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Bari Mitzmann: Social Media and Agunah Advocacy

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SUMMARY

In this episode of the 18Forty Podcast, we talk to Bari Mitzmann – Instagram content creator and host of the Women of Valor podcast – about social media advocacy, particularly in regard to the agunah crisis.

With an Instagram audience of 30,000 followers, Bari is often asked to promote causes. One such cause was the recent #FreeChava campaign where Bari’s promotion helped spark recent support for agunot. While posting about advocacy on social media seems like a natural thing to do, it can be hard to verify information about the causes being posted. Bari therefore likes to be careful about what she posts, posting sparingly to ensure maximum effectiveness.

  • Does Bari use her account for advocacy?
  • What kind of advocacy works best on social media?
  • Why did she choose to advocate regarding the agunah crisis?
  • What boundaries can be established on social media to maintain agency and sanity?

Tune in to hear Bari Mitzmann reflect on her social media advocacy and the role she played in recent agunah advocacy.

References:
Women of Valor podcast with Bari Mitzmann

For more, visit https://18forty.org/agunah/.

Bari Mitzmann is a content creator, wife, and mother of two, who partners with women of all backgrounds to provide personal growth support. Bari holds a BA in Psychology, a Masters in Education, and has a large following on Instagram, where she thinks and talks about nutrition, social change, and the world of Jewish women. Bari is the host of the Woman of Valor podcast, which offers candid conversation and practical advice for the modern woman. Bari joins 18Forty to discuss social advocacy, change, and how to build a better world through social media.

David Bashevkin:

Hello, and welcome to the 18Forty Podcast, where each month we explore a different topic balancing modern sensibilities with traditional sensitivities to give you new approaches to timeless Jewish ideas. I’m your host, David Bashevkin, and this month, we’re exploring the topic of agunos: the crisis involved in marriages that are no longer continuing, but still, the divorce documents, the get, has not yet been given.

This podcast is part of a larger exploration of those big, Jewish, juicy ideas, so be sure to check out 18Forty.org. That’s 1-8-F-O-R-T-Y.org, where you can find videos, articles, and recommended readings. One other quick announcement before we continue further is that we’re doing something a little bit special this month, and that is in preparation for our anniversary episode, we have a voicemail where we’re asking our listeners to send in questions, feedback, criticisms. You could call in with whatever you like. Please mind your language, of course this is a family show, but the number that you can leave a voicemail at is 917-720-5629. Again, that’s 917-720-5629.

There are a lot of people who are unhappy with me on social media, and I absolutely understand their frustrations. It’s not a secret that I do, I built… It’s not a mega audience because Twitter’s a little bit of a smaller community, and that’s my primary place where I post, under DBashIdeas. But there are a lot of people who are frustrated. We have built, thank God, quite a large community of Jewish people on Twitter, frum Twitter, all of these kind of mini-communities that intersect and overlap. But still, there are a lot of people who are frustrated with me.

I remember, it was in the beginning of March, and somebody with a great amount of integrity and a fairly large following actually publicly called me out and wrote, “You toe the line on Twitter and you don’t put your neck out. With such a large following, maybe you should.” And in many ways, I think that they are right. I think a lot of times, when I see large social movements calling attention to some major issue online, I look with suspicion. And I want to talk a little bit about my own suspicion, and a little bit of how I interact on social media as an introduction to our conversation today, which is going to be exploring the social media component in this major campaign bringing light, this wonderful campaign, bringing light to so many people in these broken marriages in need of a divorce, to the plight – there’s the word again – the plight of agunot.

I can’t get over it. I can’t get over that word. I don’t know if I mentioned this earlier, but there are certain words that you only hear in concert with others. I think of “part and parcel” and “thorns and thistles”. I’ve never seen a thistle without a thorn. I’ve never really used the word “plight” not in reference to agunos. But how do I interact, and how should we interact, on social media? This is a much larger topic that I hope we will explore unto itself, which is the way social media has affected and influenced religious life and vice versa, how our religious life and values are expressed and bear upon the world of social media.

I think that dialogue between those intimate values that we hold most dear and the public life that so many of us have online is more than worthy of its own conversation, as so many of our topics need to be unpacked and unpacked further. This is just a slice of that overlap, as we spoke about in the introduction, between the world of social media and the very serious issue of agunot. So when that person called me out publicly, I thought about it for a long time, because I don’t always stick my neck out. I am not one of the most vocal people about even agunot or any other issue online.

I talk about some issues. I don’t talk about others. As I wrote in that introductory essay, somebody from the other side of the spectrum sent me a very famous joke and said, “This is how you interact online.” The joke goes that there’s two people, Max and Isaac come to a rabbi’s study because they’re involved in some dispute, and the rabbi’s wife is also seated in the room. And Max complains to the rabbi, says this and this happened, and you got to do something about it. He gives this whole account and argues his case clearly. And the rabbi looks up and says, “You know what, Max, you are right.”

Next, the other side of the party goes and says his side of the story. He says it with passion and persuasion. And the rabbi says to him, “You know what, Isaac, you’re right.” And after they leave the rabbi’s wife, who was sitting there watching the whole thing, is distraught. She says, “They have conflicting stories. How can you say that both of them are right? When one wins, the other loses?” And the rabbi thinks for a long and hard time and he finally says to his wife, “You know what, you’re right too.”

It’s an old joke, and I don’t expect you to even laugh, or even breathe heavily out of your nose, as one great comedian called listening to jokes online, you just get that puff out of your nose. I don’t even expect that. But it is very hard to adjudicate, to figure out who is correct online. And very often because of that I don’t wade into these big online stories, because there’s so much more to unpack and so many of the nuances get lost. I felt this in a particularly acute way when I saw so much attention being brought to agunot.

That was my first reaction. I got worried. And I think that a lot of my worry was well placed. Even though the initial, as we will hear, the initial movement was done with the approval of the parties involved, with the consent of a bes din, looking to bring more attention to this, I didn’t know all that information. The first time I saw it, I was worried because I do think that, as Marshall McLuhan famously said, or wrote about, he wrote about this in a famous article. I’m not going to say where that article first appeared, because as we mentioned at the outset, this is a family show.

But it is a very famous article. Marshall McLuhan was a media psychologist. And he said, “The medium is the message.” Meaning, it’s not just about what you say, but where you say it is a part of that message. And whether you are speaking in a book, or in an article, or on graffiti on a wall, or skywriting in the sky, or on Twitter, or on Instagram, it is not just about what you are saying, but the medium where you are saying plays a role in how that message is received. I talk about this over and over again in writing workshops and thinking about communications, and I think about it a lot by how I choose to interact online and on Twitter.

