Monday, June 25, 2007

Nobody Wants To Hear It

You know how many speakers use everyday events as a mussar haskel, "I was on my way here, and I heard on the radio..." I come up with those all the time. I can almost predict what a Rabbi's saying in his speech if he witnessed/heard the same thing I did.

But the more I think about mussar, the more I realize that nobody really wants to hear it from anyone, anyway. If I were to write a really preachy post, -which I have done- people would say,-or probably already did- "Who is this 21-year-old 'Michelle' to tell me what to do?" Others however, feel it's easier to accept something coming from their peers, since it's more attainable, and think, "Well a regular Joe Schmo is saying this..."

But then when it comes from Rabbanim, it's the whole, "I'm not on the level" argument, or as I've mentioned previously, we have [unfortunately] begun to see many Rabbanim as flawed individuals, and feel that they can't preach if they're not perfect themselves. Because it's not like they're a regular Joe Schmo. They're supposed to be above everyone else. But now we realize that they aren't. I generally fall into the second category, "that's not on my level," which I must admit is a LAME excuse and a weak defense.

I think many people are just full of themselves, that they don't wanna hear it from anyone. They want to live life doing the wrong thing, and delude themselves into thinking they're getting away with it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

My First Goyishe Party

My class threw an end-of-semester party a while ago.

It was the most fun I'd had in a LONG time.

Although I had to check every item for hechsheirim, and homebaked cookies were off-limits, the selection of Pringles, Pepperidge Farm, and Entenmann's clued me in. This wasn't the low-fat muffin parties of high school.

Certainly, I had to make it clear that I don't touch boys. I warned anyone who was in a picture with me, "I don't touch boys." My classmates were understanding; they even reprimanded those whose hands were lurking when posing for pictures, "Hey Stephen, watch out--you can't touch Michelle!" I wasn't asking for attention. People laughed, but I knew I was doing the right thing regardless.

I also, ironically, played DJ. Somehow, I was the only one who volunteered her iPod. I attempted to be politically correct, but my tempramental iPod didn't allow my Beyonce songs to play. Luckily I had Destiny's Child, Good Charlotte, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt. At first, I worried that the next song on the playlist would be nerdy. I quickly forgot that, and was comfortable enough to share my Dixie Chicks, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Spice Girls collection.

Sure, people made Jewish jokes. They also made lesbian jokes to the lesbian kid, and black jokes to the black kids. I just kept my mouth shut.

I thought back to high school. They would have had a kumzitz, sat on the floor, and chomped on lettuce. I'd be in a corner somewhere, talking to the few others who objected to this behavior, listening to my discman, on the phone, or writing. Some kid trying to be nice might approach me, and try to convince me to sit with them. They put their arms around each other, and I'd do the same, hesitantly. About a minute later, I'd be right back where I started.

Parties in high school were exclusive. They were made for and by the "in crowd," that existed whether you believe it or not. Why didn't we join the Kumzitz? Because we knew we'd be ruining it for them. They'd smirk at their buddies as they awkwardly placed their arms around our shoulders, as if we all had bad BO. The "cool" in crowd members weren't part of the kumzitz but would certainly object to us simpletons joining their conversation about boys we don't know.

This party was different. Very different.

I was wanted. I was accepted. I was called into pictures. I was confident. I was comfortable. I was happy.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Jury Duty-It's Your Duty

I was summoned to Jury Duty early this year. They said that students should postpone to when they don't have school. I did that.

I showed up, sat in that huge room until 3:30 when my name was called. Then I was there till 5, and returned another day.

When I informed people of my day's plan, inevitably, the question was, "Why didn't you get out of it?"

Why not? Why SHOULD I??
I am an American citizen. As cheesy as it sounds, it's my "civic duty." Obviously the way the government is run is often irrational and unfair (traffic court, anyone?), but I think as Jews, this is an opportunity for us to show that we're not a bunch of leeches.

We already have a reputation, unfortunately, for always trying to get out of things, and whether it's true or not, many feel that Orthodox Jews get preferential treatment. No comment on that.

As a single young woman with no children and no executive position, I felt I had no valid excuse not to go. No lying, cheating, or stealing. So you take the freakin' train and sit there for a few hours, or perhaps a few days. I was there a little over a day and a half this week. And I'm still here, see?

Why are you any better than everyone else who actually shows up??? You were smart enough to con the government?

I caught up on my reading, watched NY1 until I knew all the footage by heart, and did some SuDoKu. Sure, I was bored. Tough luck. That's life.

But guess what? A little Hakoras HaTov to the American government for allowing us Jews to live here and practice our religion openly is in order.

Remember, this is NOT our country. Stop acting like you own it. This is our Galus-home. Make a Kiddush Hashem.

Please, do what you're asked, and don't perpetuate the Chillul Hashem of evading the law.