This is a blog about manners, with a particular focus on Israelis. Manners essentially consists of being aware of other people's sensitivities and refraining from doing that which might cause upset to others.

It is a very simple concept, but actually requires quite a bit of us. It requires us to be present to our worlds, to be considerate of what others may be thinking, and to recognize that the world can be a better place if we don't always put our immediate interest first.

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Never Enough Bureaucracy

Posted on Oct 11, 2022 by in Seasons, Thoughts on the World

If you are going to make rules, you should think them out better:

What if a person needs a service dog? Should that not be allowed? But then what if it's a service dog in training?

As to food, what if special food is needed for dietary or health purposes (hypoglycemic?)?

And this throwing of sweets, what if I think sweets are bad for my children? I think parents should be required to bring non-carbohydrate based treats for those children who should or may not eat sweets.

Also, if you are going to bring children, have them respect the furniture as you would have them respect the furniture in the house of a person you respect: maybe keep the shoes off the upholstery.

And let's make some rules for the rest of our Yishuv while we are at it:

This is the holy land, it's not just that we have a holy place-a synagogue-in a place we happen to live. Most of us are only a few generations from those who chose to live here because of the promise of this place, or maybe the freedom from oppression, terror and holocaust somewhere else. Let's make some rules for treating it accordingly.

How about we start by not stepping over garbage on our way to or from synagogue. It doesn't matter if you didn't put it there. Too often I am reminded of Crusty the Clown on the Simpsons: “Don't look at me, I didn't do it!” except in his case it's a joke, maybe a sad commentary. ntI don't get how Israelis, and especially religious ones, can give this answer with a straight face.

Or cleaning up the shmutz you just swept out of the synagogue, or your house, or any other building.

Or require yourselves to make the place you live more livable. I am reminded of going up to the tower once, and there was an army group there, and the commander telling people to look at this beautiful place, which it is, until you look down at your feet and see the garbage left by the various visitors to the place.

So I propose the rule: one in ten of your exercise routes, you must replace with a turn with a garbage bag on that route to make it beautiful. Then, when it is clean, as required.

Maybe we should have a rule requiring people to think: Who thought it was a good idea to place garbage cans right next to bus stops?

The Answer is Always More Bureaucracy

I obviously think we need more bureaucracy, not less.

Let's call out the Anthroposophists directly. What could be good about that approach if it disturbs my prayer?

Let's make a committee of rules for rule-makers for rules in synagogues.

Or we could just paraphrase Hillel: Please refrain from being an A-hole.

Instead, we have decided that “all the rest is commentary” must somehow be codified in some ridiculous bureaucratic set of rules that will just keep growing because it can't capture everything, and one day a girl will come in who has wheels in her shoes, and we'll have to decide if that's a scooter, or if she is exempt as long as she doesn't wheel too obviously to her place.

Tags: Israel, Rules
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"Ahlah" Activities for the Intermediate Days

Posted on Oct 11, 2019 by in Practices, Structure, Success, Improvement

Hey there friends. I reproduce here a post that I sent to my community group. The thing is it's right for wherever you are. It's addressed to Jews, but I don't think it really matters. We all can be a light unto the world.

Operation “Holy Land”

Every time you go out, leave the places you move through improved for your having been there.

My pet peeve is garbage, so I invite you to pick some up, but you are welcome to add any act you that allows you to share your love for this land with someone else.

I'm of the strong belief that the physical manifestation of this is extremely powerful. Think of your experience when you enter a well-kept home, or synagogue, or even park. Now think of it as others enter your country.

“The Holy Land” Game

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The Floor is the Standing Place

Posted on Sep 26, 2019 by in Advice, Children

I don't know what enters people's heads when they walk into a public space, but I am sure I don't get it.

My beef of the day is the limits that people set, or don't, for their children in the synagogue.

I get you want your kid to participate, but that doesn't mean that the synagogue needs to take on playground rules. I am sure your child can participate in prayer just as well without climbing on the furniture, or standing, in bare feet or shoes, on the surface on which the next person will be putting his hands and prayer book, or even on the upholstery (that wears too).

If your child wants to be at your level, you could actually just hold him there. And if you really must let him climb all over the furniture, . . .

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A Good Suit

Posted on Oct 8, 2013 by in Advice, Advice

The impression we make matters. For the times we've got to wear a suit, we should make sure we look good in one. Here's a great graphic to help us do just that. And when a suit fits as it should, it just feels better.

Borrowing Stuff, Judging People

Posted on Jul 26, 2013 by in Advice, Practices

Minding the Impact

A neighbor came over to borrow our bicycle pump to fill a ball. When not in use, the hose of the pump stores easily over the handle, and there are two clips that the hose pops into to keep it in place. There is often an inflating pin in the head of the pump as it's used for balls more than for tires.

So my neighbor comes and uses the pump, which has the hose tucked over the top, inflates his ball, and kinda puts the pump back where he found it. Some time later, my wife steps on the pin sticking out of the head lying on the floor near the pump. It doesn't hurt her, but it's annoying.

Some people are very particular. I am one of them. As much as I may wish I didn't, I judge people. I think most of us do. In this case, I have another piece of evidence as to the inattentiveness and carelessness of this individual, and while I might lend him the pump again, my generosity will now stop short of where it would have before.

Every action of ours can cause someone to decide something about us. The point is to be mindful of how we want to occur in this world. I care. I want people to know that. If certain of my actions lead others to think that's not the case, I should avoid them.

Return It Better than You Found It

I relate to people differently when they fail to meet certain expectations of mine. A big one is returning my stuff as you borrowed it, or maybe even a little better. An acquaintance of mine borrowed my car to move his kid to school. I have an old car, and I know it, but it's big and holds enough to get a kid and his stuff to school. When he returned the car, he remarked about how noisy it was. The gas was pretty much exactly where I left it; so it was nice that he refilled that it.

But I am never lending him my car again. If it had come back with the tank full, or maybe clean, or maybe I had heard "thank you" instead of "you know that car is really noisy," I might consider lending it to him again, but his behavior has left him wanting in my eyes.

Cleaning It Up

It would be great if we could walk into every situation with poise and grace and have the time to make sure things go back where they came from and people are taken care of. We can't. We don't. We are in a hurry. It's a friend; he'll understand.

The first thing to get is that it's okay. It happens. However, this is not what we are committed to being. It behooves us to make it right. If we know we left our friend's room a mess looking for the shirt he said we could borrow, we could try something like, "I am so sorry. I just had to get out of there. I'll straighten it out as soon as I get back." Of course, follow up is required, and if you promised your friend a beer to make it up to him, buy him one.

Becoming Present to What's So

Sometimes we fall off someone's A list and don't know why. We can of course ask if the person will share with us, and clean it up if we can. Whether we are told or not, it is worth our while to think about how we occur to the other person. Did we not keep our word? Did we not do something that was expected, whether we promised it or not? Might they think we stole their business opportunity or great idea?

To the extent we can discover any of these things, we can take responsibility, and change course appropriately, to make sure that in our next encounter, we leave the impression we intend.

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