And what I have come to my own personal conviction is that when it comes to conversations online, there’s no question that the medium, that online environment, and every… Again, I apologize to listeners who are totally not a part of this world, but every different online medium, whether it’s Facebook and Instagram or Twitter, has their own personality, has their own discourse. And the way that things escalate, the way that arguments sometimes snowball and metastasize from a crucial good idea into something much larger, sometimes either personal attacks, these kind of ad hominem swipes that we have, or you not liking the person who said it so then you dismiss the rest of the argument, I see this happen all too often.

And personally, that is how I… That is exactly what I choose to avoid online. What I was thinking about and what I think this particular moment on this particular issue highlights and had me thinking about, and I think our listeners it’s worth thinking about too, is what do you choose to share and not to share online, and why? What I am saying now is not God forbid advocating, don’t share your political or personal convictions online, or don’t get behind and calling attention to agunot, absolutely not. What I am saying is twofold. Number one is being aware of the fact that the medium is part of the message.

You have to realize that having a conversation in person is not the same as having a conversation on the phone, and having a conversation on the phone is not the same as speaking to someone on Twitter. The medium, the place where the conversation takes place, affects the very way the message is heard. And I think it’s a really important conversation, whether or not you are a major advocate in this specific area of agunot, of just think about how do I relate vis-a-vis this world of social media. It’s totally okay to say, “I am not involved at all.”

I think my only pet peeve is with people who choose not to be involved – I have no problem with that choice – but they actually are snarky and cynical. I get a lot of, “You’re just a Twitter guy. That’s all you’re doing.” They diminish the people who make a different choice, to be online, and then when it’s convenient for them, they email me or WhatsApp me or text me, “Hey, can you share this online? Hey, can you share this on Twitter?”

And that bothers me, because I see you made a choice not to be a part of this. You made a choice not just to be a part of this, but to diminish it and to talk about it in this cynical way. You don’t get to come in and use it in this constructive way when you find it convenient and then just trash it the rest of the time. You don’t get to do both. You could choose not to be a part of it and then ask a favor, but you don’t get to choose to be a part of it and then behind my back, which, this stuff trickles down, you call me this Twitter guy, you roll your eyes. He’s not really doing much. This isn’t real life. Or any of those other criticisms that I think are extraordinarily superficial in so many ways. You don’t say that somebody who has a following on any online Torah site is not real life. I think that everything we do is a part of our real life.

Which leads me to my second point. And I think this is a really, really important point. When people say that Twitter or Facebook or any of the social media is not real life, it is a partial truth. It is a part of real life. And what I think is important is not to diminish anyone or any conversation to just, “Oh, that’s a Twitter thing. That’s an Instagram thing.” I think there’s no question that these are real virtual communities, in the same way that we have shul email lists or newsletters or the different type of communities that we’ve had ever since the means of communications have evolved. But on the flip side, while we shouldn’t be dismissive of these communities and these movements, we also shouldn’t pigeonhole and diminish people and what they choose to share online as the totality of that person.

There’s so much else going on online. I remember as a part of this, when this person called me out, somebody else came on and said, “Oh…” Referred to me as that Twitter guy. That’s the way he would refer to me over and over again. I took offense at that. I said, “That’s not really fair. That’s not the totality of who I am. I am a father, a parent, a Jew. I try to be a yarei shamayim at times. I try to have some sense of awe of what it means to be alive and what it means to be in this world.

There’s nothing that I find more offensive, and there were people who subtweeted me after with this. I’m not even going to get into what that term means, and I apologize if I’ve lost a good size of our listeners by making reference to this world. You could Google what subtweeting is. But I take real offense at that. And to understand that this is a part of what we choose to share, but not the totality of the issue. And that applies to the issue of agunot also. I think when we choose to share and we choose to advocate on any issue, we need to understand that this is a part of a much larger picture. And we can’t forget or confuse the fact that whether or not one chooses to share online, and I think that there are choices to be made in either way on this.

Particularly without agunot, I think it was important to share, which I did. It didn’t become the totality of what I do, as no particular issue does. But to realize that we shouldn’t judge people just based on what they are sharing online. I think I have forgotten that, and so many people forget that. I think that that is something extraordinarily dangerous, something that I referenced in one of our earlier interviews, when I saw a major online personality calling out a major, really well respected Rav.

I said, “What on earth is going on here? We are letting this train leave the rails. We need to know what we are advocating for, who we are advocating for, and who so to speak is on our side.” I’m using air quotes. And when we paint an overly broad line of who is with us and who is against us, I don’t think anybody is best served with that. We have to realize, especially with the issue of agunot, we are advocating on behalf of an individual and a family, and calling out people who are tangentially, they’re not even involved in this case, but just because they didn’t post a hashtag, to me is not all that healthy and diminishes not just the movement, but diminishes I think the use of social media itself.

It diminishes the people that we’re interacting with. I really do think this is a crucial and important lens. And that is why I am so excited for my conversation. This is a conversation with somebody from across the pond in the online world. I spend most of my time on that site called Twitter.com, and this is from somebody who has built quite a large following, I think 30,000 followers, on Instagram, talking about things like mental health, fashion.

I’ll be honest, I spend very little time on Instagram. I don’t know. I post something in my stories. You don’t need to know what any of these words mean to understand the issue, but what I think you do need to be thinking about is how do you interact online with others? What issues are you vocal about? And what does that say? What does that strategy… What do the issues say about you, what you choose to be vocal about and what you choose to kind of say, “You know what, you’re both right.” Like my Twitter strategy most of the time.

I think this was an important and productive conversation that I hope is just the beginning of what one day I hope we could have on 18Forty, a more robust conversation, just talking about this strange world that all of us live on for so many hours every day called the internet. So it is now my absolute pleasure to introduce an Instagram influencer, Bari Mitzmann.

I am so excited to introduce someone who I’ve known for quite some time, Mrs. Bari Mitzmann.

Bari Mitzmann:

Thank you so much for having me. It’s strange. I knew you before I was Mrs. Mitzmann.

David Bashevkin:

We know each other for quite some time, and I have seen… I think we’ve both… We’re like on the other sides of the social media mechitza. You have an incredible platform that you’ve built on Instagram. Close to 30,000 followers on Instagram. You’ve built that over how many years?

Bari Mitzmann:

I’d say probably around four years.

David Bashevkin:

It’s really remarkable. I’m going to be just a disgruntled Twitter user. It’s so much harder to build, get those followers on Twitter. But we don’t need to compare our difficulties in building our audience. The one that you’ve built is extraordinary, and you also have a podcast called Women of Valor, specifically talking about issues for women, right? Nearly exclusively for women. You’re talking about issues that women face. You could correct me if I’m absolutely wrong.

