Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Let's spare a few words for the big, fat tub who sits at my table for Shalosh Seudot.

Tubby is intelligent. Tubby is well-spoken. Tubby has a great job lawyering for one of the very big, very smart Wall Street firms. In short, Tubby is exceptional. But he doesn't see it.

"I went to Chaim Berlin for high school," he bellowed this week. (Tubby also talks too much and too loudly) "I never wrote a real paper in my life. I got a BTL - a Bachelor of Talmudic Law. For what? For showing up to shiur 80 percent of the time! With that, I went to Hofstra for Law School. Hofsta! And look at me now."

On cue, Tubby's sidekick, a slip of a man who exists only to second Tubby's every statment pipes up, "Yeah, he's going to be a partner at [smart Wall Street firm.] It doesn't get any better than that!"

Tubby grins, and continues to hold forth: "All those Harvard guys? I passed them! I'm ahead of the day school kids, and the people who went to College. See that? You don't need college..."

You fon't need college? Had he gone on, I might have throttled the man. How can someone be so stupid?

Tubby is one-in-a-million. The average Harvard Law School graduate is doing fine; the average Chaim Berlin/Touro alumni is not. Tubby succeeds because of his talent, hard-work, family connections and luck. The average person - never mind the average CB/T alum - has none of that: at least not to Tubby's degree.

So why does Tubby imagine himself a role model for the Jewish college-avoider? 99/100 people who take Tubby's path will fall short of his achievments. Yet, the Jew who is too timid, too foolish, or too stupid to pursue academics with any effort, thinks Tubby is an example that can be emulated.

The same thing happens in the non-Jewish ghetto. Every third black kid, think he can be another LeBron James. "Who needs school," he says. "I can shoot hoops."

And in our ghetto, the refrain is similar. "Who needs school," says the lazy kid in the big velvet kippa, "I'll just get a BTL and the doors will swing open for me."

After all, Tubby did it.