Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Cross-Currents: Riding Yakov Menken


Cross-Currents: Riding with the Amish

Says Yakov Menken: I was a bit disappointed to learn that the “New Order Amish,” of which our driver is a member, drive cars—just because it is another sign of people losing their attachment to traditions

Disappointed? What selfish nerve.

Yakov Menken, presumably, agrees that no law of God demands that cars be relinquished. In fact, Yakov Menken, presumably, owns a car, and presumably, he'd find it very difficult to go without one.

So why is Yakov Menken "disappointed" to discover that New Order Amish have cast off a burden he does not accept upon himself? Why is he "disappointed' to learn that some Amish no longer choose to endure the very real inconviniences of 19th century travel? Is the good rabbi really asking the Amish to suffer simply so that you and I can enjoy the slight pleasure of smiling contentedly (or is it condecendingly) in the general direction of some poorAmish fellow during our annual chol hamoed trip to Lancaster?

That's close to monstrous.

I think I finally understand Bellow's famous question: "Would you ask them to labor and go hungry while you yourself enjoyed old-fashioned Values?"

If you're Yakov Menken I guess the answer is "yes."

[See the comments for Amshi's take]