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All you Jews ever do is complain

There are some things in Judaism- most of them take place in shul- that are a pain in the neck, I was thinking about this other day when I was standing in shull and my tefilin did its occasional mysterious unraveling that it likes to do in the middle of shmona esray. In fact I was embarrassed when my tefilin just fell down, this is when it just decides to unwrap itself and fall off your arm and it gathers where you tied it onto your hand.

Then there are those times that you are in the middle of shmona esray and all the sudden the pages that you needed are missing and you are staring at Aleinu, when all you needed was Yaale Viyavo. Always problematic since your not supposed to interrupt your shmona esray for even a nuclear missile crisis. This issue always seems to happen when you are out of reach of anyone who can be of assistance, its kind of hard to signal to anyone and sometimes you have suck it up and just walk over to the siddur pile and find a fully intact siddur. Of course you can do it BT style as well and jump with both feet together, kind of like a potato sack race, over to the siddur rack.

You would think that the only place you have to be violated when someone wants to sit down the row would be at a movie theater or an air plane. But in shul this happens as well, you have those shulls with stadium seating, which require you to get up every time someone decides to have a bowel movement, attend the Kiddush club or get an aliyah. Always annoying to have some guys butt rubbing your knees as he wiggles out of his seat.

The whole concept of a Mi-Shebrachs is great, but for some reason certain shuls like to drag it out. It almost seems as if people are making up names, ever notice that it seems like a competition to see who can come up with the most names and also crazy sounding names. Even at shuls where there are clearly no names to be given, someone will look at the ceiling fan and all the sudden he realizes that Moishes co-worker ahd somethingh about their cousin having a head cold and boom the name is given, but no thats never enough and all the sudden it seems that the floodgates have opened and what had gone from one name becomes hundreds of names.

One of the biggest pains in the neck are the double speech Rabbis. In shuls where the rabbi feels that he has to give a diatribe about the parsha right before laining and then a more detailed diatribe about the parsha, this time with sources, after the laining. Then of course these shuls will then bust out the whole presidents speech right before the end, which goes over shul dinner and ad journal details and asks for the money owed to them for aliyah auctions 6 months ago.

I feel that the most fun a Rabbi can have is watching everyone twisting in agony as they hold their little plastic shot glasses of grape juice, in silent wait for the Rabbi to make Kiddush. You have people like me who just make our own Kiddush and load our plates up, but thats rude and for the normal folks, they like to wait, and the Rabbi gets to enjoy the show, because they never just start, there is always some random person missing that has to hear the Rabbi say Kiddush, I am not even sure that he is yotze everyone since they rarely drink the wine anyway.

On that same note, I always wondered why when there are 50 people present, the havdalah maker always feels that everyone has to smell the besumin. Just get the show on the road and eventually they can smell the dried cloves and Hadassah leaves, or those pricey lemon scent things. So your standing there and someone always has to bust out a humming Carlebach tune to make the passing of small spice bottles seem like its going fast.

Another annoyance in Judaism is waiting for everyone to wash. This is where the Rabbis should step in and make a takanah or something. I am not for bans and all, but something needs to be done. You have those like me that wash right away, then you have the women talking about their mango and strawberry salads and the men talking about sports. Then you have half the crew waiting for everyone to wash and those who didnt wash pushing people saying I my they already washed. Its very annoying, of course its even worse when the challah cutter does one of those signals with his hand requesting the knife and salt. This is even worse when the challah is breakaway- which was never meant to be cut anyway. The whole challah thing can be quite painful. Even more so if there are a bunch of little kids yelling nus and uhs at each other.

Dont even get me started on the challah cutters that should be cutting challah and those families that love to do challah portion control as if it were World War 2. This just creates issues because then you have to ask for someone to keep passing you challah and they get pissed, and you get pissed because this challah conveyor belt makes you look like a pig.

The Jewish walk of shame is way different then what it was in college, it is when you walk into a shul and you have no idea where the siddurs are. These shuls also tend to be the type that are cold and no one will help you find one, on Rosh Hashanah I even picked up a Yom Kippur machzor once because no one helped me out and realized mid Viduy, that something wasnt right.

Notice how most of these things have to do with shabbos? Well thats because the rest of the week I really have nothing to do with Jews. Anyway, another pet peeve or annoyance shall you say- are meat pickers. Those people that couldnt give two beans about the line of folks waiting cholent while they pick up spoon after spoon and just dump it back in like a catch and release fisherman, except in this case, there is a line of people who usually grow impatient and whip out the flimsy plastic forks until someone drops the serving spoon in the cholent pot and then someone wraps a napkin around it and all hell breaks loose with the plastic spoon wielding cholent gatherers growing impatient with the lack of meat and their lack of scooping power from their forks which tend to bend and buckle under the weight of cholent.

Shul ushers just piss me off, (fancy modern shuls have these) this is one of the reasons why I would never again daven at the Jewish Center on the Upper Weezy (upper west side)- these guys stand at the end of the shul, hand you a siddur and show you to your seat, wedged between two nerdy looking NCSY fellows who are singing the songs with hand motions. In order to leave the row you cause a ruckus and you have no armrest.

