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Sunday, July 23, 2006

THE REAL THREAT TO CHASIDIC MORALITY

I have probably already bored you sufficiently with stories of my son’s forthcoming wedding, so I promise that this will be the last one.

My son is a religious young man, but he is hardly a Lubavitcher Chasid. His machatonim, though, insist on a full-blown Lubavitcher wedding in front of Lubavitch world headquarters in Brooklyn, with him regaled in Chasidic garb.

One of the mandates of a Chasidic wedding, as you likely know, is that men and women are separated from beginning to end. This I can understand for the ceremony, as it is a time of worship. I might even understand it during the smorgasbord extravaganza, when vodka and other libations flow freely and might loosen the tongue to speak licentiously to the opposite sex. And perhaps even during the dancing the separation is justified, as skirts and tzitzis go swirling in the frenzy.

But, I will never understand why men’s and women’s dinner tables must also be separated by a three-meter mechitza. I mean, what immorality could be perpetrated by pious men and women sitting next to each other while fressing on a seven-course glatt-kosher bacchanalia? After an orgy of prime beef and Viennese pastry, I certainly want to go to bed, but not with someone else’s wife, or even my own.

Let me tell you what really ought to be banned from Chasidic weddings: Cellphones. They are the only way that men and women can communicate with each other during the evening. How many times have I seen husbands and wives innocently use their cellphones to determine when to leave the reception or who should call the babysitter?

Innocent, you say? How do we know that Yankel or Reizel is not clandestinely calling a paramour for a tryst the next afternoon, and doing it under cover of the din and the raucous Chasidic music?

Please tell my Chasidic friends that I am just joking and that I need to dunk my mind in the mikvah. But, also remind them that I, like they, can tell the difference in the look in a man’s eyes when he’s hungry for strudel or for something more toothsome.

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