Bari Mitzmann:

Some of the topics do specifically pertain to women, but that might not necessarily be across the board. Let’s say topics on Judaism, and relationships with the Almighty, as well as even infertility. That’s not exclusive to women either. So many of the conversations that we have are applicable across the board. However, my majority demographic on the Woman of Valor podcast is female.

David Bashevkin:

That’s awesome and it’s kind of what we’ll talk a little bit about today, about agunah as seen as a women’s issue. And I’m using air quotes, because I think that that’s very much a misconception in the way that we’ve approached it. But I want to start from the beginning, not of the issue of agunah, which goes back hundreds of years, millennia, talking about it. It’s kind into a little bit of the Halakhic process. It’s spoken about in the Gemara. I want to speak about the last, what I would say two months, and how this issue has come to the fore on social media.

I don’t check it on Instagram that often. I sometimes cross post my tweets. I don’t even check when I’m mentioned, because I’m mentioned so infrequently on Twitter. It’s like, I don’t know, once a week I’ll maybe get one mention or whatever it is, and I logged in probably two, three weeks ago, you’re listening to this probably a month ago. I noticed I was tagged, I don’t know, 10, 20, 30 times in posts about different women, agunos, who were in situations, and I was tagged, which on social media means they wanted me to post this on either my stories or my wall. You don’t need to know the ins and outs of Instagram.

Bari Mitzmann:

They wanted to get your attention.

David Bashevkin:

They wanted to get my attention, exactly. So let’s start before… And it got my attention, and I think it’s such an incredible issue where both Halakha and social media, and also exploring differences in gender, particularly in Judaism, have really come to the fore. There are so many ways to unpack this. I want to talk to you about the social media advocacy. When and why did this start, and what’s your specific involvement?

Bari Mitzmann:

So this social media movement I believe started with my friend Dalia Oziel, who was not this person who was… Her dream was to help women in dead marriages. She’s a singer. She’s a content creator. She has a podcast of her own. And one of her followers reached out to her and started to share a little bit of her story being an agunah for a number of years, actually over a decade.

She’s a young woman. It’s not one of these situations where you think, “Oh, the woman’s in her 50s. She’s in her 60s. She’s been an agunah for so long.” This woman, you would never know. You would never know that she was struggling. She’s a teacher in a very nice established school, and everyone around her gave up on getting that get for her. She reached out to Dalia on a whim, and Dalia was like, “This is not okay.” She spearheaded this. She took initiative. She got in touch with the beis din. She made sure to get every single piece of information so that she was not going to be advocating for something that was misinformed. She did all the research and was in touch with multiple batei dinim, multiple rabbinic authorities.

David Bashevkin:

And Dalia, because I don’t know her personally, I messaged her on Instagram. Dalia and I don’t know each other like you and I know each other. Even you and I, we haven’t been in touch in far too long, might I add, but allow me to ask, Dalia, does she identify as part of the Orthodox community?

Bari Mitzmann:

Yeah.

David Bashevkin:

Where is she in that space? Okay. She reached out and found all this information and then did what?

Bari Mitzmann:

And then decided to take it upon herself to spread this information. She was in touch with legal teams as well as batei dinim to do the right thing according to Jewish law, and in what she could share and how she could share it. It was very heartwarming and reassuring to know that after this started, the batei dinim were calling her and telling her, please encourage people to continue to share, as this is something you are 100% permissible to do. There is a document that states that this man did not show up to beis din, and that he should not be allowed into institutions. Whether it’s a shul, or businesses, and not be provided work, whatever, until he goes and gives this get to his agunah. And unfortunately, hopefully by the time this comes out, we will hear incredible news about this case. However, once one person came out of the woodwork and shared their story, I believe that that enabled other women in a similar situation to step forward and come out with their stories.

David Bashevkin:

It’s really incredible and it’s kind of heartening to hear. I’ll be honest, my reaction. I’m playing with my cards open on the table. We’re going to talk more about my general hesitation with social media advocacy. I’m always nervous about it. And one of the questions I had when I saw this attention for the first time, I didn’t do any research. I just saw Instagram influencers, which is a term that people use almost dismissively. I don’t like it. It’s not fair. You’ve built a massive platform and you have this massive… And you’re using it for good.

But my first reaction that I was wondering myself is, who are we pressuring? Are we pressuring the husband, who may or may not be on social media? Are we trying to galvanize attention for the community? Or are we pressuring rabbis themselves? Which to me, it made me a little bit nervous. Are we working with the establishment, so to speak, of Halakhic institutions, or are we working against them, or putting pressure on them? I don’t know. I found it heartening to know that she worked with the beis din and that they encouraged her to do this. When you are posting, and you’ve played a big role in this, what are you trying to get out of the social media attention?

Bari Mitzmann:

So I’ll say for one thing, I’ll speak a little bit out about this particular case. Not specific details, but the woman who has been the, I guess poster woman for this freeing agunot campaign is Chava. Chava has been trying to get a get from Naftali Eyal Sharabani, who is currently located in Los Angeles. Let’s say during this specific case, the goal was awareness in the Los Angeles community. There was awareness for the institutions that he worked at or is currently working at, I don’t know for sure, as well as the shul that still welcomes him in with open arms. There was actually a rally outside of that shul. I don’t want to call it a shul, as there are multiple get-refusers that attend. And it’s being –

David Bashevkin:

It’s a bad brand for a shul.

Bari Mitzmann:

Yeah. It’s hard for me to think of what Hakadosh Baruch Hu is doing with those tefillos. It’s very confusing to me. The goal I’ll say from my end, I’m not as directly involved as Dalia is, I’m not as hands-on, due to knowing what I am physically and mentally capable of handling in regard to my regular load of being a wife and mother and content creator, and so on. My goal was to create awareness about this issue. I think prior, yes, there was coverage in the New York Times about Meir Kin and his wedding. But after that, I hadn’t heard much, I hadn’t seen much. And I didn’t know aside for Lonna, who my husband’s family knows very well, Lonna Kin, I didn’t know of agunos. And this is –

David Bashevkin:

Is she still an agunah?

Bari Mitzmann:

Unfortunately, she still is.

David Bashevkin:

Okay.

Bari Mitzmann:

And Meir Kin is responsible for “educating” men on how to refuse a get, and it is their right to withhold. He has a YouTube channel and a Facebook group called Frum Men’s Rights, which in itself can give you enough information to understand what type of person we’re dealing with here. But there are support groups for these men saying, “The beis dins can’t tell you what to do. The control is in your hands. Don’t release it. They’re trying to pressure you and manipulate you, and the power is all yours.” It’s very unfortunate.

