Five-Star Pesach

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I will never forget an address by Rabbi Ephraim Wachsman at an Agudath Israel of America convention on the topic “Living a Life of Ruchnios amidst Gashmius.” I had never before heard Rabbi Wachsman, and I practically jumped out of my seat when he thundered: This topic represents a fundamental mistake. There is no ruchnius amidst gashmius. To the extent that a person is living in the world of gashmius he is removed from ruchnius!

I was reminded of those words recently on a recent trip to Los Angeles, where I had a rare opportunity to speak with a rav whose wisdom has always impressed me. In the course of our conversation, he asked to me, “What would you say is the greatest threat to Yiddishkeit today?” I leaned forward eagerly, confident that he would mention one of my favorite subjects. But I must admit that his answer would not have been on my top ten-list.

“Pesach in hotels,” turned out to be the winning answer. And my friend’s central criticism was similar to that of Rabbi Wachsman: the Pesach hotel industry takes what should be one of the ultimate spiritual experiences of every Jew’s life and encases it in a thick wrapper of materialism. Read the advertisements, he told me: “No gebrochts” right next to “24 hour tea bar;” “Daily daf hayomi” next to “Karate, go-carts, and jeeping for the kids.”

“Olympic-size pool,” “state-of-the-art-gym” (to work off all the extra pounds from the non-stop eating), “five-star accommodations” and famous singers are de rigueur for the full Pesach experience. And many throw in exotic locations – Hawaii, Cancun, the Bahamas, and an eighteen-hole golf course. What exercised my friend the most was the way that well-known rabbis, and even roshei yeshiva, are impressed into service in the advertisements, as if to put an imprimatur of ruchnius on the festivities.

My friend was raised in a particularly biting style of mussar, and he was just warming to his subject. He described the wailing when the dessert table runs out and the rush forward when the hapless waiter comes with refills and is almost trampled underfoot. Hotels have to put security guards around the 24-hour-tea rooms, lest some poor soul from the hotel down the road, where the dining room closes at 10:00 p.m., cannot make it to breakfast without a late snack.

“The chilul Hashem alone,” he said, would be reason enough to close the Pesach extravaganzas. What does the staff at these hotels come to think of frum Jews? That they care only about eating and their holidays are nothing but eat fests? What impression does it make to see a group of pot-bellied men trying to eat their money’s worth of food?

He related to me the story of one local frum boy who had accompanied his father to sell their chametz. They found the rav’s house turned completely upside down for Pesach cleaning. On the way out, the boy asked his father why the rav’s house was in such turmoil. He had never in his life seen, much less participated, in cleaning for Pesach.

That boy, my friend lamented, cannot possibly connect to the idea that Pesach cleaning parallels an inner process of removing the se’or she’b’isa – the physicality and inner materialism that holds us back in our performance of Hashem’s commandments. His experience of Pesach has nothing to do with destroying the chametz either within or without.

When we gather in our homes around the festively decorated Pesach table, with the special dishes taken down just one week a year, and contemplate the freshly scrubbed homes over which we have labored so diligently, we link ourselves to all the generations of our ancestors. We may no longer exchange our old dirt floor for a new one every year at Pesach time, as they did in Europe. But if those ancestors could return to observe our preparations for Pesach, they would recognize their descendants and feel comfortable joining us for Seder. It is more doubtful they would recognize us gathered around a hotel buffet table – even if we were wearing a shtreimel and bekeshe.

EVEN MY FRIEND recognizes that there are many perfectly legitimate reasons that families might go to hotels for Pesach. Not every set of grandparents can find floor sleeping space in their home for 50 or so descendants. Some older couples are simply not up to the physical exertion of Pesach cleaning, and the same may be true of young mothers just before or after childbirth. Other families may want to spend the holiday in Eretz Yisrael.

For such cases, there should be reasonably priced alternatives. (In Eretz Yisrael , many yeshivos turn their dormitories into Pesach hostels.) But it is not these families that are fueling a hundred million dollar industry, or who have transformed Pesach into a kosher version of spring break for many.

The issue of deluxe Pesach extravaganzas is, in truth, just one more aspect of an ongoing tension in modern Orthodox life. Rabbi Yehoshua Geldzhaler once described to me the pre-war Antwerp Jewry of his youth. During the Three Weeks, he said, you would not see an older Jew smile or engage in any frivolity. The Churban was present for them.

