Thursday, February 19, 2009

Farm Animals - all of you!

Z.I.Y commenting on: Circus Tent Hollow Footsteps:
Since this thread has gone Off Topic & has become about someone's shiur & meeting in Pathmark, yadayada (yawn...) - it may be unbecoming to interfere on this interference by amazingly getting back on topic - namely this quarrel between the Dakoys (Hirsh the Goat) & Gasoys (7FatCow) - but I'll try:

As someone who knows both the Footsteps crowd & the 7fatcow oylem well, and can safely vouch that conflating the 2 is like conflating Satmer & Lubavitch - or, the Bundisten & the Poyaley Tziyon, for that matter. While from the "outside" (really ghettoized inside...) it may seem like 1 big monolithic dropout migration - to those who KNOW these chevreh (not just talking from their recliners on 14th Ave.) know that the differences between them are kirchoyk mizrach mimayrov (to use some hyperbole). One can say, that a main difference between Footsteps & 7fatcow-Cholenters is like the chiluk between heresy (the former) and blasphemy (the latter), vd"l. From the scores of those I know from both, I can attest that I know of only 2 individuals who are associated with both, and even so, with Cholent-7FatCow more than with Footsteps. In fact, quite a few of the Ki do not look favorably upon the Footstep. Just look at the latest 7FatCow post. For Footsteppers are perceived as being naive, nerdy, sober misnagdic, kindergarden-sellouts-to-society etc. types - whereas Cholenters are viewed as loosers, filthy, tripping chasidic, spinning-wheels-stuck-in-the-mud hypocrite types.

Farmer passing cows on the way to feed sows, Iowa, March, 1954

Moreover, lumping these 2 groups with the typical "dropout" stereotype is further misrepresentation, and indicates to the ignorance of those who do. We are not dealing here with the classic "yeshiva bums" syndrome that is well known to those who went throughout the years (even back to the '40s) to Torah VoDaas or Chaim Berlin or even Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch (ULY) or Torah Veyireh (UTA) for that matter. These 2 new breeds are not "dropouts" with all the de- facto via-negativa connotations. Rather, in the case of Footsteps they are "drop-ins" into normal mainstream society, ("nihyeh k'echod hagoyim") and in the case of Cholent-7FatCow they are "in-and-out" b'vas achas ("poyseyach al shtey haseifim"). If you don't understand this chiluk, I advise you to open up a Rambam to Hilchos Mumrim and Hilchos Teshuvah (ch. 5 I think where he classifies apikorsus) and the noysey keylim. It is more complex then mere Mumar liTeovoyn and Mumar liHachis. Most of the comments about this are not even worth responding to, for they show the obvious am horatzus and condescension of the writer - oh! opening up RaMChal or Chorev or becoming an MO urologist at Mount Sinai is the solution. Call it the Zev Brenner Solution. [- By this very comment these writers imply that there is acceptable diversity - which only they are to decide for others what the limits are - which leads to a point I'll soon make below.]

The only ones that made some half passable points were, of course der Tzig aleyn, by making the worthy distinction between the "farlorene" of BT homes & of geborene shtiber - and "seen it all said," who is mature enough to point out that the so-called dropouts come in all flavors & tastes. To which I'll comment, that, verily, just like "eyn deyosehem shovoys," so too "eyn apokurseyhem shovoys." And if this is the case, just as you accept that there is a variety of "cases," so too accept the fact that there is a variety of etiologies and of individual life-perspectives that draw/lead the given "oysvorf" to his/her destiny. For you, the most extreme liberality is to get a medical degree & wear a kipah serugah; for Mendel-turned-Mark, it is learning the Greek classics or even Hasidism in an Ivy League ohn a kapel.

Flock of angora goats heading for home pastures near Comfort, Texas,1942

I agree (and I think that this point has been made awhile back) that most of the so-called dropouts do not fit the league of Achad HaAm or Michah Yoysef Berdichevsky. Not even Label Schneerson (the Rebbe RaMaSh's younger brother). But guess what, neither did most then. There is a sizable group of these farklerter that are already filling the lecture halls of Brooklyn College & Columbia University - no, not those Coney Island Ave. pool room bars, or Bisele. Quite a few are also pursuing the creative path, whether in painting, music, film, fashion, literature, theater - you name it. Of course there are levels of ambition, talent and success - but so there is in the world over. The point is that here you have a mass of inspired, talented (some more actual than others) yunge kep un hertz who have made the decision to carve their own path - together - in a way they feel works best for them.

