Thursday, April 28, 2005
God For Bid
Roger Waters introduced me to sarcasm as an art form. A fellow Shaigetz was arguing that we Chassidim, masters of the catty sarcasm that comes with the territory through the speaking of Yiddish, are unable to appreciate the angry variety as a valid form of expression. He advised listening to a CD called Amused to Death. An entire album that for me is summed up by one single phrase; “What God wants God gets, God help us all.”
Rashian in its scope, this sentence is the perfect expression of all that is wrong in our society. It is God that wants families torn apart over who is Rebbe, it is saying.
God who wants kids on the street rather that wearing a different style hat.
It is He wants opinions squashed.
He wants the couple not to meet till the wedding.
He wants the water to need a ‘Kosher for Pesach’.
He wants no ‘love’.
He wants my love.
With all I have learned and in all the years that I have been minutely studying texts, it is sadly the words of a rock songwriter and singer that best sum up my current gloom. The two edged sword of a permissive society with next to no religious persecution and bigotry - the luxury of a too easy life - has given our leading classes far too much free time. The intense contemplation of their navels has resulted in a plethora of specious Chumres (over-strict interpretations of the law) and a stiflingly puritan atmosphere.
Because God wills it so, it is fine to allow the new generation to hit the workforce with no qualifications, no ambition and no money. It is better your son should sleep under London Bridge than he should bring his goyishe music in the house...
An incongruous sight indeed greeted me when I came to perform my annual dodge and sell my non-existent chometz to an undefined goy for an imaginary sum and for a strictly limited period, in a deal that is sealed by me picking up a slightly sorry looking black silk gartel and leaving a tip for the earnest agent. The hallway was blocked by the worst end of a lady of Polish origin, in tight blue jeans, who was polishing the floor. The label above her back pocket read ‘Superior Posterior’.
I do not begrudge the Rabbi’s lady help with her work in the house. I do wonder what the reaction would have been had it been the Rabbi's lot for his glance to happen upon an, even inferior, posterior in my humble hallway. The leadership class however, lives in a world its own. A world of speedy divorces and leisurely family planning, all God’s will of course.
There is still that bitchiness that comes with the territory, similar to the one that comes with Yiddish only much more vicious and deadly. The one that has every new acquisition of a Rabbi or Rav in the Chassidic world (and even beyond sometimes) witness to the dirtiest, smelliest, most treacherous battle it is our misfortune to know. So while we have to allow them to meddle clumsily in our problems, Rabbis go to the courts to settle their own petty differences, and those we are taught to respect either stoop so low that we gasp or get treated so shabbily it leaves one wondering whether they are fit lead at all. God help us all!