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Friday, March 5, 2010

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – MARCH 8TH

Is it such a good thing?

It’s not a good sign when a group of people have to have their own day. It usually means they’re treated badly the rest of the year but to make up for it they are “given” a day of their own.

On that special day all the injustices and hardships felt by them are aired and discussed in the media …… and then forgotten by the following day, which makes a mockery of the whole idea.

For this reason, these days have no place in Jewish custom. For example, there is no Mother’s Day in the Jewish calendar, because mothers should be treated with respect every day of the year – it’s one of the Ten Commandments.

I’ve always found it ironic that Jewish feminists have ‘decided’ that ultra-orthodox women are unhappy, downtrodden, inferior beings who lead a miserable existence, governed by their fathers, husbands and/or rabbis with ne’er an intelligent thought for themselves. They are not allowed to read from the Torah, put on tefillin or count as part of a minyan. They are ‘forced’ to have large families and relegated to a separate part of the shul .

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Well, surprise, surprise, but I don’t know any ultra-orthodox women who feel like that. It seems to me that those who voice the above ‘complaints’ are painfully unaware of the respect in Judaism given to the Jewish wife and mother. She plays the central role in the home, in the education of the next generation and is often the breadwinner in the family.

Feminists, it would appear,  have a knee-jerk reaction in wanting to do anything that is perceived as ‘forbidden’. There are many mitzvot which women can perform, but I have a strong suspicion that these don’t interest the above ladies.

If they had more self-respect for themselves and their role as women and as individuals they probably wouldn’t be so desperate to be allowed to take part in rituals which for religious/practical reasons have never been part of  a Jewish woman’s daily routine.               

Self-respect and self-confidence are the keys to living a fulfilled life. Continually looking for things to be disgruntled and annoyed over will, in my opinion,  only lead to a negative image and  discontented outlook.

Ultra-orthodox girls usually leave school ( which continues for an extra 2 to 3 years of further education ) well qualified to join the work-force in a variety of interesting and  much needed professions from architects to educators.

Before getting married both the grooms and the  brides  take pre-marital courses which don’t just teach the halachot ( laws) pertaining to Jewish married life but also place tremendous emphasis on shalom- bayit  (marital harmony) i.e. treating each other with  respect . Discussing peacefully, avoiding fights, respecting each other’s opinion, coming to a compromise – all these important aspects of sharing your life with someone else are discussed in depth. The emphasis is placed on giving not demanding, looking for way to make your partner happy – not insisting on  your own rights privileges.

I can see the fruits of these lessons in my own children’s harmonious relationships with their spouses.

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Men and women are  equal, but different – each with their own role in the home, in the family, in society and in spiritual life .

Hopefully there will come a day when we won’t need a special International Women’s Day – when women all over the world will be treated with equality and respect at home and in society.          

But I believe this will come through education within society and not through any artificially organized days on the calendar. 

4 comments:

Reb Mordechai said...

SO I take it you won't be joining the Women off the Wall for their next Rosh Chodesh reading at the Kosel? LOL

Lady-Light said...

In essense I agree with you, but truthfully there have been many, many problems in the ultra-Orthodox community (in Israel and the U.S.) with abusive, authoritarian husbands. They, too, have gone to chatan classes, but apparently they didn't make a dent.

The fact is that Jewish law can be interpreted incorrectly--all the men see is that THEY are the 'head of the household' and women can't do anything without their permission, and this seems to "justify" abusive behavior towards the wife.

It is unfortunately a fairly common problem in some Haredi communities, and it is hushed-up.

Reb Mordechai said...

The JP are certainly getting into the swing of things today. There's an article about women being better drivers than men. There's another one that claims that women
's right have not improved in last 10 years.

Another disturbing article which claims that 1 in 3 Israeli women have been raped or seriously sexually assaulted. I find this figure difficult to believe. These figures are twice or three times the figures of those in Europe and North America.

Ann said...

Reb Mordechai - regarding your first comment - I don't think they'd count me as part of their minyan as I don't have any tefillin !!

Women are better drivers? Well I'm prepared to believe that! And maybe women's rights haven't improved over the last 10 years I don't know - but I hope that last statistic is wrong.
What you read confirms what I said - a lot of ballyhoo about these things today and forgotten tomorrow - which if things are really bad shouldn't be the case. They should be dealt with and publicised on an ongoing basis not just once a year.

Lady-Light - you're quite right, there are always rotten apples in every barrel. What is important is that the society recognises that these are rotten apples and not that such behaviour is normal and acceptable.
There are, unfortunately, abused and degraded women amongst the ultra-orthodox, as with any society, but there is much more awareness of this nowadays and offenders are dealt with both within their own enclaves and in society as a whole.