A former yeshiva girl writes:
My friend came back and told me the details of her night. The last time I saw her she was sitting downstairs with a couple of her friends. The night went as follows: The bartender�s name was Paul. Paul was a good-looking, Irish man in his thirties. But the best thing about Paul was not the glimmer in his brown eyes, nor the accent that made a vodka shot sound exotic, rather, it was the fact that Paul found my friend pretty cute, and gave her the drinks for free. All in all, she said, it was a great night.
A little later, another friend of mine came to my room to tell me the details of her night. She told me about the religious text that she sought to get to the bottom of. She was so excited that she set aside the entire night – a Saturday night, where bookishness is grounds for being ostracized � to give herself the proper amount of time to understand it. But instead, she told me, she spent the entire night in the study hall discussing a particularly frustrating situation that a friend of hers had put her in. I know it wasn�t really so nice, she concluded, but her friend had done something particularly Mean-Girl-esq and she really needed to vent. She came back frustrated with a bucket filled with more mean things to say about her friend.
So � who is the better Jew?
I looked at these two situations and considered what a Jewish lifestyle entails. There are the aesthetic necessities that come with being part a particular club, any club. In the Orthodox word our �costumes� are modest dress for girls and kippot for boys. The internal factors, however, we leave up to the judgment of heaven. But can you get by with just looking the part, or is there more to the production of a Godly life than the lights, hair and makeup?
Yes � in the light of what people have deemed �inappropriate,� many of the real laws and statues that we see referred to time and time again by the Big Man have been put aside by certain individuals. Instead, everyone is busy ensuring that the group of people whose approval they seek deem them �frum.�
Technically, my friend who went to a bar did nothing wrong (okay, so this isn�t exactly true � there may be issues here, but we�ll leave the nitty, gritty aside for the moment). She was wearing her skirt, refrained from touching any members of the opposite sex, and even with a drink or two inside of her � there was no coyote ugly action going on. In fact, she told me, her friends even mocked her as she ensured to say a blessing before downing her shots.
And my other friend, in her long black skirt, sitting in the study hall with her religious text in front of her, spent the entire night bad mouthing another girl � who, between you and I, didn�t actually do anything wrong.
Chances are, many people would look at my friend who went to a bar one night and deem her � �not that frum.� And then take a look at my bookish friend and say � �wow, ain�t that a nice maidel?�
So, while I�m still leaving the judgment of the internal up to God, I can�t help but ask myself � is it finally time we stop looking at how long our tzitzit strings are and remind ourselves of what we�re really supposed to be doing here?
I recently heard Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks says: �God�s the judge � leave it up to Him.�
I really tried to � but then I realized that over the course of writing this observation � I have judged both my friends, neither of who deserves to be judged; certainly not by me. Shoot.
Maybe I�m the one who has to work on getting into character a bit more.