Chapter 10: Social Life: A Surprising Assessment

          By becoming an observant Jew you gain automatic membership to an exclusive club. Almost anywhere in the world you might meet up with other members of the club who would offer you hospitality, friendly advice and make contacts for you. You are truly connected on a global level.

          If a Jew living in New York has to be in Skokie, Illinois over the weekend it is an extremely good bet that another observant family will be found to host him given a few phone calls. If a Jew is going for medical treatments and needs help getting back and forth from those treatments, it is an extremely good bet that another observant Jew will be found to transport him within a few calls. If you find yourself at an airport with all your luggage and realize you must attend to something in another part of the terminal you would have no hesitation asking another observant Jew, who you have never met before, to watch your luggage until you return.

          Observant teenagers visiting Disney World during winter break, are likely to run into scores of people they know from their school or community; they are either friends or friends of friends. Most people who are not observant have difficulty comprehending how you could know so many people hundreds or thousands of miles from home. But the observant Jew finds this quite logical and ordinary. After all, we’re all part of the same club. We all go to the same school, the same synagogue, the same summer camp and most likely have some distant relative (somehow) in common.  

          If you should, heaven forbid, become ill, the Torah observant community has the best volunteer ambulance service (Hatzalah) in the United States to respond, and if necessary rush you to the nearest hospital.  More than likely, a bikur cholim (visiting the sick) society in your neighborhood will be visiting you in the hospital. When your time to go to a far better place finally comes (after a hundred and twenty), you can be sure the Jewish burial society will be facilitating the funeral proceedings.

Amazing, isn’t it, the incredible social network you become part of when you are a member of the observant community.

          The pluses of observant social life are numerous but there are social-life limitations that you should be aware of.

          Judaism places great emphasis upon friendship and social interaction.  There are, however, a few distinctions between religious social life and secular social life.  First and foremost is, not every type of social activity is permitted.  Jewish law would forbid attending some kinds of clubs and eating at non-Kosher restaurants.  There are definite restrictions on whom you can date and pre-marital intimacy. Don’t be frightened - most things a person enjoys doing or has an interest in, are appropriate activities and may be pursued and cultivated. 

          The Torah perspective about one's social life is that it should not be considered merely a way of "killing time" or purely the pursuit of pleasure; it should also be worthwhile and productive.

          In the remainder of this chapter we are going to discuss two major aspects of social life, friends and dating, and how they fit in with observance.


Last updated on: 01/20/2020
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