Dear Heshy: what do you think about non-kosher gum, shomer negiah and body piercings?

Dear Heshy,

Hi, my name is Wished to remain anonymous. I am a big (not as in size) fan of your Frum Satire blog. I first stumbled on it about a year ago when a friend showed me your posts on “Shomer Negiah categories“, and have been reading it daily ever since. Your blog has been a great source of entertainment for me and I love reading it, as I love Jewish humor, as well as reading and writing…I always have a lot of random opinions and sometimes I write but not often.
I am in college and currently very stressed out over work, assignments, papers and finals and reading your blog has been a great way to give myself a laugh here and there when I need a break and remind myself that life isn’t always this stressful and unhappy. I myself am a Jewish Modern Orthodox girl if I have to categorize …however I feel like I fall somewhere in between MO-Machmir and MO-Liberal..just shows how confusing categories are even though they are very fun to read about.

Having been a reader of your blog for a while, I have come up with a few questions slash observations that kind of reminded me of Frum Satire in general. I guess your input on them would be cool, not necessarily published on your blog (she gave me permission), but just in general since I enjoy reading your thoughts on these kinds of things:

Just a disclaimer: I may sound kind of resentful, but I really do like being Jewish. However, I like being Modern Orthodox and I don’t like this brainwashed-seminary age. I honestly feel like I would have been much better off being born 20-30 years earlier, when there were mixed singles events and Orthodox people were allowed to interact with the opposite sex and it was normal to only cover hair on Shabbos etc….Old school modern Orthodoxy.

For example, my friendsí parents met at places like singles Shabbatons (And not the kind for desperate 30 somethings, they used to have them for college age students), singles dances, and other events. I think that is so cool and would love to have things like that but I know that they would NEVER happen nowadays in Orthodox circles (or if they did nobody would want to attend)

Her questions are in bold and I split them up in order to answer them to the best of my knowledge:

1) I know you live in California, but are you planning to ever come back to New York in the somewhat-near future and give a show or something? Or at least meet fans?

I have done dozens of shows in New York; I have kind of given up on organizaing my own shows. It takes a lot of work, everyone says they are going to show up and then, Iím lucky if 25 people show up. If someone wants to bring me in and organize the show I am game. Singles events are really what I should be doing, I just think I am off the radar screen due to the fact I donít have an agent or any help with what I do. Maybe when I come back to New York next (thinking of coming for succos) I may arrange something.

2) I have a somewhat random topic that I have not stumbled upon on your blog (if it is there and I did not find it, sorry)-frum girls and body piercings.

Ooh I like it already.

Is having a second ear piercing untznius?

Untznius is so relative, if you have to even ask that means some people may find it untznius, I myself think it’s hot but, then if it’s hot that may mean it’s untznius. I always thought earrings should be banned, they seem too attracting and they also allow the woman to have some sort of property to sell of should she need to. I thought the man owns everything, but in an extreme case the woman would definitely have to resort to selling earrings and we would to limit their abilities in terms of property and math, because I’ve been told that math is untznius – it forces women to look up and they may stretch their necks and allow their collarbones to be seen accidentally.

What about other body piercings such as a belly ring if nobody sees it?

Nobody sees a married chassidish ladies hair but, we shave it off anyway because we don’t want to take the chance of a child or the wind grabbing the turban. Kal Vachomer (insert thumb dip) belly rings which no tznius woman would ever show to anyone but her husband are not allowed, due to the simple fact that, like an erect nipple, you may see the outline and get ideas. I personally love belly button rings on a nice flat stomach, it must be flat, please no lumps ladies.

My brother dated a girl with a nipple ring, which was very cool. In Ohr Someyach during my year it was all the rage to have tongue rings (which led me to believe that everyone was blowing each other) and I met this frum kid once who had an eyebrow ring. But, my absolute favorite ring on girls is the nose stud and fortunately for me, it is relatively acceptable in the frum community to have one, I say relatively because in Israel everyone has one and in America the frum hippie girls have them.

