Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Nostalgia no more. The giants got together and created a new community so much missing. An online community where the ideas flow, topical issues discussed, and our flag raised proudly. Creatively named Unpious - אהן פיאות this new website, created by us, about us, for us is now up and running at http://www.unpious.com/.
Many names of fame - names we have missed for too long - have gotten together to create this project. Not everyone can be revealed yet, but I can promise you surprise posts by people long deemed dead. A resurrection and revolution all at once.
Contributions are also encouraged. Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
And now a round of applause to HR who really gave this project a lot of effort and detailed attention. Perhaps even sleepless nights. Please reward this fine young man I proudly call my friend by checking out his blog and clicking on the advertisements. Reading his posts are optional but highly recommended. If you're new to HR's blog (shame on you) check out the best post ever written (in my opinion at least), “No Return". Of course, while you're reading that post click on some of the ads to the side and bottom of the post. Thanks.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Let's take a look at the story:
And the LORD said: 'I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and creeping thing, and fowl of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them.' But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
The 'Lord' (יְהוָה) takes a liking to Noah, but then 'GOD' (אֱלֹהִים) saw the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. So God tells Noah Make thee an ark of gopher wood, do this and do that, and bring of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. Of the fowl after their kind, and of the cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive.
Noah is not the lazy type, Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
Moving on - the LORD said unto Noah: 'Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before Me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee seven and seven, each with his mate; and of the beasts that are not clean two, each with his mate.
Ooops. Good thing he didn't do everything according to all that God commanded him, for now the Lord got involved too and he wants seven and seven of each. He's a good fellow Noah, so now he does according unto all that the LORD commanded him. It is hard blame him, poor Noah, I wouldn't argue with the deities myself. God commands I do, the Lord says and I listen. It's not smart to pick fights with the Almightys.
All Noah had to do now is wait and see which of the Gods is going to bring the flood. And so, in his 600th year the flood of waters was upon the earth. And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood...here went in two and two unto Noah into the ark, male and female, as God commanded Noah. So God won. Nice. And it came to pass after the seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.
But wait, not so fast Noah. Suprise! In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. Again? Afraid so Noah, you've gotta cram up that boat again. Indeed, In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark. This time the obedient man takes only two and two of all flesh. God is in the details.
Pity the man yet? Wait until he wants to get out. He sends the raven out and...well, no one knows what happened next. He had to send the dove the second attempt.
Noah has two gods, God forbid (יש מרבותינו דורשים אותו לשבח, ויש שדורשים אותו לגנאי). After leaving the ark he builds and alter to the Lord who likes the sweet savor and promises to not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. As soon as the Lord is done talking Noah makes a convent with God who tells him something about the end of the rainbow.
Not one single person in shul looks astonished. Not one cares.
1 Thank God for Rashi. 2 Give thanks to the Lord for Rashi.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The second post, the first one with substance set the tone for what I was going to be, the bad boy of blogsphere. Of course it wasn't on my mind then but writing thoughts down, things I do, makes me think it over twice, as to why and how. Just a year or two before that post I wrote to the now defunct “Yoshev Al Hageder”, a plainspoken Israeli Charedi who, as him name suggests doesn't belong to any camp but sits on the gate ready to fall down either way. The email was short, perhaps a one liner “Are you planning on fasting this Yom Kippur?”. I've read his rants, knew perfectly what he meant, as I've had doubts of my own surfing in my head questioning everything I always believed in, but never found the guts to take it to the next level. I even had a hard time believing that someone else had the guts to do it. His answer, shorter than my question affirmed what I had hoped he would say. “Why should I fast?” or something like that was his answer (before Gmail, there was AOL with their policy of erasing emails after 7 days or so. Oy, what I would give to recover my innocence of those days.).
The third time I wrote on the blog I got some responses, both, comments, and emails. People found me, found what I wrote to be significant enough to respond, and to be honest, quite shockingly, significant enough to re-visit.
Then things got rolling, I got noticed, requested links to my blog by the gedoilim. More people emailed, commented, and debated than I ever imagined. In no time this blog business consumed me, it was on my mind constantly. I can't complain, times were good. I confirmed what I had suspected, I'm not the only one, I'm not even one in a thousand!
That was 5 years ago.
Now when the hate mail is too occasional to excite, the comments on posts as few and far between as are the posts itself, when googling “shtreimel” doesn't bring up this blog on top, when I'm conveniently mentioned in the list of former glory I can reflect on the changes these years have brought in me.
I'm missing the hindsight I may eventually have to be able to summarize the last 5 years fully, yet, there's plenty I can see this moment. I know I have matured with 5 years, especially with my main concerns of then. The questions I naively sought an honest answer I find unanswerable at the very best – sometimes I even think that I have the answer, and it isn't a fun answer for someone living in this community. But more than that is the change in attitude from “something must change, this cannot go on” to “living a double life isn't so hard at all”.
It isn't as hard as I thought it to be. Surprisingly most frum people care so little, or are so occupied with saving their own house of cards that one can be suspiciously heretical but still count as a tzenter – a tenth person required in a quorum of Jewish prayer. There is comfort in the status quo. People may find me hypocritical as if anyone asks me I advise to get up and leave before the comfort sets in, but once the comfort is there it's not as bad and monstrous as I thought it will be. I often wonder why I still hold by this advise, telling myself that not everyone is built for this kind of double life.
