Friday, March 7, 2008

The "Koch Loeffel" Syndrome

In literal translation a koch loeffel is a cooking spoon, used to stir what is cooking in your pots. In idiomatic Yiddish a koch loeffel is either someone who is constantly mixing in to other's business or is seen as someone who likes to stir things up. In English we also call them busy bodies.

I was reminded of this because I overheard someone say of blogs that "zei zennen alleh koch leflach"--literally they all like to mix in to someone else's business. This raised the question in my mind of who gets to decide what is "their" business and what is "our" business as well.

Clearly if I offer an unasked for opinion on her new kitchen design to my friend I could be considered a koch loeffel. What is it my business if she wants pink cabinets and purple counter tops? Nothing to do with me. But whose business is the business of Klal Yisroel?

If I see my child's yeshiva doing something or not doing something that I feel is wrong, am I being a koch loeffel if I tell them, or am I being a concerned parent? When I purchase their services am I not entitled to a consumer complaint? If I feel that a wrong has been or is being committed am I not entitled to voice my concern to others?

When rabbanim make public pronouncements am I not entitled to ask for the "whys" and "wherefores"? And when things appear to be muddled, misinformed and just plain illogical, why does asking questions or making comments make me a koch loeffel in these rabbanim's eyes? Is not Klal's pot my pot as well?

And what of when the opposite is true. Why is every pot that I put on my stove in my house now being stirred by people I've never met, that aren't my rav, that don't know me and mine whatsoever?

When did open conversation come to be koch loeffel-itis? Do blogs sometimes step over some lines in trying to reason something out? Sure. But then that is no different then people in the "regular" world. Is conversation sometimes unrestrained? Do emotions get high? And this is different from real life just how?

Don't you get tired of hearing how blogs are the consummate evil and that bloggers are nothing but a bunch of ill-intentioned koch lefflach? I know I am. You know that old saw about how "too many cooks spoil the broth"? Far too many of our people in power and those who want to be in power consider bloggers as excess cooks. Me? I look at that shared pot we call Klal and notice that the soup is sticking and starting to burn, that pepper has been added in to the angel food cake, that someone has left the yeast out of the bread and it won't rise. Me? I put on my apron and I take my cooking spoon and I stir. Frankly, a good koch leffel is an invaluable tool when you've got a big pot and you want the dish to come out right.

I just read this week's latest chumra. Quick, pass me the koch loeffel. I've some stirring to do.


Anonymous said...

We don't always agree but I like the way you write. This time I do agree with you. For some in the frum community saying you read blogs or, c"v, write one is tantamount with every thou shall not written. Blogs can only thrive and exist in a democratic society. Questioning and expressing an opinion only exists in a democratic society. Far too many of those supposedly in power would be a lot happier if this country had trained us for communism or socialism. Their actions are only despotic if you live in a democracy. If you live in a dictatorship then any crumbs they throw us would be just fine.

Anonymous said...

What a stirring post !

Anonymous said...

Groan! You forgot to mention all the puns that get spooned up on the blogs.

Bas~Melech said...

Not sure about the blogging aspect, but in general I'm with you all the way here. "None of my business" is not an attitude for the ruchniyus of klal Yisrael. Why can't you live and let live? BECAUSE I CARE too much.

Anonymous said...

Haven't heard the term since I was a kid and my grandmother used it all the time. I'll agree that when we talk about what is going on in the frum world we aren't being busybodies because it is our business and we should be talking about it. And like Bas-melech said, we talk because we care. That's the part that seems to surprise so many leaders, that people care when they do things.

There are some blogs that seem to want to do nothing but get people aggravated about things that there are no easy answers for. But there are lots which provide some interesting takes on the world we live in, that provide a place to talk that maybe some people don't have outside of the blogs. And lots of the blogs are sources of information to get us thinking.