Monday, September 13, 2004

In the shteeble we sit at tables, as in a library or study hall. (The photo isn't our shteeble, but it will help you visulize the seating arrangment. In our shteeble, the tables are narrower and everything is tighter and more crowded.)

The argument with F began when I suggested removing the tables to reduce some of the crowding. Without tables, we'd have room for more chairs and for our legs. F said that without the tables, "it wouldn't be a shul anymore." I objected that plenty of perfectly good shuls have no tables, he said those shuls were all "modernish" and we were off to the races.

F likes having the tables, he said, because he doesn't like holding his siddur. It's more comfortable to put it on the table, along with his chumash and talis bag. F also like having the tables because they suggest that he is praying in a study hall. Never mind, that F, himself, rarely studies. He just likes having the tables. They make him feel good.

In this way, he's like the city-slicker who owns a pick-up truck, or the suburban fellow who wants an SUV with four wheel drive and tremedous hauling capabilities, though he lives in the Sun Belt, on a cule-de-sac and never hauls anything heavier than his gorceries. (In fact F is an SUV-owning suburbanite who lives on a flat, fequently-plowed street, and never carries anything heavier than his golf clubs. )

It's the triumph of style over substance.

NB: The mishna brurah says that it's preferable to daven in a shul, and not in a study hall (the exception being a study hall where you, yourself, study regulalry.) The style today is to pray in a room (like our shteeble) that has been decorated in the manner of a study hall, with rows of bookshelves and tables, though they aren't often used. City people drive SUVs, loaded with features no urban-dweller needs, for similar reasons, I suspect.

NBB: Above, I very much wanted to write "never carries anything heavier than his wife."


"I very much wanted to write 'never carries anything heavier than his wife.'"

It's a good thing you didn't. :)  

kibbutz Lavi sells the perfect compromise: pews with two-position shtenders. gives you the leg room, the shul look and the dude won't have to hold his siddur, chas v'shalom.  

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