Remember When?

Remember when eating meat was a huge deal?  How you’d get so excited about it, because normally is was only for shabbos?  And if you were eating meat mid-week it meant there was some special occassion?  When meat meant “happiness”?

No?  Really?  You’re not from Medeival Europe?

Wait, what do you mean meat’s no big deal?  You still have to go down to the farm, buy an animal, hire a shochet to kill it properly, bring it home, clean out all the gross parts, salt it, kasher it, then cut it up and find a way to preserve it, most likely inviting over a bunch of people to share it with you, right?  That’s still how you get meat, right?  I mean, meat still means “party” right?

Oh.  No?  You can get meat anywhere?  Really?  What’s SeamlessWeb?  What’s a Deli?

So you’re saying meat’s no big deal anymore, and you pretty much eat some sort of it every day for lunch?  By yourself?  Not at a party?  Really?

Then what are you stopping for during the nine days?

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12 responses to “Remember When?

  1. Wasn’t actually sure where you were going with this until the end, nice little twist. You seem to be implying that since meat is so commonplace, that it shoudn’t be considered a sign of simcha and I readily agree.

    I like the logic, but honestly, there is something to be said about refraining from things you enjoy. (I should probably not watch TV, especially with all those outback steakhouse commercials.)

    It doesn’t help much but I highly recommend a fleishig shalosh seudos this shabbos – you will not be disappointed.

    By the way, anyone want to break into a bookstore with me to steal some Harry Potter copies so we can read them shabbos morning?

  2. Cute. But I’d almost do that in the reverse: If anything, it wasn’t such a loss back then – they rarely ate it anyway. They went from eggs and cheese to… eggs and cheese. But nowadays, it’s a real loss for us. We’re so used to variety, being stuck with many different versions of fish and cheese gets old pretty fast… and if you’re like my in-laws, you’re doing this for 3 weeks. (OTOH, they get to do everything else until shavua shechal bo…)

  3. Ezzie, that’s a very Catholic idea. The three weeks/nine days aren’t Lent or Ramadan. They aren’t about self-punishment or self-sacrifice. They are about mourning. The purpose of not eating meat is because “meat” is/was synonymous with “party.” Now that it’s no longer true, it no longer applies.

    Borrowing this “real loss” idea is only a post-hoc rationalization to try and fit a square peg in a round hole.

    I don’t like that. I like being able to say “hey, the reasoning for this doesn’t apply anymore, let’s not do it anymore.”

    If it “wasn’t such a loss back then” then why did the idea start? Because the idea isn’t “giving something up” (a la Lent) it’s getting into a no party, mourning, state of mind.

  4. Pingback: That’s What I Was Trying to Say « The Noy G Show

  5. To clarify, I’m not saying that it is actually more of a loss now. I was just understanding the post the same way Jeremy did, that ‘refraining from something you enjoy’ is the purpose.

    I don’t like that. I like being able to say “hey, the reasoning for this doesn’t apply anymore, let’s not do it anymore.”

    To some extent, I’ll agree with that.

    If it “wasn’t such a loss back then” then why did the idea start? Because the idea isn’t “giving something up” (a la Lent) it’s getting into a no party, mourning, state of mind.

    I agree. Which is part of why I don’t get the lovely siyumim that people use to get out of it – it’s one thing if you happened to have it fall out then; okay, have the well-deserved siyum. But to specifically schedule it like that? Eh.

    All that said, I still think that we’re understanding party differently. I’m assuming that a party back then was more of a feast – and at a feast of today, we do have a lot more meat than other foods. The question should be why things like chicken, or perhaps even the deli you mentioned, are included as well; but perhaps (and I don’t like this reason, but just suggesting it) it’s because we don’t really have feasts as often today, and there wouldn’t be any loss. People wouldn’t feel the mourning… so we’ve allowed all fleishigs to become the rule so we do ‘feel a loss’ – even if that wasn’t the original way of mourning.

  6. I still think that we’re understanding party differently

    Party, Feast, whatever; that’s semantics. My point is that the focus wasn’t/isn’t/ought not be about the food served and what type it is, but the gathering of people. Look, for instance, at the “party” restriction on someone in aveilus: it isn’t about what food is served, it’s about how many people are going to be there. Two families getting together for a BBQ, probably OK. 30 people for a milchig meal? Not so OK.

