Tag Archives: Frum

Would I be good in Kiruv?

17 Oct

Sometimes I wonder if I’d be successful doing kiruv. Or rabbanus. Off the bat, you’re gonna laugh, I know, and the pros and cons here don’t paint a great picture either, but I wonder if the actual baalei teshuva/geirim/spiritually-minded in the audience would care to weigh in here.

Cons: 1. I can’t look at Jewish propaganda. A Jewish grandfather and kid laughing with white yarmulkes on and some Israel/family ad makes me cringe. An interenet meme hijacked by some mitzvah motivator makes me want to find a slightly overweight man in a suit with a black hat and trimmed beard and punch them hard, repeatedly. (You want to see someone profaning holy things? Foul Bachelor Frog promoting shacharis with only the barest pretense of humor evident.)

I can’t stand the davening. I barely ever do it except maybe once a week in shul, and then I leave out all the stuff that makes my skin crawl. Which is basically every other sentence.

I can’t imagine having to represent Judaism every second of the day. Wait, I kind of do that with my yarmulke on all the time. But that’s off sometimes, like at the beach. Plus, I don’t have to do public events and get my face plastered all over.


1. I like people listening to me.

2. I hate my job now.

3. I actually know the Jewish religion/philosophy/practice really well.

4. Hot women will suddenly be approaching ME for conversation.

5. I’m a pretty good speaker. I’m funny, and I can spin a pretty good vort out of most parshios out there. With life lessons thrown in at opportune moments.

5. Everything I say will suddenly have the weight of 3500 years of serious tradition behind it. Proxy respect, you say? My ego can’t tell the difference!

Now on to questionable areas: Would prospective religion seekers like my ideas? I can see it going both ways. Very broadly, here’s my outlook summed up in a hypothetical kiruv conversation.

Rabbi Dicker, Will I find ultimate truth in frum Judaism?

It really depends. I don’t know you well enough. It’s definitely possible you’ll be very happy for a while. Of course, then you might become even more depressed after investing your life in it and hating it. I’m not touching this one.

Is the Torah true?

Oh god. I don’t know. OK, probably not. Wait, wait! I’m just speaking rationally. You know, statistically speaking, with all the other competing traditions out there. And all the unbelievable myths, and antiquated beliefs you’ll undoubtedly find while learning through it. But really, Joanne, why does it matter?

Why does it ma-?

Yes. Let’s look at the facts on the ground here. Clearly people have a need for religion. Look at you, growing up in a secularized, rational, environment, looking now for that old time religion to follow. It’s hard going into the world by ourselves. Maybe biologically, we need this emotional support to be happy in life. Go to the most remote, ancient, primitive, villages on Earth, and they’ll all have sacred rituals that connect them with some higher forces. Just accept it and be happy. And if you’re being smart about the whole thing, while you’re at it, why not choose the one with the rituals that don’t creep you out, and that you’re already kind of familiar with, and that brings back those positive childhood memories of going to grandpa’s house?”

Hmm? Anyone think my spiel has merit? Think it’ll win me enough congregants to make Anshei Agnostics a success?

You know what? It doesn’t matter. Because at it’s essence, isn’t kiruv really just about showing a nice, smiling family around a shabbos table to people who are too emotionally screwed up to ever have it? I can do that. Shit, who am I kidding? I can’t pull that off. Maybe I’ll become a male stripper.


Shabbos Robes Are Sexy

2 Sep

Guest Post By: For Real

Say What- ? 

This story actually happened to me this past Friday night:

David: Hey, I’ve never seen anything like this before on you

For Real: This is what is commonly known as a Shabbos Robe

David: I know, I live in Brooklyn too…..but I’ve never seen YOU in one….(gazes in adoration)

For Real: You’ve seen me in ugly stuff before- sweatpants, my high school uniform-  what’s the big deal?

David: This thing is so girly! It’s like a real dress! And it unzips in the front for easy access! This is amazing!

For Real: (Bursts out laughing) Do you know how much virtual ink has been spilled about how UGLY these things are? How these robes symbolize the eventual breakdown of the female body from childbearing and how chicks stop dressing up for their guys?

David: You’re overthinking this. You look good in this and that’s all that counts!

For Real: (Still laughing) You grew up in a world where women can wear whatever they want and you like SHABBOS ROBES! Here I thought “Yeah, now I’ve known David long enough not to have to get dressed up” and you’re taking this AS getting dressed up! I’M DATING THE ONLY GUY IN THE WORLD WHO LIKES SHABBOS ROBES!!!! I WIN!!!! (Start doing victory dance on Ocean Parkway)

David: (Laughs at victory dance) Well I win because I’m dating a girl who likes wearing stuff I like

For Real: David, can I tell the world that there is one Jewish guy who likes Shabbos robes? There are these blogs where Jews whine about Jewish things like that and I want to prove that there is another view on Shabbos Robes.

David: Sure, we’re not using our real names, why not?

(Ed: This story makes me feel good. There’s something nice and comforting and all-around feel-good about it. Good luck For Real! Thanks for the story.)

Rabbi Fink Is Right

24 May

What if some woman would write into us from Yemen about how upset she is at the media’s portrayal of the state of Muslim women, and how wonderful this Muslim lifestyle is, and how she can leave whenever she wants, and how beautiful the Koran’s view of women is and how all her friends are so happy etc, and she just fails to mention that she and her friends are Americans with enough education, means and outside ties to leave whenever they want, and the country really has no way of stopping them because they’re American citizens?

