web analytics
August 24, 2016 / 20 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘coming’

Coming to Jerusalem: Louis C.K. and his Jewish Root

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

The paternal grandfather of Louis Székely (pronounced se-kei), a.k.a. Louis C.K., Dr. Géza Székely Schweiger, was a Hungarian Jewish surgeon who immigrated with his family to Mexico, where he met C.K.’s paternal grandmother, Rosario Sánchez Morales. Morales was Catholic, and Schweiger agreed to raise their children Catholic, but, according to C.K., his grandfather remained “quietly Jewish.” C.K. is Catholic on his Irish American mother’s side. On August 18 C.K., possibly the most influential American standup comedian living today, will give two back-to-back concerts in Jerusalem’s Payis Arena. According to the show’s promoters, demand has been so great, they added more seats to the arena, with tickets going for as much as $180.

The gifted comic, whose capacity for self-deprecation and intimate exposure is extraordinary, is not focused on Jews and Jewish issues, but he has included enough comments over the years about Jews and things Jewish to reveal an intriguing understanding of both being and observing the most tense minority group in America.

In his 2010 special, “Hilarious,” Louis C.K. noted that the word “Jew” is “the only word that is the polite thing to call a group of people and the slur for the same group. … It’s the same word, just with a little stank on it, and it becomes a terrible thing to call a person.”

One of C.K.’s funniest Jewish-related jokes has him watching Schindler’s List on TV, at the point where the Warsaw Ghetto Jews are marched through the streets, and a little girl yells out at them: “Good bye, Jews!” C.K. is convinced the vignette was real, someone had probably told director Steven Spielberg about it and he decided he wanted it in the movie. And so, knowing how films are made, C.K. is convinced there’s an auditions tape out there, of fifty adorable little girls yelling “Good bye, Jews” at the camera.

At the 2011 Louis C.K. concert Live at the Beacon Theater, the comic opened with a lengthy request that the audience not use their flash cameras during the show, and as he is making these pre-show requests, he adds, “What else… No Jews, I think they said that earlier, but they told me I have to say it. Jews aren’t allowed. If you’re Jewish, this is a good time to leave, If you see someone Jewey looking, please tell an usher and they will…” at which point he turns to a member of the audience, saying, “Sir, come on, let’s go…”

Like all comedy, context here is everything: while the very same lines from French Black anti-Semitic comic Dieudonné M’bala M’bala could land him in jail, no one suspects Louis C.K. of anti-Semitism, despite the obvious edginess of his material. Because C.K. does not single out Jews for his poking, his references to things Jewish are part of a rich tapestry of social and personal references. In fact, one has to dig far and wide to come up with actual Louis C.K. Jewish jokes.

Last Friday night, at the Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NY, C.K. talked about being revolted by his uncircumcised non-Jewish father. Also that night, according to the NY Daily News, C.K. did minority accents which were pretty insulting, about which he commented: “Stereotypes are harmful, but the voices are funny.” And it’s that quality of being an equal opportunity ethnic insulter that permits C.K. to include Jews in his circle of often dark humor.

JNi.Media

Not Where You’re At But Where You’re Coming From

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

“Count the heads of the congregation of Israel according to their families, according to their fathers’ houses, by the number of the names, every male according to the head count.” – Bamidbar 1:2

 

Less than a year after the giving of the Torah, Hashem told Moshe to again count the Jewish people. The Sforno points out that this counting was unique as it counted each person by name, whereas thirty-eight years later, when the Jews were about to enter the land of Israel and were counted again, there is no mention of counting by name. The Sforno explains that this is because the generation that left Egypt was made up of unique individuals, each worthy of being singled out. The next generation, however, wasn’t on that level, so everyone was counted only by number and not by name.

It is clear from the Sforno that the generation that left Mitzrayim was greater than the generation that entered the Land of Israel. This concept is very difficult to understand. The people who left Egypt were slaves their entire lives. They had almost no education or opportunity to learn. From the time they were children they had little time to focus on anything other than survival.

