Tag Archives: yeshivaforum

Explaining Pro Baseball To A 6 Year Old

26 May

I was watching a baseball game with my 6 year old nephew when he asks me, “What team is that man on?”

“He’s on the Toronto Blue Jays”. This is funny to him.

“Hahahaha, like Toronto!”

“Exactly. That’s where those men live, Toronto. They flew to Detroit on a plane to play the Tigers.”

“Hahaha.”

“No, seriously. It’s not a joke.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. And they get paid to play baseball.”

“You’re making a joke, right?”

“No, really. It’s not like the time machine to fast forward commercials that I was just telling you about. This is real. Do you know how much money they get paid to play baseball?”

“How much?”

“Millions and millions of dollars.”

“Hahaha! You’re joking. That’s not true.”

I’m pretty sure he still doesn’t believe me. That’s cool though. I think it’s about time we had a discussion about the need to sublimate natural tendencies in society anyhow.

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My Judaism, or Hevel Havalim.

17 May

After I caught myself kissing my Tefillin absentmindedly this morning, I started to wonder how many things I do that have no meaning at all the way I do them. Here’s my list:

-Everything to do with davening, brachos, etc. This is all a waste of mine and God’s time.

-Learning. Resentment and being uplifted don’t seem to be very compatible.

-Trying to better myself. I do this because I got confused early on with low self-esteem and working on my middos.

-Doing chessed. I don’t think I have that much real feeling towards people I deem ‘inferior’. I’m nice because I think God is watching and marking me down for extra credit.

Now, I know it’s impolite to admit these things in public, and they’re probably more evidence of a pessimistic view of life than anything else, but the odd thing is I’m really following “Fear God and keep his mitzvos, for this is all of man”. I’m assuming Shlomo wasn’t just a bitter old curmudgeon. Yet he says again, in Koheles 7:13-18-

13 Consider the work of God; for who can make that straight, which He hath made crooked?

14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; God hath made even the one as well as the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.

15 All things have I seen in the days of my vanity; there is a righteous man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his evil-doing.

16 Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself overwise; why shouldest thou destroy thyself?

17 Be not overmuch wicked, neither be thou foolish; why shouldest thou die before thy time?

18 It is good that thou shouldest take hold of the one; yea, also from the other withdraw not thy hand; for he that feareth God shall discharge himself of them all.

Basically, God is in charge and He’s gonna do whatever He wants. Don’t kill yourself to try to do what He wants, because you’ll end up wasting your life and not get anything in return. Just make sure not to piss Hashem off, and you’ll do fine.

Whoa, is that how it’s supposed to be? That’s not what they taught me in Cheder. But actually, the Chumash seems to also pay a much higher premium for fear of God than love. What do the modern, positive, hashkafos do with all this? I’ve seen highly regarded, Yeshivish approved modern seforim that seem to me to twist the Chumash out of the pashut pshat. (For example, when the pasuk says that the Jews at the Yam Suf first feared God and only then trusted in Him and Moshe, a certain sefer says that this fear was actually a result of a love that came first at some unmentioned time before. It was a ‘higher’ fear, meaning a fear of losing the special relationship. This is a huge dochek pshat, imo.)

I happen to think there was a shift at some point, to stressing a love-based relationship over a fear-based one. Even though I’m intellectualizing this emotion-based problem, I’m still curious to get to the bottom of this.

Wanna See A Trick?

11 May

If you like rocking the boat, here’s a parlor game you might enjoy. Amongst a group of good friends, bring up the interpretation of major events of the 20th century that you learned about in Yeshiva. Let’s pick the big ones, WWII and the 1960’s cultural revolution.

The Holocaust happened because people were going off the derech, because of the Haskalah. (This is a pretty mainstream interpretation, so it’s a pretty safe bet that if you say it out loud, most people will agree.) You might get an, “It’s so obvious, just connect the dots.”

First, point out the most obvious question. “Why were most of the victims Frum? After all, Poland was hit first, and the Jews there were nearly completely destroyed.”

“Well, Tzaddikim are hit first to atone for everyone else.”

Yeah, but most of the victims were Tzaddikim. That doesn’t fit well with the theory. Who were the ones doing the Averos that were actually atoned for and saved? Tzaddikim usually atone for more people than themselves. But they were hit hardest.”

“We don’t know what Hashem’s ways are. Maybe there was a gezeirah against everyone else.”

Weak! Sounds more like you already have a preconceived idea, and are using the Holocaust to back you up. That’s low, even for a self-righteous putz like you.”

“Yeah? Well how about you? I know you don’t give a damn about this, and are just having this argument with me to show me how smart you think you are. When are you going to grow up?”

Not true. Someone on the internet told me to do it. Now answer the question. Getting your coat, and walking out? So you can’t, eh? Baby! Let me tell my reason! Wait up!

“Get back in your house. There’s something wrong with you.”

Don’t drive off like that! Did you know that- ”

Vrooom.

OK, if you’re still following the plan, that’s a weight off my chest, at the cost of just one of your friends. Now for the next stage: the Rabbi.

“Ah, R’ Yankel, sit down, have some cholent.”

We’re having guests, I can’t really stay.”

“Oh, come on. Have a L’Chaim at least.”

Oh, alright. Ooh, Canadian Club. The shul must have gotten some membership checks in. Ahh, that’s nice. Ok, Rav, I have a question. You know how you always mention that the 60’s were supposedly this horrible time where all ‘Judeo-Christian’ values were overthrown, and people stopped wearing hats, and the birds in San Francisco started turning gay?”

“Haha! Not exactly, but close enou- ”

Well then, how come before the 60’s, Judaism was dying out in America? Everyone was trying to be like the perfect American, moderately Christian, white family. But afterwards, when all the old-time racist, competitive, warring values were rejected, and people needed something new to believe in, many Jews started taking pride in being Jewish! The 60’s probably saved Judaism! Maybe we should start being open to new ideas.”

“Hmm. That’s very interesting to think abo- ”

And dogmatic ideas like ‘Anything new is forbidden by the Torah’, causes societies to stagnate, and inhibits the natural growth of human civilization. Maybe that’s why the frum community is stuck in an old-time mindset and has so many psychological problems.”

“Wow. That really is a lot to take in. Why’s all this on your mind? Is something bothering you, or do you just want to show me how smart you are?”

Mostly the second one. Oh- Plus, I’m running to Mexico with my cleaning lady. Hey, 12:00. Gotta run. Thanks for the booze!”

Harsh Tales of the Wandering Jew

10 May

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in shul on Shabbos at around 10:45, smelling the cholent, listening to the Rabbi’s beautiful drasha, thinking shut the fuck up already shut the fuck up shut the fuck up shut the fuck up, as I always do, when my neighbor poked me in the ribs. I’d gotten distracted and apparently started speaking out loud. That was going to be hard to face up to, so I decided to just make the difficult decision and never talk to anyone in that shul ever again.

Of course, this left me without a place to go on Shabbos mornings- not to mention losing the remainder of my $350 membership. Well, it was tzedakah after all, so I figured I’d just steal a couple of dollars from the pushka until about next Sukkos to be even.

Back to my shul problem, though. The next week I decided to try out the shtiebel a few blocks down. I’d been there a few times for simchos, and the cholent – a homemade version by the Rebbetzin- was very good. Oddly, it tasted a bit like Gold Bond, but in a good way. Anyhow, I sat through a cramped, hot davening, but the smell of the cholent did not disappoint. The Rav did not speak before Musaf, which gave major points for the place, and I sat down to the decked-out kiddush waiting for some of that delicious cholent heaped up in huge clear bowls all along the table. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. The Rabbi had tricked us! He didn’t intend to speak during kiddush, but before it, keeping us prisoner to his droning on, before we were allowed to eat.

I was outraged, and covertly poured some cholent into a bowl, grabbed some stella dora cookies, and slipped out the back. And damn, that cholent was as good as I remembered it. Better even, if you can believe it. There was an extra spice in there that week besides the Gold Bond. Was it Victory?

That was last week. This week, I decided to try the Young Israel 20 minutes away. I’d never gone there, because it was modern, and started at the brazenly modernishe hour of 8:00, but frankly, I was running out of options.

