logo

Dear Chaya

(If you haven’t read Chaya’s article, you’ll need to read that first. Click: XOJane)

I am very happy that you have found personal satisfaction in your religious life. I am also happy you took to the Internet to profess your love for your personal relationship with God (and apparently your husband). I honestly wish every orthodox Jewish woman was as religiously fulfilled as you are. However, sadly this is not the case.

Which leads me to the real issues I take with your effusive article.

You represented your subjective experience as the objective experience of chasidic women. Making things worse, you failed to disclose in the article many important factors that contributed to your personal experience. Indeed, you made them clear in the comments, but it was too little, too late.

You were not born into orthodox Judaism. That means that you actually chose the life you live. That’s amazing and I am so happy for you that you arrived at what I believe to be the truth on your own. But the simple fact is that people who are born into orthodox Judaism don’t choose it. This means that they are stuck. For better or for worse. Some people are thrilled to be stuck. Others, not so much. But this means that while you feel like you are free to as you please. I am sure you realize that if an orthodox woman would put on “pants and go snort coke” she would probably be asked to leave the community and be handed a quick divorce and lose custody of her children. So it is not as free as you intimate. It might feel free to you because you chose it. But it is not free.

The second thing that you did not disclose, and this is a far more egregious error, is that you are a member of the Chabad sect of chasidus. The reason this is so crucial is because Chabad is different than every single other chasidic sect. There are absolutely no social correlations between Chabad and the other sects of chasidus. None.

In the words of Hella Winston (quoted from Unchosen):

With its “mitzvah tanks”, campus Chabad houses, celebrity stuffed fundraising telethons, and outposts across the globe, Lubavitch has become almost synonymous with Hasidism. This despite the fact that in the United State it numbers less than half the size of Satmar and is hardly representative of the Hasidic community as a whole. With their mission – unique in the Hasidic world – to attract unaffiliated Jews, Lubavitchers are raised to engage (Jewish) outsiders, doing missionary work wherever Jews are found around the world. [...]

This emphasis on proselytizing has meant that a significant percentage of Lubavitchers were not born in the community but joined by choice. Often those who join [...] have led formerly secular lives, which likely included a college education or beyond. [...] Additionally, Lubavitch raises a substantial amount of money from non-Hasidic Jews [...]. All of this is strong contrast to the other Hasidic sects, which include Satmar, Ger, Viznitz, Belz, Bobov, Skver, Sponka, Pupa and Breslow, to name only a few. In these sects, almost all members are born into the community, and none engages in formal outreach, making them comparatively more insulated from , and less aware of, the ways of the outside society than their counterparts in Lubavitch.

You see, the insular chasidic sects bear no resemblance to this world you love. Their world is even more closed and more insular. So your personal experience, while wonderful, has no relevance to the world of chasidic women in the insular sects of Satmar, Ger, Vizhnitz, Square, etc. More importantly, their world is a world where women are more oppressed than in the rest of orthodox Judaism. There are rules against driving, getting an education, men and women walk on separate sides of the street in some communities, there are very strict rules about sex, many women shave their heads, girls are wed after extremely short meetings to young men they barely know, they must wear synthetic (bad looking) wigs, can’t wear latest fashions (even the modest ones), I could go on and on. The point is that in these communities, women don’t feel the great freedom and empowerment that you feel.

Ironically, by ignoring all this omitted information, you are causing a disservice to chasidic women everywhere. You make it sound like things are all honky-dory. But they are not. I am sure many chasidic women love their lot in life. But your experience has no bearing on theirs. In fact, I would bet you wouldn’t last a week in Kiryas Joel or New Square! The things you love about your Judaism are simply not present in those uber-insular communities.

But the most difficult thing about your article is that it completely ignores that plain fact that in halacha, women can easily be perceived as second class citizens. This is an incontrovertible fact. Women cannot be rabbis, cantors, judges, witnesses in Beis Din, and they aren’t counted as part of a minyan. Women’s dress codes are medieval, their stained underwear is checked by rabbis, they are discouraged from using contraception, they don’t study the most important text of orthodox Judaism – the Talmud (because they are assumed to have weaker minds), and they don’t take positions of authority. Heck the women in Crown Heights are not even allowed to vote on communal issues! I am well aware of the various apologetics and interpretations of these rules. It could be argued that women have an elevated role and do not require the encumbrances of mitzvah observance. I have used them and taught them myself. Some people buy those explanations, but many others do not. It’s great that so many orthodox Jewish women are happy with their place in orthodox Judaism, but it is completely reasonable for women inside the system and outside the system to perceive orthodox Judaism as oppressive to women.

In sum, I respect your healthy exuberance for your Chabad lifestyle. I think it’s great. Share the love. By all means. But please do not generalize and use terms like “we” and “us” to describe your personal experience. Not only is it disingenuous, it actually harms the cause of those who are trying to advocate for women’s rights and opportunities in the chasidic and otherwise orthodox Jewish women. The future of orthodox Judaism will need to make adjustments to the way we deal with women issues (see: The Future of Women in Orthodox Judaism). Pretending it is perfect as it is, sets us backwards several decades.


341 Comments
Post Details
  • Anonymous

     
     In fact, I would bet you wouldn’t last a week in Kiryas Joel or New Square! 

    Ya, you’d either be thrown into the East River or burned to death in your sleep. 

    • Adam

      Rabbi azigrae…No you’ll not……….

      Hasidic Jews are happy and have happy lives. I’m a Satmar Hasidic Jew having a
      good and healthy life and so are all my friends around me.  We are comfortable with the boundaries we
      were raised in.

      For those unhappy Orthodox Jews the only thing I can say is…
      You wouldn’t of been happier in a secular life because your nature is to be
      unhappy and the secular world is full with unhappy individuals..  

      • Joseph Nerenberg

         Most Satmars I know look and act pretty miserable. And certainly their obesity and heavy smoking habits don’t seem to suggest they are generally happy people. In any case, just try stepping out of line — even in the most minor way — and see how happy you’ll be.

        • Adam

           I don’t take your judgment about how
          we “look and act” to serious…

           

        • Moshe

           Most Satmar people and Chassidus in general are happy people. Chassidus
          teachus you about Simcha. I don’t understand the reasons why woman don’t
          learn Talmud but that’s not a Chassidish issue. Litvish woman don’t
          either learn the talmud. Take a poll within the Chassidish worman
          themselves and see if they’re happy with their lifestyle instead of
          having outsiders make that determination for them! Nobody is holding a
          gun to anyone. If someone decides to wear pants, true they won’t be
          welcome in the community because they are not abiding by there
          standards. Nobody will burn them! They’ll find another community that
          they do fit in and abide by their standards.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mghertner Micha Ghertner

        What are you doing on the Internet? Haven’t you heard that the Internet is assur? How can we take anything you say seriously when your very presence here is evidence that you disrespect and disobey the same social norms and hiearchy of authority you profess to believe in?

        • Adam

          I follow the rules of our religious leaders and I have a filter on my computer. The content in this website is not blocked. Seems to me that you didn’t get the whole internet issue we have.

      • Mxnjw18

         What would your “Rebbe” say to the fact you have internet?( you are posting on an internet blog) Most likely your children would be thrown out of the Yeshiva, and their friends would not be permitted to play with your children.

        • 6689386

          I like the way you changed the discussion, pretty good for a beginner!! Dude stick to the point we start here k???

      • http://twitter.com/biotwist Jonah block

         adam, way to cause someone of being judgmental and then passing judgement. I’m glad you are happy in your dogmatic life but could never stand the hypocrisy.  I certainly Am happier now then I was in youth. I only wish my parents didn’t wast hundreds of thousands of dollars on my secular education

      • Midianite Manna

        Funny, Adam, you don’t *sound* like a happy Orthodox WOMAN. 

      • Joe

        Adam, did you read the article? Because if not, i thought it might serve as an excellent response to your outragous claims.

      • Anonymous

        Groups of people arent happy, every person is an individual and has good times and bad times, happy times and sad times. there are no rules.

  • http://www.kvetchingeditor.com/ Chaviva Galatz

    Hmm. For some reason the statement — “But the most difficult thing about your article is that it completely ignores that plain fact that in halacha, women are second class citizens. This is an incontrovertible fact.” — just isn’t sitting right with me. 

    I mean, what is a “citizen” in Judaism? And how do we weigh which mitzvoth are more normative or not, what’s mediaval and not? I don’t think halacha knows what a citizen is, or what classes are. 

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      Fair enough. I only mean to say that (using clumsy words that) is how it is perceived.

      • Tobey

         and that is the nature of a blog post. fortunately, you were able to edit yours after comments. she was not. again, not cool.

      • Ariel

        and since when is ignorance or perception important to anything?  you say that is the perception, here is a brave women opening up and trying to discuss exactly that. that’s first

        second reading your other articles on what women are called in the Talmud, have you seen what it calls men? we are lambasted as much if not more than women. 
        thirdly seeing in your other article on the call for greater scholarship for women, this is ok but it’s a red herring. firstly women are not commanded to learn Torah men are. when we can barely afford for every boy to go to yeshiva wasting money on it for women is indeed negative, secondly assuming infinite resources, that is not the gist of the article.
         nobody encourages keeping down women nor are they considered second class citizens. anyone who actually educates themselves could easily dispel this notion(read moshe meiselmans book jewish women in jewish law for example) would know that not only are women not second class but indeed seem to be held in higher regard. the reason for them not being counted in a minyan has to do with metaphysics not classes of poeple. for example kings are forbidden from being witnesses. are we going to claim kind David and Solomon were unfairly discriminated against because of this? do we have to bring abuse and mistreatment of women to an end in our communities? yes as the same thing with men and everyone.
        but at least we are moving in the right direction as opposed to the world at large. 
        furthermore it’s not our problem how the world perceives our actions, it’s theirs. our job is to keep to halacha.

      • Dalya

        R. Fink, what you have tried to critisize and underline in her article, you have ironicaly done the exact same thing in yours! The statement of  “women are second class citizens” , is absolutely against a true Torah ideology!! never mind the inaccuracy of labeling men and women citizens, but as Jews we believe that women and men each have the equal opportunity to fulfill our DIFFERENT potential, not better, but different and unique! By you saying:  “But the most difficult thing about your article is that it completely ignores that plain fact that in halacha, women can easily be perceived as second class citizens. This is an incontrovertible fact. Women cannot be rabbis, cantors, judges, witnesses in Beis Din, and they aren’t counted as part of a minyan. Women’s dress codes are medieval, their stained underwear is checked by rabbis, they are discouraged from using contraception, they don’t study the most important text of orthodox Judaism – the Talmud (because they are assumed to have weaker minds), and they don’t take positions of authority” – YOU are the one completely undermining a womans place in Judaism!!!!! you might be playind devil’s advocate, but for the vast majority of readers here who do not have inside knowledge into each of these very complex issues (such as the reaon women are not judges etc) you have destroyed their perspective on women in these Jewish circles and have been over on the lo taase of motzi shem ra!!!!!!!!!  perhaps a prefered response should have been with regard to the vulgar intonation the article was written with which to me is missing the necessary tzniut every jewish woman (regardless of how happy she is) should have….

        • Dalya

          plus not to mention the criticsm of chabad – not to helpful in terms of bringing achdut and will do no good, only harm!

        • http://twitter.com/alexphilo7 Philo


           as Jews we believe that women and men each have the equal opportunity to fulfill our DIFFERENT potential, not better, but different and unique!”

          Dalya, that’s a modern apologetic that all of us have heard ad nauseum.. And every person who presents it acts as if it’s some giant revelation that those of us critical of womens’ roles in Orthodoxy must have never heard before. Yes, it’s become the defensive party line, but that doesn’t make it any less a manufactured apologetic. And your comment is precisely the attitude R Fink was criticizing in the post – just because you are happy with your role in Orthodox Judaism doesn’t mean that you speak for all women in Orthodox Judaism.

          • Ben

            I don’t understand the basis for your statement that it’s a manufactured apologetic. Perhaps you’re not familiar enough with enough sources. I’m convinced that it is an accurate depiction on Torah thought, having read lots on the subject. Unless you don’t think there is such a thing as a Torah-true opinion…? In which case your statement is just polemic.

    • Anonymous

      Within the context of our own lives and the times we live in, women in halacha are second class citizens. Isn’t that enough?

    • Monsey

       Chaviva, he said it is reasonable to be PERCIEVE that women are second class citizen. Don’t misquote him and say that he said that they ARE second class citizens.
      It is amazing that you misquote the Rabbi – and then criticize his article based on your MISQUOTE

      • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

        To be fair – I CHANGED IT after a few similar comments. :)

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

          If you wanted to be intellectually fair you wouldv’e mentioned the edit in the essay.

      • http://www.kvetchingeditor.com/ Chaviva Galatz

        Um. I quoted him directly. Hat in earth are you talking about?

        • Monsey

           Chaviva, Sorry, I did not know that it was edited after your comment.

          Obviously he agreed with you and changed it.

