OmerChallenge: Day 45

Today is forty-five days which are six weeks and three days in the Omer.
Hayom chamishah v-arba’im yom shehaym shishah shavuot ushloshah yamim la-omer.

An aspect of Judaism that you struggle with

Jacob wrestled the angel
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tim & Selena Middleton

Straight up, my biggest challenge with Judaism is the aspect law, status, and role with regard to women. Sure, there are ways around it – you can ignore it, you can unilaterally declare invalid those things that don’t “work” for you, you can work hard to explain it away.

But at the end of the day, women are different in the eyes of Jewish thought. In the best cases, that just comes down to “equal but different”. But there are a lot of situations where (in my view) it’s not the best case.

The mechitza bothers me.The fact that many interpret  “not obligated” to mean “not permitted” (tallit, tefillin, etc). The way that habits like shomer negia and kol isha – which can be empowering and useful tools to force people to recognize women as more than just objects – appear to sometimes (often?) rob women of their presence.

What is interesting is that, at least in my house, I’m a feminist without a cause. Or at least a backer. All the women in my house are more or less OK with “traditional” life. My wife likes the mechitza and the privacy it offers her. She has no desire to be heard (from the Bima or elsewhere. She is almost painfully shy in those situations).

While I can see how some of these rules can be both freeing and empowering, it’s hard for me to get past the modern and historical mis-uses as well as how just plain out of step it all feels.

And so I continue to wrestle.

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