Annie: Your boyfriend is correct in that you are breaking “dozens of laws” but here is the issue: if you think that it is ok to buy coffee on Shabbat or chag, then it is ok for you to do it, wearing whatever you would be wearing. The idea of moret ayin (or fools eye) is a bit ludicrous in the modern poly-denominational world. If you wear a kippah and you go to bars, you should wear your kippah in bars, as it is a legitimate expression of your Judaism. It IS ok for Jews to buy coffee on Shabbat, that is the correct message to send. It is ok: halakhically there is a prohibition against engaging in acts of business on Shabbat or chag. However, if, for instance, you are Reform, and believe that you have the right to choose which halakhot that you observe, you are not doing anything wrong. It is more important for secular/unaffiliated/disenfranchised Jews, as well as non-Jews to see Jews who can be identified as Jews doing “ordinary” things. If we have learned anything about the recent anti-Muslim sentiment (see Jack Straw’s comment about hijabs) it is that we should engage in both our own religious community as well as American communal life.
Harley: With Marisa’s post, we return once again to the question of what constitutes a Bad Jew. So long as her actions coincide with her views, is Marisa a Bad Jew for going into a Starbucks on a Saturday? Is the Angry Jew a Bad Jew for confronting and shaming Marisa and her boyfriend in public (see my post on A Lesson in Manners)?
First things first. Marisa is not a Bad Jew for going into a Starbucks on a Saturday. Using money on Shabbat makes her a Jew who makes the choice not to observe that particular halakha or who feels unbound by halakha, in general, or who has found a teshuvah written by a 15th Century sage that says she can use money on Shabbat if she is buying coffee ground in
According to Pirkei Avot (3:11, also check out Talmud, Sotah 10b), Angry Jew is a Bad Jew for embarrassing Marisa and her boyfriend in public. Following the logic of analysis I applied to Marisa, Angry Jew is a Bad Jew only if he follows the teachings of Pirkei Avot and the Talmud. If he does not think he is bound by those texts, then he is not a Bad Jew. But he is still a Bad Person.
You cannot be bound by laws that either you don’t recognize as valid or don’t apply to you. But there, I admit to a logical flaw in my argument. You can be bound by laws that you don’t recognize as valid or applicable. In the
Judaism is more than just law, it’s also a culture, a history, a set of traditions (which are themselves time and place-bound), an ethnicity, an ontological epistemology of the universe. Is it realistic to hold everyone to a halakhic standard (a standard which itself is fraught), when not all those engaged believe in the legitimacy and power of the halakha? In a world with no Bad Jews, what does it mean when an Angry, non-traditionally observant Jew confronts another non-traditionally observant, but traditionally dressed Jew. On that fateful morning in Starbucks, Marisa was dressed in “frumster drag… So the end result was that we looked like a straight Orthodox couple, which couldn’t be further from the truth.” Marisa experienced the sting of anti-Orthodox bias in that Starbucks.
The issue I have with the post, is that she perceives the “the “culturally” Jewish segment of
I keep re-writing this post, so it does not sound accusatory and I apologize if any sting remains. I don’t wish to be combative because I agree with Marisaa's perspective (and because I find coming to the defense of someone like Angry Jew repugnant). I simply wish to point out a possible double-standard in her own views and also the complexity of the issue of halakhic and religious observance.