My friends who have attended pretty frum seminaries told me that most schools will allow two piercings in each ear but not more. But what is technically wrong with it? Is it the “look?”.

Seminaries are only preparing the young ladies for the next mishkan, when they will bask in Gods glory by donating their rings to the construction project, notice that these seminaries are all in Israel. If all seminaries had their way, they would implant computer chips with Paysach Krohn and Rav Pam speeches all day in the seminary girls heads, continually reminding them of their duties to their husband and to being a bas yisroel.

Yet on the other hand some MO people I know (well more their mothers) say that a girl with more than one piercing in each ear isn’t proper and that if she wants to get married she should only have one piercing in each ear. But what is really wrong with it? Or are these moms just old-fashioned?

Pretty soon we will all be old and something else will be considered old fashioned, for now, it’s an upper earring that is old fashioned. Proper girls have one piercing, no hanging earring and always wear their hair in a pony tail – of course the girls I know are the types who debate if they should wear underwear or not, so I may not be the right person to ask.

However, if one person’s mom thinks this way won’t a lot of them think this way, particularly potential Shadchanim?

Welcome to the stupid and crazy world of shidduchim. Shidduchim are broken because of political affiliation, table cloth color and yichus – there is no reason that a slutty second ear piercing wouldn’t do the same.

3) What do you think about women and careers?

What like turning tricks and stuff?

I always wondered when frum women were going to start becoming mules for the coke industry, seems like a great way to pay for pricey yeshiva tuition, than when they get thrown in jail they can say they had no idea what they were doing.

I want to go to law school after my completion of undergraduate level.

Phew, you cleared that up, I was about to ask you for an interview having never met a frum “working girl”. I cannot even fathom anything wrong or controversial about women having careers. Actually I lied, working girls are a huge problem in our community and we need to find a way to stop this terribly untznius situation, it’s hard to justify a woman leaving the kitchen. It’s a catch 22, if the women don’t work, how will the men sit around and debate whether their oxen gored their friends oxen.

I knew (not as in the Biblical sense) a guy frummer than myself and he was very against the idea of women having careers. He thinks women who are doctors and lawyers are “bigheaded egotistical and will cause problems and have attitude” who “think they are all that because they earn a lot of money.”

The sexism makes me sick. So men don’t have this problem? Last time I checked, there were plenty of egotistical (just realized it sounds like testicle) men who made loads of money.

He told me that I should realize the roles that Torah gives women and men and that women should be praised if they want to not work and raise children. However, isn’t this a huge paradox? If a woman wants to go to law school or medical school can she really live the frum young-marriage lifestyle? Especially because: (see 4)

What exactly is the “frum young marriage lifestyle”? You mean the one where the husband comes home from his day managing and nursing home and you make him dinner and then he goes to learn at a night seder while you sit around and read recipes from kosher by design. Or does it mean that you are on federal assistance, supported by your already strapped parents and never see your husband because he’s always “learning”.

4) My friend learned that married women aren’t really supposed to go on birth control. Even for financial reasons the pill is a big issue and one would need special permission from a Rabbi.

Well if you spill your seed we know where that leads…sticky sheets. It is generally accepted that birth control is not cool unless you get permission from a rabbi and trust me, you can get permission – because if you couldn’t everyone would have 15 kids.

However, I honestly feel like the school she studied at was just using propaganda because when I was in high school my teacher who is a Rebbitzen of an Orthodox Shul told us that married women are allowed to use birth control.

Propaganda is relative, orthodoxy has loads of propaganda, you ever read any of those artscroll rebbe biographies?

So if you get married at 21 and can’t use birth control how can you have a career?

Aha (insert thumb dip) – this is why you’re modern orthodox.

Or have an enjoyable married life at all?

Seems like plenty of folks have kids right away and have plenty of enjoyment. The difference between them and you, is you are really horny and view marriage as a key to getting laid, or at least it seems like it.

