The Zionist Conspiracy
Friday, February 01, 2008
Inside The Sheitel Store Controversy (Revised)
My initial post was meant to be anecdotal, irreverent and flippant. It was not meant to be a nasty attack on Chaim Berlin. I'll try again.
I was all set to abstain from (directly) posting about the controversy surrounding the store across the street from Chaim Berlin featuring pictures of models wearing purportedly seductive sheitels.
Alas, numerous posts on the Jblogosphere have tried to point out that the yeshiva students should control themselves from looking at seductive sheitels, that the models are hardly seductive, or that the store isn't directly across the street from the yeshiva so that the students should not have been offended.
While it's been 17 1/2 years since I graduated from Chaim Berlin, allow me to present another perspective for your consideration.
While I was in Chaim Berlin, the yeshiva had a culture of informing on others, and this was something that the yeshiva's hanhala (Jewish studies faculty) approved and even encouraged.
At least twice I took the Coney Island Avenue bus to Kings Highway on a Sunday along with other students, and the next day was called into the principal's office and charged with going to a movie. In fact, while the others indeed were going to the movie theater, I was going across the street to Crazy Eddie to watch the Jets. But the main thing was that someone was keeping a watchful eye and providing key (albeit often inaccurate) intelligence to the hanhala.
More than twice a yeshiva student saw me committing the indiscretion of eating or drinking outdoors, and the next thing I knew, my rebbe and I were learning the gemara that compares a person who eats in the street to a dog.
I could not resist when the pay phone outside the mechanic next to Chaim Berlin enabled free 1-900 calls. One time a fervent yeshiva guy noticed, called me a pervert, and escorted me right to the principal.
Was calling 1-900-976-1313 to check the sports scores really perverted?
Are sheitels modeled by attractive women really seductive?
The yeshiva's culture was - and I believe still is - one in which going to the rebbe or the rosh yeshiva about such concerns is encouraged as a form of kol yisrael areivim zeh b'zeh (all Jews are responsible for each other). I think this was the motivation of the yeshiva bochurim, and that those pointing out the store location or that the women posing were not seductive are therefore missing an important element.