Monday, August 10, 2009

A Tale Of Two Neighborhoods

20 of the Fifth Month 5769

This post flits back and forth between two conversations taking place in separate Jerusalem neighborhoods, and presented in "fashion colors," for CLARITY.

If your blood starts to boil, please push yourself through to the end of the post. You may be surprised by the ending,...or not.

Neighborhood "A"
(2 men talking)

That's SO spiritual!

Yes, I know. It's creative, too... It's spiritually creative.

Oh, yes! I see.

AND,'s creatively spiritual.


Neighborhood "B"
(2 women talking)

OMG! I am SO glad I found an apartment in THIS neighborhood.

OMG! I so totally know what you mean. Now we're close to all of the important schuls.

Yeah, but I especially like how it's easy to check out all the hot guys through the mehitzah in the
schuls in this neighborhood.

Oh, yeah, cool. I totally forgot about that

Neighborhood "A"

Reb Shlomo told me to wear purple on Tuesdays to boost my spiritual growth beyond all boundaries of spiritual growth.


Yes. And you also have to make your payos like mine, or else you're not spiritual.

But, no one in Me'ah She'arim makes them like that, and there are some pretty strong hassidishe traditions there.

Doesn't matter. I could teach THEM a thing or two about spirituality. You know what else? I knew Reb Shlomo better that anyway here at this party. They couldn't possibly understand his Toirah and his Simcha like *I* do. Hey
! You over there, would you pass the joint over here?!

Neighborhood "B"

OMG! Now that we live in this neighborhood, people will able to see how enlightened and progressive we are.

Yeah, I know. Did you know that we have lesbians for neighbors now?

No. Really?

Yes. You can't get more enlightened and progressive than that

No, you sure can't.... But, we'd never actually have to invite them into our house, would we?

Oh, no
! Of course not!

Neighborhood "A"

During S'firah, know that means, don't you? S'firas HaOmer. Anyway, S'firah, I have to daven, know what davening is, don't you? Anyway, during S'firah, I have to daven with the kevunah, know what kevunah is, don't you? Anyway, during S'firah, I have to daven with the kevunah of the s'firos of the day, or I'm not yotzei, know what yotzei means, don't you?

Wow, that's SO spiritual

Yes, I know. Hey, yo
u over there! Would you stop hogging the joint!!

Neighborhood "B"

Oh no! I am so upset.

Why? What happened?

My Abba cut my allowance down from $1,500 down to $1,250.

! That's so totally unfair!

Yeah, I know! He says it's because the cost of living is much cheaper in Israel than in "The City."

By the way, since when did you start calling your daddy "Abba?"

Oh, no. You don't understand. I've ALWAYS called my daddy "Abba."

(Under her breath: "Yeah, right.")

Neighborhood "A"

I'm giving a shee'eer. You should come to my shee'eer. Did I tell you I'm giving a shee'eer? Yes, Rabbi Yehudah Levy Me'ir Shimon Smith is away, so he asked ME to his shee'eer. You could learn a lot from my shee'eer. You should really come to my shee'eer. Why aren't you coming to my shee'eer?

What's your shi'ur on?

Why, it's on spirituality, of course. Hey, did you see the guy with the joint?

Neighborhood "B"

Who was that at the door?

One of the lesbians from next door.

Ssshhhh. Don't say "lesbians." Someone might hear you, and think we're not enlightened and progressive.

OMG! You're right.

What did she want anyway?

She wanted to let us know about the park clean-up party on Friday morning, and to ask us to volunteer. But, don't worry, I said we couldn't come.

Yeah, I know. We're way too busy for that.

I was going to give her a donation instead. But she said that she wasn't collecting any money. She wanted neighbors to donate their time.

Well, there for sure would not be any hot guys there. They play basketball every Friday. And besides, wouldn't we get all dirty?

Yeah, they should just collect money and hire some Arabs to do it.

Ssshhhh. Don't say "Arabs." Someone might hear you, and think we're racist.

OMG! You're right! Hey, by the way, where do the guys play basketball? We could get dressed up, and pretend that we just accidentally came by their particular court.

OMG! Yeah, let's do that!!!


So, you think I'm be very judgmental, and otherwise making fun, of other religious Jews?

Well,...yes. But, it's not what you think! ...not entirely, anyway.

You see, I'm just venting. I need to get out my negativity, so that I can simply let it go, accept others for where "they are at," and worry about my own growth.

On the other hand, yeah, maybe I'm "doing other people's inventories." But, I have to tell you that I have never met anyone who has reached "spiritual heights" through clueless materialism, hypocrisy, gaivah (pride), nor drugs of any kind. So, these Jews' "inventories" are kind of easy to see.

The thing is that much of this is caused by galuth (diasporah) living. When Jews come to Jerusalem from the U. S., it can really taint their "spiritual searching." It also does not help the situation, when their "rabbis" are stuck in it, too.

