13 February 2009

Mazel Tov.


It was like the opener to a bad bar joke: a fair Irish Catholic moves to Hasidic Brooklyn.

Except it isn’t a joke. It is my life. I, the fair Irish Catholic one, moved to a Hasidic Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood almost nine months ago.

And not just any Hasidic Jewish neighborhood. I moved to the largest Hasidic neighborhood in the United States.

When I decided to move to Brooklyn from the West coast, I was unfamiliar with her neighborhoods. I came to visit Manhattan’s sister borough in May to find an apartment before my summer move. New York was dark and rainy; borderline apolocalyptic. As I visited apartments with my companion Conner, I based my judgment on a very important, highly scientific test: The “Do I feel comfortable walking these streets at night in the dark without fear of getting jumped, groped and/or murdered?” Test. Majority of the neighborhoods I looked at failed—until I came to Borough Park.

Borough Park is in South Brooklyn below Park Slope and above Coney Island. I could tell the neighborhood was quaint based on the fact I walked by two elementary schools within two blocks of one another. Even in the late May downpour, I felt instantaneously comfortable and connected. The apartment I came to see was wonderful. 1,200 sq. ft, 2.5 rooms, top floor and a roof view that was enviable. The building owners are a mother-daughter duo and spoke with such heavy New York accents, I could barely understand what they were saying—but I knew I liked them. I trusted them. And more importantly, I trusted the neighborhood.

I signed a lease.

Walking back to the subway, I noticed a few men in wide brimmed hats and heavy overcoats. They had curls at their temples that tumbled past their ears. These men were accompanied by women pushing double-seated strollers. As I continued down my new street, I noticed all of the women had identical haircuts: a blunt cut brunette bob. Because of the rain, they covered their hair with plastic bonnets. After a few more blocks I figured out they were all wearing wigs. And I also figured out I just signed a lease in a Jewish neighborhood.

When I arrived back to Oregon I googled my new neighborhood and found out my speculation was correct. Borough Park was the largest Hasidic neighborhood in America. Crown Heights Brooklyn, made famous by Jewish reggae rapper, Matisyahu, was number two.

I arrived in Brooklyn full-time in the dead of summer. The July humidity was almost enough to make me trek back across country without looking back. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced. There was no way to remain cool and there was no way to remain clean. Now that the weather was bright and clear, I saw many more of my new neighbors. Dressed in their wool coats and slacks, their dark brimmed hats were lined with white residue from their head sweating in the 95-degree sun.

I was immediately singled out. My wild curly, blonde hair paired with my kelly green shirt and shorts didn’t make the best first impression.

I found myself intimidated by this culture. Never making eye contact, they didn’t acknowledge me. They looked right through me. I constantly had to step off the curb so they could pass. It was like I wasn’t present on the street at all.

My father and I went to the local hardware store to purchase an air conditioner. The Hasidic man behind the counter didn’t help us. After waiting at the counter to pay for what we came for, the shopkeeper looked at me and simply walked away.

My dad had an idea.

When he returned without me, but with Conner’s brother Sam 15 minutes later, he was sold the unit without a problem.

Summer continued with like experiences. I felt guilty walking the streets in dresses and shorts. Women would stare at me while waiting in line at the local, non-Hasidic owned drug store. I found myself getting more and more frustrated as time wore on.

The first five months of living in Borough Park, I didn't talk to a single resident. It was an unspoken agreement. I became a silent observer. I was fascinated by the Hasidic way of living and I started noticing their subtleties.

Like how Hasidic men would cut in front of women in various lines. How the usually packed streets were vacant on the Sabbath (Saturdays). How their children go to school Sunday through Thursday. How not once have I seen a Hasidic man or woman walk at a leisurely pace. They walked very quick and with purpose. Their coats are very long, sometimes covering their feet and they looked like they were floating because of it.

A few months ago while waiting to pay for some cards at Duane Reade, the local drug store, a Hasidic man cut in front of me. Usually I am very non-confrontational, but today I was a bit feisty. I walked in front of him and placed my items on the counter. A moment later I could feel his chest on my back, letting his presence known.