          • Ben

            The sentence now, post-editing, makes no logical sense whatsoever.
             ‘But the most difficult thing about your article is that it completely ignores that plain fact that in halacha, women can easily be perceived as second class citizens. This is an incontrovertible fact.’
            Well if it’s a question of perception then it’s not a fact, is it. Facts are objective, perceptions are subjective. Clearly, people can perceive halacha in all sorts ways which are function of their preconceptions and this is a good example. So please, enough with the ‘plain fact’ nonsense. I score you zero for logical accuracy and lower for clear Torah perception.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jesse-Miller/662544047 Jesse Miller

       Forget mitzvoth for a sec. The simple fact that Halachically, woman can not testify in court, is enough to show that they are deemed second class citizens. THis is not a mitzva issue, it’s a legal one. And the fact is, the Torah and Chareidei Judiasm says that woman may not testify – this proves more than anything that they are considered second class.

      • ML

        I think the real issue is that everyone equates equality with sameness. You can be on the same “level” as someone but be completely different, have different strengths, different weaknesses. Women are not allowed to testify because we are more compassionate and more likely to bend judgement in favor of compassion. That does not mean we are unequal, it means we are made differently. Today’s society is so focused on everyone being the same, they forget that in reality people are different, and that’s ok! 

        • http://twitter.com/alexphilo7 Philo

          Sigh. That same apologetic again.

          Where have I heard the concept of separate but equal before? Hmmm. Oh, right, in the south under Jim Crow, black people had a different role to play from white people.

          To paraphrase your comment, that does not mean they were unequal, it means they were made differently. Today’s society is so focused on everyone being the same, they forget that in reality people are different, and that’s ok!

          So black people had a special role to play. Sitting in the back of the bus, not allowing them to drink from “white” water fountains or enter “white” restaurants was all part of respecting their higher plane.

          • zion613

            Gender differences are a lot more substantial than mere skin color. Jim Crow was wrong. There is no legitimate comparison.

        • Dee En

           Oh, please. Do you mean to tell me that all women are more compassionate than all men? Have you never seen women with iron-clad wills, or a strong sense of justice?
          Women are successful court judges and it seems to work just as well for them as it does for male court judges.
          Applying an across-the-board generalization about what a particular race or sex is not only intellectually dishonest, it also denies the reality that  I am sure even you have seen with your own eyes.
          You need to understand that Talmudic generalizations of what a woman supposedly is was only relevant to those times, and is completely irrelevant and archaic in today’s society. Women in the Talmudic area, with rare exceptions, were uneducated, so of course they were seen as “weak minded”. Intelligence, while it is genetically innate, can only become apparent when it is cultivated and nourished. And women’s “compassion”, in the era of the Talmud, could easily be confused with “submission”. In a society where men were law makers and rulers of the household, it was only the men who had the authority to mete out punishment, and not the role of the woman. Just because she never had the authority of a ‘punisher’, that does not make her compassionate.
          On a lighter note, let’s have a look at our lives today…for example, I remember that when I was growing up, I always knew that if I wanted something, I was more likely to get a “yes” from Dad, then from Mom, and by plenty of my childhood friends it was the same. A more extreme example, particularly in light of the frustrating bureaucracy in Israeli society: bursting into tears in front of a man to get what you want is more likely to work than bursting into tears in front of a woman.
          And did you not have/know female school-teachers and shule committee board members/ chessed society leaders that everyone, including men, are terrified of?
          Does it really seem like women are “always” more “compassionate” then men?
          In order to make things easier for orthodox women, even in a halachic context, the first thing we have to do away with is archaic stereotypes.

      • Ak

        Ummm…A king is also not aloud to be a witness, as well as someone’s brother.  Does that make them appear to be second class citizens?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

        Instead of attempting to fit the Hassidic culture with a prejudicial word, it would be intellectually honest to discuss it’s intrinsic morality. To throw prejudicial words like secondclass citizen, racist etc. at people is a sign of intellectual lazyness. I believe the same goes for E. Fink.

      • Pinnylevy

        Perhaps disputes/courts/witnesses are second-class activities and raising a family are first class?  I propose that you (and all who argue from that position) are making a cultural assumption.  How great it is to testify in court!  

    • Getyourglamour

      I love this “second class citizen” business.  As a Chassidish woman with a Satmir husband I get to spend the necessary time with my children to raise and love them through their childhood…  I look beautiful, modest and “bejeweled” from the jewelry and clothing my husband lavishes on me…  My house is a home where smells of fresh Challah and home cooking radiate on a daily basis, and Shabbos is filled with song and laughter…  I have the flexibility to sit with my friends in the neighborhood park and enjoy the sun while the kids play on a lazy afternoon while other women I know, labor over meaningless jobs and miss all these precious moments…  A husband so dedicated to this lifestyle and me is hard to find and he is not my master, he is my best friend and partner.  As a “second class citizen”, we walk through life knowing there is security around us and that if we “fall”, people will be there to pick us up…  As a happily married woman, I don’t focus on all the weighted negativity but instead choose to see the beauty in the life I live.  I am lucky and blessed and wish that we could change shoes for even a day so you can too experience what I do every day.   Next time you see me, don’t judge me, talk to me.  Ask me these questions and walk a day with me to truly see my “oppression”.  I know how we look to the outside world, but we’re simply quieter and less caught up in these issues.  I’m not Chabbad, I’m not a Ba’alas Teshuvah, I was born this way and I’m proud and happy!  If I am a “second class citizen”, send me to the back of the bus with the rest of them because I’d rather be there.  

      • Getyourglamour

        One thing I forgot to mention…  According to the Census Bureau, Kiryas Yoel (where I live), is the poorest neighborhood in the country.  Let me repeat that…  POOREST NEIGHBORHOOD IN THE COUNTRY.  Yet we have happiness and the lowest crime rate.  Where else in the United States do you find that?  Most poor neighborhoods are riddled with crime, drugs and gangs.  We are not.  Most poor neighborhoods have bars on their windows.  We have no bars.  Walk through my neighborhood on a Friday afternoon and you will smile!  You may get a few curious stares but you will not feel unsafe.  Walking alone in the poorest neighborhood, you will not need protection because it is safe.  You’ll see beauty and bustling and on Friday night you’ll see Shabbos candles, Shtramels and children playing.  In reality, we are at the bottom of the totem pole, living in the poorest neighborhood and yet happy.  There are always two sides to every coin.   

        • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

          Hehe. It is not really the poorest town. It just appears that way. Anyway I wrote about your lovely town last year: Thoughts on Kiryas Joel: The Poorest City in America

          • Getyourglamour

             http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiryas_Joel,_New_York

            According to 2008 census figures, the village has the highest poverty
            rate in the nation. More than two-thirds of residents live below the
            federal poverty line and 40% receive food stamps.

        • Mendy Shtark

          Hahah. KJ is considered poor because most of the town is on social programs but we know the truth how many of them really qualify…wink wink..

        • Anonymous

          Just wondering, how does a resident of “the poorest neighborhood in the country” lavish jewelry and clothing on his wife?

          • Anonymous

            @kweansmom:disqus Just wondering, how does a resident of “the poorest neighborhood in the country” lavish jewelry and clothing on his wife? 

            Or a fancy mink hat (shtreimel)?
            Or an expensive imported citron (etrog) once a year?
            Or a solid silver ornament (atara) on a tallit (prayer shawl)?
            Or a large set of shas for every man immediately upon getting married?
            etc….

          • Biglag1292

            Kiryas Yoel is Satmar, but Satmr people also live in Boro Park which is not so poor.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            You see unlike the secular world, the rich are integrated with the poor in the Hassidic communities. Gasp in those backwards communities a child of a multimillionaire gets the similar education as the child of a pauper. 

          • Anonymous

            The OP clearly states that she is from Kiryas Yoel, where everyone is happy despite being poor.  She describes a life of leisure and luxury and implies that she is representative of her community.    She is not saying that only the rich in KY feel beloved by their generous husbands and can enjoy a quiet afternoon without having to rush off to work, she says this is how we live, while we are poor and receiving government assistance.  

        • Frum Feminist

          Kiryas Yoel is only the “poorest neighborhood int he country” because the residents lie about their incomes in order to get government benefits and to avoid paying taxes.

      • Agunah

        Imagine a woman just like you, raising her children, sitting with friends in the park. But she’s not so happy with her life. At home, her husband doesn’t lavish her with jewelry or clothes, in fact, he begrudges her every penny she spends, even on their children. He stops visiting her bed though she faithfully goes to the mikveh. He’s short tempered and yells. Eventually he starts hitting and hurting her. She doesn’t have the education or ability to get a “meaningless job” to support herself and the children, and she’s told by the rabbi that it’s her job to stay and make the marriage work, that being smacked isn’t that big a deal.

        What does she do?

        Equality is security. Be happy with your life by all means, but please recognize that beyond your life there are thousands of circumstances that aren’t yours.

        • sunshine85

          So too, the infirtle woman for whom that “meaningless job” is the only thing in her life that gives her meaning. Where does she sit in the shade and watch her kids play? G-d has passed all those “precious moments” out of her life when He made her unable to conceive, yet she is looked down upon in the community precisely for the thing that is out of her control -for not being able to procreate, and for investing effort and interest into her career.  The paradigm of becoming the ultimate in Jewish femininity (the different but equal goal) is unattainable.

          And what about those that have to go to those “meaningless jobs” in order to afford the astronomical bills of a family that they are halachikly unable to limit and a husband who is well meaning but never received the right type of education while in yeshivah to support tuition bills and yom tovim, let alone a rental apartment and health insurance.  Do not forget that everyone does not live like you, and its not for a lack of wanting.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

          Do you think those problems are limited to any community? Every community has a bellcurve. When we compare lifestyles one must look at the mean with its standard deviations. This women was simply responding to the charge that her community is definitively restrictive.

        • Sherree

          She goes to another Rabbi, that is what she does. She finds herself a Rabbi or a Rebbetzin who will listen to understand. She needs to understand that it is true that it is extremely important to fight for one’s marriage and family but it is also extremely important to understand how one needs to be respected and treated and if a spouse crosses the line and does not treat her according to the Torah and Halacha, and a Rabbi refuses to acknowledge that, find another Rabbi who does and who is well versed in Shalom Bayis issues. Go back to your own Kallah teacher or call a Kallah teacher for help. No where in the Torah or Halacha does it say that a husband has the right to abuse his wife or his children. No where in your kesuba does it say that either. No where in your chassidus is it condoned. Just because a person crowns himself with the title of Rabbi does not mean that he is capable of dealing, handling or even understanding the intricacies of marriage and human nature, nor does it mean that he has the knowledge, compassion, warmth, kindness and generosity of spirit to lead a Kehilah . One must be very careful in choosing their Rav and the Kehilah they join even within any particular chassidus. And every Kallah teacher should teacher the warning signs of trouble brewing and when to go to a Rav and/or a therapist at the very first sign of trouble.

      • Anonymous

        But if one of those ladies at the park isn’t happy with the lifestyle, what realistic choices does she have to change anything about it?

      • Joseph Nerenberg

         Problem is that much of that lifestyle is based on fraudulent practices, as is well known to anyone who follows the papers or keeps their eyes/ears open.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

          I see so if 10-50 chassidim gets arrested a year for fraud then all chassidim are frauds. Would you be willing to say something like that about any ethnic group? Or is prejudice only permitted for groups that offend your feelings of moral inferiority?

      • http://www.facebook.com/mghertner Micha Ghertner

        What in the world are you doing on the Internet? Haven’t you heard that the Internet is assur? How can we take anything you say seriously when your very presence here is evidence that you disrespect and disobey the same social norms and hiearchy of authority you profess to believe in

        • Getyourglamour

          Micha, there is no ban on the Internet by our Rabbanim but it sounds like you’re a very angry person who is looking for debate, negativity and trouble. Please research facts before spreading rumors.

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

          How can I take you seriouslly if you must devolve a rational discussion into a series of ad hominems.

      • http://twitter.com/biotwist Jonah block

         are you going to get rid of your internet?

      • http://aztecqueen2000.blogspot.in/ AztecQueen2000

         Given how many children are pushed into school at the age of 2 or 3, WHEN do you get to play with them in the park?

      • Dee En

        What about all those other ultra-orthodox women who are not as lucky as you are, and have to support their families in meaningless jobs (not everyone can be teachers) while their husbands sit and learn? Do they get showered with clothes and jewelery and get to watch their kids in the sun all day? I realize that most Hassidic men in NY are businessmen, but that is certainly not the case in Israel. I understand that many young women are educated in schools and seminaries to believe that working your fingers to the bone and never seeing your kids, and living in grinding poverty on a single minimum wage is a holy sacrifice for the Torah.
        Again, I think that Rav Fink is not denying the positive experiences of many chassidic and litvish women, he is simply taking issue with those individuals who use their positive experiences as a justification to deny or ignore real issues concerning women in the orthodox world.

      • KJoel

        WOW Just wondering witch park in kiryas Joel miryam is sitting with her
        friends… ? living there born and raised all i can say your a fraud…
        and going home every Friday afternoon there is nothing to smile about…
        the only time i smile is seeing all the poor ppl pushing bogboos and
        kids wearing stupid overpriced clothing so everyone can see YOU! as no
        one else dose…

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

      I agree. E. Fink attempts to use a pejorative word instead of  actually adressing the issue. Oh intellectual lazyness, the greatest excuse for lazyness in correcting our views.

  • Joannefeldman

    The adjustment you speak of is ready made by the Reform and Conservative Movement.  We choose to be Orthodox with all the facts you spoke of.  As an Orthodox woman, I do not agree with your comment that in halacha, women are second class citizens. This is something I have heard from Conservative Rabbis, certainly not an Orthodoz Rabbi.