Jews who can really feel the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash are much rarer today. On the other hand, Rabbi Geldzhaler remembers, most of the younger generation in his day was in headlong flight from Yiddishkeit. Today, however, we have made it so much easier to be frum. Our kids can enjoy most of the pleasures of their secular counterparts, and no longer feel the need to rebel to such an extent. Religious observance may not be as internalized as formerly, but at least most of our youth remains within the fold.

It is the task of our rabbonim and roshei yeshiva to elevate our understanding of Pesach to the point that a week-long orgy of eating and fun-activities is self-understood to be a contradiction to the freedom from materialism that the Chag celebrates. But for those who have not yet reached that understanding, it’s probably a good thing that the food is glatt.

This article originally appeared in Mishpacha magazine.

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75 Responses

  1. concerned in canada says:

    i just finished reading j. rosenblums pesach hotels “a second look”. i had to take a second look at his first article to see how much of an about face he took. i read through most of the 73 comments to that letter and i think a main point is missing. lets leave the mussar to our rabbanim and roshei hayeshiva ! why cant the writer write about the myriad of good that goes on around peasach time? is it because its not that interesting to read? not an explosive subject to gain public output? i spent pesach at home this year with all the tons of preperations, meals for our family and guests, innovative chol hamoed trips ect. and loved it. last year we spent it at a hotel as a rabbi in residence and also loved it. both have their place at the right times for the right people. “a rav whose wisdom always impresses me” did not impress me. in short you have two choices in life. either to be a “half cup full” person or “half empty” person. rabbi rosenblum, with your writing talent why not bring out the best in a pesach yom tov or a city like lakewood, not the negative. thank you for all your articles

  2. Dr. E says:

    Yankeer

    Mi k’amcha Yisroel! People who steadfastly hold onto their own “mesoras” that have no basis in mitzius and others who are insecure with their own (lack of) mesoras and feel compelled to pick up those of others.

  3. Orthonomics says:

    Perhaps the mesorah for protesting price gouching should be the mesorah to remain?

  4. yankeer says:

    Dr. E,
    A gutten Moiad!
    Like many other pesach chumros, not having dairy items was passed down from Eastern Europe where they were concerned about how the milk was kept, and what the cow ate during the milking process. Another reason is the general chumroh of avoiding processed products that are manufactured outside the home as much as possible.
    It is definitely a chumrah bloi tam but like many other pesach chumros, it comes down thru the generations and we just follow along.
    BTW, a sizeable crowd does not eat fish on Pesach, and this is due to an issur from Rabbonim in Europe to stop the price-gouging fishermen before pesach. Again, it obviously does not apply today, but a mesorah remains a mesorah.

  5. Dr. E says:

    Yankeer

    “no milchigs”? Perhaps I have living under a rock. Please enlighhten me on the nature of that chumra.

  6. yankeer says:

    First, I just chanced upon this blog and I love it! Jews arguing and debating without personal attacks and smears.

    I live in LA and a prominent rav told me some of the shailos that hotels in Palm Springs call him with on Motzei the first days of Pesach. He proudly tells everyone that if you no cleaning in your house at all, and just run a self-clean on your oven, pour hot water over your sink and cover your counters, your house will be more mehudar and kosher than any hotel out there. Unfortunately, we have confused pesach cleaning with spring cleaning as some people alluded to before.

    Using the stressed-out wife excuse to spend $20,000 in a hotel is IMHO a red-herring. For $5,000, you can hire 2 cleaning crews, have 2 full-time maids attending your house and hire a professional chef to make your seudas. I once spent Pesach with a relative who actually did this and it was a beautiful, heimish family Pesach in their home with extended family and without the 24 hour tea room. This relative hired a chinese chef who cooked in their home for one week before pesach and the food was magnificent. They also keep many chumros and minhagim, such as using only salt (no spices at all), peeling all vegetables, no lettuce, no milchigs, etc. etc.

    In closing, everyone should have a Chag Kosher V’sameach wherever they are spending it, wheather it is with mickey mouse and the seven dwarfs or the shvigger who takes after the evil witch.

  7. dr. william gewirtz says:

    Chaim, we interpret Avos d’Rabbi Nassan (1:5) a bit differently. What you surmised as the problem I was alluding to, not differentiating the fence (the seyag) from the vineyard (the Torah), I see as explicit in the text (or at least in the old Schechter/JTS edition I was using.) Adam and Eve are treated ambivalently, not as the ideal prototype for future Rabbinic Gezairot.

