IDF Radio reports that 70 rockets were fire at Israel from Gaza today. 25 were successfully intercepted. One woman was injured y shrapnel in Be’er Sheva.
Posts Tagged ‘woman’
It is morning and my car glides down the mountains of the Shomron into the smog of greater Tel Aviv. Another crazy day of running in the primaries is about to begin.
My cell phone rings. A young, determined voice is on the other end.
“Hello, this is so and so from the news website ynet. I am writing an article about donations to the candidates in the primaries. I wanted you to confirm a certain fact.”
“Go ahead,” I say.
“I see that you received a donation from a woman by the name of Nitzah Kahane,” the reporter says. “Is it true that Nitzah Kahane is the daughter-in-law of the late Rabbi Kahane?”
Maybe I hadn’t yet completely awakened. Perhaps I was suffering from lack of sleep and loads of pressure due to the campaign. But that question peeled a thick layer of political correctness right off my psyche.
“Oh,” I said to the young reporter. “You probably want to show your readers that women support Feiglin.”
“No,” the man dryly answered.
“No? Then perhaps you would like to show your readers that a woman donating to Moshe Feiglin’s campaign is also an academician whose scientific articles are published in the most prestigious journals in the world.”
“No,” the young voice said yet again.
“Oh,” I continued. “Perhaps your scoop is that a woman who is a famous academician, a mother of 10, a grandmother of 15, who manages to synthesize running a beautiful family and a glorious academic career and is involved in the community and Israeli society in an unprecedented manner supports Moshe Feiglin?”
“No,” the reporter stood his ground.
“And after you hear all of this, don’t you feel just a wee bit loathsome?” I asked with disdain.
“Okay,” I finish the conversation, “I submit that Professor Nitzah Kahane is the daughter-in-law of Rabbi Meir Kahane, may God avenge his blood, who was murdered 22 years ago in the U.S.”
“Thank you,” said the young voice in a professional tone. “That is all I needed.”
Did General Petraeus have to resign? He opened himself as head of the CIA to blackmail, which is a major security breach. So the argument goes. But surely once he admitted the affair, he presumably couldn’t be blackmailed any more. And yes I know there are many facts as yet unknown, like this mystery second woman who complained about email harassment. But for now, Petraeus seems to have resigned over marital infidelity. And if so, did he have to leave his position? Why, because he displayed personal weakness? But this was a public, as opposed to a private, position. And years of counseling unfaithful husbands and wives has taught me that private failings do not necessarily indicate public faithlessness.
Those who say that a man who cheats on his wife will cheat on the country forget how many privately moral men have been publicly immoral, and vice versa. As an example, there was never a suggestion that Richard Nixon even looked at a woman that wasn’t his wife. Neither did Jimmy Carter, and he was the worst president in memory. Conversely, my issue with Bill Clinton’s presidency was not Monica Lewinsky, which does not interest me in the slightest, but rather his moral failure to stop the Rwandan Genocide, which is utterly unconnected with his marriage. Thomas Jefferson was one of the great public men of the past thousand years, but he was replete with private moral failings, as was FDR, JFK, and LBJ.
It is my own opinion that an American hero like David Petraeus who served his country with distinction and honor deserved better than to leave his post in humiliation and ignominy, even if his own immoral actions brought it upon himself.
A few weeks ago, at the height of my campaign for Congress, a fellow Republican candidate got into hot water locally for comments she made about Martin Luther King whom she criticized a few years back as a womanizer. Two days later I gave a speech in which I explained that Christian morality demands perfection because Jesus is perfect. But Jewish morality is based on the idea of struggle, that people are human, have many failings, and their righteousness rests in the courage they show in wrestling with their nature to choose the good amid a predilection to do otherwise. Not one person in the Hebrew Bible is perfect. That and the Jewish emphasis of communal redemption over personal salvation – that what we do for others matters more than how personally virtuous we are – would have us acknowledge Martin Luther King as the greatest American of the twentieth century despite his personal failings. No other American did more to restore this great nation to its founding ideals of the equality of all of G-d’s children than King.
Similarly, few men have done more to combat terrorism and save human life in our generation than Petraeus. As the author of America’s counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq and commander of the surge, he took a war being waged by terrorists that was claiming the lives of thousands of civilians, and humiliating the world’s foremost force for good in the world, the American military, and reversed the situation. As someone who proved that terrorism could be defeated when so many Americans had given up, he is owed a debt of gratitude by this and every other civilized nation.
Still, there are important lessons from the Petraeus tragedy.
