This Is What I Do When The Haters Come After Me

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When you put yourself online – especially in a public way – you open yourself up to haters, trolls, and all sorts of nasty stuff. (Yay internet!) Thank God I don’t come across mean comments about myself too frequently, and I’ve managed to increase the thickness of my skin for when I do. But every now and again, something is posted that gets me down, which is a shame, since I only started JITC to contribute something positive to the Jewish people and the world.

While trying to comfort myself from the sting of an especially awful message recently, I came to an important realization: Even Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses, our teacher) had haters. I’m referring to Korach’s rebellion. An episode recounted in the Torah where a guy named Korach and his buddies Dasan and Aviram challenged Moshe’s authority and organized a bunch of people to turn against him.

What’s the lesson here? You could be appointed by God Himself, and you will STILL face dissent. You could have open miracles showing that God supports you and STILL people will question what you do, who you are, why it is YOU up there (and not them). Once I realized this, I felt so much better. I will never please everybody, no matter how hard I try, no matter how good my intentions are.

One of the lessons of Korach’s rebellion is that as long as there are leaders, there will be haters. And so I decided something at that moment. Since it’s not possible to please everyone, I will not attempt to. I will only worry about being respected by the kind of people that I respect. Who does that include? People who give others the benefit of the doubt. Those who can debate ideas without resorting to ad hominem attacks.

Another lesson we can learn from Korach and his band of rabble-rousers is that quite often the haters are motivated by jealousy. Many of our mothers would tell us that as kids when other kids were mean to us. But apparently, insecure people in the last three thousand years have been dealing with their shortcomings in mostly same way – trying to make others feel bad.

Now, since I am not on Moshe Rebbeinu’s level, God will not smite my foes by splitting open the ground and having the earth swallow them up!! So besides ignoring the haters, I will also focus on all the good that JITC is accomplishing. Check out our testimonials page, to see how we are changing lives in a positive way. And if you have a story about how JITC has helped you, please shoot us an email – we love hearing from nice people! :)

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Allison About Allison

Allison is the Founder and Director of Jew in the City. Please find her full bio here.

Comments

  1. Fashion-isha says:

    Yes it’s a tough world out there. I love the new section on the About page! Good for you Allison…keep up your great work!
    xo
    Sharon

  2. Elisabeth says:

    That’s a great lesson! I can’t believe anyone would say mean things to you – you’re so kind and good humored! Anyone leaving you nasty comments clearly spends their spare time kicking puppies and taking candy from children.

  3. There’s always that old wise saying,”I am made of rubber. You are made of glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.”
    :)
    Flora
    New Orleans

  4. I guess when God starts smiting your foes, we’ll know you’ve reached the pinnacle of spiritual elevation. Blech. Can’t tell you how depressing I find it that Jewish spirituality is communicated in such a way in this day and age. Wish you’d keep it to yourself.

    • Thanks for your comment, Amy. Perhaps my sarcasm wasn’t clear to everyone – I was just making a joke. I don’t want God to smite my enemies – even the really mean ones. I was just referencing the Korach story. Just to clarify, we don’t believe that reward and punishment happens in such simple terms in this day and age.

      • Forgotten_Jew says:

        I think most people understood Allison – most with anylitical thinking and a will to understand where you are coming from :D I have encountered many Haters though out my life, and one thing that helps me is to remind myself that we are a light unto others, and we are not supposed to “blend” in. So I love to stick out and show my Jewish pride :D I love all your articles and you are amazing – don’t let any article get you down; when feeling depressed do what I do – take a few moments to yourself to clap your hands, force a smile, lift your face towards heaven, and sing all that you are grateful for (Dancing alone to the beat of your claps) – It does wonders :D helps me every time :D Here is something that helps me as well Tehillim 27:1-14 Of David. The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.

