Sunday, April 13, 2008

Focusing on Aesthetics

Over shabbos we had close family friends over. The lady of the family was discussing how she wouldn't daven at a shul in which the Rav did not wear a black hat on shabbos. In the beginning she said she wouldn't go to a Rav who was clean shaven, but she took that back. She also said she wouldn't want a Rabbi who was under 30.

Anyway, her husband wears a srugi, and her family is considered "modern" and she's totally accepting of being referred to as "modern", yet her Rav has to wear a black hat.

Her husband thought she was nuts. Afterall, if someone has smicha (by orthodox standards) it really shouldn't matter if he wears a hat or not, nor should matter if he were young.

Moshe Rabenu did NOT wear a hat.

Rambam did NOT wear a hat.

Ramban did NOT wear a hat.

Hillel was really young when he became one of the greatest rabbi's and I could bet he didn't wear a hat as well...and guess what, I can bet she goes by Hillel... anyone wanna bet on that?

Focusing on whether or not a Rabbi wears a hat is full of crap. Just like with the priests there are lists of Rebbeim who have mistreated women (I guess different from the priests, considering the priests have a different sexual orientation) and, those Rebbeim wear/wore hats.

If anything kippa srugie wearers are the way to go. The people are INLINE with the world, they can focus more on what should/should not be moderated when it comes to secular society, because they actually KNOW the society they're living in. They don't live in a bubble and they have a well-rounded secular education, something very few black-hatter Rabbi's have.

She really ticked me off. That was a comment I really didn't expect from her, and I consider her one of my "normal" friends.

My non-religious relatives sometimes see guys with beards and hats walking in the street, and they automatically assume he's a Rabbi. And I'm always like "why do you think he's a Rabbi?" and they're like "well, he looks like one."

Coming from non-religious relatives is one thing, but to go and pick a Rabbi because he "looks like one" can mean you go and declare a random Amish guy a rabbi. Its really annoying. I mean, yea, I'm sure she would make sure she agrees with his points-of-view on things and such, so an Amish guy wouldn't fit because he wouldn't be knowledgable of such stuff, but a srugi wearer can be just-as knowledgable or even more knowledgable.

*shakes head*

I took her five year old to the side, and told him "You know, Moshe Rebenu did not wear a black hat" and I plan on reminding him of that every once in a while :).

I'm so mean. :)


frummmyyy said...

:) Your post reminded me of something. Once my family was at a concert at a JCC in some random place that was probably mostly conservative and reform. Anyway, so at that point my dad had a beard (he goes on and off) and as we walked into the room, a little girl shouted out "There's the rabbi!!"
Oh and I can assure you my dad is most definitely NOT a rabbi!

Can I guess who this five year old was?? :P

Jewish Sceptic said...

I agree with you, but I understand why people want "black hats." It represents a certain standard, as do velvet kippot. Whether or not it's correct to think like that is something else.

I remember being involved in all these people used to get heated up about it all...

Jessica said...

I think going after a rabbi because he wears a srugie is just as bad as going after one because he wears a black hat. Just because a guy looks like a rabbi it doesn't mean he is. Just because he looks worldly it doesn't mean he is.

frumskeptic said...

Jessica: I hope I didn't imply we should go after srugi wearer Rabbi's. I just meant that if you're modern it would make more sense. I dont think you should judge a Rabbi by anything other than how knowledgable he is, and his hashkafa. If he's Chassidish, or if he's totally anti-everything secular, and you're "modern" it would be a bad idea to get a Rabbi that will constantly be preaching how terrible reading non-frum newspapers is.

My rabbi used to be modern, and he frummed up. Now, he can relate to the members of the shul (who are mostly modern), yet he's frummer so he kinda "challenges" our ideas. So it works out. Now imagine a modern shul, and the Rabbi had never seen a TV, doesnt use the email other than for email. It would be better for modern people to have a Rabbi on their level in the srugie. or generally not super frummy. you know what I mean?

Anonymous said...

While Moshe did not wear a black hat, I truly believe that he would've today. I also would not want a "Rebellious" rav who has to show he is "normal" and not wear a black hat...For my rav I want a conformist, not a blogger :)
Favorite Anonymous.

Child Ish Behavior said...

I think I saw an Amish rabbi in Pennsylvania. Isn't that cool?

mlevin said...

Anon: Can you back up your believe that Moshe would have worn a black hat today?

Anonymous said...

can you defend that he wouldn't? Oh and Moshe was so embarrassed of his speech impediment that he asked his brother to speak for him. Obviously his self confidence wasn't extreme or he wouldn't feel embarrassed of this. I think he would try to blend in.

