I had an interesting class on feminism yesterday. The professor raised two ideas I hadn't thought about before, and once I did spend some time reflecting on them, I found them to be worthwhile.
What is feminism, in terms of Jewish halakha? Or rather, how does or did the feminist movement interact or oppose halakha? I'm sure this depends on what you mean by feminism. My professor suggested some of the more common problems/ questions: women wanting aliyahs, women's prayer groups, women wanting to wear a tallis or tefillin.
We are going to be studying pure halakha in the class, but he began with some ideas. These are the two points I found interesting:
1. The idea of rights. When it comes to the feminist movement, or any movement really, you will hear picketing people (or even soft-spoken gentle people) clamoring for rights. "Rights for women!" or "The right to vote!" Whatever it may be, our speech is laced with this idea- the idea of a "right." And the fact is, that if you look at Judaism, you do not see evidence of these rights. Rights are a secular idea. What does he mean by this?
Take, for example, our Declaration of Independance. We are told we have the "right" to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." But do we truly have that right in the Torah? My professor suggests that this is like the question of the chicken and the egg. What came first? There are two approaches. Here are examples illustrating the approaches:
1. I have a right to my property, and therefore you cannot steal from me
2. You are not permitted to steal from me, and hence I have a right to my property
He contends that the latter is the correct stance. Jewish law is filled with obligations and/or privileges, but it does not have rights. Priests, for example, have an obligation to serve in the Temple, or if they are unfit, to perform the duties that remain for them. We have obligations for the Kohen, the Levi, the Yisrael. Privileges, too, if you like to think of them that way. But not rights.
In fact, we are almost against rights of this nature. Look to Korach and Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik's depiction of what he terms the "common-sense rebellion." Korach was no fool. He was a man fighting for equality. He wanted rights! He claimed that Moses had worked matters out to his own advantage and profit, but it was more than that. Korach was using common-sense and logic to explain his claims. Sensibly speaking, a house full of holy works should protect in the same manner that a mezuza does. Logically speaking, a garment that is entirely blue should suffice for one blue string. (This is all from Reflections of the Rav, which I would quote directly if not for the fact that I don't have access to it.)
Perhaps (and certainly at one point in time) women would argue in the same way. "Men had control of the religious community," some might claim, "which is why they made mitzvot or customs (depending on the belief) in their favor/ created practices only they could fulfill." Similar to Moshe's working to his own advantage, isn't it? So too by women's desire to achieve their logical "rights."
2. The second approach is for people to claim (and this does not refer only to women) that one mitzvah or another is "meaningful" to me. It is "meaningful" for me to wear tzitzis, or to be a chazanit, "meaningful" for me to wear a tallis. The problem with this approach is that "meaning," which is defined by a subjective emotional perception, usually based on a psychological coveting of what one cannot have, does not enter into the equation. Mitzvot must be performed with or without meaning. I may dislike the mitzvah of marror and not find it meaningful, but only irritating. That doesn't matter when it comes to my performance of the mitzvah. Dry, boring, irritating, "meaningful" or not, the mitzvah is the mitzvah, and that is all that matters.
R' Soloveitchik writes about this frequently. He addresses it in the Common-Sense Rebellion by Korach as well. To tie religion to the idea of the "meaningful" is to abuse it and later to allow it to schism and fall apart. Because everyone has a different perception of what is "meaningful." This is subjective, a judgment upon the mitzvot, not something that is inherently part of the mitzvot- if it were, then we would find all mitzvot meaningful! We may reach emotional highs of passion or spirituality, but that is not enough to allow a religion to persist. The same might occur with the reading of a particularly wonderful book, or the meeting of a relative from the past.
My professor told a story in which a woman wanted to wear a tallis. R' Soloveitchik allegedly told her she could, but she should start with the tallis without the actual strings or tzitzit. After a period of a week, he asked her how she felt. "Oh," she stated, "it is wonderful, rapturous...I really feel closer to God." "If so," R' Soloveitchik replied, "it has nothing to do with the tallis. The tallis is nothing without the strings, its corners, and hence this love for God you feel has nothing to do with the mitzvah itself."
