Thursday, March 30, 2006

Riding Yakov Menken

Reprint of: Riding Yaakov Menken
Original post date: Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Cross-Currents: Riding with the Amish

Says Yakov Menken: I was a bit disappointed to learn that the “New Order Amish,” of which our driver is a member, drive cars—just because it is another sign of people losing their attachment to traditions"

Disappointed? What selfish nerve.

Yakov Menken, presumably, agrees that no law of God demands that cars be relinquished. In fact, Yakov Menken, presumably, owns a car, and presumably, he'd find it very difficult to go without one.

So why is Yakov Menken "disappointed" to discover that New Order Amish have cast off a
burden he does not accept upon himself?

Why is he "disappointed' to learn that some Amish no longer choose to endure the very real inconviniences of 19th century travel?

Is the good rabbi really asking the Amish to suffer simply so that you and I can enjoy the slight pleasure of smiling contentedly (or is it condecendingly) in the general direction of some poor Amish fellow during our annual chol hamoed trip to Lancaster? That's close to monstrous.

In fact, I think I finally understand Bellow's famous question: "Would you ask them to labor and go hungry while you yourself enjoyed Old-Fashioned Values?"

If you're Yakov Menken I guess the answer is "yes."

Notable comments: On the original post, Orthomom wrote: "I would have to agree with the Bear. Meaning well is not good enough. The piece really does reek of condescension. I would love to see the Jewish reaction if a similar article was written about an author's disappointment that Hasidic Jews have started to allow their wives out of the house, or some such stupidity. The Amish do not exist as a benchmark for tradition for Menken's purposes, or anyone else's." Also, Gil wrote several comments urging me to leave Yaakov Menken alone, and to "use [my] obvious talents to harrass FrumTeens instead.

This is yet another Christian dispute that we have no business being a part of. This particular dispute actually dates to the 15th century.
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