    • Anonymous

      How does someone’s affiliation affect their view of an obvious fact?

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      I am not sure what you mean. Orthodox Judaism has adjusted its approach to women over the last few decades. Click the link at the end of the post.

      • zg

        I am so disappointed in your article Rabbi Fink..with all due respect one cannot equate shaving one’s head or shidduch customs in the Chasidic woman’s life to a woman not being able to testify at a Beis Din, not be counted in a minyan, etc. all of which were instituted by Rabbis far wiser than any that are alive today.
        Sure women have far more career and educational opportunities post Feminism than pre-Feminism  but have their lives really improved from a fulfillment and happiness perspective? Rabbis have, wisely so,  never acted impulsively to embrace all the ism movements for good reason…many as we know have been colossal failures. Please take the time to read a far more balanced presentation on Women and Judaism than Chaya, Deborah or you have offered as all of the articles thus far seem to claim an exclusive window into the souls of Orthodox women.

         From Feminism To Careerism To Masculism
        http://www.aish.com/ci/w/48955426.html

        • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

          I respect your opinion. I really do. But I have done a lot of my own research, academic and anecdotal, and I have come to a different conclusion than you. And that’s okay. Just one thing that I ask you to consider, when Chazal made their rulings on women 2000 years ago, everyone agreed with those rulings because they conformed to their time and place. Do you really think that their time and place did not influence their rulings?

          • zg

            Actually I do not…I think they understood many things far deeper than any one in today’s generation about women and what ultimately gives them meaning, fulfillment and most importantly dignity. Kabbalistic sources discuss gender differences as you know.

            “Interestingly enough, Adam was not split down the middle; rather, Eve was created from an internal organ: his rib. By mentioning the rib, the Torah is teaching us a principle in understanding the nature of masculine and feminine strengths, namely that feminine manifestation and strength is more internal, while the masculine focus and expression is more external.The feminine internal nature can be observed in the enormous weight women place on relationships, which by definition are personal and private. Modern psychology confirms this key distinction. The best-selling book, “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” by Dr. John Gray, advances the idea that women are more “relationship-based” than men.” 
            An Orthodox (mainstream)woman as you well know is certainly not prohibited from pursuing a career and hence there are many, in my circle included, who work as physicians, attorneys, business owners etc. alongside  juggling responsibilities of family life. Yet all of these professionally successful and highly educated women are in agreement that at the end of the road their most important and meaningful contribution is their role as a wife and mother and it’s ultimate impact to the survival of the Jewish people. 

          • cipher

             @4be2ed4f4df2800773a61e1738416499:disqus : Actually I do not…I think they understood many things far deeper than
            any one in today’s generation about women and what ultimately gives them
            meaning, fulfillment and most importantly dignity.

            Right – Aish apologetics and “Chazal knew everything because they were operating at a higher madrega”. Kool-Aid, anyone?

          • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com/ Abandoning eden

            zg- the book quoted in that quote, “men are from mars, women are from venus” is not taken seriously by any academic, it’s considered a “pop psychology” not a  “modern psychology” book, and is based on very flimsy evidence.  In fact that book has been mocked SO much in academia there is actually now an academic term for the theory of gender it proposes- we call it the “Interplanetary theory of gender” :)

          • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com/ Abandoningeden

             oh and “Yet all of these professionally successful and highly educated women are
            in agreement that at the end of the road their most important and
            meaningful contribution is their role as a wife and mother and it’s
            ultimate impact to the survival of the Jewish people. ”

            I’m a professional (sociology professor) and have a PhD, and at the end of the road I left the jewish community.   And my role as a wife (and I’m not a mother yet- also because of my career) is secondary to my role as a sociology professor. I even was left by my frum ex fiance because I wanted to go to grad school and he didn’t want me to have a career, and I would not give that up for him.  I’m married now (to someone else), but before I got married me and my husband came to an agreement that he would always follow my career- and I wouldn’t have married him if he didn’t.

            Anyway my point is you have a “confirmation bias” of people being happy with that role- because the people like me (and like many other women I know) who are not content with having wifehood and motherhood be the main focus of our lives- a lot of us leave the community, or at least because a lot more modern orthodox so that they can do both.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/RCPAKQX2ELSAGZ4OO4TNUOOJOI jake

            I went to Brooklyn college. A PHD in sociology is useless in the real world, I should know, I almost got one. Sure, it’s interesting, but i decided to live in society rather than study it. There were a lot of cranky old maid PHDs working there, with no kids and dried up eggs. theirs lives have no purpose except to annoy their students. when they cant go to work anymore, they will just be old has beens. But being a bubby….. Nachas.

          • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com/ Abandoningeden

            Well since I have a full time job with benefits, as do all my graduate school friends (working for everything from the Census, to the UN, to private marketing firms, to being a prof like me) I think it’s actually not all that useless in the “real world” :) Without us, you wouldn’t even know what was happening in the real world. :)

          • zg

            FINALLY SOMEONE GETS IT RIGHT!
            What Judaism really is. It’s a place where there are no second class citizens. Where people may have different roles, where the world is drastically different from the world that surrounds us, but no one is lower class, whether they are a man, women, Cohen, High Priest, Levite, child or leper, and everyone is holy in their own way. http://popchassid.com/respecting-chaya-baal-teshuvas/

            To cipher We all drink “kool aid” of some form or another and I would venture to guess that you are not immune. It’s a matter of what value system we choose to embrace and being the pragmatic scientist that I am  I choose to stick with what has lasted for thousands of years vs the value system of  “progressive” cultures that have long disappeared.

            To abandoning Eden It is surely within your G-d given right to pursue your passions in life and structure your priorities. I sincerely wish you much success. At the same time if all women would choose your priorities we would have long disappeared as a society and culture. Motherhood is quite abstract to you now but should you ever choose to have children you may see things very differently. Most of the women I have referred to were where you are right now and are still quite passionate about their work but at the same time know that their true legacy lies in the investment that they make in their families.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            As a medical student I feel sorry for sociologists and psychologists. In a 100 years they will be mocking your ideas. They will just laugh at our crude methods.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            You put yourself in a dangerous area by implying that since Chazals opinions were based upon their time and place, you can disagree with them. If you believe that allows you to disagree with them on Halachic principles (or their “rulings”) then you have left normative Orthodoxy. You may have no issue with that, but if it is true it is deceptive to call yourself an Orthodox rabbi.

    • Monsey

       Joanne, he said it is reasonable to PERCIEVE that women are second class
      citizen. Don’t misquote him and say that he said that they ARE second
      class citizens.

      It is amazing that you misquote the Rabbi – and then criticize his article based on your MISQUOTE

  • Anonymous

    It’s very easy to imagine the excitement this woman felt when she came up with the idea for this. Surely it had much to do with her Lubavitchism and their desperate need to missionize everything that breaths and had a grandparent with a beard. But the main problem is this faulty idea that non Jews or unaffiliated Jews would ever, ever, be impressed or in awe of your Jewish lifestyle, they arent and never will be. Not shaking a woman’s hand isn’t honorable, its demeaning and insulting and the same goes for the items listed. Chaya can tell herself otherwise as , but its all imagined. 

    • Anonymous

      It’s kind of like an advertisement for Chabad. “Join us and have great sex” :-)

    • Ari

      My wife is just as uncomfortable shaking a mans hand as i am shaking a woman’s. Is she demeaning men?

      • Anonymous

        Of course. And that uncomfortablness is just the way she’s been conditioned, there is no real reason to be uncomfortable. Everyone does it……

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

          You seem to convine yourself that only those unlike you are conditioned, while you are a pure product of rationality. Do you think you would be the same individual if you lived in the U.S.A. 100 years ago. Do you think you would be the same even if you were born in Paris. You seem to suffer under the common delusion that youv’e reached the pinnacle of Human moral evolution.

          • Anonymous

            Definitely not the pinnacle, as gay marriage still isn’t legal in all 50 states, women are paid less than men, and National Health Care is still being challenged. But certainly it is more moral than a system that is based on the ideals and morals of Middle Ages (and earlier) men.. 

            If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written (I wouldn’t expect you have) you would know that I think that as time moves on we become  more moral and more ethical, but I dont think anyone would tell you we are at the pinnacle. 

            .003% of this country are orthodox Jews, so yes, becoming and adult in this country of 300,000,000 people and being uncomfortable doing what all the other roughly 299,000,000 needs conditioning. Everyone else shaking hands is just doing what is normal in their society.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            You have missed my point. My point is that you thin YOU have reached the pinnacle. And you apparently have no clue what conditioning is. (As a matter of fact i’m working on the MFB in  the lateral hypothalamus and its affect on conditioning, but I digrees). Conditioning has nothing to do with normative, majority etc. In addition your logic is flawed, because you choose America as your sample size. If you picked Borough Park you would get a different result. If you picked Earth you may get another result. And who knows if you picked the universe or multiverses you may get another result.

    • http://twitter.com/alexphilo7 Philo

      Of course, most contemporary Jews’ grandfathers did NOT have beards.

      • Anonymous

        I didnt mean it literally, my grandfather was an atheist.

  • http://www.rishona.net/ Shona

    Excellent post Rabbi; one that I hope reaches just as many people as Chaya Kurtz’s. Personally I am consistently disappointed by the portrayal of Chassidim and of Orthodox Jews in general in the media. Far too many people offer distorted or misleading information regarding these subjects. And in general, those in the frum community who disagree with the representation may censor themselves because communal approval is everything in the frum community. Well unless you are older and have no children or grandchildren who shidduch prospects might be impaired!

    In general what I’ve seen in regards to this topic is two opposite extremes – the “Chaya side” and the “Deborah Feldman” side. Neither one is a good representation of Chassdic women in my humble opinion. Most women….no most people, Chassidic or not, have a bias towards what they know and what they find comfortable. It is fine to publically talk about yourself, your experiences and your preferences; but it is not ok to put yourself out there as a representative for a larger community in regards to these issues.

    The Chassidic Jewish community has social issues…it’s true. However outside of not making excuses and sugar-coating things, I think that there is little that can be done or that even should be done. Except for maybe something similar to what the Amish do and the young people are allowed to go out into the larger world for a year, and then come back to the society with an expanded worldview.

  • Nams182

    This article refutation of the article Chaya wrote, while
    having one good observation, that she isn’t chasidish so it’s a
    misrepresenatation is otherwise mired in offensive garbage. I’d like to break
    this down.

    First, comparing her to a woman who chooses to wear pants an
    d snort coke. Yes, child services will take away ANY child from a mother
    breaking the law … that you chose to combine the two extremes, does not make
    the point, it subtracts.

    Furthermore you quoted from ‘Unchosen’, which focuses on one
    or two rather oddball characters that were outcasts in their community. They
    would have been outcasts in any situation, not necessarily Orthodox Judaism. I
    can personally verify in my knowing Statmir women, she absolutely and correctly
    portrayed their freedoms.  That you
    personally don’t identify with some of the external measures they take, ie. Shaving
    their heads or short term dating, 
    fabulous.  You don’t identify with
    this sect or the others mentioned.

    You bet “she wouldn’t last a week in Kiryas Joel or New
    Square”.  What is this an Adam Sandler
    film? Should I shout out “Odoyle rules” as you continue to bully with your lame
    taunts … Yes, some can perceive in halacha women as second class citizens. Ok,
    that’s an OPINION last time I checked, not an incontrovertible fact.  

    You sir, are not advocating for ANY women’s rights. Your
    letter was rude, disrespectful, and childish. You wish to be respected and
    heard? Write a letter to Chaya, showing her dignity and respect!  Just because you don’t agree doesn’t give you
    the right to mock her. I’m embarrassed for this article. 

    • Anonymous

      @71a7ee57253714fbb7f4e6cc4378f8f8:disqus 
      First, comparing her to a woman who chooses to wear pants and snort coke. Yes, …  

      “put on a pair of pants and go to a disco and snort coke” is a direct quote from Chaya’s article stating what she can do if she so chooses.

    • cipher

      Furthermore you quoted from ‘Unchosen’, which focuses on one or two rather oddball characters that were outcasts in their community. They would have been outcasts in any situation, not necessarily Orthodox Judaism.

      Uh huh. “It’s only a few malcontents.” Classic.

      • Chaim W.

        Its only a few malcontents that voice their discontent with contemporary Haredi life but at the same time the few Haredi people that manage to actually get online and voice their content with Haredi life are the ambassadors for and represent the reigning sentiment felt by the entire Haredi community. 

        • cipher

          Yes, I’m sure.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            Please I’m begging you, just make a damn point. How does one respond to ones whose intellectual abilty extends to simply making snide intellectual giggles.

      • zg

        FINALLY SOMEONE GETS IT RIGHT!What Judaism really is. It’s a place where there are no second class citizens. Where people may have different roles, where the world is drastically different from the world that surrounds us, but no one is lower class, whether they are a man, woman, Cohen, High Priest, Levite, child or leper, and everyone is holy in their own way. http://popchassid.com/respecti…
        To cipher We all drink “kool aid” of some form or another and I would venture to guess that you are not immune. It’s a matter of what value system we choose to embrace and being the pragmatic scientist that I am  I choose to stick with what has lasted for thousands of years vs the value system of  “progressive” cultures that have long disappeared.
        , I recognize your right to choose what gives you a sense of meaning in your life. I only ask that you extend the same right and sense of respect to those of us who do find meaning and deep spirituality in our Torah observant life..  

