We Seem to See (Vol.1, Issue 5)
That there is a unique eccentricity — a kind of brand of individuality — among Yeshiva-ites can hardly be denied. We seem to see a peculiar something which renders our theological classmates “different” from the hoi polloi one meets on the subway. One is often tempted to broach the question, “ Why is this fellow different from all other fellows?” and to venture into an investigation of something which is subject for dispute even among the most eminent scientists and psychologists.
A Scientific Approach
It is the contention of many that the celebrated attitude of “chiseling” is the distinguishing feature of a Yeshiva student. In order to judge this assertion unbiasedly, let us for a moment consider the psychological, economic and philosophic aspects of our subject.
Psychologically it seems almost apparent that chiseling is just another manifestation of the universal urge for self-preservation, and as such, being the property of all animals, could hardly serve to distinguish out worthy scholars. We must therefore proceed to an analysis of its social and economic implications.
Chiseling is mainly reserved for and preserved by a small group of individuals who survive, yea, and thrive by exploiting the less alert masses. Indeed, it is the very essence of capitalism! Founded on the principles of rugged individualism and free enterprise, “chiselism”, by very definition, enlists its members in the category of “one of the boys.”
Now far be it from a Yeshiva which stands for “collectivism” or Yeshiva men who are “broad-minded” to a fault to harbor such anti-social tendencies in their midst. In trust, it is rumored from reliable sources that the revolution of the proletariat is already on its way. Let us, therefore, without delay, turn to the final aspect of our problem.
With the advent of world culture and civilization came two universal methods of getting something for nothing — “lifting” and panhandling. But each apparently has its drawback. A “ganev” though he may sometimes save his face in society, sacrifices his respect for the law. A panhandler, to the contrary, is within the law but only at the expense of his dignity and self-respect. These obstacles have long stood in the way of human progress and development until at last — along came the Yeshiva Bachur with his customary flare for Talmudic ingenuity, and in a true philosophic spirit of Aristo-Maimonidean temperance, blared a golden mean between these two repulsive extremes. In short, he perfected the art of chiseling. It will be observed that chiseling is both more “refined than panhandling and lies wholly within the law.