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Elul: 50 Shades of Black

I know you, you’re that new guy in shul,

praying slowly and intently line by line.

But I will give you no respect,

’cause your hat’s just not as black as mine.


You do not shush yet you do not talk,

waving your hands like a circus mime.

Even so I won’t be nice,

’cause your hat’s just not as black as mine.


The beggers come in for some change,

and I see you give them each a dime.

But I will give you no respect,

’cause your hat’s just not as black as mine.


You bring your kids to sit next to you,

While mine are playing the entire time.

But mine go to the real yeshivah,

oh, and your hat’s just not as black as mine.


And when I see you at the store,

I hide in the aisles and jump between lines.

You begin to notice my odd behavior,

(even though your hat’s not as black like mine).


One day you come over to shake my hand,

wish me well and be so kind.

But that doesn’t impress me one little bit,

’cause your hat’s just not as black as mine.


Eventually, you approach and ask me point-blank,

“What did I do to offend you, what is my crime?”

But I just smirk and head for the door,

’cause your hat’s just not as black as mine.


I tell all my friends that you’re not really frum,

my primary objective is to hurt and malign.

Your daughters will end up with husbands who work,

’cause your hat’s just not as black as mine.


I tell them in shul not to give you a kibbud,

you’re just like a goy and we can’t drink your wine.

I make sure you’re on no invitation list,

’cause your hat’s just not as black as mine.


“What a loser!” I laugh about you to myself,

you’re just a ba’al teshuva with no true bloodline.

Like a Hogwart’s Slytherin, true to form,

I curse you ’cause it’s not black like mine.


I don’t even bother to see the real you,

instead I spread tales of your deficient hemline.

If only I knew until yesterday you ate bacon,

perhaps I would give you a little more time.


We all dress up in different ways,

some with a gartel and some with a tie.

Some don’t even wear a jacket at all!

We are in no place to judge, it’s really all fine.


‘Cause when you judge,

you may just find,

that it’s really you,

who’s hat’s not fine.


We can’t expect to change overnight,

it will take long and it will take time.

But eventually, it won’t matter that,

your hat’s blue or gray, not black like mine.


Or maybe — *gasp* — you don’t wear one at all!

We ought really take this as a sign.

That we all serve God in our own little ways,

even though everyone’s hat’s not as black as mine.

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Mel September 12, 2012, 2:37 PM

    Very nice. I enjoyed this a lot. Sometimes a person can forget the reason behind wearing the black hat or covering the bread to make a blessing on the wine or many other things that are done by rote.

  • Joseph September 12, 2012, 2:43 PM

    What IS the reason for wearing a black hat? Vs a blue hat? Etc.

    • DRosenbach September 12, 2012, 5:55 PM

      Much like the biker who needs to wear a black leather jacket to fit into his gang, it’s a fairly recent, largely ceremonial thing that some Orthodox Jews do to fit in with the in crowd.

      And much like the biker analogy, you don’t need to have a leather jacket to ride a motorcycle, and even if you wear one, it could be one of those brown ones with 100 dangling tassels on the arms. But people will judge you on everything you say and do, as well as what you look like.

      And then there are the fakers — they either still live at home and their mom would kill them if she ever saw them on a motorcycle, or they just plain can’t afford a motorcycle. They still wear the jacket and go to the biker bars because they like the culture. So, too, are there fake ‘black hatters,’ talking the talk but not really cutting it.

      • Joseph September 15, 2012, 6:18 PM

        So do you wear a black leather jacket or a brown one with 100 dangling tassels on the arms or do you wear a pick shirt?

        • DRosenbach September 15, 2012, 8:47 PM

          Although I’m certainly a philosophical nonconformist, what with my unique views and choice of emphasis, you wouldn’t know that from my dress.

          I exhibit dangling tassels, but there usually only 32 of them, and they are neither leather nor brown, and the only things I own that are pink are ties.

