Religious Texans

 

The Bible Belt stretches far west. I received a phone call from a very refined gentlemen who lived in the center of Texas, many hours outside of Dallas. In his soft tone, he inquired about a circumcision for his new son. He had hoped that I was available on the 8th day from birth, as prescribed from the Torah. When I asked if he was Jewish, he answered that he was not, but that he ascribed to the teachings of the Torah. I explained to him that the need for the circumcision to be on the 8th day was not necessary, as that is true of those who are Jewish. But he very much wanted the circumcision to be on the 8th day, citing chapter and verse of the Torah.

 

The scheduling didn't quite work out, and the circumcision was later than he had hoped. But it was still acceptable to him as there was no way I could arrange to be there any sooner. A flight was arranged, a car was rented, and I picked up some kosher food in Dallas for the long drive.

 

When I arrived at their home late that night, it was on a massive piece of property covered with soybeans and corn. The road that led to their home, without the benefit of a full moon was remarkably dark. Eerily dark. It was a God-send to finally see the light that adorned the front of their home.

 

As I walked up to the door, I was greeted by a face of warmth and an open hand. I was taken in by his countenance. But that isn't what took me by surprise. I've been privileged to meet many people who are refined. What surprised me was the fact that he was wearing Tzitzis, of fringes. The mitzvah of Tzitzis is a biblical commandment that when one has a four-cornered garment, it must be accompanied by strings tied in a specific way. This mitzvah applies only to men. I couldn't control my curiousity. And after brief pleasantries, I asked him about his Tzitzis. His response was simple, rhetorical and on the mark: "Doesn't it say so in the bible?"

 

He welcomed me into his home and I met his wife. Her modesty in dress mirrored that of those who are in the observant Jewish community, with a long skirt and long sleeves and a hidden collar line. She then placed her hands behind her back and welcomed me to her house. It was clear from her gesture that she was trying to avoid shaking hands with me. Here, too, I was surprised by their adherence to laws found in our beautiful Torah. The Torah teaches that men and women who are not married to each other should not touch. The physical touch is remarkably powerful. And the Torah's sensitivity to touch is such that it is only allowed between a man and woman who are married to each other. But I couldn't even react before she added the following: "I just want to let you know that we keep the laws of Niddah". The Torah has a law that couples don't touch