The generation that entered the Land of Israel had a very different upbringing. They were all born in the desert. Daily they observed the Glory of Hashem encamped on the Mishkan. On a regular basis they watched the clouds of glory ushering them from place to place. Each morning, they saw mon being delivered to their doorstep. They experienced the miracle of a rock providing them millions of gallons of water daily. But even more, they weren’t engaged in earning a living; their entire focus was on learning Torah. Clearly they knew more Torah than the people who had left Mitzrayim. How could the earlier generation have been greater than this one?

The answer to this lies in recognizing the ultimate measure of greatness.

It’s Not Where You’re At

It is said in the name of the Gra that when a person leaves this earth he will stand in front of the heavenly tribunal and be shown a picture. It is a picture of a great person – an individual who changed himself and changed the very world he lived in. And they will say to this man, “Why isn’t that you?”

“Me? Little me?” he will respond. “You want me to be that great man? A talmid chacham? A tzaddik?”

And they will answer, “That is you – had you lived up to your potential, had you become what you were destined to be.”

The point is that they hold up a picture of that man. Not a picture of the Chasam Sofer. Not a picture of R. Akiva Eiger. A picture of that particular individual. The only question they ask is, “How much of his potential did he reach? How much of him did he become?’

This seems to be the answer to the Sforno. Surely the generation that entered Israel had learned more Torah than the generation that came before it. They were far greater Torah scholars. But they were born into it. From their youth, that’s all they knew. That was all that was important in their world, so of course they amassed great fortunes of Torah knowledge. The generation that left Egypt didn’t have those advantages. They didn’t study Torah until late in their lives. Their growth required them to give up everything they had been exposed to. They had to leave behind the world they had known. So while objectively they may not have been on the same level, actually they were far greater, because based on where they had come from and the level they reached, they had grown far more.

This concept has a very practical application.

We live in amazing times, and one of its outgrowths is the baal teshuvah movement. Thousands of Jews brought up with nothing have returned to a Torah-true life. Their sacrifices are huge, and their personal growth is extraordinary, as they leave behind everything to reclaim the heritage of their fathers. They then marry and bring up the next generation, and their children, who enjoy a yeshiva education, often rank among the finest bnei Torah.

But wondrous though this is, it sometimes creates a disparity. As intelligent as the parents may be, they began their Torah education late in life. And while their sincerity may be impressive, their skills and actual knowledge are often lacking. Their children, on the other hand, attend the finest yeshivas and from a tender young age are steeped in Torah learning and mitzvos. It can happen that by 6th grade the child knows more than the parent. As the child matures, the gap widens and this may lead him to look down at his parents with an attitude of, “My father, he’s a good guy and all that, but what does he know? He’s an am ha’aretz.”

This Sforno may be a guiding light on this issue. What we see is that a person’s stature is defined less by who he is now than by how much he has grown. The scale of measure is where he is coming from. How far has he gone? How much of that change is because of his fortitude and will, and how much the environment he was in, simply going with the flow? So it may well be that your father doesn’t know as much as you, yet in the World to Come he will tower over you. It could be that his Chumash and Rashi are more valuable than the fact that you’ve learned all of Shas.

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shafier

Things Haredim Do

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

A volunteer at the Tachlit center are busy dividing hordes of food into boxes, to be distributed to needy families before Shabbat and before the coming Jewish new year in Jerusalem.

Tomchei Shabbat (supporters of Shabbat) organizations like Tachlit flourish throughout the Haredi communities, each with its unique, local flavor, but all of them with one, central goal: feed the needy.

Most of them also deliver the food boxes quietly, so as not to shame the recipient. In many places there’s also a feedback system in place, allowing recipients to indicate which goods they like and which they’d rather not receive. It prevents waste, and also makes the proces look more like shopping than like charity.

Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/things-haredim-do/2013/08/23/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: