Friday, June 6, 2008

treifing it up on holiday

So a bunch of us girls went out for dinner tonight - and one of the topics on the menu was whether it's ok to loosen up on vacation. By "ok", i mean by our own personalized standards. By "loosen up", i mean in the most frum way possible, of course.
Like moi, my friends are all frum - frum with a modern twist - and while you may catch a glimpse of knee and collarbone when we walk by, you definitely wouldn't mistake us for those girls standing on the street corner.
But somehow, the rules kinda seem to change when we're on vacation. For some reason, having a tuna salad doesn't seem too bad when there are no kosher restaurants on our all-inclusive. And even a bikini seems pretty conservative on a beach where most European women are only wearing their bottoms. (if any of you Boys think there is something even remotely sexy about that, picture your 85-year-old grandmother sunbathing..... or maybe I should spare you the gruesome details)
Ok, so back to the topic - Are our Frum standards supposed to be flexible? Is it ok to bend the rules when we're stranded on an island? (ok, its a resort, but island nonetheless) Obviously, our great-grand-bubbies didn't look for an OU on everything they ate! And they would probably be dismayed about the clothes we wear today! (imagine being dressed as a frum 21st century girl in the 1600's! or even in the Gone with the Wind era - maybe then we would be confused for girls on a street corner!) Any thoughts?


Alex30 said...

dear maidel, i am quite extreme in my believes tat you either are what you believe or life is one big lie! i can understand ultra orthodox (neturei karta) or modern orthodox. even refrom jews are ok as long as they do and live the way they believe they should. now take a orthodox guy that goes on holiday and thinks " noone can see me" or "we are on holiday" that is hypocritic, either you believe that you are not supposed to eat it or eat it always!
of course i understand that being religious is extremly dificult especially if you are on holidays out of the ghetto.. but that is why we believe in gan eden!
regards from europe!

Frum but not Aidel said...

I am always shocked to see women who at home are quick to look down on anyone who shows a knee cap, but on vacation they wear shorts and keep their hair uncovered (not sure what they eat).

My feelings are that Hashem is everywhere - isn't that why you do it "right"?

Anonymous said...

i actually think the true test of frumkeit is when you are in a situation like vacation or in the comfort of your own home.

Why would a bikini be ok? Tzniyus is just as internal as it is external. besides how do you know a jewish boy wont be on the beach and get a good kick out of seeing your bikini line?


thats what we call lifnei iver. Also, to address the wedding showers- whats the deal with lingerie? are girls really comfortable with that?

Pinny said...

Your great-grand-bubby who didn't look for an OU on everything she ate may very well have not eaten from anyone else's kitchen AT ALL.

Pinny said...

I just want to add...

My father likes to tell people who who inform him that they keep a kosher kitchen AT HOME but are willing to be less strict when they eat out, "The Torah tells us to have a kosher STOMACH -- not just a kosher KITCHEN."

Alex30 said...

that reminds me i have seen a video somewhere of a jewish person in a treif restaurant. i am reading all yiddishe blogs!!! having a great time. got to thank you maidel for introducing me to the heimishe blogs!

Maidel said...

wow - never realized how shartk my readers are! so none of you EVER slipped a little when you were starving in the middle of nowhere?

debka_notion said...

I think there's a big difference between a tuna sandwich and a bikini. Whether or not you can at least find a vegetarian restaurant is another factor. There is dealing with the circumstances, and then there is taking advantage. I think that the former is much more acceptable than the latter. So a regular one-piece on the beach is still an option, or a one-piece with a pair of shorts over it- still acceptable beach-wear, albeit not as modest as your usual clothes. But with that sort of option available, going as far as a bikini is just taking advantage. Does that makes sense to you?

Maidel said...

so what you're saying Debka, is that there is flexibility...

You may think that it's ok to wear a one-piece to the beach - but today's one-piece would be considered disgraceful a 100 years ago.

I remember when I was a little kid, wearing a bikini was considered risqué in the goyish world. (remember how it was such a big deal when it was finally allowed in the Miss USA pageant?) Today, bikinis even come in baby sizes. So there is obviously a shift in what is considered tznius.

As for the tuna sandwich - obviously, it's not something you would go for if you had kosher options. But if you didnt, would that mean surviving on fruit & veggies?

Anonymous said...

To play devil's advocate...

I don't know if I buy the argument "well if you're doing it for G-d then you should do it always." I think this is kindof the bully answer. Challenge someone's base intentions and it's easy to shut them up quickly without needing to explain yourself. Sure, much of what you do is for G-d. But I think there are other parts of frumkeit that are for your community... and why is that a bad thing? A guy at the beach doesn't have the same level of sensitivity than a guy walking around in a yeshivish neighborhood, and a bikini (or for arguments sake, lets say a modest t-shirt that shows your elbows!) isn't going to have the same kind of effect on a secular guy as a guy who's grown up in frum Brooklyn. Like you're saying, times change. A glimpse of the ankle used to be scandalous... it had more to do with what was the norm than what is empirically modest or not. Another example of keeping extra-conservative halakha for the community... maybe your personal beliefs (between you and G-d) about kosher are not so strict as your community, but you keep a very strictly kosher kitchen so that your friends can eat there. And that's good, it probably helps keep us in the right mind space. But when we go on vacation, the community doesn't factor into our decisions as much!

