Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Phones, hats, and automobiles

Tonight is Purim Katan, and I'm happy to report that according to R' Yechiel from Paris we should all eat a very large meal tomorrow and possibly (probably) get completely stoned out of our boxes. In case you're wondering, R' Yechiel is a Rishon, so you're allowed to listen to what he says. Am I planning on following this course of action? Possibly. (Not probably).
Did you know that kids, between the ages of two and six, learn five to ten new words every single day? Isn't that incredible? What is equally incredible is how I've become something that I couldn't stand back in Mesifta. An up-hatter. When I was in Mesifta, it used to annoy me to no end that there were Bochurim who walked around, and even Davened, with the brims of their hats up. Now it's my turn to have Bochurim approach me and ask, "Why is your brim up?", and even try to forcibly put it down. I haven't yet been able to figure out a response to them that I can communicate in the six second window I'm given. My question is, why did I ever care whether a guy's hat was up or not. Fine, so there is the issue of looks, and a fedora's brim is meant to be worn down. But otherwise, why does it matter? Surely there is no religious reason. Wearing a hat and jacket is mandated by Shulchan Oruch, but as far as I know nothing is mentioned regarding the orientation of the brim.
When I think back to my own high school days, it seems that the reason I was so against brims being up was that I had a very strong idea of what Lubavitch was supposed to be, and obviously the Rebbe wore his brim down, so presumably we also should. Does that mean that married men should wear a Kapote every day? Or even a white shirt?
The assumption could be made by someone that wearing the brim up is a sign of independence, and possibly of revolt. Funnily enough, the people who are most concerned with my current behavior are those whose own Chassidishkeit, not to say religious standards, are hardly exemplary. Oh, and the reason I sometimes wear my brim up is because I often forget to put it down, and the reason I keep it up, frankly, is to antagonize certain crowds.
Just a note: I realize that I'm way over-analyzing this issue.
Anyway, as I was saying, what I now believe is that someone who has yet to fully grasp the point of Chassidus will latch onto a certain external aspect, like the brim, and confuse that with what Chassidus is really about. Far be it from me to criticize, but it does seem that many different Chassidic communities are at this stage, where all they have is their unique clothing, music, food, or even tablecloth cover.
Chabad Chassidus, on the other hand, says that "Chassidus Mont Pnimius", that Chassidus demands not the outer shell, but the inner intent. Rabbi Ahron Gancz once farbrenged about this, and pointed out that this does not mean that a guy can buy a very stylish suit and then tell people who criticize him, "What do you mean? Chassidus Monet Pnimius! What do you care how I dress?!" Obviously there must be some standard, but as long as that is basically adhered to, do the itty-bitty things really count? As long as heart is turned to the Father in Heaven, and the intentions are pure, does it really matter what shade the pants are, or the kind of Tefillin bag?


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. R. Shaliach:

Interesting comments regarding hat brims. It might interest you to know that the position of the brim is thought to indicate certain characteristics of the wearer. Basically the hat brim serves as a means of enlarging a man's brow ridges (the part of the skull where the eyebrows are) which represents power or fierceness. (Notice how Neanderthals always look angry, never happy or jovial). Hat brims worn in the down position in front represent the eyebrows drawn together and lowered i.e. an angry posture, man defending his turf, ready to fight the world, "hey you looking at me." Hat brim up indicates "openness" i.e. approach me, I've nothing to hide, I want to be your friend. The straight brim, neither up or down, regular guy, cautious, perhaps not too smart. The crushed brim - clumsy guy, good natured oaf. Look around you - you'll see what I mean. L. de Toot.

Just like a guy said...

Very interesting...I'm not quite sure what this says about Lubavitch.