Friday, January 20, 2012

All of this is done in the name of the Torah and Jewish law!

Op-Ed Contributor - THE NEW YORK TIMES

Lechery, Immodesty and the Talmud - By DOV LINZER

Published: January 19, 2012

Last month, an innocent, modestly dressed 8-year-old girl, Naama Margolese, living in Beit Shemesh, described being spat on and vilified by religious extremists — all men — who believed that she did not dress modestly enough while walking past them to the religious school she attends. And more and more, public buses in Israel are enforcing gender segregation imposed by ultra-Orthodox riders in and near their neighborhoods. Woe to the girl or woman who refuses to move to the back of the bus.

This is part of a larger battle being waged in Israel between the ultra-Orthodox and the rest of Israeli society over women’s place in society, over their very right to have a visible presence and to participate in the public sphere.

What is behind these deeply disturbing events? We are told that they arise from a religious concern about modesty, that women must be covered and sequestered so that men do not have improper sexual thoughts. It seems, then, that a religious tenet that begins with men’s sexual thoughts ends with men controlling women’s bodies.

This is not a problem unique to Judaism. But the Talmud, the basis for Jewish law, offers a perhaps surprising answer: It places the responsibility for controlling men’s licentious thoughts about women squarely on the men.

Put more plainly, the Talmud says: It’s your problem, sir; not hers.

The ultra-Orthodox men in Israel who are exerting control over women claim that they are honoring women. In effect they are saying: We do not treat women as sex objects as you in Western society do. Our women are about more than their bodies, and that is why their bodies must be fully covered.

In fact, though, their actions objectify and hyper-sexualize women. Think about it: By saying that all women must hide their bodies, they are saying that every woman is an object who can stir a man’s sexual thoughts. Thus, every woman who passes their field of vision is sized up on the basis of how much of her body is covered. She is not seen as a complete person, only as a potential inducement to sin.

Of course, once you judge a female human being only through a man’s sexualized imagination, you can turn even a modest 8-year-old girl into a seductress and a prostitute.

At heart, we are talking about a blame-the-victim mentality. It shifts the responsibility of managing a man’s sexual urges from himself to every woman he may or may not encounter. It is a cousin to the mentality behind the claim, “She was asking for it.”

So the responsibility is now on the women. To protect men from their sexual thoughts, women must remove their femininity from their public presence, ridding themselves of even the smallest evidence of their own sexuality.

All of this is done in the name of the Torah and Jewish law.

But it’s actually a complete perversion. The Talmud, the foundation of Jewish law, acknowledges that men can be sexually aroused by women and is indeed concerned with sexual thoughts and activity outside of marriage. But it does not tell women that men’s sexual urges are their responsibility. Rather, both the Talmud and the later codes of Jewish law make that demand of men.

It is forbidden for a man to gaze sexually at a woman, whether beautiful or ugly, married or unmarried, says the Talmud. Later Talmudic rabbis extended this ban even to “her smallest finger” and “her brightly colored clothing — even if they are drying on the wall.”

To make these the woman’s responsibility is to demand that Jewish women cover their hands, and that they not dry their clothes in public. No one has ever said this. At least not yet.

The Talmud tells the religious man, in effect: If you have a problem, you deal with it. It is the male gaze — the way men look at women — that needs to be desexualized, not women in public. The power to make sure men don’t see women as objects of sexual gratification lies within men’s — and only men’s — control.

Jewish tradition teaches men and women alike that they should be modest in their dress. But modesty is not defined by, or even primarily about, how much of one’s body is covered. It is about comportment and behavior. It is about recognizing that one need not be the center of attention. It is about embodying the prophet Micah’s call for modesty: learning “to walk humbly with your God.”

Eight-year-old Naama could teach her attackers a thing or two about modesty.

Dov Linzer, an Orthodox rabbi, is the dean of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.



Convulsions in Israel said...

Rabbi Linzer has his point of view, but it's only part of a very big story that almost all the main actors do not grasp, if they even think about it.

Everyone is seeing what's happening from their own point of view. Few are trained with that ability to be a "fly on the wall" and have what scholars and historians call a "detached eye" a metaphor for the ability to "see" thing without being prejudiced by one's own opinions and beliefs, conscious or otherwise.

Ok, so what's up? It can be summed up in one word "CHANGE" -- and the reactions to it. Nothing stays the same, not ever, and definitely not in this volatile modern world.

