Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gastronomy Over Chumros

Alternately titled: "Derech Eretz Is Not a Chumra I Hold By...."


I am in full support for anybody to take upon themselves any and all personal chumras with which they are comfortable. I just kind of like them to
a) not impose them on me {i.e. tell me that it is my fault that boys are imprisoned in Japan} and
b) be consistent so that it appears you are doing these things because of your firmly held beliefs as opposed to being afraid of what the neighbors will think of you.

I've noticed lately that this whole separate seating /separate everything falls by the wayside where food is concerned. To begin with, the reputation that we have for "free food" and what happens next, in some circumstances, I find to be well deserved....

Add to the mix a kiddush, for instance, where perchance the caterer messes up and brings the cholent first to the ladies' side. Stampede central! Pushing ... shoving..... negiah? pffft! As long as we don't talk to them or look at them, it's ok to trample them for a nice piece of kugel. (In some neighborhoods "entschuldigung" (said while "enthusiastically" elbowing through any crowd) is a euphemistic translation of, "Outta my way lady - I see herring!!")

Gentlemen! If you insist that women need to be secured behind rows of dense foliage or impenetrable barricades, kindly don't jump said barriers when Mrs. Siegelman's cake enters the equation.... It makes me wonder about the strength of the convictions attached to your actions.

That all said, I propose that we begin teaching this to our children BEFORE these habits become ingrained in them beyond repair. Parents - watch your children at kiddushim and other affairs revolving around food and seize the chinuch opportunity. You'll be glad you did.



22 comments:

Hadassah said...

you didn't hear that there is a heter to suspend all other laws when their is hot cholent?

i hate this kind of behaviour....

Juggling Frogs said...

(insert haimish fist bump here)

Yeah. What she said!

G6 said...

Carolyn -
You are *too too* funny.

Hadassah - Thank you... I must have missed the memo ;)

I'll feel markedly better (and slightly more validated) when some men begin to comment!

Shalom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SuperRaizy said...

It's not really hypocrisy, because women become invisible when free food makes an appearance...

Baked Lecho Dodi said...

German Jews are always whining about this on the sidelines. Meanwhile they are missing out on a lot of great chulent.

Jron said...

Has the separation mishegos so entrenched WH?

Naftali said...

That doesn’t make any sense.
Is BLD saying that German Jews (who until recently never even had separate seating/kiddushim) are whining because they respect the separation while others are willing to “compromise” this seemingly very important chumra for the sake of free food?
Somebody is sounding very foolish!

tnspr569 said...

Disgusting and embarassing. Gluttony at its worst.

ProfK said...

One of our local shuls with the mechitza mishegas serves ladies and children first. Any man jumping the barrier gets to sit at the kids tables. It only takes once eating with the munchkins and they learn patience.

Yehuda said...

G6,

Many people who keep chumros (especially teenagers) are extremely sincere. The problem is they are convinced to keep chumros based what their rebbe shows them in a sefer. What's the problem with that? 1) Because the rebbe is extremely selective in what he shows his pupils. 2) Judaism runs on mesorah, not what a sefer says.

So, you get such ridiculous situations as all of a sudden, out of the blue, everyone wears their peyos until the bottom of the ear. It doesn't seem to bother anyone that for over 100 years everyone (including Rav Breuer and Rav Soloveitchik to name just two) cut their peyos at the bone.

Now it may or may not say you should have peyos until the bottom of the ear in this or that sefer. I frankly don't care. Klal yisroel never accepted that. There is a mesorah.

The problem is, again, it is extremely hard for a teenager to understand this when his rebbe shows him a sefer that says clearly that such and such is really what is correct and those who don't follow such and such are really relying on very "shver" logic etc.

harry-er than them all said...

interesting gemara- Shmuel recalls that his father used to wait a whole day in between meat and milk, but he didn't. So if he really held it to be a good thing, why didn't he just wait a whole day?

A: because it was a chumrah, and waiting a day didn't really mean anything to him. Chumras should only be kept if they are meaningful to the machmir.

There is even a halachic basis that everyone should be machmir, but once again, at their level. (i forget the source)

efrex said...

Apparently, I neglected to hit "post" yesterday when I wanted to comment on this. Not that I had anything particularly insightful, but still...

Before anything else: Juggling Frogs: could you please provide a description (or better yet, photos/videos) of a "haimish fist bump?" Is that what bachurim do when one of them answers a difficult question from the rebbi? ("Yankel! Way to shlug up that Maharsha!" *bump*)

(Hmm... I see Purim shpiel material here... *makes notes in Outlook calendar*)

Where was I? Oh, right... chumrot... Yehuda notes one socialogical/historic source (over-reliance on selected texts vs. mesorah), which is a view proposed by such disparate people as Rabbi Dr. Haym Soloveitchik and R' Meir Schiller (I wonder which one would be more offended that I quoted him in the same sentence as the other? *grin*). There is also, as Harry alluded to, the erosion of the individual nature of chumrot... there's an old pun that machmir is short for "macht fur mir" ("Make for myself"); a personal piety gesture. Unfortunately, "keeping up with the Cohens" has made this into an "anything you can do, I can do frummer" type of thing*

I'd throw in a third, related, issue: what I call the "yotzi kol hade'ot cult," whereby hybrid chumrot are created from disparate traditions, resulting in entirely new halachic categories (classic example: peanut oil being considered kitniyot).

