Torah Commentary For the Rest of Us

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This is the kind of Torah commentary that the world needs more of. Last night I was at dinner with a friend from Washington Heights. As far as Orthodox Jews go, they’re kind of the opposite of my Crown Heights world — modern, shaved faces and striped shirts. While the Hasidim are overly concerned about things like the kabbalistic ramifications of our actions — aah, what if I don’t take on a new stringency this year? — the folks in WashHeights are more troubled by the black-and-whiteness of it all, and will freak out for hours if they do something un-halachic, like touching the bottom of their shoe and not washing their hands immediately afterward.

These might sound like the same thing, but they’re not — think of the difference between breaking the rules of your mother’s cleaning regimen and breaking the rules of a really intense game of Risk.

Anyway — the fact is, that’s the way people in each community are supposed to be. How this plays out in real life, however, is quite different. More often than not, people are more concerned about the surfaces of things, less about what they’re doing and more about whether they look like they’re doing it.

That’s why I love Frum Satire. He looks at the texts, not in a classical way of commentary, but how they’re being utilized today. It’s like a daily dose, not of MyJewishLearning, but of MyJewishLiving. Here, he’s talking about kiddush levanah, the sanctification of the moon ritual that Jews perform every month.

Posted on January 9, 2009

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