I was an outcast in this neighborhood and this man made sure I understood. So when a Hasidic woman reached out to me one Fall night, in one of the most bizarre encounters of my life, to say I was shocked is a severe understatement.

While walking home from the subway with Conner around midnight, we noticed makeshift tents all over my neighborhood. 12x12 foot wooden boxes were assembled and covered in tarps on the sidewalks. As we walked by each one, we could hear conversation inside.

Upon reaching my apartment entryway, a Hasidic woman who I recognized as living in the building next to mine approached us.

“I need you to reset my oven,” she states in broken English.

Completely caught off guard, I ask her to repeat herself.

“Here, you go with her,” she says while pointing at her pre-pubescent daughter in the doorway of their building.

Without giving it a second thought I go with her. To reset the oven. At midnight.

While walking up the never-ending staircase, I start to overheat. Not because of the incline, but because I have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going. I turn to look behind me and Conner has matching bewilderment on his face.

When we reach the apartment I notice instantly it is three times the size of mine and I’m immediately envious. Furnished in dark oak and gold, the home is rich and warm. When we walk into the living room, we are met by an audience. Roughly seven or eight children look at us in confusion. My red pants and knee-high boots were not helping.

“Here,” says the daughter while pointing at the oven.

The oven is running perfectly fine. It’s on, baking something at 400 degrees.

“Push this down arrow button,” I’m told.

So I do.

“Keep pushing it until 350.”

So I did.

“Ok. Thank you.”

I don’t think I even returned the sentiment because I was so confused. Why couldn’t she press the button three times? My mind is racing. If they were to kill Conner and I right now, no one would know. Seriously.

As we turn to run back down the stairs to safety, we are blocked by the mother who was coming up them.

“Ok, now I need you to program my lights,” she says. “In the back room.”

Now I’m officially feverish and suffering from slight tunnel vision.

We follow her to the dark back room where we are met by her older son. She points at the light timer on the ground of their laundry room, and Conner picks it up on command. As she and her son are speaking Yiddish to one another, Conner and I are wild eyed.

“Ok, he says you have to turn it three clicks to the right,” she instructs.

Conner clicks it times three.

“Ok, now you have to put this pin in it to set it.”

Conner sets the pin.

“Ok. Thank you.”

I yell “You’re Welcome” over my shoulder as I’m already out the door.

“Here, I must give you cake,” she says.

We enter her kitchen and she cuts us a generous piece of marble cake. Feeling a little more at ease while giving her countless children awkward smiles, I ask, “do you mind telling us why we needed to do these things and what the huts are outside?”

“Why yes, it is our holiday, Sukkot [pronounced sue-COAT]. Our men eat, drink and sleep outside for seven days,” she says. “And we cannot do any kind of work for a week.”

Like setting light timers and ovens.

Thanking her for the cake, we descend the stairs.

“So when do you work, just in case we need something else?” she asks us.
“Well are you able to call us?” I ask.

“No.”

“What about leave us a note?”

“No.”

“Ok, well if you see us outside, we’ll come help if you need it.”

Note taking and dialing were all considered exerting themselves during this time.

It was at this moment I felt a part of this culture. Hasidic Jews are a quiet, ultra orthodox culture. I get it.

On New Years Eve an acquaintance I don’t know well approached me at a bar.

“How come you live in that neighborhood?” she asked rudely. “I’m Jewish and I wouldn’t even live in that neighborhood.”

Well good. Then don’t. Because it’s my neighborhood. And when they need their ovens set, I’m the only gentile they've got. And I'm ok with that.

52 comments:

  1. In case nobody has ever told you that you're beautiful....you're beautiful.

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  2. How terribly awkward.

    You are a brave brave girl.

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  3. Welcome to Boro Park, u r welcome in my apt anytime.. GO GIRL GO!!

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  4. Wow, my friend just sent me a link to your post. It is wonderfully written and quite a mood capture.

    Just so you know, many of those long clothed Hassids are secretly yearning for any contact with the "outside". You may not notice it walking the streets, but trust me, the one calling you to push the oven button three times, I am right there.

    We are not homogeneous, but sure are different. Perhaps in the confines of the World Wide Web can you find understanding to the bewilderment you may find in your surroundings.

