Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jewish Taliban Women

We are all equal,
but some are more equal than
I was on Atheist Rabbi and reading the post Haredim Fight Modesty...You Read That Correctly. The Haredim are the utlra-Orthodox of Judaism, and the post was about how some haredi women are donning the Jewish equivalent of the burqa, the head to toe ensemble that covers every inch of a woman's body. It isn't just that adult women are wearing the public statement of second class citizenry, but are inflicting it on their 6 and 10 year old daughters. There are not many of these "Taliban women". It is thought that they are mostly new converts to the faith and are zealous -- so zealous that even the other zealots think they've crossed a line. In fact, a group of haredi rabbis are trying to stop the movement altogether,
The committee members are threatening to impose sanctions on the sect's women: "The people of Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh – we shall not abandon our brothers. We will boycott the women leading this rebellious sect and publish their names and addresses."
They are even accusing the women of "calling for a revolt by offering impure and forbidden advice and leading a group under the disguise of 'extra holiness.'"
As any of Purgatory's regular readers know, I am intrigued with this type of divinely inspired tragedy/absurdity. As I read through the articles I came up on this quote about the rationale behind women covering themselves,
A man who sees a woman's body parts is sexually aroused, and this might cause him to commit sin. Even if he doesn't actually sin physically, his impure thoughts are sin in themselves.
 I reflected on the impure thoughts are sin in themselves part. As most of us in "Christian" countries know Jesus taught that thinking of adultery is the same thing as doing adultery in God's eyes. I hadn't heard of this in Jewish thought. Seeing that I'm no expert in this area I thought I'd ask the Atheist Rabbi whether thinking of a sin = actual sin in Judaism. Here is his response.
No, because you can't be punished for thinking of the sin. One of the more positive attitudes throughout Jewish thinking is that one is only responsible for one's actions. However, one is still expected to keep sin at bay and, as they see it, women are a major stumbling block.
I imagine one can always find inventive ways to place oneself and others into divinely inspired slavery.
This is Purgatory.

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