As soon as I got there at Chamishi, I felt something was wrong. No, it wasn’t the dragged out singing of Hodo al eretz v’shamaim, or the stained glass mechitzah, or even the boring speech- which I could swear had the word ‘dikduk’ in it. No, I was ready for that. It was something deeper, some unconscious, visceral fear. But I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Then came the kiddush, and I knew instantly. There was no smell of cholent. It was a cold kiddush! Plus, the Rabbi had started to speak again! Well, “Fuck this!” I said out loud, and stormed out. What can I tell you? Life is hard for the Wandering Jew.

Modern Yeshivishness

9 May

(Cross-posted on Dovbear)

A Yeshivish relative of mine recently commented that the Maccabeats’ Chanukah song and subsequent interview on CBS was a big Kiddush Hashem. This typical, wrong P.R. definition of Kiddush Hashem is interesting because of the symbiotic relationship it highlights between Modern and Yeshivish Orthodoxy.

Modern Orthodoxy depends on the Yeshivish world for to fill the ranks of low-paying Jewish jobs such as Rebbeim and Mashgichim. At the same time, the cloistered Yeshivish world depends on graduates of Modern Orthodox institutions for a good public face and necessary frum professionals, such as doctors and scientists.

The latter profession is especially interesting, as it’s usefulness lies in it’s combating the negative, atheistic views of the scientific community. The fact that the Yeshivish derech, with few exceptions, promotes avoidance of the outside environment, makes it so that the Modern Orthodox are the ones putting their souls on the line for the good of the tzibbur.

This arrangement could be considered a nice modern version of the Yissochor-Zevulun relationship, if not for the fact that Modern Orthodoxy has been deligitimized in Yeshivish circles. (Even suggesting that such a relationship exists places one beyond the pale.) Sin’as Chinam, it would seem, is a small price to pay in protecting our youth from evil.

Defeated Dating

8 May

This one goes out to all my beat down, bitter people out there. Can I get a whoop-whoop?? No? Ok then, how about we share some awkward eye contact, and then look away? There we go.

Anyhoo, I figured I’d vent to all the girls out there about Jewish dating. Ok. Why do you girls care about cliched gestures, like us opening up car doors for you? Do you think it shows anything significant about us? You could train a freakin monkey to do that. Do you think some horny putz of a guy can’t learn to do that? Are you just grasping at straws in the tiny shidduch dating window, or is that the thought that specifically turns you on? Ooh, this monkey is trainable!

Next: what is it about cursing that turns you off? I’m fucking starving, so sue me. If I’d have just been plain starving, I’d have said that. Why does this offend you for some reason?

And for Christ’s sake, why am I getting flack for caring how hot you are? Yes, I care. Just like you care about my money. Can we please just cut the crap? Look how I fix this lame Yeshiva pickup line situation by just scooping away some of the bullshit:

Slightly drunk guy peeking around the mechitza at wedding: “Do you come here often?…

Uh, I mean, nice wedding….

Do you know the Chosson or the Kallah?…..

Umm, I’m a CPA and I make 90,000 a year.”

Girl: “Your submissiveness has suddenly become intoxicating. Take me now.”

Mazal Tov!

Yeah, Yeah, now I’ll get a bunch of comments saying I’m totally wrong and misogynist. Whatever Zereshes, I give up. I’m ready to join the other team anyhow. 

(Originally posted on Frumsatire)

Drinking on Purim

8 May


(Originally posted on Frumsatire)

You might not know this, but the holiday of Purim is traditionally a good day for davening. This is because the salvation that came about only happened after the Jews got together and prayed.

Now, many people have come out against yeshiva bochurim drinking on Purim. These people are a modern reincarnation of Haman. They are trying to destroy the two most important Purim customs, drinking and prayer. As a former Yeshiva bochur, I know that being drunk on Purim is a purely spiritual experience. When else do you get such heartfelt prayers as these?

“Owowow. My head! Oh my God, I think I’m gonna die.”

“Lord, I’m in your hands. Please guide my car on the straight path. Let me not swerve left nor right from it. And deliver me not into the hands of that evil cop.”

“Hashem, make sure my Rebbe doesn’t see me peeing on his car.”

“If you let me just throw up now, I’ll do whatever you want. Seriously. I won’t jerk off for a week. Ow! Ok two weeks.”

So moving! It’s like witnessing a modern book of Tehillim in the making. May the mouths of the evil ones be silenced so that this holy custom shall never cease from Israel.