It’s like…you can’t have sex and then when you can you really can’t just for the sake of enjoying your newlywed lives, you have to worry about getting pregnant before you want to?

If you want to have sex for the sake of having sex, why not have premarital sex? Why go through the whole marriage thing if you don’t want kids? (that’s the frummy answer by the way) I wouldn’t know of such things, I’m shomer negiah, I couldn’t even tell you how an erection feels, though I heard it hurts.

5) I noticed that Frum people call a lot of halacha related issues “problems”.

Did you notice that they call all social issues “crisis”? The tuition crisis, the Indian hair crisis, the shidduch crisis, the bugs in the water crisis. You would think that halachic issue would be a crisis and the social issues would be problems.

For example, a frum guy I know told me that it would be a “problem” if he were to be dating a girl who did not want to cover her hair after marriage.

Wait, I don’t understand how he could be frum and talking to you, if you aren’t related or on a shidduch date? Obviously he views hair covering as more of a social thing than a problem, if his shadchan found out her were talking so casually with you he would be blacklisted and devalued in the shidduch market place.

Some people I know who attended seminary say things such as “there are problems with Zionism” or “Girls wear short black skirts and black tights when their knees are really showing this is so untznius and such a problem”. Chas veshalom.

Don’t even get me started on frum girls showing their knees, it’s one of the biggest problems facing our community. It’s almost as bad as store bought challah. It causes tzaras, do you know how many men have went off the derech and worse, because they showed their knees, those hot sexy, wobbly, pale white knees.

Why problems, why not another word? I guess life is just full of problems:

What would be another word? Issues, crisis – can you imagine the Yated readers write section filled with stories of the Knees Crisis?

6) What’s so bad about half-covering your hair? (If it wasn’t obvious already I’m not currently married, engaged, or even dating anyone right now but I am very split about the issue of covering.) Or not covering it at all.

It help if I knew where you attended school, full hair covering is halacha, half hair covering makes you feel like you are keeping something when you are not. Married woman’s hair is ervah same level as her vag or boobs, why can’t you show half your boobs?

I feel like it’s almost more like a social sign now than anything else.

It is social, but it is halacha and biblical halacha for that matter, although many folks believe that the halachic sources are flawed.

Some of my friends have said that they don’t really want to cover their hair when they get married but they don’t want to be the odd one out in their group of friends, the “one who doesn’t cover her hair”.

I can’t relate to the issue, I hear it’s quite tough to deal with, but keeping shabbos and kosher is tough and I deal. You do it or you don’t. Or you do it like my non-religious friends who grew up frum do it, they cover their hair in social situations and don’t the rest of the time. You will find time and time again that people in the frum community do not want to be the first one to do things, like make weddings they can afford, allow their daughters to pursue the guys they want and have a colored tablecloth.

My parents always tell me how in their generation only the “really frum Charedi” women covered their hair full time and no matter how many times I explain it they do not understand that people who fall within the realm of “Modern Orthodox” today cover their hair. To them, women fully covering their hair all the time is like the antithesis of modern Orthodoxy.

Used to be the antithesis of modern orthodoxy, things are a changing – to the left to the right. Things never stay stagnant. I love when people say that no one covered their hair back in the day, that’s great but, tons of people also had to work in shabbos to survive – should we all start working on shabbos? Also, all of the old pictures from the shtetl books I have seen have everyone with their hair covered.

7) In fact, I feel like the whole seminary and flipping out thing is a very social movement, you can’t tell me that all of these girls and boys are so holy just because they went and got brainwashed.

They usually don’t stay so holy, you can usually talk to people my age about when they “frummed” out in Israel and they reminisce about not knowing what the heck was flying. I, like everyone else, has watched dozens of people frum out, frei out and burn out over the years. Many of the folks who frum out in their year, regain their normal selves after they come home, some do not, there’s no problem with it.

