September 30, 2007

Ask Maria Anything: Judaism, Feminism

Filed under: Blogroll — mariahussain @ 2:43 pm

Q: I have just one question to you and to your new husband, the “one”.
Can you tell me in one sentence what the aim of judaism is ?

I use the pedagogic method of those famous Jews, one asking the other :
Can you tell, in the time I can stand on one foot, what judaism is ?

A: According to my understanding of Judaism, the core of Judaism is spiritual exile from God. The aim of Judaism the religion is to relieve the tormented feeling of distance from God through repentance and good deeds. There is a specific prayer that orthodox Jews say that goes something like, “Oh God, I deserve to die, but please save me.” My husband is taking the baby for a walk but I can call him on his cell phone and get his response.

He said there are two answers, one prescriptive and one descriptive. The sage Hillel was asked that question and his answer was, “Do not do unto others what you would not like done to yourself. The rest is commentary.” Gerhardt Sholom spent a lot of time studying that question and came to the conclusion that Judaism is whatever the Jewish community wants it to be, and this changes constantly. Joachim’s answer for what Judaism is today is that it is a combination of “Holocaust fixation, ethnic narcissism, and worship of the State of Israel.”

Q: You have stated, “Feminism is an anti-philosophy.” Meaning …?

A: It is a philosophy of rejection. It bases itself on what it rejects. Feminism is not a coherent strategy. It is not a spiritual path.

Q: You also define feminism as “a rejection of patriarchy.” Darn right. According to my dictionary, “patriarchy” means:

• a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.

• a society or community organized in this way.

Who in their right minds would *want* such a system of society or government?

A: “Patriarchy,” in feminist usage not only rejects the idea that men are expected to provide financially for their families, but also rejects “God” and the entire prophetic tradition and replaces it with a pagan “Goddess.” Historically, there is no evidence that the worship of female deities has any correlation with the status and condition of women in society. Just as the huge billboards of sexy fashion models that you see in New York City might seem to imply a great sense of admiration and even worship for female images, but these images do not imply that there are no homeless or otherwise unfortunate women in that city.

In American society the two most obvious examples of matriarchal family structure are the Jewish and the African American. Jewish women actually have a long tradition of earning the money while their husband studies the Torah. However, it is not clear to me that this woman-headed society is leading us to peace on earth. In many African American families, grandmothers are the head of the family and watch the children so the mother can go out to work, but this is indicative of an incredibly high poverty rate. True gender equity necessitates the cooperative efforts of men and women in eradicating poverty, promoting health and education, and reducing infant mortality. These questions are not addressed by the narrow framework of voting rights and abortion rights. Instead of redefining “feminism” each time a new concern comes up, I have filed “feminism” under “reactionary movements of previous century.”

Q: You have stated, “Only belief in one’s personal honor prevents sexual exploitation.” What about a society’s norms of conduct? Should a society have no such thing as norms of conduct, such as forbidding discrimination, whether subtle or blatant?

A: A personal sense of honor and dignity enables us to uphold a code of conduct. A sense of honor creates resistance to discrimination. But a sense of honor must be learned. Parents must tell their children how valuable they are, that their honor is worth protecting with wise behavior; because a heartbreak you might experience at age 14 can handicap you emotionally and sometimes physically for over a decade. And then you just lost your childhood. By forming positive relationships with older people, a child doesn’t always have to learn from his mistakes. He can be helped to avoid making mistakes, so that he can grow up respecting himself and others. Our society is a very permissive, exploitative one. Only a strong sense of honor will help young people choose wisdom.



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