Tuesday, June 15, 2004

I'm a hypocrite about lots of things but not about hypocrisy. I'm in favor of it and I practice it. I wish everybody would. For example, I sometimes (actually, often) speed on the highway. And I'm in favor of speeding laws and have no quarrel with a police officer who tickets me. But I'm not here to talk about speeding -- it's religion I want to discuss.

It seems like everywhere I look lately, women are laining at women's minyanim, leading kabbalas shabbos, saying kaddish, learning daf yomi, etc. At the risk of sounding like a troglodyte, let me say that this creeps me out. Am I just another misogynist pig with a vested interest in defending the patriarchy, buying into misguided essentialist arguments about female inferiority in order to shore up flagging self-esteem? Well, if you can parse that sentence, you probably think so. But I think it's something else.

What it comes down to is that I'm reasonably frum but I'm not at all religious. I identify profoundly with the frierdike doiros, I love to speak Yiddish, I wear a gartel, I enjoy talking in learning and even dumbing down my English syntax when necessary. And I really love laughing at religiosity. I have a soft spot for heimishe chazer-fressers. Someone who writes good hiddushei toirah on shabbos goes right into my pantheon. (But I would never do that and it would kill me if my kids would.) So for me, women laining etc is tarti lereiusa: first, it bastardizes yiddishkeit and second it's so self-righteously earnestly nauseatingly pious. And get off my back because self-righteously earnestly nauseatingly pious men get me sick just as much.

So let's get back to hypocrisy. I've got no issues with people who want to do aveiros. Unless they carry my DNA, I'm not getting involved. The problem seems to be that nobody is secure enough any more to just own up to doing aveiros lest they be accused of the dreaded H word. Every apparent aveirah needs to be incorporated into a twisted philosophy that justifies it. The fear of hypocrisy is destroying yiddishkeit far more effectively than hypocrisy ever could. So for my part go right ahead and do aveiros. But please keep your hands off my religion. This is how we do it and if you don't like it, start your own damn religion.

And, by the way, I completely agree that many frum men are indeed misogynist pigs with a vested interest in defending the patriarchy, who buy into misguided essentialist arguments about female inferiority in order to shore up flagging self-esteem. And I respect women who say that but I find it much more endearing when they say it with words like putz and schmuck instead.

7 Comments:

Blogger the shaigetz said...

gosh you really are funny, I am glad I found your space. I will be reading this more often.

One more proud hypocrite

7:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you sure you mean to include daf yomi with all the other things you mention? Or is it just the type of woman who normally is attracted to daf yomi shi'urim that bothers you? To me, the issue of women learning seems fundamentally different than the other public role issues -- at least they understand where the heart of Judaism is. The other stuff just seems to me to be imported from an essentially secular view of religion - professionalizing the rabbinate, looking to public roles and appointments as some kind of indicator of involvement with religion etc. Ignorance really *does* hamper a person spiritually in Judaism. I don't know that not leining in public does.

7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you sure you mean to include daf yomi with all the other things you mention? Or is it just the type of woman who normally is attracted to daf yomi shi'urim that bothers you? To me, the issue of women learning seems fundamentally different than the other public role issues -- at least they understand where the heart of Judaism is. The other stuff just seems to me to be imported from an essentially secular view of religion - professionalizing the rabbinate, looking to public roles and appointments as some kind of indicator of involvement with religion etc. Ignorance really *does* hamper a person spiritually in Judaism. I don't know that not leining in public does.

7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

are you sure you mean to include daf yomi with all the other things you mention? Or is it just the type of woman who normally is attracted to daf yomi shi'urim that bothers you? To me, the issue of women learning seems fundamentally different than the other public role issues -- at least they understand where the heart of Judaism is. The other stuff just seems to me to be imported from an essentially secular view of religion - professionalizing the rabbinate, looking to public roles and appointments as some kind of indicator of involvement with religion etc. Ignorance really *does* hamper a person spiritually in Judaism. I don't know that not leining in public does. There's also quite a real tradition of women learning, even though the women who wanted to in the past tended to be a minority who did so privately. Women who do want to learn but don't care about the public role thing seem much more sincere to me, and on much firmer halachic turf. That issue just seems very different from the others you list.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry about the multiple posts. It *looked* as though it wasn't going through!

7:39 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

I concede your point, I concede your point, I concede your point. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) I have no problem with those who practice any sort of "deviant" behavior in private. I refer only to those who wish to change the standard for everyone. In this respect, I don't differentiate between learning daf yomi or laining.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would differentiate, if it wasn't part of a "movement." I suspect that you object more to the women who are doing this, than to the practice itself.

3:16 PM  

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