The first is the admonition of the ancient Rabbis’ on the need for a certain alertness in even the everyday interactions between men and women, a notion that is scoffed at in modern society that wants to pretend men and women have melded into some sort of unisex gender. In an interview with Jon Stewart of The Daily Show this past January, Petraeus’s biographer and the woman he is alleged to have had the affair with, Paula Broadwell, said that the general had helped her in what she described as a mentoring relationship and that, given their shared passion for fitness, he took her running from time to time in Kabul. “That was the foundation of our relationship. For him, I think it was a good distraction from the war.”
Now, take a soldier who is away from his wife for lengthy periods of time, put him around an adoring female fellow member of the military for long stretches, and you have a potential problem. The same seems to have allegedly been the case with Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower and his British driver Kate Summersby during the Second World War. Men and women can, of course, be friends. But that presupposes they respect the natural attraction that adheres in most situations and safeguard against conditions that foster inappropriate intimacy. As the sage Hillel said, “Do not believe in yourself until the day you die.”
Then there is this: having counseled many men who were unfaithful to their wives, I discovered that the principal reason men cheat is the desire to be desired, to feel special and extraordinary, to counter the effects of a broken ego and low self-esteem by feeling wanted, especially by an admiring woman. How would this apply in the case of someone like Petraeus who was so universally admired? I’m not sure and it might not.
But all the biography now appearing about the General says he has always been driven, always been highly ambitious, and more often than not, ambition is fueled by the need and desire to prove oneself. The New York Times reported that Petraeus wanted to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff but the Obama Administration, afraid of a high profile rival, pushed him in the direction of the CIA posting, with the concomitant lower, more secretive profile that was out of the press limelight. The same New York Times says that the affair began in earnest after he had taken his new posting. Did he miss the public acclaim? Did he begin to feel somewhat overlooked amid the immense power of his lower-profile role? Again, this is all mere speculation.
But the lesson for the rest of us mere mortals is that if someone of such iron discipline as General Petraeus can err this big, we all need to be on our guard – men and women alike – to get ego boosts from those things which are wholesome, holy, and healthy, rather than what is harmful, however hot.
Originally published on Rabbi Pruzansky’s blog, Rabbipruzansky.com.
Over the past few days, Haredi residents of the Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood in Jerusalem have been running an intense campaign against one of their neighbors, reportedly a mother of 11, who is living alone, and conducting a life style which the residents find objectionable.
Pashkvils (warning posters) were spread around the neighborhood, criticizing women wearing tight clothes, calling them “animals.” According to the website Hadrei Haredim, the woman in question is being accused of luring young Haredi women to her path.
A source inside the Haredi community in Jerusalem told the Jewish Press that the woman in question is running a house of ill repute.
It appears that because of their reluctance to “name a spade a spade,” the Haredi community is finding it difficult to raise effective public objection to the shameful enterprise in their midst. Some Chasidic rebbes and Haredi rabbis have issued a strong letter against the woman and her “apartment of abomination,” but stopped short of saying what type of abomination was being practiced there.
On Saturday night, rabbis and several dozen local residents (and curious onlookers) demonstrated outside the apartment. One of the leaders of the campaign, a local rabbi, announced: “We will fight vigorously” against this abomination.
Stones, eggs and bags of water were thrown from adjoining buildings at the protesters. Miraculously, no one was hurt, except for one minor injury sustained by one of the people on the street.
Police force and Riot Police eventually came down and blocked the area outside the building where the targeted woman resides, to prevent violence.
Our source said the Haredi inability to articulate the problem in the neighborhood reminded him of a joke: a man goes to see his rabbi and confesses that he sinned, but he just can’t utter what he had done.. “Was it with that woman from that street?” the rabbi asks. “No,” says the man. “Was it with that other woman from that other street?” the rabbi asks. Again, no. Finally the man comes out and his friend asks him, did the rabbi give you absolution? “No,” says the man, “but I took down plenty of prospects.”
The following story is 100% true, without embellishment or hyperbole. I can say this because I know each of the parties involved.
As the expression goes, “Hashem fir zich der velt” – Hashem orchestrates all the events that occur in the world. Most of what Hashem does is hidden from us. However, on occasion something happens in such an open way, one would have to be totally oblivious to the world around him to not see the powerful display of Yad of Hashem.
HE was going through a challenging time. He was in his 30s, recently divorced, had limited access to his children and was dealing with parnassah issues. In addition, his grandfather who had been his mentor, advocate, guardian angel and best friend, had passed away. He was existing, but not living; surviving, but not thriving. As days turned to weeks and weeks to months, he settled into a depression, simply going through the motions.
