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Switch to Forum Live View Question Re: Male/Female Contact
6 years ago  ::  Sep 05, 2008 - 10:11AM #21
LeahOne
Posts: 16,280
PAM:   hey, I happen to LIKE my orthodox friends and relatives, and I make a sincere attempt to accommodate their level of observance and practice. I put things down on tables nearby. I keep paper plates and plastic silverware so they don't have to wonder about my plates. I don't call them on the Sabbath. 

Nieciedo:  Why? Why would you associate with people who deem your lifestyle inferior, who probably don't even consider you a Jew? I would never go out of my way to accommodate the ridiculous self-imposed religious idiocies of an Orthodox Jew.


Folks, ordinarily I don't chime in when the wiser heads are arguing with one another.....OR when friends are arguing.  And here it's both : ((

Nieciedo, Pam's talking about relatives and friends I assume she treats 'like family' .  That is a different case form 'acquaintance of a friend' or some more nebulous situation.  And she's correctly following what my Dad calls 'the Talmudic imperative' - YOU be the good one! - to 'be the good one'  whether the other party seems to 'deserve' the benefit of any doubt or not.  She's not necessarily knuckling under to Orthodoxy:  she's assuming that her Orthodox dear ones do as they do from actual devotion rather than some desire to appear ultra-pious to others.

While I absolutely agree with you, Nieciedo, that many Orthodox have a percepton of the rest of us as you describe - it's not fair to assume it's ALL Orthodox people.  And I don't think it will do any good to make such an assumption.  I don't see how that assumption  fits in with 'being the good one'. 

It does become a question of the priorities assinged to various mitzvot, doesn't it?  I suppose one could construct an elaborate argument whereby causing the unknowing stranger to feel embarased could result some day in that stranger's not aiding an Orthodox Jew whose life they might have saved - which could be construed as bringing it into conflict wiht the commandment to preserve life?
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 05, 2008 - 10:21AM #22
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
I just reviewed relevant sections of the Mishna Berurah (volume I, sections 87-88).

One is forbidden from praying in the presence of urine, feces, semen, and other objectionable substances and also one is forbidden to pray in sight of nude or scantily-clad persons.

There is a machloket as to whether women who are experiencing their period are permitted to pray or enter a synagogue, but the prevailing custom as recorded here permits them.

I found no reference to men being prohibited to pray when having come into contact with a menstruant.

We are all presumed contaminated with tumat meit yet we are permitted to pray. Kal vachomer, contact with a menstruant does not inhibit one's ability to daven.
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 05, 2008 - 10:41AM #23
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
[QUOTE=LeahOne;742986]
Nieciedo, Pam's talking about relatives and friends I assume she treats 'like family' .  That is a different case form 'acquaintance of a friend' or some more nebulous situation.  And she's correctly following what my Dad calls 'the Talmudic imperative' - YOU be the good one! - to 'be the good one'  whether the other party seems to 'deserve' the benefit of any doubt or not.  She's not necessarily knuckling under to Orthodoxy:  she's assuming that her Orthodox dear ones do as they do from actual devotion rather than some desire to appear ultra-pious to others.



Leah, you're right. I do have the tendency to go to extremes.

However, this "Talmudic imperative" creates an unfair an unrequired burden for the non-Orthodox. We are required to treat our Orthodox neighbors as family and aid them in distress and seek their benefit and welfare as we are to all other Jews; they do not feel the same level of obligation in our direction. Moreover, liberal converts are not even considered Jews at all and are cut dead from the covenanted community by the Orthodox. Yes, it is good and meritorious to turn the other cheek and "be the good one," but it's not bloody fair!

As for the question of devotion vs.desire to appear ultra pious, this is something that I simply can't grasp. How can anyone actually believe that God commands and requires one to keep separate milk and dairy plates?