    Welcome!

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  5. A poignant reminder of how "outsiders" look at some of us. I enjoyed your writing!

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  6. just by the way, the prohibition of any form of work is only for the first and last days of the festival (outside the Land of Isreal two days each time, and not for the whole week), and each week for Shabbat, although during the "intermediate days" of each festival, Succot and Passover/Pesach, Jews try to do the bare minimum, but certainly have no problems with lights or ovens.
    Just a small point, and I'm happy to have read this article.

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  7. I'm so impressed with your ability to see past the strangeness and find something nice in a culture that is so different than what you're used to.
    I grew up in Borough Park in the 70s, but when it became Hasidic, we moved out. My Orthodox Jewish parents didn't feel comfortable there, and 30 years later, I don't either.
    I hope that your neighbors know how lucky they are to have you there.

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  8. A great read! I always love reading how other people view our community. Althought I am not chasidish, I know the Borough Park community well. I hope everyone treats you nice and continue to feel free to take your place on line at the store!!

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  9. wow, I just want to echo the amazement from the above comments. So many people would just give up after feeling so completely ignored. Good for you for persevering and finding the good in the neighborhood! My grandfather lives there and I can barely tolerate an afternoon.

    You have an amazing outlook on the world! I hope New York or Boro Park doesn't kill it.

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  10. i grew up in Boropark, and am an Orthodox Jew but not Hasidic. there are things that annoyed me about it, and many things that i loved about it. thanks for telling the internet about Boropark in a sensitive, well-written way!

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  11. Wow- I'm so impressed by your actions and viewpoint. As many have said- many would have given up immediately.
    I hope you continue to enjoy your sojourn in Boro Park.

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  12. Ah, welcome to the role of "Shabbos Goy".

    There is a problem with what they did however. See, they can't outright tell you they need help and what needs doing. If the woman had stopped you on the street and said "My oven is on too high and I'm worried things will burn" and then gives you a knowing look because you know what the secret code really means, that's all well and good. But for her to outright say 'my oven needs resetting and you need to reset it to 350 degrees' is not allowed.

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  13. Thanks for your fun yet sensitive post!
    --from a Brooklyn girl feeling nostalgic in Paris, France

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  14. I am posting a link to this article. I run a site called TheCoolJew.com. We have a lot of views from Boro Park. I find your story very interesting. As a Jew who became observant much latter in life I found the Boro Park life takes a while to get used to but once you do you cant leave. It so peaceful and beautiful. I hope people will find your article in the same light!!!

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  15. http://www.thecooljew.net/2009/02/boro-park-from-outider.html

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  16. Pesky Settler:

    this isn't the time or place for in-depth halakhic analysis, but the fact that it was on a holiday, not shabbos, probably affects that.

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  17. That picture from your apt. looks like 14th Ave. or maybe 12th. Am I right?

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  18. Beautiful perceived, beautifully conceived, beautify written! It is your inner beauty that shines forth!

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  19. This was indeed a beautiful essay. Did you know that Elvis Presley helped his Jewish neighbors in a similar way? http://www.somethingjewish.co.uk/articles/77_searching_for_elvis_.htm So did Colin Powell, Mario Cuomo and others. You're in good company!

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  20. Fascinating point of view from an outsider looking in! My perspective is usually from the other side of the stained glass.

    To me the number of men cutting in front of women seems to be about equal to the number of women cutting in front of men. I know I (a man, last I checked) have been cut in line by women (and men, too) more than once. That may be a combination of the infamous NY rudeness together with the effects of living in a homogeneous culture. (Familiarity breeds contempt?) Welcome to Brooklyn.

    However, the Shabbos Goy experience and the rest of what you describe is certainly unique to Borough Park and similar. Must be quite a culture shock. Welcome to Borough Park.

    To second what's already been mentioned above, while the culture is certainly homogeneous, the individuals living in that culture are less homogeneous than the copy-cat look-alike clothing would have you suppose. Welcome to the neighborhood. Want some marble cake?

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  21. I'm wondering if you have the same feelings for your neighborhood as you did when you first signed the lease, in terms of safety and comfort?

