Monday, August 02, 2010

The MadMen approach to women in Judaism

I'm sorry. Sometimes bending over too far backwards to accommodate someone else can cause your back to break. What ever happened to common sense? Must we now have female Chazanim davening at the Amud? What possible spiritual benefit is there in that? How does one increase their Avodah SheB'Lev by listening to a female Chazan? Can you honestly say that it does so in any siginficant way? What exactly is accomplished here, DovBear? How does Klal Yisroel gain by having a female Chazan Daven Kabbalas Shabbos? How does the Shul gain? Are the Mispallelim going to ave more Kavana with a feamle standing and 'shuckling' ang the Bima or Amud? Do you think this is what God wants His people to do now? Come on. Dont you think there might just be something else driving this? ...and not a search for greater spirituality? -- Harry M.

Yes, indeed. Whatever happened to common sense?

In short, Harry's note is so stupid it almost drools. It ignores the fact that things change, and that 99 percent of the things we do started because someone, somewhere, thought it felt nice. Only afterwards were the deep, spiritual reasons attached to it. And even if you can't quite accept the truth of this premise, use your common sense, for heaven's sake: God never said anything to us about chazanim. We don't know what - if any - "spiritual benefit" a male chazan receives, nor do we know what, if any, "spiritual benefit" is available to the congregation. Any spiritual benefit that does accrue may, for all we know, be available to a woman, too. How does Harry know otherwise? Is he a prophet?

Harry's logic is the logic of the chauvinist, the reprobate, the dogmatist, the die-hard and the monomaniac. See, he can't quite fathom why any man would want a female chazan, and that's where the conversation ends. No other perspective is possible. Disagree with Harry and, well, you don't exist. Not only can't he imagine that another man might think listening to a female chazan would improve his avodah she'blev  but he hasn't paused for even a second to consider if perhaps some woman in the world might have an unaddressed need. Disagree? Well, clearly God agrees with Harry, and anyone who think differently is "driven" by something else, something unseemly, something like... AN AGENDA.

If such reasoning doesn't make you puke, I suggest you see a gastroenterologist.

I'm also irritated on behalf of women everywhere about about the last, little insult in Harry's comment. Have you ever noticed how women who want to do new things are always suspect, but men with the same desires are lauded? For example, when the man who sits down the row from me showed up in a shtreimal for the first time, we were all much too polite to point out the real reason. Rather than insult him with remarks like, "You think that rat hat is going to get your daughter married?" we all congratulated him with the traditional, "Hey man, nice beaver!" Shouldn't a woman be extended the same courtesy? If she wants to DO THINGS THAT ARE PERMITTED shouldn't we meet that desire with respect, and dare I say it admiration? According to what math is female self-esteem such an terrible thing that we need to go further than halacha, and ban what the law permits?

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