Blogger, telling her 5 year old that Moshe didn't where a hat - not cool. I understand you had good intentions but even if you don't agree with the ladies chinuch you should still support the way your family friend wants to raise her kids....they are her kids, right?

frumcollegegirl said...

i dunno about Moshe but the Rambam wore a turban, which was the traditional headgear of the time.

frumskeptic said...

Anon: Just because a Rav doesn't wear a black-hat doesn't make him rebellios. It makes him normal, and a self-thinker. The first Jew to wear a hat must of also been rebellious using your logic...Or the first lady to wear a sheitle.

About Moshe's speech impediment, if you are toying with the notion that he wasn't secure, then maybe you should consider that he would've been humble, and he would've rejected the notion of wearing a hat. Plus, If moshe was alive today, he probably woulda been Sephardi (considering the geography of Egypt) and he probably wouldn't have been wearing a hat.

Plus, he married a shiksa. So, you now...He woulda been excommunicated anyway.

Frumcollegegirl: Sure RamBam wore a turban, because thats what the secular soceity deemed as appropriate for a man to wear. When the black hat came out for the Jews, it was because secular society deemed the black hat appropriate attire. Just like we don't have Jews in America walking around in Turbans (B/c they're decendents from communities in which turbans were considered traditional), so shouldn't Ashkenazie Jews be wearing black hats. ANd if they are, it shouldn't reflect how "jewish" or "observant" they are.

Anonymous said...

We would've all been Sephardi, what your saying isnt a strong argument. Ortho jews feel the suit and hat are their (and I quote this, not anything I would say or think) uniform in the army of Hashem, and if they feel that its kavodik to wear one, I commend them for that (there are worse things they could be.)And yes I think Moshe Rebbeinu would feel respectable wearing a suit and hat into and out of his Yeshiva. Oh and p.s..I also think Moshe would be sitting and learning (Moshiach as well)...ooooooh - I think I hear your blood boiling all the way here as you read this :)
Anony :)

Anonymous said...

Oh and black hats don't usually represent how observant people are...plenty of "modern" people wear hats...I thinks its just a standard, and so it should be, (since its almost pesach) kinda how like Ashkenazim don't eat rice, and never will.
:) fav anony.

frumskeptic said...

Anon: The entire "army for hashem" thing with the suit is complete nonsense. Its superficially made. Believe what you will, but you're focusing on something that is completely stupid to be focusing on. Its the people who feel they do not need to show off, who are the ones that are the most secure and the greatest anyway. Moshe wouldn't be learning, but he'd be full time chinuch. Its the job of the levy- moshe is levy.

About Moshiach. Firstly, various opinions say that he will come from a hard life. Most likely someone coming from a hard life, will be earning some sort of parnassah, rather than being "full-time learner", because who would support him in his learning?

About the 5 yr old son, (i didnt respond to that before), his father was against the whole black hat thing as well. So therefore I think it was totally cool. Got one parent on my side. :) Plus the kid is really smart, and creative, so he wont end up in a black hat after HS as much as his mom hopes he will... He's way cooler than that. :)

frumskeptic said...

Anon: when a modern person wears a hat, he's just a hypocrite. The entire concept of the hat is to show that you're sticking to tradition- a secular tradition.

Once you're "modern" you're full of crap for waring the hat. Ofcourse this can go into a debate on what is/isn't modern, but generally, if a REAL modern black hatter is wearing a hat, its b/c he went to a frummy school, and all his friends do, and he feels awkward not wearing it, since all his freinds do.

ITs all conformity. STUPID FRUM PEOPLE!

frumskeptic said...

anon: so, bascially, if a "modern" guy is wearing a hat, and its always because of social pressure. It would be dumb to pick him as your Rav anyway. Why the hellwould you need a conformist Rav?

Imagine if MOshe were a conformist, he woulda peacefully came down with the 10 commandments, and contributed some of his own Jewelry and helped perfect the Egel.

tsk tsk

Anonymous said...

Well isnt the tradition (of ashkenazinm, granted) of all of us to wear a black hat whether we are frum or not? Because I can guarantee that my great grandparents did, didnt yours as well? Well why then does it only have to be for the hard core frummies? You invented that standard!!!! You invented that only super frum people can wear black hats (hypocrite!).


your fav. anonymous is having a good time playing devils advocate (side joke: you know frum people wearing black hats being the devil in this case) ((side side joke: I just want to add a chas ve shalom to the above statement)) LOL!

Anonymous said...

BTW, if you are talking about who I think your talking about...then his dad doesn't mind if he will wear a black hat, his dad doesn't care, and isn't allowed to have any further opinion on the matter. And the kid will wear a black hat, all his friends will. OOOOOOOOH!

Anonymous said...

