Monday, September 3, 2012

On Mesiras Nefesh....

Some people truly confound me.
I was at a simcha last week and found myself sitting next to someone who should definitely know better. I was introduced to a woman who has strong familial ties to Washington Heights and to the Breuer's community.
Our conversation went something like this:
Her - "So where do you live?"
Me - "Washington Heights."
Her - "Wow! Washington Heights? That's so wonderful! Such MESIRAS NEFESH!!!!....."
Mesiras Nefesh?
I questioned this woman as to when the last time she had even set foot in the Heights. I've lived here all my life and frankly find it cleaner, nicer and safer than when I was growing up. Yes, the shul is quite a bit emptier, but does that constitute mesiras nefesh??
I have merely chosen to stay in a shul that I feel comfortable with, in a community that has "cradle to grave" service that is unparalleled. I have stayed close to my roots, because it works for me. I chose to raise my children in surroundings where rich and poor live side by side and I dare you to tell them apart - and where the most silent chesed abounds. I didn't leave "just because everybody else was doing it". You may have noticed but I've never been an advocate of doing something just because the masses were.
I think it was a little bit of escapee guilt talking if you ask me.
This woman really needs to contemplate what TRULY qualifies as mesiras nefesh.
Living in Washington Heights without a backyard (or living in Monsey without a pareve dishwasher), does NOT qualify!


tesyaa said...

I've heard of a similar foot-in-the-mouth comment in reverse... a friend was at a wedding in Crown Heights and was chatting with a local, who said "oh, you live in Teaneck? That must be great if you're into gashmius!"

Maya Resnikoff said...

It's hard to call this neighborhood (I'm a neighbor, give or take- over on the YU side) mesiras nefesh- it isn't the prettiest neighborhood ever (perhaps because of which side I live on), but it's friendly. But I suppose everyone puts their priorities in different places, and anything that doesn't fit their own priorities feels like something that for them would be giving up a lot- even if it's a lovely place, for you or me.

J said...

So what did you respond?

FBB said...

Maybe we should make a video or two:

"stupid things people say at a wedding"
(the commentary from some people sitting behind me at the chupa was as funny as the Chasiddishe pronunciation of the brachos at THIS particular wedding).



G6 said...

"Stupid things people say to yekkes"!
I love it!
Send submissions now!! :)

DB said...

I would definitely consider it mesirus nefesh if someone stays in Washington Heights to be closer to YU or breuers for ruchniyusdika reasons... while easily being able to move out to the suburbs

BLD said...

Stupid things people say to yekkes.
Rabbi Schwab was Rabbi Breurs Son-in-law.

dell said...

i'd love to hear some of the comments people said to you at this particular chupa :)

it was a dumb comment, G6. I feel offended. it's making a judgement about where people live and why.

but I also think people completely misuse the term mesiras nefesh. like "what mesiras nefesh to shlep down to baltimore in the winter for a bar mitzva"