Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mashal and Nimshal

    Solutions to be found within the Hidden Realm of What Is Apparent are expressed in similarities. If that which is matters within the reality of the Apparent Realm of What Is Apparent, what matters here is that which is like...
    Reframing is another way of asking "What is this like?" But here the emphasis is on separating a given text from the context in which it is presented...When a loss occurs, for example, it is very common in the Jewish tradition to use this reframing technique to find comfort and learn acceptance. When something unfortunate but of minor importance happens- if a cup or a plate breaks- the conditioned response in a Jewish household is "Mazel tov," which means "What good fortune!" The situation has been reframed to say: "It's a good thing something worthless broke; now you've been made aware that you're preoccupied, and you can be more careful so that no more serious accident will happen." If we look at it this way, losing money, scraping a tire against the curb, and countless other situations that many other people would take as signs of bad luck can be reframed as signs of good luck. Most certainly this was a lesson learned from the hardships that have marked the history of the Jewish people down through the ages. It is survivor knowledge, as evinced in this reframing, "It's better for a Jew to lose his beard than for a beard to lose its Jew."
    Reframing is vital in problem solving because it exposes hidden elements of what is obvious. Let us consider the situation narrated in this traditional Jewish anecdote:
    A young man who worked in his father's shop caught an employee stealing. He went to his father, told him the story, and asked: "What should we do with the fellow?"
    "Give him a raise," his father replied in a blink.
    "A raise?" his son asked in astonishment.
    "If he was stealing, it means he's not earning enough," the father explained.
    The son was expecting his father to suggest some form of punishment, not a reward. But his father's understanding of the situation- which may not be appropriate to every situation involving theft- reflected a very sensitive view of reality. By reframing the event, a good employee kept his job and saw his inadequate salary raised. The son had been seduced by the aesthetics of logic, which demanded some form of punishment. If we don't know anything about reframing, our choices are reduced to a single plane of possibility: from among all types of punishment, which should be applied?
    Not binding yourself to one context constitutes a kind of perspicacity that derives from an acquired awareness of the ignorances and uncertainties inherent in our store of knowledge...
    If you are to master the Hidden Realm of What Is Apparent your mind must remain malleable, not locked into the rigors of a literal text...You must listen to propositions from a critical distance so that the aesthetics of logic do not expropriate your power to perceive...
    Reframing is a subversive way of approaching reality. It is generally an uprising against unanimity or consensus...It recognizes that "truths" can be impostors and that thought processes can be fraudulent and easily corrupted, that the act of thinking entails not only an intellectual dimension but emotional and affective dimensions as well.

-from Yiddishe Kop by Rabbi Nilton Bonder