Living out in the Shomron (Samaria), amongst Jews building their own homes, digging their own ditches, collecting their own garbage, growing some of their own food, and tending to their livestock, was a great way for me to let go of much of my galuth mentality and my qelipoth (anti-spiritual/anti-Jewish shells). It's not for everyone, and certainly not the only way to grow into a more ge'ulah (redemption) minded Jew. However, it's what worked for me.

Surviving a suicide bombing attack was also very transformational for me. But I do not recommend this, and that's another story for another time.

While in the Shomron, would periodically have to go into Tel-Aviv to do errands, or make my way to the beach, or whatever. It was like venturing into a completely different world, even though I had already lived in Tel-Aviv for two years. The signs were in Hebrew,...well, many of them,...but the life there did not exact seem "Jewish" to me.

Now that I have moved back to Jerusalem, I have been experiencing some of those same feelings. That's pretty sad when we're talking about the Eternal Capital of Am Yisra'el. Although very galuthi in its own way, I still feel more comfortable in the insulated neighborhood of Me'ah She'arim on Shabbath than in one of the above mentioned 'hoods.

I do not regret moving back to Jerusalem at all. But, now that I must find another apartment, I seriously hope that I do not end up in one of these neighborhoods. If I do, though, I will just try to take it on as my next spiritual test. (.... OR just stay in my room in front of the computer, day and night, shunning any opportunities for a local social life, and walking a lot farther than I would like on Shabbath in order to be closer to "my spiritual cup of tea." ...because it's not likely I'll find it in one the neighborhoods described above.)

As condescending as it may sound, I do pray that Jews like the caricatures described eventually find a way to dig themselves out it all.

We are all "searching." At least, I can say that I am. Many of our fellow Jews are "coming back," as it were. Many of them don't even have a clue as to where to begin. We all have to try to be patient and tolerant with our fellow Jews. That includes allowing them to make a lot of their own mistakes, in order to discover the proper path. We have to be patient. But to what extent do we really have to be tolerant?


P. S. I am afraid that comments including a guess as to which neighborhoods I am referring cannot be accepted,...for obvious reasons.


Devorah Chayah said...

I know exactly where they are and I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiemtns...all of them

Devorah Chayah said...

Maybe my sense of humor is warped, but I thought it was funny as heck.

Esser Agaroth said...


No, it's warped. But after I wrote this, I thought it kind of sad, too, if you know what I mean.

Mikewind Dale (Michael Makovi) said...

Wow, narcissistic potheads and vapid materialistic hypocrites. Wonderful.

"I boast about how great I am, and try to get close to G-d by taking a shortcut (at least Eastern mysticism involves effort and hard work!), and after all that, I'm actually only removing myself from the world and rational cognition, and bringing myself to an empty and meaningless void - that's the way to G-dliness!"

(See Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits's Crisis and Faith for a trenchant criticism of Eastern mysticism and the drug culture. To remove oneself from the world is no way to achieving meaning and spirituality. It's really not so different from getting drunk. And if one does it regularly, I'd say one is halakhically akin to a habitual gambler, whose habits invalidate his testimony in court.)

"I'm a vapid materialistic self-indulgent nitwit who hypocritically criticizes everything that I myself espouse behind closed doors!"

Lovely. I don't know about these neighborhoods, but maybe I should be glad that I don't.

Personally, I liked Efrat. I've been in a lot of neighborhoods with nice people that I could relate to, but in Efrat especially, the hospitality was tangible, and it was obvious that everyone loved everyone else. People would spend so much time in the streets talking after Minha, that they'd almost forget about seuda shlishit. It was also evident that they would welcome anyone, any type of person, with open arms, without judgmentalism.

Esser Agaroth said...

Mikewind, There you go again misinterpreting my posts.

I wasn't putting down eastern religious practices. I was putting the western bastardization of eastern religious practices.

If there's any doubt, just assume I'm bashing the West.


I don't care for Efrat. My main problem with Efrat is when the residents talk it up about how hard it is "to be a settler."

Oh, puh-leaze.

Some of them wouldn't last two days in Adei Ad, or even Yitzhar.

And I'm sure the idea of Jews raising their own food and tending to livestock would just seem like a novel "Biblical museum exhibit," and would be shocked to hear that "Jews actually DID THAT."

I guess many eventually get over this mentality, or at least their children do,...except the ones who run away to Beth Shemesh, or make it big and move to Ra'anana.

Efrat is a suburb. Sure, it gets shot at once in a while, but so does Gilo.

I like your comments. I think you and I are mostly on the same page here.

Yosef said...

You might enjoy some of the shiurim of Rabbi Erez Moshe Doron if you are looking for something of substance.

Batya said...

Ya'aqov, it's sure better, bli eyin haraa, in Shiloh. And remember that we needed Shiloh before Jerusalem.

Ze'ev said...

Hey, why you gotta be hatin' on Nachlamon? See, I didn't mention the name of the neighborhood(s). So there.

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