    What I was trying to say in the post is that “meat” used to be a proxy for “gathering of a lot of people for a joyous occassion.” And since “gathering of a lot of people for a joyous occassion” is what we’re trying to avoid, we used the proxy meat. But the proxy doesn’t apply anymore, so the restriction on the proxy should be lifted, while maintaining the true restriction (ie: no parties; aveilus)

    Notwithstanding the gemara that says “ain simcha ela b’basar v’yayin,” is there really any joy when I have a dry turkey sandwich at my desk at work? (The answer is no. There is no joy.)

  7. “I don’t like that. I like being able to say ‘hey, the reasoning for this doesn’t apply anymore, let’s not do it anymore.'”

    I understand this rationale but there are tons of things we do (in the context of religion or otherwise) b/c they are part of our tradition or simply for nostalgic reasons. They don’t necessarily make sense but they are part of our tradition and should be upheld. Does it make sense to wash our hands (at least 4 oz. twice on each hand) before eating bread but not before other foods? Wouldn’t reason argue that washing your hands with soap and water before you eat anything make a lot more sense (no cup necessary)? Same thing w/ people who have the tradition of Mayim Achronim (no more sodomite salt that I know of). Even the concept of doing work on shabbos does not always make rational sense. For example, it would be far more restful to drive to a friends house for lunch as opposed to walking 20 minutes and yet later day achronim have interpreted electricity to be akin to starting a fire. It may be irrational but it’s part of our mesorah. I guess it’s a fine line and everyone decides where to personally draw that line.

  8. Rob,

    You have to differentiate between minhagim that are create to reflect the general attitudes of a time, and halachah.

    Shabbos is halachah. If those that know pasken halachah and say that electricity, a new invention, fall on one side of the line and not the other, then that is the decision.

    Minhagim are different. Take, for instance, a funny example. A shteeble starts in a small house that has a crooked door. To get in, you have to bow your head a little. After a generation, everyone instinctively bows their head to come in, to avoid the door. Then they build a beautiful new building. And the first time through the door, everyone bows their head. A guest asks why? “That’s just our minhag.” That’s how somethings start. But the reason doesn’t apply anymore, why still do the “thing”?

  9. “You have to differentiate between minhagim that are create to reflect the general attitudes of a time, and halachah.”

    Agreed 100% but as far as I know not eating meat during the nine days has become part of mainstream halacha. Not sure if it is derived from minhag yisrael k’din but it is certainly accepted as halacha nowadays.

  10. I don’t think it’s halachah. It’s very minhag driven. Some people do three weeks, some due shavua sh chal bo.

  11. …and yet we hold that minhag yisrael k’halacha anyway, so it would still apply. (Nice – the old DB post of the ducking head, slightly changed… 🙂 )

    What I was trying to say in the post is that “meat” used to be a proxy for “gathering of a lot of people for a joyous occassion.” And since “gathering of a lot of people for a joyous occassion” is what we’re trying to avoid, we used the proxy meat. But the proxy doesn’t apply anymore, so the restriction on the proxy should be lifted, while maintaining the true restriction (ie: no parties; aveilus)

    That’s basically what I was saying regarding feast, but I think you’re wrong on the conclusion – when do you see people having over 25/50/100 people for a meal where it isn’t meat? For any “real” occasion, you’re not serving pizza, and you’re probably not serving deli, either. You’re serving meat.

    Back to your back and forth with Rob, I think his point was that to some extent, a LOT of halacha is derived from what made sense at the time. By Shabbos, that meant taking the concept (no work) and applying laws to it (no fire). Nowadays, there’s room to say that doesn’t make sense (a – is electricity fire; b – even if it is, why should that be considered ‘work’). The same is true here: You have the concept (mourning) and applying laws to it (no celebrations, no meat like at a celebration), but there’s room to say that doesn’t make sense.

  12. I grew up only eating meat on Shabbat and Yom Tov, and that is still the way it works in my life for the most part. It’s too expensive to eat all the time, and it isn’t healthy. Also, I hate being fleishig for six hours afterwards.

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