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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 12/09/10

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Dear Rachel,

First let me say how much I enjoy reading your column – Shabbos just wouldn’t be the same without it.

I was hoping you could shed some light on a topic that’s been causing some friction in our home between our 15-year old son and his dad. The yeshiva he goes to mandates wearing a black hat for davening. The problem: My son absolutely detests wearing it and does so begrudgingly – he has no choice.

He refuses, however, to wear one at any other time – not even to shul on Shabbos or Yom Tov. This irritates my husband to no end and has led to constant bickering between them.

Whereas both my husband and I come from black hat families (men always wore hats for davening, at the Shabbos and Yom Tov tish, for special occasions, etc.), in our “mixed” neighborhood there are a number of men who are seen wearing just a yarmulke.

Our son is baruch Hashem very bright and does well in school (when he sets his mind to it), but he is also the type who questions everything: “Why” this and “Why” that

I thought that if you could possibly give us some background to the origin or reason behind the custom of wearing a hat, we might be able to win our son over with logic that would make sense to him.

Thank you for enlightening us

Dear Enlighten,

With all the current headaches in the world, to wear or not to wear a hat may come across to some readers as a relatively trivial matter. Yet to many others this “minor” issue can become a major irritant.

I am reminded of a poem that circulated some years back called “Moshiach’s Hat.” A slightly modified version follows below – as worthwhile a read today as it was yesterday, for youngsters and old timers alike.

Look to our next column for a more in-depth analysis on the topic of a male’s head covering.

In the meanwhile, with Chanukah’s flames having just infused our hearts and homes with light, this is an ideal time to focus on family togetherness and to allow the lingering, soothing warmth to dissolve those annoyances that tend to get the better of us.

‘Twas the night of the Geulah and in the world’s varied shtiebelach

The sounds of Torah could be heard coming from all kinds of Yeedelach

Some were learning in English, some in Ivrit or Yiddish

Some were expounding on apshat or elucidating a chiddish

And up in shamayim The Aibishter decreed

That the time had come “for My Children to be freed”

Moshiach was roused from his heavenly berth

And given instructions to set out for planet earth

He instantly complied and with much jubilation

Descended to earth and entered a shtiebel congregation

I am the Moshiach, he announced. Hashem has heard your plea!

Your Geulah has arrived! I’ve come to set you free!

They all stopped their learning – this was quite a surprise

And looked him over carefully with scrutinizing eyes

He’s not the Moshiach, declared one on a whim

Take a look at that hat, the pinches and the brim!

That’s right, offered another with a sneer and a frown

Moshiach wouldn’t show with a brim that’s turned down

Hmm, thought Moshiach, if this indeed is the rule

I’ll simply turn my brim up before I enter the next shul

So he confidently strode into the next shul in town

Sure that he’d be welcomed with his brim no longer down

I’m the Moshiach, he proclaimed as he made his move to enter

But the Yidden wanted to verify if he was Left, Right, or Center

Your clothes are so black, they cried out in fright

You can’t be Moshiach, you’re much too far right

If you want to be Moshiach, you must be properly outfitted

And they replaced his black hat with a kippa that was knitted

With his new kippa on his head Moshiach shrugged and said

What difference is it to me what I wear on my head?

And so he went on to the next shtiebel for his mission was dear

Though he was fast becoming disillusioned with the Yidden down here

I’m the Moshiach! He introduced himself bravely once more

Hoping they wouldn’t find fault with the clothes that he wore

You’re the Moshiach – without a black hat??

But I do have a hat!” said Moshiach to that.

He pulled it right out and plunked it down on his head

But they all started laughing and one of them said,

If you want to be Moshiach and be accepted in this town,

Try some pinches here and there and turn the brim down

Moshiach was heartbroken and thought the time must not be right

He turned around despairingly and walked out into the night.

But when he reached his chariot and began to enter

All sorts of Yidden came together – from Left, Right, and Center

Please don’t go it’s all their fault! they accusingly said

Pointing to one another and to what each wore on his head.

But Moshiach sadly shook his head and said you don’t understand

As he started up his chariot to get out of this land

Yes, it’s very wonderful that you all are learning Torah

But you seem to have forgotten a crucial part of our mesorah.

Bewildered and befuddled they all began to shout

What does he mean? What is he talking about?

Moshiach rebuked them: The first place to start

Is to seal your lips and open your hearts

To all who deem other Yidden too frum or too frei

Know that all Yidden are beloved in The Aibishter’s eye

If you sincerely and truly wish for me to come
Try working a little harder on Ahavas Chinam

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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