It was a beautiful July 4th day; the sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky. Perfectly perfect – until a freakish misstep propelled his entire body to the left, with the exception of his right foot, which buckled to the right. As he struggled to get up, his body crumbled to the ground, powerless to withstand his own weight. His initial reaction to his torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) was “Why me? Do I not have enough on my plate? Do I need this too”? Shortly thereafter he realized that it is not our place to question, but rather to accept that all He does is for our good.
Two months pass. It was just before Labor Day and he was enjoying the company of his children. Although still walking with a minor limp, he experienced a spark of true life for the first time in recent memory. The next day, however, the sounds of glee were replaced by the deafening sounds of silence; the unadulterated joy, replaced by an emotional hangover, as his children returned to their mother. Never before had he experienced such a deafening sound as this sound of silence.
SHE was a woman in her 30s, also living a life devoid of true meaning. She had faced challenges from infancy, but embraced her obstacles, never lamenting them. She was a friend to many, yet in essence was alone. She was eager to help a friend in need, yet her personal needs and requests appeared to go unanswered. She danced at the weddings of so many, yet each time the music stopped she lay alone with her thoughts. As the years began to pass her by, she wondered if she would ever find true happiness. Was it Hashem’s plan for her to live a life fraught with unfulfilled dreams?
Many a night she cried herself to sleep; reluctantly accepting her fate, as it appeared to be the will of Hashem. She tried to hold on to the proverbial ledge, even as she felt herself slowly losing her grip on life.
HE and SHE serendipitously crossed paths on one of the Jewish dating sites. They conversed for an hour via the computer as they both wondered if this would be yet another dead-end. Skeptically, he dialed her number as the clock struck midnight. With an accelerated heartbeat she answered her phone. They were both unaware that it was Yad Hashem orchestrating the telephone conversation. I suspect, however, they were somewhat wiser when they finally ended the conversation – 7 hours later!
The conversation transformed two floundering yechidim into a potential zivug – two wandering individual lost souls connected in a most spiritual and emotional manner. They exchanged their personal life’s journeys as time seemingly froze in abeyance. Their somewhat parallel, yet totally different journeys, had them geographically thousands of miles apart, but on that night they were brought together, all human barriers and obstacles falling to the wayside. Ironically, although originally physically separated by over 6,000 miles, they now found themselves residing but a mile apart. Actually, it wasn’t ironic, it was Yad Hashem at work, but they didn’t totally grasp the magnitude of that – at least not just yet.
They consented to meet the following evening, to explore the possibilities of where this budding friendship may potentially lead. As he was still recovering from his torn ACL, and self-conscious of his mild but somewhat conspicuous limp, he reminded her that tomorrow when they would meet, she would most likely notice a mild limp, but assured her that it wasn’t a physical impediment, as he was still recovering from him knee injury.
As I began reading an article in the Forward by Aurora Mendelsohn about whether a Jewish woman can have it all (meaning a career and an observant family) I received a call from my daughter about an article in the Chicago Tribune* about one woman who does have it all.
Her name is Talia Mashiach. And indeed she does have it all. And I was glad to see that she didn’t Kvetch about how difficult it is for her to fulfill her role as a Jewish woman and have a successful career at the same time. She seemed to revel in her success at both. More about Talia later.
This is not to say that Ms. Mendelsohn doesn’t make some valid points. She does. But whenever I read one of these feminist based articles, it always seems like someone is Kvetching about how hard it is for a woman to be successful in a male dominated society in general and in Judaism in particular.
Ms. Mendelsohn mentioned the things she has to do in order to be more fulfilled as a Jew while raising children. Like taking turns with her husband going to Shul for Kol Nidre in alternate years. She talks about breaking barriers of stereotypical male-female roles in the workplace and in Judaism. To that end she advocates flextime for parents in the workplace to enable better parenting for both.
And then – as is common among some feminist types – she implies that Rishonim like the Avudraham and later the Shulchan Aruch that reflect his views were influenced by the misogyny of their time. Albeit praising them for recognizing that indeed no one can really have it all – which is why in Judaism women are exempt from most of the time bound positive Mitzvos.
However, in the current spirit of egalitarianism she says that women should be given greater roles in the synagogue while men should be encouraged to become more domestic. Kind of a role reversal.
Right. That is what Judaism is all about. Role reversal. I have heard this argument ad nauseum. Is this what is now demanded?! In order to achieve some sort of parity with men, women need to go to Shul while men stay home with their children?! I guess so if one follows the example of the Mendelsohn household. This seems to be the current trend in Orthodox feminism. Push the envelope so far that men take on the traditional roles of women so that women can take on the traditional roles of men… All within the parameters of Halacha of course.
