Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hashkafically Wrong?

I know a couple, that if you were to place them on the modern orthodox-yeshivish spectrum, one would be to the middle left and the other would be all the way to the right. No one, in their right minds, would say that they were for each other. To be clear: no one would say that they were right for each other.

They are also one of the most perfectly matched couples I've ever met. When I say perfect I mean, I can't imagine them being married to anyone else I know- which is thankfully a lot of people- but each other.

It's the oddest match. As I said, no one could have foreseen it. The shadchan did, but even she admitted it didn't make much sense to her. Same neighborhood and being bright are the only two things they have in common.

The more I think about it, the more unfathomable it becomes. They really make no sense for each other. From a resume perspective, I, who would never have been suitable for her, would have been a much more sensible match.

Their siblings, their parents, their relatives and their friends can make no sense of how they're such a perfect match.

The only explanation, is that there is no explanation.

And that leads me to the title of this post. Is there really such a thing as "hashkafically wrong"?

That question requires a bit more to it, so bear with me. A recent post of mine, Is Halacha Everything? spawned this post because the more I thought about it, the more I realized that a lot of halacha is perception of what halacha is.

I broke up with someone because of "hashkafa." When I think about it more, in retrospect, I realize that it was a hashkafic bias of what halacha is. I took the more stringent views, whereas she took the more lenient views.

Hashkafically, ironically, we worked. It was the halachic biases, based on our "mother hashkafos" that had us in disagreement.

The reason, I believe, this couple works, is because they have the same standard of halacha. At that point, it doesn't matter what one's hashkafos are.

As an example, having a television in one's house. That isn't a hashkafic issue really, but a perception of halacha. How do they each view bitul zman, how careful are they in guarding their eyes, etc.

There are very few purely hashkafic issues. The state of Israel, perhaps, is one. Clothing attire (dress pants and white shirt vs. jeans and a t-shirt), a second. Even this latter example has a halachic rationale to it. For those wondering, it's what the view is on the halacha of separating ourselves from gentiles. The former, maybe, is a perception of what ikvisa d'm'shica, "the birth pains of Messiah" means. But that's not really halacha.

What, I believe, we're really saying when we ask for a person's hashkafa is, do they place the same value on halacha as I do?

And if that's the case, we should stop asking about hashkafa. I have modern orthodox friends who are more stringent in their keeping of halacha than the yeshivish friends I have.

I have yet to meet a girl, who, knowing how I view halacha, has cared about how I dress. Nor have they cared about how I view the state of Israel. All hashkafic issues are thrown to the wayside once our respective views on halacha have been clarified for each other.

In summation, stop asking about hashkafa. While that may give an indication on what their stance is regarding halacha, it's not absolute. Rarely is it even accurate.


  1. The state of Israel arguement is more of "hitchaltah digeula" than ikvisa dimishicha.

    1. Thank you for nitpicking on a detail that is all but insignificant in context of the post.

  2. Correct me if I'm misinterpreting your point, but it seems like you're saying that halacha does not vary and only our perceptions of it do. I think it's important to remember that halacha itself is not always black and white. I'm not even talking about machmir vs. meikil - rabbis/poskim oftentimes have legitimate differences of opinion. When people differ in their observance of halacha, it might not be an issue of hashkafa at all. It could just be that they follow different lines of thought within the halachic system.

    1. Misinterpreting, sorry for not being clearer. Halacha, of course, does vary. I'm asserting that, oftentimes, these legitimate differences of opinion have a basis in hashkafa. That's not always the case, but I think it is more often than not.

      The main point I'm driving at is that asking someone for their hashkafa doesn't address the question of: Are they on the same page as me religiously?

      "When people differ in their observance of halacha, it might not be an issue of hashkafa at all." I agree 100%. I said something similar in the post: I have modern orthodox friends who are more stringent in their keeping of halacha than the yeshivish friends I have. This is just one example of many of how hashkafa can skew perception of the reality of what keeping halacha is. Hashkafa isn't halacha, it's halacha.

  3. I think that it really depends. Sure, hashkafa can be like political views. I don't care if I marry someone who disagrees with me there. And there are smaller things, like TV/Movies, black hat or jeans, etc, that don't matter really in halacha. But folks have begun categorizing women not being tznius or guys not being shomer negiah as 'hashkafa' (when it's actually a halachic issue).

    1. Precisely! That's what (I meant for) my final two sentences to say. We are categorizing, but it's way wrong. There are topics that can be called hashkafa; I just don't think we're using the term in the right way at all.