You point (re moshe contributing jewelery is silly) Moshe the conformist dressing like a Jew is not comparable to Moshe the conformist doing something assur....( anony is disappointed in your weak argument)

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

Anonymous: Moshe would definitely not be a conformist. He was raised in Pharoahs palace with Egyptian traditions and yet he had the courage to take off his Egyptian garb and do as g-d told him and stand up against a whole nation of people who really didn't want to listen to him (80% of the Jews in Egypt assimilated and died in Macas Hoshech) and tried to convince them that they were in good hands if they followed him and hashem. Hence he left the pressures of his Egyptian ways and didn't dress there way to win the egyptians approval for exodus. So why would he, no in the 21st century suddenly decide to win his societies approval and put on what for some reason people call the "frum clothes" (the black hat)!


frummy said...

FS and sissy (hey whats up?) - You can't compare Moshe Rabainu to today's dress for many reasons, the most important one being that his "group" (the Jews!) was pretty homogenous for the most part and the question at that time would most likely have been Jews vs non-Jews, not MO vs RW. One has a more obvious answer, while the other brings up a significant arguement.

frumskeptic said...

Frummy: I logged on, to respond to anony. After reading your response, I decided not to, since you're so right. However, instead of telling me and my sister that its not right to compare moshe rabbeinu to nowadays, you should address the message to anony, afterall, she is the one that started it.

hehe... I'm acting like a 5 yr old "BUT I DIDNT START IT!"

the entire purpose of this post was to say that its dumb to judge a book by its cover, especially when choosing a Rav. thats it. :)

frummy said...

LOL sorry darling I was following the convo but not that closely. Ok, so Miss(?) Anony, please don't bring in the example of Moshe Rabainu. :) Is that better FS??

And yes I agree that you shouldn't judge a Rav by his outside, but since each sect of Judaism is usually reflected by its "uniform", dress can certainly be taken into account, albeit to an extent. For example, you probably wouldn't have a guy in a bekeshe leading a conservative synagogue. However, once you get to the MO/RW/Conservadox/YU, the lines are slightly blurred.

Anonymous said...

actually i believe ms. blogger brought up moshe rebbeinu when she started on that poor ladies kid...SO I DIDNT START IT, SHE STARTED IT! :)~

You keep comparing wearing a black hat to things that are pure assur (e: chet ha egel, and assimilation - little sister) you cant compare a neutral to a negative.

frumskeptic said...

anon: Ionly brought up that Moshe doesnt wear a black hat in the post itself to prove a point. You're the one that started a whole thing on it.

HA...infact it was the lady at my house that started the whole comparing of Moshe anyway (I think) so why don't you talk to her.

And about the husband, just like what you wrote "isn't allowed to have any further opinion on the matter"

its not that he's ok with buying the kid the hat, its that his wife is an evil dictator.

Ohh...and also... my sister had a point there on the assimilation. Moshe didn't wanna wear Egyptian clothes, just like we shouldn't be wearing the clothes our ancestors wore b/c those were just as secular as we would have been wearing egyptian clotehs in Egypt.

I love my sister. :)

Anonymous said...

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope she doesnt read this blog. Okay regarding Moshe didnt want to wear Egyptian clothing, that was current. Just like today Jews should somehow differentiate from goyim...Today it is considered jewish dress whether you like or agree with it or not.

frumskeptic said...

anon: I'm ok with Jews dressing different. Its fine with me. I'm not against it. HOwever, theres tzitzit!
I mean really now...strings sticking out of a guys tush, not exactly something a normal goy does. So thats Jewish attire.

Then theres the kippa (also, I know a modern thing), but some sort of head covering has been around forever. So theres wearing the kippa. Plus, I dont know how the Jewish men do it, but I can always spot a Jewish frum kid on campus. Baseball cap (so no site of kippa), jeans, shirt (not tucked in, so no sight of tzitzit), and I can always tell he's somehow a Jew.

W/e it is those guys do, they should continue on doing. :). Plus tzitzit are they should add that. :). THough when they DO wear suits, the tzitzit are not good. should be tucked in with suits. You try to look decent, and then theres strings sticking out...its like...eww! lol :)

Anonymous said...

FINE! you convinced me, From now on I will not wear a black hat and I will definitely tuck in my tzitzit and if I will wear a kippah, only a srugi (in case im moshiach), but otherwise a baseball cap. I will wear jeans and a polo, but if you let - shorts and a tank top :)

Good night, im exhausted.

tired anonymous.

Jessica said...

My parent's rabbi is very yeshivish. He doesn't preach about anything to my family. When they come for an answer, he gives them one. And he does take into account that my family is modern. He wouldn't say something like "You must start keeping cholov yisrael" because he knows it wouldn't happen.

frummy said...

One more point:

"I'm so mean. :)"


Jessica said...

FS wrote, "Anon: when a modern person wears a hat, he's just a hypocrite. The entire concept of the hat is to show that you're sticking to tradition- a secular tradition."