  • mom BH

    ok- interesting article- disclaimer: I am a frum jew by choice married to a frum jew by choice who was born a frum jew whereas I wasn’t and I am chabad- yet I have friends across the spectrum- lets discuss topics (1) if you left frumkeit you would be ostracized and have your kids taken away ….(1 answer) well tell me that it doesn’t work the opposite way just as well – if 2 atheist people are married with kids- have plenty of friends- then 1 becomes religious and they decide to divorce- how easy is it for the one who decided to become religious to keep either their friends or their kids.  yet we live in the home of the free and the home of the brave.  now if the two did not divorce there would be no problems with child custody in either scenario.  as far as losing friends- as a person changes their worldview there will always be a gaining and losing of friends.  (2)orthodox women as second class citizens.  (2 answer) oldest argument in the book!   We do not believe that the shul has first place in Judaism- to build a mikvah a sefer Torah may be sold!  This means that a mikvah is MORE important than shul.  Why is the mikvah more important than shul- because it is a mainstay to a marriage.  The home has 1st place in a jewish life.  and who is in charge of the home- the wife!  If she wants to go to shul she can but if she wants to pray at home she can also.  She is needed as a mom.  In modern feminism the role of mom is disappearing.  She should be a doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc.  She should have control of her body- read- know all forms of birth control by the age of 14 and be able to use them and if all else fails use abortion to fix all ailments of the morning sickness kind.  Judaism says that is garbage.  The man is supposed to first be a dad and then have his communal responsibilities and earn a living.  The woman if possible is supposed to first be a mom and then all else.  In my community we have women doctors, lawyers, etc and some are born frum!!  But they know their children come first.  and women do speak out and form committees.  just not with men.  

    • http://www.rishona.net/ Shona

      Your personal experience does not negate the issues. And build a mikvah before a shul and/or sell off a sefer Torah? Yes, that’s another halachaic issue that seems to be lip service. Have you seen a map of mikvot in the United States? Ever hear of women driving hours upon hours to reach one? Even where I live, there are two, but one is not always accessible or in the greatest of shape. Still we have women driving as far as 5 hours to our west to use it (passing a few Orthodox shuls along the way).

      • Dagirl156

        That’s because the cost of making a torah is $10,000, and the cost of making a Mikvah is about $150,000. Many Chabad houses are stuck because they can’t raise that kind of money, plus maintenance. Still, you have to admit “mom bh” has a point.

        In our culture, the loudest, most visible person is the most important. Hundreds of reality shows testify to this philosophy. And yet behind every great visible triumph, the real accomplishment was done by people you never hear about. Obama gets credit for killing Bin Ladin, but please. He. Had nothing to do with it. And in my field in science, professors get all the accolades, but everyone knows they did next to nothing, and most of the work was done by an underpaid and overworked grad student.

        I’m not entirely convinced that being a Rabbi of a shul or a Yeshiva equals greatness. In my community, few people stick behind any one Rabbi, but a certain woman in that community is known and universally beloved for what she does.

    • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.lerer Daniel Lerer

      It has to do with a support structure. When one leaves the “greater” world where there are more people in numbers but more tenuous bonds, they are actually gaining a community, that will welcome them home as if they were always a part of it. When one leaves orthodoxy, they are leaving that support structure and the insularity that shielded them from the pitfalls associated with real life. When they go out into the “greater” world there is no one to meet them and show them the ropes there is no “Aish” for not being orthodox. Therefore it is extremely difficult, more importantly if you are like Chaya, or even like yourself, in the sense that you chose to be orthodox, even if your family and friends shunned you… it is temporary in the sense that if you left they would accept you back immediately, providing the necessary support structure and ex frum from birth wouldn’t have.

  • Arigoldst

    I’ve lived in the Orthodox world for my entire life and never felt like a second class citizen.  I know women in the chasidic world who feel the same way.  That doesn’t mean that their are families who feel this way about women or that some subjects in certain circles are taboo.  Fact: Jewish life revolves around the woman, so no she is not a second class citizen in halacha(jewish law)

    • Getyourglamour

      Agree, agree, agree!

    • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com/ Abandoningeden

      And you know what, I left the jewish community because I felt like a second class citizen and I could never have the leadership postions I wanted as an orthodox jew.  And I grew up in a family that actually let women learn the basis of jewish law, vs. many that don’t!  Maybe if I could have been a rabbi I would have stayed..I feel my current job as a professor is actually pretty similar in a lot of ways. The mentoring aspect, the teaching aspect, outside respect for the position, etc. Even the debates I had in grad school were similar to the good gemarah debates I had as a kid before the campaign to drive me out of my dad’s gemerah group began (a few guys – not my dad- would sneer and say “is that what you think princess?” whenever I said anything, and would not respond to my comments ever)

      Anyway, some people hate it, some people like it. You may have never felt like a second class citizen but that doesn’t negate the rest of us that do. Here’s an essay I wrote when I was 19 and still living in the jewish community about what being a woman means to me: http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com/2012/01/omfsm-guys-i-found-it.html

      • http://profiles.google.com/holyhyrax Holy Hyrax

        AE,

        So was your leaving Judaism an intellectual issue with it? Sounds like it was an emotional yearning for something else if you are admitting had you been a rabbi you would have stayed.

      • zg

        To abandoning Eden It is surely within your G-d given right of free will to pursue your passions in life and structure your priorities. I sincerely wish you much success. At the same time if all women would choose your priorities we would have long disappeared as a society and culture. Motherhood is quite abstract to you now but should you ever choose to have children you may see things very differently. Most of the professional women I have referred to were where you are right now and are still quite passionate about their work but at the same time know that their true legacy lies in the investment that they make in their families.

        From your writings on your blog you have apparently and sadly developed many negative associations with Orthodox Judaism or Judaism all together for that matter based on a series of unfortunate  traumatic experiences in your life, one of which we share (the monstrous B.L). Yes, Eden, we do  agree that there is much work to do in the tikun olam arena in our communities and advocating for the rights of children is long overdue. I also know this all to well as I am not speaking abstractly but from an all to painful personal perspective …  Yet where we part ways is, as tempted as I was, I chose not to jump ship and run when things looked rather bleak , not to to take the road of bitterness and cynicism and instead chose to recognize that ALL people are flawed (both secular and religious), the world is flawed but the Torah is not. As imperfect as our communities are, the landscape of our surrounding culture and it’s impact on women, children, families and relationships seemed far more troubling to me. Again, I recognize your right to choose what gives you a sense of meaning in your life. I only ask that you extend the same right and sense of respect to those of us who do find meaning and deep spirituality in our Torah observant life..  

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

        I’m confused. You wished to be a Rabbi- a religious spiritual leader of Judaism. But you couldn’t be a rabbi so you turned your back on Judaism? I’m sure am happy you didn’t become my rabbi.

    • Joseph Nerenberg

       I wonder if you’d feel the same way if you witnessed a murder of a parent and yet couldn’t testify?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

        I believe that the witness example may be irrelevant in the sense that the whole witness sytsem was primarily a theoretical system. All the laws in regards to Eduth makes it almost impossible for punishment to be done with that system. There was another system set up as mentioned in Sanhedrin that allowed the lock up of individuals when the judges had strong logical reasons to presume their guilt. I am quite fuzzy as to how it worked. It is likely that women’s testimony were accepted under that sytem. This is just my  off the bat hypothesis and I have no issue with its destruction

  • Eliwi

    Look no further than Avrohom and Sarah as well as Yitzchok and Rivka to see the role of man and woman in Judaism….to the simpleton it seems like it’s all about Avrohom and Yitzchok, as they are on the outside and the narrative is about them, and yet when anyone looks just a hairline below the surface, it is obvious that Sarah and Rivka are 2nd to nobody. It’s different roles built on millions of years of evolutionary sex differences (of course there will always be exceptions like Devorah but on the aggregate) and it has no relevance to 2nd class. And it’s like that to this day both in Halacha and at lubavitch.

  • Guest

    The New Square Chassidic community may not leave their town(s) to do “outreach” – but tens of thousands of Jews, from all backgrounds, have been hosted by New Square families on shabbos and holidays.  If a Jew wanders into New Square, and is curious enough to start asking questions about their lifestyle, that person is warmly received.

    I personally know several New Square Chassidim who did not start out their lives in that sect.  In addition, their leader spends several hours, every weeknight that he is home, accepting visitors and offering them advice, halachic rulings, and blessings – regardless of the visitor’s observance level or sect affiliation.

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      Yes. All true.

    • cipher

      If a Jew wanders into New Square, and is curious enough to start asking questions about their lifestyle, that person is warmly received.

      I’m sure. And if he becomes a Skverer and violates one of the rebbe’s edicts, they try to set him on fire.

      • Anonymous

        @cipher:disqus And if he becomes a Skverer and violates one of the rebbe’s edicts, they try to set him on fire. 

        To be fair, they first intimidate you for years to get you to leave before they set you and your family on fire.

        • cipher

           True.

      • Joseph Nerenberg

         Well don’t they specialize in producing wicks, Shabbos candles, Chanukah candles, Havdalah candles, etc? Most of those types of religious products come from a ‘Ner Mitzvah’ company in New Square. Fire seems to be in their blood! :)

    • Ari

      Skver is known to be an outlier in this regard amongst te classical chassidic sects.

  • Anonymous

    Amen.

    • Anonymous

      And thank you.

  • Jacob Alperin-Sheriff

    One even more important difference between her and other Chasidic or even right-wing yeshivish women is that she uses the Internet under her real name for non-business purposes while a lot of Chasidim/right-wing yeshivish would be scared to do that because their kids might,i.e. get kicked out of yeshiva as bad influences.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003379839524 Tzirel Rutstein

    Great article! Important points. I believe that there is a Chasam Sofer that states that in a world post Geulah, men and women will become truly “equal,” which points to the fact that such a world is an ideal state that we have to reach. And I agree with your point about Halacha adapting to the times; each generation has different needs. Halacha and the people are meant to reflect each other.

  • Sanje83

    Oy vey. Actually- Orthodox Judaism is completely a “women’s rights religion” as my friends and I used to joke in Stern (yes liberal  STERN college). Women are allowed to be WOMEN without feeling inferior because they are not MEN. Men and Women are not the same! Women are more spiritual, emotional, communicative, nurturing- on a whole. Nashim daisos kallos hein is just that- we don’t always think with logic- we think with our heart-  or with our “binah yeseairah”. How dare you turn that into a BAD thing! How dare you assume that we want to be Rabbis and go to shul three times a day and wear teffilin, or that it is degrading to have our husbands show a rav our underwear (in fact I think it shows how progressive Judaism is). Maybe we WANT to be mothers! Maybe we LIKE the fact that we can be close to G-d without all the extras. Maybe we feel great that our husbands had to “put a ring on it”. And maybe we feel good about our role- a lofty one at that. I think that’s what Chaya was trying to say…and I think you should get some hadracha.

    • http://www.rishona.net/ Shona

      Oh really? Then how does Lakewood fit into your idyllic few of women’s role in frumkeit? Working & having children regularly to support a husband that does not work well into his 30s?

      • Susan krupman

        So if a woman in a chassidic community does not work she is oppressed. And if a woman works in a chassidic community, she is oppressed.  Which one is it? 

        • mimi

          She’s oppressed if she has no choice one way or the other. 

      • http://twitter.com/theburack theburack

        I have two nieces who specifically chose this lifestyle, turning down offers to date guys who were working already.  They choose these lives knowing full well their difficulties.  It’s not for you, it may not be for me, but it’s not oppressive.  

      • HappyLady

        You have very strong opinions but have you experienced the life or are you speaking as an outsider looking in? Have you spoken to many unhappy chassidish/ yeshivish/ frum woman and came to these conclusions or is this simply your own perception? As coming from the “inside” the unsatisfied are the minority and the happy and satisfied are the norm. Just saying…

        • http://www.rishona.net/ Shona

          You misread my response. I am not trying to make any determinations in regards to who is happy and who is not. I am simply showing another side of the scenario….nothing more, nothing less.

        • Joseph Nerenberg

           Bottom line is this: Only cults ostracize those who want to do things differently and demand obedience to such a degree that lives are often ruined when someone — WHO STILL WISHES TO BE  TORAH-OBSERVANT — just wants out from things that nauseate them — like having to shave their head bald or walking behind their husband.

          • klonimous

            And your expertise in cults come from where? It disgusts me when people like you feel the need to make up facts to prove a point.

      • YP

         I am not a fan of Lakewood or the lifestyle that many people that live there live but last time I checked there is nobody holding a gun to any of their heads telling them to live that way! I know many people that live that kind of lifestyle in and out of Lakewood and it is a conscious decision that both the husband and wife make BEFORE they get married!

        • Agunah

          No, no guns to their heads. Just the risk of losing connections to everything important to them. Who decides that they’re not going to accept their arrangement of marriage or that they’ll leave if it means they lose their parents, their siblings, their friends, their own children, and everything else?

          • http://www.rishona.net/ Shona

            Exactly. Not to mention the problem of people thinking that you are not a tzadekes for putting your husband’s Torah learning above all else…

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            Why must you lie? I don’t believe that there is one person in lakewood who would lose their family for marryiing a working guy.

