Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Let's discourage women from wearing tefillin

We discourage men from wearing tefillin more than necessary. We can discourage women from wearing tefillin more than necessary.

But "discourage" does not mean ban, or forbid, or asperse, or denounce or any of those things. Discouraging is not rioting. Discouraging is not protesting. Discouraging is not an invitation (or an excuse) for secterianism.

Discouraging is quiet and gentle. Discouraging is private. And "discourage" is all the achronim asked us to do regarding women and tefillin.

And should your efforts at discouraging fail, what you choose to do next is what will mark you as either a mysoginist or as someone who loves other Jews and respects their wishes and choices.

Consider the following thought experiment:

What would we do if a man started wearing his tefillin all day? We'd roll our eyes, probably, and maybe someone would tell him to knock it off, but we wouldn't decide he was anything aside from a slightly kooky guy who likes wearing tefillin. And if he was altogether normal in every other way, we'd probably get used to it, and learn to ignore it.

Can we say the same thing about women who wish to wear tefillin? Or do we also have to decide they hate Judaism, want to destroy it, are dirty feminists, etc,etc.

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