Holier Than Thou
“Das vas mir tar nit tar mir nit, das vas mir meg darf mir nit.”
“That which is not allowed don’t do. That which you may, you don’t need to.”
Just because its allowed doesn’t mean you should do it.
Perfectionists. Striving for the perfect song, the perfect style, the optimal way to live. Hipsters and Hassids are about going above and beyond what they expect from themselves.
Kadosh means holiness in Hebrew, but its technical deffinition is “separate.” What is holy is separated from the rest. A king is separated, food that is suitable for eating, just the same, Hipsters and Hassids set themselves apart in neighborhoods forgotten by the rest of New York in order to live their “holy” lifestyles.
This extremism in the name of holiness or living on the cutting edge, can often lead to radical decisions, leading to detrimental community conditions.
The level of self-sacrifice, for a greater sense of completness, is fantastic– but it is misdirected. Misdirected energy can lead to death of the spirit, and death to creative innovation.
In this week’s Torah portion (parshas Acharai) Aaron’s sons Nadav and Avihu brought down a fire from G-d in the holy Temple when they were not instructed to do so. They came so close to G-d that their souls left their body. Wanting to connect with the infinite is a positive attribute. However, Aaron’s sons sinned because of the fact that they did not take the holiness they connected to and used it in the world, rather, they bailed on the world and went straight for the selfish satisfaction of connecting through the world of the infinite.
These two didn’t have the gall to stay alive and use their talents for non-selfish means. The Hipsters and Hassidic communities in the greater Williamsburg area push the boundaries of what the human being is capable of (in their own ways) but that yearning to go the extra mile on everything that is not commanded not to do… they do it. There are positive ways this works, in the name of connecting! right? But its not all great, because as much as these guys push for greatness, sometimes they leave their bodies back on earth. And a body without a soul is, just an empty shell.