I don’t really care for either, yet as I think about myself on Rosh Chodesh Elul, I can see times in the past year when I have acted both like an Observabot and a Deceptijew.

The Observabots tend to do things by rote. While mitzvah observance is a major aspect of their life, it usually is laking in Simcha shel Mitzvah.

The Deceptijews are really not much better. While on the surface they seem fairly observant, it’s really just chitzionius or an external show of Yiddishkeit.

It’s hard to pick the lesser of the two evils. Take your average Observabot. He/She might make brachos, daven, and be involved in learning (even by plugging into the mainframe). It can be done without feeling and introspection, yet the actions are taking place.

Now, with your average Deceptijew, it’s a little tricky. The actions are there, for show. What happens in public might not be the same in their own home. There is hope, that eventually the chitzionius will bring a level of internal grown.

As I wrote at the outset, I can recall times over the past year when I showed aspects of both of the Tranformations. I’m not please with this realization, but coming to terms with it is, I hope, a start.

The funny thing is that even beneath the Observabots and the Deceptijews is a neshama that wants to be an Eved Hashem. Regardless of the areas that I know I am lacking in my own Avodas Hashem, I have a desire to truly be an Eved. Parhaps there is “more that meets the eye”.
Gut Chodesh!


  1. Bob Miller

    We all have a yetzer hara and have to resist its prompts to live on autopilot or to not live up to our image. When we encounter the yetzer or evidence that we’ve given in to it, it’s important to do what we have to do, but without seeing ourselves as basically bad people.

  2. Harry Maryles

    Great post.

    In my view you cannot be either. You are an individual who came to be observant. That means your every action is L’Shma whether you feel it at that particular moment or not. This is very much unlike an FFB like me who is very often guilty of rote observance.

    One cannot be human and expect to be in a constant state of simcha when doing every Mitzvah. While that is a laudable goal, it is not a realistic one. People have moods. they are sometimes pre-occupied. the fact that we adhere to the letter of the law is of sufficient merit to the Creator. By fulfilling the requirement you have fulfilled God’s will. All the rest… the good feelings etc… is ‘gravy’.

    I also do not believe that ay of your Mitzvah actions are really for show. That would mean that you don’t really believe in that Mitzvah. Unless your talking about a non Mitzvah that has taken on the aura of a Mitzvah, like wearing a black hat. If you wear a black hat for show but don’t believe in it, again you have done nothing wrong.

    If something becomes a very strong custom and one wants to be part of a community wear everyone has that custom, there is nothing wrong with adopting that custom so you feel like you are a part of that community. There is also nothing wrong with rejecting that custom if it doesn’t suit you.

    Personally, I honor you for what you have accomplished in the eyes of God. I often wonder where I would be today, had I been born into a non observant environment. I doubt that I would be religious.

  3. Neil Harris

    Rafi: Haven’t seen the movie. Big urge to see it, though. I did recently watch half of an old episode online. The ideas behind the terms Observabots and Deceptijews have been floating in my head since December.
    It wasn’t until Monday night that really felt ready to attempt a posting.

    Bob: Reb Nachman, as you know, teachs the same.

    R Maryles: Thanks for the kind words. As my post indicates, I don’t advocate either Observabots or Deceptijews. Part of my Elul is coming to terms with both my good points and the, not yet, good point of my Avodah.
    Black hats are a good example. My choice years ago to start wearing one was due to “L’kavod Sahbbos”, which is a very subjective term based on where one is holding and ones means.

    DY: I still can’t help but keeping an eye on culture. Observing and engaging are very different.

  4. Heidi

    I think that BTs can often struggle with the same issues that FFBs strugle with. Sure, we made a choice to be frum. I am sure there are some bonus points involved in that… But those points can only take one so far. I think there comes a time when we all sort of become FFBs. The BT glow wears off, and we have to keep going even when we don’t necessarily feel like it.

    To R’ Maryles- If you were born to a non-observant family,I reckon you would end up exactly as you are. Although, maybe you would end up Charedi 😉

  5. frumhouse

    Observabot and a Deceptijew! I love it.. It’s impossible not to fall into some of those modes sometimes, though. Well, maybe more easily observabot than deceptijew, since the latter requires proactive cunning, while the former is a result of zoning out when tired, sick, sick and tired?

    Anyhow, you are far too thoughtful to have anything to fear when Tishrei rolls around….

  6. frumhouse

    I actually meant to imply the opposite, but I guess I didn’t word my comment properly. I only meant that you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. Anyone who takes the time to delve into torah and apply it to his own life like you do in your blog, could not fall under the category of observabot or deceptijew. It’s those that don’t do any self introspection who are at risk….


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