Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The ketchup song

One of the best cinema ads I have ever seen was for Heinz tomato ketchup. All you saw was this upturned ketchup bottle extremely close up for about ten seconds and then a voice-over with distinct gravitas informs the audience solemnly that some ketchup never comes out of the bottle. This ketchup has issues.

Some people in our community will never see that ad. They too have issues. Indeed in many ways the issues are the same. Unless if we take the idea of Hasgocho prutis (divine intervention) to absurd lengths we have to suppose that the determination as to which specific atoms of ketchup remain in the bottle is entirely random. Whether a specific Jewish child will be brought up to believe that it is ossur (halachically forbidden) to go to the cinema is almost as random.

I personally do not understand why the Charedi Rabbis (in their infinite wisdom of course) decided that the cinema is mother of all uncleanliness. And to all you out there who don’t know, trust me, it is considered so. There are countless young people out there who have been ostracized by the Haredi community when it was discovered that they went to watch a movie. When I was a child I was no better. I remember having a friend in Yeshiva who came from a slightly less fanatic family than all the rest of us. His mother came to take him out one Sunday afternoon and took him to see a film. That night in the dormitory he swore us to secrecy and told us what he had seen. I was shocked of course, and the thrilling desire to see such a movie too was duly suppressed (along with all the other things that had to be at that time). When I returned home for yomtov I told my parents about ‘someone’ and his trip and asked why it was so wrong. I did not get a clear answer but I did notice an odd look between my parents.

I never returned to that Yeshiva. My parents did not think it was appropriate that their son should be sleeping in one room with ‘a boy that goes to the pictures’.

What a farce! We all know that there is almost no home left in Stamford Hill that does not have, either their own stack of DVD’s and CD’s with movies downloaded from Kazaa, or a good friend from whom they can borrow the same. So whom are we kidding exactly? Chassidim are some of the most avid movie-watchers.

Before the computer became commonplace it was very difficult for a Chassid to watch a movie. We do not allow TV, so there is no screen in the house. The only way we could get to see something was to hire what was called a video-box and a screen. The video library that was not quite local (so nobody would see you going in) had bought a few of these units especially for his sidelocked customers. When an opportunity arose it was like a yomtov and groups of two or three young men were known to take three or even four movies to watch in a single night!

We do not go to the cinema because that is traife. The Belzers do not watch videos, even of their own weddings, because their Rebbe says that video is traife. I once had a friend a Belzer who wanted to come to my place to watch something on TV. I couldn’t be there for the event so I offered to tape it for him and he could watch it later. He refused “the Rebbe does not allow video”.

To watch CD’s is all right because they have not yet been forbidden. To go to the cinema is very bad, to watch TV is a little bad, to watch a video is ok for some but not for all. In short we have become a little like that ketchup. There is no logic involved. We just don’t go.

A point of note: in an IQ test I administered a little while ago one question asked “What does 57HV stand for. There was no way in the world that kid could know the answer. Put that lost mark down to whoever it was that decided to deprive a generation of a part of their education and make them just like that most famous of Heinses 57 varieties.

If anybody would like to comment I have just opened a room on hydepark called the mens mikve. It should be operational today or tomorrow. I would very much like for it to become a place where english speakers can let their peyos down and say whatever they like. I know you have lots to say because I am getting your mails but there are valuable insights among them that should be said to the world not me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye. Thank you very much.