I am not even going to attempt to argue the point here. Been there and done that. I just want to contrast that with a woman who probably has more of what Ms. Mendelsohn seeks than she ever will and does so without the need to change Orthodox Judaism as we know it.
Talia Mashiach is one of the most successful career women in the Orthodox world. I know her and her husband. They are day school and yeshiva educated Orthodox Jews who send their children to Arie Crown Hebrew Day School. She not only has a successful career in business, she has a successful career as a mother. An Orthodox mother that does not ignore her children or her Judaism.
At age 35, Talia Mashaich is a self-made millionaire. She has created many successful businesses and is about to corner the market on corporate event planning by digitalizing every aspect of it online. Her business acumen has attracted some big name venture capitalists and they have not been disappointed with the returns on their investments. She loves what she does and is highly respected in the corporate world. She does what’s necessary to succeed without sacrificing one iota of her Judaism. She has made sure of that.
As her husband Shmuel said in the Tribune article, she is as good a mom and wife as she is in business.
Talia organizes her schedule so that she can be home by the time her children come home for school. Fridays she generally works out of her house. Evenings are spent with her family. She hires household help to take care of cleaning and cooking allowing her to maximize her time with her family.
Weekends are hallowed time for the Mashiachs and on Shabbos they often host friends and family for Friday night and Shabbos morning meals. And of course she is unplugged from all technology. That – she says – rejuvenates her for the new work week.
She does it all without Kvetching about how Judaism has somehow failed women spiritually.
Before anyone accuses me of being insensitive to those women who feel they need “more” in order to express their spirituality than mainstream Orthodoxy gives them, please don’t bother. I get it. Some people (men as well as women) feel they need more to express their service to God than Judaism requires of them. My point here is that this is certainly not the case for all. Jewish women need not seek Shul participation in order to be fulfilled as a Jew or as a woman. Ask Talia.
That said Talia freely admits that what she does is not for everyone – certainly not everyone has her skill set. But she is living proof that an Orthodox Jewish woman can indeed have it all. Without the need to eat, live, and breathe the feminist clarion call of egalitarianism. There was not a hint of that in this very beautiful article in the Chicago Tribune.
At age 35 she has succeeded in business in ways that would make many even successful men envious. If things keep going her way, she could be the next Mark Zuckerberg. All while maintaining her role as the quintessential Jewish woman without sacrificing one iota of her Judaism. My hat is off to her.
*(Unfortunately one must be a subscriber to the digital version of Chicago Tribune to see the article online. But it is a front page story in the business section – print edition.)
Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.
With elections approaching in Israel, I am searching for a religious political party for which to vote. When I think about voting for Shas, I remember their support for Oslo, the surrender of parts of Eretz Yisrael, giving rifles to our enemies, and the terrible sea of Jewish blood that was spilled after the Oslo Accords were signed. That is not the Torah I am searching to find.
When I think about voting for Degal HaTorah and Agudah, except for a few lone voices, I remember their silence leading up to, and during, the Disengagement from Gush Katif, when fellow Jews were thrown out of their homes and pieces of Eretz Yisrael were handed over to our enemies. That is not the Torah I am searching for.
When I think about voting for the Bayit HaYehudi-National Union merger, I see that their leading candidate in the polls has chosen a very pretty young woman as a running mate. Please understand that I have nothing against women, and I am sure this candidate is a very talented and idealistic person, but I wonder if in a public situation like politics, it is appropriate to include a young attractive woman in the leadership of the party, especially for a party that promises to defend Torah ideals.
Modesty has always been a pillar of Judaism. In this week’s Torah portion of “Lech Lecha,” we learn that Avraham Avinu never gazed at his wife until they were on their way to Egypt and its illicit culture, when he realized that the Egyptians would lust after her beauty. I remember that HaRav Shlomo Aviner has written that it is forbidden to attend a lecture given by a woman, since one will have to gaze at her at length and thus transgress the commandment not to stray after one’s heart and eyes. In fact, I once I asked HaRav Aviner if I could write a screenplay, based on a popular novel, about a Haredi youth who was attracted to a non-religious girl, and Rav Aviner answered, yes, if the girl was 90 years old and not attractive. HaRav Mordechai Eliahu, of blessed memory, stated that in attending a wedding where men and women ate together without a mechitza, there was a problem with “Lo tachmod eshet rayecha,” the prohibition of lusting after your neighbor’s wife, one of the Ten Commandments. So, it is difficult for me to think about voting for the Bayit HaYehudi. Some people may say that all this is an exaggeration, that they can look at an attractive woman and not think any improper thought, but I recall that even King David himself got into trouble over a pretty married woman. So I wonder: is this the Torah party that I am searching for?