  • Micah T September 12, 2012, 4:01 PM

    Bravo, well done. So we discover yet another side of DRosenbach!

  • G*3 September 12, 2012, 7:15 PM

    Very nice.

    Do you know anyone like your poemís protagonist?

    > Your daughters will end up with husbands who work,
    ícause your hatís just not as black as mine.

    Thatís a bad thing?

    • DRosenbach September 13, 2012, 6:44 AM

      I was merely trying to capture a little bit of everyone all together.

  • CM in SF September 12, 2012, 9:23 PM

    Awesome, Dr. R!

  • YU Guy September 12, 2012, 10:00 PM

    D – stick to Wikipedia entries!

  • Maybe.. September 12, 2012, 11:32 PM

    Elul is for white-hat yiddishkeit.

  • Challah Maidel September 13, 2012, 3:55 AM

    I sad that people evaluate your religiosity level based on the clothing you wear. Prejudiced feelings and discrimination against those who are not similar to one another is a pervasive problem we collectively face today in most Orthodox communities. I’ve given dirty looks, snarky responses, and been called by many nasty names for wearing pants in public. If you are writing this poem from a female perspective, such lyric would go as following:

    ” I noticed that you are new to the community”
    “But don’t waste your time”
    ” To me, you don’t look frum”
    ” Because your skirt is not as long as mine”

    ” You may have a compassionate soul”
    ” And help those in need”
    ” But all we see is your skirt’s short hemline”
    “Therefor you’ll never be righteous like me”
    “Because your skirt is not long as mine”

  • Odontoblast September 13, 2012, 7:16 AM

    Are you getting a masters in poetry?

    • DRosenbach September 13, 2012, 10:02 AM

      If you ever lose those eyebrows, I’ll stick with you because of your humor. ūüôā

  • Martin J September 13, 2012, 8:57 AM

    I found that most black men who wear a doo rag are hard working and politcally conservative. But if they don’t wear it they’ll be considered a wus by the posse

    • DRosenbach September 13, 2012, 10:08 AM

      I’m thoroughly unfamiliar with black male culture, but the fact is that, as a rule, things are judged by their appearance. That’s why we have the “don’t judge a book by its cover” idiom — because it’s so prevalent.

      On the one hand, we as Observant Jews cherish intentions and emotions more than externalities such as length of payos and how many times you can stick the word “mamesh” into the conversation on your first date.

      On the other hand, for better or worse, the activities of people do outline the categories we then establish based on these activities, and when people perform these activities on a regular basis, they are grouped into these categories by our never ending necessity to simplify life by prearranging who you are on the inside by what you do on the outside.

      For those learning in Lakewood, I imagine that the culture demands one wear black pants and a white shirt. If you wear pink shirts and khakis, you will be considered a nonconformist and a liability. You are demonstrating a counter culture, and even if you do it just to show everyone up because you’re really the best boy in the beis medrash, you’ll be labeled and perhaps asked to leave.

  • Anonymous September 13, 2012, 8:01 PM

    The youngest one was madaline

  • Wow September 13, 2012, 10:15 PM

    This coming right after I saw this video!
    I guess when it rains it pours!

  • howard wolowitz September 15, 2012, 6:28 PM

    It is a sad that this attempt to attack superficial judgements is a load of stereotypical superficial judgement. This amateur poem insinuates that black hat wearers are condescending judgers, while the writer is of the broadminded variety. I think you should apply your lesson to thine self.

    • DRosenbach September 15, 2012, 8:56 PM

      That’s satire, man — it applies to whom it does, and to whom it does not can take a peek at how others might see them, and learn to defend their authenticity.

      Visit Heshy’s registration-only blog featuring unadulterated political correctness at FrumStraightDope.net — I must warn you, though, that it’s occasionally boring.

  • Layla October 4, 2012, 9:33 PM

    Please post this on the front door of CONGREGATION DARCHEI NOAM OF OCEANSIDE.

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