  5. LDDecoline says:

    Well done for putting yourself out there !!
    Peoples nasty comments are their own – if you make a conscious decision not to take them upon yourself then they’re not yours :-)

  6. My bad then. Thanks for clarifying, Allison. Yet in some Orthodox/Conservadox circlues, unfortunately, it’s not far-fetched to find Biblical story or midrash or other commentary used in the way it seemed you were using it here. (For instance, one of my favorite unfavorites is the one about “Jacob was punished via Dina’s rape”! What an enlightened teaching to pass on, don’t you think? (Now I’m using sarcasm). Yet I heard it at a Bar Mitzvah as part of the teaching. (Incidentally, it is completely arguable that she wasn’t raped, but that’d be a whole other discussion….)

  7. thank you for your posts and your blog. Your writings have had a big influence on me becoming more observant, including keeping Shabbat and me going to Mikvah. These have added meaning to the lives of me and my family. Thank you!

  8. I am not kosher, not conservative and not even Jewish but I find posts like this one inspiring and grounding. Your authentic honesty and pure truths keep me coming back time and again. Please keep posting for your followers and fans. And maybe even for the haters too.

  9. I find it hard to believe people would complain about what you say on your own personal site that they have chosen to read! Sheesh. If you don’t like what someone’s saying move along.

    I don’t know many in the Orthodox community and I love to read your articles. I don’t always understand but I find your words elevating and sincere.

  10. Alison, thanks for your continued good humor and wise beyond your years postings! We’ve had a discussion before about mean people and you helped a lot that time too! Xo

  11. Dear Alison, great approach – please continue to ignore people like Amy. We are doing an incredible job showing us how we can lead normal professional lives while being observant. For a California ba’al teshuvah like me who discovered the beauty of Judaism late in life it’s not easy, but thanks to you it is getting easier.

  12. Linda Pressman says:

    Alison, there is something about the anonymity of the internet that makes people feel they can act in a way they would never do in person. I have no idea why when the Internet leaves a lot of trails. And I agree that when your site has a lot of traffic sometimes hand in hand with that success comes the notice of people who really aren’t there for any reason relating to the content.

  13. Wow, you managed to attract hateful comments even on this wonderful article! I guess some people just have an axe to grind.

  14. Ugh, I’m sorry you got an awful message. Great post (I giggled at the reference to the ground splitting open), and I appreciate how you tangibly tie Torah concepts into dealing with the difficulties of life. It inspires me to remember to turn to our tradition to deal with whatever is paining me (you’d think I’d do it naturally, but, no, not always).

    Something that also helps me when I’m dealing with people who cause me pain is to remember that their behavior is a reflection on them, and I can’t control that, but I *can* control my reaction to their bad behavior. And your reaction, to write an insightful and meaningful post, is first-rate. Kol haKavod.

  15. (fyi, Aviram was Dasan’s buddy; both Dasan and Aviram joined Korach’s rebellion after appearing in other, earlier confrontations with Moshe. feel free to edit as needed and NOT post this note. :-) ) keep up the great work, allison!

  16. There is no avoiding the trolls. Any person who has a blog will be slimed by them. . .the internet is a great place for bitter and negative people to express their unhappiness, and their anger at those who are happy, under the cover of anonymity. I love your blog, and I am sorry that this sort of thing happens to you. Too bad that troll messages aren’t flagged “Troll message, SKIP” .

  17. The internet can certainly bring out the worst in people. I don’t understand this trend of referring to people who disagree with someone online as trolls. Somehow, I don’t think that’s what Moshe would do with his “haters”. Instead of calling your commenters names, maybe you could read what they have to say and see what you can learn from them? Or are you that certain you are right about all your opinions?

    • Allison Josephs Allison Josephs says:

      Thanks for your comment, Chaya. I was not familiar with the meaning of the word “troll” before I experienced “being trolled,” but now I understand it. A “troll” isn’t just someone who disagrees with you. If you look at this website and Facebook page, you’ll see many lively debates going on. That doesn’t bother me, I welcome it. A “troll” is someone who goes to blogs specifically looking to fight and has no interest in hearing a different perspective or having a respectful dialogue. A troll is simply looking to stir things up for the sake of stirring things up hence the expression “don’t feed the troll.” I’m pretty sure Moshe was not a fan of the people who came after him. The purpose of this post wasn’t to name call. It was to show how a piece of Torah from thousands of years ago is extremely relevant today and can hopefully help people when people come after them in an unreasonable way.

