web analytics
October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



The Hat

Magill-042712-Black-Hat

I do not dress like the average Orthodox man in my Brooklyn neighborhood. It’s not that I’m trying to make a statement by often going hatless and wearing blue and brown suits, it’s just that in becoming religious I have changed so much – there are certain things I don’t want to give up, especially since my religion doesn’t truly ask me to do so.

So my fashion sense from years ago lives on and, more importantly, my inclination to try, at least occasionally, to go out of my way to do good deeds – such as visiting people I don’t know in the hospital to offer some words of cheer.

To be sure, I like to dress modestly and in good taste. But there’s a concern I have going back to my childhood, that too much emphasis is placed on the way one dresses – what’s on the outside – and not enough on what’s on the inside.

The first time this topic touched my life was as a 12 year old in a conversation with my friend’s mother when I definitely didn’t prescribe to the saying, “Children should be seen and not heard.” Boy, was I heard in those days, with an opinion to counter any statement that I thought was at odds with the truth.

One summer day, my friend and I went back to his house after playing ball wearing t-shirts and shorts, and somehow ended up in a discussion about the topic of clothes. My friend’s mother at that time commented, “When people are dressed up nicely, they are good people.”

I could not let that statement go unremarked upon. So, hopefully, with a tone of voice that was respectful (I was speaking to someone around 35 years older than I was), I said, “You mean, people who rob banks, if they’re wearing a nice suit, they’re a good person.”

To my surprise, she replied “yes.” In retrospect, she was probably just trying to get my goat, but at the time it added fuel to the fire of my beliefs regarding the importance of the clothes we wear in the total hierarchy of life.

Fast-forward around 35 years. Slowly but surely (and sweetly) I had become religiously observant. When my wife and I got married, I did wear a hat at the chupah because I thought it was important. But for the most part, since then, whatever hat I wear is not of the kind that most religious men in the neighborhood have on their heads.

The most important thing to me is that I get along with people and they get along with me. I am told that I am a friendly enough kind of person that the clothes I wear don’t seem to create a negative impact on the positive interactions I have with my peers.

This feeling of togetherness probably blindsided me to what some other people were thinking about my wardrobe, or at least one other person who I’ll call Reuven. I met Reuven at a shul that is rigorously Orthodox that I attended on Shabbos in order to learn with a friend between Mincha and Maariv. Over the months that I was there I would exchange “Good Shabbos” greetings with Reuven whenever we crossed paths, which was fairly often as it was a small shul.

We never had a conversation of any great importance until one fateful Shabbos afternoon, right before Yom Kippur. As we left the shul after the Shabbos Teshuva drasha, given by the rabbi, people were milling outside and talking. My friend was engaged with someone else and it was then that Reuven approached me – and this time he went beyond “Good Shabbos.”

Reuven said, smiling, “Since this is the head of the year, this would be a good time for you to get something for your head…a hat.” I was surprised and dismayed by what he said. Did he really think that if I wasn’t wearing a hat up until now, that his one statement would get me to change to the way he wanted? Those are the key words – what HE WANTED. He never stopped to consider what I wanted…what was important to me.

More importantly, what right does he have to tell me what I should or should not be wearing? Perhaps if he knew me better and had engaged me in a conversation, it could have come out more naturally. But as it was, all it did was leave a bad taste in my mouth. Rather than respond with a caustic remark, though, another thought entered my mind and I said it. I doubt I would have said it under different circumstances. I don’t push my way of life on to other people. (I figure if I’m doing something of merit, and other people see it, if they like it, perhaps they will emulate it. It more than likely would backfire if I told them they should do it.)

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Hat”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Steve Emerson, author, journalist and terrorism expert.
Haaretz Smears American Terrorism Expert with Political Hit Job
Latest Sections Stories

Sadly, there are mothers who, due to severe depression are unable or unwilling to prepare nourishing food for their children.

Michal had never been away from home. And now, she was going so far away, for so long – an entire year!

Though if you do have a schach mat, you’ll realize that it cannot actually support the weight of the water.

Social disabilities occur at many levels, but experts identify three different areas of learning and behavior that are most common for children who struggle to create lasting social connections.

Sukkot is an eternal time of joy, and if we are worthy, of plenty.

Two of our brothers, Jonathan Pollard and Alan Gross, sit in the pit of captivity. We have a mandate to see that they are freed.

Chabad of South Broward has 15 Chabad Houses in ten cities.

Victor Center works in partnership with healthcare professionals, clergy, and the community to sponsor education programs and college campus out reach.

So just in case you’re stuck in the house this Chol HaMoed – because there’s a new baby or because someone has a cold – not because of anything worse, here are six ideas for family fun at home.

We are told that someone who says that God’s mercy extends to a bird’s nest should be silenced.

Our harps have 22 strings. This gives musicians a wide musical range and yet stays within Biblical parameters.

More Articles from Alan Magill
Lessons-Emunah-logo

The simple act of kindness should be the reward itself. Anything more in the form of a reward is gravy.

Lessons-logo

Patience seems to be in such short supply these days, yet it can make a world of difference. This is particularly so in certain kinds of stressful situations whereby we think we only have time to act in a knee-jerk way instead of acting thoughtfully.

I recently heard a Pirkei Avos shiur in which the speaker said that our spiritual DNA derives from our patriarchs and matriarchs. The great tests they withstood and for which they gained ever greater prominence was witnessed by the Jews who followed them, many of whom succeeded in overcoming great challenges as well. It seems that an individual’s great effort helps the spiritual strength kick in.

The first and only time I said I was a rabbi was also the first and only time I had a gun pointed at me. What led me to that moment was my need to stay on the Upper West Side for a Shabbos and a hospitality committee that arranged for me to stay with a man who lived in the former janitor’s apartment on the fifth floor of a synagogue.

It is very important for Jews to first help family, then other Jews close to us, then Jews not as close. Next, if possible and appropriate, Jews should help those of any race or creed.

The five-year-old boy was in a church in Puerto Rico with his parents. As they and his grandparents were Catholics, that made him Catholic – as far as his young mind could figure.

I was preparing a shiur to honor the memory of my father, Paul Magill, a”h, on the 20th anniversary of his passing, and I was looking at that week’s sedrah, Parshas Re’eh. I was struck by the words, “See, I present before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing: that you hearken to the commandments of Hashem, your God, that I command you today. And the curse: if you do not hearken to the commandments of Hashem, your God, and you stray from the path that I command you today, to follow gods of others, that you did not know.”

Feeling more alone than at any time since arriving in New York, I looked inside myself for anything that could anchor me to bring me back to who I was, to move away from illusions of romance to my central sticking point. Suddenly and unexpectedly, being a Jew meant more to me than anything else in the world.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/the-hat/2012/04/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: