Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The politicization of performing mitzvos

Attention all women: Please be advised that your attempt to fulfill the voluntary mitzvah of hearing the shofar will, in the current environment, likely be construed as a feminist attempt to usurp a commandment traditionally associated with men. It is also possible that Yaakov Menken of Cross Currents will accuse you of attempting to turn Israel into a Reform state. You have been warned.

Meanwhile, the great Fred McDowell reports:
Today I was walking behind a rosh yeshiva and was noticing how one corner of the kapote, on the slit, was rounded, so he wouldn't have to put tzitzis on it. I thought, how strange. Here is a beged that actually is mechuyav in tzitzis, and with the aid of a scissor and thread a loophole lets it go tzitzis-free. But I'm pretty sure, I'll bet, he was wearing a tallis kotton - a garment that isn't exactly a real garment - just so he can have a begged with tzitzis on it.
Yes, its strange but only because you're thinking about it. If you forget about things like Jewish law and the endless exhortations to fulfill as many mitzvos as possible as punctiliously as possible, the behavior of this RY makes perfect sense. Attaching tzitzis to your kaopte isn't the done thing. It looks dorky. The other Roshey Yeshivot would laugh and point. So of course nullifying the tzitzis obligation by altering the clothing is the way to go.  Or to summarize:

Tefillin for women: Voluntary Mitzvah  + Not in Style  = Don't do it
Shofar for women: Voluntary Mitzvah  + In Style  = Move heaven and earth to get it done.
Tzitzis on an external  four corned garment:  Mandatory Mitzvah + Not in style = Nullify the requirment

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