Monday, July 25, 2005

Women needed

In Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism Tamar Ross writes that
One of my sons once remarked to me that most of his women acquiantances were much more sophisticated religiously than his male friends. The reason was obvious to him: a Jewish girl raised in the Orthodox tradition realizes from the outset that she must adopt a more complicated relationship to the classic Jewish sources, because so much of the picture of women in the sources simply does not correspond to what she knows herself to be. Like Moliere's Monsieur Jourdain who discovers that he has been speaking prose all his life, Orthodox women are constantly appropriating a nuanced approach to Torah.
Ross goes on to explain that she is not saying that all Orthodox women do this or that among those who do it is usually even a conscious matter.

This is an interesting point. It is relatively easier for a man to take an oft-quoted rabbinic statement like "nashim da'atim kalot", (a MWM), at its simple meaning. That must be less so easy for women, who presumably, must deal with such a ma'amar Chazal, a saying of the Sages, while many men can get away without thinking about it too deeply.

I am reminded of something that is really quite different, but seems appropriate to mention. A Jewish writer of note (don't remember who) said that nothing less than the Blood Libel prevented most Jews from internalizing the demonization and hatred of the Jew throughout the millenia. Every Jew knows that the Blood Libel isn't true and because Jews were charged with this, every Jew knows that he is charged unjustly. But I digress.

Ross's son raised an interesting point, but is it true? I hope to hear from women specifically, although obviously everyone is welcome and asked to discuss this idea.

1 comment:

  1. It IS true. Unfortunately, in the more to the right girl schools, this sort of "complicated relationship" is discouraged, along with critical thinking and questioning the text, Chazal, and WHY we do things.

    I have seen some of my close friends struggle with this. Some more than others. It is usually the more intellectual one that have a harder time. They search and search for answers, others mistakenly think that they are trying to be feminists...but they are not. It is just really hard to follow something with all your heart, while reading texts that that do not coincide with the idea that you have of yourself and of women in general. Specially when that same i.e. rabbi or text, dictates so many other areas of halacha, etc.



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