Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rock Stars Series: The Bluzhover Rav

This guy totally rocked (z"l). Click link and scroll down for a little story about him and what he did.
If you liked that, do a search for "Bluzhover." Lots of great stories about him out there.

An excerpt from the link above:

He looked around the barracks, in the dim moonlight, seeing the gaunt, hollow faces, and hopeless eyes, and he began:

“Why is this Seder different from all other Seders? We have no four cups of wine to bless, no tables laden with good food and fine china, no children to ask the four questions, and no vegetables to dip in commemoration of the exodus from Egypt so long ago. Our Matzah, burned, small, and barely recognizable as the same matzah we had before the war, reminds us more of where we are than of where we once were. Only Maror, the bitter herbs, are in abundance this year.

“But if even here, in the depths of our darkness and despair, we can nonetheless recall the exodus and celebrate Pesach, then we are truly free. Freedom, you see, isn’t about where you are, it is about who you are.”

I study Classical Asian Medicine (in my spare time)

I hope to get some posts up on it, soon, if only my class notes.

my response from "messing w/yeshivish people"

Here's the original post and the comments that led to this:

messing with yeshivish people


I hear you, and I can understand, especially if you have children in yeshiva, why frontingdox is convenient — you want other people’s kids to be able to eat at your house, and for the other children to be allowed to play w/your kid. Believe me — I’m dealing with a similar thing as an adult, kashering my kitchen fully knowing that wanting to be able to feed my family, if they come over, is a major driver of this decision. Am I a poser? No. I’ll do it right or not at all. Would I bother kashering if they didn’t keep kosher? Probably not, I’d just stop bringing in nonkosher food and wouldn’t mix meat and dairy (changes I implemented months ago).

Emotionally, I’m not doing it for anyone but me and my desire to be able to have my family over. Right? Wrong? It is what it is. Would I rather be eating bacon? No one’s stopping me from doing that outside my home; inside, I’m the only one who would know if I did. But I’d know, and that means something, so I guess it is for me.

I understand orthofront if you’re divorced and you want to see your kid. I know someone who is orthodox when his kids are there. When his kids are with their mother … not so much … but in his community he maintains his front and I guess he parties elsewhere.

[a support group for those who leave the Faith.]

I think these are a good thing. Sometimes people have negative experiences with what other people do re: religion. Good to be able to work through feelings about that.

[But most guys are not willing to give it all up, and dont have the courage/chutzpa/nerve/want to break off from everything and everybody.]

I can understand that, even if I don’t agree with it.

That one would feel a need to break off from

everything and everybody, as you wrote, is, imo,

a gigantic chillul hashem and

not a good way to encourage people to become observant —

“Hey, become orthodox and you can

feel the heart-wrenching stomach pains from

feeling like if you choose to live differently than others,

you may choose to submit to what may feel like emotional blackmail

because the alternative is alienation

and feeling as if you are not loved unconditionally!”

And in the end, everyone's responsible for their own choices, and no one is emotionally blackmailed without their consent, but it's total bs that anyone would ever feel that they have to do as all others do or not be accepted/loved by their own families.

To me, that’s exactly what Judaism is NOT about!

And I find it reprehensible that I have seen people suffer emotionally because they don’t wish to live as every otherdox in the ‘hood does, or because their child(ren) choose(s) to live differently, or because they wish to not be as observant as their parents. The heartache is not logical (and neither is religion, but we know that).

And the isolation works both ways — I know people more observant than some other members of their families who have been socially isolated, as a result, too, unfortunately. The less observant aren’t necessarily poster children for tolerance, either, and I will defend with equal passion the need to respect more observant people, too (like having family gatherings on Sundays, not Saturdays; offering to bring in a kosher meal, if nonkosher food is being served; for examples; this is menschlichkeit 101, not who wears skirts or goes to shul. Imo, folks need to be more respectful of everyone and agree to disagree/practice differently and love each other, anyway.)

[So they stay “frum”, do the shake, go to shul, daven, dress like penguins, but when you sit down and have any meaningful conversation with them, you see they are totally empty.]

I’m sorry to hear that. I don’t “do” as much, but what I do, I love and it puts the sprinkles on my spiritual ice cream every day.

On a completely selfish level, that blows for people like me (single, not very observant [but not necessarily opposed to being more observant], but love and care about Judaism a whole lot and want to wind up marrying someone who also digs Judaism). Most times, when I see an observant guy, I don't bother saying anything to him, 'cause I don't think I'd he'd even consider dating me, since I'm not as observant. If I had known it all might be a front, I'd've said hi to a lot more people, over the years. Jeepers. I have no patience for fronts. --Friday morning-- actually, I want to be with someone who actually digs Judaism, so, whatever. I don't want to be with someone who's not observant if they also don't like Judaism, and I don't want to be with someone who puts up an orthofront if the joy of Judaism doesn't coarse through his heart like music or blood.

