Tuesday, May 25, 2010


True occurrence:

A super frummy, a friend and I were shmoozing when the conversation turned to Tfillin and how expensive it was.

Friend said looking at frummy "You know, a friend of mine just bought Tfillin for his Bar Mitzvah son and it cost $1200!"

Frummy said "that's nothing, My brother-in-law just paid $1800 for Tfillin for his son."

Friend and I were totally shocked, after all, we could understand a difference in $100-$200 for the tfillin, but $600 is huge... so I asked "What's so special about that Tfillin?"
She said "Well, its from a soifer with greater yiras shamayim"

Honestly, it took alot of strengh to keep from cracking up- not that friend and I were any nicer in our reaction- we both made funny looking faces which gave a clear explaination of our thoughts "WTH? HOw can you tell?"

Then, one of us (don't remember who first) said "what? How can you tell?" OUT LOUD and so frummy was like "Well, they... "

I couldn't fully understand what she said, but it was pretty obvious that the laymans terms version of it woulda been something like this "they have better handwriting"...

I was like "FOR REAL?!"

Why are people so frikkin stupid? I mean, I understand paying more money for BETTER QUALITY stuff, but lets face it, the writing will fade no matter who wrote up the tfillin. Eventually the Tfillin is going to need to be checked, so unless you fly the Tfillin back to Israel (where else would someone with greater Yiras Shamayim live?), it aint gonna be any different.

Then these bozo's complain about how expensive it is to be frum.


Garnel Ironheart said...

Actually, the reasons for the cost disparity are quite simple:
- the batim can be made of different qualities of materials
- the klaf also comes in different grades
- different sofrim use different styles, some more "mehudar" than others so the cost goes up correspondingly
- but most likely they are relying on gullible people thinking that if something costs more, it must be better so by charging a few hundred dollars more, your friend thinks he got a more kosher pair of tefillin.

frumskeptic said...

garnel- she said YIRAS Shamayim.lol.

had she said better quality klaf, thered be no post. so its the gullible people :)

Garnel Ironheart said...

I know. I read what you wrote. It's idiotic to think that Yiras Shomayim could figure into the price but as PT Barnum once said, there's a sucker born every minute.

Shilton HaSechel said...

Thats why nowadays in some matza factories only frum men are allowed to work

(as opposed to the old days when non-Jewish women used to do it)

all it takes is for one company to say "in our factory we only have yirei shamayim working" and then raise the price and sell to stupid people who think it makes a difference

Moshe said...

Tell her that the sofer in Tifferes Stam has a great yiras shamayim and you can get a tefillin there for $400, if not less.

Eichlers said...

We sell Tefillin Peshutim for $350 and Gasos for $650. The price difference is basically due to the quality of leather.

Peshutim mean that the cases are made of blended leather, which is thinner amd Gasos are made from 100% cows hide which is thicker and heavier.

Both come with high-quality parchments.


Ichabod Chrain said...

Maybe she meant that one sofer shuckles more and observes more chumras than the other, although why that should make a difference to the wearer of the tephillin is beyond me.

As long as they're kosher and of good enough quality leather to last, what difference does the yiras shomayim of the sofer make?

Honestly Frum said...

Ha. This sofer is laughing his way to the bank. When I was in Yeshiva in EY there was a guy who was studying to be a sofer and in order to qualify he had to stop wearing his srugy and put on a hat.

Moshe said...

Was he also required to grow a beard?

Anonymous said...

Not that hard to understand. If you are handwriting something and you want it neat - you are more deliberate in your actions and the writing takes more time. Here the ssofer takes more time to write, is probably a little more careful and pays more attention to doing it. The more attentions is the hiddur mitzva. The extra money is to compensate him for the fact that he took more time than the other guy.
It's no different than paying an accountant or lawyer. You can ask them a question and they can give you an off the cuff answer, which may be technically correct. Or, they can spend some more time with you, ask you some additional questions and give you a more custom tailored answer. In the first instance, your bill will be cheaper - you may have gotten a good answer. But in the second instance you are spending more - but are getting an answer that is a better fit for your situation.

frumskeptic said...

anon- my sister had nicer handwriting than I do. She also writes quicker than I do...

do I have greater Yiras shamayim cuz I take my time or does she cuz she writes neater?

Moshe said...

Since you don't wear black hats, neither of you has any yiras shamayim.

mlevin said...

So, let me understand it. You are paying more money because the dude that made your tfillin is a bit slow and cannot compete with more competent ssofers. So instead of telling him to find a different profession you are over compensating him because he is mediocre.

I think Obama has a few positions on his staff still open for idiots like you.

Anonymous said...

You know, try as hard as I may, I find it hard to understand the seeming bitterness on the part of you and many of your viewers.

I grew up in what was considered a very unconventional family by frum standards, which naturally put me and my siblings at a "disadvantage" when it came to shidduchim. Not that that mattered because we wanted to get our degrees first, and the guys who were still available after that and who didn't care that we ride bikes over driving cars and are vegetarian (among other things) were the ones we wanted anyway. We were taught to never "freeload" off anyone and always give something in return for any service we received, along with every meaningful and valuable life lesson my parents taught us that helped us be decent human beings.

