Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes:
The hot tub:
Nu, could there be a more confusing Yom Tov than Pesach? We recall our slavery and hard work by moving into our parents’ homes or mostly into hotels all over the country and around the world. We’re supposed to remember how our ancestors worked so very hard and avada we do so by eating morror for about ten seconds and then, for the rest of the night and the next seven days, we stuff our faces and stomachs with matzo, matzo brei, omelets to order, Pesach sushi, steak, lamb chops, and the fanciest of desserts. We are supposed to remember how we ran out of Mitzrayim in the middle of the night and we seemingly do this with our own running: back and forth to the dining room, the tea room, the pool, shul, the bedroom and avada, when es lutz zich (when the moment arrives), to the bathroom. Is this what the RBSO had in mind when He told us to eat the Korban Pesach? Ver veyst?
I recall Pesach vividly as a young boy back in my parents’ home in Boro Park. Ich gidenk (I remember) thinking that my father hit the lottery because on Erev Pesach he would schlepp not five or even ten pounds of potatoes to our front door, rather an entire sack of potatoes did he splurge on. And were we kids happy? You bet we were! Di mama hut gibakin chremzlech (mom baked or fried potato latkes) and basically, that was the Pesach menu. Whatever the meal was, it included a potato latke or a potato in some other form. At times, the potato was zoiche (lucky) to retain its identity and still looked like a potato, mostly though, by the time it was served, it was thoroughly disguised, but at all times- make no mistake about it- it was still a potato. Avada the Oisvorfer’s parents didn’t eat gibrokts or anything else for that matter but between chicken, eggs and potatoes, we got by. And were we tzifriddin (satisfied)? You bet. And mistama, that was more in the spirit of Pesach; efsher how we were supposed to remember that the Yiddin were once slaves in a strange land and how their lives were bitter. Isn’t that the reason we celebrate Pesach altogether? Isn’t almost everything we say and do zecher liyitzyas Mitzrayim (to recall our redemption from Egypt)?
Is that how we commemorate Pesach today? A nechtiger tug (fugetttaboutit)! Today I write these words poolside having just returned from the tea room which is strategically located between the pool and the dining room so that chas v’sholom, the Yiddin shouldn’t go hungry along the way. It’s a full two minute walk; are we out of minds? What is it about Yiddin that we feel compelled to stop at the tea room just after stuffing our faces with 5,000 calorie meals? Our ancestors survived on rations and we can’t survive an hour without epes something in our mouths: are we out of our minds? Do you think that slaves in mitzrayim stopped every 15 minutes for a snack? I can’t help but think that epes this isn’t what the RBSO had in mind, or is it? Ver veyst? Veyter.
The Oisvorfer finds himself in sunny and beautiful (kimat all the time) Las Vegas where 1,150 Yiddin have gathered here in the desert to await Eliyohu’s arrival. After all, when the Yiddin left Mitzrayim, did they go to New York or Los Angeles? Avada nisht! Instead they went straight to the desert where they stayed a gantze 40 years. In the meantime, what are we doing here? Nu, mostly eating, davening (praying), seeing a few shows, some gambling and avada pool lounging. And speaking of the pool, let me share this givaldige story, oe that cannot be made up: it’s emes mamish, every detail of it.
This maiseh shehoyyo (true story) took place just yesterday poolside in front of my very eyes ober, first a shtikel introduction. Avada you all know that Yiddin love the hot tub. Exactly why we like going from the hot baking sun into a hot tub, I never quite chapped ober Yiddin are strange that way. Instead of jumping into the pool to cool down, many are drawn to the hot tub. So this year, the Ruv said to himself azoy: why sit in lounges some distance from the hot tub that requires physical activity (walking) to get from the far side of the pool to the hot tub? Why not instead sit mamish just on the side of the hot tub so that I can slide from the chair directly into the hot tub without exerting myself? We are a free people, no? Taka a genius idea! After all, though it’s chol hamoid, some say it’s mamish still Yom Tov and avada we shouldn’t be working on Yom Tov. Some say that walking through the pool area is considered uvda dechol (work). Moreover, a person walking through the entire pool area, though well intentioned, which most of you aren’t, and mamish with the machshovo (thought) to get directly to the hot tub, could chas vsholom, gaze his eyes on some of the sechoira at the pool and could be further nichshoil (sin) by efsher having machshovois (thoughts) that are chomitzdik, if you chap. Moreover, such a person could inadvertently feast his eyes on one of the hot skinny shiksas poolside and be tempted to reenact the seder and efsher do some additional dipping, if you chap. Efsher you’re wondering how one can tell the hot shiksa from the orthodox when they’re both wearing bathing suits and the answer is quite simple: the shiksa body has never had a piece of potato kugil! No further explanation required. Shoin! Efsher you’re wondering why these girls are somehow always at the pool when we are? Are they observing Pesach? Or efsher we can klerr that the RBSO arranged it so that Easter would coincide with our special Yom Tov and He then sends down the Yetzer Horo,many of them, disguised as beautiful shiksas, to see if we’ll overcome or succumb, if you chap.