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  22. what a refreshing point of view! it's sad that those who have left the fold enjoy bashing the lifestyle, perhaps driven by guilt, while you appreciate the positive aspects. you seem like a terrific and very secure person. enjoy the experience!

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  23. Please don't apologize to the unfeeling droids on Dov Bear's blog. I think most Jews reading your post really appreciated it (I know I did, and that seems to be the case from the comments above).

    I really enjoyed your post and would love to read more.

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  24. THank you for this post, interesting and very well written

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  25. Very interesting. It is really tough finding affordable, safe housing in New York City. I hope this works out for you. You might consider Weehawken, New Jersey however. By the way, I converted to Judaism as a teenager. My story is linked to my blog profile.

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  26. Megahn-

    As a non-native New Yorker myself I sympathize with your wilting under the brutal midsummer humidity.

    If you're still there this July and August please make a note of the fact that your neighbores leave in droves to the Sullivan County Catskill mountains (refereed to by locals az "dee country" or "upstate") in an attempt to find some bucolic relief from the summertime heat and humidity, and, to be frank, to protect there youth from gazing at woment in T shirts and shorts.

    If you think Saturdays are quiet now wait until the summer when even the men folk pack out.

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  27. If you and Conner want help deciphering the Hebrew and Yiddish signs or just would like some cultural/historical insights I'd be glad to help fill in some of the blanks.

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  28. First- I have to say that I admire goys that can have the patience to handle Hassidic Jews.

    Pesky Settler- what you pointed out is exactly the hypocrisy that surrounds Orthodox/Hassidic life. You can say one thing but really mean what you're not allowed to say and somehow its ok... what happened to "kavanah?" Eg. Hassids believe in prayers you can whistle, but as long as what you have the prayer in your heart it counts. The same logic should be applied backwards.

    The whole cutting in line thing is one branch of the Hassidic arrogance tree. It comes from a mentality of a person who's taught he's chosen, that being religious makes him a "better" person, that the sect he belongs to is more correct than the other ones. Then it's encouraged further by things like how strictly he observes his miztvos, how kosher his kitchen is, etc.

    They don't stop to think about anyone who might not be as good as they are. Of the ten commandments only 5 deal directly with god. The other half concern your relationships with people around you. Hassidim forget this, they spend all of their time on only half of what matters.

    So yeah- it's nice that you tolerate them, I respect that a lot, but don't be afraid to point out their lack of manners.

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  29. Dear Edo. This is hardly the place to discuss halachic issues, but please understand that there are thousands of people that are currently dedicating their LIVES to the understanding and knowledge of every nuance Jewish Law. Trust me, that although you may view this law as some sort of "hypocrisy" it is not.I can't get into details because it really, really, complicated but its a LAW issue. (regarding unintentional agency). True, there may be many problems with Hassidic society today, but using this as some sort of indicator is just plain wrong. Please don't use your own, off the cuff rationalizations to denigrate a beautiful way of life.

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  30. My rationalizations? I'm applying the same logic to two situations. Rationalization is what hassidim do when they use the argument that works for them.
    If Avraham Avenu were to see the Hassidic way of life today- he wouldn't recognize it.
    Let's take, for example, when cooked meat in milk and served it to the "angels" that visited him. How do hassidim explain it? They don't really just rationalize something along the lines that it's not a literal story.
    On the other hand Jericho's walls crumbling because of a few trumpets and the arc of the covenant is taken literally.

    It's really convenient how the most logical arguments are brushed aside and said to be too complex an issue to discuss. This is always the case.

    Orthodox people pick and choose. Just like they choose which Rambam books to read and which to burn and ignore.
    I'd be a little less harsh on the burough park community (and hassidim in general) if they individually acted like good people. Treating everyone with respect, without picking and choosing between Jew or gentile. But by and large this is not the case.