My office recently hosted a meet-and-greet for rich Jewish philanthropists. We went out of our way to make sure everything was kosher (even though practically none of them are actually religious). Horror of horrors! We discovered that the non-dairy creamer for the coffee contained sodium caseinate, a protein dervied from milk, and the parve hors d'oeuvres were made in a meat kitchen!!!!

Please take a moment to understand the ridiculousness here. This is not a case of boiling a baby goat in its mother's milk. This is the risk that someone might drink coffee containing a milk-derived protein -- not actual milk but one of its constituent proteins in a refined form that doesn't exist in nature -- while eating vegetarian snacks that had been prepared using utensils that might some time in the past have come into contact with meat.

And because of that we had to go all over creation at the last minute to find absolutely milk-free creamer for the bloody coffee.

While I absolutely agree with you, Nieciedo, that many Orthodox have a percepton of the rest of us as you describe - it's not fair to assume it's ALL Orthodox people.  And I don't think it will do any good to make such an assumption.  I don't see how that assumption  fits in with 'being the good one'.



That might be a result of my usage of the term "Orthodox." People who simply follow traditional observance to me are "orthopractic." A person is "Orthodox" if they subscribe to the ideology that claims their approach to Judaism is the only real and correct one. Not everyone who is orthopractic are Orthodox. There are orthopractic Conservative, Reconstructionist, and even Reform Jews. Likewise, there are orthopractic people who belong to Orthodox synagogues but do not subscribe to the supremacist and exclusionary Orthodox ideology. However, anyone who does hold that ideology's beliefs is in the same camp as fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Muslims.


It does become a question of the priorities assinged to various mitzvot, doesn't it?  I suppose one could construct an elaborate argument whereby causing the unknowing stranger to feel embarased could result some day in that stranger's not aiding an Orthodox Jew whose life they might have saved - which could be construed as bringing it into conflict wiht the commandment to preserve life?[/QUOTE]

Good point. Kal vachomer, one ought not subscribe to an ideology that disparages and devalues anyone who lives a religious lifestyle different from yours as wrong, invalid, and inferior. Since no one can prove that God even exists much less what God may or may not command, no one is in a position to say with absolute authority that anyone's practice of Judaism is inferior.

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6 years ago  ::  Sep 05, 2008 - 10:59AM #24
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,900

nieciedo wrote:

I just reviewed relevant sections of the Mishna Berurah (volume I, sections 87-88).

One is forbidden from praying in the presence of urine, feces, semen, and other objectionable substances and also one is forbidden to pray in sight of nude or scantily-clad persons.

There is a machloket as to whether women who are experiencing their period are permitted to pray or enter a synagogue, but the prevailing custom as recorded here permits them.

I found no reference to men being prohibited to pray when having come into contact with a menstruant.

We are all presumed contaminated with tumat meit yet we are permitted to pray. Kal vachomer, contact with a menstruant does not inhibit one's ability to daven.



BS"D

It is a great thing that this subject stirs you up to study halakha. But in addition to book study I suggest you apply also your knowledge of actual Jewish practice. In a daily orthodox service the reading of Torah portions is integral to davening. There are various prohibitions and permissions regarding a woman in mensus touching the Torah scroll. This is extended to the touching of the wood of the handles and by extension to the seats in the synagogue where males are present.

In addition, I want to make sure everybody unfamiliar with this subject understands that menstruation is considered a POSITIVE mitzvo, so this is not an issue of misogynistic legislation.

