Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The end of Thursday night cholent

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Some of the great holiday weekend news from Israel includes the following.

Thursday night cholent is now banned.

This is a big deal for yeshiva boys, many of whom consider the Thursday night chow down to be the highlight of their week.  

I'm not sorry to see this ritual abolished. The yeshiva boy's glorification of food, terrible food especially, never seemed to me to be especially frum. Also the mad desire for a particular food, at a particular time, seems to speak of some kind of emptiness in the yeshiva boy's soul. Who but an unhappy person sees something holy and fulfilling about a plate of over seasoned beans? A well rounded person doesn't consistently plan his week around a trip to a greasy spoon for a plate of guaranteed indigestion.

Though I won't miss Thursday night cholent, I am sorry to see this latest confession of impotence on the part of the rabbis. Had they any power or charisma at all, wouldn't they simply order or convince yeshiva boys to channel their cholent energy into something more edifying? The fact that they are instead using the threat of canceling kosher certifications to coerce honest, hard working, shopkeepers into closing early suggests a certain weakness and uncertainty on the part of the rabbis. Why blackmail shopkeepers? Can't yeshiva students be instructed? Won't they listen if told by their teachers that Thursday night cholent is gross and unbecoming? All pious talk about how the yeshiva world honors and obeys rabbis, and hangs on every precious rabbinical word, desiring only to learn and improve under loving rabbinical direction, seems badly undermined if the single most obedient cohort --yeshiva boys -- can't be bothered to follow rabbinical directives.

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