Before we get started here, a brief note on the Raven's MNF loss to the still undefeated Patriots. You know the feeling the Jews got when they left Egypt? I had the complete OPPOSITE feeling about 4 different times during the 4th quarter of the game. That's about all I can say on the issue. The Ravens played their hearts out, and left everything out on the field. Well, except for the penalty flag Bart Scott threw into the stands. Classy.
Women: can't live with them...can't procreate without them. No, this is not going to be my first ever post devoted entirely to fashion. Although, I am very intrigued by the "let's just wear leggings" phenomenon. Seems like it really caught on. Do they provide the same warmth as actual pants? Has anyone ever shown up to a job interview donning the long shirt-belt-leggings trio? I'd like to think that Kobe Bryant is somewhat responsible for this. In any case, I'm really here to talk more about the role of women in Judaism, or, as it seems to be in most Orthodox circles, the lack there of. Now, I'm not just writing this because the Official Blog Girl was president of the entire Orthodox community here at the U of MD for a year (and she did a fantastic job, might I add. Not that I'm biased). I truly think this is a huge issue and I'm about 78 percent sure I heard that Rabbi J.J. Schachter agrees with me. Whoever that is.
So there have been a few different programs about women and Judaism here on campus. Most recently there has been interest in having the Torah being carried back on the ladies' side of the room on Shabbat morning. Of course there is plenty of opposition, not from a Halakhic perspective, but from those who value the "tradition" of men carrying back the Torah, and those who are concerned with the overall weird feeling that many in the Minyan will feel. Personally, I think it's a great idea. There's a difference between tradition as mandated by a legitimate source and tradition of "this is how we've always done it, so this is how we should always do it." If we are doing something because of a specific reason or legitimate source, and now that reason no longer exists, it BECOMES just "something we've always done." Before anyone looks into this issue, or any issue that pertains to women in Judaism they should take a figurative step back.
There are sexist statements in all different kinds of Judaic writings. My personal favorite is roughly translated as "If you teach a woman Torah, it is as if you are teaching them nonesense". I don't blame these people for writing these things because these people actually believed these things. Women couldn't do ANYTHING back in those days. Women didn't learn trades like men did. They didn't go out in the field like men did. They raised their children, and ran the household. These are the facts. During the time that the Talmud was compiled, and then the Shulchan Aruch women were really seen as second class citizens. I am willing to bet that when the Mishna Brurah was written there was still an overwhelming number of people who really believed that women didn't have the same brain capacity as men. They couldn't vote until the 1900s. They didn't really enter the work force until WWII because all the men were off fighting.
(I made the following point in a comment, but that it was important enough to "edit" it into the actual body of the post. Enjoy.)
Until relatively recently, women didn't even GO to shul. For modesty reasons, for traditional reasons, for whatever reasons, it just didn't happen. Now they do. Interesting. So there must have been ONE shul out there that decided to start using that mechitza (partition) thing that they had for davening purposes. No doubt when they started letting women in the shul there was outrage. Now, we look back and to us it seems like it was something that "evolved". But at the time it was surely seems like something that happened in one place over night, after much thought, and then it started spreading, until now where it is looked at as common place. We can even say that "this is how its always been".
Eliezer Berkovits said in his essay entitled "Conversion and the Decline of the Oral Law" that we have become Karaites to the Shulchan Aruch. Perhaps that's a bit extreme, but he makes a good point, and it is something to be aware of. I am not calling for an overnight change in all of Orthodoxy, and I know these things take time. Change is scary, and it could be dangerous. And I know it may even lead to mixed dancing. But with something as important as feeling close to God maybe it's time to let the women out of the kitchen.
Yes, me, the same guy who once chanted "bare-foot and pregnant!" at a "Battle of the Genders" camp event (we weren't allowed to call it "Battle of the Sexes" because all the giggling could have attracted unwanted wildlife) is now advocating for women's rights in Judaism.
Fantasy Football update: The F***** O***** just barely squeaked into the playoffs after Brett Favre got hurt and provided me with less than one fantasy point. I'm hoping Ladainian rallys the troops and we beat the Tony Romo led S******* that H*