      • Sanje83

        That’s just it- frum woman have the choice to do what they want. If a woman wants to give up her role as home maker in order to support her hudband in kollel, or because she feels she will be a better mother if she has a fulfilling job- all the options are open. All I am saying is that TORAH is 100% pro-woman. Maybe there are some individuals pretending to be Torah Observant that are not pro woman. And I think Rabbi Fink is one of them.

    • cipher

      Maybe we WANT to be mothers! Maybe we LIKE the fact that we can be close to G-d without all the extras.

      Maybe someone resents being made to suspect that not everything her rabbis have told her is true.

      This woman’s comment is a fairly good illustration of the Haredization of Modern Orthodoxy.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

        Really, you are resorting to that tactic?!

    • http://abandoningeden.blogspot.com/ Abandoningeden

      Maybe you don’t always think with logic, but I do.  And ain’t I a woman?  I’m pretty ambivalent about being a mother, I’m turning 30 next week and have not had kids yet even though I’ve been married more than 3 years and can afford them. And ain’t I a woman?  I proposed to my husband and put a ring on him (well I paid for our wedding rings, we didn’t have engagement rings). And ain’t I a woman? I hate the role of the housewife and am soo happy to find a husband who is right now my househusband and does about 95% of the housework, and if/when we will have kids, he will be the primary parent and probably a stay at home dad. And ain’t I a woman? I would never show my panties to any man who wasn’t my husband and I think that’s sick and a remnant from a more primitive time and that this “progressive” stuff is a bunch of apologetics. And ain’t I a woman?  I don’t feel particularly spirtual, emotional, communicative or nurturing. Better words to describe me would include “atheist, principled, introverted and not very nurturing at all (part of the reason I’m ambivalent about having kids is because I hate every else’s kids).  And ain’t I a woman? I am very very proud of my ability to support my husband, the fact that I own a house, and of my successful career. And ain’t I a woman?

      • http://profiles.google.com/holyhyrax Holy Hyrax

        What’s this in response to?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

        Yet somehow no Orthodox Jew beat you up for choosing this path. Ain’t you free?

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

        Oh as an aside I don’t think claiming to always think logically is very logical. It would be ignoring what neuroscience has to say about the human mind. Men and women included.

    • Anonymous

      Nashim daisos kallos hein is just that- we don’t always think with logic – we think with our heart – or with our “binah yeseairah”. How dare you turn that into a BAD thing!

      If I were to repeat that to any of the women I work with or went to law school with, I’d get slapped in the face if I wasn’t already puking on the floor from their immediate kicks to my crotch.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

        Your point?

        • http://shanacarp.com/essays ShanaC

          There are a lot of woman who see themselves as logical.  So please don’t tell them that they aren’t.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            Well if they claim to be logical, they would likely want to know their logical flaws. And I am not discussing women. I am discussing the illogic of claiming to be ALWAYS logical. I am sorry if I caused you negative emotions.

    • http://shanacarp.com/essays ShanaC

      When I was religious, I always found those statements odd about what it means to be a woman.
      I really didn’t conform to them: I was generally super logical(and still am), I was (and still am) very unsure about mariage and children, and I wanted to do stuff in shul, particularly enter the rabbinate so I could do psekia.

      Now that I am not religious, I get the option to realize that I am as feminine as I want to be, in my own way.  It is a hell of a healthier attitude to have.  I also realized my ambivalence was much much more common than I thought.

      So please don’t put words in people’s mouths.  It is among the reasons I left.

  • Gersh

    I’m not sure I understand that point of your article.  Are you coming from a modern orthodox perspective? Non-orthodox?  I’m unsure what your motives are.

  • bwworld

    With all due respect…I know several Skverer and Breslower hassidim who are Ba’alei Teshuvah who didn’t want to be associated with Chabad due to the “Rebbe Melech Moshiach” issue.

    In addition, I work with Satmar, and while there are certainly some crazies in their community (there are also a few crazies in my Modern Orthodox community in NJ) most of the men and women I work with are more worldly and understanding than you make them out to be, even while they remain insular.

  • cipher

    Good response, Rabbi, although I disagree with you about the difference between Chabad and the other sects. I don’t think the differences are all that great. The problems are the same; it’s just a matter of degree.

    Even Chabad’s embrace of Messianism doesn’t constitute all that great a difference. Other Hasidim see their rebbaim as quasi-divine; the Lubavitchers are just more honest about it.

  • Carl

    Your statement “The future of orthodox Judaism will need to make adjustments to the way we deal with women issues” fully explains your perspective.   Those adjustments are what are called Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstruction and even Messianic (Jews for J – chas v’shalom).  As a Catholic friend of mine responded to me when I asked about certain proposed reforms in his church: “Oh, we call that Protestant.”  You are no doubt correct that not every Chassidic woman is happy in her role – just as many others are not happy in their roles.  But the article that you criticize was in response to a clearly anti-religious, anti-Semitic, narrow-minded Left (we know better than you) wing rant posing as an online article.  Perhaps you could find positive reasons for your version of Judaism without relying on the historic supercessionist model.  I am not a chassid but I respect their devotion to G-d and tradition.  That I may not follow their example in all aspects of my life does not require that I criticize their way of life or demand that they change to make me feel more comfortable and secure in my own life.  It’s not all about ME and it’s not all about YOU.  In fact, I lead a very liberal life style, but I don’t light shabbos candles, it’s my wife’s mitzvah.  Please find meaning in your own practice without denigrating others.  This is a time-honored Jewish virtue.

    • cipher

       Rabbi Fink won’t like my saying this and may delete my comment – but you are completely clueless.

      • Carl

         A powerful, compelling and erudite argument.

        • cipher

          Nothing more is warranted. You’ve clearly misunderstood Rabbi Fink’s article and bought into the Haredi PR line.

    • Joseph Nerenberg

       So they can write us out of orthodoxy because we question certain strange dogmas and customs (found nowhere in authentic Judaism), yet we can’t question or critique them — especially when the emperor is missing his clothing?

    • Tink

      Thank you, great reply. Might be Sharing! it on FB.

  • Anonymous

    Her entire section on mikvah is also extremely problematic. It’s straight out of the kiruv, feel good about mikvah books and pamphlets. I always sigh when mikvah comes up on secular blogs, because it winds up being a straight contest between the “mikvah is evil and oppressive” and “mikvah is beautiful and holy and wonderful” camps, and neither is the whole truth.

    While it’s true that “tahor” means spiritually pure, and the Torah is extremely concerned about purity, you need to be blind to try to pretend that historical taboos about menstruation don’t exist, or that all the rules about touching and separation don’t ever contribute to a feeling of “dirtiness.” All those pretty spa mikvahs? They were built relatively recently so women would feel better about going. Not all women feel holy and pure about taharat hamishpacha.

  • Ari

    To be fair to Chaya I have had numerous interactions with Chabadniks who fully consider themselves chassidish without irony. Everyone else in the room may smirk but they don’t. That said I do wish she would have written the piece as a way to publicize a healthy viewpoint of orthodox Jewery and not as a negation of the previous negative press therein. The truth lies somewhere between Chaya and Deborah and a lot of it depends where y

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CNUNVRBULHZ2EAS64ZGYEQYXAY Charnie

    If I hadn’t heard of you before, Rabbi Fink, I would have thought this was written by a non-Orthodox rabbi.  I have no personal connection to Chabad or other Chassidis, but as an Orthodox woman, felt that Chaya was very accurate in her portrayal of frum women.  I’ve met plenty of women from those more “restrictive” sects, as you call them, and they are fulfilled, successful, productive et al.  Chaya’s colorful writing style might be related to her secular upbringing, most FFB women might be more restrained, but otherwise, she speaks (well) for many of us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Lucsoft/100002626406630 John Lucsoft

    1) I am very impressed with you, Rabbi Fink. I don’t know how else to say it. I rarely read blogs, but every time I end up here I find myself wondering why I don’t read every post. Your honesty and objectivity are refreshing.

    2) Re all the people saying that women aren’t second-class citizens: What is a second-class citizen? If women have the right to go to the mikva, but men don’t (at least not m’doraisa), are men second-class citizens? I think that if there was a movement of men clamoring for that right, you could legitimately argue that men are second-class. But there is no such group.

    There ARE groups of women who would like to lead services in orthodox synagogues. So the moment they ask for this right and they are denied – although there is no physical reason they cannot do it – they are second-class citizens. 

    Perhaps you are happy with your role. That’s wonderful. Perhaps 75% of orthodox women are satisfied. Perhaps 99% are satisfied. It doesn’t matter. When a woman complains about the arbitrary limitations placed on her, I cannot disagree.

    By the way, how about apply these apologetics to other forms of discrimination? You know, blacks were never second-class in America. Having to sit in the back of the bus was a privilege, to keep them away from hateful whites. And back in slavery days, do you know how lucky these people were, to have the honor of picking cotton on respectable plantations? That’s much better than becoming a doctor or a lawyer or a plumber!

    See, the key to freedom is not that you have the most beautiful lifestyle out there. It’s that you can do what YOU want. And orthodox women are by no means free.

    • http://profiles.google.com/holyhyrax Holy Hyrax

      I think, perhaps, it is hard discussing “second class-citizenship” without dealing with the question of rights. Judaism deals more with obligation, than rights. By stating they are second class citizens you are stating they have an objective right to something. How can that be determined? 

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Lucsoft/100002626406630 John Lucsoft

        This is true. In the modern sense of the term, “citizenship” conveys rights. A citizen is a member of some club (usually a nation/state) that has the rights and duties of membership. In that sense, women are lacking.

        You may argue that any discussion of citizenship vis-a-vis Judaism is irrelevant. But if there is such a thing, then women are missing a part of it.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

      Blacks were physically restricted, Orthodox women are culturally restricted. We are all culturally restricted. Only physical or abusive restriction is a true contradiction to the common concept of freedom. You see freedom is not doing what you “want”, it is having the right to do what you choose.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Lucsoft/100002626406630 John Lucsoft

        I’m not sure why you draw that distinction. I mean, I can understand what you’re saying, but I don’t see why it’s necessarily so.  Yes, we are all culturally restricted. I cannot do certain things because if I do, I will be ostracized. But there is very little that I can’t do that someone else can except where there is some natural limitation such as my mental/physical capacity, age, height, etc. So how is the restriction on a black becoming a lawyer any different than the restriction on a woman becoming a chazzanit?

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

          That would be more of an equal opportunities than a freedom issue. In that sense they may not have equal opportunities. The big question is if it is morally wrong. There can be distinctions made between a women chazzanit and a black lawyer.  A man arguing to work for Hooters would have no case, because the needs of that store cannot be met with men. Admittedly, the women chazzanit is a grayer area than that case.

  • green

    just a quick question rabbi, how many chassidic women have you personally spoken to, such that you feel that you can convey their “feelings” about oppression within their community? just asking more from a “scientific method” standpoint (which i agree is the reason that chaya’s article is nothing more than personal enthusiasm, with no real bearing on the truth).

  • Litvak

    I would argue that Chabad is the only true Chassidus. When you think about why Chassidus started, it was a new hashkofo of Judaism to combat the challenges of the times. However what I have always found very ironic is that although times have changed, the challenges have changed, Chassidus in many ways is still stuck in 1750 and hasn’t changed much. And what worked in 18th Century Eastern Europe doesn’t work so well these days, which I think is part of the reason they’re faced with issues such as not reporting child molestation, struggling to deal with technology, etc. 

    Chabad is the exception to the rule here. I think it started with the previous Rebbe ZTL instituting shlichus, changing the dress code somewhat, etc. I don’t agree with everything they do, but by evolving to face each generation’s unique challenges, to me they exemplify what Chassidus is supposed to be all about.

    • Anonymous

      @9fd912181d700908fa25da243f917e6a:disqus 
      I would argue that Chabad is the only true Chassidus. 

      Of course. So would every other religion make the same claim.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

        Your point is silly. The one making this point is a self identified litvak which is not lubavitch or chassidus related. If you are a hater please don’t comment if you are ignorant. 

        • Anonymous

          @yahoo-AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU:disqus Your point is silly.

          The point is not silly. Most religions and sub-sects believe they have found ultimate truth.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            I guess you did not get it the first time. This individual is not a member of that subsect. Now, I grant you that it is possible that you are totally clueless about the culture you lambast and that would only make you a half-idiot. So let me repeat myself in analogical style so you can understand. It is akin to a Muslim who claims Catholosicm is the true Chritianity. If you still don’t get it, I’m sorry.

        • Anonymous

          @yahoo-AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU:disqus I guess you did not get it the first time.

          But I did. What you don’t get is that I comment about ideas, not about people. It makes no difference to me that a Litvak stated the point. I am addressing the point, not the person (that’s also why I don’t call people names, or at least try VERY hard not to, despite their nastiness sometimes).

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            So you make totally irrelevant points about ideas as a reply to people you are not replying to?? I apologize if I hurt your feelings, but somehow I feel unwarrantedly mocking a person’s way of life/lifestyle, culture is not a high road in relation to calling people “names”.

        • Anonymous

          @yahoo-AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU:disqus totally irrelevant  

          But it is not irrelevant, it it VERY relevant to understanding the mindset of a more typical Charedi woman when compared to the one in this blog post.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            You said that statement in reply to Litvak, not Chaya. No more needs to be said.

            • Anonymous

              @yahoo-AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU:disqus You said that statement in reply to Litvak, not Chaya. No more needs to be said. 

