Thursday, December 15, 2011

Consistency and the Place of Women in Religious Life

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." 
- Ralph Waldo Emerson , Self-Reliance

There are a few topics that I never like to blog about and generally try to avoid. This isn't because I don't have an opinon on them, but rather because  I admit that my own opinons are not really consistent with: Halacha; Liberal morality; Opinons I claim to hold or with other opinons that I do actually hold. On the whole I find that being consistent is somewhat overated. I have met many fascnitaing and wise old men, who are woefully inconsistant. As long as one is willing to admit his inconsistancy, he will generally be somewhat happier with a few contradicting beliefs, than with consistent ones.  

The place of women in Judaism is one of those subjects. I suspect that like many other religious men if asked straight out if we thought that women were the equal of men, we would probably answer in the affirmative. However if we were asked about specific issues - women reading the Torah, female rabbis, mixed davening, women wearing Tefilin or any of the other seasonal issues of modern Jewish life, we would probably be opposed to true equality on some of these issues (but not all). The problem is that we can rarely give a truely good answer, why we reject true gender equality on some issues and not on others. Answering that you are following your "gut instinct" is probably an honest answer - but not an answer that can convince anyone else.

I have a stong feeling that part of the reason why so few "Liberal" Dati Leumi Rabbis are answering the current storm in a teacup over women singing/ Working out in the gym scandel that is enjoying its 15 minutes of fame in Israel, is because they really can't give a good answer. It is time to admit that we are inconsistant. 

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