Thursday, October 18, 2007

When Moshiach Comes?

The above photo was taken in Bodie, a ghost town in the Sierra Nevada. As you can see in the picture, when the people departed, they left everything behind.

I am not overly attached to my possessions, and over the years I have tried to whittle them down to a bare minimum (although I seem to have accumulated an alarming number of seforim). Still, I found this place really creepy. There was just something disturbing about people getting up from the table, leaving the dishes and silverware laying there, leaving their coat hanging on a hook by the door, heading out that door and never coming back.

I thought: "Is this what things will look like after Moshiach comes?"

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Hooping for Hashem Redux

This is the original post that I had planned for this title (see post of September 17 ).

This is a picture of The Little Rebbetzin and myself, hooping. Some may be disturbed by the non-tznius image in the foreground. If you found this offensive, my sincerest apologies. Some may question why I would take my daughter and myself to such a place, where such things might be seen. The answer is: It is not something that I find disturbing or troublesome. I do not see the dichotomy in leading a frum life and attending an obviously non-frum event. Perhaps this is because I am baal teshuvah and lived a life out in the world before entering the frum world. I do not view entering the frum world as entering a cloister. I view it more as carrying my frumness with me, a buffer that allows me to engage and participate in the world yet allows me to remain detached from the world, like a Teflon suit.
For some the question of why still remains, it challenges their notions of what is possible.
This can be illustrated by a conversation I recently had while attending a Renaissance Faire.

Bewildered Yid: Are you role playing?
Me: No, I’m just wearing a costume.
B.Y.: Are you supposed to be a medieval Jew?
Me: No, I’m just a Jew dressed in a costume.
B.Y.: (Not quite able to get his head around this) Are you playing the role of a Jew? I mean with the peyoes and all?
Me: Today I am wearing this costume for the Faire, I wear my peyoes every day. (I give them a good tug at this point to show that they are actually attached to me)
B.Y.: But you’re wearing a yarmulke and all.
Me: Yes, I’m an actual Jew, and I always have the peyoes and kipa, but today I am dressed up in Renaissance costume for the Renaissance Faire.

The conversation orbited around like this for quite a while before finally veering off into the standard “do you know the so and so’s from such and such?”

The man I was conversing with just couldn’t understand why an observant Jew would be attending a Renaissance Faire. For me there are two reasons:
1. These are things that I still enjoying doing.
2. I believe that it is possible to be frum and be engaged with the world, and by attending these events, dressed, and groomed, and acting as I do, I can show others that this is possible also.
We attended the event at which the above photo was taken on erev Shabbas. (Not to worry, we were home long before sundown.) Throughout the day, people broke away from groups they were performing with, or fought their way through crowds to shout “shalom aleichem” or just grab my hand and wish me a “good Shabbas.” I would suspect, from appearances and settings, that these people were Jews who were not currently engaged with their Judaism. Yet by my being there and being visually frum, it stirred something in them that caused them to come over and greet me.

I would like to believe that you could take any frum Jew, yes even one from Williamsburg or Borough Park, and drop them into some public gathering, and that they would be able to find something enjoyable there, or at the least be sociable to those around them. People have the idea, perhaps not unfounded, that if a person appears to be an “Orthodox Jew” they will be found only in the yeshiva, the shul, or the shtetl. I am doing my part to change this assumption. How can we be a light to the nations if we are not out there letting our light shine?