Is Chivalry Dead by Us
Sorry, that its been a while since I posted last, I didn't mean to disapoint my readers.
I heard on a Pes. Krohn tape a story about the Ponivesher Rov Zt”L. The Ponivesher Rov was seldom ever seen without his frock. Nevertheless , he was walking in Bnei Brak, one evening past a bus stop, where there was a young woman who seemed to be shivering from the cold. He immediately, handed her his frock to wear, until she arrived at her destination. I found this story remarkable, because it seems like the gallant gentleman and stories of chivalry are viewed as being somewhat goyish and alien to our culture.
It bothers me greatly, how Yeshivishkeit, quite often seems to supersede menslickeit and being a gentleman.
A number of years ago, I was a guest at a Chasidishe family for lunch one Shabbos,. The mother was in her ninth month, and had very swollen ankles, yet she was still running back and forth from the kitchen, while her husband and numerous sons were just sitting around the table, oblivious to her discomfort. It was not my place to mix in and tell someone twice my age how to run their home, but it bothered me greatly.
On another occasion, a very Chasidishe lady was struggling to shlep heavy packages into her apt, while her husband was just walking in front of her meditating on the Shem Hakodesh or maybe what he is going to eat for lunch. My father, immediately helped her. It was very interesting to observe, how on the one hand she was very appreciative, yet on the other, probably on account of her culture and upbringing had that facial expression, “nebach, a moderna mensh vus hust nisht inzerer hinik “ .
You find this in our circles as well. For example, in Bagel Nosh, how often do you see a lady struggling to open the door with one hand and push a double stroller in with the other, while all the men waiting on line or eating don’t think to hold the door for her. If a man does offer , it is sometimes considered odd or less then Tzniusdik , in some misguided sort of way.
How come for example, in the parking lot of the library, I have observed a pregnant mother struggling to fold up a stroller and put it in the trunk, and while a frum man will not have a problem checking out the view from the rear, he won’t offer to help lift up the stroller.
And it isn’t limited to fremda women on the street. A former neighbor of ours is the nicest, friendliest guy around. He would do anything for anybody, a real baal Chesed. Yet, on Shabbos he sits by the table in a bekeshe and Streiml all jolly, smiling and singing. Meanwhile, his wife perpetually has bags under her eyes and looks very fatigued and exhausted and it doesn’t even dawn on him that maybe she needs a hand running back and forth from the kitchen. Maybe, he is just clueless
So I really wonder if there is something in the Heimishe mindset that detracts from polish and savoire faire or just plain Yiddishe middos.
I hope that I will be able to instill this sensitivity and middos into my sons, as this really bothers me greatly.