How do people eat at each other's houses, if there are tons of people who don't really care? Is the only place you can be sure anything's really kosher in bp one's own house or a restaurant with a mashgiach? Or have people agreed unspokenly to all keep kosher well and equally, and just be shells of people who don't feel spiritual fulfillment for the sake of communal pretending? I don't get it.

[Living in BP, I know hundreds of such ppl, seriously, and life goes on. Is it sick?? you bet it is, but thats life.]

I guess I’m just lucky. My BP days were fun and full of noodles with pot cheese (and I was a wee lass, too). Lol And being observant was a beautiful, magical thing. And when I am, it’s still pretty cool (don’t get me wrong, I didn’t believe in God for many years and I’ve walked a long and super-windy road to get to where I am today).

[And s(b), being a regular poster, you should know how not to judge why so many ppl do it.]

With all due respect, to say “you should know how” related to why people do stuff makes no sense whatsover. I’m not here to judge why. I’m trying to understand why. My opinion doesn’t matter. “You should” is my problem with people and religion. There’s plenty of “you should” in religion without other people laying more on top of those. If I want to know something, I SHOULD ask questions, which I do. Will I judge someone for fronting? There but for wanting to feed my family in my home go I. (no.)

[Will it change? I doubt it. It will only grow and grow.]

I hope you’re wrong, for Judaism’s sake.

[And yes the Crisis that all frum ppl are moving to lakewood, is true, except if you are connected somehow to a community, there is no reason you should live among Hot Chani’s and Escalades.]

For whom is it a crisis that frum people are moving to Lakewood, other than the local non-Jewish Jersey shore population?

There’s “you should” again. Who are you to say why or where people should live? Who is anyone to say that for anyone but themselves? If you don’t want to live among hot chanis and escalades, move to the part of Amish country where they don’t use cars. I’m sure there are still attractive women there, but you won’t see escalades.

Hey, it's my favorite free, downloadable Haggadah!
I realize it's not ortho. It's stocked and stacked, though, and if you need lots of copies, you can download and print at your local fedex/kinko's in time for seders. It's not the old red and yellow one -- it's more user-friendly, and has full transliteration and lots of other things, in addition to all the regular haggadah stuff.

I love haggadahs (except for the part where it talks about asking God to do not nice things to our enemies and stuff -- I prefer the see a skull in the water>drowned>drowned>goes around comes around approach of pirkei avot, for that sort of thing, and I figure if I'm on it, God's on it, and knows what's up and will take care of anyone who's messing with me when the time is right, even if I never hear about it. Sometimes it's better that way; I'd rather not hear about bad things happening to people, and I certainly don't want to be given opportunities to be tempted to be happy about that, even if I feel it's deserved). blah blah blah

It's an awesome haggadah. If you have a haggadah that you'd like to recommend, please feel free to do so. I love checking out new Haggadahs. I will give cheers to the Santa Cruz haggadah, too:
It's by no means a traditional Haggadah, but it's got some great food for thought and is worth a read, imo. The website has some fun stuff on it, too, if you poke around.

other email dialogue that inspired me to start this blog will go here

[warning, may contain foul language which I'll edit out later] not trying to tease, just have too much work to do now. here's an excerpt. please wait to comment, 'cause there's more to this. thanks.

I don't think I'll ever call myself frum. Having a kosher kitchen (that's the plan) isn't being frum (not penguin frum, anyway).

Honestly, if I fell in love with someone who was into keeping shabbos, I'd probably keep it. But THERE'S NO FUCKING WAY I'd not go see live music during the three weeks, or the nine days.
Tisha B'Av, in the right relationship, sure (and I realize that would make me nothing but a poser of observance, which is why I'm just doing my thing at my own pace and if I meet someone who can deal with that, that's cool, and if not, that's fine, too). [sarcasm]besides, at 31, I'm an old maid, and no one frum will want to marry me anyway.[/sarcasm]

...I get it I get it I get it why people don't listen to music during the 3 weeks, 9 days, etc. I also work at music festivals assisting an acupuncturist, and in rabbinic chess, health care beats shabbos, so damn straight it beats sitting around mourning the temple.

Besides, I'd rather spend 3 weeks on tikkun olam projects, instead. That would be a lot more constructive than sitting around feeling like
I can't. I'd rather focus on the I can, maybe make some positive change to the world. ...

I don't know; I've reached a point where I realized that any guy I meet who gives enough of a shit about Judaism to like it and be able to hang with the MO side of my family is probably going to be some sort of observant, so I've got to be able to deal with that. I don't mind being observant, I just mind being told what to do and when people are observant without thinking about why they are and expect me to do the same. I can't do that.

[going back to tisha b'av and stuff] I have a lot of problems with the whole yearning for the temple to be rebuilt thing. And with "next year in Jersusalem," 'cause if anyone wants next year in Jersusalem, they can buy a plane ticket and make it happen, they don't need to sit around longing for it.

I realize I'm probably hypersensitive about tznius, now that I'm actually aware of it. I'm sure I'll get over myself. If I were a guy and I saw girls pulling that sort of thing (like you described), I'd probably mess with 'em, too.

Religion's not logical, might as well have some fun with it.