Thank you for asking the tough questions!!! It's very brave of you!

Adam in the Caribbean said...

I'd like to respond to this question as I believe I have the unique perspective of actually living on a tropical island.

Over the last two years, seven months and five days I lived on this tropical Caribbean island, save for one misjudgement on my part (thinking that the product I was eating, which has a hechsher on the mainland, was made in the mainland), I have not eaten anything without a hechsher. That means I haven't gone into restaurants to order a salad, tuna salad, sashimi, etc.

I also have avoided going to the beach except in the early morning and late evenings to avoid seeing women in bathing suits. I haven't used the beaches with their warm, crystal clear blue waters.

I have also avoid after work functions both sponsored and at workmates' homes as the behavior and lack of clothing is not something I want to be around.

In addition, my kipah and tzitzit have been almost entirely on display. I said almost as I gave the people at work time to adjut to my kipah an tzitzit by showing them more and more so that by four months on the job they were and continue to be visible at all times.

I am sorry, but I do not understand how anyone can lower their standards when on vacation. That behavior tells the true degree of yiras shomayim that person possesses. Living here, I have seen it all with regard to how completely lacking in decorum many "frum" become when on vacation in the Caribbean. That is not to say all or even most act as if being in the Caribbean is the carte blanche to do whatever they want, but for those that do it is quite unbecoming.

Maidel said...

Kol Hakavod Adam! Wish we all had your honesty....

frum single female said...

when my family went on vacations we would bring out own food along. and my family wasnt a group of ultra-frummies.
as an adult ive gone on vacations where kosher food was included or i brought my own food. it wasnt really such a big deal.
as for a bikini or a one piece at the beach... i really dont see any difference between the two. as for me i burn as soon as i go in the sun, so i actually wear longer sleeves and a longer skirt on the beach. sunburns are not an option.
i will say, whatever one does one should feel comfortable with ones choices.

Lion of Zion said...

"so none of you EVER slipped a little when you were starving in the middle of nowhere?"

i'm very MO, but i don't understand this question. if one is traveling somewhere where kosher food is not available, then he/she should make an effort to pack food. and should this run out and one is "starving," it is possible to survive very nicely on fruits and raw vegetables.

Frayda said...

I understand wanting to relax the laws of tznius. I have done that while on vacation, especially in warm climates. But to me that means short sleeves and a slightly lower neckline (no cleavage showing). I don't think a bikini or any other bathing suit is in line with the laws of tznius. Then again, many people have different feelings about tznius. For example, you seem to think that as long as you are dressed like the norm, it is ok. I guess that is your prerogative.

As for food, I would avoid tuna sandwiches and other prepared foods. You have no idea what is in them.

Anonymous said...

All these comments and not one person points out that treif is in the Torah and bikini/ tznius issues are not?

Dave said...

I'm with the last Anonymous on this one. The many food-related laws are all quite explicit and detailed. There are a number of issues with that tuna that immediately come to mind. But I have yet to see an actual Talmudic source for the alleged “laws of modesty”. I’ve looked and looked, and found nothing by modern superficial rhetoric. I can think of only two issues that are explicit: a woman’s obligation to cover her hair (with a hat!), and the prohibition against reciting blessings with genitals exposed. Any other real examples that I’ve missed? In the end, perhaps we should take responsibility and make some ethical decisions ourselves without forcing all actions into a false forbidden/perfectly-OK dichotomy?

Maidel said...

maybe if we 'slipper uppers' were truly honest with ourselves, we would fess up to the fact that the reason we 'slip up' is because we make the choice to do so.

that said, the choice to slip up is for purposes that are purely selfish.

but can you all honestly say that you've never done anything for purely selfish reasons?

Anonymous said...

From Candela: Has anyone taken a momoent to think about why a tuna sandwich should not be kosher? Or sushi, for that matter?

Dave said...

Anonymous: I’ll list a few issues off the top of my head that potentially apply to the sandwich. If you are not familiar with any issues, please Google them.

1. The bread could not be yashan.
2. The bread was not baked in the presence of Jews.
3. Any milk in the sandwich was not milked in the presence of Jews.
4. The tuna was not cooked by Jews.
5. The tuna may have a small percentage of meat from other animals, such as dolphins or crabs.
6. Any vegetables in the dish may not have been washed carefully, and therefore, may contain forbidden bugs. That’s five transgressions for each bug.
7. All the dishes used in the history of every single item in the dish are potential hazards.

I'm sure there are more potential issues. What about potential issues for walking around in a bikini? Probably none.

Maidel: we all slip up, and we’re all selfish. We’re all human, after all. But, as you say, whether we fess up or rationalize is the more important question.