They were just like any other M.O Jew beforehand…some of them seem like mindless members of a flock and I just don’t buy that. Maybe I am just missing some enlightenment or something, but I did not attend seminary and I do consider myself religious, just “not soo frum”..I like to think for myself.

I think someone wrote a book about this, I’ll tell you the one bad thing that happens when all these MO kids frum out, shomer negiah. You had all these smoking hot modern orthodox girls ripe for the taking and suddenly they are a bunch of semi tznius teases that won’t put out, puts a real damper on things.

8) †What about girls who weren’t always Shomeret but were playing around with the idea of trying it and decided to, then dated a frummer boy who was always Shomer who ruined it when he dated her?

So you’re saying that some girl broke a guys negiah (so strange) I have no qualms with that, the girl was sent by the Lord as the yetzer harah fill in and she got the guy to sin. I hope it was good at least, because my experience (I mean I have only heard this) is that inexperienced folks kind of suck (they know not what to do)

From personal experiences and what I have seen around me, girls who try this kind of get scammed. The boy says that he wasn’t just taking advantage. But would he really have tried that on an innocent Shomeret girl?

Of course not, haven’t you heard that modern orthodox girls are for practice?

And yet he won’t even admit he broke his Shomer Negiya, or let the girl say anything, because it “may ruin his reputation”. It just seems to me that if a girl is Shomeret and a guy who wants to date her isn’t, he will take it on for her and be very respectful about it.

Can you tell me what the point of dating is? I mean you don’t mention that this is for marriage, non-marriage dating is always for sex, or some sort of sexual stimulation – along with companionship.

Yet if the girl wasn’t always Shomeret and is “with it”, even if she hasn’t been all the way around the block, I feel like many guys will use this knowledge to their advantage.

Duh, of course it’s like that. Who wouldn’t take advantage? If it’s not for marriage, I just don’t understand the point of a shomer negiah relationship?

As my high school teacher told my class, “Put a Shomer boy and a non-Shomeret girl together and the boy won’t be Shomer anymore”. It just seems so blatantly hypocritical, especially when the guy won’t even admit that he did things with the girl. And as much as he may insist that A) He wasn’t taking advantage or B) She was being a tease and that wasn’t fair..etc, it still seems like deep down he looks as her as a “less frum girl, so she must be a slut who can be taken advantage of”, kind of like another blogpost you once put up.

Welcome to the world of reputations and protecting yourself against rumors that may devalue your shidduch market value. At my age, most of the folks I know are mature enough to tell a girl whom they are in shidduchim with that they are experienced in the field.

9) What about Nonkosher gum? (Such as Five or Stride) I heard that the opinion of Rav Ovadiah says it is permissible. Even some of my old Rabbis in high school said that technically it isnít forbidden but do not tie their names to this answer.

I think a lot of what Rav Ovadia says gets taken out of context, notice how it’s always something he said at shaloshudos, people don’t remember what happened 10 minutes ago, I can’t stand transcribing, it’s ridiculous. You may say gum is not food and therefore it’s fine. I have heard from numerous people that tasting non-kosher wine is cool because you don’t swallow it – I don’t buy it. Is non-kosher gun really such a desire of yours that you need to find a heter. You can buy yourself a heter if you want. I have always thought that the difference between modern orthodox and frum, was that frum folks weren’t trying to justify their wrongdoing, while modern orthodox were always trying to find ways out of halacha, by saying it wasn’t halacha or finding heterim, etc…

However, many say it is a huge problem and are starting to make me feel guilty.

Don’t you love the guilt, it means you still have some frum juice. When you stop feeling guilty you have issues. Seriously, I would think keeping kosher was more important than a stick of gum. If you had issues with eating non-kosher meat I would give you credit, but breaking kosher for gum is kind of lame. Then again, kasharus means enough to me that I don’t take any chances.

Is drugstore gum really a problem? It would stink if it is, because Must gum is kind of disgusting and loses its taste in ten seconds flat.

Gum is so 1985!

Sorry that this email was so long!

Long is right.