Tuesday, July 17, 2007

on women's observance of halacha and ideals in avodas hashem

The previous post touched on halachic particulars, but I think the topic of teaching girls halacha also calls attention to sociological biases. My wife touched on this in a recent post of hers regarding what makes some things frum and others not. Our shared assumption is that halacha demands the same meticulousness in observance from women as it does from men (in those areas that women are obligated in), but reality seems to prove otherwise.

The approach of beni torah in the yeshiva world (esp. in recent years) is to try to be “yotzei kol hadeyos” in halacha. That doesn’t mean where circumstances warrant one cannot rely on ikar ha’din or kulos, but no one would suggest institutionalizing these heterim as ideals to aspire to or a baseline of observance.

However, when it comes to women's and girls' observance, the situation is very different. From tefilah to shabbos makeup, somehow it is OK to teach as an ideal a level of observance that falls far short of what yeshiva educated men would aspire to themselves. Somehow the approach shifts from being “yotzei kol hadeyos” to “let’s look for an out”. Somehow the "ben Torah" who won't carry in an eiruv has no problem with his wife pushing the baby stroller down the street on Shabbos.

At the risk of being overly harsh, most women have never been educated to think independently about halacha and growth in observance, and most men care more about what's for dinner than whether their wife is keeping or knows a chumra of the chazon ish. Shouldn't we be striving for higher ideals than that?

9 comments:

  1. anon16:01 PM

    Except when it comes to tznius. Then there are chumros aplenty.

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  2. anon16:01 PM

    Except when it comes to tznius. Then there are chumros aplenty.

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  3. all too true, anon1. And any problems in the community are attributed to lack of tznius not skipping 'minor' fasts, eating before davening, overindulgence in materialism, etc.

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  4. All would be fine and good if these issues were completely independent of one another. The problem is that worrying about humras actually tends to interfere with dinner preparation. :)

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  5. Mike S.9:51 PM

    Why is 'yotzei l'chol hadeiot' or 'chumrah' a higher level of observance? Don't Chazal tell us to observe the halacha carefully, searching neither for kulot nor chumrot.

    I suspect that the reason people do not demand that women be midakdek in observance is that it requires learning, and, for reasons I do not understand, a large segment of the community has confused the fact that women do not have an obligation of talmud torah lishmah, to eliminate the requirement for them to know mitzvot ha'sheichot lahen. And therefore we have come to the silly conclusion that women should not learn halacha from shas and poskim.

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  6. Anonymous4:41 AM

    This was not my experience growing up at all.
    Shabbos makeup is a terrible example, since you underestimate the degree to which women wanted to put on makeup and some were already doing it. The people who are matir are trying to be sensitive to women's needs - they would get flak no matter which way they would go.

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  7. "This was not my experience growing up at all.
    Shabbos makeup is a terrible example, since you underestimate the degree to which women wanted to put on makeup and some were already doing it. The people who are matir are trying to be sensitive to women's needs - they would get flak no matter which way they would go."
    Are you implying when there is a will, a halchic way can and should be found -- to rephrase Blu's famous quote? There are many women who want to wear pants, that could be justified on a halachic basis, yet the RW world refuses to allow it.

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  8. Anonymous7:46 AM

    "Are you implying when there is a will, a halchic way can and should be found -- to rephrase Blu's famous quote?"

    No - and there are many parallel kulos for men's needs and for communal needs.

    If you want to gripe about double standards for women, the issue with the makeup is not the heter itself, but the lack of understanding of the metzius -- in an area where they don't have expertise.

    "There are many women who want to wear pants, that could be justified on a halachic basis, yet the RW world refuses to allow it."

    What's your point? Sure, no pants serve as a sociological marker, and independent of halacha, they would be resistant to letting go of it, just as they are adamant about black hats and white shirts for men.

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  9. Nicely written.

    With me being a convert, I am always striving to learn halachas.

    And I am a stickler with prayers that are not being recited - such as Korbanos. Pray tell why is this skipped?

    I daven Korbanos because we are told that HaShem told Avraham that He would forgive our sins when the Mishkan was destroyed if we recite in order the Korbanos.

    Let's pray Korbanos.

    www.zahavapasternak.blogspot.com

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