Tuesday, July 11, 2006

MordyS: Hear ye! Hear ME!

I wrote in a comment a couple of days ago that this past weekend my antisemite sentiment was turned up to a nice simmer. I said that Monsey will do that to you sometimes, but it really wasn't Monsey that did it to me. It was actually the Friday afternoon drive from Brooklyn to Monsey that made me realize how much I hate Jews.

The reason for that was that for the hour and fifteen minutes that I spent competing with the Brooklynites on their merry ways up to the mountains to get from 13th Avenue and 39th street to my house in Monsey there were nine incidents that caused me to use words I probably shouldn't write here. And out of those nine incidents, (2 on Ocean Parkway, 1 while entering the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, 3 on the Westside Highway, 1 while getting on the GWB, and 2 on the Palisades) seven of them were by the most self-centered, unsafe and worst representatives of the Jewish faith on the planet. 7 out of 9 very unsafe and highly obstructive incidents were performed by Jews driving like complete a-holes without a care in the world for anyone besides themselves. The other two incidents were by cabs/car services. (don't worry, when I rule the world, those beyotches are the next to go!)

But the icing on the cake was when I pulled into 7-11 and of course, like always, there's this nice Jewish mommy in her shiny new Toyota Sienna (the new Honda Odyssey, IMO) parked in the fire lane, talking on her headset, while waiting for her cute little youngens to get their pre-shabbos slurpees. Meanwhile, the rest of us worthless oxygen hoggers are trying to maneuver our autos into that spot in between those two yellow lines that the law and most rational people would call a "parking space." But noooooooooooooo, what does she care? Her hell spawn have to get their slurpees and be able to get right back into the car without any sort of obstacle! D-bag J-mom isn't gonna let like ten feet of a perfectly flat parking lot touch the feet of her precious offspring!!!! So it's been a long day, and I've had it. So me and my homie Duvs get out o' da whip, and we walk up on dis J-Mom and in his words, "He f-in spazzzzed on this woman!" I'm going on and on about how she's setting a wonderful example for her children on how to go through life being an inconvenience to the entire world and how no, of course no one minds that she's completely selfish and being a nuisance to the simple flow of 7-11 parking lot traffic and how she's not the only one in a rush before Shabbos and so on and furthermore and henceforth and whatnot. And then I go in and get my slurpee without even so much as waiting to see the look on her face. Duvs told me she yelled something about "showing some respect" or something like that.

Now, I'm 22 years old, I'm an adult, and I can decide for myself who deserves and who does not deserve respect. And someone who shows no respect for a parking lot full of people that are in no way less higher and mightier than you and your minivan full of pishers does not deserve respect. Especially when other people and their minivans full of pishers have the decency to actually park like normal human beings. But I digress. Finally. Cuz really, talking about driving annoyances wasn't my point.

Why did I yell at this woman? Why do I yell at anybody who cuts me off or does something stupid or asks for my opinion? Why do I love giving rebuke so much?

Sitting in shul on Friday night as I was about to say Shema, it suddenly occurred to me. (This happened to be a really eye opening, productive Shabbos.) I like giving rebuke because it makes me more conscious of the stupid things I do. Like, my driving habits are certainly not perfect. Some would say they're pretty scary. (I dunno what they're talking about!) But when I yell at other people for doing stupid things like cutting me off, it makes me more aware of those things and then I try to be more careful not to cut people off. And I'm not just saying that; and I don't believe there's a natural desire to not want to be labeled a hyporcite either. I really feel that when I give rebuke on a certain issue, it brings that issue into my consciousness for a certain amount of time and for that period I actually try to make sure I'm not committing any of those transgressions, and possibly turn it into a permanent thing as well. So is that so wrong? Is it wrong of me to give rebuke if it's only for selfish reasons? The way I see it, at least the rebuke wasn't given in vain. Why can't I gain from it?

