Jan 12, 2010

Is God color blind?

Chevron Granovitch, a haredi columnist, writes about a friend of his who is in the year of mourning for his father who passed away.

Granovitch writes that his friends father worked for a living but studied Torah in his free time. The son as well works for a living, and studies Torah in his free time. he never misses his daf yomi shiur, and he is careful to daven three times a day with a minyan.

Sometimes, over the course of the year, gathering a minyan can be difficult, and you might just scrape out the minyan after a lot of time of waiting for the tenth man.

Granovitch describes something that has happened to this fellow who just wants to be careful to daven with a minyan in his father's memory and say kaddish - just as he successfully gathers the minyan and starts the service, one of the people in the minyan state a protest and say they cannot be part of the minyan. The protest is often something like "Somebody with a trimmed and combed beard cannot lead the services." and sometimes it is that "someone who wears a blue shirt, his prayers will not be heard."

Granovitch obviously feels his friends pain and decries the superficial concerns about shirt color and trimmed beard when there is a neshama waiting for the zchus of having a kaddish said in his memory and an amen said for him.

I don't know what Granovitch expects when workign for a living, and especially wearing colored shirts, is demonized in many yeshivas. Suddenly someone who does those things should be considered part of the community and a worthy person? It goes against everything they have been taught. How can they be sensitive to this mans attempt to find a minyan when they consider him barely religious? The problem starts well before the insensitivity displayed when looking for a minyan.

The fact is though, people who are that extreme are rare. I have seen many minyanim in many places, ad hoc gatherings from the side of the highway to museums and amusement parks, along with shuls in places that are extremely remote to extremely busy. Most of the time people are very accepting of davening with people dressed differently than themselves and the problem Granovitch describes is not extremely common. Though it does happen occasionally that someone will not like the appearance of some of the other people in the minyan and soemtimes even refuse to daven with such people..


  1. Rafi,
    Doesn't the shul you daven in have a strict dress code for anyone that wants to daven for the amud?
    Not beard length or shirt color, but you must put on a hat and jacket?

  2. not that I am aware of. I have davened for the amud without a hat or jacket. if you dont have one on, you put on a tallis.
    that is a different issue anyway. a shul can set guidelines for what it considers to be kavod hatzibbur. every shul will set its own set of rules.
    The article quoted is referring to people refusing to daven with somebody dressed to standards they consider improper, and there is no rule in the place about what he must wear.
    there is a difference in setting a standard for kavod hatzibbur and in saying someone prayers cannot be heard because he is dressed differently

  3. I bet Moshe Rabeinu doesn't have a hat and jacket!

  4. and how do you know they let him lead the services? :-)

  5. Very interesting, and sort of sad.
    Maybe it was decided from Above that those who "pasuled" this mourner, were never meant to be zoche to answer to his Kaddish in the first place.

  6. I think there are 2 different strains of teaching in the charedi world, but because the leaders think of charedim as sheep they don't distinguish, producing this sinas chinam.

    "Daven in a blue shirt your prayers aren't heard" is encouragement for people to maintain their own standard of dress.

    Similarly the strong disdain for chilonim, whether they be soldiers or construction engineers, is to distance the charedi individuals from ever considering taking up the charedi lifestyle.

    And then you get these feeble articles by Jonathan Rosenblum http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2010/01/06/not-a-zero-sum-game/
    that encourage the charedi camp to embrace chilonim - a message that is probably just as confusing.

    The problem is rather than teaching a hashkafa of "what's best for me" they preach a sort of "ranking system" designed to make them feel exclusively better if they live the kollel life (I heard this in a popular parenting class that goes on, and on and on, in RBS).

    So the what's best or who's on top is too absolute to modify with a little appreciation for the other guy.

    But that's my cynical take on it - if Jonathan Rosenblum is writing about it, what's going to change and how?

  7. What about the Israelis (maybe like Rafi?) who daven in shirtsleeves and sandals?

    I don't think they see how ridiculous they are.


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