Nu, to be 100% machmir (strict), as a Ruv should avada do, this year for Pesach 2012, I decided that we would avoid such temptations and taka sit a few amos (feet) away from the hot tub. Vkach hava (that’s how it was and is). Every morning on the way to shul, but only after morning tea room on the way to shul, the Ruv or a member of the mishpocho runs down to secure this givaldige spot. Grada not everyone likes this spot because it does get a shtikel noisy and congested ober the story you’re about to read is priceless mamish and only by having such givaldige seats, was I able to be witness to this new twist on a chumrah I never chapped. Grada (it so happens), a sociological study is in order to find how and why people feel epes connected to their lounge chairs and almost instinctively try to find the same lounge daily as if this piece of wood or plastic and your mechila (rear end) have a shtikel relationship. That for another day. Nu where was I? OK, back to the meiseh (to the story). So, at approximately 5 pm, a woman I grada know for the last 30 years and recall from our singles days in the fabulous Grossinger’s OBM, now a mother of a teenage daughters, decided to chap areyn some hot tub. She’s a modern orthodox woman who doesn’t cover her hair, but a very fine and nice person; Eydel. And for a brief 2-3 minutes, there she was in the tub alone with her teenage daughter. Shoin- life is good. And then……………
As you can imagine, a program with 1,150 guests does attract a wide variety of Yiddin. Yiddin like Baskin Robbins come in many flavors and mistama every Pesach program gets a number of flavors each year. It so happens that the program we find ourselves on has a blend of modern orthodox, more right, more left, mistama a few in the center, those form Israel, Sephardim, French, Iranians, a few chasiddim and two that are donning Bekeshes (long black coats worn by chasiddim). One is being worn by one of the half dozen Rabbis that are here as guests but also work by delivering lectures, mussir or otherwise making the place look heymish. The other fellow wears the entire garb: bekeshe and a matching shtreimeil (round furry hat worn by chasiddim). He also has payos (ear locks) behind his ears and just moments ago I saw him approaching the pool wearing a hefty blue bathrobe, black socks, and a very colorful (mostly yellow with black stripes) pair of Tzitzis over the robe because chas v’sholom he should walk four Amos (let’s call them feet) without them. So as to the livush (his garb), he was very strictly orthodox. Mistama this is typical of what one would see at a frumer bungalow colony. Shoin! It is America and avada people can choose any livush they feel appropriate. Back to yesterday: my friend and her daughter are in the hot tub enjoying the afternoon sun. And then I look up and see the chosid approaching the hot tub and conversing with his son in Yiddish. The son says he’s going in and does. In Yiddish he tells the father that the water is very hot and delicious. The father responds and says di zugst emes (really)? Yes! Shoin and with that invitation, the chosid removes the tzitzis, the shvartze zokin (black socks), the robe, the large black yarmulka and ten seconds later, there he is, with his son, and together with the mother daughter team enjoying the bubbles. Shoin: one big happy family. And avada I was thinking…..maybe he’s onto something.. Maybe he taka understands pshat in the chumrah (restriction) of mixed swimming and takes it literally. Maybe he understood that mixed swimming is taka ossur (forbidden) but maybe, just maybe, since he wasn’t swimming but just standing and gazing at the mother daughter team, that this is not included in the chumrah, ver veyst? Could pshat be that sharing and staring at two attractive women in the hot tub is ok as long as one is not swimming? Or efsher he was thinking that since the Oisvorfer was also watching the entire incident unfold, that efsher he was under rabbinical supervision, ver veyst? To his credit, he didn’t ask or demand that the women leave, though I admit to having seen such incidents unfold over the years.
And as to the other bekishe, well, as I said, it belongs to one of the Rabbis here on the program who speaks earnestly about fighting the Yetzer Horo (evil inclination). They say he knows it well as he was once a shtikel rebel himself. And so it was that last Sunday and also on two previous occasions, he spoke about fighting this bad guy and overcoming temptations. And what an impact he had, especially on the very frum kids and parents here in the crowd. But not two hours later, the Yetzer Horo made another appearance and let me tell you what happened.
Mamish just like last year, the RBSO had it so arranged to see who did tshuva (repentance) and who remained the same Oisvorf bum. As only the RBSO could, it was so arranged that the New York Knicks had to play Chicago this past Sunday (second day of Yom Tov). And avada, none of these fine upstanding Yiddin would chas v’sholom watch their TVs on Yom Tov or even loi olaynu, keep a TV on in their rooms where no one could see them. On Shabbis or Yom Tov? Never! Never that is unless there’s a TV in the lobby just opposite the bar where avada chometz is served all day. But the Yetzer Horo is so powerful, he is toned and muscular. What to do? So on this Pesach 2012, mamish an hour or two after the Rabbis speech, the lower lobby was packed, standing room only. For what? To hear a shiur, some mussir, a comedian? A nectiger tug! Instead they were gathered to watch the game. And who was there? The Yiddin who after lunch change into their shorts and bathing suits? Mostly not? Who was there? Mostly those who wouldn’t be caught in shorts on Yom Tov, those who would never, chas vsholom, get caught without their white shirts and dark pants, some with tzitzis (fringes) flailing especially when the game went to overtime and the Knicks won and they were jumping up and down bisimcha (with happiness). This scene avada begs the question: does frum clothing make one frum? Ver veyst?
A gitten Moied and Yom Tov-