For some "documentation" on the issue of a person experiencing mensus and the opinions where touching the scroll is according to some sages permitted and others forbidden, here is a link (cf. page 125 and further):

http://books.google.com/books?id=gcvvoN9T9mMC&pg=PA121&lpg=PA121&dq=halakha+menstruation&source=web&ots=TkPVtfE4hI&sig=Q09yozHZ88DfyuWaypt47DyfSZg&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=5&ct=result#PPA118,M1

As we all know the mainstream custom is to follow the more restrictive legislation as the norm. This is, admittedly, bowing down to ignorance but also being sensitive to the lowest common denominator which might cause offense. As there are some sages who forbid the touching of the scroll, that would make daily davening which makes use of the Torah scroll as problematic. In mainstream orthodoxy this is actually the case. In such a case in which daveners follow the ruling that touching the scroll is permitted, there is no problem. But as demonstrated by this discussion, personal knowledge of this halakha is sketchy at best even among the highly educated. But in cases where this is a way of life it is common knowledge, especially among the women who follow the halakha as a way of life even if the men in the congregation remain ignorant of it to a large degree because it is not part of their daily life in the community.

As I mentioned before, female halakhos are oftentimes more complicated than male halakhos and this is an example in kind IMHO.

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6 years ago  ::  Sep 05, 2008 - 11:26AM #25
Pam34
Posts: 2,650
[QUOTE=nieciedo;743014]I just reviewed relevant sections of the Mishna Berurah (volume I, sections 87-88).

One is forbidden from praying in the presence of urine, feces, semen, and other objectionable substances and also one is forbidden to pray in sight of nude or scantily-clad persons.

There is a machloket as to whether women who are experiencing their period are permitted to pray or enter a synagogue, but the prevailing custom as recorded here permits them.

I found no reference to men being prohibited to pray when having come into contact with a menstruant.

We are all presumed contaminated with tumat meit yet we are permitted to pray. Kal vachomer, contact with a menstruant does not inhibit one's ability to daven.[/QUOTE]


Absolutely correct - and that is the 'tumah' I was talking about, buns! touching a woman is NOT going to interfere with anybody's 'spiritual purity' in today's world! The orthodox men who avoid touching women are following a community custom, and have re-invented the reasons for it - in, my opinion - a very NICE fashion - by relating it to the specialness of intimate touch between loved ones.

So? so I appreciate that, and I try - TRY! - to remember not to automatically shake hands every time I meet someone in that community (which is hard, because I am accustomed -  it's MY community custom! - to shaking hands on being introduced). I may not expect to be 'met halfway', but I don't think it's out of line to hope that I and others might possibly be 'met' at least a LITTLE.

For the record, no matter what 'the orthodox' may or may not THINK about my halakhic status as a Jew, I have NEVER had a bad experience interpersonally. Instead I  have met with encouragement and assistance at all times and in all places, from aid in acquiring matzah for passover, to welcoming my daughters into community prayer services, to being included in activities of their communities - granted, I am quite unlikely to 'receive an aliyah', but no other women in that community will either. If one of their sons happens to find one of my daughters attractive, no doubt there will be considerable discussion and an eventual suggestion that she 'convert according to (their understanding of) halakhah, and you know what? I've already mentioned that to them, so it won't be a shock should it ever arise.

I'm sorry if some people have had bad encounters. Some people are obnoxious. I prefer not to condemn an entire category of people based on the bad behavior of some of the members of their group, whether Jews, Christians, Muslim or other.
Blessed are You, HaShem, Who blesses the years.
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 05, 2008 - 11:35AM #26
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617
The prohibition observed by some barring menstruants from touching a Torah scroll is of the same category as that forbidding wearing tefillin in or posting a mezuzah on the door of a bathroom: texts containing the Divine Name must not be brought into contact with or into the presence of offensive bodily discharges like menstrual blood, semen, feces, and urine. This is not related to the concept of ritual purity that operated in the Temple cult -- while menstrual blood and semen conveyed tum'ah, urine and feces did not.

The transitive property of tum'ah in terms of menstrual impurity is not a factor in determining a person's eligibility to daven.