Mitzvot, as we understand them, are not "feel-good" mechanisms. We can't decide to practice them as therapy or a form of self-help. Perhaps some mitzvot DO make us feel good, but that is a byproduct and not necessarily the goal. And hence, to argue in the terminology of our secular world by using the word "rights" or to attempt to argue in favor of that which is "meaningful" must necessarily be doomed from the very beginning.
Of course, as one of my classmates pointed out, an adherence to Halakha does not solve all the problems that arise. What about the idea of a woman becoming more involved in the way the shul functions as opposed to receiving aliyos and so on? What about having a woman treasurer, or a woman reciting the announcements after shul has concluded? How come we can't be more expansive in that way? And that, I think, is still a question.
Just surfed on and really want to read this post, shame I am at work and can only have a quick glance. Will email it to myself, looks good.ReplyDelete
I remember the first time the Jewish concept of obligations to another rather than rights was taught to me in sem. It was an eye opener. We are so entrenched in today's world of rights this is indeed a truely novel idea.
Thanks for the revision additions to what i learnt then!
I once heard a taped lecture by R' Dovid Gottlieb from Ohr Someach where he makes a similar point about "rights".
The Torah (halachic) view is that people have obligations.
The Western point of view is that people have rights thus creating obligations for other people.
The difference could be in the concept of "giving up a right". In other words, someone may have the right to property, but they also have the right to give it away.
For some people, if they have a right to life, they have the right to give it up, i.e. an argument for euthenasia. From a Torah point of view, that would be irrelevant since there was no right to life to give up to begin with.
Great post, Chana.ReplyDelete
It reminds me of a conversation I had with someone in LA a few months ago, when I was thinking about taking a kiruv position. He asked what I'd answer college students regarding questions about women's minyanim, women's rights, equality of the sexes, etc. I didn't have an answer, but asked him what he would say. He said that you have to show them their focus is all wrong to begin with.
Most of the examples people will give to show inequality are regarding davening and related matters. This focus is all wrong: The focus on the shul et al as the center of Jewish life is a much more recent, Christian ideal. In Judaism, are focus is really on living a Jewish life - davening is just one small (important, but small) part of that lifestyle.
He also touched on this idea of "rights" and noted that the focus there is all wrong as well: We have certain obligations that we must fulfill, that's all.
You are back by 3:10 pm already?ReplyDelete
For the record, part II of the CJN article is up. I have a link to it.
WRT to your last line, the answers to those are based on 2 issues:
1) the shita yachid of the Rambam about Melech v'lo Malka
2) a REAL discussion about tznius (I'm pretty sure I know who the Professor is) and if that doesn't lead to a rip-roaring debate in class then you're not getting your money's worth in class.
This idea of obligation vesus right, I think, is one that many even non-Jewish/non-observant individuals could benefit from... as we often get so carried away with our sense of entitlement that we forget what it is that we should be giving back to the society.ReplyDelete
'Jewish law is filled with obligations and/or privileges, but it does not have rights.'ReplyDelete
Absolutely true. Thomas Jefferson did not get inspiration from Judaism.
'we often get so carried away with our sense of entitlement that we forget what it is that we should be giving back to the society.'
That we get carried away is, I think, a manifestation of being in spiritual as well as geographical galut. This is indeed an important lesson.
'What about having a woman treasurer, or a woman reciting the announcements after shul has concluded?'
I've davened in shuls that have had a woman President. And I regularly attend shuls where women offer divrei Torah.
'Mitzvot, as we understand them, are not "feel-good" mechanisms. '
Based on the experience of my wife and me, a not inconsequential part of the Orthodox world does not take the mitzvot of women seriously. Here is a link to a comment I made on Rabbi Harry Maryles' blog:
Immediately after that comment, Rabbi Maryles criticized the people responsible for this insensitivity.
"Perhaps some mitzvot DO make us feel good, but that is a byproduct and not necessarily the goal."ReplyDelete
So Judaism is a set of obligations and dry laws, bereft of all emotional meaning. That's funny, I thought the Psalm said that we should serve HaShem with joy. And isn't there a tradition among some Chassidim that it's a great mitzvah to be joyous always?
