by kyle's mom
I promised the Unorthodox Jew I would help him out, and then passed out after a tough day on a new job. Today, as I studied the halacha of preemptive wars, I remembered I promised to write. When I see what's happening in Israel, and get some of those interminable emails where the right writes about the left and the left writes about the right, I am overwhelmed with the amount of sinat chinom and rank stupidity that comes from Jews over my screen.
And I wonder where that hatred comes from and then I think back to my childhood and how we were taught one thing while those around us did the opposite; I remembered how we were judged on narishkeit, and disrespected as children. I remembered how I was taught that the Torah said one thing, but that my life experience at the hands of those I thought were 'religious' people was something else entirely.
So what is at the root of all of this evil? Where does all the stuff that I and so many others experienced come from?
I believe it comes from fear -- from the same kind of fear created through the millennia by our real enemies. And I believe it is the kind of fear that closes people off from themselves and promotes disrespect and hiding behind false walls that cut people off from who they are.
How can Judaism, a religion of reason, morality and ethics, be turned into such a cauldron of obscenity by men and occasionally women who deem it perfectly fine for children to be abused, for women to be battered, for the less fortunate than they to be treated with contempt?
By ignoring the basic, simple precepts of the religion and not teaching basic common decency and common sense. We forget to teach our sons that they come from mothers and have sisters who are also human beings and that women are not defiled and corrupt impure creatures that need to be shunned and ignored because they cause kallos rosh. We teach our males to fear our females and our females to fear our males. And we never allow them to connect in normal non-sexual environments. Every time they meet they are only allowed to think about marriage and babies--Instead of how to develop a normal healthy human relationship. In some cases we throw kids who know nothing together and let them sink or swim--to have a dozen babies and no way to care for them or method to raise them.
We live in self-destructive community because basic human relations have been turned into some freak show where men truly are from Mars, women truly are from Venus and never the twain shall meet in anything but some kind of twisted vacuum that prevents real relationships and respect from ever being developed.
We need to get back to the basics -- the simple kind of Judaism that Hillel espoused to the non-Jew who came to him after Shammai tossed him out. Hillel said to him, "Don't do anything to anyone else you don't want done to you...now go and study."
As I like to say, he didn't mean kvetch a benkel until you frazzled your family into a welfare case and need to rely on the kindness of strangers. What Hillel meant was go and study the world and try to make it better than you find it...because, if you think about it, Judaism says Bocharta be Chaim....choose life....not misery, not death for 72 virgins, not death for an afterlife. In Judaism there is no glory, really, in being a martyr. We are here for a different reason, to be a light unto the nations.
So I have to ask myself; what happened to that light? How could men decide that women who catch across the top of the head are not risking their lives to stay in violent relationships because batei din don't have the eggs to free them, when indeed they can...
We need to go and study and figure this mess out, because an Unorthodox Jew said, we lose 100,000 Jews a year -- and that is self-destruction on a grand, grand scale.
As I continue to write for the Unorthodox Jew, I will try to figure out some answers, and perhaps be able to explain how I, too, had to learn and break that cycle of abuse, sinat chinom and self-hatred.