I suppose this isn't really a frum issue because people all over the world are snooty and look down their noses at others. But because there is a frum flavor of this and it came back to bite me over Yom Tov, I'll go on with it.
Over Yom Tov I met some new people who moved in one block down from me this past week. I'm not the most friendly person in the world (I'm more the quiet, blend-into-the-background type) and will rarely go out of my way to meet someone new. And yet, I always want to meet new people. So, when, as I was walking back from shul this man comes out of a house and wishes us "Good Yom Tov," I was quite happy.
We talked for a few minutes outside his house and discovered that he had moved in just this past week. He invited me to bring my family by (especially since he had a son in between my sons' ages and a daughter about the age of my daughter) later in the afternoon. I met no one from the family except him at that point.
Well, after the seuda, I drag the Mrs. out of the house, along with the kids to go meet the new neighbors. We were invited into the house, met his relatives, family and friends and made to feel very welcome.
Except that we (my wife and I) didn't feel all that comfortable. Maybe it was the way the wife was wearing a denim skirt on Yom Tov. Maybe it was their older daughter (ninth grade) going around nearly sleveless. Maybe it was the fact that none of the women in the house covered their hair.
We made polite conversation for about 45 minutes or so, welcomed them to the neighborhood, and then led them to a local playground where there were about 50-100 frum families playing. I introduced the husband to some friends of mine who were at the park.
But as we were walking (and out of earshot of the new homeowner), my wife told me that she didn't think that they were "our kind of people." I didn't let my wife in on it at the time (although I guess when she reads this [she does know about this blog] she'll know) but I was shocked at her statement for two reasons: (1) she's not usually a judgemental person and, more importantly, (2) I found myself agreeing with her a bit.
And that's where my trouble lies. I've always been a bit of a maverick. I don't wear a hat, despite traveling in communities where that is considered the norm. I wear a leather kippa almost as a statement of repudiation against my high school's overly fundamentalist hashkafas and the way they tried to "brainwash" me to them. But yet, I don't want to be thought of as less for that - indeed, I specifically try to make the point that I'm *NOT* less because of my leather kippa - I'm not less because I don't dress in the typical yeshivish fashion - and yet here I am looking down at other people for doing just that. It's disturbing to me, and very troubling.
If it was just me, I think that I might be able to look the other way (so to speak). But I'm trying to instill some Torah values in my kids - and among those values that my wife and I are trying to instill are that there are *some* standards for dress and modesty that must be adhered to. I won't demand that my son wear a hat when he's older and out of yeshiva, becuase I don't. But I will demand that my daughter wear sleeves. And I want my daughter to grow up to cover her hair when she gets married. I want my children to associate with people who will reinforce those messages, not undermine them. And, of course, then I think back to what other people think of me - how I might be viewed as undermining the the lessons and values that they want taught to their children - even as I insist that those values aren't necessarily valid or always true.
The snooted (me) has become the snootee in a fashion, and I don't really like it very much.
This has truly given me some food for thought.