In 11th grade one of my Rebbe’s bought me a white shirt, stating that it would be nice if I wore one once in a while. I wore it for about two shabbosim, but then retired it into my trunk and once again resumed donning by blue shirt, khakis and brown sport coat for shabbos. As far as I can remember I rarely wore white shirts. Originally it was because white shirts were too easy to stain and get dirty and then it just evolved from there. It wasn’t until after graduating from yeshiva that I realized so much emphasis is placed on the white shirt. You see in the yeshiva I went to everyone wore different color shirts besides the Rabbis so I naturally thought it was reserved for Rabbis and didn’t realize that people actually judge you on whether you wear a white shirt on shabbos or not. A few years back I bought my first suit since my bar mitzvah I decided it was time to ditch the sport coat and khakis shabbos look and grow up a little. I eventually came to acquire several suites because I had to dress up for work. No where in my mind did I ever think of getting a white shirt. Green, blue, yellow, pink, purple even some striped ones , but no plain old white. I have come to the belief that stains are too hard to hide on a white shirt, especially chrain or grape juice. Until I started shidduch dating my choice of shabbos shirt made no difference, yeh I got the stares from everyone in the basement shulls of Monsey and Flatbush, bu no one “really” cared.
Then one shabbos I was staying in Monsey at a cousins house a bit after my broken engagement. I had decided that I couldn’t just abandon my cousins just because they lived in the same place as the girl who tore my heart out and threw it off a cliff. My cousin recommended this shadchun friend of hers that I could go chat with on shabbos afternoon. I went over and we had a great conversation, when we got down to business as to what I was looking for, she chimed in and said “open minded” I assume. Excuse me, what does that mean. Open minded as in, a person who doesn’t dress up in sheets and burn crosses on their lawns or feels that animals have rights too? I couldn’t figure out what she meant and asked her, so what does open minded mean and why do you assume that I am open minded? After all I could be the most ignorant shmuck who couldn’t care less about other human beings, that wouldn’t be too open minded now, would it? The shadchun stated that since I was wearing a pink shirt she felt that I wanted to someone more open minded, forcing me to think that she was trying to say most girls were closed minded bitches who would not go out with a guy who wears pink, I tried to assure the shadchun of my sexuality and being straight as far back as I can remember besides 9th grade in yeshiva when I was so horny I would have taken a cantaloupe. So anyway, she basically told me outright that colored shirts are more modern and therefore more open minded, completely judging the whole frum community and stating essentially that they were all closed minded. I for course understand that most Jews when it comes to judging one another are closed minded ignoramuses. Most not all folks in the frum community judge people based on the most absurd external things which have nothing to do with ones internals. Though I have not experienced the wrath of the yeshiva dating circle I have heard of the whole “stack or scrape” dilemma as well as what sort of table cloths are used, whether the family has guests over for shabbos and whether or not they put the chrain in a cup or leave it in the jar.
Based on all the judging going on I guess its fair to say I should have expected to have my entire hashkafa and who I want to spend the rest of my life with fall down to what color shirt I wear on shabbos. Its interesting because since I am not yeshivish by any means, and I do not dress so during the week what does it matter what I look like on shabbos. As long as I look like a mench- that’s what should count. If I come to shull hung over, try and hit on girls over the mechitza and fart in front of everyone else trying to daven, then I understand your faults. So I can be the frummest dude in the world, but it all hinges on the colored shirt. Man lucky I had short hair and a black velvet yarmulke at the time or I would have been demoted even further down the scale of open mindedness. Maybe I would have been looking for someone who’s not only open minded but also tolerant. Oh my tolerant you say, how could that be? Shouldn’t tolerant be at the top of the scale? Shouldn’t tolerant be the most frum?
I guess its good I never make my own shabbos, because I would lack a table cloth using a sheet instead and as for chrain it might just be regular old gold’s white horseradish in the jar. What if I didn’t have a high per capita of beans in my cholent, would that further demote me down the scale? Do I have to eat off silver ware too, and have one of those fancy display cases for all of my shabbos stuff? Man I guess everyone from my family wont be able to get a shidduch eh?
Its funny because I am invited to my first black tie wedding and if I don’t get the tux- I probably will, I have to wear a black suit and white shirt.