I wonder if the baalei tshuva talking about the XOJane Chaya article can see how much of an outrage that would cause among Arabic women who left Muslim countries to live in America and who are trying to raise awareness of the abuse they and their sisters and mothers are going through. And how they would respond to things like “I’m sorry you went through that, but that’s not how REAL Islam is supposed to be like.” Fuck you, that’s EXACTLY how real Islam is in most Arab countries, whether you live it or not. How dare you cover up someone else’s pain because it interferes with the image of your beautiful kumbaya lifestyle.

Before the Cold War, socialists in England during Lenin and Stalin’s reign, when millions of people were being slaughtered in Russia,  did whatever they could to stop the reports of the mass starvations and killings happening in Russia from being published. Not because they were under any threat from Stalin. This was the 1930’s, England was the most powerful country on Earth. They did it entirely to save a Utopian idea. They willingly sacrificed millions of Russian people to save an idea that had never worked outside of the drawing board. If you think for a moment that that’s what God wants, I really don’t know what to say.

Do research. Look at the facts on the ground and report them accurately. Don’t ignore other people or fake that you know how other people live to promote your own vision.


Rabbi Fink’s excellent article: http://finkorswim.com/2012/05/22/dear-chaya/


Pesach is Coming

9 Apr

This pissed me off over pesach:

There’s a guy at shul who’s constantly giving mussar to everyone else. Like he thinks he’s everyone’s personal mashgiach. The guy barely knows other people in shul and he’ll go over, ‘So, you don’t believe in hats?’ Always with a smile of course, so you get caught off guard and don’t have your ‘go fuck yourself’ handy.

Now this guy’s obviously an idiot, probably a failed mashgiach or rebbi or something, but people do this all the time. Just dialed down. Or maybe it’s just frum people. People are constantly talking about everyone else, or just thinking, judging. And if it’s a religious thing, they can shut out the guilt by feeling all frum about themselves. Now they have full permission to, no, a Responsibility, to stop someone else from doing an aveirah.

And no matter how righteous they think they are, they’re usually full of shit. Like me right now. I want to think I’m doing the world a favor by pointing out this behavior, but I’m actually just pissed off at the guy in shul and didn’t get the chance to tell him off. Here’s a mashal I thought about during davening later:

Everyone has to clean and prepare for pesach. If you don’t turn your entire house upside down, you won’t have anywhere to go, or any thing to eat come yomtov. And you get kares.

Let’s say it’s a week before pesach and you haven’t done a thing. You also notice your neighbor hasn’t done a thing. At this point, you have 2 logical choices. You could either A) work on your own house, or B) you could work on your friend’s house. A real tzaddik might help out his friend before himself. Most normal people would obviously do their own houses. But who the fuck would ignore his own house and go make comments about the other guy’s mess?? It’s insane.

Unless you don’t really believe that pesach’s coming. Then you’d look at your own house, maybe try to clean it up a little, see how hard it is and give up. Then, you don’t want to look like a kofer so you don’t let anybody see into your house, pretend you’re cleaning, and divert their attention to other people’s messes. And if you’re really screwed up, you feel guilty, so you point out other people’s flaws to divert your OWN attention from your OWN mess. And maybe you do something because you still feel guilty deep down. Like pointing the mess out to your friend. (Or writing about it on a blog.)

Sem Girls Says

25 Feb

Have you seen this?

Finding Science…Losing God.

2 Feb

BY: JohnTheSavage091

“Science without Religion is Lame, Religion without Science is Blind.”
–Albert Einstein.

I am going into the science field. Without sharing the unnecessary details, for the past few years I have been exposed to and absorbing ways and patterns of thinking that have drastically affected my outlook on the world around me. I can’t help it. Science is truly amazing. It could be learning about astronomy, the supposed extra dimensions of our universe and particle physics or heck, even yesterday for lunch I forgot the food halfway to my mouth as I sat struck by the amazingness of Planet Earth on HDTV (looooooooooooooooooooooove it!!) But jokes aside, there is a price to be paid for gaining this vantage point on life.

When you seek out the details of life’s inner working, you remove the mystery and magic that surrounds it. I can only compare it to a child’s trip through a haunted house. Send him through it without any prior knowledge and the boy will no doubt jump as the slightest shadow; see a terrifying monster where the darkness hides an amorphous blob of something vague. Yet take that same child in the daytime, equipped with a sufficient flashlight, explain to him every inch and corner and dark closet and instantly all the horror disappears.

I want a purpose in my life. Like old Al says, I want them both: Religion and Science. But how can I? When I look around us, I see that we’re just an infinitely miniscule, ultimately meaningless consequence of the universe. How can one see a God with a setting like that?

Picking A Winner

31 Jan

I have come to the conclusion that there really are only two kinds of people in the world. Women/men, black/white, child/adult, have/have not, not as important. The main divide is optimist/pessimist. You may call it something else, like winners and losers, disenfranchised vs. doers, whatever, it all boils down to one idea: Do you feel you have control over your life or not? Everything else in your life is meaningless besides for this. Whatever you do, where ever you go, your happiness/mental state/satisfaction will be determined by this one question.

Now, being a long-standing member of the Losers club, I have been granted the Continue reading