From the Also4 Files

Also4 is probably the only forever-learning yeshiva guy who has a bone to pick with the bais yaakov system. The problem is that the teachers occasionally shoot off at the mouth (for lack of a better description, all due respect intended, etc), and there are wide-eyed, impressionable young ladies who actually take everything they say quite literally. (I’m not mocking: I was part of that group to an extent.) These students then take a line carelessly tossed off by someone older and wiser and solemnly incorporate into their understanding of the world in general and their husbands in particular. This means that Also4 has to field formally posed interview questions like:

“What if you had a sheila to ask but you were feeling lazy and didn’t want to ask it?”

Also4 replied, “The same thing as if I didn’t feel like getting up for shacharis or learning a full seder.”

Oy. I had to cover my face when I heard that. Also4, if you ever get convicted, keep your mouth shut and don’t waive your right to an attorney.

I agree with him, by the way. It’s amazing the sorts of things people try to feed us aidel maidels, as if we’re the most naive, gullible things on the planet. Which is why I burst out laughing when he related the following conversation:

Her: “Do you smoke?”

Him: (proudly) “No, of course not. I’ve never touched a cigarette in my life.”

Her: (disappointed) “Oh. So you’re not a serious learner then.”

I don’t know which enterprising young man started the rumor that all serious learners smoke, but he should be given some sort of prize for chutzpa and then hanged immediately. Yes, I’ve heard it. No, I’m not falling for it.

Thankfully, I date here in the good ol’ US of A, where we at least put up a facade of not interrogating each other.


29 thoughts on “From the Also4 Files

  1. inkstained hands- I think they go up on a timer.

    “What if you had a sheila to ask but you were feeling lazy and didn’t want to ask it?”

    Also4 replied, “The same thing as if I didn’t feel like getting up for shacharis or learning a full seder.”

    Were the answers to all the questions – “Obviously, I overcome my yetzer hora and do what I’m supposed to” ? 😉

  2. Ah yes, the impressionable child. Few seem to have parents who make a point to deprogram them. I was skeptical of most of the brainwashing techniques, but I tripped up from time to time. Thankfully, my folks jumped in whenever they saw any hint of a takeover.

    I get so annoyed when people make firm statements that are nothing more than unverified opinions of others.

  3. inkstained: early to bed, early to rise… you can’t have too much health, wealth, or wisdom, my grandmother always said.

    KS – yes, of course. Even Also4 wouldn’t tell his date “I loll about in bed rerunning last night’s football game in my head.” Especially since he doesn’t lie.

  4. Pardon to butt in, but there seems to be a strong correlation between “yeshivishness” (per se) and smoking, as in the more prestigious yeshvos one has attended, the more likely said male is to have smoked. I believe some well-known yeshivas foster an atmosphere where supplementing one’s coffee breaks with this pastime is the generally accepted practice. Whether this habit is healthy or correct is irrelevant, but it seems to be a commonplace occurrence, yes, even nowadays with advent of irrefutable scientific evidence. Now as for the façade of not interrogating each other within the context of dating, well I guess that depends on how one goes about researching their dates and what they talk about on dates. Such as this:

  5. One of my few stipulations for my children’s choice of spouses is that they not smoke. My son is about as serious as one can get about learning, and he regards the smokers with disdain because they have to leave the bais medrash for their cigarette breaks. No smoking in the BM allowed.

  6. Wow, I wish I had a daughter for Also4 to date! Loved his response, and am sorry to hear that he does not take his learning seriously enough to damage his lungs while doing it.

  7. “Oh. So you’re not a serious learner then.”
    My response to this would have been:
    What? Spending 15minutes of every hour smoking outside the BM makes one a more serious learner?

    In all seriousness the more often the coffee and cigarette breaks the less time you are spending at your shtender on your daf, especially as most of the major Yeshivot have banned smoking in the B”M.

  8. Pingback: Ubiquitous Coffee Break « An Aspiring Mekubal

  9. I think its because yeshivas tend to be a bit behind the times, and they don’t realize that smoking became uncool in the 1990s or so.

  10. That’s definitely questionable that most yeshivos have. In E”Y it’s definitely accepted, at least in the yeshivas on the yeshivish map, and in America, the greasier yeshivas also smoke pretty openly

  11. No no, you guys got it all wrong. She was alluding to the fact that he has never laid his fingers on a cigarette to examine it. Curiosity can lead to learning experiences.

  12. @yoiske
    Porat Yosef(Old City and New) have banned smoking the B”M. I have been told that Ponevyzh has as well. The Mir has. I have also been told that Slobodka has.

    There are still some Kollelim that allow it. I have a 50/50 record there.

  13. michael, banning smoking in the bm and banning smoking altogether are different worlds. Although the fact that they dont allow for smoking in the BM does cause alot of bitul torah. i remember when i myself was a smoker. i made a rule not to walk out of seder for a smoke break but i hated the rule that you cant smoke in the beis but i respected it. i remember one sukkos i literally learnt in the sukkah for about 8 hours straight(barring bathroom break) because i was able to smoke in the sukkah. one must ask is the bittul torah coming from the smokers or the hanhalah of the yeshiva. meaning, if lets say the yeshiva band drinking coffee in the bm, does that mean that the guy going out to drink his cup of coffee outside being mvatel or is the yeshiva the cause of this bitul since they know that guys will inevitably go out to drink coffee?

  14. good point anonymous. it wasn’t a mistake though. If the yeshiva would have a band that was addicted to coffee, should they kick them out or allow them to enter the BM? that was my question.

  15. @whiner

    Many non-smokers are seriously distracted by cigarette smoke, and smoking in the Beis Medrash is mevatel their learning. R’ Moshe has a teshuva discussing the issur of disturbing non-smokers with cigarette smoke.

  16. i hear,but yeshiva-wise, both american and israeli bochurim in israel pound the ciggies, and BMG has a giant smoke cloud permanently floating outside the building where guys take their breaks.
    in addition, at least by the yerushalmim, there doesn’t seem to be a concept of smoking being bad. i saw a kol koreh about reb vosner’s p’sak on smoking that was hanging next to shtiebs spray painted over.

  17. @yoiske

    Perhaps that is an acid test for yiras shomayim, imprecise as it may be. If someone gets himself addicted to smoking, it is likely that his frumkeit is socially motivated or merely a product of his upbringing. If someone avoids smoking even though it is socially acceptable, that might indicate that he is motivated by avodas Hashem independent of social mores.

  18. If someone gets himself addicted to smoking, that would seem to me to indicate that his smoking’s socially motivated
    vos hot a shaychus tzu frumkeit?

  19. Since frumkeit can be motivated by social factors as well as by yiras Hashem, it might be possible to use smoking as a criterion to judge the motivation for someone’s behavior in general (including their apparent frumkeit) considering that most smokers are initially motivated by social factors.

    I might add that that Chazal state that you ought not to entrust your life to someone who is reckless with his own well-being (“Al chayyav lo chas; al chayyei chaveiro lo kol shechien”). I can think of no better example of trusting someone with your life than marriage.

    Nonetheless, I agree that you can’t make a definitive correlation or judge any given individual (especially those who became addicted before the 70’s) this way. My earlier, semi-facetious comment was in response to the notion that “all serious learners smoke”; I was being misracheik l’tzad ha’acharon.

  20. Depends which Bais Ya’akov. I went to Prospect Park and BJJ and don’t remember hearing those sorts of lines from any of the teachers. (I do remember one teacher at BJJ reminding us that we were not put on earth to be our husbands’ mashgichos.)

  21. Pingback: Designer Bride – III | Bad for Shidduchim

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