Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Women and their absence from ritual, or how Orthodox Judaism infantalizes them

I harvested this post from the comments. It was written by a man called Daniel G. 

Many commenters here are focusing on the "women want to participate in ritual" issue. To the extent that they do, they are missing the bigger point being made here - women nowadays are doctors, lawyers, CEOs, judges, heads of state. Perhaps (once ISIS takes over the US) this will change in the future, but for now, being that things are the way they are, it is a tremendous disrespect to women to infantalize them. And, when *men* dictate to women what they may or may not do, that's exactly what it is. Imagine treating a 30-year-old adult child the way men treat women.

Even with "progressive" practices like Partnership Minyans, men are still the bosses. The proof? No ten men, no dice. All the men need to do is to pat their wives/daughters on the heads and say, "yes, honey, you go to the PM. I'm going to the regular shul."

As far as agunot are concerned, which is most definitely *not* a matter of ritual, women need their husband, a *man*, to give them a get, and absent that, they need a beit din, consisting of three *men* to declare the husband a mesarev, and even with the husband's consent, they need the same beit din, of three *men*, as well as two eidim, *men*, and a sofer, a *man*, to execute the get (all right, the sofer/beit din/eidim can do double or triple duty, thereby reducing, but not eliminating, the number of men necessary.)

Since this is the case, and women are intelligent enough to learn gemara, halacha, etc., men should be heartily endorsing higher Jewish education for all women who have the inclination to study - so that we can have a substantive conversation *with women* about these issues. Better that, than having the women give up in disgust and take matters into their own hands, (not necessarily al pi halacha since Orthodoxy has tended to criminalize women that have the nerve to study for semicha.) At that point, of course, the men will rush to justify ex-post-facto what is being done, or claim that what the women decided to do was their idea all along.

Not saying that women need to be on batei din, or eidim, or that ritual needs to change, or anything like that. Men's attitudes about women need to change. Maybe after talking about the issues things will change, and maybe they won't.

Bottom line - Women's absence from rtitual is a symptom, not a root cause. Most women that I have met take Yahadut seriously and want to discuss the issues *with men.* Most men that I have met want to talk *about women* rather than with them.
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