Did you hear the one about the mother who refused to let her daughter date guys who wore shoes with laces? Apparently it was bittul Torah to have to tie your shoes (even though there is a specific halachic way – which I do – to tie your shoes). Then there was the mother who wouldn’t allow her daughter to date guys who wore loafers, because they were obviously lazy if they couldn’t take the time to lace up their shoes.
These are both shidduch urban legends, but there are loads of other things which are considered bittul Torah1
The following is a list of items that has been deemed bittul torah according to the Chumra Research Institute:
Knives: Have you noticed that yeshiva guys tend to disregard the knife while eating? They prefer to do the bend down shovel, in which they pick up a side of their plate, tilt it towards them and shovel the food into their bent down face as fast as possible. This is because knives are bittul Torah. Utensils and manners just take too much time.
Proper introductions: Have you noticed that many frum people don’t say things like “How are you?” or “Hi my name is….” They usually say things like, “I know you” or “Where do you learn?” – this is because formalities and pleasantries like starting a conversation in a nice way simply take up too much time. Some poskim say that Jewish geography should be assur as it wastes valuable talmudic time, but similar to the almost-banned potato on pesach – the poskim have decided that Jewish geography is too ingrained in our society to ban.
Excuse me: many frum people don’t even know how to say excuse me because of bittul z’man2. It’s simply asinine to say excuse me when shoving past someone at Pomegranate or on the way to shul, when you could just say something like mazel tov, or good Shabbos instead – you kill two birds with one stone and still get to run people down.
Lawn Mowing: One of the biggest complaints of the residents of Postville toward their new neighbors was the fact that they didn’t mow their lawn. It’s true. Frum Jews don’t mow lawns but it’s not because they don’t care about how the outside of their houses look (they just didn’t care in Postville because there were no frum yidden to whom they could show off.) Rather, it’s because mowing lawns wastes valuable Torah time and also may be seen as vanity.
Trash: The most pious people live in neighborhoods with the most trash on the ground because it’s bittul Torah to find a trash can or gated trash area.
Colors: Do you realize the time wasting nightmare it would be if the frum world started having to match? Orthodox Jews have been wearing black and white since the days of Sinai, it would go against tradition and be too time consuming to have the men figure out if black goes with red.
Bittul Torah : to waste quality time that should be spent learning Torah ^
Bittul z’man : a waste of time. ^