Too Many Boxes
Updated: Sep 15, 2022
Many guys will tell me they hate labels. Great! I also, theoretically, hate labels. Hashkafic, political, pop culturally, emotionally labels suck when they are put on me. However, there is nothing I love more than putting labels on others. After all, everyone is far more simple than I am.
Anyway: the boys will continue, if you had to pick a label, what would be yours?
Probably the one that says "do not drive or operate heavy machinery on this medication."
No silly! They are asking about your relationship with G-D! They want to know how religious you are in your public mitzvos (tznius, kosher, shabbos) your private mitzvos (davening, believing that G-D exists, not bowing to Taylor Swift) and where you plan on sending your kids to middle school.
Of course, I want to know this about the guys I date as well. How frum can I tell people I am if I marry you? How much stuff can we get away with at home when no one is looking? Where are the boundaries? What stuff are we as a couple going to drop because we consciously decided that we are just not going to ask about that? What things will we hurriedly add when someone loses a job or gets sick G-D forbid and then immediately drop when that thing is resolved?
These are all things you want to know before your marriage because G-D forbid your husband comes home one day and says 'honey, I spoke to my Rabbi about spiritual growth and he thinks maybe we should stop teaching our kids feminism from the Handmaid's Tale' and then you have to get a divorce because of course that's how your kids should learn feminism.
So you give the shadchan or the person you are dating a label so they have an understanding of where you are without getting into intense theological discussions about how really you can ask a goy to check the baseball score on shabbos because they were going to touch their phone anyway.
But the problem is that as people become frum, frum people get more exposure to the world, and the very definitions of frumkeit are in dispute, all of these labels are wearing thin. Modern orthodox has been stretched so thin that there are probably nuns who consider themselves modern orthodox.
So I am going to use my somewhat biased, somewhat limited experiences in the world of the Jews to make a few new labels for everyone to use. Now, when you say you don't like labels, it won't be a lie to sound nonconformist. It will be because I somehow deeply offended you somewhere in here.
Hasidic or Hipster?
Chassidish Cult: Kiryas Yoel, Monroe, other Chassidish communities where it is an actual law in the town to be tznius. Members of this group may have met less non Jews in their lives than they have fingers. They will likely all marry each other.
Chassidish Subway: The Chassids of Boro Park, Williamsburg, main Monsey, and other locations where if you wander too far while you are walking you will find yourself in the other kind of ghetto. A lot of these ones are super duper rich. But no matter how poor the others are, they own property in upstate New York anyway. The entirety of 47th street in Manhattan is populated by these guys.
Chassidish Instagram: The ones you see on Simcha Spot who look super frum but are also spending 14 hours a day on Instagram. The Tuna Beigels of tomorrow.
Chassidish JSwipe: Buzzfeed has articles about these guys and how they sneak into the city to see prostitutes. The women are equally as terrible because they go to movies. They are both trying to hide their accents which makes their accents worse than if they weren't hiding them.
NeoChassids: Part of a smaller group of Chassidim and are super fancy, super spiritual, and super duper into alcohol. Always too loud for whatever situation they are in.
Rebbe Level 5: The closest thing we have to missionaries, these are the ones who have wallpapered their house in pictures of the Rebbe, have carved his likeness into the hood of their cars, and will randomly grab you off the street, pull you into a van and take you to a basement to put on tefillin.
Rebbe Level 4: These are the ones on Shlichus in random places such as Bora Bora and North of 96th Street. They have the Rebbe all over their house, but they refrain from the car likeness/face tattoo because they need people to think they're totally regular dudes.
Rebbe Level 3: The same as level 4 but not in Shlichus.
Rebbe Level 2: The ones who are definitely Chabad but are slightly embarrassed by it and keep their Rebbe dolls in their bedrooms so company won't see.
Rebbe Level 1: You live in Crown Heights because you like food and noise but you have ZERO Rebbes in your house. You've never made a shabbos meal, you just drop from Chabad kiddush to Chabad kiddush until you black out. When your cousin tells you about a Vazikin minyan you have a heart attack. You also don't own a menorah, shabbos candles, lulav and eesrog or tefillin, you just use the guy on the corner's.