My point? Sure, I guess I could have a problem with the frum community at large because many of them were brought up with different (and sometimes- I feel- worse) values and standards than we were. But I don't, because one of the most important things my parents taught me was to focus on what *I* need to do to make the world a better place and not spend my time watching what others are doing and judging them. That has carried us far in life and has enabled us to live a happy lifestyle in the religious community while still being able to confidently call people out (in a nice manner) when we think they are doing something wrong or immoral. That, along with knowing that WE are raising another generation of children to do the right thing, which includes more people in the fight of "good against bad".

I am not trying to disrespect you; I merely think that you do a disservice to Judaism by highlighting what you think is wrong with the people who follow it. Why not focus on some good aspects? I do believe that karma (if you will) would respond accordingly, and you might be surprised at the results.

Thank you for your time. :)

frumskeptic said...

I use the blog to vent...
trust me, that helps me religiously...

if I focused on the "good" aspects and ignored the bad I'd be the typical frummy who refuses to discuss the molesting-rabbis, and instead allows them to continue on with their jobs...

Ichabod Chrain said...

Anon 4:57

I've been following OFS's blog for just about the whole time she's been writing it and I haven't sensed bitterness on her part or on the part of the regular commenters.
Frustration, exasperation, and annoyance maybe (after all she identifies herself as a skeptic), but not bitterness.

OFS often complains about things that are reasonable to complain about-- frum people who miss the forest for the trees, or who seem to give programmed responses when they should be thinking for themselves.

OFS isn't alone in this. Onionsoupmix and R' Harry Maryles are frum but still find plenty of things in OJ worth criticizing, and their posts often generate plenty of comments from people who agree (and sometimes disagree) with them.

OFS doesn't cover as much ground or go as deep as they do, but there's usually a point in what she says, and even if one doesn't always agree with the specifics of OFS's criticisms, they usually are constructive, and her targets are usually well chosen. At least I see it that way.

For whatever my opinion might be worth, I think OFS shows a healthier attitude than the attitudes I see on the blogs that just seem to tow the party line.

Pointing to the good things in OJ often tends to focus on the superficial. The bloggers who thoughtfully criticize tend to highlight deeper problems.

frumskeptic said...

IC- thank you for that response to anon :)
I'm glad you're a reader :)

Anonymous said...

For those of you wondering why yiras shamayim matters when it comes to writing tfillin, it DOES matter. The parshas have to be written in order, which means that if you mess up but don't realize until later, you have to start all over again. No one can ever know whether or not the tfillin were written properly except for the sofer and God. And only a God-fearing sofer can be trusted to be honest and do it right, so yes, the yiras shamayim of the sofer is quite important.

The real issue here is that the frummy in question claims that a certain sofer has "more" yiras shamyim than others. How does s/he know? What qualifies as having "more"? How do you even place a value on that? I think Wolf once had a post on this a while ago, where he chose not to purchase tfillin from a certain establishment b/c they tried to evade sales tax, and Wolf said that if they are not yirei shamyim enough to pay their taxes, they're also not enough to write tfillin properly...

Anonymous said...

(this is anon 4:57)

Allow me to clarify:

When I said good aspects, I meant of *Judaism*. Otherwise, when dragging the people who practice it in, the line tends to get murky in differentiating the people from the religion.

I completely agree about things not getting swept under the rug. I am a very vocal advocate- whether people like it or not- for teaching sex ed (albeit the frum version to make it more palatable) in the frum schools and have done so. I think that can help with the problem of molesters, and I am also all for exposing those who cannot keep their hands and other body parts to themselves.

I will not get into the issue of "typical frummy" because I don't think I know enough well enough as a whole to make such a broad classification either way. So while I agree that certain things should never be swept under a rug and should be brought out into the open (although I am not a big fan of "divorce court" methods), I never saw how talking about it on blogs accomplished much. I think action is the most important, and if people are not doing that, they may as well keep their fingers away from their keyboards. I am not referring to you because obviously I do not know what you do or don't do in your "real" life. I am merely referring to the idea of venting and discussing as being appropriate means of getting to the heart of a matter because that frequently leads to bashing with very few fruits. I do admit I am not a big computer person, so if there is something you all know about blogging that I don't know, I'm open to hearing it.

Ichabod, I don't doubt that there are more acerbic blogs out there. However, as mentioned above, I don't get around much on the internet, and all I know is what I've seen, and I have not seen those blogs. I repeat, I think it's better to point at the good things about Judaism itself, which would hopefully lead people to be inspired to do those same good things, even though they might not have up until now. And if that doesn't work, that's where I think a more bold statement is necessary, but one that is directed at the perpetrator him/herself rather than at "frummies" at large. That is why I detected the bitterness, whether you agree with me on the exact wording or not.

I hope I have not offended anyone here, for I mean this in all sincerity. Have a good week! :)

Rabbi Lars Shalom said...

is this??

tefillin rabbi said...

Based on most of the above comments, there is a sore lack of understanding of tefillin and why they cost what they do and how fear of God plays a part and in fact is absolutely critical in assuring the kashrut of the tefillin. This is not the forum to delve into this. I suggest you read Rabbi Askotzky's book, Tefillin and Mezuzos to get a better understanding of what goes into a pair of tefillin. The educational section and tefillin section on his website, www.stam.net will also enlighten you.