Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

(also posted on www.torahlab.org/thestorysofar

The following posting was added to a discussion group yesterday. My wife and I were arguing about whether it was serious or a joke. (my opinion: anything signed by ‘Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells’ is by definition a joke – that is the joke pseudonym of choice).

[Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells was the nom de plume of a prolific writer of letters to the "Thunderer" - the London Times - during the first half of the 20th century. His alias became almost as widely known as the title of the Fleet Street newspaper itself, and was synonymous with diatribe. He delivered scathing attacks on organisations and individuals that came to his ultra-critical attention.
He was self opinionated and convinced of his own infallibility. He was the quintessential Englishman. But what marks him out in particular is that, despite being regularly published, he was never identified, and his real name remains a mystery to this day. He was simply "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells". – according to www.disgustedoftunbridgewells.co.uk ]

Here is the post:

Subject: Re Noise-zemiros regulation required

I am sick and tired of this so-called 'singing' late at night on Fridays when i am trying to sleep, after 9pm.
Some sort of regulation must surely be in order- perhaps some sort of
'mishmeres hazemiros' , a volunteer group to go round on Friday evening and request people who are singing to stop. Please contact me if you are available to attend a preliminary meeting.
If people wish to celebrate Shabbos they can learn Torah. Quietly. If the Gedolim had wanted us to sing zemiros they would have published seforim with them in. Obviously that is not the case.
Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

The issue of performing my ‘mitzvah’ at the expense of someone else is an old chestnut that the mussar writers love to talk about. Especially at selichos time, when the alarm clocks wake up the whole neighborhood (transgressing the Torah prohibition of stealing (sleep) not to mention putting a stumbling block in front of the neighbors who are trying to ‘love their fellow Jew’) in order to say extra prayers before G-d asking Him to have mercy on them and forgive their sins.

Another classic (and this one is for men only I’m afraid) is the old ‘tzitzis slap’ from the guys in the row in front wrapping their tallis around their head (and into my cheek!)

Or how about speeding home in the car in order to daven with a minyan. Endangering the lives of others presumably takes second place to the importance of a quorum.

So, perhaps consideration is in order for those who indulge in lively zemiros on an Leil Shabbos.

However, I particularly like the idea of a 'mishmeres hazemiros’ (aka hear no evil) to control noise levels. We could combine them with the tzniyus patrol (see no evil) and the anti lashon hora brigade (speak no evil).
In fact, I have taken the liberty of training the first batch of new recruits already (no offence intended to those who take the lashon hora brigading or tzniyus patrolling seriously)

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