Yeshivish No Internet: This is a level of yeshivishness where you can't really hold most mainstream jobs because you need internet for everything. So you are mostly limited to organizations owned and run by fellow jews. You're the reason we can't see women in Mishpacha Magazine. Thanks for that, the ads are scary enough already.
Yeshivish Annoying: These fine folks discovered Whatsapp and are super angry about it and how we are all wasting our time on social media instead of learning torah. Therefore they post on their Whatsapp stories 70 times a day, all about things they heard from a neighbor or friend. They are all subscribed to Ben Shapiro's podcast and use his picture instead of porn. These are the ones who are most into Yichus.
Yeshivish Rich: You have no idea how they are living the way they are living but somehow these people walk onto the plane first and the pilot comes out and makes sure they are satisfied physically before they sit down. You can try to figure out where the money came from but until Netflix does a twelve episode deep dive the rest of us are just going to sit at our Seder tables going "So this year they're in Sicily for Pesach. What does he do again? Something with insurance or nursing homes or HVAC installs? Maybe a combo of all three? So how????" We hate these ones because regular people in the world are casual and that has seeped into modern orthodoxy as well but thanks to these guys we all still have to wear heels on days they read from the Torah.
Yeshivish Poor: Same as above but the Seder conversation is: "I just heard that the school took away free tuition for teachers so now the Weisenbachfelds have to pay tuition and they make a combined $22,000 a year how on earth do they put food on the table, this shank bone alone cost $21,000." The fancy clothes are even more inexplicable in this case.
Yeshivish Out of Town: They may be doctors or rabbis but they all have something in common: they get away with some type of in town murder because there are no rules outside of the tri-state. Some of them go to movies. Others watch the commercials during the Superbowl. Some even watch the halftime show. Some of them let their kids hang out with people of the opposite gender. Some don't wear pantyhose. Some wear jean skirts. They're still Yeshivish, they just found the place that lets them do that one thing they can't live without. They trade the jean skirt or whatever for paying $10 for a pint of milk.
Yeshivish Baalei Teshuva: Someone, somewhere gave a sermon or speech or class or just casually mentioned that cutting their fingernails in the right order was an important mitzvah (aren't they all!) so now their house is covered in posters about the order of fingernail cuttings, the kids have a song, and the dad slapped his six year old across the face when he discovered she forgot. Every Baal Teshuva family has this mitzvah and more likely than not it has to do with tin foil. They ask Sheilos about everything. They call their rabbi to ask if Ibuprofen is Kosher. Their house is so clean for Pesach that you could perform open heart surgery on the couch and it would be more sterile than an operating room. Their biggest challenge in life will be accepting how weird the shidduch system is.
Yeshivish Sports/Politics: These can be any of the above. They just break all of their rules for their team/politician. Meaning they can be the frummest person on Earth until the Cleveland Browns play and suddenly it's Shabbos in a tailgate eating beef nachos with Gary from Indiana. Or they believe in the Torah until their politician says to overthrow the US government and then there is no Torah there is only Twitter. A lot of people are these but they're hiding it for their kids' shidduchim.
Modern Yeshivish: Ah, now we come to the good part. The ones that are super fluid and keep exploding slash the other ones are also fluid but I am not adjacent to them so I do not know them as well. Here we have Modern Yeshivish. This when your family/community is Yeshivish and you aren't but you want to be accepted while also being honest so you add the word modern and call it a day. You openly do things that are definitely not Yeshivish but you also deride modern orthodoxy because it's in. Your biggest fear is that your kids will flip out. You talk about your job way too much.
Yeshivish Lazy: These people were raised Yeshivish and at some point stopped trying so they live at this weird place where G-D forbid they would never eat pork but they also haven't davened in eight years and they light Shabbos candles after the eighteen minutes every single week. They clean their ovens for Pesach and that's it. They get all of their clothes from a grab bag in Goodwill and just wear it all. One day it's Junees the next it's pants and none of it makes sense. They go to the office on Purim and Tisha b'Av. They don't know what Hoshana Raba is and at this point they are too scared to ask.
