Sunday, October 11, 2009

Simchas Torah Blues

Last year I had some problems on this night. Read on:

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...

20 comments:

sarabonne said...

It certainly is a man's holiday. Us females just ate gummies and watched the drunks mill around. Good post.

C said...

Sarah-that's exactly why I did not stay in Crown Heights. Here, it is a holiday for men. Elsewhere.... we all have fun ;).

Feivel ben Mishael said...

Our brand of Judaism is better and we are always at the front lines and only after we begin to fight and win the battles then the whole world which anyways condemns our actions comes and does what we do anyways.
If just about any misnaged would be be taken back in time to Vilna of old he would be outcast for being to chassidish.
Also Chassidus came to solve alot of real problems and because they didnt jump on the train when it left the station they had alot of problems b'ruchnius which they had to deal with later. At that point they couldn't fix them with Chassidus because when you spend 100s of years being against something then you can't just switch sides so the modern Mussar movement to be invented.

Theres just a start :-D

Anonymous said...

You make some good points. Continuing your tarin moshol, however, you do fail to mention that the Litvish had a train of their own, and while it may have left the station later, they applied some of the technology of Chassidus to their mechanics. When the Chabad train started to break down, however...well, let's just say the engineers are still trying to figure out how to repair the trainwreck.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

What do you mean you don't feel the effects? Apparently you still do after yomtov

e said...

When I first saw this post, I said, "Oh joy! Some real old-fashioned TRS." Then I realized it's a repost.

When you're a young fundamentalist, you think that there's one "best" religion, one just needs to figure out which one it is. When you grow up, you realizes that there's no one "best" religion, just like there's no one best yeshiva for all bochurim.

Feivel ben Mishael said...

"you do fail to mention that the Litvish had a train of their own, and while it may have left the station later, they applied some of the technology of Chassidus to their mechanics."

I thought that I implied that when I said "that they had to deal with later."

So they bashed us for being concerned with avodas Hashem. Then they started to fry out so the mussar movement (which was also controversial at its inception) came about.

It has basically evolved into chassidus lite in many aspects.

Also they stole alot of stuff and pretended that they invented/had it the whole time.

The average run of the mill misnaged of today would have been suspected of being a member of the "kat" in Vilna or Brody of old.

tragic.

Feivel ben Mishael said...

"When you grow up, you realizes that there's no one 'best' religion, just like there's no one best yeshiva for all bochurim."

When you grow up you decide that its easier and safe to believe this so you do because it makes the world a more comfortable place.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

The average misnaged today would have been ridden out of Vilna on a rail for being a baal machlokes who spends his days on gornisht leaving his family to depend on the kupas hatzedoka. Not even the "kat" did that back then.

Re stealing stuff:Not really, there are very few chiddushim in mussar, they come straight out of the gemara.(Talmud bavli is wonderful. You can find anything in there)

Feivel ben Mishael said...

I don't mean chiddushim I mean certain attitudes and hanhagos are now mainstream in that velt even though they were originally assur by them and were tynehs against chassidim.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

Definitely true. And they pick the wrong ones too

jewpublic club said...

C Said "...Elsewhere we all have fun" And just what is so different about your place? And if you don't eat gummy and watch other men, were you watching other women, elsewhere I mean.
So what is the great fun elsewhere than?

C said...

JPC-No, I drank and danced with other women. No watching...

Mushkie said...

I danced with my 1-yr old brother, and drank a teeny bit - it was very leibedik. TRS, where were you?

(Btw - my 6 yr old brother has invented a form of Joshua. He calls it Individual Definity, you should meet him.)

e said...

Mushkie: you're little brother needs to start blogging!

The Real Shliach said...

Mushkie: TRS+le7 were in Milwaukee. Twas quite enjoyable, TRS davened Mussaf on Simchas Torah (fulfilling a lifelong dream) and le7 wasn't too embarrassed by him, which is always good.

e said...

farwhy this was a lifelong dream? You couldn't do it last year?

The Real Shliach said...

It was the first time I wasn't in MN for Simchas Torah in many, many moons. In MN the same person leads Mussaf every year on Simchas Torah, so my chances of doing so there are pretty slim.

Mushkie said...

e: one of the cleverest things you've said,ever. Btw he reads your blog when I go on, I'll let you know when he starts.

trs: i meant where were you last yr when it was boring.

The Real Shliach said...

Last year I was in good 'ol S. Paul, MN.