Turning Joy Into Sadness: A Purim Story

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Purim is a time when we celebrate the miraculous salvation of the Jewish People; notice the word “we”, as it pertains to us as a whole, as a single entity, as a nation. Purim is when we celebrate our freedom and our salvation as a people, the Jewish people. We believe in unity and that every action and non-action of one Jew affects us all, for the good and the bad.

From a very young age, my parents instilled in me that middos are the ikur of Yiddishkeit. I was taught to treat others with respect and decency and to judge favorably.

There are two main branches of Judaism, the first, is “between man and God”, and the second, is “between man and man”. These two branches are of equal importance; however, the first, is a private relationship with an individual and God. This relationship is personal and is often compared to a marital relationship. Now, I ask, would you feel comfortable if everyone knew or inquired about the depths and privacies of the intimacy you share with your spouse? I am confident that the answer to that question is no. Similarly, the relationship we share with Hashem should only be examined or discussed at the will of that individual.

It seems much of Judaism has conformed to an obsessive  religion of outer appearance. For example, showing that you dress to the exact standards of your community has become a prime focus while allowing complete disregard for others for the way they dress. This perspective is a complete antithesis of  what Judiasm stands for. You are no better than your fellow Jew. We are all equally special regardless of how we practice. There is enough anti-semitism and hatred in the world. Why create discord and animosity between each other?

The concept of achdus has been drilled into our minds for centuries, but what does achdus really mean? We understand the concept, but the problem is that we don’t practice it. Achdus is living as one, in unity and in harmony. “Between man and man” needs to become just as much a part of us as “between man and God”.

This story I am about to share, I do so with great sadness and a heavy heart, but my intention in doing so is only to raise awareness and to educate those who are ignorant and lacking in the understanding of what it truly means to be a Jew.

I am a full time, first year law student, which leaves me little personal time. I decided to take the day off so I can celebrate the Holiday with full Simcha and joy. As the day came to a close, I left my home to head to a friend’s Purim seuda, which was about a 45 minute drive.

When I arrived, I exited the car with excitement, looking forward to my last few hours of Purim. As I stepped out of the car, I lit a cigarette for a quick smoke before I went in. I noticed a crowd of rowdy boys barely in their teens outside the house and was approached by one of them who said to me, “Girls can’t smoke!”

This child spoke with such confidence and assertion that what he was saying was permissible. When he said this to me, I noticed that he too, had a lit cigarette in his hand.

In a state of shock, I asked him, “What did you just say? Who are you to tell me what I can and cannot do?” In fear, the boy ran off. Shortly thereafter, I started walking up to the house where the rest of the boys were gathered. As I approached the top of the steps at the entryway of the house, all of the boys started yelling, “Shiksa! Get out of here! You shiksa!”

Now, I started wondering why my friends family would host such a disrespectful crew. Unbeknownst to me, I had gone to the wrong house. As I turned to walk away, embarrassed and shaken, one of the boys kicked me from behind. I turned around and asked which one of them kicked me. At this point, the owner of the house came outside and asked what was going on. I stated that I had ended up at the wrong house and that one of these children kicked me. His response was, ”Excuse their behavior, they’re a little high.”

The host stood there silently as they continued to berate and criticize me for being a female wearing pants and smoking. At this point, my blood was at its boiling point and I was ready to respond physically and violently. I took a second to compose myself and instead, I made the choice to take the opportunity to use my words. In a shaky and loud voice, I shouted, “You should be ashamed of yourself! This is why people are turned off from Yiddishkeit! Purim is a time of happiness and redemption! Where is your derech eretz? You are making a huge chilul Hashem! Who are you to judge me for the way I dress and the choices I make? You assume by the way I’m dressed that I’m not frum?”

With my head down and tears in my eyes, I walked to the car and found the correct address where I had a beautiful seuda.

I found out after that the owner of the house is a Rabbi in a high chinuch position at the local Bais Yaakov. The biggest problem is that there are people in the position of chinuch that stand by and do nothing to teach children to act with proper middos. Someone in a position of chinuch has more power than anyone in the world. They hold the power to inspire or to destroy a child with one word. This man who excused, justified, and in a sense encouraged these boys’ behavior is in a position of strong influence in the community. Moreover, his teachings impact the future of our people; children who are uneducated, sensitive, and vulnerable are being taught that this behavior is accepted. They are being taught that an 11 year old boy can get trashed and disrespect and embarrass a 30 year old woman with no ramifications or consequences.

I have suffered a tremendous amount on my journey through Judaism. Although I have explored in the past, I am currently religious and I believe in my religion strongly. I hope and pray that things can change and that we can live peacefully, in harmony with one another. No one is perfect, but our purpose is to strive for our own perfection and encourage others to be better in a kind and loving manner.

 

15 COMMENTS

  1. nebbech all this otd’s are busy with our education and middos while their haloeches and tzinius is not being kept properly.these people suffered from pain and aren’t the right people to say musar for klal yisroel in middos or the way torah live and Jewish life is supposed to look.

  2. “my parents instilled in me that middos are the ikur of Yiddishkeit.”

    That might be the underlying issue with this letter writer.

    What does she expect? From the way this letter is written, it seems like this woman comes from a more “right” type of home. It sounds like she went of the Derech for some time. Now she identifies herself as fully frum, but still wears pants. She also feels she’s o.k. with the way she is because her parents told her “middos are the ikur of Yiddishkeit”. So pants are fine.

    She says she approached a regular frum home, feeling as religious as everyone else. But she was smoking and wearing pants. I would guess she was not dressed with the most baggy pants and tznius shirt either.

    The bochurim were in Purim mode and acted accordingly. In their perspective, and in their mind-frame, she was the one being provocative. They did not know she was at the wrong adress, and they are not mechuyav to judge favorably a woman who does not keep gidrei tzenius.

    I agree Midos as an aspect of frumkite. But not the ikkur. The ikkur is Emunah. One who dresses in pants, and was brought up not to, is obviously lacking in her Emunah and should work on herself instead of writing letters to Matzav (which interestingly enough she still reads!)

  3. there is a Jewish way of life and all the off the derech that are speaking about our education and middos should first look at their actions and what they did to their parents family .and should start keeping hilchos tznius and stop blame others for their pain.

  4. I disagree with the premise that both branches of Yiddishkeit are of equal importance. The Rosh writes in the beginning of Mishnayos Pe’ah that Hashem has a greater desire for mitzvos bein adam l’chaveiro than He does for mitzvos bein adam l’Makom.

  5. To those that minimally seek the truth. This person makes some very strong points, it’s totally irrelevant if the interpretation is accurate or not. The underlying point here is to behave with respect – regardless of affiliation. The reality is that we have a serious issue with our behavior, respecting differences, older people etc.
    Stop shifting the issues! Face the problem!
    And yes there are variables that could have affected some of our children going OTD, it’s irrelevant if their accurate with their blame – at the end of the day there we are responsible for our actions, and for the pain we may have caused them.
    Its sickening to read the childish comments here – this is not a war between frum and not frum, this is a gap that has multiple variables which include our lack of middos.
    If you can’t accept this – you are the one that is seriously OTD, and the typical OTD may return, but you have corrupted yiddishkeit with your “yetzer hamischadeish” – shame on you!

  6. Nebach on all fronts on the one hand the writer is missing something and has a very Krum perspective on the other hand someone who is frum who gets physical with another person who might be dressed improperly is not exactly right and I doubt any rosy yeshiva would justify such bad behavior

  7. And we are supposed to trust this girl??
    Oh, and even if she was trying to be truthful, are we to trust her perceptions???

  8. Wow. The comments here are worse than the story. We all have what to work on. Instead of pointing fingers let’s think about what was written and try to bring mashiach closer by working on what we can – ourselves!

  9. With all due respect to the tzadikkim commenting above, you folks are the problem. You model and teach your children that frumkeit is measured by select external variables such as clothing, creating a cesspool of communities and mosdos where the behavior described by the author of this heartbreaking piece is permitted, encouraged and condoned. Talk about missing the forest for the trees. How about instead of worrying about the frumkeit of a woman who smokes you teach your children not to kick someone who looks differently than them.

  10. Are we passing judgment on what we do not know other then speculation about the other person.
    Bottom line if we are B’nai Torah, then we need to be representative of that which we learn.
    Maybe it is the so called Be Torah who is OTD.
    We need to be more warm and have a greater desire to practice the mitzvos bein adam l’chaveiro.
    Where is it written that one has to be so drunk that he/she lacks respect and kavod habrius. Salt will get you no where.

    So, I guess that these young men and those who support their behavior will look and all those who attend kiruv programs should be shunned as well !!!

    We should focus on our self improvement. We will discover that it is a difficult challenge. Teach by example and not by example and by hurtful words. Take lessons from the leaders of the kiruv movements.
    Where are the parents and mechancim? This behavior should not be tolerated.

  11. Sometimes Hashem speaks to us through our greatest enemies. Speaking of the Jews, Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf:

    “Jews act in concord only when a common danger threatens them or a common prey attracts them. Where these two motives no longer exist then the most brutal egotism appears and these people who before had lived together in unity will turn into a swarm of rats that bitterly fight against each other.”

    It’s not for nothing that Chazal say that the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed only because of Sinas Chinam.

  12. i cant belive what i am reading here from the commentors perhaps you all should give your real names so no sane person would be meshadech with any of your children
    for children to act like that there is no excuse
    purim or yom kipur
    irrelevant
    this is a product of being mechanech children that there is only one way our way and instead of focusing on torah etc its about building oneself up by stepping and degrading another
    that this lady was smoking and wearing pants is no ones business but hers
    in the eyes of hitler we are all jews
    however more important in the eyes of our father in heaven we are all jews as wel
    l

    • I agree with you. There is no excuse.
      However, it appears from the article that the lady has no children yet. When she does, she will know what we know already: that being a parent is very difficult.

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