A Man’s life has three phases: the phase when his body develops; the phase when his thought develops; and the phase when his deeds develop. – Tikkune Zohar, Tikku, 19, 67a.
In our culture there is a stigma against men seeking help. Men are not supposed to need help because they are supposed to be strong and independent. In the Jewish tradition, particularly in the work of Maimonidies and in the work of the Musar and Chasidic movements in the 18th and 19th centuries, self-help was placed at the center of the spiritual path. The question: “Who am I and what do I need to do to grow closer to the man I should be?” was central. This session helps guys to do a self assessment. In guides them in thinking about what their personal needs might be in terms of growth.
All the physical activities in this section are about “balance” in physical terms.
1. Opposite Hand Shooting Game
This is a simple game which tests each participant’s accuracy when shooting a ball with their opposite hand. (Right or Left depending.) First round have everyone shoot a tennis ball into a wastebasket with their dominant hand and see how many they can get out of five tries. Next have them try their opposite hand. Next go on one leg, dominant hand and one leg weak hand.
This game is about hopping on one foot and trying to knock over your opponent, who is also hopping on one foot.
1. Videos on Self-Improvement for men
Watch these two videos back to back.
Jouaqin Phoenix HER
Jonah Hill ME
Questions for reflection:
- Why would someone want to have an “operating system” as a friend?
- What is the humor pointing to?
2. What Motivates Men?
Here is one man’s incredible story of recovery and healing:
- What lessons do you take away from this video?
- What parts of the video inspired you?
3. What Do We Think of Motivational Speakers?
Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley
Chris Farley Motivational Speaker
Tony Robbins: Why We Do What We Do
- What do these videos say about “Self help” or “motivation”?
- What is the role that these speakers play in the world?
- Are they in it for personal gain or something more?
A Jewish Text on Helping Others To Achieve Balance
Question: How do you tell others that they are “out of balance”?
Here is a text which speaks to that challenge:
King David saw Batsheva’s beauty from his rooftop. He wanted her, so he sent her husband into battle. Afterwards, the prophet Nathan told David a parable:
“There were two men in the same city, one rich and one poor. The rich man had very large flocks and herds, but the poor man had only one little ewe lamb that he had bought. He tended it and it grew up together with him and his children: it used to share his morsel of bread, drink from his cup, and nestle in hs bosom; it was like a daughter to him. One day, a traveler came to the rich man, but he was loath to take anything from his own flocks or herds to prepare a meal for the guest who had come to him; so he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him” (II Sam. 12:1-4).
When David heard the story he said: “As the Eternal lives, the man who did this deserves to die!”
Nathan replied “Atah ha’ish” “YOU are the man!” (vs. 5-7).
Ask participants to complete the balance chart privately without putting their names on the chart.
Developing my mind Developing my body
“X” marks the spot which gets the most attention in your life at the current moment. If balanced, X is in the middle. If very extreme X is all the way on the left or right.
Next have them switch papers so that they have someone else’s paper. Now ask for each category, if your paper says that you are on one side, steo to this side of the room.
This way you will identify the areas that the group thinks are important to focus on.
CONNECTED TO PARENT(S) DETACHED FROM PARENTS (S)
INVOLVED IN STUDY INVOLVED IN RECREATION
IGNORING HEALTH PROBLEMS WORRYING ABOUT SICKNESS
STRICT ABOUT MONEY LOOSE ABOUT MONEY
MASTERING ONE DISCIPLINE WORKING ON MULTIPLE SKILLS
CARING FOR OTHERS CARING FOR MY NEEDS
Ask the guys to think to themselves about the following two questions:
- Who do you know who has changed themselves to get more into balance?
- When have you seen someone who is “out of balance”?
Now ask them to pair up and discuss:
- Do you believe that people can change their character traits? Who or why not?
- What does it really take for a person who is out of balance to change?
At the end of the discussion, share with them the following:
“An adult’s inclinations are balanced between selfless (Yetzer HaTov) and selfish (Yetzer HaRa), and he has the power of choice and is able to choose either side knowingly and willingly…”
Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, wrote in Derech Hashem (The Way of God, 18th cent.)
Have as many guys as possible lift a wine glass with only their pinkies touching the bottom. Next poutrwater into the glass. Have everyone lift the glass and say L’chayim!