Bein Adam Lchavero

Bein Adam Lchavairo is a blog dealing with interpersonal relations within the Jewish community and the interactions of the Jewish and Gentile worlds. We're new. Be gentle.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

This post is about something of which I am guilty. I'm sure it doesn't apply to anyone else reading this, but it was such an epiphany to me that I felt the need to share it. It doesn't necessarily deal with the stated purpose of this blog, but it does deal with Bein Adam Lchavero and, considering that our Sages teach us that the Second Beis HaMikdash (Holy Temple in Jerusalem) was destroyed because of hatred between man and his fellow man, this seems like an appropriate time to post it.

Here's a short story that doesn't really go anywhere:

This past Shabbos, I was at a friend's house for one of the meals, along with a recently married couple. We were discussing various movies we'd seen recently, and the third gentleman (not the host) pointed to his wife, who was part of the conversation, and said, "She wanted us to go see [name of movie]."

The End

As I said, it doesn't really go anywhere.

On a related subject: A small number of years ago, I was talking to a friend of my father, and I made reference to my mother, using the impersonal pronoun "she". My father's friend promptly corrected me, saying something along the lines of, "Your mother is your mother, not 'she'." I understood the point he was trying to make, but the distinction was lost on me, until the above story occurred. When he referred to his wife as "she" - in her presence and [figuratively] to her face - to me, it sounded very crude and uncouth. Here is a man with his wife - his ezer k'negdo (lit. "a helper opposite him"; fig. a person's other (spiritual) half) - and he can't even give her the dignity of a personal pronoun ("My wife wanted..."), much less her name ("Tamara* wanted..."); instead he dismissed her to the realm of am impersonal relation.

Now it could be that she didn't mind - maybe she didn't even hear him - but I did, and it bothered me. Now I understand what my father's friend was trying to teach me not-so-many years ago.

*Not her real name.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"You're SO Frum"

I hate when people say "You're so Frum". Not just because it's condescending, but because of the message it sends.

The other Shabbat our hosts took us to an informal shiur Just some local laypeople learning together. It was nice. There was a lot of shmuzing, but mostly learning. It was a welcome change from our usual jaunt to the park. We were invited to continue coming.

However, the attitude of one participant has me very much wondering if I will.

This person was very much the Alpha of the pack. He decided what was talked about when. which is fine. However, I'm an alpha type myself, and I tend to tune out other alphas. I'm secure enough in my self to not need to challenge another dominant personality.

He began peppering me with questions. where did I learn? What shul did I daven at? When I told him, he began deriding the shul we attend as "bad". When I explained that it was the kind of shul I grew up with his response was "Yeah, but try to talk there!". I responded that this was a plus to me, not a minus.

His response?

"You're so FRUM."

That, of course, really means "You're too frum for me on this issue so I will deride you for it rather than accept that you and I are different people!"

You know what? I'm not so Frum. I wish I were Frummer. I try. And it's frustrating to hear my goal maligned, even in jest. Imagine how it sounds to a convert or a Ba'al Tshuvah, hearing Frumkite as something derisive.

So the next time you have an urge to say "Oh you're so Frum", why don't you just say what you mean "You're too frum for ME?" That's what you mean, isn't it?

Or just don't say anything.

Or hey, here's an idea:

"Good for you."