Bar Mitzvah Boy Syndrome? Yes.Time To Grow Up


Time magazine the late spring of 2011 asks: Sex, Lies, and Arrogance: What Makes Powerful Men Behave So Badly? Why is it that the higher one rises in a power hierarchy the more likely they are to commit indiscretions? One of the most powerful men, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a contender for the Presidency of France is arrested for rape. He worried that being a Jew might be a problem in his run for the presidency. Evidently he has more serious issues.

 Eliot Spitzer is now reporting on the bad judgments of Rep. Anthony Weiner, a lawyer, as new photos surface. At the same time a survey reports that lawmakers are well educated and that many are lawyers. So we ask again, what makes powerful men behave so badly?

 I think it is the Achilles heel just waiting to hobble anyone racing ahead of a moral stride. This means it is hubris. We all have passion and pride. Why do some fall and others race on to the finish line?

 My working hypothesis is that a disparity between ones moral and chronological age and education is the answer. I call this disparity Bar Mitzvah Boy Syndrome. You do not have to be Jewish to suffer from Bar Mitzvah Boy Syndrome. (BMBS). BMBS is a clinical subset of the Jonah Syndrome, identified by Dr. Abraham Maslow. We remember Jonah as the reluctant prophet who ran away from his mission. Jonah never grew up as a prophet. Second guessing God, he desired judgment over mercy, power over compassion. Jonah, (Yonah, “dove”, in Hebrew) was called to be a dove with an olive branch of truth in his mouth. Maslow says Jonah did not live up to his potential greatness. He dropped the olive branch.

 Those who suffer from BMBS are called to an ascent to the Arête of Leadership but end up staying at the base of the mountain for a few dances around the golden calf. While all of this sounds rather theological and psychological and abstract, BMBS has changed the course of history.

 We begin with former New York state governor Eliot Spitzer mentioned above, a poster boy of BMBS. An accomplished jurist and former Attorney General, of New York Eliot may be assigned an educational age of at least twenty, counting college and law school. Eliot’s religious education most likely ended when he was in junior high school, somewhere in adolescence around the age of 13.  This means Eliot was unable to answer a most basic question in ethics, raised by Rabbi Shimon ben Zoma:(Principle Teachings, Chapter Four, Mishna One.) Eliot would have learned this ethic in Hebrew high school.

 Who is powerful?

 This is the one who controls his (evil) impulse.

 See Proverbs 32:16

 “Better meek than mighty to have self control than to govern a State.”)

 I wonder if the Governor had self control how different history might be. He was on a track to reform Wall Street. How different our destiny as a people if this one man did not suffer from BMBS.

 Perhaps more wondrous is the BMBS of Representative Wiener, an aspiring candidate for President, Post Obama. He acted like any thirteen year old with a lock on his door and a computer and cell phone. All adolescents are twits. What else were thumbs created for? You do not have to be Jewish to be a twit.

 Now that the syndrome has been identified we ask about the cure.

 For Jews postpone Bar Mitzvah till age 21 or graduation from law school. Throw a party if and only if the boy becomes a man by studying morality and ethics on par with their secular education.

 Enroll non Jews into a similar program of moral education that keeps ones ethical age on par with ones chronological age.

 Calling all Bar Mitzvah boys.

 Time to grow up.