But creating awareness about all of these things enables people to become more educated consumers. Until recently, many people believed that Sharabani did provide a get, or that he was being extorted for hundreds of thousands of dollars, all which were proved not true. Then once many people in the allied community became aware, then posters were being put up outside institutions and stores. And the rallies are being formed.

The idea is for those with larger followings, or the ability to make an impact, to share the message, share the facts. That’s one of the troubles with social media and I’m assuming one of the concerns in sharing something like this, because is this fact-checked? Is this accurate information? And enabling that information to be spread to a certain location, and to certain individuals who can then bring up the topic with their clergy, with their families, with their relatives, with someone that they know who is stuck in a similar situation, and just to create more empowerment and encouragement for those who have been hesitant to come forward and speak out about this to do so.

David Bashevkin:

So let let me ask you about, again, your role in what you share on social media? Because I really think this is a fascinating lens to a larger conversation about advocating on social media in general. When you post something, and again, you have again close to 30,000 followers. It’s not small numbers, particularly in a niche Jewish community that we’re both a part of. What happens in your DMs, in your mentions? Are most people very supportive of this, or do you find that people are pushing back, or have questions? Are there thematic ways that you could categorize how people react when you post on this?

Bari Mitzmann:

Well, for this particular case, and when it comes to the plight of agunot, I myself am not comfortable with sharing without knowing information. So individuals like Dalia Oziel and Shira Stern of this company called Swaddle Bee, they’re both very good friends of mine. And if they tell me that they got off the phone with beis din and they have a letter and they have a haskamah from a big rav and they have verified all of the information, no problem.

If someone asks me in my DMs if I can share an agunah situation, I personally am not comfortable as I don’t have all the information. I know that emotionally I can’t handle hearing all of that information. When it comes to abuse and manipulation, those things are major triggers for my mental health. So I need to create boundaries for myself. So in the case of the agunot, it’s when things have been verified, and I know that there are rabbanim that are yashar, who are –

David Bashevkin:

Straight.

Bari Mitzmann:

– straight, that are backing this and encouraging awareness. And when it comes to other topics, it’s hard to pick and choose. So say I have a rule of thumb where I do not share names to pray for if someone is sick, and I do not share personal fundraisers. It’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I’ll get 30 to 50 requests a day asking if I can. And to pick and choose who is worthy and who is not, I can’t do that. So I’ve created certain boundaries and rules on my platform. This is also the platform where I make an income. So this is my job, and you can see it as, “Hi, can I put a free ad in your newspaper?”

David Bashevkin:

Exactly.

Bari Mitzmann:

Unfortunately it’s not always seen that way, but as someone who is a content creator, I understand that social media content is advertising and marketing real estate. And just because someone chooses not to share something, not everyone shared about this agunah case and about this whole plight towards freeing women from dead marriages. Some people can’t share. Some people won’t share. And that’s okay.

David Bashevkin:

I was about to ask you, meaning, I… This isn’t like confessional, but I was tagged on Instagram. Now, people know me not from Instagram. I’m not a big Instagram poster. I probably average, I don’t know, four actual posts a year. Every couple months I’ll, I don’t know, lighting Hanukkah candles. It’s very, very infrequent. And I’ll post it here or there a story, a link to an article I wrote. I don’t have the audience there that they wanted, and I was trying to figure out, well, what’s my… I did a little bit on Twitter.

Bari Mitzmann:

That’s where we needed it by the way.

David Bashevkin:

On Twitter?

Bari Mitzmann:

We desperately needed more awareness on Twitter, and from what I’ve seen through my followership, there are very few women on Instagram that I speak with who also have a Twitter account. And the women who I do know who have Twitter accounts are always publicly insulted about stepping forward and talking about important issues.

David Bashevkin:

It’s funny. I think a part of it… And this is not scientific at all. I’ve always associated, I think Instagram attracts, there are more women posting on Instagram, and I find that there’s a gendered component to Twitter that plays out in some playful, but also some like darker, uglier ways, which I’ve never liked. I’m always looking… Again, this is always very hard. I’m curious what criticisms you’ve taken on this. But I’ve become much more mindful of who I retweet or who am I promoting to try to have… To promote people, especially women, who are a part of it, but even saying that gets dismissed as, it sounds very patronizing.

It’s very hard to like articulate these rules and differences. Let me tell you what I did. So on Instagram, I posted once to a story, and then I told people, I was just responding, I said, “Oh, I’m trying to do a little bit more of this on Twitter. I retweeted a few different people and I’ve shared. But this isn’t my space. I don’t have the audience that you’re looking for.” I don’t know. I have 900 followers, which sounds like a lot, but it’s not a lot on Instagram at all. It’s not a mover and shaker. I’m curious, you said that’s okay, if somebody doesn’t want to share.

Do you tag other people? I know there was a discussion that somebody else who was in this movement tagged a fairly prestigious rabbi, and he wrote an article about waking up to being tagged, and that sense of when you get tagged publicly in something, there is that sense of, “I didn’t know that I was doing anything wrong. I’m not really in this space as much, or I’m not doing anything.” I’m curious what your thoughts are on like tagging specific, whether it’s rabbis or communal leaders, to get their specific attention in public posts?

Bari Mitzmann:

I know that it’s been done. I’ve seen it. I myself would not be comfortable, as I know that I personally wouldn’t like that being done to me. I have people tagging me on information about Meir Kin. I’m like, “Yes, I live in the same state as him. What would you like me to do with that information? I’ve never seen him in my life. I don’t intend to.” They’re like, “Bari Mitzmann, @barianna, what are you doing about Meir Kin?” I’m like, “What are you doing about Meir Kin?” I’m in touch with people who are working on this case. I am doing what I personally can. And when it comes to the sharing and the tagging, some people are doing it because they’re like… It depends on their intention. Some people may be doing it like, “I know that you know this, and you’re not opening your mouth because you’re scared.” Or that’s their intention. Or “I’m tagging you in this because I’m sure that once you are informed about this, you will do something about it.”

Both are putting on pressure. Both can be a little bit nerve-wracking according to your stance. And I can understand why men would be apprehensive about sharing the topic of agunos, because many people believe that it is a women’s issue, which is incorrect. The whole idea of agunah, I had a conversation with Shoshanna Keats Jaskoll on my Instagram about this.

David Bashevkin:

Sure.

Bari Mitzmann:

The idea of an agunah was based on someone being lost at sea or a prisoner of war, and you don’t know their whereabouts. And because of that, the woman is in a marriage because they don’t know if he is dead or alive. It’s not, “Oh, there’s a woman and a man who decided they didn’t want to be married anymore.” But in many of the cases being spread now, and I know that this is not the blanket rule, but there is a male in a position of power, or being manipulative, or refusing a get, because they’re not getting, whether it’s money or the house, or whatever it is, holding on to that dead marriage as a leverage.