Uh... my father wears a black hat on shabbas. He is most definitely modern. He wears it on shabbas because its his shabbas outfit. He feels that it looks nicer. Has nothing to do with being hypocritical when a modern person wears clothes that aren't the stereotypical modern outfit.

frumskeptic said...

Jessica: Wearing a hat only on shabbos is a totally different class of people (especially for out of town people). I happen to not agree with it, for many reasons, but people should and could do w/e they choose so long they are not pushing what they do onto others.

However, the people I know who wear hats only on shabbos are like centrist, not-so modern and not-so yeshivish, and tend to be liars (ofcourse I'm judging by Brooklyn people, and well, knowing how much you hate Brooklyn, I am most defnintly not assuming your father is like this), Like they would hide their TV's in cabinets, and not tell schools they allow their kids to use the internet. So generally, I tend to judge those as automatically hypocrites. Unfortunately we all gotta be hypocrites to survive in Brooklyn, its sad :(

I am not saying your dad is like this. Just trying to explain where I'm coming from. I can go on and on about stories of people I know who pretend to be Yeshivish for shidduch purposes (for their kids), and they sneak TV's, stop wearing jeans during the week. Its awful. Its awful. :(

frumskeptic said...

Jess: I still stick to if they wear the hat everyday they are a hypocrite if they're modern.

Anonymous said...

FS wrote: However, the people I know who wear hats only on shabbos are like centrist, not-so modern and not-so yeshivish, and tend to be liars (ofcourse I'm judging by Brooklyn people, and well, knowing how much you hate Brooklyn, I am most defnintly not assuming your father is like this), Like they would hide their TV's in cabinets, and not tell schools they allow their kids to use the internet. So generally, I tend to judge those as automatically hypocrites. Unfortunately we all gotta be hypocrites to survive in Brooklyn, its sad :(

....Dude you are way to judgmental. I mean I am totally judging you right now, but I tend to judge on an individual basis, you are judging a whole group of people who wear hats on a specific day...thats just wrong :)

leave Jessica's dad alone - you bully!


Anonymous said...


You need to look up the meaning of "hypocrite". It has nothing to do with what you described. A person who doesn't wear a black hat and criticizes others for not wearing one is a hypocrite.

Now whether it's morally reprehensible to wear a black hat when you're secular is a whole different issue. Personally I don't see anything wrong with anyone of any religious persuasion wearing a black hat. It could mean he just likes black hats. It could mean that he wants to "frum up" for Shabbos. It could mean he wants to show derech eretz for the shul.

Ichabod Chrain

Jessica said...

anon - lol. thanks for sticking up for my dad.

I think that's the issue. The modern people wearing black hats thing is only hypocritical in Brooklyn, if anywhere. Out of town people who wear black hats either are yeshivish or aren't and just wear it on shabbas and to weddings. They aren't claiming to be something their not by wearing it either.

stacy said...

jessica- i live in brooklyn and consider my family to be modern, my brother wears a black hat on shabbos because he claims its "shabbosdik".

oh and our tv is not in a cabinet, and our internet isnt a secret. there are a few (albeit very few) normal modern people in brooklyn

Jessica said...

stacy - okay... i wasn't the one who said that you're a hypocrite if you're modern and wear a black hat...

ProfK said...

"Got one parent on my side. :) Plus the kid is really smart, and creative, so he wont end up in a black hat after HS as much as his mom hopes he will... He's way cooler than that. :)"

I'm having a whole load of trouble seeing where you have any side in the raising of someone else's child, whether or not your opinion coincides with the father's opinion or not. You believe he is "way cooler" and so you whisper things contrary to what his mother tells him? In our house you would probably be known as an "ex-invitee to meals." We tolerate and invite a wide range of opinions in all areas but two: keep out of my marriage and keep out of how we raise our family. I would imagine we are closer to the "rule" then blatant mixing in to what is private family matters.

frumskeptic said...

ProfK: totally agree, normally I wouldn't involve myself with other kids chinuch whether or not I agree.

Heres teh thing,
1) anything I say to fave anony shouldnt be taken so literally anywayz, lots of stuff we wrote here we laughed about on the phone anyway, she just likes attention. lol

2) the family I discussed in the post is really close to us, and we constantly bicker, for fun. When I told the kid about Moses wearing a hat, I said it with a huge smile, and the kid was hardly paying attention. He was like "OK". And I did it mostly to annoy his mom, who woulda started cracking up and saying "Tzipporah covered her hair" or s/t to annoy me, cuz I really have an issue with women covering their hair after marraige...It wasn't meant as like "Im forcing my opinions on YOUR kid"

I definitly wouldn't do that. I agree that is wrong.