Meanwhile, all of the sources I have been able to consult this morning point to the origin of negi'ah -- as well as the mechitzah -- as fences around the Torah to protect men from their sexual passions. Such is the explanation for the erection of the first mechitzah in the Beit HaMikdash, as a result of the distractions of the joyous displays during the Celebration of the Drawing of Water.
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 05, 2008 - 11:42AM #27
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,900

LeahOne wrote:

PAM: hey, I happen to LIKE my orthodox friends and relatives, and I make a sincere attempt to...It does become a question of the priorities assigned to various mitzvot, doesn't it? I suppose one could construct an elaborate argument whereby causing the unknowing stranger to feel embarrassed could result some day in that stranger's not aiding an Orthodox Jew whose life they might have saved - which could be construed as bringing it into conflict with the commandment to preserve life?



BS"D

Absolutely.  When I was very young the rabbi who schooled me in the advanced areas of yiddishkeit (apart from basic training of basic observance and Torah reading) explained to me that it is PERSONAL CHARACTER and not the sectarian observance that distinguishes one Jew from another.  To look down upon  a fellow Jew for not being part of one's own sect is low character.  To assume another Jew is wrong because their custom is not identical to yours is lack of perception.  Although it is forbidden in my "sect" to "prioritize" mitzvos as if one is more important than the other, any Jew who forsook the mitzvo of saving a life was automatically assumed to be of low character and maximum peer pressure would be applied to make that person to conform in that areas as long as they were of normal mental capabilities.

One major gripe (of many as everyione knows) of mine with sectarianism is that because of sectarianism there is no extant means of communication whereby Jews can apply pressure and resources across sectarian boundaries to things that affect life and limb as well as other issues affecting the survival of the Jewish people.

It is, to me, unsatisfactory to "wait for messiah."  We might perish though our folly G-d forbid while we are irresponsibly "waiting" for someone who does not yet exist to fix a problem we know to exist right here right now.  If every Jew does not take responsibility for things that affect their fellow Jews, messiah certainly won't be able to do anything about it either.  If there is no community which teaches mutual responsibility across sectarian boundaries, there is no place for messiah to be born and learn to be messiah.

Thankfully, I have seen persons of good character that teach this critical basic lesson of Abraham across all sects and branches as common legacy for all Jews.

I am sorry that my co-religionists seem to be the most obtuse in this area to many.  But Chabad is an extreme example where that is demonstrably not the case.  And I can attest to the fact that among orthodox Jews of many cultures there are those who are also not so obtuse when it comes to personal character and things that are critical to the life and survival of the Jewish people.  For example there are orthodox in the military at least as much as there are those who eschew it, the latter being my definition of "low character" being institutionalized on a sectarian level.

Along those lines, perhaps pacifism - the unwillingness to kill another human being simply because one is "ordered to" by a State leader or representative - may be a good reason for this practice of eschewing military service, but, unfortunately, that is NOT nor ever has been the rationale for such behavior.

Finally, as one who feels the most comfortable with orthodox observance as opposed to all other forms, I have to say that I have absolutely no problem with those who disagree with orthodox custom nor would I ever consider looking down upon those who so disagree.  Orthodoxy to me is not "right practice" but simply a brainless catch-all category for conveniently designating those who are nor Reform or any of its offshoots.  Therefore it is inevitable that there will be conflict between those who organized themselves along Reform lines and those whose customs are as various as mankind itself within Judaism.

I guess one can look at orthodox customs as preposterous as the Moslem burkha, but if one is going to be opposed to such customs it is important IMHO to know what function those customs perform in society and what would be the consequences of eliminating those customs without any thought where they exist.

To me, the secret of unity is respect as quoted in my signature.  This understanding can hopefully be fostered through venues such as this discussion on BNet k.y.r.

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6 years ago  ::  Sep 05, 2008 - 11:45AM #28
nieciedo
Posts: 5,617

bunsinspace]I guess one can look at orthodox customs as preposterous as the Moslem burkha, but if one is going to be opposed to such customs it is important IMHO to know what function those customs perform in society and what would be the consequences of eliminating those customs without any thought where they exist.