Like I said, this isn’t the case across the board. However, in the cases that are being shared publicly that have been verified, that in fact is the case. And some men are like, “But why would I do that? I’m just going to join this group of quote-unquote feminists, and I’m going to get made fun of by my friends. It’s going to be mentioned at shul. Someone’s going to say something obnoxious on Twitter.” That’s why I don’t have Twitter. I cannot handle the cattiness and bullying of high school that is on Twitter.

David Bashevkin:

It’s very catty. I’ve always seen that Twitter is like… It’s a medium of language, and I find it harder to be language first on Instagram. I’m going to get back to your larger point because you’re saying something fairly profound, but I need to defend the honor of Twitter for just a moment. It’s very language first. I find that the people on Twitter are like comedians, journalists. It’s easier to share an idea on Twitter. I struggle with it on Instagram, the medium of photography and pictures, which got it started, I just find it much harder to share in that way first. I know you could write captions or whatever it is. I find myself just screenshotting things I wrote on Twitter and putting on Instagram. But let’s come back to the main point of this.

I definitely understand the pressure. I felt that too, and I think that’s what made this most recent wave so remarkable, is that they got in touch with men who are in positions of influence, particularly on social media, and showed you that this isn’t a fringe issue that puts you, you have to be seen in a certain way, or is going to make you seem like you’re this feminist activist, which some guys don’t want to be seen as. And it really almost – I hate to use this term – rebranded the issue itself, where, “No, this is something that you can speak up on, and this is important.”

I know for myself, and I want to hear more about this from you, probably the issue that I’ve gotten the most criticism on for sharing is the fact that I really don’t share major issues on Twitter. And I get slammed for it. My DMs are filled with people, rightfully so, some of them are quite gracious, some of them a little bit malicious, which is, “You don’t take real stands on Twitter. You don’t speak out. You don’t get involved.” And they’re right. I always tell them, you’re all right. It’s not what I do primarily. My Twitter is a place where, again, I get to share some of my ideas, some of my books, some of my articles. I’m not really advocating.

And the one issue that I probably speak out on the most is mental health. I do talk about that a lot here and there on Twitter. It’ll come up over and over again in softer ways. Not in organizational ways. And I’m curious for you, firstly, again going back to what issues you do and don’t speak about, what issues do you get criticized the most for not talking about?

Bari Mitzmann:

Well, I mean, it’s a little bit tricky, because if I share about something, or don’t share about something, I will get criticized all the same. So let’s say, when I shared months and months ago about working on, inner work on fighting your inner racism and admitting that we have preconceived notions and to challenge those, I got people first saying, “I wasn’t speaking enough.” Then I got people telling me that I said the wrong thing, and that I shouldn’t speak up, and I should sit down and shut up.

People on social media I think have this entitled sense of, “You’re here to serve me. Dance monkey. Do what I say.” And that’s it. At that point I had a bit of a mental health breaking point with that, because I was just like, Why am I even allowing this to happen on my platform? Why am I taking this in, that people are saying, “Jump this high. No, not that high. Jump a little lower. No, don’t jump. Now, do this. Now, do that.” This is my page. People forget that social media, I made a highlight on my Instagram page called house rules.

David Bashevkin:

Okay. I want to hear this. What are your house rules?

Bari Mitzmann:

It’s Instagram. My Instagram page is my virtual home. And anyone who choose to follow, review, is a guest in my virtual home, and I request that they behave as such. And I say, “If you speak to me in a way that I see as attacking, derogatory, or disrespectful, I will show you out.”

David Bashevkin:

Can you do that on Instagram? You could block them?

Bari Mitzmann:

Yeah.

David Bashevkin:

You could block? And you do block?

Bari Mitzmann:

Yes. I happily block.

David Bashevkin:

Happily, joyously block.

Bari Mitzmann:

Yes, because I’ve learned how certain people say things, and I can tell already, even with someone’s Instagram handle. I’m like, Okay, this one’s bad news. You open your mouth to me, I have no problem. Someone who never spoke to me with no pictures and no real username and no followers, you don’t get a say on my page. If you want to challenge my opinion, get up on here and show your face like I am. Sorry.

David Bashevkin:

You don’t engage with anonymous? I’ve gotten a lot of debates about that. What are some of your other house rules in how you interact?

Bari Mitzmann:

If someone disagrees with something that I say and would like to have a respectful discussion, they’re more than welcome to discuss in my DMs, because I’m open to new and different ideas. I have no problem being corrected. But anyone who wants to hop on and just smack talk on something that I post publicly, I don’t tolerate that,` because I adhere by the golden rule. I won’t judge you and attack you. Don’t judge me and attack me.

This is why I also don’t go calling out people. I don’t know you. I don’t know your life. I don’t know your choices. Why should I come and step on you even if you’re doing something I don’t agree with? It’s not my place. There’s a mitzvah of giving rebuke. But it’s not a mitzvah to give rebuke if that person won’t take it. And it’s very likely that if you don’t know somebody and they walk up to you in the street and try to rebuke you, they’re not doing a mitzvah.

David Bashevkin:

I love what you wrote here and I wrote something similar a while back. It’s remarkable. I can almost pull it up. This is what you have as one of your house rules. “I am human. I can and do make mistakes. It’s okay to watch me make a mistake and move on to the next slide.” Meaning, you don’t have to point out every mistake that you notice. “I also can and will have differing opinions than you. Please do not attempt to change my mind unless publicly prompted to.” That’s interesting.

What is the type of feedback and pushback that you appreciate? Meaning, I don’t mind if somebody tries to change my mind. Somebody did so very recently. But they do it in a way that I find gracious and charitable, where they’re talking to me like I’m a human being. I called somebody out and they actually left Twitter because of it. Somebody who I kind of know, who kept on referring to me as Twitter guy, and basically saying like, “That’s all you are. You’re just a Twitter guy.” You know what I mean? It felt very reductive and minimizing.

Bari Mitzmann:

Right.

David Bashevkin:

I’m curious for you how… Again, you have a larger and different audience than myself. How do you encourage healthy disagreement? Or you just don’t want to hear it at all?

Bari Mitzmann:

I don’t often post controversy. What I post are things that I have enough education in. There have been times where, let’s say, during this pandemic, I kept very quiet about my beliefs until my 37-year-old friend contracted it and passed away. Then I became pretty vocal about it. I became vocal about the importance of wearing masks and my belief in the vaccination, because it is science. I said, I’m not looking… If someone came and said to me, “To be honest, I really think this whole COVID thing is political.” And I said, “My dead friend is not yet buried, and you’re coming and telling me that this is political? You’re no longer welcome here.” Mind you –

David Bashevkin:

And you blocked them?

