My unpublished letter to Mishpacha Magazine, 12 November 2016:
I found interesting the juxtaposition between last week’s letters regarding Hillary Clinton’s cover picture and Rabbi Grylak’s weekly insights into the parsha. His essay began with the introduction, “From age three, Avraham was asking questions, challenging the pervading belief system of the time.”
So I’d like to ask some questions of my own. If I can sit across from a woman at the Shabbos table, if I can pass a woman in the grocery store aisle, if I can survive spiritually crossing paths with the secular women who live in my neighborhood or work in my office, why is my neshoma so profoundly threatened by a picture of a modestly attired woman in a magazine?
And, assuming that there is indeed a reasonable answer, then what about this: is it not possible — given the mores of the modern world — that some young women and girls in our communities might interpret the exclusion of feminine images from Torah publications as symptomatic of a society that degrades the value and contribution of women, and who therein find a pretext to reject normative hashkofah? If so, is the gain worth the loss?
I’m no gadol, so these are not my questions to answer. But I’m reminded of what Rav Nota Schiller is fond of saying, that the Torah allows the Jews to change enough to stay the same.
It’s worth at least contemplating which changes will ultimately benefit Klal Yisroel in the future even as we fiercely defend the traditions of the past.
Click here to see what prominent rabbinic figures have to say on the issue.
#1 by VISUALJEFF on December 27, 2017 - 11:22 am
The foundation is equity, not equality, when contemplating gender. Until you are a single Jewish father of a minor child daughter, your contmeplation can never know what is does not as yet know or understand. Frankly, nothing must be rigid and inflexible, flex versus stress versus extension = break, rip, tear… flexible to actual circumstance – to “walk in wisdom”; not move by ego-driven defiance and an inflexible posture to argue that tradition trumps wisdom from gained knowledge and experience, growth and development – we do not bind the seed as a sprout and prevent the wind, sunlight and movements of the planet to iompact it as it becomes either a male or female planyt blossom – do not use Talmud or Torah to offer Victorian principles that A. sexuality is taboo and sin and B. humans need to be draped – all out of context when the concrete is laid over the sand and the need for oasis has been removed because it is a different continent than Israel may be – living a dream, a myuth or in the past is not helathy, proper or Torah.. AND WHOC ARES ABOUT THE SEIZED YACHT, THE BEER AND THE REST OF THE BULL? Time to end the pandemic that is opticrectumosis among the masses, irrespective of skin color, religious consciousness, genetics or socioeconomic background. I appreciate your story – stop trying so hard to be funny, clever and cute… be a rabbi, a teacher; diminish the ego – your message will go past the audiences you may be comfortable with as of today… Nice to discover you through a mutual friend.
#2 by Yonason Goldson on December 27, 2017 - 12:23 pm
Thanks for your thoughts, Jeff.