Thursday, March 27, 2008

An Article of Mild Cynicism

In the spirit of Tobie's pre-Talia post, I am here including something I wrote several years ago. The backstory to this is the following: In my second year in seminary, me and two of my friends decided to put out a mock newspaper for Adar/Purim, essentially making fun of all things in the seminary/yeshiva world. We actually attempted to distribute it fairly widely among various seminaries and yeshivot, but were only marginally successful. However, every time I come across it and re-read it nostalgically, to myself, it still makes me giggle. There are some things from it which I cannot include here for various reasons; for example, several of the stories are specific responses to specific events in the seminary/yeshiva world of that year, which means far too many people wouldn't quite get it. Other things, like the ads, include sketches which would be difficult for me to re-produce here. So, the story I have chosen to reproduce here is pretty general, although specific to the M.O. yeshiva/seminary world in certain respects. I would like to clarify beforehand that this story is meant as a satire and therefore that any and all caricatures are deliberately exaggerated for the sake of proving a point.

The CIAYGDJI Makes A Statement

Recently, an emergency meeting of the C.I.A.Y.G.D.J.I. (Council of Internationally Assembled Yeshiva Guys Discussing Jewish Issues) was called in Jerusalem to discuss the future of the greater American Orthodox community. It had been previously agreed upon that some unifying course of action for all communities ought, at least in theory, to be agreed upon. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss what, precisely, the unifying action should be. As always, a variety of perspectives on everything in Orthodox Judaism, from halachik observance to the individual's spiritual connection to G-d, were represented by students from various yeshivot around Israel.

The representative from Yeshivat HaOreoes opened the meeting with an eloquent exposition on the opinion of the general Chareidi community. "We need to be more insular," he insisted at one point, standing at the podium before the gathering. "The influence of secular culture is endangering us all. Everyone must conform to a lifestyle wherein our children will be secure from the contaminations of the outside world. No secular literature, including newspapers, or secular music should be allowed into anyone's homes. A higher secular education won't be necessary once all our children are sitting and learning in kollel. "
The representative from Yeshivat HaSrugi took the floor next to respond to this suggestion. "Is such a drastic isolation really required?" he asked the assembly. "We need to be aware of what's going on outside our sheltered communities. It's necessary for us to have a broad life. With Torah at the center of the wheel, all the spokes stemming from it will be channeled for a higher purpose. A higher secular education, and even holding positions in the secular business world or the government can increase the kedusha and kavod Hashem in this world , with the proper kavanot."

At this, the representative from Yeshivat HaSombrero broke into the discussion. "There must be some way to combine the two perspectives, " he insisted. "We can all agree that Torah should be the main focus of our lives. And, okay, I'll admit that maybe listening to Eminem or 50cent may not be the best thing for my neshama. But I know many people who feel a very spiritual connection to the music of Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. And how will you ever really be able to understand the teachings of the Rav if you've never read Shelley?"

Squabbling ensued, until the floor was seized by the representative from Yeshivat 770. "Clearly the one thing we all need to be focused on at the moment is bringing the Moshiach now!" he declared. "This can only be accomplished by recognizing his presence and his influence in this world, every day, as we speak."

This was followed by a brief confused silence, after which squabbling of a slightly different nature broke out among all the representatives. Stay shana Hay.

Temporary order was again restored when the floor was taken by the representative from Yeshivat HaNaNachs. "Rav Nachman teaches us that Hashem is with us everywhere, always, even in the deepest, darkest depths of confusion and despair!" he cried out from the podium. "The main thing - the absolute, most important thing - is to always serve Hashem bisimcha!"

"Exactly!" yelled the entire congregation in chorus, each representative clearly interpreting these words according to his own outlook, and thus their own personal definition of happiness. Once it was re-established that everyone still disagreed with each other, despite the euphoric Eureka moment they had all shared just moments before, the assembly decided to call it a night.

"Our official position at the moment," said assembly spokesperson Yankl Shmerlovitch, "is that all Jews should be happy."


Blogger Yoni said...


6:20 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...


BTW whenever 'Mashiach' and 'now' are in the same sentence, NOW should be capitalized.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Yoni said...

nemo, thats only because of the way that the slogan is written.

with moshiach in hebrew script, and the mem being the first letter of "now".

Come now, she's fine.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

good note. Thanks.

2:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was excellent. Welcome to my blogroll.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Miri said...

Thanks. Always good to have another blog friend.

6:39 AM  

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