Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The hasidic war on women (and how its very much like the war on wet matzo)

I bet others have already published this photo but I found it here:

As you can see, the holy folks at some Hasidic newspaper have once again taken care to ensure that your delicate eyes won't encounter the face of a woman. 

Can we please draw an analogy between this and the no-gbroks rule that has taken hold in our kitchens and Passover hotels? 

For thousands of years, Jews were perfectly happy mixing their matzoh with water and other liquids until one day, one person, decided that it made sense to be extra careful. So he decided to keep his matzo crumbs dry. 

While the arc of the universe may bend toward justice, the arc of Judaism bends toward stringency so before long lots of other "Just in case Jews" adopted the new rule about matzo. "What can it hurt" they said. "Let's do this Just in Case."

Now, hundreds of years later, we've reached a tipping point. Non-gbroks is normative and people who never had a non-grboks tradition have started keeping their matzo dry in the name of piety or caution or fear of neighbors (or all three.)

Will it be long before the same thing happens with depictions of female faces. Nowadays, its still okay to laugh at the Hasidim who think its appropriate to airbrush the faces of martyrs out of iconic photos, but before long won't our very sincere scolds be chastising us for making fun of their piety? Won't we be told it sets a bad example for the children to mock expressions of sincere religious devotion? After that, will it be long before stupid, but well-meaning non-hasidim start imitating the practice? You know: Just in Case. 

Haven't we seen this dance before - not just with gbroks but with upshurin and clothing styles, too?

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