Could this occur in Shas? In Agudat Yisrael? Will this bring these parties closer to identifying with the goals of the Dati Leumi? Would HaRav Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook have endorsed this party? Yes, the unity of the ranks is a praiseworthy project, and yes, it is important to unite all Am Yisrael, religious and non-religious alike, but why with a pretty, young secular woman? Is this a sign of Torah leadership? Couldn’t non-religious voters be attracted to the Bayit HaYehudi by including on their list a young, idealistic , non-religious soldier from some top commando unit? Why does it have to be a young women who looks like a model? While many people long to see a new idealism and a new Torah-spirit in Israeli politics, which fosters a love for the Land of Israel and for all Am Yisrael, religious and non-religious alike – what possible good could come from this lack of concern for the modesty of our national life in the Holy Land?
I do not question Rabbi Zev Farber’s sincerity. I even applaud his resolve to right what he sees to be wrong in the way we practice Judaism today. But I do not agree with him at all on the way to do it.
In a recent article on Morethodoxy, Rabbi Farber suggests that we change the paradigm with respect to a woman’s role in Judaism. His contention is that women are (at best) inadvertently ignored and mistreated vis-à-vis their public religious personae. Their current place in the synagogue is where this is mostly felt.
Rabbi Farber mentions the fact that women are excluded from any and every part of synagogue service and are basically considered a non entity in the vast majority of Shuls – having absolutely no participatory presence. Even those Shuls that try and accommodate them with things like Women’s Teffilah Groups or putting a Mechtiza down the center aisle of the shul which crosses the Bimah is at best a piece-meal approach to the problem of giving women a greater role. That – says Rabbi Farber is insufficient and does not satisfy a woman’s desire for a greater spiritual experience in the Shul.
Indeed, men do everything. They are counted toward a Minyan; Daven for the Amud; get Aliyos; get to say Brachos over the Torah; get to do Pesicha (open the ark when the prayer service requires it); get Hagbeh or G’lilah (lifting the Torah after Kriyah and/or rolling it together)! All women get to do (aside from Davening) is observe men doing it.
Rabbi Farber would like to see all that change – a basic overhaul in the role of a woman in the Shul – to the extent that Halacha allows. He claims that the only thing preventing real change is an antiquitated paradigm based on a culture that no longer exists. That paradigm stems from a time where women in every civilized society stayed home. It was for those reasons that Chazal, Rishonim and Achronim as late as the Chafetz Chaim created and maintained the current non participatory role for women in the synagogue. Here is how he puts it:
Women were rarely public figures and were discouraged from receiving too much education, taking visible public roles, participating in the power structure, and generally from being around men. If any woman were to express superior learning or knowledge than a man in front of a group it would have been a serious breach in etiquette. This is why, according to Tosafot (b. Sukkah 38a, s.v. “be-emet”), women do not lead the Grace after Meals for men or read the Megillah for men, since it would be insulting to them (zila milta). For the same reason, R. Israel Meir Kagan, in his Mishna B’rurah (281:4) argues that women should not say Qiddush for men, at least in public. The Talmud offers a similar reason why women do not read from the Torah in synagogue (b. Megillah 23a), although they are apparently eligible to do so, as it would offend the honor of the congregation (kavod ha-tzibbur).
In today’s world there has been a radical shift in societal attitudes about a woman’s role. Today we find women in all sorts of public roles. Roles that were once the sole bastion of men. There are female doctors, lawyers, scientists, politicians, Supreme Court justices, generals, CEO’s of major companies and university professors, deans, and presidents. You name the field and women can easily be found there.
Women of every Hashkafic type participate in public positions once anathema to them. One need not look any further than the ultra Orthodox Hamodia to see a woman, Ruth Lichtenstein, as its publisher. Or to note that the daughter of Charedi Gadol Rav Yitzchok Hutner earned her PhD at Columbia University.
Certainly the role of the woman has changed in our day even among the right wing.
So – says Rabbi Farber – things like Kavod HaTzibur that were based on no longer existent sensibilities should be re-visited. And he suggests that the entire paradigm be changed so as to accommodate the sincere desire of many women to more fully participate in the Shul… and thereby enhance their spiritual experience.
Here’s the problem. Rabbi Farber is an Orthodox Rabbi and as such he realizes that no matter what we do, Halacha forbids an equal role for women. Acknowledging that at least tacitly he says that we ought to do whatever we can – where ever we can – to allow as full a participation in the synagogue experience as possible.