Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Purim: And Esther wrote – The role of Women in Judaism part/1

One of the saddest things in the world, in my world, that breaks my heart, is that on the one hand I would like our daughters, our mothers, to be so Jewish and so holy, so exalted, and yet, when you meet those women who really are so holy and so beautiful and you start talking with them, you realize that they are so empty inside. Gevaldt are they empty.

When I walk into a place, the moment I start saying Divrei Torah (words of Torah), naturally the women take off, because they are not sitting together with the men. They are sitting separate. The men are listening. The women are already talking, about bagels, earrings. When it comes to singing, our holy sisters don’t join us. They sit there and talk to each other, It’s heartbreaking. You know what we need, absolutely need, we need to cry and beg our holy, so to speak frum, mothers and frum sisters, please, please don’t put us to shame. Please don’t put us to shame before those holy young women who are coming back to Yiddishkeit, who are so sensitive to what’s going on in life. I’ll tell you something, something heartbreaking. You know what happens to religious girls who go to college? In every subject in the world they are very deep, You can talk to them about anything in the world. Yet, When it comes to Torah, they are so shallow. It’s not fair. It isn’t fair.

Our generation has to fix two things. We have not fixed the relationship between Adam and Eve, and we have not fixed the relationship between Cain and Abel, between Jews and non-Jews. Basically, the same people who don’t know how to relate to women also don’t know how to relate to non-Jews.

There was a time that men and women didn’t live in the same world. It’s not true anymore. We are living in the same world, In 1959, when I came to Eretz Yisrael for the first time, I was a bachelor, walking into a Beis Midrash in Meah Shearim, and someone asked me if I was married. I said no. He said, “I have a wonderful shidduch (match) for you. Come back next Monday.” I came back Monday, and he asked me, “Do you speak Hungarian?” I said, “No.” He said, “The girl I want you to marry only speaks Hungarian.” I said, “O.K., no more shidduch.” He looked at me and said, “Why? What do you have to talk to her about? Unbelievable.

Maybe there was a time when a man sat at the table alone, and his wife sat in the kitchen, Friday night and this was holy. Today, if a person doesn’t sit with his wife and children, with his daughters, at the table, it’s a criminal offense. This girl who eats in the kitchen, the moment she is old enough to get out from her father’s stupidity, might very well leave Yiddishkeit.

The deepest secret of life is that everything is the same, and yet, every thing has to become better. I keep everything my bubba did, and yet I am one step ahead. One step ahead. Reb Nachman said that G-d cannot stand the same thing twice. People can’t either.

Yentas, we have plenty of. The women who stand all day in the kitchen, we have had this for a few generations. The Ribbono Shel Olam (G-d) needs now strong women who stand an their feet, and learn. Who know what Yiddishkeit is all about. Who can give it over to their children. The most heartbreaking thing in the world is that the Rabbis, who think they have to guard the old tradition, actually refuse to realize that you only guard the old tradition if you are aware of what’s going on today – if you add. The new doesn’t have to conflict with old; it can enrich it.

What about giving aliyot (being called to the Torah) to women? I’ll tell you an unbelievable story. I gave a concert in Paris. After the concert, a beautiful young lady came up to me and said, “I want to tell you my story, I come from a Chassidic home in Boston. I like to paint, to draw. I managed to get to college, despite my father, and I got a scholarship to Paris. I left and didn’t write to my parents. I had no money, so when a non-Jew asked me to move into his house I did. I lived with him for four years, and he asked me to marry him. This non-Jew asked my to marry him, and I was overjoyed. Sunday morning, I was supposed to be baptized, and Sunday night, the wedding. For me, Shabbos didn’t exist anymore, so the Shabbos before, I went shopping. Crazily enough, I passed by the Reform Synagogue, the same Reform Synagogue that, three years ago, was bombed by the P.L.O. I passed by that synagogue and, I don’t know why, I walked in. They were just reading the Torah. Suddenly, the shammos (beadle) came to me and offered me an aliyah. I want you to know, I was religious when I was young. Nobody ever gave me an aliyah. When they called up my name to the Torah, it was clear to me that G-d was calling me. When I made the bracha (blessing) over the Torah, I swore to G-d that I’ll be a Jewish daughter again. I came out from shul, I called up my boyfriend, and I told him that I was just in shul, and I heard a voice from heaven tell me that I shouldn’t do it. And I didn’t.” >>>>part /2

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