We had some visitors drop by this evening. Friends of ours who are more religious than we are (they’re Shomer Shabbat, we’re not… but that’s a post for another day) dropped by to visit – well, the mom and kids stayed, and the dad went off to shul for mincha (afternoon prayers).
You have to know that my house was a mess today. I spent most of yesterday evening and some of last night having painful, menstrual-type cramps that kind of felt like early labour, so I didn’t even clean up after shabbat dinner. There were toys all over the living room, food under N’s highchair in the dining room, and the kitchen counter was hiding under all the dirty dishes and pots. Charming.
And yet, I wasn’t self-conscious about the mess. It occurred to me after they left that I feel much less ashamed of our chaos in front of our religious friends. Why is that? Maybe it’s because they tend to have more kids (or be heading in that direction) and they already understand the reality of life with tiny mess-makers. Maybe it’s because I feel that they understand that receiving guests warmly is more important than having a spotless kitchen. Whatever the reason, I wonder whether I’m making an inappropriate generalization.
Observant Jews aren’t different from non-observant Jews in terms of human variation. Did that make sense? I mean to say that within the frum (religious) community there are certainly neat freaks, slobs, and everything in between. There are frum Jews who are judgmental and frum Jews who really aren’t, and some who are obsessed with appearances while others focus on substance over style. I know this.
So why do I generalize about frum Jews’ acceptance of my messy home? There are two very simple reasons:
1. Because the frum Jews who are my friends really do value substance over surface, and
2. Because I’ve been to their homes (insert evil cackle here), and it looks to me like we’re all in this mess together!