. With time, you will start believing the messages. Your confidence will improve, and so will your driving.

When your driving has improved sufficiently, it is time for the next phase of your therapy.

2) Now that you are comfortable and in control behind the driver’s wheel, why not slow down and carefully pull over to the side of the road rather than overheating and stalling? Keep an eye out for cops; you still don’t have a license. Your job now is to convince yourself to drive back. From what are you escaping? People? Why would they disapprove of you? You are capable! There is no longer anything from which to escape in the first place.

Slowly, as people will no longer seem threatening to you, you will have no compunctions about turning back. You will then have been cured fully of your DUH!

Oh, and one more thing: Get yourself a driver’s license.

Y. R.

P.S. I would recommend throat lozenges for a week after you are cured.

– – – – –

Dear Rabbi,

I am a simple man of simple means. My neighbor, on the other hand, has been very successful in his business and can afford a lot more than I can. When he makes a simcha, you can be assured that the fanciest delicacies and platters are served. Recently, I made a simcha too, and obviously I could not shtel a simple affair when he just put down p’tcha, twelve types of herring – including four types of Matjas alone! – sushi, kosher jerkies and who knows what else. Now I am in debt up to my head. I am stressed out and can no longer function. My whole life is affected by this. Help!

Stressed & Out-Spent

Dear SOS,

Stress is a major problem and too lengthy to deal with here. I suggest you buy my book, The Shushan Stress Conundrum, and read pages 23-276.

More importantly, deal with the cause of your stress and remove it. You seem to be suffering from a serious Identity Crisis. Typical examples of this disorder would be a man who runs around claiming to be Napoleon, or a woman who thinks she is the Queen of England. This is a serious disorder and calls for immediate professional help.

In your case, you seem to be confusing your identity with that of your more affluent neighbor. Why else would you make an affair on his standards and not yours, or buy things that he can afford but not you? Would a rational person buy a thousand-dollar suit because his neighbor is rich? Would a normal woman living in a development spend ten thousand dollars on a custom shaitel because somebody else in the development has money?

Obviously, you confuse your identity with his, believing that you are him. This can have serious ramifications, such as the quandary you find yourself in today. What is worse is that Identity Crisis nowadays has become such a powerful disease that sometimes it even convinces others that you are indeed the person you confuse yourself to be. There have been documented cases where people imagined themselves to be therapists, coaches and counselors and were actually taken seriously by others!

Please, for your own good and that of others, seek help immediately.

Y. R.

– – – – –

Dear Rabbi,

I have been diagnosed with Split Personality Disorder. As my luck would have it, both of my personalities have disorders of their own! One of my personalities suffers from severe depression. The other has ADHD. I can’t get a good mope session, because I’m always hyper, and I can’t burn off my pent-up energy, because I am so down in the dumps. I am zonked out of my box, but I am way too wired up to sleep. I feel like I need King Solomon’s wisdom to somehow cut myself in half and let each personality take care of itself. Can you help me?

Mixed-Up Mechel

Dear MUM,

I completely understand you and even relate to you on a personal level. I, too, have a split personality! In fact, one of my personalities is a rabbi and counselor, while the other one is a Mixed-Up Mechel. I am actually the one seeking help for your problem from myself!

Now if only I had some advice…

All the best,

Y. R.