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  31. Dear Edo. I have no intention in starting a debate about the authenticity of the Torah. This is America, a beautiful country where people are allowed to worship as they please. You may believe that the Torah is allegorical, while others may choose to take it quite literally. You make the argument that Hassidim are "arrogant" because of their belief that they alone are doing God's will. Well, guess what. Elements of enthnocentrism exist in every society to a certain degree. You may possibly be guilty of the same "arrogance." You are better. You alone know that the Torah is just plain silly and any person who uses the Torah as a means of gaining satisfaction in life is living in the middle ages. Again. This is the wrong forum for this discussion. I am no chossid. I am no intellectual well versed in eloquent talking points. I am not qualified to debate you on the broader aspects of your discussion because I, frankly, like to be well versed in a subject before I speak. My point of contention is regarding one aspect of your assessment. There is a concept of Jewish law, whether you agree with it or not. Jewish people live their lives according to this law, whether you believe in it or not. Three times a day Orthodox Jews quote scripture... "And these words [the law] should be on your hearts, discuss it and teach it to your children when you sit in your house and when you go on your way." In short, an Orthodox Jew believes that learning and following the law to the up to the finest, esoteric minutiae brings them closer to God. Now the LAW places an emphasis on WORDS. Words can do things. When a bride and groom stand under the wedding canopy the groom gives the bride a ring, you could argue the he "had Kavana," everyone watching KNOWS his intent. But no. That is not enough. The law dictates that he must SAY the words, "harei ah mekudeshesh li..." The word make it happen. When dealing with matters of LAW, this is not so crazy. A hundred million people watched Barack Obama say the words "execute the office of President of the United States,faithfully." We all knew what he meant! I'm sure he had kavanah! Who cares that the words were backwards. Why did he feel it necessary to redo to oath the next day with Justice Roberts? Sometimes the law dictates that words have significance. In our case with the oven: A non Jew performing work at the the behest of a Jew is halachically regarded as his agent or proxy. Actions done by an agent or proxy are halachically considered the actions of the orderer(i.e. the one for whom the agent is acting. Thus asking a non jew to do work that is forbidden on the sabbath is equivalent, to some degree, to one doing the action himself. One of the prerequisites, by Jewish law, for the agency to manifest itself are the utterance of the precise WORDS that dictate the order. Hence, we have a technical loophole that they believe God wants them to take advantage of because he wants their lives to revolve around the law. Get it. You may think that all this is a bunch of malarkee, but these people don't. And I cannot infer from this "the hypocrisy that surrounds Orthodox/Hassidic life", sorry. That, and that alone, was my point.

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  32. You make assumptions about me that are wrong. I don't know if your are hassidic or not, nor am I gonna guess. I don't think the Torah is silly, nor do I think that religious people are stuck in the middle ages. Fundamentalism is more of a modern movement. Religious Jews in the middle ages were much more tolerant of goyim, much less extreme in their strictness, and much more involved in the societies of which they took part in.

    Now let me teach you something about logic- if A implies B, and B implies C, this does not mean that C implies A. Eg. Obama believed his oath was sufficient for himself and correct, but knew that there would be critics. He retook the oath to end any criticism that it may have been invalid. This does not mean that he retook it in order to believe that he did it correctly.
    Same thing about Kavana - its between you and God. Whatever comes out, what matters is your true intention.

    In a Jewish wedding the wording has to be correct not to prove the intent. It's because "...ke'dat moshe ve'israel" IS the marriage. It's the only thing you need to say to make it valid. Even if it's said accidentally. The rest is just tradition.

    Anyway- you keep saying you don't want to get into Jewish Law, yet you brought me into it.
    My point wasn't the nuances. It's that Ortho/Hassids care more about the nuances than the people around them.

    In this blog posting- the girl wasn't approached nicely and given an explanation of the situation. She was recruited to do the work they couldn't. Period. She explains that she felt like she was put in an awkward situation. Thats what concerns me: the lack of consideration among Hassidim particularly.

    Again to clarify- I'm not criticizing the choice they made to live like that, but I am criticizing the results it produces. Ethnocentrism, I could care less about. It's egocentrism that disgusts me.

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  33. Well,

    There are several rules about asking a non-jew to do something forbidden for a Jew on Shabbes, and it is amazing these people actually violate their own law. They should rather tell you something like "you know, it is too dark in here" and you should understand yourself that you're supposed to turn on the light; so don't be amazed because of that. They are NOT supposed to ask a non-Jew directly what they want, however, if a non-Jew does something for his or her own benefit, so to say, they are permitted to benefit from it.

