Long-time Sloppists have noticed that I haven't posted regularly in a long time. I had considered this a mere personal failing: a source of disappointment in myself, to be sure, but a victimless crime at worst. Last night, I realized I was wrong. I came face to face with the face of Solipsist Nation abandoned: a reader--perhaps my ONLY reader--who had come to rely on YNSHC to bring a little joy into his apparently insufficiently joyous life, and whom I had so cavalierly abandoned out of some sense of entitlement--entitlement to rest, to relaxation, to the right to plunge myself into a beer-fueled alcoholic stupor on a regular basis! Who did I think I was?!? So, to this Fanatical Follower of Solipsist, I simply say, I shall strive to do better.
Speaking of entitlement, I've spent the last day or so pondering this story in yesterday's paper, about a semi-common occurrence on airplanes. Apparently, some ultra-Orthodox Jews refuse to sit next to women on airplanes, for fear that they may accidentally come into contact with members of the opposite sex. Despite the fact that a prominent Orthodox rabbi has given dispensation for whatever incidental contact might occur, a number of Hasidim feel they would rather not chance it. As you can imagine, though, problems arise when women refuse to relocate to accommodate the--let's face it--medieval strictures of their fellow travelers.
Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that I proposed a simple solution: If the idea of potentially finding himself seated next to a woman so fills a Hasidic gentleman with fear, then all he needs to do to avoid the situation is purchase an extra seat on the plane. This comment of mine generated a number of comments--tongues more or less planted in cheeks--about the unlikelihood of Jews ponying up the cash for two seats (it should be noted that these comments all came from fellow Jews). But the point, of course, is social not financial. If these folks want to avail themselves of the conveniences of modern society (like airplanes), then they are simply going to have to accept the conventions of modern society (like the fundamental equality of the sexes--and let's not get started on THAT; that's a topic for another day).
Ultimately, I don't really have a problem with the Orthodox desire to maintain a separation of the sexes: If that's what they believe, that's what they believe. The issue I find offensive is that the airlines and/or the other passengers should go out of their way to accommodate them. I wouldn't have an issue with a Hasidic gentleman going up to another passenger--and for all I know, this happens--and saying politely something to the effect of, "Excuse me, Sir/Madam, I'm seated over in ___, but the seat next to me is occupied by a lady, and my religion prevents me from sitting next to her. I was wondering if you would be willing to trade seats with me?"
I'm sure he'd find a taker. Hell, what does the Hasid-proximate lady look like? Maybe I'll trade seats. After all, I'm single now. Think of the possibilities!
"What was that all about?"
"Oh, his religion forbids him from sitting next to beautiful women."
"Well, strictly speaking, his religion prevents him from sitting next to any women. I threw in the beautiful part."
Cha-ching! Mile-high-club! I love Judaism!