Bari Mitzmann:

Yes. I got emails for three days in a row apologizing, begging to let them back in, because I do provide quality content, and I do a lot of stuff regarding mental health. Most of the things that I share, I’m fairly certain that you can’t argue with. You can’t argue with the fact that mental health struggles are real, and that if someone is in need to get leniencies on Shabbat, on Passover, on fast days, that it’s not even important, but halachically, Judaic law, necessary to do. Who’s going to argue with that? And if they do, I don’t really value their opinion.

David Bashevkin:

Let me jump in and ask you this, and it’s something that people have asked me. I’ve been pretty forthcoming about the fact that I have struggled with mental health, as I think most people are. Our house, we never even went through the stigma phase, it was just openly spoken about. We didn’t have a stigma in the Bashevkin household growing up around this issue. I had to learn about the stigma, like don’t announce this to the world.

But somebody tells you, “Look, if you have this issue, then why be on social media at all? Why not cut this part out of your life if this can have the potential to be so aggravating to somebody who’s struggling with this issue?” And sometimes I listen to that and it could feel like a dismissive question. I’m obviously still on social media. I’ve been asked this question. But sometimes there’s an element of truth to it. Am I aggravating my own constitution as a person by being here? Am I becoming a martyr to my own cause?

Bari Mitzmann:

I think it depends on who’s asking you. Who’s asking you that question? Is it a loved one? Is it a very close friend? Is it a mentor? Or is it this person who happened to just happen upon your feed, see this one slide, and message you for the first time and say, “Then why are you on here? Don’t do that to yourself. Your mental health is more important.” Hi, who are you? You don’t know my life. Get out of my face. You don’t think I’ve talked to my therapist about this? You don’t think I’ve talked to my spouse about this? You don’t think I talk to my best friend about it?

It’s like that TikTok like, “Don’t worry about it, sweetheart.” Don’t worry about it! It’s not your life. Thanks for caring, quote-unquote, about me, but you don’t know me. And even if you think you do, there are aspects of myself, true aspects of myself, that I share on social media. However, it is an aspect. It is not my personality in its entirety. I’ve realized that someone who’s just people watching can’t and shouldn’t have such an influence on my life and my life’s questions.

If someone close to me says… I just got back from therapy, and my therapist is like, “Is there any chance you could take a break? When do you think you can take a break?” I’m not going to be like, “Don’t worry about it, sweetheart, Mr. Doctor, whatever.” Him, I’m like, “You know what, that’s a really great question. Let’s figure out how we can do that.” Also, I know for myself this is the boundaries. I have a highlight about what my boundaries are. I’ve made a decision as to how invested I am going to be in the opinions of my followers. And if there is a problem, I constantly troubleshoot.

This is causing me anxiety. What can I do to fix that? Or this person is making me feel like I am lacking. Bye-bye, unfollow, no problem. Or this person is instilling values in me that I don’t believe are true values. Bye-bye. I’ll close the door. If someone is truly struggling with social media, this is my income. I see it as a job, and I see it as an opportunity to share knowledge, and empathy, and validation to many individuals who are struggling. But if there’s a problem, I’m going to take care of it for myself. And if it really gets bad, I’ll figure out a way to get out of it. But for right now, it’s great.

And sometimes there are problems. You think everybody comes home from work like, “Today, was so amazing. I love my job. Everything about it is amazing. Nobody said anything mean to me. And my boss is just an angel and he gave me extra money today.” No, this is what I do. But if this is not your job and all it does is gives you ill will, don’t have it.

David Bashevkin:

We need to talk more about how you monetize your Instagram, because that’s something I’ve never been successful at on Twitter. Monetize the movement. I absolutely love it. Let me ask you a final two questions about this social media advocacy in general. Has there ever been an issue that you wanted to speak up on, but you just realize, “I can’t do it,” either because of your own capacity, you didn’t have enough information? Is there almost like the one that got away, the issue that you wish you were able to speak up on but never fully embraced?

Bari Mitzmann:

I might get in trouble for this if anyone who listens to me disagrees with this, but I do wish that I had the strength and the courage to advocate more for the LGBTQIA community, as well as people of color, and most recently the Asian community. I know there’s an abbreviation there. But it’s the, oh –

David Bashevkin:

Asian-Pacific –

Bari Mitzmann:

– American Asian and Pacific Islander.

David Bashevkin:

Yeah.

Bari Mitzmann:

Yeah. So I wish that I had, number one, the energy and the fortitude to be able to stand up for people of color, but the bigger step is to even… I have many friends who are part of the LGBTQIA community, and I love them with all of my heart and all of my soul. I am seen by many as an Ultra Orthodox woman, and in practice I absolutely am. But that doesn’t mean that I have alienated anyone who isn’t or anyone whose life choices or lifestyles differ from mine. I’ve alluded to some of this on my page, but unfortunately there’s a lot of work to do with accepting people who are different [inaudible] on my page.

David Bashevkin:

Yeah, meaning on this page, and most of your page, I’m looking at it now, I only followed you fairly recently though. I knew you were out there. I don’t think I’m your target audience. It’s just a guess.

Bari Mitzmann:

Weren’t you my NCSY director or something? I think it was in NCSY when I met you.

David Bashevkin:

We’ve known each other through there, but most of your page is more like, it looks like issues… You do fashion, slice of life, thinking about what things people are going through? Do you have an imagined ratio in your head between what you do in terms of advocacy versus just more slice of life stuff? Or does that ever play a role? Meaning, something’s stopping you from talking about every issue you’re passionate about, and something’s stopping me. Sometimes it’s an issue I’m not that passionate about, I don’t know about, but sometimes it’s like, I don’t… The way I project myself online in particular is like, I’m not just a feed of every issue and everything that’s going on in the world. That’s not how I present myself.

Bari Mitzmann:

Right.

David Bashevkin:

Do you have an imagined ratio where like, “Okay, it’s been a while since I spoke out on an issue,” or do you just go with what’s in your gut?

Bari Mitzmann:

I mean, if you were to ask other people who I am, basically, majority would tell you that I create content and lifestyle things despite – you can say despite, I don’t think it’s despite what people say. I happen to be the poster child of high functioning mental illness and chronic illness. I was diagnosed with Lyme disease over five years ago. I’ve been dealing with chronic illness for a very long time. And the mental illness piece is one that’s near and dear to my heart because it’s one I go through every day.

