Powered by WebAds

Sunday, November 26, 2006

More Entertaining Than The Ethicist

Randy Cohen, of the NYT's weekly "The Ethicist" column, chooses to print a very strange question this week:
I stopped patronizing a mail-order company when it began including editorial content about Jesus in its catalog, finding that inappropriate. I now plan to visit a camera store owned and staffed by Orthodox Jews. Although I am an observant Jew, I do not regularly wear a yarmulke, but I’m considering doing so in the hope of preferential treatment, maybe even a discount. Hypocritical? Ethical? --R.K., New York
Where, oh where, do I begin? First of all, what the heck does the first part of the question have to do with the actual question? Does the fact that the man chooses to stop receiving a mail-order catalog that mentions Jesus bear any relevance whatsoever to the fact that he is considering impersonating an Orthodox Jew in order to get a discount? Which brings me to my second question - who in the world even believes that an Orthodox-owned store would provide a deeper discount to an Orthodox customer? I have personally never had that experience.

And I won't even bother reprinting the Ethicists's answer. The Times has already wasted too much column space on this inane question.

This does, however, all remind me of the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry tries to impersonate an Orthodox Jew in order to move his friend up to a higher spot on the kidney transplant recipient list. Hilarious hijinks ensue, along with equally hilarious bloopers about Orthodoxy (an unmarried Orthodox woman wears a snood, the same woman jumps down from a stranded ski lift to prevent yichud because she's with Larry David and "shkias hachama" is coming). It was a lot more entertaining than the Ethicist column.

22 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you translate into English all the little Hebrew terms you use? Also: Never buy electronics from an Israeli.

9:32 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Could you translate into English all the little Hebrew terms you use?
Sure, sorry - I was using the terms exactly as they were used in the episode, that's why I didn;t do so (I normally try to).

Yichud - a man and woman being alone together.

Shkias Hachama - sunset.

9:38 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Also: Never buy electronics from an Israeli.

That's a bit of an unfairly broad recommendation, I would say. Though there have been a few unfortunate cases of fraud that have gotten some publicity lately, I think your exhortation is unfair to the many honest businessmen out there.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shkias Hachama - sunset.
Thank you.

Can you please break down the words individually? I assume that you weren't being literal, for how can two words be defined by one?

Thanks.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Can you please break down the words individually? I assume that you weren't being literal, for how can two words be defined by one?"

she is being literal. hebrew and english are not parallel languages. many english words have two-word hebrew counterparts, and vice versa.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

shkias hachama = setting-of the-sun

10:03 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Thanks Steg. I know I can always count on you for translations.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the guy is obviously talking about b and h. they do NOT give orthos better deals.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Veganovich: said...

B&H is not just Orthodox but Chassidish. To the Chassidim, anyone who does not wear the livush is not really religious. I do not know whether B & H gives better deals to one of their own, but if the guy wanted to benefit from the affinity that they might have for a co-religionist, he would have had to grow a beard, put on a kapote, etc. A yarmulke would not have done the trick.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While OM did not type out the answer provided by the times author, please read it and see how even more stupid the answer was then the question.

11:50 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...


Anonymous said...

While OM did not type out the answer provided by the times author, please read it and see how even more stupid the answer was then the question.


Agree completely. That was why I didn't paste it and waste more space on it.

11:53 AM  
Anonymous shanna said...

who in the world even believes that an Orthodox-owned store would provide a deeper discount to an Orthodox customer?

Supposedly you (male) will get better treatment and slightly better pricing from some of the diamond dealers on 47th Street if you go in kippa-clad.

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IS yichud only a mortal sin after shkias hachama? BTW it's best to buy electronics at a big impersonal store like Sears where they don't get all crabby about returns, etc.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Krum as a bagel said...

To the Chassidim, anyone who does not wear the livush is not really religious

An unfair generalization. Almost all the chasidim I know display tremendous ahavas yisroel no matter what their mode of observance (despite what the papers say).

BTW it's best to buy electronics at a big impersonal store like Sears where they don't get all crabby about returns, etc.

Only if you want to be ignored by sales people who are completely unknowledgeable anyway. B&H has the best combination of selection, value and level of service and expertise.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous fox said...

I've been amazed over the last few years that someone as tone-deaf to cultural differences as Randy Cohen has been permitted a forum, but at least I was able to strike a tiny blow: a telemarketer representing the Chicago Tribune recently called. The Trib reprints Cohen's column.

She started to give me her spiel, and I shut her right down, telling her that as long as Cohen's column was printed, I wouldn't be interested. Turned out they had a whole separate group of operators who handled folks who were "offended" by something in the paper, and I got transferred. I spoke to an actual English-speaking person who took down my objections. I'm not expecting anything to come of it, but I figured I'd better weigh in while I had the chance ...

11:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IS yichud only a mortal sin after shkias hachama?
No.
That's what made it so funny to those in the know. Same thing with the single girl wearing a head covering - it's not required at all. Like orthomom said, it was a hilarious blooper.

11:55 PM  
Blogger Pragmatician said...

what a stupid question indeed,
frum owned stores usually have a large frum clientele to begin with.
If they had to give a better deal to everyone who happens to be wearing a kappel the store wouldn’t be making much money.

5:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rules of yichud do differ between night and day.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

B&H gives discounts to its employees, but not to religious Jews. Perhaps people think that religious Jews get a discount there, because they know people who have gotten discounts there and didn't realize they worked there. (Or, if people who work there bought something for friends/family.)

But there are businesses which - if they are able to set their own prices (say the diamond example) are more likely to do so for frum Jews. Of course, other businesses will do the same for people they like or who are 'like them' as well, and that's simply a matter of comfort etc.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rules of yichud should depend on how cute the girl is.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heh, heh,

over 30 years ago, I decided to impersonate an Orthodox Jew on my flight home from Israel so as to perhaps get some preferential treatment in the security screening. I never did figure out whether it worked, but on the flight, after we were served a nice piece of heavy-duty El Al brisket in shtetl sauce, I took out a candy bar I bought in Tel Aviv and started eating it. My seatmate looked at me funn, and then I realized that I was eating an Egozi Bar, which is, of course, dairy.

Oh well.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think wearing a yammie would make one difference one way of the other. Some orthodox business owners are mentshen, others are gonniffs, whatever the hashkafa of the customer.

I once bought a camera from a store near Penn Station owned by a very nice Hasidic guy and his wife, who treated me with respect and gave me a fair price, even after I had chatted with them about the egalitarian chevurah where I davened.

But I'm not sure why this secular Jew would feel more comfortable shopping at a Hasidic owned store than at a business owned by Bible-thumping Jesus freaks. Both faiths reject his secular theology, and the desicision to patronize them should be made mainly on business reasons. (Although I might have problems patronizing a Christian business if they were to make a big deal about x% of their gross reciepts going to Jews for Jesus or rightwing Chritian politicians.)

8:39 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home