Friday, October 28, 2005

The Executive Jew - Hats off!

I was learning some Mishna Berurah last night with my friend, and we started Hilchos Shabbos. It states, that one should honor Shabbos by eating special foods. He goes on to state that "special foods" change with time, and one should eat the foods considered special in our own era (ie. Meat, fish, wine etc.).

The Mishna Berurah elsewhere discusses the obligation to wear a hat during davening. "Just as one would wear a hat in front of an officer or king, one should wear a hat before Hashem." He continues that "eventhough NOWADAYS it's appropriate to take off your hat when an officer enters the room, one should only do so after they ask permission to take it off..."

Ok people, this is clearly reflective of the times. He says so himself. Nowadays was 100 years ago and he is sensitive to changing standards of dress. It is also understood that one must dress for davening, the same way you would greet royalty or government official.

WE DON'T WEAR HATS ANYMORE!!!

Society loves to neatly box people's religious level, by the externals of dress etc. but I would like to argue that perhaps wearing a hat, or not doing so, is not a good barometer for religious observance. In fact, I see many yeshiva boys with their white shorts untucked and very disheveled...do you know why yeshiva boys tend to wear white and black? Because it is supposed to be the uniform of executive torah scholars. The objective is to look like professional talmudists!

I would like to change the baramoter...You can judge people by their dress...if they look disheveled and belong in the gutter...however, different streams of Judaism have different standards of fancy dress, and no one is holier than the other!

If I wore the traditional Shabbos attire of the Sephardic community in Tzfat, Israel back in my local shul, I would be kicked out for wearing pajamas! Clearly, there is no one proper dress code.

Bottom line, please look like you are doing G-d's work, and shave (or trim)!

25 Comments:

At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my favorite is the yeshiva bochur with the nice black pants and white shirt, with the big ugly ring-around-the-color-yellow-and-black-stain

 
At 12:51 PM, Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

good post, i've been planning on posting about the "dressing for davening" topic for a while now.

Just remember, some people are caught in a fashion timewarp. I have a friend who's only barely observant, but he wears a black fedora as a fashion statement. i don't think anyone's ever mistaken him for a hhareidi, though. i should probably ask ;-) .

 
At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Lumpy Rutherford said...

I like the bochurim who wear a coat draped on their shoulders, hat on the back of the head and sneakers with untied shoelaces.

 
At 1:55 PM, Blogger D-Goat said...

Hey Mr. Reflux,
I think we should just get over it already, obviously dress is no barometer for holiness - but dress as you like means letting charedim dress as they like too. Think there's too much pressure to conform... i agree, but that's not the heart of this post... should've been.

 
At 2:20 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said...

When I was in Manila, I learned very quickly that if you want to be treated like a civilized person, you must dress like one.

People will look askance at someone whose shirtcuffs are filthy, and restaurants even here in the States sniff at folks in shorts and rubber sandals.

Cleanliness and neatness - how difficult are they?
If one's salary depends upon them, they're surprisingly easy.

And surely one's chaverim and kehal deserve as much respect as the people one works with?

Is it better to trail grotty fringes, or tuck 'em in and risk being thought an apikoros?

If, looking upon them, the only thing that comes to mind is "I really should wash these", then perhaps, just perhaps, it is better to look like an apikoros.


The priest's Roman collar tells you what he is.
If the collar is filthy, that tells you what he isn't.

 
At 9:46 PM, Anonymous charliehall said...

There are two shuls near me. On Friday night, frum Jews walk to shul and you can tell which shul they are going to by their dress. At shul "A", all the men wear a black suit and a black hat. At shul "B", no one is in a black hat, almost nobody is in a suit, and most men wear crocheted kipot. Yet the rabbis of the respective shuls are cousins, went to the same Yeshiva, and received semichah from the same Rabbi.

I often go to shul "B", rarely to shul "A". (I don't even own a black hat.) But whenever I pass someone who looks like he/she is going to shul "A" I always say "Good Shabbos" or "Shabat Shalom" or something else appropriate for the day and I always get a pleasant greeting in return. And I've been hosted for Shabat meals by members of both shuls.

I figure I have more important things to worry about than styles of dress.

 
At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Habib of KiwiJewPundit said...

I agree that using the presence or absence of a hat as a barometer of piety, or even frumkeit, is highly amiss.

However, I think it is a shame that hats have fallen out of fashion in the modern world. If we didn't identify borselinos with Habad weirdness, I think a lot of people would agree that they look cool. I blame JFK.

If I were to wear a hat to "daven", I would wear one of the homburg-type ones with the little feather that the Spanish-Portuguese wear. I think it gives them a note of dignity that goes perfectly with their tefilla.

 
At 5:37 PM, Anonymous Mike Koplow said...

I'm Modern Ortho, but I look hareidi to some people because I wear a big black felt kippah (because I hate bobby pins) and have a big beard (because I like to, and back when I was a hippy I had one, although it was black then instead of white). Anyhow, where was I?

Right, I remember now. If you ***really*** want to look pious you have to wear a black felt kippah way down low on the back of your neck and where another hat over the front of it so people can see a big chunk of the kippah in the back. What I sometimes do is where the kippah on the side of my head, way down so it's tucked behind the top of my ear, and wear a baseball cap in a normal position. This way, people both in front of me and behind me can see how pious I am.

 
At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I attend a shul where black suit/hats are the 'in' thing and in fact, I usually wear a hat for davening, at least on Shabbos. This past Simchas Torah, my 11 year old son came over to me and asked if I would mind if he went to the modern O shul down the block. Seems our Rav for some reason decided that children under Bar Mitzvah shouldn't carry the Torah during Hakafos and they were allowing the pre-B.M.s to do this in the other shul. I gave him permission to go.
Standing next to me at the time of this conversation was a teenage son of one of our mispallelim. This boy is about 18 and attends one of the more RW post HS Battei Medrashim in our city. He suggested that my son stay in our shul rather than go down the block. I asked him what the difference was. He said "This is the difference" while wiggleing his black hat on his head (most families of the MO shul are ba'alei teshuva and for the most part, do not wear hats). I replied that that wasn't a difference. Thinking I misunderstood his answer, he once again pointed to his hat and said, "You don't understand. THIS IS THE DIFFERENCE!". I replied, "YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND! THAT IS NO DIFFERENCE!" and walked away, leaving him somewhat shocked and confused.

I'm afraid that many yeshivos are stressing and teaching our young today that Torah Judaism is tied to externals.

 
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At 1:41 PM, Anonymous amshidoper said...

to all you people who feel the need to express that are anti mechanchim just understand that they bring up hundreds of nice kids while you probaly have yet to bring up one so listen and think about what they have to say and to the problem of little kids carrying sefrie torah you obviously dont understand what a sefer torah is

 
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