Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I knew something was wrong the moment I walked into the door, and realized what it was as I chanted Havdala tonight. The problem was that I didn't have a hang-over, and I didn't plunge immediately into bed upon coming home. What kind of Simchas Torah is it where I can make Kiddush on Mahke three times and never feel the effects once? What is the world coming to?

Still, basically, Simchas Torah wasn't too bad at all. It wasn't quite as inspiring as it has been in previous years. There was no great Farbrengen which brought the gathered throngs to instant repentance, nor any pithy wisdom which could reduce the most inebriated baalaboss to tears in nary a moment. Sure, it's great to hear local exalted figures belittle themselves and say, "I'm so full of #$%&" over and over again, with innovative invective at every turn, but after a while it begins to wear. "All right," I wanted to say, "I can accept that you are full of it. In fact, I'm convinced. But can you stop focusing on your own shortcomings for a little while and try to actually accomplish something?"
This reminds me of the old joke, where a Rabbi on Yom Kippur gets so inspired that he cries out, "Oh G-d, I am nothing!" The chazzan, not to be outdone, follows suit with, "Oh L-rd, I truly am nothing!" The gabbai doesn't wish to be left out of the fun, and he too screams out, "Oh G-d, I am nothing!" The Rabbi turns to the chazzan and says, "Huh, look who thinks he's a nothing."
Yeah sure, we're really proud of you that once a year you pretend that you recognize your own shortcomings, but hello? Does anyone really care? We all know that we're a bunch of morons, and most of us are drunk enough to think that we want to change. And what happens instead? We end of eating crackers and salsa (the chips were all stale-for shame!) and drinking Cherry Coke Zero because no one can come up with anything intelligent to say.

Of course there were some nice things about Simchas Torah this year. We danced with the scrolls, made Kiddush, screamed at each other, got annoyed by hordes of little brats who seem intent on ruining as many lives as possible. And what was the whole point of this exercise? That our kids should stay frum. All right, I don't have any kids. And if I did I would certainly object to them being called brats. Be that as it may, why do we have this whole shindig? You think we do it for out health? Have you seen the state of our liver?
No, we make this whole production because we want our kids to stay frum. All right, so we enjoy it too, but that's only a fringe benefit. And sometimes it can be even more annoying to write royally than it is to read it. And pretentious too.
That's a problem. I hate sounding pretentious, and I know that in the past I've failed miserably in this regard. Who am I to tell anyone else to do anything? Of course, this attitude can have negative consequences. Last night someone asked me why they should go to a Lubavitch BT Yeshiva versus any other BT Yeshiva. I told him that he should go to a Lubavitch institution because we're better. This was of course after I had made Kiddush. I then proceeded to tell him that of course every Jew thinks that his Judaism is better. So what's the difference? We know we're better. Except that everyone knows they're better. So what's the difference? We learn Chassidus. So does Breslov. We learn Chabad Chassidus, plus we're not always high. Who says Chabad Chassidus is the way to go? We do. And they say that Breslov Chassidus is the way to go. Plus they're always high.
Fine, but at the very least we're far superior to Misnagdim. After all, we learn Chassidus, and they learn Mussar. Of course, a Misnaged will tell you that this is exactly the reason why his way is better. And how about the modern orthodox? At least we're not Judaism-lite, right? Ahh, but the MO will tell you that the only way for a Jew to be successful is to integrate himself into the world. And that way is the best.

Perhaps, at the end of the post, the only thing to do is to quote Rashi (which I will now fail to do) in today's Chitas, when he says that at the end of the day, all the Jewish people are blessed, and they're all wonderful, etc. etc. etc.
Isn't it nice to be able to clothe a lack of strong moral value in a cloak of Judaism? And if this can be said of Jews, why not invite the whole world into the mix? Why can't the whole world, devoid of malice and money, just be friends?
If you think I'm pandering to the Obama camp, trying to avoid being one of the first against the wall when the revolution comes, then...