    In any case let me leave you with a “vort” i said (cannot remember if or where it was taken from or inspired by) on that mishna a few year back. The analogy of Avos d’Rabbi Nassan (1:5) perhaps hints at / teaches another point: Treat the halacha as precious. One puts a fence around something that is highly valued, worthy of being protected.

    have a chag kosher ve’sameach

  8. Chaim Wolfson says:

    “Secondly, and more importantly, today’s chumros have a nasty habit of becoming tomorrow’s standards.” (Comment by Garnel Ironheart — April 15, 2008 @ 1:29 pm).

    I entirely agree with this sentiment. [I would tell Garnel so himself, but he’s probably already in transit to his hotel.] “Chumros” are fine, but for the sake of the integrity of halachah it is very important to differentiate between “chumra” and “ikkar ha’din”. [Interesting that Dr. Gewirtz mentions Adam and Eve. Avos d’Rabbi Nassan (1:5) cites Adam’s “chumra” as the prototype for Rabbinical safeguards to Torah law (making a “fence” around the Torah). Evidently, the problem was that Adam did not make it sufficiently clear what the Torah required and what he added in order to protect Torah law.] But it is just as important (some would say even MORE important) to know what is “ikkar ha’din” and what is a “kula”. Just as not every stringency is “ikkar ha’din”, so not every leniency is. The halachic system recognizes that there is a time and a place for “chumros”, and a time and a place for “kulos”. In all cases, it is important to recognize what is a “kula”, what is “ikkar ha’din”, and what is a “chumra”.

    I will sign off before Yom Tov with a story about someone who did understand the difference between a “chumra” and “ikkar ha’din” (this is one of those stories that is true even if it never happened).

    When the Chasam Sofer became the Rabbi of Pressburg several years after the death of the previous Rabbi, Rav Meshullem Igra, he asked Rav Meshullem’s “gabbai” if he could tell him any anecdotes about R’ Meshullem. The “gabbai” told him the following story:

    Every year before Pesach, Rav Meshullem Igra would invest tremendous effort in baking matzos that met the highest possible standards. From personally supervising the cutting of the wheat, grinding it into flour, scrubbing the entire baking area to remove even the slightest possible trace of “chometz”, etc., he spared neither time nor money to ensure that his matzos were “mehadrin min hamehadrin”. The sum product of all his efforts was six matzos, three for each seder night. He did not eat matzah the rest of Pesach.

    One year, after he baked his six matzos, he stored them on top of his bookcase. On erev Pesach, the household maid was cooking “kneidlach” and needed matzah meal. She searched the house for matzah, and discovered Rav Meshulem’s six matzos. Before anyone realized what was going on, the maid had her “kneidlach”, and Rav Meshulem did not have his matzos. When the maid’s mistake was discovered, the house was in an uproar; everyone, that is, besides Rav Meshulem Igra. He said that it was an honest mistake and there was no reason to get upset at the maid. “But how will you get matzos for the seder,” worried his wife. “That’s no problem,” answered Rav Meshulem, “our neighbor Yankel the “shochet” bakes matzos for sale, and I’m sure he has some we can buy.”. “But how can you eat Yankel’s matzos?” his wife asked, “they don’t meet your standards.” Rav Meshulem answered, “There is nothing wrong with Yankel’s matzos. We eat the meat he “shechts”; we can eat the matzah he bakes as well.” “But he didn’t bake them with your ‘chumros’,” pointed out his wife. To which Rav Meshulem responded. “I did my part; I tried my best to have the most `mehudar’ matzos possible. If G-d willed that I don’t have such matzos this year, who am I to complain to Him.”

    After the “gabbai” finished talking, the Chasam Sofer was quiet for a few moments. Then he told the Gabbai: “I don’t know how I would have reacted had such a mistake happened to me. But one thing I do know. Rav Meshulem Igra’s intent in instituting his matzah-baking `chumros’ must have been 100% for the sake of Heaven, to please G-d Who commanded us to eat matzah on Pesach night. Had he had even the slightest bit of self-interest, even RIGHTEOUS self-interest, he never could have reacted the way he did.”

    On that note, I wish all the commenters and readers a “chag kasher v’sameach” and an enjoyable and meaningful Yom Tov wherever you may be. And if anyone decided to cancel their hotel reservations and needs a place to spend the Yom Tov, they are cordially invited to my house.

