Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Social Stratification in the Orthodox Jewish Community: FFBs, BTs, and Geirim (Part II)

Before reading this check out Part I, especially if you do not understand the abbreviations used in the title of this post.

The purpose of this post is to take a closer look at the FFBs. In a previous post I described the FFBs as people who do not know what bacon tastes like. By that I meant to say that FFBs are different. They remind me of what F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about "the rich":
"Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."
I think that Fitzgerald hit upon something which is really quite obvious. The way one grows up affects one's psyche. Someone who was born and raised rich is going to be fundamentally different from one who acquired wealth later in life. I think the same thing is true when we are dealing with FFBs. They are "different" than BTs and Geirim. They grew up Jewishly "rich". Their psyche, their inner spiritual world was built differently.

However, I do not think that FFBs necessarily "think that they are better than we are" or any other of the negative traits that Fitzgerald ascribes to the rich. Perhaps some do think that way. Others highly respect BTs and Geirim, as they have internalized what the Torah has to say on these matters.

In any case, FFBs are different. While I was memorizing the chords and lyrics of pop songs they were memorizing mishnayot. While they were staying up late Thursday night learning Torah (a practice known as "mishmar" in yeshivot), I was...never mind.

Yes, I am familiar with the Talmudic statement,

במקום שבעלי תשובה עומדין, צדיקים גמורים אינם עומדין

"In the place where BTs stand, the completely righteous are not standing(Brachot 34B)"

From this we see that BTs have a certain advantage over the FFBs. However, the issue is not "who is better?". The above quote from the Talmud actually strengthens my case: it shows FFBs and BTs are different.

So, what is the nafka mina? How do these differences affect our lives, and how do we deal with them? I hope to deal with that in the future, with God's help.

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