“Is she spiritual?”
The MF who fielded this one brought it up with me one Shabbos afternoon. “Are you spiritual?”
“No,” I replied immediately. “Spiritual” means colorful scarves, Carlebach minyanim, and Chabakuk reading lists. It means having an “amazing, inspiring experience” whenever there’s a critical mass of people singing. It means Tzefat, Bat Ayin, and Meron.
“Oh,” said the MF, who had found the question puzzling. “I said you learn regularly and stuff, but that wasn’t what they meant.” No indeed.
Not an absurd question, considering. Apparently the caller was asking on behalf of a happy chossid. Of course it would have been simpler to just ask if I’m the happy chossid type, but I’m not going to nit-pick.
What the confused MF had answered was the “What does she do for spirituality” question. Similar words, but a world of difference in meaning. I don’t really like this one. Yes, granted, there are people who go to shiurim with their friends a couple of times a week. But not with their MFs. (Try getting an MF out of her house after 7pm. Good luck.) And there are also plenty of people who go to shiurim without their friends. Or who get their shiur in their inboxes. Or who do it over the phone or via podcast. Or any number of other acceptable options that MFs (or SFs) wouldn’t know about. (Then there are people who don’t bother with this stuff and don’t seem to need it either. Is “she has an impeccable moral compass” a good answer to that question?)
I’ve also never understood why people ask my friends about my siblings. “Can you send me a roster of your siblings, where they live, and what they do?” one Friend asked. “People always ask and I never know what to answer.” Honestly, folks. This is why I gave you the aunt’s phone number and the neighbor’s number. My friends are my friends. They don’t know what seminaries my sisters went to. If they did, I’d be a little creeped out. Maybe even jealous.