web analytics
April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Anorexia And Corrupt Dating Values In Our Community


Share Button

   The article last week in The New York Times concerning the explosion of anorexia and eating disorders in the Orthodox community highlights a tragedy that has long been buried.
 
   In November 2006 I wrote a column about an eighteen-year-old girl my daughter knew at a seminary in Jerusalem who died of anorexia (www.jewishpress.com/pageroute.do/19839). The seminary shrugged off any blame in the matter and cited some other illness, even though the girls at the seminary watched her wasting away with the administration seemingly oblivious.
 
   The tragedy is not only the danger posed to religious girls with eating disorders but also the growth of corrupt values in the Orthodox community. The Times article highlighted how matchmakers are calling about girls and asking what dress size they and their mothers are. What does this have to do with Jewish values? Sure, a man has to be attracted to a woman. But the narrow definition of the body as the only ingredient of attraction is a betrayal of the traditional Jewish definition of feminine beauty.
 
   Time was when a Jewish woman’s comeliness was determined holistically and based on five key components: her body, her mind, her heart, her piety, and her personality. Now, it’s been reduced to her dress size. Stick-thin scarecrow-like features are the foremost determinant of attractiveness.
 
   Being overweight is not healthy. But women who focus only on their bodies to the exclusion of their souls are equally unhealthy. And men who have practiced Judaism their entire lives but are blind to a woman’s righteousness and virtue, focusing exclusively on her form to the exclusion of her substance, are even more unhealthy.
 
   The crisis in Orthodoxy today is the practice of Jewish ritual to the exclusion of Jewish values. And in no area is this more evident than in the increasingly shallow dating preferences that are coming to define our community. King Solomon’s ode to the eishes chayil – the wife of excellence – we chant every Friday night risks becoming an empty refrain, with men paying lip service to its central proclamation that “physical beauty is misleading, but a woman who fears God is truly to be praised.”
 
   I never would have thought Orthodox Jews would arrive at a stage where our young men of marriageable have become so one-dimensional that their superficiality would begin to literally kill our young women. That their mothers – women themselves – are colluding in this corruption by calling the shadchan to ask a girl’s dress size in the same breath as asking about her level of Torah observance is doubly tragic.
 
   The Times article also cited the immense pressure Orthodox women feel to marry at a very young age and how they feel themselves to be failures if they are in their mid-twenties and not yet married with a few children.
 
   I have long advocated marrying young - for Orthodox and secular alike – because it allows a couple to grow up together and solidify their union with life’s formative experiences. But this has to be balanced against the benefits of young women being educated and using their minds, not just their wombs. It’s a beautiful thing to see Orthodox seminaries for women bursting at the seams. Jewish women today are being exposed to the great texts of Judaism, from Talmud and Midrash to halacha and chassidus. Stern and Touro are graduating Orthodox girls with degrees in international relations and public relations, girls proficient in the sciences and mathematics.
 
   Secular Jews have long dismissed the Orthodox attitude toward women as demeaning and misogynistic. They argue that we treat our girls as baby-making machines who belong in the kitchen. But the highly educated Orthodox Jewish woman gives the lie to these malicious accusations. Should we be so stupid as to prove our critics right by making women feel so much pressure to be married by the age of twenty? Is it not our responsibility to demonstrate that a woman can maximize her fullest intellectual potential alongside having a family and that she need not choose between them?
 
   I am, thank God, the proud father of nine children. I want my daughters to marry young and to marry virtuous men. I shudder at the idea that after my wife and I raised them to embody the virtue of the Jewish matriarchs, my daughters will meet Orthodox suitors obsessed with their external beauty to the exclusion of their inner spiritual commitment.
 
   I have spent my life critiquing the secular culture’s attitudes toward the feminine, especially in my book Hating Women, where I decry the reduction of women to a libidinous man’s plaything. But we in the Orthodox community dare not make our own mistake in reducing our women to pretty baby-making mannequins.
 
   Yes, family is the most important thing in Jewish life. And dating recreationally for ten years – as is common in secular society – is scant preparation for the lifelong commitment of marriage. I am a counselor to secular singles who suffer the effects of the recreational dating culture. They often experience the pain and heartache of endlessly going in and out of relationships.
 

   Orthodox Jewish life is meant to offer a radical alternative. But viewing women as frum Barbies, whose foremost responsibility is not learning Torah and practicing mitzvos but going on the treadmill and pumping iron, or seeing a woman’s education as inconsequential and making her feel old and discarded if she is not married by her early twenties, is hardly an attractive alternative.

 

 

    Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the bestselling author of 25 books, most recently Honoring the Child Spirit” and Renewal: A Guide to the Values-Filled Life.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

Share Button

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books, including The Fed-up Man of Faith: Challenging God in the Face of Tragedy and Suffering. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Anorexia And Corrupt Dating Values In Our Community”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ukraine Shul Firebombed
Ukrainian Synagogue Firebombed (Video)
Latest Indepth Stories
Imam Suhail Webb who boasted his Muslim community persuaded Brandeis President Fred Lawrence to withdraw an invitation to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

At Brandeis, much of what counts as Western civilization got cold feet and won’t stand with Hirsi Ali.

Text of anti-Semitic flyer distributed to Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine on Passover 2014.

But the lesson from this meditation is that hidden behind the anti-semitic act is the greatest light.

Yossi Klein HaLevi

As support of their messianic dream, Halevi and Antepli approve dishonoring Hirsi Ali as a ‘renegade.’

matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

More Articles from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet in the Kremlin, Nov. 20, 2013.

On the one hand, Putin has been a friend to Chabad and to Israel. On the other hand, Putin is a brutal dictator.

The gradual trickle of self-hatred into the Jewish soul is evidencing itself in the American Jewish public.

Rabbi Schochet wrote the Johannesburg Beis Din: It is totally prohibited and unacceptable to hear someone like Boteach.

If you’re feeling down, stop reading right now. You’re only going to be more depressed.

The world and the United State continue to give Rouhani a pass.

American Jews – especially those working on campus – don’t accept that we have a battle on our hands.

But the most painful part of an otherwise illuminating and extraordinary Forum was Iranian President Rouhani’s speech.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/anorexia-and-corrupt-dating-values-in-our-community/2011/04/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: