Monday, June 30, 2008

What are they going to say?

Some time in the far future our great grandchildren and all the great-greats after them are going to be sitting around and talking about the past, and it's us they are going to be talking about. And they are going to scratch their heads and wonder about a lot of what is written in the history of our time period.

Somewhere in the future someone is going to publish a work, Sifrei HaKolKoreh, a work in 47,569 volumes in which all the mega-important issues of our time will be laid out for all to see. Of course, they won't be publishing it in quite the sense we mean today; it would kill too many trees just to put out one edition, never mind more, and trees are a protected resource. Besides, with every beis medrash being fully computerized, why waste the paper? And the news will race over the JudeoWeb that in the dark ages of our time there were rabbanim who banned the use of computers and the Internet. Of course, they are going to have to look up what an Internet was because technology will have advanced far beyond the primitive underpinnings we have today.

On one page there is a small story of a 6-week battle about pictures of women wearing sheitles displayed in the window of a sheitle store. Sheitle store? Couldn't they order over the FrumNet? And what's wrong with pictures of women? On another page they find the story of a concert that was cancelled, because someone told a whole bunch of fibs and outright lies to some rabbanim who bought the story hook, line and sinker. "Who did their research?" someone is going to ask? And they'll give thanks to God for allowing them to use their intelligence in a more productive way.

They are going to look at what are supposed to be pictures of women, only those women are covered head to foot in heavy veils. "Wow!" they will marvel. "Guess they didn't learn much halacha in those dark ages." Another will comment "Yeah, when extremism rules there isn't much need for real halacha."

Going further back in time they will see pictures of some women wearing hats. "Why are they wearing men's hats?" they'll ask, as they push the brim of their cholent-pot hats a bit higher. And then they will see pictures of men in Borsolinos and shtreimlach. And they will mention that they vaguely remember from their history classes that Polish noblemen wore those kinds of hats and why were frum Jews wearing clothing that imitated the goyim?

They'll stare at SUVs and all the other behemoth vehicles and then look at their solar powered cars. "Didn't they care about the earth at all?" they will ask.

They're going to see a history of the Jews in the United States and won't be able to understand most of it because they have no idea of what an MO is or a Chareidi or a Litvish. But then, we who are living now in what will be history later don't much understand what those things are either.

They are going to read about a shidduch crisis and about fifty-two page shidduch resumes and questionnaires and about interviews with shadchanim, and about checking references. They'll read about dating practices and questions that were of such monumental importance, such as "Do you cover your tablecloth with a plastic cover?" For one thing, they'll have to look up plastic in the dictionary. For another, they will wonder how anyone ever got married, although the evidence is there that some people did, because otherwise how did they come into being? It can't all have been done with petri dish fertilization.

They're going to read about a proclamation that all young men had to sit and learn in Bais Medrash for at least the first five years of marriage, maybe more. They'll read that going to college was ossur except for under special circumstances. They'll learn that working was considered as something that frum Jewish men should avoid whenever possible. "Marry Money!" was the mantra. "And their parents allowed this?" some will ask. "Didn't they get the lecture our rebbis give us about how a married man is the head of a household and it is his responsibility to provide for his family?" "I guess none of them were smart enough to think of early morning sedorim or night sedorim."

They'll read about how frum women were the darlings of the couture designers, and when it came to spending money on clothing and shoes "more was more." "Designers?" they'll ask. "I thought designers were banished by Congress during the Black November Economic Crisis of '08?"

Those great-greats will read and read and wonder and wonder. And the more they read the less convinced they will be that claiming us as their ancestors is in any way enriching. Can we really blame them?


Lion of Zion said...

you're so optimistic

Orthonomics said...

Quite optimistic, I'd say.
If we are being optimistic, perhaps the future generation will wonder why we didn't have free Jewish schooling for grade schools and why we made weddings to rival the Queen.

Anonymous said...

The future sure sounds a lot better then our present does, so that is optimistic. And if we don't like what is happening now and we don't want to leave this as our historical record for our generations to follow then we had better get up off our behinds and do something now. Nothing that was mentioned in the posting that is not a fact now. It would be nice if our descendants could also read that we did something about some of the messes we created.

Anonymous said...

There are a lot of political leaders who start off their speeches requesting some change with "What will the future generations think of us if we do/don't do X?" There is supposed to be some sort of guilt we should feel about these future generations.

Here's the thing though, if today's people aren't worrying about what others living now think and feel, what makes anyone think they will worry about future generations whom they will never see? Maybe we need to be brought to action to change things now because we will be the beneficiaries of that change.

Sure I would like my great grandchildren to think well of me. But I'm more concerned that my kids, alive now, also think well of me.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree that we should be a lot more worried about what people are going to think and say about us right now instead of what people will think about us in the future. You want to fix the future? Then fix the present.

G said...

From your keyboard to God's in-box

Anonymous said...

So call me a pessimist, but unless something really radical happens and soon to change the attitudes of people then what was written is going to be that history that our future generations will be reading.

Anonymous said...

I'm awfully glad not to be a member of your generation because I think that history is going to treat it pretty harshly. But then, if my generation doesn't start saying 'no thank you' to what is being pushed down our throats, we won't be judged any better.