The woman who wanted to wear a tallit may have found the wearing of a tallit without tzitzit meaningful because, for the first time in her life, she was wearing (at least part of) a garment specifically designated as a "prayer uniform." But, of course, such a consideration wouldn't enter into this picture at all, because it "has nothing to do with the mitzvah itself." So who cares?
Nobody ever said that the purpose of the mitvot was to make you feel good. We have no rights, we have only obligations, and your obligation is to remain loyal to your husband. G-d may have freed you from the Egyptians, but your husband has no obligation to free you from your marriage, nor do we rabbis have any obligation to force him to do so. Why don't you just pay him off? He won't take your money, he wants custody of the children, and you're afraid to give them to him because you left him in the first place because he was beating you? Well, tough. The law is the law, and neither kindness, nor compassion, nor kavod habriyot, nor conscience, nor even, occasionally, kiddushat hashem has anything to do with it. Who cares?ReplyDelete
Shira, you're taking this further than I intended it to go. Your definition of rights, to begin with, is different from mine. If you must have rights, then they are the rights granted to you by Halakha, which will be stated in the Torah and Gemera. The woman, very obviously, has the rights of her Ketuba and in the oft-quoted (is it Ramban? I don't remember) the Sanhedrin may BEAT her husband until he divorces her.ReplyDelete
Emotional feeling is not divorced from mitzvot, as is made very clear in Rabbi Soloveitchik's Halakhic Man. However, it is not the FOCUS of said mitzvot.
Look at what you just wrote. This woman feels happy because she's wearing a part of the "prayer uniform." This in itself shows that has nothing to do with halakha or God, but merely is a covetous desire on the woman's part to have what the men have- "the prayer uniform." That's not necessarily BAD; it is simply divorced from a true following of the mitzvot.
From page 57 in Halakhic Man:
"A subjective religiosity cannot endure. And all those tendencies to transform the religious act into pure subjectivity negate all corporeality and all sensation in religious life and admit man into a pure and abstract world, where there is neither eating nor drinking, but religious individuals sitting with their crowns on their headss and enjoying their own inner experiences, their own tempestous, heaen-storming spirits their own hidden longings and mysterious yearnings- will in the end prove null and void. The stychic power of religion that seizes hold of man, that subjects and dominates him, is in force only when the religion is a concrete religion, a religion of the life of the senses, in which there is sight, smell and touch, a religion which a man of flesh and blood can feel with all of his senses, sinews and organs, with his entire being, a sensous religion which connoative man will encounter, in a very palpable way, wherever he may go. A subjective religiosity comprised of spiritual moods, of emotions and affections, of outlooks and desires, will never be blessed with success."
HOWEVER Rabbi Soloveitchik's description of the ideal Halakhic man, firmly rooted to concrete ideas, laws and mitzvot, is anything but dry. Halakhic man is a fighter, fighting on behalf of his people, bringing heaven down to the earthly world. He serves God with joy, certainly. He simply doesn't put joy above halakha.
I see now that the really long comment I left last night as a response to Shira didn't post. That's incredibly frustrating. And on my own blog! Argh...ReplyDelete
OTOH, Chana made one of the points I had wanted to, and did so much better than I 'had', regarding the woman who wore the tallis without tzitzis.
As for the second comment: Nobody ever said that the purpose of the mitvot was to make you feel good. We have no rights, we have only obligations, and your obligation is to remain loyal to your husband. G-d may have freed you from the Egyptians, but your husband has no obligation to free you from your marriage, nor do we rabbis have any obligation to force him to do so. Why don't you just pay him off? He won't take your money, he wants custody of the children, and you're afraid to give them to him because you left him in the first place because he was beating you? Well, tough. The law is the law, and neither kindness, nor compassion, nor kavod habriyot, nor conscience, nor even, occasionally, kiddushat hashem has anything to do with it. Who cares?
