Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Rav Kook ZT"L and Dating In Israel

Crossposted on Kumah.

These are the laws that you must set before [the Israelites] (Exodus 21:1)

This week's parsha contains many laws which Hashem gives Moshe on Sinai. As is well known some of these laws are better kept by our generation than others. Included among these well kept laws are the Halachot of dating.

Oh, where to begin! For the sake of sanity I will focus on one small law bearing in mind it is just a teaspoon in an ocean's worth of lunacy.

Did you know it is forbidden for a woman to date a guy that has a different kind of kippa from the kippa community she was born into? The reason for this is explained in a famous medrash.

G-d tells Moshe:
Moshe, I am not giving the Torah to one Jewish nation, but to many, many, small nations of different kinds of Jewish people - and under no circumstances are any two Jews from different "factions" ever to date one another or heaven forefend to marry each other - this is strictly forbidden!

At this point Moshe speaks up:
But Master of The World, surely there are some other factors that people could use when dating is concerned, like common interests, commitment to Torah, goals in life, that sort of thing?

Moshe, Moshe, answer me this: What will their friends think if they marry someone who is a different kind of Jew?

They will think that all of the Jewish people are part of the same nation!
was Moshe's reply.

Indeed! So now do you understand why we can't allow that to happen?

So baroch Hashem I find myself relieved and inspired in my quest for my bashert. Relieved that our generation has not faltered in keeping the kippa communities divided and inspired by the many examples I have personally witnessed time after time.

Now blogging about my past dates is not something I (nor I imagine any guy would) look forward to doing. But I'll swallow this bitter pill if it helps address this issue even a tiny bit.

So there we are sitting in the Coffee Shop on Emek. This was a young lady that had only dated in hotel lobbies as per another important dating halacha. The only reason she agreed to come to Emek Rafaim is because she never heard of it. See, first I suggested meeting in a cafe in the center of town but she declined since that would violate another dating halacha: she might be seen on the date! Perhaps it was do to my cynical attitude toward this halacha, but I then suggested if the center of town was too busy how about Emek Refaim? To my surprise she had never heard of it and graciously accepted.

Still I find it truly ironic (if that's the word to use, perhaps pathetic is better suited) that a religious Jew in New York City will eagerly go into a Starbucks and pick up a grande latte because, after all, "all coffees are kosher" but not order coffee in the Hillel Cafe or Coffee Shop because... well, the hashgacha is only rabbanut! What will people think?

So no, she didn't order the coffee. She ordered a Coke and looked upset when they brought her a glass with a lemon in it. She promptly removed the lemon. It was at this point that I realized she was probably not delighted about me failing to show up in a suit, tie and black hat. My blue shirt labeled me an outcast to her community.

Ahh, worried about trumos and masser? I asked. That's why you took out the lemon?

She nodded.

The date itself actually went incredibly well but after asking her out again via the shaddchin, (I couldn't ask her directly as that would violate another dating halacha!) the reply was (and I've heard this before) "she needs someone more Israeli-Charadi." In other words someone that would wear only white shirts and only date in hotel lobbies and only for an hour at a time. I broke too many rules. What would her friends think?

Then there was another fine woman I had the privilege to date. I was thoroughly impressed the moment I met her. She was enthusiastic about Israel and Aliyah like myself. She was passionate about Rav Kook. It was at this point that I realized perhaps I sinned by showing up in a suit and hat? And perhaps I sinned even greater by taking her to a hotel lobby? Regardless the date went remarkably well. The discussions were very intense. We enjoyed loads of common interests, and shared views on everything we discussed from the most mundane topics to the section of gemarah she was learning.

Rav Kook ZT"L came up several times. I shared a story I read online. I quote it here already in progress:
...Suddenly a small group of hotheaded [Jewish] extremists fell up the rabbi, showering him with waste water. The Chief Rabbi was completely drenched by the filthy water. Emotions soared and tempers flared.

By the time Rav Kook had arrived home, news of the attack had spread throughout the city. Prominent citizens arrived to express their repugnance at the shameful incident. One of the visitors was the legal counsel of British Mandate. He advised Rav Kook to press charges against the hooligans, and promised that they would be promptly deported from the country.

The legal counsel, however, was astounded by Rav Kook's response. "I have no interest in court cases. Despite what they did to me, I love them. I am ready to kiss them, so great is my love! I burn with love for every Jew."

Such was Rav Kook's attitude, shortly after the humiliating act.

And so when the time came and I asked her out again (in this case without going via the Shaddchin since I knew she wasn't machmir with that halacha) she said that she thought about it a lot "and was really impressed, and really enjoyed our discussions, but you are just not the way I pictured my husband."

Oh, I understand. You pictured your husband wearing a kippa sruga, possible sporting a beard, wearing an untucked button down shirt, jeans, and sandals. In other words, someone from your 'clan.' I understand.

I understand. What would your friends think if you married a guy who honored Shabbos (yes, not 'Shabbat') by wearing a black hat? They would think you went off the deep end! I understand.

I understand. What would Rav Kook think?

Rav Kook would be proud.


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