              ALL the comments are about the post. You know, the post that is above the comment section that we are commenting on!!!!!! This particular thread in the comments was started (?) by Litvak (or maybe someone else, I can’t see it anymore due to so many comments).

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            “Litvak: “I would argue that Chabad is the only true Chassidus.”
            Of course. So would every other religion make the same claim.”Do you deny that was your original reply to Litvak?!?

    • cipher

      to me they exemplify what Chassidus is supposed to be all about.

      Enticing and indoctrinating other people’s kids, boldly claiming their rebbe to be essentially divine – yes, I suppose they do.

      And by the way – Chabad claims not only to be the only legitimate form of Hasidut; it claims to be the only legitimate form of Judaism.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

        Although I have vehement issues with Chabad, I don’t believe that any Chabad leader claimed to be the only legitamate form of Judaism. They may have thought they were on a higher level, but your statement is plain wrong.

        • cipher

          No. Lubavitchers believe Chabad to be the only legitimate form of traditional Judaism extant. In their view, Modern Orthodoxy doesn’t work, the other Haredi groups are too far to the right, and of course, the liberal denominations are invalid altogether.

          A Chabad person may view individual Modern Orthodox people as frum, but they don’t see Modern Orthodoxy as being at all viable. In addition, Chabad has a history of trashing other people’s minhagim.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            You say potato, I say tomato.

  • http://yeshivaforum.wordpress.com yeshivaforum

    Someone should fisk the article’s style. It’s so classic Kiruv marketing. I’ll start with the first part that repulsed me:

    “Hi. I’m Chaya, and I am a Chassidic Jewish woman. I am also a media
    professional with a degree in Women’s Studies from a large, very liberal
    university (magna cum laude, baby!).”

    Right there. That last line thrown in. I know exactly where this article is going now. Oh, and fuck you.

  • anon

    i do agree with most of what you said.  Except i dont feel that your paragraph on women being  treated as second class citizens is accurate.  Many women today take on the role of rabbis, they are halachically allowed to wear tefilin too.  Women not being part of a minyan is actually, pro- women.  The concept of minyan came about from the sins of the spys in Joshuas days.  So why would a women want any part in  a concept, derived from sin.  No- where does it state outright that women can’t learn talmud.  I  truly believe that halacha is not against women, just the way many communities perceive the halacha, they interpret it as against women.  The more we continue to reveal the true halachot, the more women’s true, halachic rites, will manifest.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/V5M4VSERQU2EJDJPVVA3B7MRSY Ilana

    THANK YOU.

  • shaina22

    I think her article speaks for most of us each point was made loud and clear and it had nothing to do with being Chabad just Jewish Values. Kudos to Chaya

  • David

     I think that almost every Breslover I’ve met including Rav Arush and Rabbi Brody are Bal Teshuvahs – so there are other Chassidic dynasties besides Lubavitch that do strong outreach. 

    There are going to be unhappy woman and men out there. There are issues in the frum world, secular world and everything in between – Jews, non-Jews alike. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.lerer Daniel Lerer

    123

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.lerer Daniel Lerer

    That’s right “BEFORE” they get married, but sometimes it is hard to make a decision at 19 that will affect the next 80-100 years of your life. More importantly, the “gun” becomes monetary, familiar heartbreak, communal disappointment. These are all very strong motivators, and disincentives to leaving something that you thought you wanted. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XZ7KFEMCMLAUOI2B3HYJFMIA3U tsivia

    Thank you.  This response sums up the points made all over my facebook wall yesterday :)

  • pro

    when i read the first time: raised orthodox are stuck – i stopped reading.

  • http://twitter.com/daniopp Daniopp

    eh. everyone has a unique role in judaism. its not that women cant be something, its that it isnt their role to be that. men have a certain role too. they cant put off davening to stay home and raise children, roles are different. one isnt better than the other. just different. we are confusing social equality with religion. do we attack judaism by saying its not fair kohanim get better treatment so there is discrimination based on who your father is? no. religion is not the same as the secular world around us. just b/c u want to do the same things, doesnt make it equal, and just b/c you cant do the same things, doesnt make it inequitable. men must daven 3 times a day, women only once. that means 1 women tefila = 3 men tefila. should men complain that their tefila is only worth 1/3 of a woman. (not even 3/5ths!)

    its time to stop conflating issues and understand that religion is different…

  • Sim2388

    I want
    to comment on this

    (You see, the insular chasidic sects bear
    no resemblance to this world you love. Their world is even more closed and more
    insular. So your personal experience, while wonderful, has no relevance to the
    world of chasidic women in the insular sects of Satmar, Ger, Vizhnitz, Square,
    etc. More importantly, their world is a world where women are more oppressed
    than in the rest of orthodox Judaism. There are rules against driving, getting
    an education, men and women walk on separate sides of the street in some communities,
    there are very strict rules about sex, many women shave their heads, girls are
    wed after extremely short meetings to young men they barely know, they must
    wear synthetic (bad looking) wigs, can’t wear latest fashions (even the modest
    ones), I could go on and on. The point is that in these communities, women
    don’t feel the great freedom and empowerment that you feel.)

    I live in Boro Park the home of the largest Chasidic
    community, and I am a proud member of one of the sects you mention, just want
    you to know that while some of what you r writing is true but most of it is not,
    let’s just make this clear one by one    “rules against driving” true 
     “getting an education” not true there are plenty of therapist’s
    graphic designer’s etc…,   “men and women walk on separate “I just don’t know
    what you are talking about.  “there are very strict rules about sex” not with your wife,
    and that’s how it’s supposed to be.   ” many women shave their heads” true and this is from a תקנה from the וועד ארבע ארצות .     “girls are wed after extremely short
    meetings to young men they barely know” , also true but this is only
    after the parent’s r making a very thorough investigation and also the short meetings
    you r talking about is for a few times and could be for hours and it is proven
    very effective there is almost no siddech crises and they r very happily married .   “they must wear synthetic (bad
    looking) wigs” what!! I don’t know
    where you live but I live in Boro Park the home of most Chassidim and there aren’t
    nicer human wigs anywhere else then Boro Park. “can’t wear latest fashions (even the
    modest ones)” what!!Again I don’t know where you live
    come to Boro Park and will just be proven so wrong

    • Anonymous

      @9a3485f76e5edb63cd77b6f3ce6ea856:disqus 
      “getting an education” not true there are plenty of therapist’s graphic designer’s etc 

      So how do you explain the fact that more than 50% of Charedi men in Israel don’t work? (and another 25% of them are underemployed)

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

        I think we can all agree that The Israeli Chareidi lifestyle has little relevance to this discussion.

        • Anonymous

          @yahoo-AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU:disqus I think we can all agree that The Israeli Chareidi lifestyle has little relevance to this discussion.

          No we cannot agree on that.

          1. If Charedism is an ideal way to live, or even a good way to live, or even a correct way to live, it ought to function in Israel and in the USA (the two places with large Charedi populations).
          2. American Charedim often send their kids to learn in Israel from Israeli Charedim. And they’re learning “The Israeli Charedi lifestyle”.
          3. Some percentage of Charedim in Israel *ARE* former Americans!

          • pointer

            You assume that Israeli Chareidim = American Chasidim.  You are out of touch.  That was Abraham’s point. 

            • Anonymous

              @6f3e88ae7f8168f927442a8ef8392fa7:disqus You assume that Israeli Chareidim = American Chasidim.  You are out of touch.  That was Abraham’s point. 

              I did not and do not assume that.

              However, there exist communities of American Charedim that are trying mightily to become more and more like the Israeli Charedim (places like Kiryas Yoel for example).

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            1. American Chareidim don’t live that way. To lambast them for the lifestyle they don’t live, because you believe they should live it is at best bizarre. As an aside your logic is flawed, their are different ideals for different circumstances.
            2. Really? where did you pick that one up?
            3. So? Some percentage of atheists, buhddists etc. “*ARE* former [chareidi] Americans”. So according to your logic, one should attack American Chareidim for their atheistic views.

          • Anonymous

            @yahoo-AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU:disqus 1. American Chareidim don’t live that way. To lambast them for the lifestyle they don’t live, because you believe they should live it is at best bizarre. As an aside your logic is flawed, their are different ideals for different circumstances.

            You repeatedly ignore real-life examples. Kiryas Yoel is attempting to “live that way”. “That way” being self-imposed poverty and  heavy reliance on public welfare. And, yes, I do lambast self-imposed poverty and heavy reliance on welfare. For various reasons that I’ve discussed previously.

            2. Really? where did you pick that one up?

            It’s a known fact, do you deny it?

            3. So? Some percentage of atheists, buhddists etc. “*ARE* former [chareidi] Americans”. So according to your logic, one should attack American Chareidim for their atheistic views.

            What on earth are you talking about? There are thriving communities of American Charedim in Israel, and they are trying to “break into” Israeli Charedi society with limited success (they are generally perceived as “too modern” for full acceptance, but many second generation are slowly being accepted).

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            1. You are going off topic. We were discussing the relevance of Israeli Chareidim. Kiryas Joel has no relevance to our discussion of the relevance of Israeli Chareidim.
            2 Yes. Until you mention something of factual evidence it is judt nasty inuendo. Anecdotal evidence leads me to strongly doubt your claims.
            3. Again, you miss my point. Their choice to live in Israel (and generally they live in American communities) has little bearing on the nature of Chareidim in America. Their are thriving communities of baalei teshuvah, theri lifestyle also has little reflection on the lifestyle of those who are secular.
            You don’t seem to be that great in understanding my points. please take your time to read my points so I don’t have to waste time simply restating my original points. Thank you.

    • http://twitter.com/SchreiberTweets Michael Schreiber

      How many people in your community have internet access? How about after Sunday?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=10005657 Elad Nehorai
  • http://twitter.com/melschol mel schol-guti

    I actually liked her article initially. However, as I read the comment throughout the day, I was able to see it with a different light. As a Modern Orthodox BT, it resonated with me and much of it I felt I could have written. This, I realize in retrospect, should have been a tip off to me that it was probably not reflective of the Chassidic world she claimed to represent. At the same time, I am sure she is not along and that there are also women in her world who do agree with her. While she may not represent the community at large, who of us ever does?
    (That said, this was still a great response.)

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

      I see, you are implying that a chassidic women can’t have a similar lifstory to you. Do you realize how self righteous you sound.

  • Mike S.

    I have nothing to add to the main discussion of the experience of Chassishe women.  However, Ms. Winston’s writing is a sad reminder of how far Chassidus (other than Chabad) has strayed from its roots as a popular rebellion against rabbinic elitism in favor of joy in the service of God and the performance of Mitzvot.  I find it impossible to believe that the Besh”t or the Maggid would be able to believe that the followers of their movement would go to such lengths to avoid contact with ordinary Jews.

  • Tink

     “I am sure you realize that
    if an orthodox woman would put on “pants and go snort coke” she would
    probably be asked to leave the community and be handed a quick divorce
    and lose custody of her children.” *** I am sure that if a non-religious
    woman put on her pants to go out and snort coke, she’d also be asked to
    leave, divorced and lose custody of her children.
    ‎”There
    are absolutely no social correlations between Chabad and the other
    sects of chasidus. None.” ***Also unfounded and untrue. Just because there
    are a lot of baal-teshuva in the Chabad doesn’t mean the rabbis and
    their wives are not part of a larger
    Chassidic community that is very much like other Chassidic communities.
    Moreover, I’m friends with the Satmar rebbetzin in our town, and she’s
    just as “normal”, independent, involved and a refreshing member of the
    community as other women.
    No one is stuck. Just like Chaya who was “stuck” in the secular world chose the Orthodox world, anyone who wants out of the Orthodox world will find a way to do so. What I hear you saying is, “What Chaya says may be true for her and most
    Orthodox women, but I’d like to focus on the ones who are suppressed
    because I feel stuck with these Jewish laws and my “concern” for suppressed women leads me to then
    say without guilt  that therefore the “laws” are really not God-made and that supports my not
    having to do anything I don’t want to do. So don’t do it! You don’t need to create a negative slant on Orthodox women in order to not observe.

  • http://www.facebook.com/hadassahlevy Hadassah Levy

    Not sure it’s as accurate to say women aren’t allowed to study Talmud as it is to say they can’t testify in a Beit Din.

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      Both are prohibited by the Talmud.

      • Tobey

        Get all opinions and precise wording straight before speaking for all of Orthodox Jewry’s perspective on Talmud Study for women. http://www.nishmat.net/article.php/id/7

        • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

          Miss, I agree with Nishmat. Chasidic Judaism does not. That’s the point.

      • Joe J

        Studying of Talmud is not prohibited. Maybe looked down upon, but if it was a straight issur than RYBS would not have allowed it in modern times. In other words, you may be right in spirit but in law the two are not comparable.

    • Tink

       I believe there’s something IN the Talmud about one of the Rabbis teaching his daughter!

    • Anonymous

      @facebook-563423714:disqus Not sure it’s as accurate to say women aren’t allowed to study Talmud as it is to say they can’t testify in a Beit Din. 

      In the community in question, it’s pretty accurate.

  • commenter

    To quote Heshy Fried,  “Chabad may be Chassidic but it aint Chassidishe.”

