Heaven to the Right, Hell to the Left, One Size Hat Fits All

What often happens in the frum world is everybody is forced to pick sides, or so it appears. Can you imagine you just gave up eating shellfish, pork, and watching cartoons on shabbos and you now feel like you are on a holy journey to serve the creator of the universe and boom, you are pressured to define yourself: black hat, knitted kipa, jean skirts, stockings or bandanas. Sounds frustrating but we all felt the pressure somewhere along the way.

Does it really mean who you are because of your hat or lack of it? Because your skirt goes to your ankle but it is a jean shirt? I think Hashem laughs at anyone who believes that is Yiddishkeit. Now, with that said, what should we be thinking? How do we define what a good Jew is?

Let’s open up the torah, the Gemorah and the Shulchan Aruch and see the definition. We know what it says. Keep Hashem always before you. Meditate on these words day and night. It is clear that keeping the mitzvahs is our job here and the only way for a Jew to serve Hashem is through the observance of Mitzvos. Now lets not forget that includes Mitzvos between Hashem and us and mankind and mankind.

Now we know that there are 70 faces to the Torah. As long as they fit within the framework of Halacha, they are kosher. You might ask, whose halacha? We use the Shulchan Aruch as our guide. There are the technical aspects of halacha as well as the spirit of the halacha. Our 70 faces need to pass both those tests in order to be valid.

That leads me to my next point. Hashem doesn’t care what color your hat is, rather have you been putting in your best effort to fulfill your potential as a Yid. We need to keep focused on that is why most of us were attracted to Yiddishkeit in the 1st place. The spirituality, beauty and holiness of the Torah and the Jewish people.

Where does that leave us? Pick your friends well, learn, and focus. Your friends will lead you to the best places or the worst ( don’t be a big shot and say I’ll lead them. That is the sign of the end for most people). Associate with a community that is growing. Shabbos should be holy not profane. If the past weeks TV shows are the topic of discussion at the Shabbos table then I think you missed the point. Learn-You need to know what you are doing and most importantly the inherent metaphysical koach of connecting to Hashem through learning his Torah. Focus-know everything you do is being watched( forget by the community) by Hashem. Also concentrate everyday on what your mission is here as a Jew-to serve Hashem. Remember we are Jewish 24/7, 365 days a year.

Most importantly, work on your simcha. We need to do the Mitzvos with simcha. That is a must for our long term commitment and for our kid’s love of Torah.

3 comments on “Heaven to the Right, Hell to the Left, One Size Hat Fits All

  1. Picking sides.. Since I started wearing a kippa a few years ago it was exclusively kitted. Even, after I got married and found myself in an almost 100% black hat shul (especially on Shabbot) and there I would be along with less than a minyan of other men in knitted kippot. Then I started wearing a dark navy velvet kippa for work and just kept wearing it, even to shul. Someone came up to me, one of the knitted kippah men, and asked me if I had switched to the “dark-side.” In all honesty I hadn’t even thought about it, and I told him so, but the whole experience got me thinking about if these outer expressions of Judaism really have an impact and what impact they have on both the Jewish and non-Jewish world.

    More food for thought I suppose.

  2. Having a dress code is a protection, if we were strong enough we would be able to dress the way we want (and still be Halachicly Kosher).

    Hashem created a world of color , with so many ways how to express beauty, each jew is different inside and should eventually become different outside (probably in the time of Moshiach) , as long as we can see he is a Jew , a servant of G-d.
    If it was up to me , I will dress all in white to be conscious that I have to stay pure before G-d at all times. It will influence me not to go in certain places since they contradict my dress code. But until I become a true Mekubal , I will have to stick to a black and white suit, as long at it really means something, as long as non-jews will recognize me as a Jew , as long as I it reallyt protects me, it’s all really a question of awareness. If I know how it helps me, how beneficial the dress code can become , as long as I know I am still different inside, then It is a good thing and a easy thing to do.

    I think that there is more to add to what Rabbi Klein says concerning what a good Jew is: One can do all the Mitzwos and learn Torah the whole day , it doesn’t mean , he is a good Jew.

    To be a good Jew means working on one’s evil Character traits. Only with working on our Middos can we be truly happy , because this is what bring us close to Hashem.

    Now, you will ask , then why do I need Mitzwos and Torah? Well those are the Tools necessary to help us change our Middos. If every day you work on at list one bad trait, then you know you are coming close to Hashem, and therefore there isn’t anything more delightful than that, changing yourself is changing the world.

    Therefore we have to be careful not just to do Mitzwos as an end in itself.

  3. Well said Rabbi Klein. Of course you are right, it is the internal rather than the external that is most important on our journey towards growth as a Torah Jew.

    I called the Rosh Yeshiva of the high school where my son began this past September to ask about the dress code, what type of shirts, hats/jackets etc. Unlike our previous yeshiva high school, this Rosh Yeshiva said “We work on getting closer to H” from the inside here, we work from the inside/out. Talk about a breath of fresh air. Learning, friends/peers, focusing all very important as well. Mentor/role models as well.

    Simcha is the whole difference in depth and attitude. The difference between a chore and an “avodah”. Even if we feel simcha we have to express it, at least to our children, as this is contagious, catch them up in it. We can say all kinds of things to them as we perform mitvos to enhance their appreciation on their levels, two year olds hear differently than 13 year old girls and 16 year old boys different than them. Study them, figure out how to ignite them.

    My son had a Rebbe who literally had the entire class “on fire” with learning Torah. That was in sixth grade, not an easy age. He was a passionate Rebbe, figured them out and caught them up in it. Four years later my son and we are still close to and in touch with him. My daughter had a morah in 3rd grade so caught up in the beautiful opportunity and power of davening, she had everyone excited about it. My daughter and we, 5 years later are still close and in touch with her. These things leave a Roshem not only on the kids but on us as parents as well. Hopefully we will be able to show them simcha and excitement about mitzvos which leave a Roshem as well.

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