The other day, while shopping, I saw machmirim (lit. Stringent) milk for the first time.
Finding the name rather odd, I took a photo and put it up on Twitpic along with the tweet:
"What does it say about us that this is a brand name? A good tag line: Machmirim - our milk is frummer then you."The post didn't seem to garner the response I thought it would, and soon sunk into Twitter oblivion.
When I saw the real tag line associated with Machmirim brand, however, I did a double take . . . In a rather generic Hebrew font it said "אנחנו מחמירים בני מחמירים" - "we are the stringent (machmirim) the children of the stringent."
And then I became truly irked - for said tag line
is in fact a paraphrase of Talmudic dictum: "We are the believers (ma'aminim) children of the believers."
It would seem, that while meant as a cute line, Machmirim brand has in fact shown a fatal flaw with how many of us in the Chereidi ('Ultra-Orthodox') camp approach Judaism today.
In the past Jews were Mehadar B'mitzvos - they beautified their deeds - the desire to be frummer stemmed from a desire to come closer to G-d (As understood, I speak to the proverbial ideal . . . there were more then enough people in the Old Country who didn't near observance - especially that of today - if at all. [This in turn adds another hole to the shtick that we come from past generations of machmirim] A simple example: The Rebbe once pointed out to a lady from a Teshler background that in the past one could be a true mehadar b'mitzvos with out a beard (referring to the Yekishe, German, group of Orthodoxy, where shaving was the norm) Today, however, he concluded, one can no longer say as much).
In any event, today we've supplanted the faith ingrained in us from past generations with a number crunching view of frum'kiet. It doesn't matter who the shochet we get our meat from is per se, but rather the stickers on the front of the packaging. Rabbonim feel the need to come out with a yearly chumra to stay popular.
I'm not pushing some bland progressive shtick that "G-d only wants our hearts" - an attitude often used to explain away a lack of observence . . . Nor am I taking up the "left-wing: Orthodox criticism for the so called "black" crowd for their 'failure' in the so called Derech Eretz sh'kadma l'torah (the basic courtesy that comes before Torah observance).
I'm aware of Human frailty and understand that a person who ostensibly strives to be an observant Jew can fall through, at times, to major temptations. I understand the need to be frum and yes, even machmir.
What bothers me here is that our motivation is no longer to draw closer to our Creator - be it through love, awe, or even fear - but rather to revel in being more Frum then that group or another.
I for one am not a Machmir - I'm a Ma'amin
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