Saturday, July 24, 2004

Mincha at the Shteible  revised

15 minutes to shkia* and just 5 guys are in the house. I say my hellos, put down the groceries, and head to the shelf for a chumash.The gabbai is on his cell drumming up business.  After a minute or two, a man walks in. 10 minutes to go.

L is here, too,  and he ambles on over. He sees that I am learning, but, after catching my eye and receiving a small nod, he starts talking. Three minutes left, three empty seats.

Ok,  announces the gabbai with the phone, help is on the way: M is around the corner, N  is on his way out, and O says he'll be here in fifteen minutes.

I interject: What good is that? Shkia is in two minutes!

L digs into my grocery bag and pulls out the box of Entenman's donuts. He throws it on the table.

Don't be so frum, he hisses, we see the donuts. 

It's not until the middle of shmonah esray that L's complaint is understood. Of course The donuts aren't cholev yisroel. L must be  thinking: Why is a shagetz about cholev yisroel, throwing a fit about davening Mincha before shkia? Why won't he  just get along? Why is he showing up the six men who are willing to wait?

Why indeed? After I finish praying, I try to make the peace. I try to explain to L the difference between a stringency and a requirement. I invoke Rav Moshe. I give examples. It all makes not one whit of a difference. "Rav Moshe wasn't a Hasid, so who cares?" is the gabbai's answer.

And L, dear old L, is no help at all. He doesn't understand. All he has for me  is that stupid, little shrug, the shrug that says, "hey man, this is a shteeble, lighten up."

The gabai still isn't speaking to me. I know I embarrassed him, but I'm embarrassed, too.

For it's back. The anger at the shteeble, along with the anger at myself, has returned. Why are the RNs so certain that they are too frum for shul? Based on what? And why do I put up with it? What - for the love of god what-  is keeping me in the shteeble? What am I trying to prove, and to who?

*Shkia is sunset, the time most (but not all) authorities set as the deadline for saying Mincha.

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