I completely disagree. First of all, one could easily respond that we are obligated to use all of those: Kindness, compassion, kavod habriyos, conscience, and kiddushat Hashem whenever we are dealing with any issue. That's why (taking your example) there are many rabbis who spend so much time dealing with jerk husbands to get those gittin, etc.
To some extent, law IS law. We try to incorporate as much joy and compassion and whatnot into every single aspect of those laws and obligations, to the point that we are commanded to "serve Hashem b'simcha". But that same joy and compassion do not trump the law or obligations.
Your post was interesting. I do have a couple questions for you though. Regarding point #1, if Judaism is solely of obligations and not rights (very Leibowitzian indeed) then what obligation within the realm of halakha conscribes a woman to solely the role of the house and raising children? It is true that a woman, the parent who biologically gives birth to the children, might be best suited to raise the children and it is also true in agrarian society men possess more muscle and thus more work potential so therefore would be more suited to work. But, we are not dealing with assumptions, emotions or anything outside the realm of halakha, correct? So then what is the actual halachot that prescribe the halakhic woman to the conventional Orthodox norms?
Second point regarding the 'rights vs obligations' argument; from where do we know a person who desires to perform a mitzvah, even though they are not necessarily obligated in it, is condemned? Is a man who chooses to wear tzitzit all day under his shirt looked down upon? Do we say he should focus on his obligations and not his right to perform more mitzvot? I understand the Mishna Berurah states regarding the mitzvah of tzitzit and women that a woman could technically put on a tallit and recite the beracha but more then likely they are doing it because of 'yuhura' roughly translated as religious arrogance and therefore should abstain. Is it truly out of the realm of possibilty that a woman would choose to wear tzitzit for anything else other than religious arrogance? Or do the realm of motivational options only apply to the male gender?
I agree with you regarding point two that to wholeheartedly tie religion to the concept of meaningful poses a dangerous route. But, is the quest for meaning in its totality a foolish enterprise? What is the occupation of apologetics so much of religious literature, classic and modern, dedicated to if not to that? Was there not a large bulk of rishonic and achronic thought dedicated to discovering the meaning behind the mitzvot, the 'tam' of an action? The source of the commandment of prayer as the Rambam states is to serve God with all one's heart. Is not the heart traditionally the source of emotion and feeling? Is one who states prayers purely to fulfill an obligation, by rote, a praiseworthy individual? Or do we say one should have kavannah, intentions and meaning in their words? If a woman decides to perform an action, like wearing a tallit, a garment called in halakhic literature, 'meyuchad' for tefillah, that poses no pure halakhic problem and by doing so increases her kavannah and devotion to God in prayer, is that a bad thing?
Just some thoughts. I look forward to hear your reply.
I don't really follow your argument. Even if one assumes that rights are deriviatives of obligations and not vice versa, Halacha still grants various rights to individuals. I have a right to defend myself whether that right is inalienable or stems from your obligation to not to kill me. The same applies with property and the discretionary right of the owner to kill an intruder. Rights are just the flip side of obligations.
Moreover the right/obligation dichotomy does not support your argument. If woman are asking to counted for a minyan, they are implicitly requesting the obligation to be part of a minyan. If women want to become rabbis, they are accepting all the obligations that are part and parcel of being part of the rabbinate.
I think a better answer is simply that, while Judaism does recognize rights, there is no right to become a Rabbi or be counted for a minyan. There are criteria that are laid out for one to become a rabbi and be counted for a minyan and for whatever reason, women cannot fulfill those terms.