The whole thing devolves into a non-rational, inconsistent mess, as our ba'alat hablog pointed out in her original post (In best Arlo Guthrie voice: remember the original post? This comment is about the original post.). One of my pet peeves is one that I've seen at many a frum wedding: while there's separate seating for all the yidden, there's almost inevitably a mixed table for non-Jews (working colleagues of the parents or the like). Now, at every wedding I've been to, said table has been on the women's side of the mechitza. The end result: non-Jewish men are watching the women's dancing, which to my (admittedly krum) mind is a much worse issue than having women in the men's section.

Of course, my memories of kiddushes at the kehillo hakedosho go back to when the two doors to 90 Bennett were marked "entrance" and "exit," and you were lucky to get more than a Greuenenbaum's cookie (*sigh* rainbow cookies and meringues...) before you were shuffled out the door. Chulent at a kiddush? That was for the moderners down on 179th street...
__________________________
* Quick! Get Jen & Eric to update their act!

FBB said...

Why is it so easy to see that when someone is more machmir it's considered too much to some, and also unpleasant and a hardship(like sitting separate), but we never think about how it effects those who are more machmir when they come to a simcha in which they are sitting mixed.

In general I find that those who decry intolerance from the machmir camp, are just as intolerant in their approach as well. Unfortunately, when someone is more machmir about something they've put a target on their back, and people are always looking to say "HA! You think you're so much better then me?"

In reality the intolerance goes both ways.

Naftali said...

Someone’s personal chumra should be just that, a personal chumra. If a person feels him or herself to be on a level where they feel that they can or should take upon themselves certain stringencies which others are not obligated to, then they should also be on the level to understand that they cannot expect everyone else to abide or conform to these stringencies. It is well known that many great rabbonim who accepted certain personal chumros upon themselves were very careful not to exhibit these traits in public in order not to make their talmidim feel that they were obligated to do the same. Yes, those people who insist on imposing their personal chumros on others are “putting a target on their back”. A person who genuinely understands what it means to take on such chumras should also be intelligent and considerate enough not insist that others do the same. For example, a person who personally will only sit separate should inform his host that he would like to attend the affair but can only do so if there is a possibility to sit separate. If not he understands and will not be insulted but will have to decline the invitation. Most hosts will gladly accommodate such a request if it is made in such a manner. However if the host is made to feel guilty that he is doing something wrong then of course he will resent this other person’s chumra.

What we need is more tolerance, but the tolerance should go both ways as well.

Yehuda said...

Naftali,

You're trying to sound so accomodating, but even you reflect this new chumra age. Take your separate seating example: Many, many, many rabbanim and rosh yeshiva of the last generation sat at mixed weddings. Rav Moshe Feinstein's own daughter's wedding was mixed in fact.

Whether they felt comfortable or not I can't tell you, but they didn't make an issue of it because they understood that you don't impose yourself on others. It's basic mentchlichkeit.

Jron said...

To FBB:

I went to a wedding in Chicago recently where the return card offered the option of separate or family seating. Interestingly, a good 95% (including those that would only politically correctly make separate seating affairs themselves) opted for family seating. Telling.

Naftali said...

Yehuda,
You’re 100% correct. I didn’t say that one has to accommodate everyone’s personal chumras. And I certainly do not approve of people making special requests. What I’m saying is that if one is so inclined one will be more willing to do so if the request is made and it is done in a menchlich way.

FBB said...

Whether we agree with it or not, the norms in frum society have changed. So when the Rabbonim of the past sat mixed it was normal. Would anyone ask or expect the Rabbonim today to sit mixed, even in communities where it is accepted?

Society changes, always. Secular society has moved to a baser, more open, anything goes model then existed as little as 30 years ago.

Frum society has moved in the other direction. Mostly, I believe as way to stave off what is happening around us. There's no question that secular society creeps into the frum world and AT TIMES it becomes necessary to raise the walls.

I am NOT saying we should sit sheltered and don burkas and have separate buildings for men and women. My point is only that times change, and often what worked in the past is untenable in the present. I am not saying that mixed seating is wrong, only that in MANY communities it is no longer a "personal' chumra and has become a societal one.

As a yekkish girl who "married out," I often have this argument with my brother. He often says that non-yekkes are not "machshiv" their minhagim. I believe that non yekkes do not even REALIZE how much of what they do is minhag because EVERYONE they know is doing it! THey just assume that's what Jews do. Very often today, because many communities have accepted certain norms, people don't even realize that there are places where these things have not been adapted. They just think it's part of regular Jewish life because they have accepted a standard for themselves as a whole.

G6 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
G6 said...

OK Everybody -
Keep debating your own issues if you like.
I have no problem with that.
Just keep in mind that the message of my original post was not whether or not these chumros are valid (or even understood by their ardent practitioners) but rather that if you are going to espouse these chumros, you should then hold by them even where food is involved.

FBB -
How very SAD it is - and I agree with you - that many people don't even REALIZE that much of what they practice are chumros...
This calls to mind the fact that when Hashem told Chava not to eat from the Eitz Hada'as or they will die, she was "machmir" not to touch it. Later, the Nochosh pushed her against the tree... nothing happened... since she attached the same importance to her "geder" as to Hashem's word, she felt that nothing would happen if they ate from it either and this ultimately led them to do just that. We learn from this the danger of confusing chumra with din.....

(See also Rav Hirsch's perush on Bereishis, Perek 3, Posuk 2-3) "do not make the fence too high, lest it fall and destroy the plants it was meant to protect".

Jewish Side of Babysitter said...

I agree with you in that I believe in doing basics first. That Kibud of Haem is important. That talking to a mother with respect comes before yelling at a mother for not washing her hands in the morning.