The Line: do you toe it or tow it?

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    A few givens before we start:

    I think the answer is this: achieving goals is hard work. And being creatures of comfort, we love to avoid hard work. And of all the challenges out there, nothing is as hard as beating your own record. Being intelligent creatures, we came up with a way to convince ourselves that all is well in our personal station in life. We fool ourselves into thinking that we can have our cake (being fully compliant) and eat it too (bending the rules). Sounds great, but its not sustaining, because at some point, our honesty kicks in, and we have two choices: we either face up to our shortcomings, (very hard) or we continue to kid ourselves, which is only a short term solution.

    A better approach? Lets face our test head on now and set a course that puts us on track to beating our toughest opponent. Ourselves.



    Very, well said

    I’m truly impressed

    I had a different opinion about you, not a bad one, just different

    I was wrong


    “Very, well said”

    I had a flight this week, and was not interested in watching “Megaminds” (althogth I must admit, the technology used to produce the film was amazing)

    “I was wrong”

    Nah, your 1st hunch was probably right. Don’t toss it yet. (Not at least until you see the feedback from the other members)



    Please be mochel me the vocab nitpick, but:

    1) The expression is “toe the line”, and it means to do exactly what one is supposed to do without deviating even minimally. What you are describing is more like “pushing the envelope” or “testing the limits”. “Toe” vs. “tow” is a common error.

    2) I think you mean “flouting” the rules, not “flaunting” the rules. This is an even more common error, which I’ve seen in newspapers.

    3) As someone who’s made many errors myself (e.g. “casting aspirations” instead of “casting aspersions”, among others), I’m certainly not criticizing from an ivory tower of impeccable English, but the title of this thread caught my eye.

    Shticky Guy

    Icot: your vocab nitpicking was highly entertaining for me to read and you highlight common errors that most ppl wouldnt realise. Well done! You certainly toe the outstanding grammar line!

    I do feel however that this may not have been the ideal thread for your launch. Bpt has written a lengthy OP which shows he has invested a lot of thought, time, soul searching and great sensitivity in what he wrote. He had me read and reread it and it is a master OP and a great piece of work!! Slight grammar slips in it should perhaps not have been brought to our attention.

    Mods maybe change i can only try’s sub name from icot (which doesnt add anything) to ‘The Vocab Nitpicker’, similar to eclipse’s The Human Spellchecker, and we look forward to admiring future vocab corrections from him on other threads.

    Anyone care to comment on the OP?


    There’s nothing to add or comment about. I think he put it down quite bluntly, honestly and truthfully.


    ICOT –

    I thought “toe” the line means get as close as you can to the edge (as in “line drawn in the sand” which you are dared to cross) without going over the line. Thats why its called “toe” as in placing your toes right on the line.

    As far as grammar in general, that’s the price I pay for being from Brooklyn. Sorry!

    “There’s nothing to add or comment about”

    WHAAT!!?? Not even a single dissenting opinion? Not one return volley of defense?

    If I wanted to have my back patted, I’ll reach over and do it myself!

    Just kidding folks. I really respect the seriousness with which the “need help with tzinus” thread was approached, so I did my best to write a decent response, and the flight was the ideal time to do so. (Besides, who wants to watch a 2 hour cartoon anyways?)


    i find that it could be different for different areas – depends on how aware i am of the halachos of that particular mitzvah and truthfully, there can be ups and downs – depending on my own level at the time. also, the line keeps changing as i grow in spirituality, so too my bechira point keeps changing.

    Bar Shattya

    bpt’s premise that you cannot toe the line when it comes to pork is like saying that nobody has the nisayon to drink pork coffee (Starbucks)


    “so too my bechira point keeps changing. “

    That is right along the lines of something I read from Rav Dessler. The area that you are not challenged in (pork, shmiras shabbos, ect) are not where your bechira lies.

    Its in the “grey areas” where you can choose a direction.

    ” nobody has the nisayon to drink pork coffee “

    Sorry, I missed the point you tried to make. Would you please re-state it?

