Thursday, July 10, 2008

Weird and Loving It


[Hassidic Jewish man]

I happen to be a bit of a health and fitness nut. I spend about an hour each day working out a gym in Manhattan. All types of people go there, all ages, shapes, sizes, etc. Recently I noticed something a little unusual – a couple of men with turbans and beards. I did a little research, and realized that they are Sikhs. Uncut hair is one of the basic symbols of Sikhism.

It then dawned on me that just as these Sikhs look a little weird to me that must be exactly how I look to other average secular Americans.

I wear a yarmulke, beard and tzitzis. I keep kosher and Shabbos and I don’t shake hands with women.

It’s easy to feel self-conscious about all this, however on the other hand, look at secular society today. Is it something I want to identify with? Or should I be proud to be different?

5 comments:

alex said...

You may wish to share with your readers the 'famous' R' Twersky story where he was castigated for looking too Jewish.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with it.

alex said...

Here ya go:

From GENERATION TO GENERATION by R Dr. Abraham Twerski (page 92)

One of the many unfortunate consequences of Jews having lived among hostile populations is that many Jews have developed an "exile complex", manifested by self-effacement and subservience.

I was once traveling on a bus, dressed in my customary garb, wearing a broad black hat and a black frock coat. A man approached me and said, "I think it's shameful that your appearance is so different. There is no need for Jews in America to be so conspicuous, with long beards and black hats."

''I'm sorry, mister," I said to the man. ''I'm not Jewish. I'm Amish, and this is how we dress."

The man became apologetic. "Oh I'm terribly sorry, sir,” he said. "I did not mean to offend you. I think you should proud of preserving your traditions."

"Well, well," I said. "If I am Amish, then my beard and black hat doesn't bother you, and I should be proud of traditions. But if I am Jewish, then I must be ashamed of my Jewishness? What is wrong with you that you can respect others but have no self-respect?"

The time has certainly arrived when we ought to be proud of our heritage, of who we are, why we are, and what we are for.

Anonymous said...

The obvious difference is that it hurts more when it hits closer to home.

Personally, I can't imagine anything more ridiculous in dressing in black (especially on a hot summer day). What is the point? Did Moisheh dress that way? Of course not!

All it dies is make you more of a target and makes people notice you more when you look at a peep show on 42nd Street!

jewish philosopher said...

Stop peeping at the peep shows!!