Even when it comes to lernen, quite a few of these, especially the Cows, can put any Tzig in his place. A primary case in point is the late Yoynoson Abraham, aka Reb Johnny, A"H, who no one I know, surely not on this blog ken kumen tzu zayn linke piyate. - For a good antidote to the puerile YGB shiur linked above, see the series of shiurim given by Reb Johnny a year or 2 ago in the East Village at: (guess where?) Cholent. See His Website. (In fact, Johnny was a, if not the, founding member of Cholent, from when it was still in Borough Park.) - and this was to a fremde oylem. You should hear his gemoroh shiurim on sugyes in Bobo Kamo and Metzioh, which went on for years, for entire nights, un s'hot zich gevorfen ketzoysen & nesivoys - all the way down to contemporary Bnei Brak Povarsky & Beis haTalmud Malin (and untern tish, afilu Gedaliya Nadel). All to which he would give noyfach midiley. But above all was his koyach hahasbore and PASSION of learning. Ritcho deoyrayse MAMESH. And this is in addition to the countless machberesen of chidushim he left over, some of which have already been printed.

Angora goats being raised on ranch for their fleece, known commercially as mohair.

Do you know how he was nifter this year Moytzoey Simchas Toyreh in middle of the night? At an open Gemoroh Masechte Bava Metziyeh, learning. The next morning they found his body in the shtiebel he snuck into to learn during the night, slumped over - you know what sugyeh? "Tokfoy Kohen"! (He was a Kohen and had a heart attack!) - An emese mayseh. How many of today's so-called Gedoylim can claim such devotion to Toyreh???? As we used to say: "Unzere ziburiyes iz beser fun zeyere idies".... and this is just one individual of the so-called "dropouts." So to all those lame castigators I leave with a final word of advise: Do not judge until you KNOW.

Ve'idoch Peyrushoy....

P.S. To Hirshel Tzig: I googled "circus tent guest post" - guess what? there was only 1 match: the "Hollow Footsteps" post. Since when do you post guest posts??? Why did you decide to do it now??? Why not disclose who wrote it??? Can't you see why the Cows would be chowing you down now and mooing at you???? You stink from obvious bias - and hiding behind the "It's not me" excuse (even if true) is pathetic. More transparency is in order, especially if you want to milk (no pun intended) your readership to make this blog joint a more profitable venture.

Va'ayasem b'Toyv.


Anonymous said...

Johnny Abraham was a fascinating guy.I've watched his Ishbitzer videos and was glued to the seat.Not only was he a great "baal masbir" he was also unbelievably humble and prepared to entertain anybodys questions.

"all the way down to contemporary Bnei Brak Povarsky & Beis haTalmud Malin (and untern tish, afilu Gedaliya Nadel)"
Btw, what in heaven are you talking about when you say afilu Gedalya Nadel untern tish?Johnny posted on the r'gedalyas chevreh website and I don't know why it would have to be untern tish?

Anonymous said...

I'm very gratified that my comments are considered important enough to post. Now why exactly did you think I was condescending? I was writing about a person who I know who was in the "footsteps crowd" or would have been if he knew about the place. He enjoys philosophy and that is what we talked about. When he found out that it was Jewish philosophy and not one Jew shooting his mouth off he opened up a gmara.
To answer the rest of your rant, I would need to know what an "etiologies" is (do you mean idiology or is this a yiddish word or what)

And no. I did not say that I can "decide for others what the limits are" the Torah decides and you don't have to dress in black and never work a day in your life to be a Torah Jew. My point is that some people will appreciate it and you will be very glad for the mount sinai proctologist when he removes something from your rectum that turns out to have been your head.
You say that "for you the most extrem liberality is to get a medical degree and wear a kipah sruga." I find myself saying this a lot lately but I don't deal in liberality. There is issur vehetter and mitzvos. I wasn't zoche to hear Reb Johny but I have no problem believing a founding member of cholent knew how to learn. I recognize that "mendel turned mark" thinks that chasidim should read the greek classics ohn a kapel. My point is read gezunteheit ober mit a kapel.

Anonymous said...

Very nice post, but there is something left out and that is about Johnny's last few years. I do not know of the specific details but it seemed like he regretted the direction his life took when he went to University to pursue "chochmo chitzoiniyus", and forasking the 24/7 Torah life. He retreated back to the simple Torah ways of his formative years and refused even to discuss literature and poetry to the extent that one of his closest friends bragged to me a few months before he died that "Johnny doesn't speak about poetry and literature anymore, but since I am obsessed with it, he speaks to me about it".

Johnny hardly attended chulent in the last few years as well.

His politics became very right-wing.

Shitalphin can fill in the details...