    Please continue to blog about it, it is always extremely interesting to see observations from outside, so to say. And with any questions, go ahead and ask - we'll be more than happy to answer.

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  34. Well, to be fair, the mother did ask her under bas mitzvah age daughter to handle the details.

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  35. when cooked meat in milk and served it to the "angels" that visited him. How do hassidim explain it? They don't really just rationalize something along the lines that it's not a literal story.

    What are you talking about? This was dealt with over a hundred years ago in a scholarly monograph by R' Yosef Engel, and even earlier by the Mishneh LaMelech. Plenty of others have discussed it too. They don't rationalize it; they explain why it was permitted.

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  36. I've heard the "explanation" that because it says that he served them butter, milk, and meat, in that order, then it means that the dairy came first- so that makes it ok.
    I'd like to see someone in borough park serve a guest butter, milk, and meat in one sitting and not feel guilty about it.
    Until Abraham isn't given a wider leeway than orthodoxy demands Jews today, I'll maintain that the "explanation" is indeed a rationalization..

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  37. Look, with all due respect, before you criticize you need to be a bit better informed. You come up with some cockamamie thing you heard, and from that you draw your conclusions. Instead of relying on things you hear, go study the sources. I gave you two; there are many more.

    But here's a question for you: Why do you assume Abraham was bound by the commandment of milk and meat when the Torah was not given for another 400 or so years?

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  38. I'm not going by anything I heard from anyone else. I'm playing by the rules that Orthodox Jews set up for themselves. The Talmud says that Abraham kept all 613 mitzvoh's before they were ever given. This is accepted as true among Hassidim with absolutely no exceptions. That's the only thing that binds him to rules which were given 400 years later. But they made up the rules and not me.
    So what I'm saying is that if there is an explanation- then show your belief in it by emulating Abraham. And if you feel that doing what he did would be unkosher- then be prepared to say that what he did was unkosher.
    One line of logic, one set of standards.

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  39. You're question is ridiculous, as you'd know if you'd bother to check out the sources I gave. It's pretty clear that you're not actually interested in having the question answered, so I'll leave you to your theories.

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  40. I didn't ask any questions. You don't understand your sources well enough to defend them. I didn't postulate any theories, I just played by your rules to show the lack of logic.
    The failure to accept logic is what led people like you to burn Maimonides' "Moreh Nevuchim" when he wrote it. You need your punishment and reward system so that you don't have to think for yourself, just roboticly follow what your rabbi told you.

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  41. Edo, you're full of crap. You pose these questions that have been dealt with literally hundreds of years ago, but b/c no one spoon feeds you the answers, you claim there are no answers. I give you sources, you respond with more dogma about "people like you." But of course, you're not interested in answers, other than those that dovetail with your theories about frum people.

    And, by the way, there's no such word as "roboticly." Gosh, I hate the way "you people" mangle the English language.

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  42. They were dealt with hundreds of years ago? Any dissent among biblical scholars hundreds of years ago came from the same assumption that the Torah is an absolute truth and all we have to do is find out why things were written as they were. They never questioned validity.
    What I'm questioning (and that does not mean I asked any questions - as you keep erroneously repeating) is whether there is any consistent logic which you can follow for every situation. This is how this discussion began. You pick certain truths which suit you in one situation, and others which suit you in another situation. I'm saying quite simply "put your money where your mouth is:" do as Abraham did and offer your guests the same menu. Until you feel like you can do that, or otherwise admit that he was wrong, you have a big inconsistency.
    When I say people like you, it includes a big group of frum/hassidic/orthodox jews. When you say "you people" to me, what are you refering to? The almost non-existent group of Torah-educated secular Jews?
    None of what I said is dogma. You still haven't failed to prove me wrong using logic and reason and not some new outside source that you can't explain yourself.
    BTW- roboticly was my error in spelling only, robotically is a word, at least according to the OED- maybe not according to your Rabbi. here's the text the OED quotes "1979 C. THOMAS Snow Falcon 24 Asked to rehearse once more lines he knew by heart... Robotically, he began."
    So what mangling of the English language is that? You mangle your ability to think for yourself.