I don't believe there actually is a halakha stating that a woman must stay at home and raise her kids. It's suggested that she might do so (we read this in class, actually) in one of the Igros Moshe, but it's not laid down as a law. The Netziv actually goes for the very opposite! The Netzvi states (from what I just learned) that the idea that "mitzvos asei sh'hazman grama" not being practiced by women because women are not masters of their own time doesn't really work. Why not? For one thing, what if the woman is divorced or single? Then she should be able to practice them! But more importantly, what about the Eved Ivri, the Jewish servant? He is obligated in ALL the mitzvos except one- he can marry a Canaanite woman if his master wants him to do so. And this Eved Ivri is CERTAINLY not a master of his own time. The Netziv concludes that women certainly MAY do these mitzvot if they want to; the reason that women are exempt from them must simply come down to halakha/ gzeiras hakatuv. The staying home and raising kids idea might be conventional practice, but I have not seen a halakha stating anything like that. I may be wrong, however; perhaps you want to correct me?ReplyDelete
There are certainly many Orthodox (maybe Modern Orthodox would be more appropiate) women I know who balance careers and their children. My mother is an excellent example of that, as a Diabetes Nurse Manager. She would not be fulfilling one/ hundredth of herself if she were merely to stay home, and so many people are helped because of her. Certainly she can go to work and lead a Torah-true existence simultaneously (as R' Soloveitchik has written as well, elsewhere, the Torah exists everywhere and anywhere, in the mundane and the secular...)
Perhaps I was not clear with regard to my second point. Certainly one is not CONDEMNED for doing mitzvot that are not obligated upon them. The question that arose was the question of motivation. If your motivation is impure- if you just want the tallis because "they have it," then that's not really a DESIRE to fulfill a mitzvah for God, is it? The Igeres Moshe we read stated that women COULD wear tzitzis (this was from R' Feinstein!) although the "tzurah" or form would have to be different; otherwise it's beged Ish. HOWEVER, if the motivation of these people is wrong/ not a real desire to do a mitzvah but just to play dress-up, really, to feel important, it's not allowed.
The quest for meaning is certainly not a foolish enterprise. However, meaning must be allied to the halakha and a true desire to fulfill mitzvot. If I truly desire to become closer to God through taking it upon myself to wear tzizit, if I commit to that and will do that wholeheartedly; it is, at least according to what I've read, allowed. If, however, I ascribe "meaning" to practices just to make myself feel-good and/ or important, well, that's an excuse, not truth. And we are after truth, really...
The idea you brought up..."mitoch lishmah ba lishma," that you may start off simply wanting to be like all the men in their pretty-looking "prayer-garments" and end up really fulfilling the mitzvah wholeheartedly, has always been a hard one for me. I mean that throughout all mitzvot. The idea that mumbling verses of tefillot that we don't mean can bring me to at one point mean the tefillot I say has always been hard for me to accept, and I will admit that I still don't really accept it. You have a point but I cannot answer, because it's never really made sense to me to begin with.
The point is just that we can't use mitzvot for ulterior motive, to make ourselves feel happy or whole. If that's a byproduct, good, but otherwise it's not going to work. If I wear a tallis because it's "meaningful" and makes me feel as important as the men, to some degree it's simply like playing dress-up. Isn't it? It is not being done to serve God but rather to make me feel important, so what good, halakhically speaking, is that?
Anyway, I agree with what you've said. There is DEFINITE meaning allied to halakha, as is expressed so beautifully in 'Halakhic Man' and the like. Meaning, joy, beauty, all the feelings that we have- these feelings are, however, not the motivation for the mitzvot.
I think I agree with you. Perhaps a better way to phrase my professor's argument would have been to use the word "entitlement." People think they are ENTITLED to certain rights, while the Torah, well, all of Halakha does not support this sense of entitlement. You may want to be a Kohen- you may request it/ even implicitly request the obligation (Korach again), but you will not be entitled to it simply because you've asked for it.
Thanks for your reply. I am glad to have a long holiday weekend to spend it fruitfully blogging! In regards to what Rav Moshe stated, he was not the first to state the permissibility of women to wear a tallit. From what I recall, the Shulchan Aruch (or at least the Rema) himself stated that explicitly in Orach Chayim.
I agree with you that someone who does a mitzvah because they want to be like someone else out of a sense of jealousy is certainly not to be recommended. However, there is much in rabbinic literature that discusses learning from one's teachers in every aspect they do (i.e. accounts in the Gemara of following rebbeim into the bathroom, hiding under the bed while a rebbe and his wife engaged in marital relations, etc). We are meant to learn and utilize from the paths of those who have grown significantly in their Judaism. My point simply being it is not necessarily the worst thing for a woman to decide that she sees the greatest examples of personal piety wearing tallitot during prayer and initially begins the practice due to that reason.
