Monday, April 28, 2008

Holier than thou

Every year, for the first seder, we go to the shul's community seder. This year was no exception. I'm famous for bringing my own wine, always having a corkscrew, bringing my own cups, home-made morror and, for the past two year, sashimi. This year, unfortunately, I forgot my sashimi at home, though one of my friends brought some cured salmon, a recipe I replicated for the last two days.

We had a family in shul, they stopped coming a while back, where the wife was quiet known for her frumminess and her isms. This year, they decided to join the seder and were sitting right behind me. I overheard her asking someone else at their table to open a bottle for her because their minchag is not to open bottles. This was on Yom Tov. I just couldn't let that go. I turned around and asked her why would she say something so ridiculous as not opening bottles on Yom Tov?! She told me that they used to go to one family when they were becoming religious and that family didn't open bottles on Yom Tov and since they're following their minchagim, they also don't open bottles on Yom Tov.

I told her a story of mine about me and another guy going to a shabbaton. Our host was this psycho frummie bal teshuva who kept telling us how humble he is by become frum, even though his father's a millionaire. He spent the whole shabbat telling us about how humble he is. He also decided to educate the stupid russkies about hilchos shabbos. Apparently you're not allowed to remove a dirty plate from the table, unless you place a piece of bread on it. He was presenting this as a halocha. This is what you get when someone thinks that if he learns gemorah, he doesn't need to learn halochos. This guy, however, didn't have a minchag of eating suedat shlishi, even though it's in gemorah too.

I told the woman that the point of my story is that there are minchagim and there are personal chumras, frequently based on ignorance. A minchag is something that a lot of people do and it's generally accepted, this is quiet the opposite of a personal chumra. She told me that it is so a minchag and since their friends have followed it, they will follow it too. Incidentally, I'm pretty sure her rabbi will disagree with her on this. This quiet pissed me off and I told her that her friends don't know halocha and based their chumra on ignorance and that she doesn't know halochas either. She harrumphed and turned to her table.

Opening bottles on shabbat is a hotly contested topic with many holding that you can and many holding that you can't. Sephardim are allowed and even by ashkenazim, many agree that if the bottle cap will be thrown away or is punctured, opening is ok. I have not heard or been able to find any opinion that says you can't open bottle on Yom Tov. Uneducated frummies will always find some way to make their life difficult.


  1. Oy vey!!!

    Not opening a bottle on Yom Tov!!
    I wonder if they see a problem making salt water! hehe...

    Umm...yea...he must be soooo humble talking about being humble.

    What will these frummies come up with next?
    Stay tuned...It's almost Shavous, something is bound to come up!

    OHHH...and then the 9 days...boy do they come with ridiculous stringencies...oh boy!!

  2. didnt wanna interrupt our convo, and this fits with ur post anyway!!

  3. Wow!
    Just when you think frummies can't think up something stupider, they do!

  4. I have this problem with my mother. My family became frum when I was younger and I'm yeshiva educated and therefore know more halocha than my parents. My mom often tells us not to do things because she "feels" its wrong, but I know its either allowed or just a chumra. Classic example is touching muksa on shabbos is allowed, the avairah is moving it, but she is afraid anyone should even touch things. Nevermind the idea of moving something with a shinoy.

  5. Growing up 1/2-time MO, I was taught that if it's for food, you're allowed to rip/tear on shabbos/yom tov ('cause, you know, if you don't eat, you could die). I would think that would apply to beverages, as well, no? (maybe I'm being too logical.)

  6. The problem with beverages is creating a cover. The arguments are about whether you're creating something new or not and whether it'll be used for a different or same bottle or used at all.
    Having that in mind, you're absolutely allowed to open cans of beer and sardines or anything else that has a similar cover on Shabbat. Anyone who tells you different, doesn't know halacha.

  7. How could someone "that frum" attend a communal Seder? I mean it involves trusting someone else's cleaning and cooking.

    What if, G-d forbid, they peeled vegetables after the onset of a holiday or their closed, but unwrapped, bottle of wine was touched by non-frummy...

    On a serious note, I do not attend communal seders, because I did see what is going on in the kitched, and I do know how cleaning for pesach is done in such places. One year, in my shul, after cleaing was over, we found crumbs and non-pesach soda. I thanked G-d, that I wasn't attending that year, and from now on can't fathom certifying that such places are ok.

  8. The seder is done in a different shul that has a big enough space to fit the people. The caterers are same over the years and our people do part of the setup.
    Where was your communal seder held?

  9. Our shul is Nachlath Zion (V & 23).

  10. Huh?
    This was in your own shul? Then who does the cleaning and purchasing of stuff?
    We have meals in shul even on pesach. All of the tables are covered in foil and all the floors are cleaned spotless.

  11. Moshe - I don't want to get started on it. Who shops, who cooks, who cleans. Very touchy subject. Many battles are being fought over it... The war is not over.

    Bottom line - my family does not eat at shul on Pesach... Others choose for themselves.

  12. I am sure this exchange significantly increased both your and her enjoyment of the seder and helped bring the Jewish people together.

  13. Yes, Moshe, you got blog material. ;)

  14. Yep :-D
    And I got more Pesach stories, maybe will post one today.

  15. Moshe: cool I found it on my first guess.

    "there are minchagim and there are personal chumras, frequently based on ignorance"

    That I agree with.

    My family has always opened bottles on shabbos, we also always opened food packages, then recently we started opening the bottles before Shabbos. I think the problem is that your making the bottle a Keili by opening the cap. Because its not a finished product till you open it or something. With orange juice containers its different because the way its made, that the cap is already built on or something, I forgot already.

    Another thing is with ices, some people held that you couldn't leave the wrapper on because then it becomes a keili, so if you have ices pops you have to eat it without the wrapper, I can see how this would be very impractical with kids. My family doesn't do this, we use wrappers, but I know people who don't.

    Frum Punk: there is a problem with touching muktza because you might come to move it. Moving things with a shinoy is not so simple, there are conditions that have to be met first. You need to either need the object itself, or the place where the object is, or another thing which I forgot. There's also different levels of muktzah, there are stuff which are plain not useful, then there are stuff which can be used in a different way, and here is where the shinoy comes in. Then there are stuff that are expensive, and they are another category.

    Moshe: and now I see you do know about the new product stuff.

    So yea, some people take chumras to be Halachas and they shouldn't, it send wrong messages.

  16. The problem with bottle caps, I believe, is that you're creating a cover.

  17. Moshe: yea I don't remember the whole thing, but something like that. So there is an issue, its not just a bunch of meshugas.

  18. There is an issue, but only according to ashkenaz and only on shabbat.