Monday, December 25, 2006


Continued from here:

Sea monsters! Yes, turns out the answer to life, the universe, and everything is... sea monsters. I realize you might wonder how that answers anything, and I would too; but I've been enlightened now.

"I have pictures!" he exclaimed breathlessly, after his mad rush to catch up to me before I leave the place and leave his sensational discovery painfully bottled up inside him like a hermit who won the Mega Millions.

"What pictures?" I ask reflexively, before having time to think if I really want to know, which I didn't.

Taking his cue, he launches into a long monologue that somehow culminates in the grand finale of an incredible answer to all his questions, finally proving his longstanding faith in our mesorah, our sages, and by extension, our God. It goes something like this:

His difficulties all started with the realization that the physical world doesn't really work the way our sages portray it. Once that realization hits -- and when it does, it hits hard -- you start to feel unsure in the logic, metaphysics, philosophy, and theology of our sages as well. After all, if they're wrong in one field of human knowledge, they might be wrong in the others as well. At least it bears investigating. And the result of those investigations is what is feared the most. It is almost an instinctive dread -- a reluctance to take that first step down the slope at the bottom of which we have been taught lies unimaginable horror and debasement.

Now he has nipped the original problem in the bud. Our sages aren't mistaken in the ways of the world; it is we who are simply ignorant and yet to discover how right they really were! And he has the exhibit to prove it. As is well known, Rashi, the brilliant and highly regarded medieval commentator, claims the existence of man-mating mermaids (what fun!); he even identifies them as siren, the name derived from Greek mythology. What do we do with an obviously mythical creature taken for genuine in our mesoreh? Why, we claim it is genuine!

"The Asian tsunami uncovered amazing creatures," he tells me. "They prove our sages right!"

I know immediately that he is referring to these pictures. These hoaxes have been making the rounds for a long time. But he is convinced.

"Look what the scientists didn't know, but our holy sages did!" he exclaims with great fervor and conviction. His eyes glow with an almost sacred zeal. It suddenly dawns on me that he has invested great emotional capital in persuading me of the correctness of his view. He is hoping to use my change of heart to help dissipate his own troubling and ever-increasing doubts.

"If we didn't know about this, what else don't we know?" he continues excitedly. "We may yet be wrong -- and our sages right -- in medicine, cosmology, physics, zoology......" his voice trails off. I don't know if it is because he suddenly realizes the absurdity of carrying the argument this far, or because he considers his arguments self evident and obviously correct by now. Whatever the case, he finishes with an expectant smile and semi-triumphant but obviously worried demeanor, waiting for my reaction.

I make a split-second decision. Do I laugh at him and tell him he's crazy? Do I send him to the snopes article so he can see the hoax for himself? Do I launch into a philosophical and sociological discussion on the nature of myths in our history and culture?

"You're absolutely right," I say with the most earnest expression I can muster. "Perhaps we are really wrong, and our sages and mesorah always right."

He looks at me quizzically. "What?"

"Yes," I repeat. "We may be full of hubris. Who are we to argue with the greats that came before us? Science might yet change tomorrow after another tsunami, but our knowledge is everlasting."

The smile on his face gets wider -- very wide indeed. He is pleasantly surprised by the easy victory over his inner and outer nemesis. "Right!" he sighs with relief. "Exactly right!"

And thus I put him out of his misery. Back to the old childish and comforting beliefs of his cult; no longer tortured by doubts. (At least until he realizes the foolishness of all this himself -- which will probably not be long in coming, and at which time he'll start bombarding me with more questions, I'm sure.)

As I lay in bed that night, confident that he at least is sleeping well, this nagging doubt kept troubling me: have I done the right thing?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

On the sexual habits of the Frum species

I apologize to those waiting for the second part of the story in the previous post. I hope to have it up soon. In the meantime, enjoy this light-hearted intermission.

And now for something completely different...

Hasid and Litvak: a study in contrasts

A certain Mr. Ken Mondschein, while "not passed out in a puddle of absinthe" -- as he assures us elsewhere with that self-deprecating humor of the struggling Literati -- penned a fascinating article about the online peccadillo's of Frum Romeos roaming Craiglist's shadowy halls of sexual indulgence. You can find it here:

Writes Mondschein:
"Orthodox Jews choose hormones over Halacha with the aid of sites such as Craigslist, the FrumSex mailing list on Yahoo! Groups, and the Israeli-based, Hebrew-language forum Hyde Park. With its long arms and reassuring anonymity, the Internet is threatening to radically alter Orthodox life."
Unfortunately, after venturing that tantalizing morsel of pseudo-prophetic prose, he fails to follow up on the implied assurance of showing us precisely how the Internet will accomplish the goal -- vilified by some, sought after by others -- of radically altering Orthodox life. Instead, he simply chose to quote the misspelled missives of desperate dalliance-seeking dunderheads. Mesmerizing, to be sure, but not conducive to meaningful analysis. I guess he would rather leave the research for the authors of blogs such as this one to expound upon.

And so, in the interest of furthering anthropological science and human knowledge, I started perusing "Frum" Craiglist postings while blithely taking copious notes together with my copious amounts of coffee. Only to be startled out of my merriment by stumbling into something I didn't anticipate: the stereotypical Hasidic / Litvish divide. Without further ado, here, for your edification, is exhibit A. Observe:

The warm-hearted Hasid, always ready to do Chesed and give contributions:

Chassidic, Frum Girls or Ladies. - m4w - 28

Reply to:
Date: 2006-12-03, 5:53PM EST

Hi, I am a Brooklyn Jewish guy who would like to contribute my lust to a worthy receiver as a casual or possibly ongoing occasion.

Myself: 28 yo dark hair nicely taken care, good looking nice slim body 5’8”

I prefer someone decent looking around my age and towards the slender side.


And now, the kalte Litvak, obsessing about... Halachah???

Frum man looking for special shabbos guests - m4w - 29

Reply to:
Date: 2006-12-01, 5:46PM EST

I am a frum man who knows the entire mishnayos baal peh , and I am looking for a special female shabbos guest who wants to come over and sing zemiros and eat the festive shabbos meal and then come up to my bedroom for desert !

Please , only females apply. And please be showered and groomed properly.Remember that according to the vilna gaon in his tshuvas volume 3 pp206-208 says that women should always hit that thang at least once a week with a depilatory powder or a razor.Obviously , as a litvak ,I am required to follow the vilna gaon's sheetah.

The stereotypes are true, after all!