Monday, October 23, 2006

Wrecking the Religion!

A little bit about me.

I am a Chassidic guy, mid-twenties, that has the good fortune (?!) to be around all kinds of different, and interesting people. These wonderful people in turn, like to ask different and interesting questions!

For some odd reason people expect me to have the answers to what are sometimes the most mundane religious questions.

Why is it that a beard and peyos = instant rabbi?

As an “open-minded” fellow I sometimes have answers and other times am just as perplexed as the questioner is.

So when the answer to any given question is “oh, you have a point, I never thought about that” and their lower mandible drops, as they stare in googley-eyed disbelief, I chuckle to myself and move on.

I enjoy it, it makes life more interesting.

The other day I am standing outside enjoying a smoke, when one of my neighbors, Mark, who happens to be jewish, a YU grad back in 1965, but very far from frum, saunters over for a chat.
Past experience with this fine fellow teaches me that this will be a very “interesting” conversation with many religious overtones.

As he comes towards me I hear him muttering to himself rather audibly, “wrecking the religion, all you guys do is wreck the religion” I take one last puff, and mentally prepare myself for his newest onslaught.

“Chaim” he growls, as I open my mouth to say hi, “supposing I was to invite you to a nice restaurant for dinner, would you come?”

Knowing that any answer with this guy is wrong I decide to play it nice. “Sure Mark, as long as it’s kosher why not.” Before the answer has time to even leave my lips, He continues. “And if the waiter opens a bottle of wine that is not mevushal, and pours you a glass, would you drink it?”
Aha, so that’s the question, and here I was having visions of a complimentary night out.

“Ummm, no Mark I would not drink it” I replied as my shaky fingers fish in my pocket for a cigarette that I suddenly desperately needed.

“Aha, a bunch of fakes, phony’s, and frauds” he shouts jubilantly, with a knowing look. “And if the wine was mevushal?” he asks in an overly-sweet voice. “Ummm, I would drink it???” I ask hesitantly, thinking to my self that a bottle of wine was not a bad idea right now.

“Wrecking the religion, wrecking the religion” he shouts with his fist in the air.

The cigarette crumbles between my trembling fingers as I try to understand what was so wrong with my answer.

After a while I got the whole story.

Turns out that Mark had gone to a simcha of some-sort and there was an expensive bottle of wine on the table. Mark asked the waiter for a corkscrew, opened the bottle, and poured himself a glass. Two seconds later a chusid (that dresses just like me) passed by and grabbed the bottle off the table, sloshing half its contents onto the clean white tablecloth he reads the label. With a very Sherlockian “aha” he started running to the nearest sink, where he promptly poured it down the drain, all the time muttering to himself feverishly “yoy, er hut minasich geven diy van”. The fellow was chasidish. The bottle of wine was evidently not, it was not mevushal.

Mark being who he was continued to drink his glass of wine, while drumming his fingers on the purple blotched tablecloth. When he asked the fellow for an explanation, the answer he got was that the bottle was not mevushal, he was not jewish, and since he touched the bottle, it was forbidden for any jew to drink the wine. And so, to prevent any jew from drinking it by accident, this well-meaning fellow had immediately disposed of it.

Mark, once again being who he was, went and checked out what kind of mevushal was actually taking place in today’s commercial wineries. I need not tell you that “flash-pasteurization” was not something that he considered cooked (mevushal) at all.

“Ha” scoffed Mark, as he finished the story, “flash a light at some wine and suddenly it is mevushal”. Muttering once again about wrecking religions, he turned around and marched back to his house.

And as I said, “hey your right, good point” to his retreating back, I started thinking, does a flash of light make anything kosher? What are the standards today with the “better” hashgachas? Is there a big difference between say, the company that “answers to a higher authority” and any of the so called “better” hashgachas?

I certainly hope so.


At 2:34 AM, Anonymous Tam Tam said...

Reminds me of the song by REM - losing my religion... nice blog :)

At 7:16 PM, Blogger Chaim Chusid said...

I am not familiar with the song, sorry.
Thanks for reading,


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