Analyzing the last 5 years leaves me with one question: what next?
If I get to write the answer I'd have it similar to the last 5. As long as it works it is fine by me.
Alas, as luck may have it, just when I come to terms with living this life, just when I think that this may be me for the rest of my days, something may happen to turn things on it's head. Someone may be ticked off, someone who couldn't care less until today. It may be a good thing for me, for everyone around me, it may not.
Time will tell. Hope to report back in 5 years. And also at times in between, even though I don't have much to say.
Gmar Chasima Tovah Ya'll.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Once upon a time there was a city (most probably a village, or town, by modern standards) in a continent far away, a walled city that had the misfortune of being in the way of the Romans and their legions. Jerusalem succumbed to the foe, and the series of events from the day the outer city walls were breached, the 3 weeks of fighting that ensued to the complete destruction of the temple some 2000 years ago on the 9th day in Av is commemorated the by mourning in these three weeks starting with a minor fast day and ending with a major fast day.
The Lord may work in mysterious ways but His people are way more predictable. Ever since that set of fateful events the commemorations were held faithfully, and true to rabbinic form it became ever more restrictive. A whole set of laws now exist to make sure that the destruction is not forgotten. In a way it worked, the Land of Israel was never forgotten and the astonishing return and establishment of a Jewish country there can only be attributed to the laws that govern the mourning. Only, we still abide by that rules, and aren’t too happy with the State of Israel (to say the least). Go figure.
Napoleon was right, if the story ever happened, and even if it never happened the moral of story sure did occur. As the story goes, Bonaparte once walked the streets of (enter the name of the city here) and saw Jews sitting on the floor and crying. Upon hearing that their temple was destroyed he got visibly agitated – it didn’t fit in with his emancipation theory. The rabbis then assured him that this actually happened 2000 years ago, in Jerusalem, by the Romans. Napoleon was moved “A people that could still mourn over their temple after so many years of exile will eventually find their way back home” he exclaimed.
Napoleonic stories, as are Franz Joseph anecdotes are quite the favorite amongst Chasidim. It always ends with a quick witted response of a clever rabbi or the emperors’ acknowledgment of the superiority of the Jews. The Baa’l Ha’Tanye worked as a spy for the Russians and snuck into the French camp when the emperor found him he put his hand on his chest to see if his heart is pounding. Nothing. Rabbi S Zalman was a master over his heart. I bet the French don’t know to this day that they were defeated due to the heroics of the said rabbi. And then there’s this truism: Napoleon once found Observant Jews mumbling outside the shul ostensibly talking to the moon, upon inquiry the rabbi explained that once upon a time the sun and the moon were the same size and the moon told god that ‘two kings can’t share one crown’ upon which the almighty punished the moon to become a trillionth the size. Highly impressed Napoleon then and there decided that he wants to convert “A people that have no other trouble than praying to God about the size of the moon sure must be a happy people”. No one knows who talked him out of it.
And there I am. It is almost the end of the day, the end of the workday. I’m salivating on the thought of eating the coffee roll while sipping the coffee. So why am I complaining? My poor co-workers are going to fast until the better part of the evening. Until the stars show at night they will be roaming all over the place with dried mouths and splitting headaches.
Maybe I am complaining because they seem to have a purpose in that, while I don’t.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Alone is when you sit at a special gathering, a simche, amongst family and friends, but you are not one of them. You sit at the table with your friends, some even childhood friends with whom no secrets were hidden, no holds barred but now, with nothing to share anymore. Nothing to talk about. You end up listening to the repetitive heroics of shomrim and or hatzolah turning into quotes from this week's Limbaugh drivels chanted in unison only to wish you are truly allein.
Alone is when you sit in shul, passing time while the baal koreh reads and the gabbai pleads for silence. You sit with your friends, but you prefer to read Talmudic passages or Chasidic exegesis over joining the hushed conversation about the latest police chase or the season finale of 24.
Being alone is when you sit at the Shabbos table, test the kids on what they learned in school and you realize that the ones closest and dearest to you share absolutely nothing with what you truly believe in. They don't know you, they won't recognize the true you. Chances are that you may even die alone. Alone with these heretical thoughts.
Alone is something you can achieve with a minyan, a quorum of 10 or more. You are in a group, you fulfill their obligatory need, you pray with them, you are part of them, but you are alone. Only you look around with the same thought scurrying your mind “will they ever know better?”. Only you say the words and think about what they mean, how meaningless they really are. Allein.
Alone is also when you sneak out to be amongst the only people that get you. Former Hasidim, and the very few others who know enough to understand you, but there again you stick out. You are the only one that hasn't shed the garb. You wear the bekishe, Saturday night because changing it is a bigger bother than walking down the streets of Manhattan with it. You are alone because you look so.
Alone is a state achievable even amongst people who speak like you, act like you, and even think like you. Alone is not always a bad place to be in. It's the other times when I'd rather not be allein.