I know there must be a lot of you out there who think I hate orthodoxy and this is why I make fun of it, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The fact is that I myself am pretty frum in practice, existentially troubled in belief and was given a very good observational eye by the Lord, but I am a big supporter of those who want to be frum and frummer than everyone else – I just don’t like when they shove it on others. One of the reasons I first started writing this blog, besides making millions of dollars and getting some action, was to vent my frustrations at a frum community that seemed to be heading towards this social orthodoxy, where everything was done to impress upon others that they were frum. It seemed to me, that orthodoxy for the sake of serving the Lord, bettering oneself and helping others had been replaced by social orthodoxy. Basically, everyone was trying to one up each other.
Until I went to yeshiva, I had no idea that people placed so much value on how one dressed and spoke. I had no idea that the way I said things would determine which level of frumkeit I belonged to. I had no idea that I was a lesser being because I had gone to coed camp or that my father wore blue jeans. Sure, these things seem asinine, but I’m truly hurt by what the frum community has become.
One of the reasons I hate New York so much is because I’m not proud to be a Jew when I’m there. Sure, there are plenty of good Jews, but I guess when you have so many of them in one place – you start to feel lost and you also start to feel the effects of different frum communities trying to one up each other. Small communities always appealed to me, because no matter what level of observance you were holding at, you were accepted with open arms (not always true) and the community was usually made up of a hodgepodge of people – so that when someone from the East Coast would ask how many “frum” people lived in such and such a community – you could respond: It depends what you mean by frum.
I know some of you may be surprised by the following statement, but one of the biggest reasons why I dislike the Bay Area is that there is no yeshiva here. Even if I never visited the yeshiva, just the fact that there were some Jews devoted there lives to Torah would have some sort of comforting feeling – even if I don’t necessarily agree with that lifestyle. I kind of look at it like art – not everyone understands it, but for some reason it’s necessary.
I like frummies, but I hate when the force their frumkeit on me. I understand that in many situations one should take the “when in Rome” approach, such as dressing modest when walking through a religious neighborhood, but this “when in Rome” can only go so far. I wish for the good name of the Jewish people, that the ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel would figure out a way towards peace with their secular brethren, rather than rioting, boycotting and fighting. I wish there could be a different approach to Jews who are more or less religious than us. It just seems that rather than helping to bring the Moshiach, we’re pushing him/her farther away.
If you want to be frum that’s amazing. If you think your way is the “authentic” way to practice that’s great, but don’t start telling others what to do until you have it down and think you know the right way to bring people closer rather than push them away. Spewing forth rabid right wing orthodox hatred towards those who may be going against the Torah is not a Jewish value and won’t bring Moshiach any quicker.
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