Secondly, I would say while you are right those who seek to eschew their gender responsibilities (although it has yet been stipulated what responsibilities are explicitly stipulated for women alone except for hadlakot nerot, niddah and challah), we should not assume one who does a religious action that might not be completely normative is doing it for that negative reason. We should be dan l'caf zechut and never assume a negative motivation for any person. Unless a woman personally says when asked that she is performing X, Y or Z because she wants to be a man or does not want to be less equal than a man, we should not assume that is what she is thinking. In my experience, having met many Orthodox women who do wear tallitot, some wearing tefillin, women who attend minyan daily, etc, I have never met one who said she is engaging in these acts to be like a man. The very thought is degrading for the individual and insulting to to their character.
Your last point is valid. Yet, the very source of tefillah is avodah b'lev. There is certainly room for emotion and feeling in an avodah that is b'lev.
do I know you? Do I read your blog? Your comments are so thoughtful. I agree with them. :)
You could write me an email! I'm at email@example.com
As I've said before, I'm nervous about blogging from the office, so I actually sent this home via e-mail several hours ago. The comments have progressed considerably beyond the point in question, by now, but, if you'll forgive me for being rather late to the party, I'd like to post this thought anyway:ReplyDelete
Chana said, "If you must have rights, then they are the rights granted to you by Halakha, which will be stated in the Torah and Gemera. The woman, very obviously, has the rights of her Ketuba and in the oft-quoted (is it Ramban? I don't remember) the Sanhedrin may BEAT her husband until he divorces her."
The Ketuba (marriage contract) may have been a wonderful protection mechanism at the time that it was first devised, but, in our day, the rights granted by the Ketuba are scarely worth the paper on which they're written. Chana, in my opinion, you've capitalized the wrong word: " . . . the Sanhedrin MAY beat her husband until he divorces her," but neither the Sanhedrin nor the modern Bet Din (Jewish religious court) is OBLIGATED to do anything to "persuade" a man to give his wife a get (Jewish religious divorce). If the rabbanim (rabbis) were truly concerned about protecting woman from abuse, they would make the extortion of (either) money and/or the concession of sole child custody from women by their husbands in return for a get unequivocally assur (forbidden)! Any marriage contract that does not OBLIGATE a man and/or a Bet Din to recognize a woman as an individual who is free to control her own life is useless.
That said, Ezzie has a point: "one could easily respond that we are obligated to use all of those: Kindness, compassion, kavod habriyos, conscience, and kiddushat Hashem whenever we are dealing with any issue. That's why (taking your example) there are many rabbis who spend so much time dealing with jerk husbands to get those gittin, etc." Lest I be accused, rightfully, of tarring the entire Orthodox rabbinate with the same brush, I give my thanks and respect to all of those rabbanim who dedicate so much time and effort to freeing agunot ("chained" woman whose husbands refuse to give them a get).
Here's where I repeat a complaint that I've made before, though possibly not on this blog: One of the hazards of participating in the Jewish blogosphere is that so many J-bloggers, particularly of the Orthodox persuasion, base what they write on the assumption that every reader had the good fortune to attend a Jewish day school.ReplyDelete
For example, Anonymous said: "Is a man who chooses to wear tzitzit all day under his shirt looked down upon? Do we say he should focus on his obligations and not his right to perform more mitzvot?"
Whoa, back up! As recently as a few weeks ago, I myself, being among those not blessed with a yeshiva education, was unaware that a man is not, in theory, obligated to wear tzitzit unless he *chooses* to wear a garment with corners, thus voluntarily obligating himself. It does, occasionally, become distressing that you fortunate few just take it for granted that every J-blog reader knows what you're talking about.
Okay, now that I've cleared that up, here's the rest of my e-mail:
Chana also said, "This woman feels happy because she's wearing a part of the "prayer uniform." This in itself shows that has nothing to do with halakha or God, but merely is a covetous desire on the woman's part to have what the men have- "the prayer uniform." That's not necessarily BAD; it is simply divorced from a true following of the mitzvot." Not so: It became "bad" the minute that Rav Soloveitchik forbade her to wear tzitzit.