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    ” nobody has the nisayon to drink pork coffee “

    Sorry, I missed the point you tried to make. Would you please re-state it?

    Bar Shattya refers, I believe, to the fact that despite the cRc’s alert regarding possible kashrus concerns that the coffee utensils in Starbucks (possibly washed with utensils used to heat ham sandwiches), some people still drink the coffee. He is assuming, I think, that this is some people’s nisayon regarding pork.

    Avram in MD

    I think Bar Shattya’s point is right in line with what bpt was saying in his OP.

    My normal habit is to buy Starbucks “Pike Place” whole beans (they come in a 1lb sealed bag with an OU) and grind and brew my own coffee at home in the morning with my own equipment. It’s much cheaper that way, and tastes just as good. The thing is, when you buy a bag of beans, they offer you a free cup of coffee. In the past, I’ve always taken them up on it. After reading the cRc’s “Guide to Starbuck’s Beverages”, however, I had to think. What do I do when it’s time to buy more beans? Do I get the free coffee or say no thanks?

    Yes there’s debate back and forth about the actual status of the coffee, and I found myself mentally making justifications… it must be OK! But honestly, once I removed the simple fact that I like getting good tasting, free, convenient Starbucks coffee from the equation, I was left with one question: Am I OK with buying and drinking something that has a serious question on its kashrus status? No, I’m not.

    So the solution is simple. Get the beans and say “no thanks” to the free coffee, or buy the beans from a Starbucks “kiosk” if I really want the free coffee. Just a touch more effort to stay totally inside my limits. It’s amazing how such a small thing can be such a big battle.

    always here

    ah, memories! drinking a Starbucks coffee @ their little shop at Pike Place Market in Seattle about 5 yrs. ago. (no sandwiches were sold there @ the time). haven’t had one since then– when my sister made aliyah from Seattle; but have had coffee @ Aroma & Coffee Bean (Yerushalayim). 🙂

    just an aside……


    There’s another issue that follows from the OP; the relation between where the lines are for oneself and for someone else. Some people are much more machmir on others than themselves, others do the opposite and often the same person does both depending on the situation.

    For example, how many men reading this have “shushed” someone during davening in the past year? I’d say most, including me. How many people have talked during davening (including the technically permitted-by-loophole parts) in the same period? Same answer.

    I’m guessing that the equivalent for women would be seeing someone’s makeup and thinking that it really isn’t tznius.


    Depends where you live , where the line is

    If you live in Williamsburg the line is very different than if you live in Teaneck.

    I dont drink Coffee (I HATE it) but maybe in Williamsburg its forbidden but in Teaneck it is.

    I know in my neighborhood Carvel or Stone Cold Creamery is perfectly acceptable (BOTH have Hasghcha in the store ), but I am not sure they would do well in Borough Park.

    Most Chasiddim might not go to a Ball Game, but in other communities the local orthodox Shul might even have a group outing to a game


    well said, not so easy to accomplish. I struggle with this everyday!



    Your grammar is absolutely fine, and you initial post was very well written and logically thought out. I think your observations are mostly on-the-money for frum people who are sincere.


    “We Brooklynites do just fine with our language skills”

    Funny you should say this, as for the most part, I really do try to speak / write properly.

    But every now and then, (especially when I’m riled up) I let loose with a barrage of Brooklyn-ese. This was my most recent gem:

    I was riding my bike on the passenger side of a one way street, but the bike lane was on the driver side. I was looking for a gap in traffic to switch, but none was opening up, and the line of cars were riding each other’s tail, keeping me from changing sides.

    All of a sudden, a passing driver slams on the horn (scaring the wits out of me) rolls down the window and yells,”hey buddy… use the bike lane!”

    To which I reply, “If-youda-lemme-pass-Ida-moved-to-da-side!”

    (all one word, my reply; I just added the dashes so its readable)


    i was actually going to suggest you contribute to the Pun Thread – because it was a very good play on words as ICOT pointed out –

    Regardless any help you can offer about how to encourage ourselves to TOE the line honestly, are always welcome.

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