So those are the ones that I personally advocate for on a consistent basis. I myself did not go through any rigorous infertility struggles, thank God. Every once in a while I will touch upon it on my Woman of Valor Podcast. And that’s where I bring other people with other experiences, because I’m not going to address every experience, especially if I didn’t experience it. It’s not fair for me to be like, “Okay, guys. So I’m going to talk to you about the agunah issue all on my lonesome because I have no experience with it, but I spoke to someone once.”

No, I’m going to have the one [inaudible] in the entire United States come on my podcast and talk about this issue. Because I know my place. And it’s not in a Twitter way of the way that some of these men speak to my female friends, who speak out on Twitter, “Know your place, woman.” It’s more like, “I know my place.” I know what I am qualified to speak about. And even in the aspects of mental health, I make it very clear that I’m not a mental health professional. And if you’re struggling with something, I am not that person to advise you, and you have to seek counsel for that. I won’t speak about specific diagnoses. I’m not qualified. I’m qualified to speak about what I know about.

David Bashevkin:

I always end interviews with rapid fire questions. Before we do that, let’s return back to the more specific issue that we’re talking about, agunah. Imagine a guy, he’s on Twitter, he’s on Instagram, and he doesn’t ever post on issues. He posts pictures of, I don’t know, barbecue and what he’s doing and this and that. And he sees this movement, and this is just not anything he’s ever [inausible], not this issue or any other issue. Can you explain or tell this person, “This is why, on this particular issue, you should be more active.” Or would you say, “You’re doing okay. That’s fine. And maybe there are other ways you should be getting involved.” What would you say to such a person who’s on social media, they’re getting tagged maybe here and there, or maybe people are noticing, “You’re silent on this issue.” Or whatever it is. That’s a criticism I’ve always found frustrating, because I’m silent on nearly every issue, because there are a gazillion issues. But what would you tell this imagined person?

Bari Mitzmann:

I think it’s all in the way you present it. I myself brought the information to my husband about this movement, and he and I created a reel on social media that has over 60,000 views at this point. It is only him, and he is addressing the issue in a funny way, but also making a point. He was one of the few men that started to step up. He talks about websites. He doesn’t talk about anything. But it all comes down to, I posted something and I said, “There is nothing more attractive than a man who stands up for women’s freedom and stands up against abuse.” This isn’t like, “Oh, our team against yours.” It’s, we would love to showcase men who care about women’s issues. If they’re posting about other issues and not posting about this, I would ask them why. I mean not me personally, but someone else who would be willing to do that.

David Bashevkin:

Who knows them?

Bari Mitzmann:

Yes.

David Bashevkin:

That’s one of your house rules. The context is so important.

Bari Mitzmann:

I wouldn’t do it. There are other people that would and other people that do, and that’s that’s their jam, not mine. But if someone doesn’t share on that, and they feel a little torn about it, where you have that little, “Oh, should I do something, should I not?” Find a different way if you think, like, “Hey, do you know anyone that lives in X? Guys night. We’re going to a rally. Does anyone know this dude? He hasn’t been giving his wife a get. Do you know anyone in this community that could help?” Or bringing the conversation up with your local clergy and asking them, “Why is it that you a man can get permission to remarry without giving a get, but a woman can’t? Why hasn’t there been any widely established loopholes for women if there’s a man who’s not well enough to give a proper get, and it’s basically unanimous that this is a wrong situation?” Kind of bringing up the topic. I can’t be a full-fledged advocate on my page. I know that there are people who are like, “Why aren’t you talking about this more?” Some of them wore pink. And you know what? That was great, and they put the hashtag, and that’s what they did to bring awareness.

If they’re a beauty blogger and they don’t talk about anything, great, thank you for wearing pink. Thank you for bringing awareness to this issue. If this is something you don’t do, please work off the screen. Yes, we can share, and it’s important to share and spread awareness and spread advocacy and let people know about their rallies and things like that. But also things need to happen off screen. I can’t tell you how many phone calls have been made on the back end for Chava’s case because of all of the different parts at play.

David Bashevkin:

That I think is almost the most important point, and part of the dehumanizing factor of social media is that people forget about the off screen. It’s sometimes an excuse, and I’m not denying that, but I always am frustrated by people who diminish me personally to what I’ve tweeted about. That’s not my whole life. That’s not everything that I care about. In fact, the things I care most about are oftentimes the things I post least about. I know you have to go. We’re just about finished. I’m curious about one question that’s not part of the final wrap-up questions. If you’re super tight on time you could tell me, let’s just skip to the final wrap-up questions.

Bari Mitzmann:

I’m good.

David Bashevkin:

You’re good? Okay. This is a general marriage question. And I know you’re not a marriage therapist as far as I know, but I’m curious what you think about this. It’s something I’ve been asked. Do you think it’s healthy for couples to talk about the possibility of divorce? Meaning, I sometimes wonder, and I’m curious what other couples do, if there’s actually something healthy about… The reason why agunah… Let me rephrase it. The reason why agunah is sometimes a very uncomfortable issue is because it highlights the possibility of divorce that exists in any marriage.

Every marriage has the possibility of divorce. And talking about that and beginning… Especially though, I know a lot of the pushback on prenups is like, “Why are we talking about divorce? It should just be good and healthy, and let’s not think about that.” Do you think there’s a healthy way, or positive things that come out of a couple having a discussion? Not who’s going to split the assets, but an honest conversation about the fact that people get divorced in honest real ways or even talk about it as a couple. My wife and I, full disclosure, do talk about this. Nobody’s planning anything, god forbid. We’re not scared of the topic. And I think that there’s something healthy about that. I’m curious what what you have found in this, because it is such a scary thing for a married couple to even surface and talk about.

Bari Mitzmann:

I’m going to address that in a couple different angles. I think that that topic should even be discussed while dating. And if you are in the dating mode of matchmaking and profiles, and all that jazz, I think that should be included. Discussion about willing to sign a prenup that is recognized and validated in your community, which is a whole other problem. But I think that that should also be a question, “Are you intending on signing a Halakhic prenup upon marriage?” I think that should be a question.

I’ll tell you a conversation that’s been happening a lot due to the pandemic. My husband and I have been talking about, “What happens if you die? What do we do? What do I do? How do I close up your business? Who do I pass the things on to?”

David Bashevkin:

You and I have the same conversations. My wife, whose name is Tova, we’re always… It’s strange. Whenever I get on an airplane, she’s literally like, “I need more information right now. Just in case.” She’s very morbid. “I need more information.”

Bari Mitzmann:

So we had this conversation because a lot of our loved ones did pass away during this pandemic, and we have life insurance. And to have life insurance, no, I don’t want to have life insurance, because then we’re thinking about possibly dying. It’s like, no, I care about you. I love you. I want to make sure you’re taken care of in any case.

David Bashevkin:

You don’t want to just die.