Anonymous pretty much "nails" the argument re ritual garments: "from where do we know a person who desires to perform a mitzvah, even though they are not necessarily obligated in it, is condemned? Is a man who chooses to wear tzitzit all day under his shirt looked down upon? Do we say he should focus on his obligations and not his right to perform more mitzvot? I understand the Mishna Berurah states regarding the mitzvah of tzitzit and women that a woman could technically put on a tallit and recite the beracha but more then likely they are doing it because of 'yuhura' roughly translated as religious arrogance and therefore should abstain. Is it truly out of the realm of possibilty that a woman would choose to wear tzitzit for anything else other than religious arrogance? Or do the realm of motivational options only apply to the male gender?"
I've been thinking about blogging about this, so maybe I will: The reason why I originally began wearing a tallit was that, as a member (at that time) of an egalitarian synagogue, I figured that rights came with obligations. The reason why I continued to wear a tallit after we moved and became members of a non-egalitarian synagogue was that it just didn't make sense for me to suddenly stop wearing a tallit when I'd been wearing one for roughly a decade. What's interesting about that is that I was working on pure logic: It wasn't until many years later that I heard that, once one has accepted a mitzvah upon oneself, one is not permitted to stop performing that mitzvah. Clearly, my motive was not halachic--how could it have been, when I didn't even know the halachah?! But was it "wrong?" Please think twice about assuming the worst regarding anyone's motives for accepting an obligation voluntarily.
Here's where I repeat a complaint that I've made before, though possibly not on this blogReplyDelete
You have made it here, and it's a good one. I've instructed a couple of the guest posters (who aren't bloggers) to try and translate/explain terms etc... but in general, I don't fault commenters for speaking without doing so. They are usually talking more to one person specifically than to the 'audience', so to speak. But it would be better if they could try and explain anyway.
Clearly, my motive was not halachic--how could it have been, when I didn't even know the halachah?! But was it "wrong?" Please think twice about assuming the worst regarding anyone's motives for accepting an obligation voluntarily.
Chas v'shalom. I would argue, however, that there's a marked difference between you doing it and someone who (say) grew up FFB doing it.
What's interesting about that is that I was working on pure logic: It wasn't until many years later that I heard that, once one has accepted a mitzvah upon oneself, one is not permitted to stop performing that mitzvah.
Ironically, I think you're somewhat hurting the argument you were making above... unless you just simply disagree with the 'rules' in play.
Let's see if I can be coherent at 215... You're saying that your approach is not halachic. That's fine. But then you can't really disagree with a post that is discussing "Feminism in Halacha". Your primary issue seems to be with the way you perceive halacha to be set up... whether that's in fact the way it is is a matter of debate, but that's honestly a separate issue entirely.
Yes, I disagree with the rules in play. The Torah B'chtav (Written Law--the first five books of the Bible) itself provides ample precedent for a person taking on an obligation voluntarily, including the Nazir who didn't cut his or her hair and refrained from alcoholic beverages and all grape products and made a sacrifice at the end of his/her term as a Nazir, a person making a voluntary sacrifice, and a person making a "vow" (pledge) of the monetary equivalent of a person or possession (the original fundraiser :) ). The question then becomes, why is this *now* discouraged *only when a woman is involved?* This goes against established precedent D'Oraita (in the Written Law given to Moses).ReplyDelete
I don't think that's quite true. Firstly, a nazir is generally a frowned upon concept. There's also a marked difference between a pledge (which, IIRC, had caps as a % of someone's wealth - lower than our current tax rates) and taking on extra commandments which weren't intended for someone.ReplyDelete
Until recent history, people taking on 'extras' was generally frowned upon - someone wrote a post recently about a Gemara Yerushalmi (?) on this, actually, and I haven't found it since.
Moreover, I think that someone like you, for example, is an extremely rare case. I stand by my statement from before that there's a difference between yourself and someone who grew up Orthodox wanting to do it, especially in terms of intention.