Sunday, April 09, 2006

Thoughts on Labels

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently decided to polish my profile on Frumster. Unlike the online dating site that I previously used (with no real complaints), Frumster does not have a cap on the length of the self-description paragraphs, although it limits the explanation of why one chose a given label to only 20 words. Therefore, I decided to use my unlimited personal description space to explain my thought process on choosing a label, in addition to the standard self-description stuff (which is not included here).

Being that this site has no cap to the length of these description paragraphs, I can elaborate a bit more. I contemplated choosing the "Shomer Mitzvos" category as a protest against labels, but decided that other options may better express my religious ideology to others than that one - and ultimately, that's the point of the question, rather than an objective statement of a fact for its own sake. "Yeshivish" is a nice word, as any ideology within Judaism that claims authenticity must be intimately bonded to the yeshiva, which is the source of the Torah used to apply said ideology to different situations of life. To some extent, the term has been co-opted, but this is beyond the scope of this blurb. "Modern" is a more puzzling word, as another requirement of an authentic ideology within Judaism is a clear pathway that illustrates the evolution of this ideology from Sinai to the present day, based on a set of rules mandated by halacha. If a person takes pride in being Modern ____, rather than just regular ____, are they repudiating their legacy? On the other hand, Yeshivish-black hat sounds like it overemphasizes chitzoni'us, which is no better. After acknowledging that Modern Orthodox (machmir) offers no appeal to me, as being machmir is a very minor facet of a Jew's life relative to simply following the accepted, mei-ikar ha-din, halacha, the only other option is Shomer Mitzvos - and in truth, have I reached the madreiga where I am an active watchman over mitzvos (shades of R' Shim'on ben Nesan'el)?

Hence, I reluctantly enclose myself in the box of Yeshivish Modern, from whence I make vague mime-like gestures in an attempt to remotely describe myself to others.


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