Sunday, December 03, 2006

Should shopper wear a yarmulke?

Q. I stopped patronizing a mail-order company when it began including editorial content about Jesus in its catalog, finding that inappropriate. I now plan to visit a camera store owned and staffed by Orthodox Jews. Although I am an observant Jew, I do not regularly wear a yarmulke, but I'm considering doing so in the hope of preferential treatment, maybe even a discount. Hypocritical? Ethical? R.K., New York

What's most lamentable about your scheme is not its hypocrisy -- although there is that -- but its deceit: You would present yourself to be what you are not, someone who regularly wears a yarmulke, an object of religious significance. What's more, in ethics, intent counts, and yours is simply to cadge a discount, to be what genuine yarmulke-wearers might describe as, if not a ganef, certainly a shnorrer.

As far as tactics go, I'm skeptical that a discount for the Orthodox is on offer. And that's as it should be. To give a price break to co-religionists is no different from imposing a price hike on nonbelievers. Ads boasting "Baptists Pay 10 Percent More" would not be appealing marketing or, for that matter, legal.

You might argue that what you propose is no more deceptive than acting courteously when you really feel antisocial. Dr. Johnson called politeness "fictitious benevolence" and was all for it: "It supplies the place of it amongst those who see each other only in publick, or but little. Depend on it, the want of it never fails to produce something disagreeable to one or other." But politeness merely withholds the expression of your feelings, a matter of style; it does not falsely proclaim your beliefs, a matter of substance.

I myself would never wear a cat costume to a pet shop hoping to entice the animal-loving staff into offering me a discount on a squeaky toy. I might wear it socially, but that's between me and my therapist.


This is a week old.. It was in last Sunday's NY Times.


I think frum store owners go out of their way to encourage those not from the area to shop in their stores again and bring friends with them from other areas. Wouldn't they get even better deals than the average Heimishe shoppers, that frum store owners take for granted?


from NY Times Magazine


which camera store could this possibly be? ;)


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