  9. Chaim Wolfson says:

    “ONCE AGAIN, can we have our rabbis “Say what they mean, and Mean what they say?”, so that hamon ha’am does not have to ASSUME.” (comment by sima ir kodesh — April 16, 2008 @ 5:42 pm)

    You are right that when speaking to a general audience, one has to take particular care to explain exactly what he means. But the Rabbi in question was not speaking to the “hamon am”; he was speaking to Jonathan Rosenblum, who understood quite well what he meant. And I have no doubt that Rabbi Wachsman, who WAS speaking to (and for) a general audience made clear what he meant as well. I doubt that he stood at the podium at the Agudah convention, declared that, “There is no ruchnius amidst gashmius” and then sat down.

  10. Barzilai says:

    Garnel: Did I say that only MO eat bebrokt? Why do you assume that by MO I meant not-as-frum? I know, from personal observation, that the Feinsteins, Ruddermans, and Reb Chaim Steins of the world eat gebrokt. Did I think they are MO? Or not as frum as could be? These are rhetorical questions. The answers are No, For no good reason, No, and No.

    The fact is, at least according to my nephew who is in the trade, that whether you advertise non-gbrkt, or you advertise that you serve gebrkt, will usually determine whether you will have women walking through the lobby in beach-wear. This is an observed sociological phenomenon. That it doesn’t make sense just means it’s more interesting.

  11. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “… What I assume the rabbi I quoted meant is that the ready resort to Pesach hotels is a symptom of a larger malaise.”

    I also understood the rabbi’s comment as not being literal. I wonder as well if even the materialism and superficiality, besides illnesses in of themselves, are also symptoms, or at least not the sole area where the focus needs to be.

    If people feel alienated from their leaders, or there are other social ills which aren’t easily solved, they may not be receptive to hearing about excessive gashmiyus. I agree that the materialism is a problem in of itself, and I look forward to reading the follow-up to this article in Mishpacha.

    Chag kasher v’someach to everyone.

  12. sima ir kodesh says:

    “What I assume the rabbi I quoted meant is that the ready resort to Pesach hotels is a symptom of a larger malaise”.
    ONCE AGAIN, can we have our rabbis “Say what they mean, and Mean what they say?”, so that hamon ha’am does not have to ASSUME.
    Chag kosher vesameach

  13. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Joel Rich seems to have hit it on the head. Taking up a chumrah should be because of a desire for self-improvement in one’s Avodas Hashem. Too often, however, it’s about keeping up with the guy down the street who did it for that reason but one doeesn’t want to be seen as “less religious”.

    As for Gebrocht/non-Gebrocht, Barzilai I assure you I know some very frum people who eat it. I hope you weren’t suggesting that’s the divide between MO and AgudahO.

    Finally, as I head off to the hotel, I wish you all a Chag Kasher v’sameach full of health, happiness and meaning. Don’t forget to get some dietary fibre too!

  14. Yehoshua Mandelcorn says:

    While certain stringencies may have been taked upon in previous generations with regards to cleaning for Peasach, they need to be revisited if they are causing significant stress in our generation. Excessive stress leads to anger, and anger leads to violation of Biblical commandments.
    For some who opt to go to hotels to avoid the stress of cleaning, the financial stress of the cost (not in all cases see my note 26 above) will also lead to serious pitfalls.
    In this world we have to set priorities.

  15. Jonathan Rosenblum says:

    Though the original article has long since disappeared from this thread — mercifully, I have written a follow-up to appear in Mishpacha the week after Pesach. (Mishpacha would not be happy for me to post it already.) I’m sure it will satisfy neither side completely.

    I trust I will not be giving away too much, however, if I say that obviously no one in their right mind thinks that Pesach hotels are the greatest threat facing American Jewry, and neither do I. I note this now so that Garnel and his rabbi friend will be able to enjoy their respective Sederim without worry on this score. What I assume the rabbi I quoted meant is that the ready resort to Pesach hotels is a symptom of a larger malaise.

    I’m puzzled to know why one correspondent wondered whether I intended modern Orthodox or Modern Orthodox rather than assuming that I wrote what I meant — modern Orthodox — or why so many chose to follow her down this unhelpful line of inquiry.

    A number of correspondents have somehow assumed that Pesach cleaning is exclusively the province of women, and that it was not my place to have any thoughts on the issue. No doubt my wife is the hardest working member of our family in the run-up to Pesach, despite working full-time, but for both of us one of the greatest joys of the Chag is the way our six boys still at home dive into the really heavy tasks that neither of their aging parents are still inclined to do, and that our biggest question is, “How did we do this before the kids grew up?”

