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Haftarah Va’etchanan: Isaiah’s Advice to Seinfeld to Become a Grasshopper

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In season six, episode four of Seinfeld, Kramer decides to stop wearing boxers or briefs or… anything. He just wears his pants. He recently learned that he has a low sperm count and that briefs—what he’d been wearing all his life—might have contributed to this deficiency. But he does not want to switch over to boxers because, to quote Kramer: “they’re baggin’ up, they’re rising in! An’ there’s nothing holding me in place! I’m flippin’ I’m floppin’!” And so, Kramer, dissatisfied with boxers and worried about briefs, decides to just wear nothing, nothing underneath his pants. Kramer enters Jerry’s apartment, and Jerry immediately notices how calm and cool he is strolling around the place. Jerry asks if he’s gotten used to the boxers. “No,” Kramer answers. “You went back to the jockeys [briefs]?” Jerry asks. “Wrong again.” “Oh, no.” “What? What? …” Elaine cries. “Don’t you see what’s going on here? … No boxers, No Jockeys.” “Ewww,” Elaine exclaims. “The only thing between him and us is a thin layer of gabardine,” Jerry peeps out.

The only thing between him and us is a thin layer of gabardine.

Jerry makes this statement with the utmost disgust. Even though he cannot see Kramer’s penis, and even though a thin layer of gabardine—gabardine is a fabric often used for suit pants—still separates him from it, this barrier is not enough for Jerry—it is too flimsy, too insubstantial. He is, we might say, too close to Kramer’s penis for comfort.

The only thing between him and us is a thin layer of gabardine.

I have often wondered about Jerry’s comment here. At what point do we gain enough physical distance from or construct enough barriers between that which upsets us that we can feel at ease? For Jerry, gabardine plus Jockeys would have been enough. Presumably, it would also have been enough for Jerry if Kramer, although still neglecting to wear underwear, were back in his apartment. In fact, to bring the phenomenon closer to home, for the vast majority of society, the walls to the bathroom provide enough of a barrier that we can allow ourselves to forget about what is really going on in there, while we continue to eat at the dinner table, and they go into the bathroom and do all sorts of things which would ruin our appetites. Bathrooms have walls for a reason. People wear pants for a reason. But Jerry’s point is that walls or pants are sometimes not themselves enough; they sometimes, while providing a layer, nevertheless have not reached a certain level of thickness and impenetrability for us to feel sufficiently “walled off.”

I have a similar situation going on with my roommate at the moment. Well, he is not exactly my roommate. All we do is share a bathroom. And that is exactly the point. Our rooms are next to each other, and our mutual bathroom sits between our two rooms. I have my door to the bathroom, and he has his. This past Sunday, I knocked on his door—his front door—to ask if he would clean out the hair he had left in the shower drain. But I........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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