Ask the Rabbi: Why are Frum people ‘showy’?

Ask the Rabbi: Why are Frum people ‘showy’?

Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet answers readers’ questions in his weekly column, Ask the Rabbi.

Ask the Rabbi

Why are Frum people ‘showy’?

Dear Rabbi,

We learn from our forefather Abraham to live humble and modest lives. Yet I meet many in my community who are showy. The more religious someone is, the more they need to show off about it and look down on those not as religious. Surely these two ways of life do not go together? This has aggravated me for a long time. I would like to become more religious, but seeing people acting in this manner really puts me off from wanting to be associated with the frummer crowd.


Dear Alison,

I’ve read generalisations before, but yours tops the lot. In what way exactly are these “religious Jews” more showy? Is it materially or spiritually?

Assuming it is the former, how does it follow that the more religious someone is, the more ‘showy’ they are? Unless what you are really saying is that the more religious someone is, the more they have, thus enabling them to be more ‘showy’ which, frankly, is borderline anti-Semitic because you are implying the more religious you are the richer you become.ASK THE RABBI 2

But then you say they look down on those who are not as religious, which suggests maybe you mean they are more ‘showy’ spiritually. How so? Is it by the garb they wear? Is it by the way they pray in synagogue? Is it that they look overtly Jewish when walking in the street while you may be looking to keep a lower profile? I don’t find anything wrong with that.

To be sure, is it true that some religious Jews tend to look down on those less religious than them?

Unfortunately, yes. It is equally true that some irreligious Jews look down on more religious ones: Much like the rabbi in Manchester standing outside his synagogue one cold midweek morning trying to find a tenth Jewish man for a minyan.

His tallit on, his tzitzit flaying in the wind, people walk past and casting him a curious glance. Then one man stops: “What’s the matter with you standing in the street like that! Aren’t you embarrassed? You should be ashamed of yourself.” The rabbi looked at him: “Ah! You’re just the one I am looking for. Please come inside!”

I also don’t understand what you mean when you claim you want to become more religious but the behaviour of others is putting you off. Hogwash! (Sorry). If you wanted to become more religious, you would do so out of your own convictions and not based on other people’s behavioural patterns.

My conclusion: I don’t really know what you mean and, frankly, I don’t think you do, either. Do what you believe is the right thing to do and stop blaming others for your shortcomings.

Dumped food is anti-social menace

Dear Rabbi,

As I’m sometimes a bit late with my Passover preparations and cannot always be organised enough to get my leftover chametz binned before Passover, what do I do with all my part-used leftover food?

I know I can “sell” chametz, but maybe I forgot to list some of it and only found a freezer full of chametz food too late.

Next year do I take my five bags of mouldy challah, Tomor margarine, houmus, mum’s home baked nut bread and other kosher-label produce from the kosher shops and dump it on the grass beside the already over-filled bin in the local park, or street, where it will be ripped open by crows, eaten by foxes and generally spread around the park over the bank holiday weekend?

This appears to be the generally accepted solution used by some of my Orthodox co-religionists in my area. Is there by any chance some other religiously acceptable solution?


Dear Samuel,

Let’s be clear, shall we? You know the answer to your own question. You are perfectly aware that by annulling your chametz and it being locked away you have disowned it.

Your letter was only for the benefit of the final paragraph so that you could take a dig at your “co-religionists”.

Assuming what you say happens, it is for sure a chillul Hashem. But you’re still a mean-spirited so-and-so for taking a swipe at them in this way. I only answered this so I can take a swipe at you.

Rabbi, you’re the bee’s knees!

Dear Rabbi,

I’ve been reading your column in Jewish News for a long time and wanted to drop you a line to tell you how much I enjoy it. I especially liked your response to the question two weeks ago, entitled ‘A Jewish spark burning bright’. You are the talk of north London and, trust me, you are greatly admired and respected. Keep up the good work and God bless you.


Dear Jonathan,

The editor hates it when I answer self-ingratiating letters. Some readers might even claim I make them up. I don’t know who you are, but if ever you bump into me, say hello and I’ll buy you a drink. Better still, as you’re such a big fan – you can buy one for me!

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