Friday, July 10, 2015

The Motives of a Critic

Gutnick's Lubovitch translation and interpretation of the Torah is a collection of many gems.  Along with great excerpts from R' M.M Shneerson's superb super-commentary on Rashi, Gutnik's Bible also includes seldom-seen selections from Ibn Ezra, Chizkuni and other examples of not-all-that-frum exegesis. Plus there's this wonderful accident (I assume?) from Parshas Vayerah.

And when we get to Parshas Pinchas, we find a mini-essay that appears under the title "The Motives of a Critic." Here are a few salient sentences from it:
The tribes appeared to have convincing proof that Pinchas' motives were not pure (see Rashi) but they were mistaken. This teaches us an important lesson whenever [sic] we are tempted to find fault with another person's good deeds and questions their motives: One can never know another's true intentions.
Let these words stand as a rebuttal to all of the gay-haters who thought we were up to no-good this week as we attempted to be melamed zechus both on gay Jews and the Sages who criticized them. Let them also stand as a an attack on our misogynistic friends who see evil intentions whenever a woman attempts to take on something new. 

In fact, can you read these words without wanting to shove them down the throat of every anti-WPG Rabbi you've ever met? When a woman wants to daven with other women, every Rabbi to the right of Avi Weiss screams feminism, or makes insulting guesses about her ulterior motives. This doesn't happen to men. Our motives aren't ever subjected to the same degree of scrutiny. When a man takes on a new ritual observance, no one questions his intentions. No one says, "Hey I bet he's only doing that to secure a better match for his daughter, or to make people forget about the target vomiting last year during Hakafot."

But let a women try to improve herself, and she goes right under the microscope. Why the double standard?

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