      Hope that helps!!

    • Chaya – there is NOTHING to learn from the people that hate JITC. Sorry to diappoint you!

  18. Criticism is part of being a revolutionary, enjoy it. It means we are doing our job correctly. We are the counter-culture!

  19. Avi Burstein says:

    I saw a bunch of people getting annoyed about this. It's beyond me why an OTD person would be bothered by being compared to Korach.

  20. Allison, you go girl!!!! It's not easy putting yourself out there. You're one amazing, talented and inspirational woman!!! No amount of hate can overcome the positive and love that you are creating!!!

  21. Catholic Mom says:

    From Wikipedia:

    “Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, “speaking in defense”) is the discipline of defending a [religious]position through the use of information. Early Christian writers (c. 120–220) who defended their faith against critics and recommended their faith to outsiders were called apologists.”

    I’m a Catholic — I have profound disagreements with Judaism in many areas and on many levels. That said, I enjoy really good apologetics, whether they be Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or anything else. Allison is an absolute master of apologetics, as well as a very original thinker and a writer of considerable talent. She also seems to be a genuinely nice person. I would love to debate her in person some time :) but in the absence of that possibility, I come to this site regularly to appreciate just how good apologetics can be when done well. Almost every article has something significant to admire in it. With over 1 billion co-religionists, it’s a bit embarrassing to admit that we have nothing this good. (At least, nothing this entertaining, directed at “regular folks” as opposed to theologians).

    The world is full of haters, and right now hatred of all things religious is really hot An article can be posted on yahoo entitled “Pope gives away all worldly goods to disabled orphans” and half of the comments will be filled with vitriol. Allison — you are doing a fantastic job. Don’t let the hater get you down!

    • Catholic Mom, as for the one billion co-religionaires, I don’t want to rain on your parade, but truth be told, I would be surprised if a quarter of the said billion are indeed observant Catholic :)…. The rest are what we call in Europe (I am originlally from France) ‘cultural Catholics’ or ‘Catholics in name only’ :) which translates as ‘can’t be bothered’ (with the Catholic Church, that is), in other words they are as secular as they can get…

      • Catholic Mom says:

        Ouch! So we’re down to only 300,000,000 devout Catholics! No wonder the lack of great web sites, then. :) Still…I believe these numbers refer to baptized Catholics, so somebody must care enough and wander into church long enough to get their kids baptized, even in Europe. In the US, they actually won’t baptize your kids if there is any indication that you do not intend to ensure their continued participation in the sacraments. As to “can’t be bothered” as adults…well, that’s why we need a Catholic Allison Josephs!

  22. You hit it on the head (in one of your replies) that you do not and cannot represent every single Orthodox Jew; you are simply seeking to show what is possible. Anytime a person has set out to do something different, it has started with possibility. I’m sadly not surprised that people have had such an issue with your cause, because some have had such a negative experience with Orthodoxy, they want everyone to be angry with Orthodoxy so that their experience and feelings are validated. Others believe that Torah-observant Jews are meant to be insulated and hidden; they have forgotten our mission to be a light unto the nations. I am grateful that your site demonstrates a beautiful balance between Torah and all other aspects of life. You are slowly chipping away at the stigma of Orthodoxy, and I hope that one day you will represent the majority. Keep it up!

  23. Thanks for writing this. As someone who also has a web presence (albeit a smaller one), I could definitely relate. There is some comfort in hearing that others have to deal with haters. I knew this, obviously, but the reminder every now and then is helpful.

  24. Rachel Arel Mishory says:

    Allison, I second Meir's observations. Keep up the good work. You have a good attitude about it all-so feel the good vibes from the rest of us who appreciate you. I understand that it takes a toll-how could it not-but the person most adversely affected is the hater. They are the ones who wil have to answer to Hashem. You will only if you answer back in kind. remember all the wonderful stories of people who hold back-and experience great segulas.

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