Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Q: What is the definition of an extroverted mathematician?
A: A mathematician who looks at your shoes when he talks.

[quasi source]

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I Have Learned to Love Perdue Chickens, but I Have Not Learned to Love Snags

This Friday night I ate at my neighbor's house (the same neighbor whom I met because he was looking for a Shabbos goy). At the table there were the host and hostess, yours truly, and a divorced guy. It was really my first close-up encounter with snags so I was interested in re-evaluating the stereotypes I hold about them and was looking forward to hearing what stereotypes they hold about "us." There was some stereotype busting, but I think there was more stereotype reinforcing.

The host, who's been married around a year, talked an awful lot about girls he had dated. I know that he once went to Chicago to date a girl. I know that his best friend married a girl whom he had dated. I know he had been pressured to date the divorced guy's ex-sister-in-law. Don't you think that in Chabad it would be really bad form to talk about a girl you didn't date in front of the girl's ex-brother-in-law and your wife? Maybe it's true that in the snag world guys date bajillions of girls and dating is no big deal. Oh yeah, and the guest is looking to marry a divorced "girl." These girls who are getting married for the first time aren't for him...

The host and the guest spoke a lot about the beautiful places they had visited and the various hotels that had stayed in. They also spoke a lot about the rich, important businesspeople of the snag world, how much property they own, how much they lost on Madoff, etc. The conversation basically flipped between discussing Lubavitch and discussing "gorgeous" vacation spots/money/houses. The host and the divorced guy both knew an awful lot about the latter's ex-in-laws and their finances. They have a six-bedroom house in Sha'arei Chesed, Jerusalem and the ex-father-in-law has over $120 million. They spent $250,000 on the divorce. The guest only spent $100,000. I also know how much rent the dude is currently paying. Ach! Misnagdim ligen nur in gelt!

When Rubashkin came up, they were surprised to hear me talk about "Rubashkins" in general. They didn't realize that most Lubavitchers know at least a few members of the Rubashkin clan. But both the host and the divorced dude knew the new guy who took over the plant. So Agri went from being one of "our" businesses to one of "their" businesses.

They both were under the impression that there was a religious reason that Lubavitcher guys don't tuck in their shirts. The other guest started telling me this nonsense about how you need to have your shirt untucked for tzitzis-related reasons. I had a bit of a hard time convincing them otherwise.

The host was shocked to hear that my mother and my grandfather had grown up on shlichus. He didn't know that shlichus existed back then.

The host thought that in Lubavitch it's normal for guys to learn just Likkutei Sichos and not Gemara--after all 770 has more copies of Likkutei Sichos than Gemara. He was also under the impression that 770 is the main Lubavitch Yeshiva.

The host asked me why it is that all Lubavitchers still think the Rebbe is god super cool. Don't they realize that, to quote the host, "he's looking at the onions from the bottom?" Why aren't there Lubavitchers who keep the Lubavitch minhagim, wear the Lubavitch clothes, sing the Lubavitch songs, but just dump this Rebbe stuff? After all, his father's Bobov affiliation pretty much consists of that stuff. If only I could have explained to him how many people there are who eat on Yom Kippur but still think the Rebbe is god...

The guest wondered how Lubavitchers are able to come to a place where they know nothing and nobody and are able to take the place over. I tried to explain the supreme I'm-saving-the-world-so-get-outta-my-way arrogance Lubavitchers have.

At the end of the meal, the host tried saying that the Rebbe did what he did because he wanted power and kavod. This I didn't let him get away with.

All in all, a fun time was had by all, as they examined the exotic creatures living in their neighborhood.