There would be absolutely zero negative consequences of eliminating the halakhic restrictions on women. Since this would be a step toward equality, it can only be a good wrote:

I guess one can look at orthodox customs as preposterous as the Moslem burkha, but if one is going to be opposed to such customs it is important IMHO to know what function those customs perform in society and what would be the consequences of eliminating those customs without any thought where they exist.[/quote]

There would be absolutely zero negative consequences of eliminating the halakhic restrictions on women. Since this would be a step toward equality, it can only be a good thing.

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6 years ago  ::  Sep 05, 2008 - 11:49AM #29
LeahOne
Posts: 16,280
Nieciedo, I agree with you that theexample you gave, was pretty ridiculous!  At some point, a guest needs to take up courtesy themselves, or they are in danger of suggesting they consider themselves 'above' their hosts - which to me, is a very UNJewish thing to ever do.  "A person is "Orthodox" if they subscribe to the ideology that claims their approach to Judaism is the only real and correct one."  you posted - and I was about to reply "That doesn't sound jewish to my understanding"!

In the example you gave, your group did their ebst to prepare refreshments to satisfy the guests' observance of kashrut:  IMO, so long as you acted in good faith, that should be enough.  If any of your guest found the refreshments not up to their individual concept of kashrut, they  - IMO! - properly should have declined graciously.

Other people may not always do what they should.  We each need to try to do the best we can, and avoid being the one who's not kind or caring enough.

Of course, I'm the one who ate actual ham for dinner, on Rosh Hashonah, no less! rather than embarass my hostess.  She knew nothing about Judaism, or that we were Jewish.  She only knew that we had just  - the day before!  - gotten onto post and knew nobody and were staying in the temporary housing rooms.  So, because her husband had talked to mine while they were filling their gas tanks, she sent him over to find us and bring us to their place for dinner.  And she'd gone to some trouble to serve us her best, too.
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 05, 2008 - 11:54AM #30
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,900

nieciedo wrote:

The prohibition observed by some barring menstruants from touching a Torah scroll is of the same category as that forbidding wearing tefillin in or posting a mezuzah on the door of a bathroom: texts containing the Divine Name must not be brought into contact with or into the presence of offensive bodily discharges like menstrual blood, semen, feces, and urine. This is not related to the concept of ritual purity that operated in the Temple cult -- while menstrual blood and semen conveyed tum'ah, urine and feces did not.

The transitive property of tum'ah in terms of menstrual impurity is not a factor in determining a person's eligibility to daven.

Meanwhile, all of the sources I have been able to consult this morning point to the origin of negi'ah -- as well as the mechitzah -- as fences around the Torah to protect men from their sexual passions. Such is the explanation for the erection of the first mechitzah in the Beit HaMikdash, as a result of the distractions of the joyous displays during the Celebration of the Drawing of Water.



BS"D

When reading a commentary, one is naturally going to come to the conclusions to which one is predisposed.  It is OK if you think Jewish custom is based upon some uncontrollable sexuality.  I am sure Freud would agree in certain aspects of that rendering.  But in this age, in real life, that is not the case.  We can assign anything we fantasize about what went on in the minds of our sages, but what is important to me is how Jews think about it now and how they currently render the words of our sages in action.

In that regard, your observations are more of a reflection of your own assessment of the weaknesses in Jewish culture than any objective fact and is no more valid than my equally subjective assessment that such wording is euphemistic in nature while the practical mechanics of observance are the reality behind the customs.

Again, you are appealing to a modern rendering of the literal wording in face of the observable facts in practice.  There is always a balance between the two in everyone's life.  I just choose to believe that what we practice is because of what we do and the way we feel now vice the literal renderings of what was written which is also subject to changes in social perception.

So I can not in any way say that you are wrong in your chosen perceptions.  I will just say that for me and my sect of Judaism in this time in this location it is not the case.  (No custom that I practice is based upon uncontrollable sexual desire.)  And vive la difference.

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