Bob Dylan had it right: "The Times They Are a-Changin'" and there ain't nothing that's gonna stop it from happening!

Charedim are coming out of their self-imposed ghettos through sheer growth in numbers and like the little chicks that hatch they are finding out that the world out there is much bigger than just Meah Shearim and Bnai Brak and it will not lie down and submit to them!

Modern Orthodox olim mainly from America are finding out that their worst nightmares include a big job they never imagined or asked for: confronting the Charedi mobs, and as good old Yankees, they will not back down in the face of spitting and rock throwing from Charedi hooligans.

Secular Israelis, the chilonim, have proven they can build a modern, rich, powerful state. They owe no one any apologies. least of all Charedim who think they are "Nazis" that just makes the chilonim into the good guys in the world media, the exact opposite of what they Charedim wanted. Secular Israelis are now being tested like never before by Charedi provocateurs.

The secular Israeli media is screwed up as usual pointing fingers and spinning their wheels explaining nothing. The Orthodox media is just plain stupid and comes across as brain-damaged.

Israel is at its peak of wealth, military power, economic influence, and yes, it is the center of Torah and Yiddishkeit. About 50% of world Jewry has now moved to Israel since 1948 and within 50 years most of the world's Jews will call Israel home, no two-way about it!

The secular Israelis have succeeded materially in ALL spheres but they know they lack a solid spiritual core, while the Orthodox have succeeded spiritually in Torah building but they don't have a clue about how to function and sustain themselves with REAL PARNASA/LIVELIHOODS like all other normal people in a civil society.

Oh yeah, the what about the Arabs? They don't count. This is not about them.

This is a just a clip. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

typical of dov linzer and the chovevei people.

Anonymous said...

keep it up! Thanks

Archie Bunker said...

Although most of what Linzer writes is correct, this guy is not exactly lishma. Despite what he claims, he is not orthodox in hashkofa or practice. The Chovavei / Avi Weiss crowd often act like a bunch of big babies who try bebas achas to put themselves on the map and stick it to Charedim. This is like what they did with their Rubashkin boycott which they copped out of suddenly for no apparent reason, except that maybe the PR whore Ron Torrossian (currently under Federal investigation) may have made a backdoor deal with his good friend Avi Weiss on behalf of his clients.

Linzer is correct when he says little girls cannot make themselves into sex objects but he is incorrect when he applies the same rule to adults as Chazal are very clear about that.

Archie Bunker said...

To report on my latest interactions with Failed Shmarya,


I caught him offguard one night when he took a rare break from having his oversized posterior glued to his beanbag seat in front of his computer. I posted in my name from a computer he hadn't yet blacklisted to criticize him on one of his endless distortions. The crowd cheered me, including those who do not share my religious viewpoint. There were simply too many people responding to my post for him to remove it without him looking bad over it.

A few days later, Shmarya had a hissy fit at Jerusalem Post reporter Caroline Glick. He always hated her because she is pro-US Republicans. It is rumored that she recently became a baalas teshuva which is driving him nuts but he purposely did not mention because it makes it harder for him to convince others to leave frumkeit.

Shmarya accused Caroline of distorting figures in a recent article. I presented a very detailed refutation of Shmarya's lies and inaccuracies. Shmarya took my post off in less than 5 minutes and permanently banned the new computer I was using.

One of Shmarya's lies had to do with statistics of mesivta age bochurim in Israel. Shmarya of course knows that many Charedi yeshivos in Israel have no secular studies or even report anything to the govt. Yet Shmarya pretended that they are all accounted for as learning secular studies to enable him to attack & smear Caroline.

Spaced out BT said...

Someone from Chovevei is not capable from getting it right on this issue?

Anonymous said...

If you don't hold of the CT crowd, there are plenty of other mainstream Rabbonim that have spoken up about this along the same vein.

Try checking kosher tube for a shiur by Rabbi Daniel Korobkin of Toronto (formerly of L.A.) entitled "Who should sit at the back of the bus". It's a halacha shiur and slightly long, but worthwhile to stay with it - very strong hashkafa included.


R.Wisler said...

Boy, talk about a sick obssession Archie. Everything's about Shmarya Rosenberg! Your hatred and diseased obsession with being banned from a stupid blog has reached the brink of insanity! It's only a fucking blog Arch! Concern yourself with acts of charity and don't spend your time on your hatred of Failed Messiah.