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Frum (Yiddish פֿרום; [frum | frim]), meaning "devout" or "pious", is a Yiddish adjective. To be frum means to be committed to the observance of Jewish religious law that often exceeds the bare requirements of Halakha, the collective body of Jewish religious laws. This not only includes the careful study of Torah, daily prayers, observing Shabbat and kashrut, and performing deeds of loving-kindness but also many more customs and khumrot. Khumrot are prohibitions or obligations in Jewish life that exceed the requirements of Halakha; some khumrot became customs in some communities over time, e.g. daily ritual immersion in a mikveh in Hasidic Judaism or kapparot in Haredi Judaism.
Someone who is frum is known as a frum Jew, a frummer ("pious one", related to German "ein Frommer") or frummie (Yinglish diminutive "pious one"). These appellations are generally, but not only, applied to Hasidic and Orthodox Judaism, and used by some members of these groups as a self-reference.
To follow a frum path in life implies the constant maintenance of an awareness of God by following spiritual practice as a makhmir, meaning "taking the stricter position on an issue". In this way, the Ashkenazi frum-culture is variously seen as a precaution against transgressing the Halakha or as a way of keeping those who have taken on the stringency separate from those who have not.
In Ashkenazi Orthodox communities, the Yinglish initialism "FFB," meaning "Frum From Birth," is often used to refer to a person who was born into a religiously observant family and has maintained this lifestyle, in contrast to a "BT", referring to a baal teshuva.
In the Ashkenazi community the adjective frei (Yiddish and German "free") is used as an appellation by Jews with a secular background or by those that adhere to non-Orthodox denominations. A person who calls himself "frei" means one who is less religious and free from the observance of Halakha that exceeds the baseline requirement, or one who is not religiously observant and feels "frei" to do whatever one feels like doing.
Someone who is extremely frum is labeled a frummer. To be a frummer ("more pious person", related to German frömmer) means to over-impose khumrot, and can be connected with a superiority complex. While the word frummer is frequently used as an adjective as well, the technically-correct Yiddish comparative of the adjective "frum" is, in fact, "frimer".
Frummer can also have a negative connotation similar to Chasid Shoteh ("pious idiot"), which is how the Talmud (Sotah 21B) describes a man who sees a woman drowning but refuses to save her for, he says, "it is not proper to look at her, and rescue her." A frummer in that sense is a person displaying a disproportionate emphasis on technical aspects of religion at the expense of worldly or practical concerns.
Frum can be used in a negative sense for "hypocritically pious", "holier-than-thou", "sanctimonious"; or in a positive sense for: "pious", "devout", "God-fearing" and "upright". The phrase "frum and ehrlich" captures all the positive connotations of these words, to mean roughly "upright" or "righteous" (tzadik).
Frum can have other specific meanings in context, for example describing clothes or homes more in line with Jewish law.
- Bunin Benor, Sarah. "machmir". jewish-languages.org. Jewish English Lexicon. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
- Fried, Heshy (22 June 2011). "Words and statements that make you sound frummer [sic] than you are". Frum Satire. Frum Satire. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
- JewishPress.com Staff (26 March 2017). "Frummer [sic] Than You". Jewish Press. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
- Kahn, Lily; Rubin, Aaron D., eds. (2016). Handbook of Jewish Languages. Leiden, Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV. p. 676. ISBN 9789004297357. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
ו (u) becomes י (i), e.g., פֿרום frum 'Jewishly observant' > פֿרימער frimer 'more Jewishly osbervant'
- Stutchkoff, Nahum (1950). Weinreich, Max, ed. דער אוצר פון דער יידישער שפראך (Der oytser fun der Yidisher shprakh) (in Yiddish). New York: Yidisher Ṿisenshafṭlekher Insṭiṭuṭ.
די קאַץ איז שוין פֿרימער פֿאַר אים. ('Di kats iz shoyn frimer far im.' — 'A cat is more pious than he is.')
- "פֿרום (Adjective)". Wiktionary. Retrieved 29 March 2017.