Why is it that I never know where in the world we are holding during Hoshanos or Slichos? I don’t think I am alone, it would be nice if they picked a chazan that could be understood and someone who yelled out page numbers, but no, they leave folks like myself to wait around until Hashem-Hashem kel rachum stuff and the main part of Hoshanos at the beginning. Such frustrations, then all the sudden everyone is banging their hoshanos and you just do it to so you don’t look like an idiot.

I am sure I could keep going, but its getting too negative- when I thought of the post it was funny- I think it still is funny, but some people may just get pissed off.

{ 57 comments… add one }
  • Raizy April 9, 2008, 8:11 PM

    “some people may just get pissed off”-
    Umm, are you normally reluctant to offend people?!

  • heshman April 9, 2008, 9:22 PM

    Nope, I love offending people, although most of my stuff is not meant to offend- people take offense because most people do not understand satire, ironic, or sarcastic humor.

  • menashe April 9, 2008, 11:06 PM

    I don’t belong to an organized religion – I’m Jewish.

    This is even more appropriate for us Lubavitchers.

  • Headbanger April 10, 2008, 12:43 AM

    I still have never mastered Selichos. The easier they try to print it, the less material it has from what your shul actually says. I give up after the first night. (which is usually a gathering of friends at 1 a.m. Saturday night after some good pizza) When they get to the 3rd paragraph all hell breaks loose. I’m saying something and they’re turning pages back and forth. Is it that complicated to just have everything in order. Is there any other way I can be forgiven for my terrible sins besides going through this torture. Yom kippur is long enough. Selichos was made for the informed. If you’re out of the loop don’t bother.

    Hoshanos piss me off and therefore I steer clear of shul that morning. I can zetz my shmeckle all day long instead and still get more leaves to fall off. A great post btw would be an analysis of the Hoshanos ceremony. No one actually makes it around the Bima once. The whole ring around the rosy crap just doesn’t work in Orthodox shuls when there’s hardly room as it is. And that’s beside the fact that you have a siddur and all 4 minim in your hands balanced. You lose the place and you get no mercy. Forget losing the place, God forbid you drop the esrog or your large siddur. You will be trampled over like a Latka by angry jewish men who are trying to make it around that Bima before the Chazzan finishes. It’s really a Darwin ritual, nobody freaken moves anyway they really should abolish the whole circling thing. You can hear the grunts and groans like it’s the Chassan Bereshis Kiddush with the Tallasim strings whipping you in the face.

  • Hesh April 10, 2008, 8:17 AM

    Headbanger I have a post written up all about it- I just never posted it for some reason, I like to post stuff in the season you know

  • suitepotato April 10, 2008, 4:34 PM

    Headbanger’s account of hoshanos sounds like a game of musical chairs.

  • Headbanger April 10, 2008, 10:07 PM

    Because that’s what it is except you don’t die during ordinary musical chairs.

  • s(b.) April 10, 2008, 10:24 PM

    I remember hoshana rabah at the carlebach shul when I was about 11. It was pretty neat.

  • s(b.) April 10, 2008, 10:24 PM

    in the men’s section (w/my pop)

  • Shira Salamone April 11, 2008, 12:03 PM

    What, your tefillin fall off, too??! I thought that was only for newbies like us middle-aged moms who didn’t take on wearing tefillin on a daily basis (Shabbos & Yontif, excluded, of course) ’til they were just over 58. I feel better now, thanks. 🙂

    Hint: Just pretend you’re taking your blood pressure, and wind the hand tefillah so tightly that you still have marks on your arm three hours later.

    Wearing tefillin gives a whole new meaning to the old slang expression, “tie one on.” 🙂

  • heshman April 11, 2008, 12:08 PM

    Hey Shira, great tefilin story. I was on birthright and I was tying them up for shachris and my roommate on the trip thought I was tying my arm to shoot up.

  • Shira Salamone April 11, 2008, 12:12 PM

    Use your imagination: the lulav is long and straight, the circling of the hoshanot may represent something else that’s cirucular and open in the middle. I think the hoshanot are symbolic of a certain act, but since we ain’t pagans, folks, that’s as close as you’re ever going to get to that act in synagogue.

  • Shira Salamone April 11, 2008, 12:16 PM

    Shooting up?! Good heavens! Boy, did you ever have some explaining to do!

    In all seriousness, though, it’s a sad business when you have to explain tefillin to an adult Jew.

  • s(b.) April 11, 2008, 1:18 PM

    re: hoshanot/aravot — as many folks know, they are said to represent the lips. So when I read Shira Salamone // Apr 11, 2008 at 12:12 pm, I laughed. I could just imagine beavis and butthead at hoshanah rabah.

  • jelen April 13, 2008, 1:38 AM

    headbanger: HAHAH!! “zetz your shmeckle” hahaha…..i laughed out loud when i read that, and my roommate was all “what’s so funny?” i seriously considered explaining it to her, but decided in the end that it wasnt quite worth it.

  • Yochanan April 13, 2008, 4:55 AM


    I’ve heard the lulav-fertility theory too.

    1) It kinda makes sense: waving a giant stick and praying for rain.

    Only thing is that we don’t pray to some idol or cloud spirit for the rain, but to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.

    2) Here’s were it the lulav-fertility theory fails:
    Palm branches are quite droopy and why is there only one etrog, not two?

  • Anonymous May 13, 2008, 1:43 AM

    I am a bit confused my last name is Zetzmann but I am a Germanic. I also found family in the waffen SS during WW2

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