  16. Barzilai says:

    Re: the comment by Ben David that in the time of the Temple we all went away from home, and no doubt the markets were full of delicacies for the tourists– I’m sorry, that is very superficial. Aliyah LaRegel was not a picnic. Jerusalem was packed solid; everyone had to bring three korbanos, besides the Korban Pesach on Pesach. Eating the korbanos required meticulous attention to taharah. Attending and observing the Avodah in the Temple, and the kohanim who lived all year in Jerusalem, was a spiritual epiphany. The people leaving will have been exhausted, exhilarated, and elevated. Rav Schwab once said that the passuk “Mah yafu pe’amayich beni’alim”, referring to the olei regel, obviously refers to those returning home after the holiday, since an earmark of attending temple service was the prohobition against wearing shoes. The greatest effect of the holiday was the spiritual grandeur exhibited by those returning home afterwards.

    And, for general information: Gebrokts/non-gebrokts is just a demure way of advertising that you are looking for MO or BlackO.

  17. dr. william gewirtz says:

    Joel,

    by your argument, I would have to be one of world’s great machmirim.

    While your reason might justify some (over-the-top) pious behavior, limiting speaking or fasting, for example, another reason is that gedolim honestly could not reconcile tradition with their understanding of a particular sugya and followed their logic, as a chumra. They did not necessarily seek out chumrot to be “yotzei lechol hadeyot.” That is yet a third basis for chumrot, which is more problematic and, as some have demonstrated, more prevalent of late than at almost anytime in our history. While I fully appreciate either of the first two reasons, particularly yours, the third, as i have been told by many who are so inclined, comes from a deeply held set of beliefs that I do not share.

    CKVS to you as well. and btw I am not going to a HOTEL!

  18. joel rich says:

    Dr. G.,
    I would state there is nothing wrong with being machmir as long you do not assume that it necessarily makes someone else who isn’t as machmir less religious instead of there is nothing wrong with being machmir as long you do not assume that it necessarily makes you more religious

    Reason being assumedly one takes on chumrot in recognition of character traits that require chumrot to perfect the individual in question.

    KT&ckvs

  19. Daniel Shain says:

    Re: comments by JacobZ (#42)

    Thank you for responding to my earlier post (#13), but I don’t think your reference is shulchan aruch is a proof that you have to clean your house (rather than simply looking for and removing chometz). True, the mechaber says that some have that custom to scrape/clean the walls, and they have a source in the yershalmi to rely on, but the implication is that we don’t have to do it. In fact, the Mishna Brura says that while we should not make fun of this custom, the support from the yerushalmi is questionable, since the case there is talking about someone who used dough to plaster the wall (see the shaar hatzion). The shaar hatzion says that the custom to scrape the walls is clearly a chumra since we don’t use dough plaster, even though we might have touched the walls with chometz.

    However, in siman 434:11 the Rema says that everyone should sweep the house (l’chabed chadarav) before the search for chometz, and the mishna brura explains this is so the search will be feasible as it is difficult to search for chometz if the place is a mess. He says to do this the day before the bedikah. So, as I suggested, the obligation is really to set things in order so that one can check for chometz properly at the time of the bedika. There does not appear to be a proof to start cleaning after Purim or after TuB’shvat, as I have heard some people do. If a person wants to shine the floor, wash the windows, scrape/scrub the walls, etc, that is a chumra and the halacha is that I should not make fun of such a person, but I don’t have to do that myself. Of course, preparing and kashering the kitchen is a lot of work, but the rest of the house doesn’t have to be.

  20. Dr. E says:

    I gotta proudly stand with Garnel here. I never heard the freezer one before; that would certainly be fodder for my uncle’s collection of “perverse Judaica”. My favorite recent one is where the guy asks the Rabbi that if he is makpid on Gebrokhts, can he feed his pet Gebrokhts. I kid you not.

    [What’s up with Gebrokhts anyway? Sefardim have no such Mesorah; neither do Litvaks or Yekkes. Who’s left? I didn’t realize that we had so many Chasidim.]

    Much of what I have seen in the form of Pesach behaviors is predicated on a total lack of understanding of Halacha, especially the fundamental principles in Yoreh Deah. This is most evident if you have ever stood in line at a place that does “kashering” before Pesach. Items like candlesticks and the like which were never used with any hot food, not only are unnecessary, but of course back up the line for guys like me who have things we really need to kasher. I heard a reputable Posek say that even Kiddush cups really don’t have to be kashered for the aforementioned reason. I agree totally. But, for Shalom Bayis, I take the Kiddush cups.