  • FrumMum

    Why is it that when people like Deborah Feldman tell their story (even capitalize on it) they are glorified and called brave, but when anyone with a positive story to tell speaks up they are vilified and called liars? They are both true portrayals of individual viewpoints, nothing more nothing less. Why must either be representative? Every society has people who want to leave, from your standard, American Dream WASP family to Chasidim. Every person who wants to change their life stands to lose by it, no matter what it is they are leaving. U nfortunately, Every society has abuse – but it is the abuse which frightens and subjugates, not the society. 

    • Anonymous

      There are plenty of frum people who called Deborah Feldman a liar.  And many secular readers were impressed by Chaya’s article.  It’s not so simple.

      I agree with you, though, that all of us have our choices limited by the society we are born into, and that leaving that society always involves some degree of risk-taking and therefore, courage.

    • http://shanacarp.com/essays ShanaC

      Look up Anna Shteynshleyger  (http://www.shteynshleyger.com/ ) – she’s liminally chassidic, and in her photos you see joy.  But you also don’t see the set of PR lines being spewed in her work.

      And that is what bothers me about Chaya – it is pure PR, there is no reflection on the actual joys or sorrows.  And i order to make its point, it crows over nonjews and people who left, who may have equally compelling positions and rich life stories.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=20549 Daniel Ungar

    Kudus, Eliyahu, great post. One small quibble: I found your penultimate paragraph a little less persuasive than the rest of the article because the way it is written, it sounds like it concerns counter-arguments rather than flaws in Chaya’s argument. 

    It is a common op-ed trap to say, “your position based on the ‘pro’ arguments AB&C is wrong because you ignore the ‘con’ arguments XY&Z.” But XY&Z don’t negate AB&C, they are just arguments for an opposing position.  Your earlier paragraphs where you argue that even Chaya’s arguments supporting the Chasidic lifestyle don’t apply to the very Chadisic groups she claims to support are much stronger.

    Try this instead: “But the most difficult thing about your article is that it represents apologetics and interpretations of Jewish lifestyle as the standard view on the matter. However, many perceive…”

    • Tobey

      omg. it was a first-person blog post on xojane, not a YU journal submission or interview on CNN! does no one see the difference?

      • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

        It was a letter to the media.

        • Tobey

          and it worked ;). because a treatise on fairness would land in the garbage. so she wrote a first-person blog post to get the job done… for outlets like xojane. instead of a line summarizing her being a 21st century chassidic woman in a news post, she got her voice printed. and hence, she effectively publicized to the world that there are DIFFERENT voices in yes, different chassidic communities. we’re not all the same. Newsflash. some of us can even use the word “shag”…. she doesn’t rep all chassidic women – DUH. that’s all. did she go too far? maybe, but your response with: sorry, this religion treats you as second class citizens even if you don’t see it — thanks again for the boost, rabbi. Orthodoxy needed that to be said, cuz no one was thinking it already.

  • Chardala

    I used to live in Boro Park and let me tell you…. so many “basement”shops sell raunchy lingerie to chassidish women. You’d have to know to ask for it, but one store owner explained that she can’t keep the expensive french lace barely theres in stock for long before they get snatched up.  Sounds like some satisfied marriages in Boro Park…

  • Tobey

    Wow. get over yourself. it was a 700 word blog article directed at xojane readers to dispel the myth that we’re all repressed. So she responds: actually a bunch of us are actually pretty happy.

    About this Lubab thing: do you really think knowing she was lubavitch would have been something 99% of their readers would have digested? why didn’t she
    mention she was lubavitch? really? what if she were yekkish from stern?
    it wouldn’t have mattered a rat’s tuchus to the xojane reader. to be honest, i really think some of the backlash may also stem from our yeshivah community’s not-so-friendly attitudes toward Chabad. Not cool.

    sorry, rabbi fink, your
    gemara kop got in the way of your ability to think like an xojane or unbiased
    reader. we’re all lumped together and the media and folks in general have this way of focusing in on the negative. but thanks for the patronizing intro you wrote about how happy you are for HER.

    and, when
    was the last time you freaked out at an israel promo video
    (latest: israel inside: the big difference israel makes in the world)
    when they didn’t show the real story about how chareidi and chiloni
    clash, the shrinking middle class, gov’t corruption, etc.? but where are you retorting smugly, “but they
    didn’t represent the whole picture?” BECAUSE IT’S A PROMO VIDEO – NOT AN ANALYSIS OF ISRAELI SOCIETY. The point of this product was to refute a single point in 700 words: we’re all repressed. method: emphasize some of the good things and positive ways we use our religious life. there are obvious issues – but that wasn’t the point of this brief article. Fortunately, you as an orthodox rabbi were able to do that for us…. cuz, gosh, we had no idea (insert sarcasm), but at least now we have your statement that NO- despite how you live and feel, you actually are repressed, you just didn’t know it, you trying-to-sell-something, touchy-feely woman.

    IT WAS A 700 WORD FIRST-PERSON BLOG POST,
    NOT AN EXPERT ACADEMIC ARTICLE in response to media generalization of
    chassidic/orthodox/frum whatever-you call-us women as repressed. that’s
    all, and she did it brilliantly, complying with the style of xojane, NOT
    a drashah, not academic rigour, NOT AN INTERVIEW ON NIGHTLINE OR NPR.

    i recognized most of the points you made while reading her blog post – many people probably did. but she had the opportunity of 700 words to dispel a myth in the venue of xojane with its vast readership. r’ fink, i am disappointed with your article. it was a disservice and missed the point, it was patronizing,
    and set us back again as a bickering, divisive people that even when one
    of us goes to bat for the rest of us, we still can’t leave it alone. next time, try to frame it constructively so when it gets reposted, you don’t seem like such a holier-than-thou stiff.

    I have enjoyed some of your blog posts, but this was just too “i know more than you – you shouldn’t have spoken up” – Not cool.

  • Steve Ginsberg

    I think that you raise some fair points regarding certain disclosures that should have been made.  Overall, your article is on point, but I would have preferred you omit the “Second class citizen” reference.  Besides being inflammatory, I think it distracts your main message.  I know that you were only speaking of perceptions thereto, but frankly, that nuance often gets lost.

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      Fair point. Too late now… :/

  • http://twitter.com/SchreiberTweets Michael Schreiber

    Outstanding job Rabbi. 

    Here’s how I see it. She writes a nice article about her own experiences. You applaud her for her personal success but admonish her for speaking on behalf of chasidic womankind.   Clearly she’s the exception, what with being educated and all. I fail to see how anyone can dispute this.

    Now as far as the larger debate…if you’re a happy chassidic woman great, enjoy your life. But what if you’re not? Is there an outlet? For education? For culture? For questioning? For perspective? Sadly there isn’t. You are stuck.

    I send my 4 daughters to yeshiva and hope they follow in the ways of their family and lead Torah observant lives. They may choose not to. They have their own minds. That’s the difference. Chassidic women are for the most part stuck, anonymous, second class citizens with no voice. Sad.

  • Tehila

     Really do u feel like a “second class citizen”?!?I am much happier doing my Gd given “job”, than to work the religious man’s job thats been given to him. ( I can not imagine being obligated to pray 3x a day w a minyan… not for me baby!) But honestly, having my life pretty much dictated by the society i grew up in would probably not be the path I would choose if I was not Orthodox, I probably wouldnt be living the “minivan driving,home-owning, mom of 2″ that I am. But is anyone in the world stopping me from having my good times that I do? No one can stop me from my NYC jaunts, biking, running marathons, manicures…because I can do it! There is nothing inherently wrong with it and don’t give a flip about what other people say. Is there things I wont do that I would like to but is a “rule” in my kids school, possibly, but rules are rules, and if you do break them please be take responsibility when the concenquenses arrive (and dont blame religion for your dumb acts) C’mon none of you adults worked and had a boss that made rules?! Every chassidish woman in Williamsburg can have her type of fun. Now if her type of fun is sleeping around, ok cant help her. Im not even getting into our marriages… but hey we gotta be doing something right compared to the secular… or hollywood @least!

  • jo

    this rabbi clearly has no idea what he is talking about, and is clearly reform. It’s the same old feminist bull we have come to expect from the reform movement and he should go educated himself before he spouts off bull like this. 

    • http://shanacarp.com/essays ShanaC

      Why is being reform a bad thing?

      • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

        Well, since I am orthodox and I want to be accepted as an orthodox rabbi, if I were actually reform I would love my job and credibility in my community. That’s why it’s an insult.

        • http://shanacarp.com/essays ShanaC

          To you, yes. But not if you start out reform. Or become reform (you in the general sense, not the specific sense). I resent other Jewish movements being thrown out as curses, it denigrates the stuff that does hold everyone together, as well as the good stuff that comes out of those movements. Philosophical viewpoints aren’t curses, they are blessings.

          • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

            I agree with you. See my essay: There is No Tent

            • http://shanacarp.com/essays ShanaC

              Great, but Guest doesn’t, and someone should say so to him.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            “Philosophical viewpoints aren’t curses, they are blessings.” What a silly political correct thing to say. In the sense of extremity; Is eugenics a blessing? How about Nazism? Racism? Communism? I choose to respect individuals regardless of their viewpoints, but why should I differentiate Reform from Christianity. They both believe in the Divine Nature of the torah (possibly Christains more so) and believe that traditional Judaism does not apply anymore. Of course Christains, Muslim and Reform communities do great things, but there is no reason I should accept them as correct religious or philosophical viewpoints.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

        Well if you are interested in Jewish continuity, Reform kinda destroyed that with the present 70% intermarriage rate. If you are interested in traditional Judaism, Reform kinda threw that in the garbage.

  • Tehila

    @efink:disqus , instead of using your “insight to “incite”, please use it in more beneficial ways.

  • Anonymous

    R’ @efink:disqus  You were not born into orthodox Judaism. That means that you actually chose the life you live. 

     I disagree. Every single frum Jew, whether FFB or BT, makes the choice to be frum, to remain frum, every single day. This especially applies today when the temptation (and the ease) of becoming secular is so pervasive. Sure the choice is easier for an FFB, whether due to momentum, education, faith, or a combination of the three, but still it’s a choice. It’s always a choice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002700017446 Elazar Fine

    You are generalizing, saying “we” are comfortorable… how do you know it isnt just you that is comfortorable? do you think someone else in your community would let you know if he wasnt?

  • Franksforsale

    “rABBI”FINK is obviously an angry liberal who has absolutely no concept of  how wonderful life can be as an observant Jew.  Rather “rabbi” Fink and the entire conservative/reform/liberal Jewish clergy have constructed their own version of Judaism that lacks intellectual honesty, leads to intermarriage and has a blatant disregard for the laws that Gad gave to the Jewish people in the Torah.  i am sure that one of the reasons that someone as intelligent and intellectually honest as Chaya became observant is because she saw the LUNACY in liberal Judaism

    • http://shanacarp.com/essays ShanaC

      What is wrong with being liberal?  And what is wrong with Liberal Judaism?  FYI _ most of liberal Judaism things you are loony too, and they at least take the smart position of outside Israel politics not caring what you do.  It is literally becoming the Catholic/Protestant split, and I should tell you that the countries that became Protestant (aka the liberal movements) are the ones that would be considered “super economically wealthy” today.
      I’d much rather have children grow up reconstructionist than orthodox.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elle.taviv Elle Jennifer Taviv

    If I had known they were going to choose you as a rabbi I never would have left PJC (before you arrived). Awesome commentary. Thank you. 

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      Thanks. I really appreciate that. Come visit some time!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=847640273 Faige Bruck

    Couldn’t have said it better myself!

  • Jane

    Judaism is not a democracy where the concept of “equality” and “second class citizen” comes into play. There are different roles for men, women, kohanim, etc. Every society, culture, religion, or sect have less than ideal factors. Big deal. Judaism, and particularly Hassidism do not preach abuse or any idea or action which can be harmful to an individual. 
    You want to rant about something and the injustices of society, then go complain about the fact that the secular Western world has no value for anything besides for sex. Go write lengthy articles about the fact that more and more young girls are become pregnant in their early teens and that society no longer values a defined family structure.

  • Kandyman

    Although I agree with essentially everything you mention in this article i do want to point out that….
    in regard to women not being recognized in halacha as suitable witnesses, countable members of a minyan, etc….this is only because they do NOT have a chiyuv…in halacha there is a concept that a person who has no chiyuv (obligation) for something cannot be moztie (fulfill) someone else’s. That is a little misleading. Otherwise everything else that is embraced by these chassidic sects is generally unfounded, though they claim to embrace the beliefs of authentic and historical Judaic texts and authors. 