Yeshivish Rebellious: Something happened to these people as children and now they need validation. While many people decide that Orthodoxy isn't the right way of life for them and then create new lives for themselves, these people are attached to Orthodoxy so that they can go against it. They have tiktoks with screen-names like "Beis Yaakov Detention Whore" or "No Filter Smart Phone." Then, they make elaborate videos showing themselves eating unchecked lettuce and talking about how it tastes better. You can tell they were Yeshivish because they dress like the cast of Euphoria (they never learned how to just be normal, not Jewish and not prostitute chic) and their haircuts are still weirdly beis yaakov. They have the same sexual maturity as thirteen year old boys: they talk about genitals and orgasms constantly to the point where you are like "Ma'am, we are at a funeral." They live directly outside of an eruv so they can show that they carry outside of the eruv to the people inside of it. Again if they wanted to leave they would, but they don't. They just want your attention and their father's love.
Yeshivish Conservative: You don't keep Kosher or Shabbos or anything but you live in Monsey and therefore get offended when someone calls you modern.
Modern Orthodox Machmir Cult: The same twenty people who all went to the same two elementary schools and high schools and seminaries/yeshivos and then all went to YU together and go to their camp reunion every summer and give the same amount of money to the same charities and all wear matching clothes to everything and everyone is an accountant but they randomly have smicha and all of their voices sound exactly the same you could blindfold their spouses and they wouldn't be able to pick out their partner's voice.
Modern Orthodox Machmir Not Cult: You are Modern Orthodox and you do mitzvos and know their sources and stuff but you didn't go to the same camp as everyone else and once you heard a rabbi who was Chassidish give a speech so now you are exotic in the world of modern orthodoxy.
(By the way being Yeshivish is also a cult it is just a larger cult so it feels less like a cult which I guess means it is just better at indoctrination. )
Modern Orthodox Annoying: FYI this list is wrong, and you are wrong for reading it and don't you know that it's offensive to group people? This is a special sect of modern orthodoxy for the most annoying contrarian assholes you know. I'm sure Yeshivish has this too, but I'm not tznius enough for them to talk to me. FYI you got the wrong degree, you have the wrong job, you make a different amount of money from what you say you do, and for whatever reason this random Modox person knows better.
Modern Orthodox Republican: Where you live in Modern Orthodoxy but your home? Your home is the Republican party.
Modern Othodox Democrat Where you live in Modern Orthodoxy but your home? Your home is the Democratic party.
Modern Orthodox Baal Teshuva: You will spend the rest of your life trying to nail the accent. It's more nasal.
Modern Orthodox Middle of the Road: You are in the part of the cult that didn't get smicha.
Modern Orthodox Lazy: You were raised Modern Orthodox and still consider yourself Modern Orthodox but you cannot name 4 mitzvos you do on a daily basis. Every hashkafa is fine to eat.
Modern Orthodox Rebellious: Uch it's so hard to rebel when your parents continue to accept and love you no matter what so you need to say "eff you" by either becoming Yeshivish or Amish. Your parents will probably still love you they are well adjusted like that.
Modern Orthodox COVID: You began wearing a mask in March 2014 just in case and the straps are now more a part of your body than your fingers. You have written SEVERAL angry letters to your Rabbi accusing him of murdering babies when he allowed the congregation to Daven in a tent...when they were all vaccinated in October 2021. You have vaccines for Monkeypox, Smallpox, Bigpox, Orangepox, Apoxonyourhouse, Apoplexy, and Yellow Fever. You take PREP for HIV even though you will die a virgin because sex is disgusting. You are also married with two kids.
Open Orthodox: Love is an open door and you best feel G-D's love by opening doors no one wanted open. You own a Shatnez store on Etsy because no fabrics should have to conform to our patriarchal ideals.
Conservadox: This is conservative where you have a terrible voice and can't lein which is half of conservative Judaism from what I know from TV.
Pick Your Own Judaism: There are 613 mitzvos but you've picked your 10-20 favorites to focus really hard on. You never carry anything on Shabbos, including clothes, so you walk down Ocean Parkway nude. Or you make an immaculately Kosher Pesach but you break it at McDonalds.