I assume that Shtisel is a critique of the Haredi community. But sometimes I can’t tell whether the characters are supposed to be realistic or caricatures.
1) Hanina seems to think that any thought other than Torah study is bad. He doesn’t eat or sleep until Ruchami intervenes; he thinks having a wife is distracting; he burns his hand with a match to stay awake. Isn’t self-harm forbidden? I know it’s not unusual for a husband to study full-time, but isn’t he supposed to at least live with his wife? Isn’t there a commandment to provide “her food, her clothing, and her conjugal rights”? I know there’s a legend that Rabbi Akiva ditched his family for 25 years to do rabbi things, and his wife was considered a tzadeikis for supporting it, but is that considered normal? Is the implication that Hanina never had a functional family and thus has no model until Giti takes him in?
2) The attitude that ART = BAD seems a little extreme. After Kive appears on TV, Shulem flies into a rage because he either believes Kive dishonored his mother, or he just thinks it makes them look bad in the eyes of the community. Either way, it seems a bit hysterical. Is it really so heretical to portray a woman with a bit of her hair showing?
3) A lot of things seem to be shunned, not halachically, but because “it’s unseemly for a good Jew.” When Yosa’le brings home Dubche the dog, Shulem is horrified, even though Yosale tells his very human story of compassion for an animal. Is there really the attitude that any interests outside of Torah are immoral? [PS What happens to Dubche??? 🙁 ]
4) Likewise, I’m getting the impression that driving/ owning a car is considered bad. Is this accurate? Is it because this gives you the option to leave? The Haredi characters travel pretty regularly by bus, train, taxi, and plane.
Thanks in advance!