Monday, February 28, 2005

Kiddush Clubs

The Orthodox Union, in a long-overdue move, called for the elimination of Kiddush Clubs in member congregations. Oh boy.

As a brief background, Halacha dictates that on Shabbos, one may not eat until one makes or hears kiddush. Usually, davening will end at about 11:00- 11:30 and in many shuls, people will slip out during haftorah to participate in what’s fondly referred to as “kiddush club”. Kiddush clubs can range from an informal, impromptu gathering where they won’t be caught to lavish (almost catered) events with paying members and sponsors. There, the participants will use this opportunity to eat, drink some good scotch and bond. Call it the Shul Men’s Club, minus the leather armchairs and good cigars. Frequently the members will decide to return to services “a little happier” and I guess this let’s them finish this social obligation called Shabbos-morning-davening a little easier.

Parody aside, I can't understand the hubub about the call for this practice to end. Don’t get me wrong here. I’ve participated, and would probably still participate (to an extent), should one be available. I understand the need for a break and the opportunity for the boys to hang together (perhaps even clandestinely) and maybe even get a little tipsy.

But I’ll call a spade a spade. I’ve been to kiddush clubs where they have divrei torah’s scheduled every week together with the l’chaim’s. Gimme a break. Let’s not pretend that this gathering is one that is sanctioned by halacha and attempt to make it some sort of seudas mitzvah by saying a nice vort on the parsha. Like my Rabbi once said, if you’re going to participate in kiddush club, don’t even bother with the kiddush or making a bracha. Do you think that God has any interest in your bracha to him when you’re ditching shul? I don’t think so.


At 12:35 PM, Blogger Air Time said...

It is rabbis like yours who are ruining Judaism.

" Like my Rabbi once said, if you’re going to participate in kiddush club, don’t even bother with the kiddush or making a bracha. Do you think that God has any interest in your bracha to him when you’re ditching shul?"

This is as irresponsible a statement a rabbi can make.

Maybe we shouldn't bother with T'fillin tomorrow because we are going to talk lashon hora with the same mouth.

Or maybe we should just blow off the whole Shabbos because we accidentally turned on the light in the morning.

Maybe once we are late for davening we should just skip the whole thing.

Your rabbi needs to think before he opens his mouth.

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Just Passing Through said...

Air: While I agree that any Rabbi needs to think before they open their mouth, I disagree with the rest of your comment.

First of all, you missed the point. My main point was that while I think kiddush clubs will probably always be there, let's not legitimize them.

Second, I don't think your examples accurately compare. I think it's more like going to a hooker, but having her go the mikvah first...(crude example, but the point is made)

No, you should not blow off shabbos just because you accidentally turned on a light. No comparison there.

People come late for davening. That's normal. However, if davening means absolutely nothing to you, and coming late just minimizes your agony, and you just go and disturb the others who ARE davening, then yes. Stay home.

I'm not saying that if you're not going to be perfect, don't do it at all. But if I'm gonna have a cheeseburger, I'm not going to wash, say hamotzi, and bench with a mezuman afterwards. (who does mayim achronim these days anyway? buts that's a whole 'nother post)

At 1:16 PM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Saying divrei torah at the kiddush club. Wow. That's almost as cynical as extorting 100 million dollars and using some of the proceeds to build a yeshiva.

As far as the not making a brocha logic -- it don't fly. It could be read like this: "ou think G-d is interested in your Shabbos observance while you're at the kiddush club? If you're down there, you may as well be mixing margharitas with a electric blender, or heating up the kugel in oven, or not removing the cholent from the crock pot heat element before serving, or serving cheesebergers (come to think of it, I'm starting to like that that rabbi)"

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Just Passing Through said...

SW: Ok, then. So let's say that you should still make the bracha on what you eat. I still think that kiddush would be superfulous. Kiddush sanctifies the shabbos and doing it here makes a mockery of it. If you're gonna skip davening to grab a bite and socialize, fine. But let's leave kiddush and divrei torah out of it.

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

I disagree with your post. Here's why:
1) Brachos/kiddush relates to eating. a jew is supposed to sanctify the food he/she places in his/her mouth. On shabbos, you sanctify the eating by making kiddush. People who go to kiddush club, for the most part, share a flaw that they cannot withstand the lure of food, friends, fun. By the way, these are only flaws when they coincide with davening. As fun as they are, they are indicative of a lack of self control, even if it's a willing abdication of said control.

2) Take all the above, and attempt to justify it by saying d'var torah. That's a farce. It's just a cynical attempt to dress up a collective flaw as religious observance.

At 11:22 PM, Blogger Air Time said...

Only - I don't remember anyone saying Kiddush clubs should be legitimized. No one that I know of has the Kiddush Club as part of the official infrastructure of the shul. But it is not something that should be banned. In my experience, it is more disruptive to the people interested in haftorah to have the rest of us in shul talking than it is to have us walk out and have kiddush.

People come to davening for a lot of reasons. If social reasons weren't a factor, why does the average Jew living in America pass 4 shuls before he arrives at his shul. T'fillah and socializing go hand in hand. I have no problem if a person's main focus at shul is going to kiddush club. At least that person is at shul. There are plenty of places that are more fun to be on a Saturday morning, so the fact that a person chooses shul and Kiddush Club is not a negative in my book.

SW is correct. Part of eating in a halachic way involves kiddush. Interestingly, according to all opinions, you can make kiddush without eating anything. The rabbonim wanted to add status to kiddush, and make sure that it became a part of the weekly shabbos experience, so they made the connection between food and kiddush.

Furthermore, i agree with him when he says that kiddush club goers share a flaw. I disagree with him on what the flaw is, but that is probably more of an individual preference (to me, the flaw is a lack of understanding of haftorah, its purpose, and the benefits of listening to it. Sharing a flaw, though, does not mean that you should toss out kiddush.

And I agree with everyone here who says saying a dvar torah at kiddush club is dumb. Thats what the rabbis speech is for. Kiddush club is a time to debate the lockout, talk football, and wonder if the Tigers will ever play a meaningful game in June again.

At 4:57 AM, Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"Shul is a social entity?" "At least they're in shul?" Eh.
People go to shul and do shabbosly-correct things becasuse we live a social contract with our wives, kids, and local institutions. Even if we don't feel strongly about why we do certain things, we do them anyway. Shul on Shabbos is one of those things.

It's intellectually dishonest to equate going to shul on Shabbos with religious virtue. You don't get ostracized if you miss daily minyan, so many people blow it off. But if you stop going on Shabbos you're making a statement about your place in the community.

That's why you can't equate the kiddush club as a harmless tefila-lite option for those who supposedly were good enough to choose going to shul over the local bar.

Furthermore, the flaw IS about self-control. I barely understand an f-ing word of davening, or the Torah reading, much less the Haftorah (Thank you Toras F-ing Emes).

The reason I started to believe the KC was evil had to do with my feeling that going down just makes a joke of the whole religion. Not for being the pissed-off ignoramus that I am.


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