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  43. When you say "you people" to me, what are you refering to?

    It was making a point about your biases.

    The almost non-existent group of Torah-educated secular Jews?

    Do you include yourself as one of them? B/c your questions belie the claim of Torah-educated.

    and not some new outside source that you can't explain yourself.

    Of course I can explain it; I went through these essays years ago. But I'm not here to give a shiur to a guy who's too lazy to look up sources for himself, and who's not interested in answers in any case.

    came from the same assumption that the Torah is an absolute truth and all we have to do is find out why things were written as they were

    Well, duh, obviously. And your question is based on that assumption; otherwise, it does not begin. Which is why it's perfectly fine to respond based on that same assumption. So long as there are answers that fit the parameters, there's no reason to question validity. And, unlike your claim, there are answers that fit, even if your dogma says otherwise. And yes, it is dogma, b/c there is absolutely no proof that the traditional belief is incorrect. Ideas based on belief without proof are dogma.

    Robotically is a word; no need to shlep out the OED to prove it. Roboticly is not.

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  44. You need to stay in NYC... 2009 is going to be a great year for you! Talk soon.
    - Beau

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  45. One thing I can tell you for sure. Most of the men who live there will not hit on you or even look you in the eye. But be careful there are some crazy Jews around also.

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  46. These *good* yidden are walking cliches. This woman writes about them as if she's a victorian explorer recounting her experiences from a safari in africa. Not that there's anything wrong with it. These yidden are STRANGE without a doubt.

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  47. kishke- you're really a piece of work. if you want to debate a topic with any sort of reasoning, you can't start with an assumption. If you want to prove that the Torah is absolute truth- begin at zero and build up. If you don't want to start with the assumption that its not true- then just say "I believe it is true, but I do not know it." Then there won't be a need to pretend that everything in there is logical, because trying to prove that will not happen. No one who has attempted to prove that it is all logical has succeeded. Know your limits.
    Yes there's an answer for everything.. I didn't say that there wasn't. I'll repeat myself for the whatever time, cause you're too lazy to go back and read, the answers do not follow the same line of logic. An explanation used for one thing in the Torah is not used for another (remember when I talked about picking and choosing.)

    Please reread the correspondence here, and notice that you don't answer any of my main points. You digress and nit-pick. You go after spelling errors and not the substantial logical arguments.

    You bring up dogma like you need to project. It makes no sense to attribute dogma to me, since I've never stated anything I believe to be true without providing my reason. You however use other people's explanations without making the slightest effort to even apply them. It's like swallowing food someone else chewed up for you.

    Really from this point I can't see how talking to you would be productive in anyway. You haven't provided one logical argument or used any logic to counter mine. You try to attack my credibility more than anything else. That's fine actually, it buttresses my original point: religious people are arrogant and feel that they're above those who are not like them.

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  48. It's been a while since I had such a good laugh. I was cracking up through the entire post, the situation described is totally hilarious; but what's funnier is how this bewildered goyette's post about the strangeness of the Jews inevitably gave the good ol' yidden yet another occasion for a fiery argument amongst themselves!!

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  49. Edo, don't be an idiot. You'd like to prove the Torah wrong by noting a supposed contradiction re. Abraham. If the contradiction can be resolved within the parameters of the belief system, you haven't done so. I'm sorry if you find this difficult to grasp. You'll have to keep trying or give up.

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  50. I am visiting my son who lives here. I live in North Dakota, and so have not had much contact with Jewish people. The only things I know about the Jewish people is from the books I read, but I have an interest in their lifestyle choices. I really enjoyed the writer's report, but enjoyed less the arguing that is on going between the responders. Today my son and I are going to ride the train out to where she lives. I am sure I will be too friendly appearing, will smile and look like I would like to engage with someone, and am expecting that I won't even be seen. That I do not understand, but it is alright, I am in their neighborhood. So, I am coming to Boro park. Maybe after we go there I will write here again. I do appreciate that we are all children of God. Does anybody else just think we can leave it at that?

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