osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

Today's Mussar Drash: Why We Must Teach Women Halacha to Prevent Avodah Zarah

Or: Charedi Rebbis are screwing everything up for us.

This is written in my Yaakov Hamizrachi style.  I'll try to provide suitable interpretation of the nuances.

Baruch haMakom Baruch hoo. Blessed be the Lord, blessed be He. Until today I was not worthy to understand that which is written in Kohelet: Al tihiyeh Tzadik harbeh, v'al titchakam, lamah tishomaim. (trans: Do not be overly righteous, nor make yourself too wise, why would you destroy yourself.") (Ecl. 7:16) But by the wicked it says: Al tihiye rasha harbeh, v'al tihiye sichlut, lama tamut b'lo itecha. ("Do not be overly righteous, nor be a fool, why would you die before your appointed time?") (Id. 7:17) For why should it be that if one is overly righteous or makes oneself too wise you will destroy yourself, but if one is wicked or foolish you will merely die before your time? Even if we understand how one can be "overly rightteous" or make oneself "too wise," how can it be that the outcome of such a thing is far worse than the outcome of wickdness or foolishness? For while the wicked or foolish merely die early, the overly righteous will destroy themselves.

Then I read this article: http://www.timesofisrael.com/ramat-gan-statue-attracts-women-hoping-to-conceive/?utm_source=The+Times+of+Israel+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=2ef8db260b-2016_09_17&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_adb46cec92-2ef8db260b-54549337

According to the article, there is a modern art statute in a park in Rammat Gan, Israel, where ultra-Orthodox (aka Charedi) women go in the belief that touching this statue -- or even better, stretching out and lying on it -- will enhance their chance of getting pregnant. No, I don't know why this belief is true. But, according to the article, such "fads" for enhancing fertility, including visitng a particular resteraunt and ordering a particular salad or going to a supermarket in Ashdod where women "sit on a special throne-like fertility chair."

The problem here is not merely that this is foolishness. The problem is that this is mamash text book avodah zara (idol worship). To go and prostrate yourself on a stone statue in the belief that this statue will magically help you get pregnant is the very definition of avodah zara. And no, thinking that somehow the act leads back to Hashem does not make it OK. that is the whole point of the no making and worshipng images thing. Further, there is no connection to any tzadik or other explicit connection to Hashem that might, somehow, possibly, fit within any structure of our tradition. This isn't like going to the Tomb of Rachel or even consulting some miracle worker who claims to have powers from Hashem. This is literally go to a statute and touch or prostrate yourself on the stone statue and the magic power of this thing of stone built by human hands you will open your womb and bring forth children.

How is it possible that so many women from "ultra-Orthodox" communities are so ignorant not merely of the world, to know this is foolish, but ignorant of halacha to know this is idolatry, the worst sin imaginable?

As we have seen, the Rabbis among the charedim have been obsessed with controling the women of their communities and keeping them ignorant. They have forbidden them to learn halacha. More recently, they have prohibitted women from attending university or otherwise getting secular education these Rabbis do not control. All this, they claim, is to prevent women from leaving the way of true torah Judaism and to avoid bringing "corruption" into the pure holy community they have built.

In particular, they have stressed that the only way that women can make God happy is to subordinate themselves to their husbands and to have children. In prohibiting secular education, these Rabbis made it clear that they considered it a theat if these women began to regard themselves as leaders and equals to men. They warned that even seeking secular education to get a better paying job for the purposes of supporting their husband's torah study would put their souls at risk.

And what is the result? They have instead brought in mamash avodah zarah! Can there be any greater corruption of the "holy community" or greater risk to the souls of these women than luring them into the worship of a stone idol to give them children? Therefore they have caused their own destruction, as it is written (Deut. 28:63): "the Lord shall delight to destroy you."

Had these Rabbis merely been wicked or foolish men, they would would only have committed their own sins and thus would have died before their time.* But because they were over-righteous, they denied their daughters the understanding of Torah. Because they applied all their cleverness to preventing their daughters from learning what they needed to know -- both secular and religious -- to avoid avoda zarah. Therefore is it written of the overly wicked: "Why die before your appointed time?" But of the overly righteous it is written: "Why will you destroy yourself?"

Davar acher (a different interpretation). Had these men been wicked after the manner they imagine of the secular world and women -- in the loose conduct of sexual matters -- the worse punishment they would have been worthy of is death (for adultery). Instead, they have become seducers to idolatry and brought a whole city to worship an idol of fertility. Therefore are they worthy of destruction.**

*The Talmud states that God appoints a particular span of years to a person when that person is born. This appointed span may be lengthened if the person performs good deeds, or shortened if the person is overl sinful.

** Deut. Chapter 13 described the case where the elders of the city seduce an entire city to idolatry. The punishment is the tiotal destruction of the city and its inhabitants.


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