Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gluttony

I was out of town this past weekend at a Bat Mitzvah in the midwest. My friends, the hosts, are rather wealthy, and put out QUITE a spread at the kiddush in shul. QUITE a spread. There was some really, really good food and quite a lot of it.

So why do normally calm, polite, courteous people think it's okay to behave like animals at kiddushes? I watched in awe as people shoved, pushed, climbed over each other, reached around people, etc. to get to the food. I watched them pile about 3 or 4 meals worth of pastrami, chicken, chulent, deli-roll, dolmas, rice, wings, oh, and of course, salad on their plates. These are not starving, under-fed people. These are people who just conducted themselves with the utmost decor while immersed in prayer. And then as soon as the food came out, they sank to the lowest levels of gluttony.

I didn't even try to reach any of the food tables. No way I was going to fight that throng of animals. I stood in line at the drinks bar (at least there was a line) and waited patiently for my Diet Coke while four people cut in front of me. I watched as a man ordered a scotch (a very expensive brand) while he continuously popped 1, 2, 3, 4 rolls of pastrami into his mouth with his fingers. Not sure if he even chewed. I looked over as a waitress tried to bring a heavy-looking tray of brisket spears to the buffet, and never made it, as people stopped her to grab the meat off the tray before she even put it down. Watched as someone tore off a hunk of bread before the Bat Mitzvah girl's father could even make haMotzei on the two enormous challahs. Watched as someone dove into the relish platter with his fingers because someone else was using the serving utensil.

Of course I joked about this with my friends, who waited a full hour until the tables thinned out a bit before they even tried to get some food. But why is this behavior deemed acceptable? The Christians have named gluttony as one of their seven deadly sins. Why have we set the bar so much lower when it comes to this sort of behavior? Why do we laugh off rudeness and piggery? Aren't we classier than this?

4 comments:

Nice Jewish Guy said...

Interesting to see that this isn't just a "New York" area problem (unless there were a lot of NYers there). I see the same thing and see the same way. I see ten year old kids pile four or five of an item from a single tray onto their plates. I told one kid- gently, but reproachingly- that maybe, since there was just one tray of these items, he might want to put a few back so that others could have as well. And do you know what he did? He argued with me.

What do you say to these kind of behaimas?

There must be a way to control traffic at these affairs. I think that if there are servers at serving stations it might be a bit better, but maybe not. Perhaps a certain table configuration could limit congestion and shoving and promote flow.

WebGirl said...

Or maybe we should just teach our children not to be rude little pigs and maybe we should act like human beings and not like horses at a trough. Geez, aren't we supposed to be a "mamlechet Kohanim" and all?

Nice Jewish Guy said...

I thought I had made that point-- but, yeah, obviously.

AJ said...

Thanks for speaking out against this type of behavior. The Jewish community definitely needs mussar in this area.