Wednesday, December 31, 2008


A generous person gives bread; a truly generous person sells instead.

Williamsburg Chassidim are generous. Williamsburg is home to a myriad of charity institutions, and the posters on its streets testify on the many charitable fundraisers held within its borders.

No beggar will be left to sleep on the street in Williamsburg. A good-hearted fellow will surely offer an invite for bed and breakfast. No place to stay for Shabbos? A couple phone calls will locate an accommodation—free of charge. It will cost you, though—discomfiture.

I don’t like to stay as a guest with strangers. I like to pay for my lodging and dining. I want to be my own master, not a slave to my host. I want to conduct myself the way I see fit, not do as the Romans do.

But Williamsburg has no hotels, at least not one listed in the yellow pages. I learned that the hard way. When my Willie relative told me:

An event I make
Would you partake?
I knew right there
I should prepare
To begin
Search for an inn

There is no hotel
No family I can tell
Nor a contact in my cell
Where should I dwell?

Lodge is a headache
I will stay awake
Lean on the stairs
Slouch on two chairs
Feet raised on a bin
Palms under my chin

I guess land is so scarce in Chassidic sections of Brooklyn that investors have to choose the most profitable project to develop. Will a hotel make any profits? More so than putting up twenty-five apartments? Nah. Half the guests will ask for a discount on the basis of emissaries of exempt organization, or pay with third-party checks payable to cash, of course. Then they will have to make special pricing for kollel yungerleit. No hotels then.

Hence, Let’s go to a motel maybe, no we’ll have to pay.


  1. There's something nice about that, I always thought...the fact that people are willing to open their doors to others. That's what I actually liked about Orthodoxy, especially when I was in Israel...

    What exactly do you mean by "discomfiture?" Like physically not comfortable or if you're not on the same religious page as your hosts?

  2. Hospitality is nice. Of course it is.
    As a guest, I have to adjust my manners to match those of my host. I can’t sip beer from the bottle or walk around in underwear. Frivolous, you might say. But the adoption of a stricter code of etiquette is stressful.

    I also have to bear more religious scrupulosity. I once stayed along with my brother, a very frum guy. I was constantly put under his halachaic microscope. At night, I couldn’t fall asleep because he insisted the Shabbos candles must be lit in the bedroom. In the morning he woke me to Shema.


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