So over Shabbos I dwelled on the fact that I came to this realization as I was about to say Shema.
"Shema Yisrael!" Hear, O Israel!

Why do we start off this important prayer with the words "Hear Israel"? I always thought that the next part of the sentence was the more important part. Hashem Elokainu Hashem Echad seems to have a lot more meaning and depth than the first two words. So a new meaning came to me on the first two words. It occurred to me that Shema can be viewed as a sort of rebuke in a sense. We could just cover our eyes and proclaim, "Hasem is our G-d, Hashem is One!" but no, first we say, "Hear Israel!" This isn't just for me to shout out, it's for all of you to recognize as well, and now I'll proclaim it and be conscious of it together with the public and we will all grow together by declairing that this is what we all truly believe. So if it's true that when giving rebuke, one becomes more aware and conscious of the subject that he's giving rebuke on, then maybe the Shema was made specifically in a sort of instructive tone in order to make it a rebuke to ourselves as we instruct everyone else. For all I know this idea could be discussed at length by whichever Rabbi or past Rabbi, so maybe I'm being mechaven to whoever. Yay for me.

I really feel like this is a huge concept though. If Shema is really telling us that tochacha is so imporant, then why aren't Jews more vocal? Why do people get so annoyed when someone has the guts to actually open up their mouths? I mean, look around Judaism today at who's vocal and how they are viewed.

Basically, I'm feeling that just about anyone who decides to stand up for something will get torn apart by the community or someone will find some way to publicly invalidate whatever they say. Even if it's by a comment as stupid as, "Oy, that guy is such a meshugana, who listens to him anyway?" people can completely ruin an entire cause.

And then there are the groups that some people think are overly vocal so they become viewed in a sort of skewed light. Look at Lubavitch today. I have so much respect for Lubavitch. Some people might have the guts to say "look at those crazies, they're yelling all about their Rebbe and whatever all the time." Yeah, lemme tell you something, do you know any misnagid that's as devoted to any Rabbi, dead or alive, as much as Lubavitch is? The chinuch and dedication that they drill into their youth is amazing. The yeshivish community should wish they could instill the kind of love that these people show for a spiritual leader. And if someone would try to argue about how they're only heard by their use of "propaganda" or whatever, I'll tell them that at least people hear their voice and it's proof that speaking up certainly accomplishes a lot.

Another issue is that when people don't open up their mouths and discuss things, things could never get dealt with. I feel like there are tons of little things that everyone whispers about but no one actually speaks up about. If you make your voice be heard about something, people can't avoid it for too much longer. This also has to do with what added to my antisemite sentiment this past weekend. I've been hearing random stories about how Jews are just so dishonest and greedy in some of their business dealings. The Jewish cab company that's undercutting his competition by not legally registering his fleet really pisses me off. So the owner of the legit cab company has his claim, "I don't want to be a moser, and ya know, this guy is just trying to make a parnasa." So some would say that the legit cab company owner is right and he's being nice, good for him. Others would call him a pushover. But really the illegit owner is ruining the business for many other cab companies that are trying to be legit. And of course, nothing will ever get done about this cuz no one is gonna have the guts inform the authorities. Should you or shouldn't you is obviously a very deep important question, but just being vocal about the subject could possibly stir up the illegitmate guy into taking some steps towards not ruining it for everyone else. And then there's the Bagel Shop owner who just doesn't pay his workers on time, like how many other Jewish businesses. I mean, isn't that halacha somewhere? Come on, speak up! Somebody should get up and make it known that these issues exist and that they effect the Jewish community in one way or another. But then again who's going to listen to a 22 year old college student?

So I'm really annoyed that people don't open up their mouths more often. If we would be more vocal on how we feel about things going on in our communities, maybe more action would be taken to better ourselves and the world around us. And maybe people would stop making fun of the guy who actually stands up for something and realize that he just cares a lot more about his brothers and sisters and the rest of the world than you do.

Oh, and RIP Syd Barrett. 1946-2006