More NHS woes. I wrote a rant here, but then deleted it. I had to make a lot of phone calls and still didn’t get my olanzapine. Mum did some more phoning for me (I was peopled out after the calls I made, and in autistic black-and-white thinking mode) and it looks like I should be able to get the olanzapine tomorrow, but I won’t feel happy until I’ve actually collected it. And I feel vaguely bad that in the end I dropped out before the crucial final call and my Mum got the answer I wanted for me.

It occurs to me that the NHS is less different to the US free market system than the NHS’s defenders admit. In the USA, treatment is triaged largely based on wealth. In the NHS, it’s triaged based on blind luck, location and the confidence and ability to navigate bureaucracy. I strongly suspect that, other than luck, those factors work more in favour of the educated middle classes than other people.

***

Other than that, today was OK. I overslept a little, rushed and caught up the time, but then spent too long davening (praying) and was a few minutes later than usual for work, although I don’t have an official start time. J was leaving early today, so I was allowed to finish early too; add in another trip to the bank, and I wasn’t actually in the office that long. I did a little more work on my novel in the evening, which may have been a mistake as I was tired and doing other things, but I wanted to have something to show for leaving work early other than all those phone calls to the NHS that went nowhere. I somehow managed to fit in some Torah and speaking to PIMOJ too. I’m not quite sure how I fitted everything in; I feel exhausted now and it’s rather late. I’m glad it’s nearly Shabbat as I’m likely to be burnt out tomorrow.

***

Second rant: today I’ve been pondering the difficult of the mitzvah (commandment) of loving my neighbour, when so many of my Haredi (ultra-Orthodox Jewish) neighbours (literal neighbours as well as metaphorical ones) are breaking the lockdown. I blogged last summer about the illegal minyan (prayer service) happening three times a day in our next-door neighbours’ garden. That’s stopped since the places of worship reopened, and they did at least make a vague show of social distancing, but you can still see loads of Haredi children going to school every weekday. I appreciate that Haredi households can have eight kids crowded in one house with few or even no computers or internet phones, not good conditions for home schooling. Even so, the numbers of children still going to school seems troubling. And that’s without mentioning the large weddings still going on, reported in the (non-Haredi) Jewish press. Or the jaw-droppingly awful super-spreader event like the wedding of a Hasidic rebbe’s son in America that had hundreds or even thousands guests from across the world, or the funerals for Haredi rabbis that had tens of thousands of mourners.

It’s very hard, in these cases, to feel at all loving towards people who are living in a different reality and/or who feel no obligation at all to anyone outside of their narrow community, not just in terms of COVID, but also in terms of giving the Jewish community as a whole a bad press and providing openings for antisemites everywhere (“Jews spread plague” is a libel that has been around for centuries, baselessly until now). Bear in mind that the Haredi community comprises only about 10% of the global Jewish population, but is easily the most visible part of it, and the part that non-Jews see as most authentically Jewish. Newspaper articles about Jews are invariably illustrated with pictures of bearded Hasidic men, even if the article has little to do with Hasidim in particular.

I find myself wondering what figures like Rav Kook and Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, notable for their love for all Jews, would think or do. It’s hard to feel respect for people’s (genuine) dedication to prayer and Torah study when they are blatantly ignoring the commandments to follow the secular law of the country, preserve life and not give the Jewish God and Judaism a bad name. In fact, even thinking about trying to feel love for them just provokes the opposite, more anger and hatred. But God wants us to love idiots and scoundrels as well as pious people.

***

I’ve broken my iPod headphones (earbuds) again. I can’t seem to get them to last more than six months. I get a lot of use out of them (almost daily), but I feel they should last longer. I wonder if they aren’t built to be worn primarily while walking and jogging, or if I wind them too tightly or violently when putting them away. I can be heavy-handed with things.

***

PIMOJ and I watched WandaVision separately “together.” It was odd. I like odd, but I’m not sure what it was trying to do. Having looked briefly at the Wikipedia page (trying not to get spoilered), I think it is supposed to imitate TV from different decades, but it felt like the line between pastiching bad TV and actually being bad TV is a thin one.

13 thoughts on “Rants (Redacted and Otherwise)

  1. You’ve got to wonder how anyone would think it would be possible to have a “secret” wedding with thousands of people? Thousands of shtreimel-wearing men aren’t exactly subtle. How does one transport a shtreimel trans-Atlantically? Does it get a suitcase to itself? How many flights are actually going between Israel and New York to transport all of these people and hats? So many questions….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Apparently it was secret enough that the authorities didn’t find out, even if the internet did!

      I think they transport the shtreimels in hat boxes in hand luggage. On flights to Israel from the UK, there’s often a problem with some frum people bringing too much hand luggage because of hat boxes…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Agree it is not a good look for part of the Jewish community to be flouting lockdown to this extent – I say to this extent, because I am a skeptic of lockdown as a primary means of combatting the pandemic (I think the cure is far worse than the disease). However, I still believe in obeying the law. There have been many articles in the press about these mass weddings etc and the fact that levels of covid antibodies may be as high as 64 percent in the Jewish community – so getting towards herd immunity, which is of course, a good thing. I am intrigued to know the thinking behind this – is there a belief that duty to God takes precedence over obeying the law? Or is there a belief that God will protect the community against disease? Or a fatalistic resignation to God’s will? Don’t they eye watering fines cause some to pause and reconsider?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure what the thinking is. Some of it is science scepticism i.e. they don’t believe there’s much of a problem. Rabbi Natan Slifkin (who used to be Haredi until getting his books on Torah and science banned) argues that the entire worldview of the Haredi world is based around resistance to non-Orthodox authority and culture to defend their way of life, so they refuse to do anything that impinges on that that comes from a non-Jewish (or non-religious, in Israel) government, regardless of the consequences or how rational it is on its own terms. Most of what is going on with weddings and yeshivas is about a way of life, not actual Jewish law.

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  3. It is very frustrating when anyone (especially big groups of people) disregard safety precautions, thus prolonging the pandemic for all the rest of us. Grrr. Here it’s the anti-vaxxers/anti-maskers, who are usually Trump loving types also.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What you say re: NHS is interesting and it doesn’t surprise me. At the end of the day, healthcare resources (doctors, appointment times, staff, drugs, etc.) are limited. US healthcare system is a complete disaster, and I’m definitely not defending it, but reality is that all limited resources will inevitably be triaged in some way. The question is ultimately what is the best way to triage.

    I heard a talk once that the mitzvah of loving your neighbor is a challenge in part because it is your neighbor and you know them, and their shortcomings, all too well. It is unfortunate when the more visible Ultra-Orthodox are seen breaking COVID restrictions more visibly. There are a lot of Orthodox communities that have been taking COVID quite seriously. My local community has tried to arrange for chesed, like lower-risk individuals food shopping on behalf of higher-risk ones, and distanced job networking help for people who have lost jobs during the pandemic. Large shul fundraisers went virtual. And I’ve been to two Right-Wing Modern Orthodox weddings that were quite small, with masks and distancing precautions, etc. But it’s frustrating when segments of your own people are flagrantly flaunting the rules.

    Liked by 1 person

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