    Not to mention those who have no hestiation to be lax in other less popular areas of observance who see no contradiction with staring for 10 minutes in the supermarket to seek out a certain brand of poison floor cleaner that is printed in their Pesach “digest”. Halivai, those same people would peek into a Haggadah before the Seder for half of the amount of time of this deliberation. Maybe these are the people who should be going to a hotel. (Then again, they’d probably still seek out the same approved floor cleaner so it would not be chametz she’avar alav HaPesach.)

  21. Jewish Observer says:

    Garnel Ironheart: Why worry so much about something which is beyond your control? The reality today is that the Orthodox world has been transformed in the past 30 or so years from a mimetic tradition i.e. one whose minhagim and traditions were passed down from one generation to the next by imitating the practices of our parents and grandparents to a seforim-based tradition. Today, for better or worse, we are bursting at the seams with all kinds of halachic seforim. Anyone who is so inclined can go to any seforim store and be overwhelmed by the number of texts that are available. And thanks(?) to the likes of Rabbi Artscroll etc., you don’t even require a knowledge of Loshen HaKodesh to become fairly competent in halachic matters. So today, we have the option of learning halacha from a teacher, or from a sefer, or from our parents and grandparents. This is the reality of today- – is it good?… is it not good? Your opinion is as good as mine. This,I think, is a major cause of todays so-called “shift to the right”. But I don’t see this as a major cause to worry about.You shouldn’t live your life worrying what others may think of your Yiddishkeit. A gutte Pesach to all.

  22. dr. william gewirtz says:

    there is nothing wrong with being machmir as long you do not assume that it necessarily makes you more religious or traditional. as to the possible down-side, ask adam and eve.

  23. JacobZ says:

    To Garnel- You keep on repeating that these are chumros that have currently been made up. Look at my comment by #42 and there i brought down the marei mekomos. Please look them up and then decide for yourself.

  24. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Hi Bob, I’ll tell you why. I certainly agree one should do one’s best in the service of Heaven. This means honestly approaching the mitzvos and performing them with sincerity and love. However, one must also keep in mind that when mitzvos are performed, the rest of the world, including our brethren who aren’t as observant, are watching. Many of them may not understand the reason for being “medakdek” and the love of God and Torah that is its source. It is quite easy for one to be fulfilling a mitzvah with all its intended kavannos and to look quite foolish to outsiders at the same time.
    Now, David HaMelech said that he would speak of God’s statutes before kings and not be ashamed (Tehillim 119) so I’m certainly not suggesting the abandonment of personal chumros, minhagim or what-not. A person must always be “tamim” in his “avodas Hashem”. However, many of the official codes (including the Mishnah Berurah and the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch) note that it is possible to be observant and look like a fool and that being laughed at for being a “good Jew” isn’t always a desirable thing.
    Imagine, if you will, someone without a traditional background talking to someone about the third example I brought. Would it be hard to believe that he could have this reaction: “What a bunch of fanaticism. I don’t want any part of that!” And do you think that doesn’t happen? I have spoken with people in the past whose limited interest in Torah was dampened by an overly-enthusiastic talmid.
    Secondly, and more importantly, today’s chumros have a nasty habit of becoming tomorrow’s standards. When the whole burka controversy broke in Ramat Beit Shemesh (odd how this has barely been mentioned in this forum) one of the women interviewed for the paper made a scary observation: 30 years ago, no one cared what colour stockings a woman wore. Today, it has to be coloured and, just in case you think the woman’s legs are naturally a deep shade of blue, you have to have a visible line down the back.
    Sixty years ago no one cared what kippah you wore. Covering your head properly was what defined an observant Jew. Now it’s the type of kippah and, if you wear a hat, the type of hat that determine’s your place in the world and your “madreigah”.
    So I always get worried when these new stringencies appear on the scene. For every one person who enthusiastically adopts them as a way of enhancing his Avodas HaShem, how many more throw up their hands in frustration and say “It’s just not worth it!”?

  25. Bob Miller says:

    Regarding the comment by Garnel Ironheart — April 14, 2008 @ 7:48 pm :

    Garnel, if your our Rav does not support the chumros or decisions you objected to, why are you so concerned about other people’s choices in the matter?