I have been wondering if part of a kiruv rabbis job training is when and how to tell the people he is being makarev that they are breaking certain unspoken rules of frumkeit. Rules such as bowing too far for modiim and wearing techeles tzitzis which regular frummies just don’t do.
The idea for this thought came from this past weekend, which I spent roaming around the Jewlicious Festival looking at the obvious signs of a newly indoctrinated kid on his or her way to becoming a BT. I noticed an inordinate amount of kids wearing black velvet yarmulkes, I knew that no self respecting black velvet yarmulke wearer would be caught dead at such a festival, and upon further inspection I noticed that almost all of said black velvet yarmulke wearers had clips or bobby pins fastening them to their heads – a big no-no when it comes to frumkeit.
My buddy can trace back the beginnings of his way off the derech, he relates the story that he was walking down the street in the five towns with some friends in 8th grade when his rebbe pulled up in a car and admonished him in front of all his friends by saying “yeshiva of far rockaway boys don’t wear bobby pins” as if it were a transgression that would receive the deathj penalty in the heavenly court. Wait, doesn’t embarrassing someone publicly receive some note worthy punishment.
Yeshiva guys can handle such absurdities, the best thing about yeshiva educations is that they prepare you for the most absurd things possible, so that when I hear about things that make regular modern orthodox or les observant people cringe – I just shrug and say that it’s not really that shocking, considering that we were fined for wearing our baseball hats backward, but I admit, I never really heard about the ban on yarmulke fasteners until I was much older and long out of yeshiva, only then did I realize that anyone who decided to fasten their yarmulkes to their heads, was automatically considered modern – a blemish in yeshivish terms.
This brings me back to my point, after getting some unsuspecting kid to drink the koolade and become an honorary BT, how do you tell them about the absurdities of the frum community. How would someone like the guy I met from Utah at Jewlicious take the news that his clips holding the yarmulke on his head have got to go? Would he rebel and leave them in place, or would he listen and join the ranks of those FFB’s who have practice at keeping their yarmulkes on their heads without worry.
I think that kiruv professionals and others in the kosher missionary businesses look at pins and clips as training wheels for the real world of frumkeit. Think about it, ever notice that non-yarmulke wearers have the hardest time keeping yarmulkes on their heads, even those fury satin one’s that can never fall of – seem to sail right off, it may have something to do with the fact non-religious Jews rarely place their yarmulkes toward the front of their heads where they are more likely to stay on without the use of gashmiusdicke fasteners.