Bari Mitzmann:

I’m just doing my due diligence.

David Bashevkin:

Yeah.

Bari Mitzmann:

I’m doing my due diligence to make sure that worst case scenario, God forbid, you are taken care of. I don’t see why that shouldn’t be a conversation between couples. I love you now. You’re an incredible human being. I hope that our feelings do not change towards one another, but if they do, we will go our separate ways, and we will be able to establish lives for each other, our own separate lives, if that does occur. I think that is an incredibly healthy conversation to have.

My husband and I, because I got sick during our engagement, and because it wasn’t so mainstream five, six years ago for non-Yeshiva University couples to sign Halakhic prenups, it wasn’t as easily accessible for us, and we wanted to do it. We didn’t end up doing it. But guess what? We’re looking into post-nup options. Do we intend on getting divorced? Please no. That dude is my lifeline. But in this case, I want to do it not only for myself, but as a statement. And I think that that is part of doing my due diligence as a content creator with a large audience who believes in this to provide a solution, or one solution.

I know myself I cannot find the Halakhic grounds and the Jewish law grounds to figure out a loophole for an agunah who is in a relationship with someone who is physically abusive, this, that, the other thing that, or manipulative, that refuses to give the get. But I know what I can do, and I am in the position to publicly show that my husband and I not only have life insurance, because that’s important, but are also dedicated to allowing each other to live, in the case that the marriage does not work out.

David Bashevkin:

I could not agree with you more, and again, one of my mentors, he said that, and I think this is true halachically and even just in Jewish thought, that the possibility of divorce does not make a marriage weaker, it actually makes it stronger. That you are able to have an honest and meaningful conversation about that. It doesn’t make the relationship or the commitment weaker, it’s actually a sign of its strength, that you’re able to even have that conversation I think is really, really something tremendous.

I can’t thank you enough for your time today, and I just think you’re doing absolutely wonderful things on Instagram. You probably don’t need me to plug your Instagram page, but we’ll do it just in case. It’s Bari Mitzmann, M-I-T-Z-M-A-N-N, two N’s.

Bari Mitzmann:

Two N’s.

David Bashevkin:

Always tricky. And it’s Barianna, B-A-R-I-A-N-N-A. She is a self-described food and fashion lover. And the thing that I always love is that you are normalizing the struggle. And that’s what this is all about, that’s in your bio, normalizing the struggle. I absolutely love that. I always ask my guests three parting questions. My first question is, if somebody wants more serious information about, and I’m not talking about the agunah issue particularly, but a book or something that helps you understand – your idea of house rules is so brilliant – on how you want to conduct with me. What is a book that helps shape the way you conduct yourself online?

Bari Mitzmann:

See, the thing is my husband’s basically a mental library. Our entire house is filled with self-help books. And the idea, I don’t know where exactly it is from, but the idea that I have adapted, which is from a book, is the idea of spheres of influence. If there’s someone in your circle that you desperately want to help, but you realize that your influence is not strong enough to help them, you need to remove that out of your circle and be realistic. I really want to help this person, but that person won’t be receptive to my help. Then I need to make them further out of that sphere. My personal sphere of influence is my spouse and my children. And after that, each person after that, we organize them in the spheres. So however close they are, that’s how much I invest. And the further they are, that’s how much I invest.

David Bashevkin:

I absolutely love that. If you have the title of that book, let me know after.

Bari Mitzmann:

I will find out from Mr. Mitzmann.

David Bashevkin:

I really, really do like that. From Mr. Mitzmann. My second question, if somebody gave you a great deal of money that allowed you to take a sabbatical, or however long it took, to go back to school and write a PhD, what do you think the subject and title of the PhD would be?

Bari Mitzmann:

Oh, I already know that one. That was a plan that fell through. But that would be about the correlation between mental health and Judaic observance.

David Bashevkin:

Ah, what a fabulous topic and title. My final question, as somebody who has struggled, I don’t know about you, if it affects your sleep patterns. I’ve been a terrible sleeper my entire life. I’m always curious to ask my guests, what time do you go to sleep, and what time do you wake up in the morning?

Bari Mitzmann:

I aim to go to sleep no later than 11. I’m pretty good at that. What time I wake up differs because of my physical health, but that’ll range between 7:30 and 10. But my kids will always come in and, “Ima, Ima.” We give hugs, we compliment the outfits, and then I’m back to being unconscious. It all depends on what my body can tolerate for that day.

David Bashevkin:

I always admire somebody, and my wife and I differ on this, of getting back to sleep after you’ve been woken up. Once my wife has woken up, her day has begun. Nothing can stop me. I can get back to sleep if I need it, and that’s part of my resilience as a sleeper. Bari Mitzmann, I cannot thank you enough for your time and experiences and wisdom today. Thank you so much for joining us.

Bari Mitzmann:

My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

David Bashevkin:

So one thing that I really loved about this interview was Bari’s idea about house rules for how she chooses to interact online. And I think about that a lot. I don’t really have anybody blocked at this point. I don’t think, maybe one or two people, that are a holdover that I just block. But I do have house rules. I do have a time when the Twitter conversation is no longer constructive. It’s gone off the rails and then I just go into the background. I don’t feel a need to chime in or to call anybody out. I just say, “Okay. This conversation to me is no longer constructive.”

I think a lot of times what one of my mentors and extraordinarily close friends, Rabbi Yaakov Glasser, one time told me, he said, “Once I get,” I think it was “three or four back and forths on an email, and we’re trying to figure it out, that’s when I pick up the phone.” At a certain point, you need a house rule of saying, “You know what, we need to talk about this offline. We need to talk about this in person. We need to end this conversation.”

I one time got an email from somebody, who’s actually quite prestigious right now. I’m not going to say who they are. But they sent me an email right now where in the subject of the email, they asked me to do something for them. Literally, just in the subject, can you do X, Y, and Z. Which I thought at the time, I was young and a little bit rude, I thought it was a little bit obnoxious to just send an email and the subject was do this for me.

So I replied a lengthy reply, but my entire reply was written in the subject of the email, just as his question had been. And I think all this is part of figuring out, what are your house rules? How do you interact with others online? So thank you so much for listening. And let me just make one more reminder that this month we are reaching out for our one year anniversary episode. Leave us questions, feedback, criticism – just please mind your language, it is a family show – at the voicemail at 917-720-5629. Again, that’s 917-720-5629. We love to feature your voice.

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If you’d like to learn more about this topic, or some of the other great ones we’ve covered, be sure to check out 18Forty.org. That’s the number 1-8 followed by the word “forty,” F-O-R-T-Y dot org, 18Forty.org. You’ll also find videos, articles, recommended readings. Thank you so much for listening and stay curious, my friends.