  • Tro

    After reading both articles and many of the comments on each, I’ve come to the conclusion that we all need to stop judging people in other communities/sects of Judasim. When it comes down to it, we only know what’s going on in our own communities, if that. We are all entitled to our own opinions; we shouldn’t assume that we have it all figured out and anybody who associates his/herself with a different hashkafa is mistaken and suffering. There are both happy and unhappy people in EVERY type of community and household. The bottom line is, we should all be more open-minded and accepting. We should all agree to disagree and give everybody the benefit of the doubt instead of wasting our time arguing about it. I think this is one thing we can all agree on :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1355724409 Miriam Rubinoff

    “Lubavitch has become almost synonymous with Hasidism”, due in no small part to the attitude of Lubavitchers themselves. When they speak of Chassidus, they speak of Chabad, period. So it is natural for the author to think of her own experience as that of all Chassidic women. I’m happy for her that she’s been so fortunate, but there are women even within Chabad who haven’t been as lucky, and who might make different choices if they had a chance to live their lives over again. And other Chassidic groups are by no means identical with each other, either. They do tend to be highly structured and gender roles are strictly defined, but the particular extrahalachic rules differ from group to group. Also, perhaps some women find it easier to live within strict guidelines if they were raised within such a system rather than having come from the relative freedom of the outside world. (“Relative”, because don’t most cultures have certain expectations of the people who live in them?) Some ba’alei teshuvah stretch themselves to a certain level trying to conform, and then snap back. When it comes to human beings, there’s no one-size-fits-all. We as Jews believe the Torah was specifically prescribed for us by G-d, but there are many ways to live a Torah observant life, baruch Hashem.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

      I think they call other Chassidis -Poileshers or Ungarishers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=650078337 Reuel Topas

    Fink, the pipsqueak sage of Venice Beach has an extraordinarily high opinion of his own intellect. That makes one of us. Here’s what I think is the money quote:
    “The point is that in these communities, women don’t feel the great freedom and empowerment that you feel.”

    Fink presumes to know how all the women in Chassidic communities feel. Wow. Just wow. Can you say hubris? Or as we say in the Hayseedic world, gaivah?

    Not only that, in that one comment, he unabashedly identifies with “freedom and empowerment”, empowerment being one of the hottest liberal buzzwords of the last 20 years. It’s a sly way of saying, “we want to call the shots without being called “uppity”. So, the hell with halacha, the hell with mesorah, the hell with minhag, the hell with your family’s feelings and the effects on your children, we gonna’ get empowered. Is that it, Fink? “Empowerment” is the new Jewish nirvana, the salvation of the oppressed Jewish Women.

    How one calling himself a “Rabbi” (and G-d help the souls of his congregants) can so brazenly and insultingly describe Orthodox Yiddishkeit as an unrelenting tool of oppression of women is just astonishing. Medieval dress codes, underwear inspections, no Talmud study and no contraception! OMG! What are we going to do? You’re right Fink, they should cast their iron bras into the furnace, study at the Mir, pop the pill, go commando and let it all hang out! After all, Orthodoxy is just so oppressive and there’s all that freedom and empowerment out there just for the taking. Then, like their non-religious counterparts, they can enjoy all the happiness that women’s lib has bestowed upon the last 2 and a half generations of childless, lonely, bitter, disillusioned, free and empowered feminists. 

    I just don’t know where this Ms. Kurtz had the gumption to proclaim that an Orthodox woman can be perfectly happy with all the Orthodox oppression of womyn going on. Fink’s new slogan: “The Torah: Mend it, Don’t End it”. Subtitle: “We’ll teach those old rabbis a thing or two.” What a joke.

    • http://shanacarp.com/essays ShanaC

      I hate to say this:

      Most feminists I know have children.  Who end up in those Ivy League type schools, being feminist, and having more children.  Which they can afford in part because they are feminist.

      Also, I don’t see the problem with empowering mothers.  We know that happy mothers make happy children, smarter children, healthier children – so isn’t feminism a good thing then :)

  • Anonymous

    Kol Hakavod. Well written and hits all the high points.

  • Anonymous


    Women’s dress codes are medieval…”

    Rabbi, when was the last time you were in Boropark?
    And how are the halachot of tzniut for women more “primitive” than tallis, tefillin, kippah, tzitzit, etc?

    I generally like your article but this whole sentence seems to be a stretch.

  • Anonymous

    All this yadayada about women being second class because of witnessing, davening far de umid, not wearing talis and tefillin, not being allowed to daven at the Kotel, etc. All of this pales behind the real test of a woman’s freedom. Ask any agunah on this planet how free she is, and then ask any rabbi if he would do anything to free her. The answer is that since Rabbi Rackman died, and since Rabbi Soleveitchik tried to destroy him, and since the Agudah went against Reb Moishe Feinstein’s attempt to write the giving of a get as a condition of a civil divorce decree in the early 1970s, there is not a single rabbi who will free a woman…the best will tell you to get the special prenup. period. No pre-nup, no freedom, unless you are willing to be released by handing over everything, including the kids, plus thousands upon thousands and even millions of dollars. Nice of the rabbi and the Chabadnitchke to forget about them. And you wonder why they fall off the derech? Please. This goes up there with the child abuse and sex abuse. Go to the Kings County clerks office and see if you can dig up some files.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2220665 Joseph Ravitsky

    Although I liked the article, some points are overstated, women in orthodox judaism are limited as to minyanim, beis din, and davening, but there are reasons for this that cannot be seen through the prism of American Feminism and secular values. Due to the pervasive nature of chumra in ultra orthodox communities, they have taken some of these separations, limitations, and halachic rulings to the level of its own religion.  Being born into these communities certainly makes it difficult to leave and people can feel trapped.  The pressures are very intense and cannot be compared to someone who chooses to be orthodox, but that doesn’t mean that these women in ultra orthodox communities are completely without recourse.  We cannot perpetuate an idea that this is the norm in these communities and there is no way out, these issues of discrimination don’t stem from not being able to have their own torah readings or being able to wear short skirts.  By and large the statistics in the broader orthodox community are positive in terms of more happy marriages, lower divorce rates, and other metrics in the OU’s recent survey.  While Chaya has understated the issue experienced in Satmar or more insular Chasidic communities, making a case that this is a result of a lack of female religious expression or dress code is not completely accurate as well.  But the biggest and most important contribution by this article to the discussion is that the experience of a chabad baal teshuva is very far removed from that of a girl growing up in Williamsburg, and unfortunately, baalei teshuva (me being one as well) underestimate this tremendously and its correct to call her out on it.

  • Anonymous

    In my humble opinion, you both are generalizing too much. I am A chasidishe woman, who lives in Monsey, and my husand, who is a third generation Viznitzer, decided that he did want the average “forfrimteh” woman, and so he married a Lubavitcher, who was interested in entering the Ultra Frum world. You most know that you are both correct and truth be told, that in Chaya’s world things work that way, but not for everyone, and in the Ultra Chassidishe world it SOMETIMES works that way, and yet only the fanatics do as you say, in regards to the bedroom, clothes and forcing marriage on the teens. Times are definitely changing, in some places. The kallah teachers are now more open minded and actually are telling the girls more “up to date” details about sex than they used to. The clothes, if you’ll excuse me, is also something that’s a bit exaggerated, my Satmar friends spend loads on brand name clothes and they look really good. Only the older fanatics are still wearing all black or all dark colors. In regards to the education, my girls go to Viznitz and my 10th grader is learning biology, history, math and English, all on the level of the NY state curriculum. No about contraception, the Rebbe himself gave permission to his own granchildren to take birth control, and I have many friends that either have an IUD or have had their tubes tide, because they couldn’t handle having anymore.  Again, times are changing, and though there still remains many ultra frum fanatics in the world who still feel its OK to shove Yiddishkiet down their kid’s throats, they are still the minority, and there are now task forces in place, in the New Square, Satmar, Viznitz and many other communities who are starting to buckle down and stop the abuse that has destroyed generations. But in retrospect, aside from the fact that, out of pure lack of knowledge and fear, the Rabbanim have been going overboard when it comes to actually accepting people  for who the WANT to be, if they are not going on the Ultra path, but that too is changing, and will continue to change. I will end off by saying that in all honesty, being Chassidish shouldn’t be a jail sentence, and most people will agree that it is NOT one, and if you are unlucky enough to be born into a family who thinks that if you look at something bad, you’re a goy, or if you speak your own thoughts, you’re a sheigetz, then remember that there is nothing wrong with it, and you don’t have to go completely “OTD” because of it. Remember, as well, that in most homes, women or the foundation, we are the necks to the heads, and where the neck turns the head goes. Men have more mitzvahs, good for them, but we run the house, with pleasure, and what we say matters, and if we want something, they have to give it to us. If you want to change something in the world, start with the “man/woman in the mirror”.

  • Hillel

    Good for you.  A mature, measured response on a very hot topic.  If only others had perspective on the relativity of their personal experiences, the world would be a better, and more tolerant place.  Thank you for taking the time to contribute to this important discussion.  

  • Shlomo

    See this comment there:

    Oppressed_and_HopefulDear writer;Your article is extremely misleading, to put it mildly.I’m not sure what your definition of CHASSIDIC is, you may be referring to some modern “CHASSIDIM”, but you surly don’t refer to my Hassidic world.I’m talking about the Yiddish-Speaking Hassidic community; which is almost all of Orthodox Jewish Williamsburg and the vast majority of Boro Park.That’s the community I was born into, and that’s the live I live !And OH!, How wrong you are!!!It’s hard to write, but sometimes it’s harder, to move on and let the misleading and the lying go on….With all the respect; you don’t’ know my community.You have no idea how different our lives is compared to yours. 
    You can have a hundred Hassidic friends, and still not have an understanding of the true nature of our radicle lifestyle.Yes, you write that your husband has a beard a Kippah. I believe you, but so do thousands of normal, educated, spiritual orthodox Jews which were fortunate not to be born into my community.In our community; the odds of a woman having a “degree from a large liberal university” is almost non-existent. You may find a few, but that’s the exception, not the norm. The boys graduate with no high school diploma. The girls –in some schools – graduate with a diploma, in some schools they don’t.
    Going to college is something that most women won’t even think of.Right after school we get married. Right after marriage we start the Baby Making procedure.With such a life there are very few woman that have the strength to pursue and end with a college degree. The one that do it, will graduate with degrees in Special Education or similar. And –just to set the record straight- not from a major university; it will usually be from local colleges that cater to our “special needs”.1) We are not imprisonedMaybe you are not, but in our community Men and Women are!If you decide to put on pants, or the word gets out that you are visiting bars of any kind; you lose your social life!
    You will be looked down at, your kids will be expelled from Yeshiva, your siblings will shun you, your best friends will disappear from your life, your kids will have a problem marrying in the community, you will be labeled as a lowlife ETC.Now; do you call that FREE?The slightest deviation from the path will make you regret it. There is ZERO tolerance to any individualism.You don’t CHOSE anything; you are just born into a community and you are brainwashed into believing that you actually have choices. But if you discover humanity one day, you are in for a painful life. The price of leaving is just too high, so we stay and keep it all inside.2) We like ourselves the way we are. And most of us are happyIt’s not easy to discuss ones “happiness”, but I will raise a few points.How dare you blame Devoree Feldman’s experience on her “dysfunctional family” and her “crummy school”? Did you even read her book? 
    I read her book cover to cover and I found everything to be the truth. Believe me that she wrote only the nice parts.What you write about her is our typical defense system. We are so brainwashed that we truly believe it. 
    When someone has the courage to lose their entire social and cultural life because they feel they feel miserable in our lifestyle, we will always find something to pin it on; their mental stability, dysfunctional upbringing or whatever it takes…Never ever will we say “That person made a choice and we are respecting it”. 
    No! It can’t work like this; because –if we show any understanding towards those that leave- thousands would do what Feldman did. 
    The way we keep the masses in line is a combination of 
    •Labeling the ones that leave as mentally-retarded, clinically-depressed etc.
    •constant brainwash about a God that has punishment procedures that makes Hitler look like a mild hearted grandpa
    •Knowing that you will be shunned and lose your friends and family if you dare leave
    •Lack of education; without a career of any kind it’s very difficult to start over all alone
    •Isolation & extremism; when one has zero knowledge about movies, sports, history, politics , music , arts and everything else today’s world offers, it hard to impossible to leave the community.
    And more ….Most women in our community; 
    • have much more kids than they can handle, due to peer pressure
    • have very little to non, leisure activities, 
    • are brainwashed into thinking that that’s how life must be if you don’t wanna end up in hell
    • lack the basic knowledge of intimacy and sex (some will catch up but it take years, others will never know what a O is) 
    • Are so busy with taking care of the home and kids that they have no time to stop , think and look around!
    • Don’t drive due to social pressure
    • Don’t watch movies, sport games, show ETC. 
    • Will follow the very strict rules about what clothes to wear, even if they don’t feel like, because of the social pressure. 
    • Have very primitive knowledge of the “Jewish Religion”! that may be a bit complicated to explain here, but it’s a sad fact 
    I can go on and on …To call this a “spiritual life” is unfair. 
    It’s brainwashing; it’s mental & emotional conditioning.4)We find our husbands attractive.This is not a simple subject, but I will voice the painful truth in short.You write that your husband has an impressive bead. Good for you! 
    In my community, if one decides to trim his beard, the backlash will be so harsh that most will rather let it grow –even though we are disgusted by its untrimmed wild borders. It’s not funny! , trimming your beard will get you such negative.Should I go on and start talking about the huge percentage of men that totally ignore the personal hygiene? And it’s all part of the brainwashing that we “don’t invest too much in the materialistic body”. 
    Yes, the easiest way out is to label anyone mentioning the above as an anti-Semite and keep pretending that it’s all fine.Do you think that there is open communication about intimacy and sexuality? 
    The women are taught not to discuss those subjects with anyone but a rabbinical authority.And if a woman does not find her husband attractive, does she have a choice? 
    Anyway; since when is one allowed to discuss “attractiveness”, what does that even mean?I can tell you with certainty that most woman or men in our community have NEVER felt what it means to be in LOVE. If you want to understand what I mean, I suggest you watch/listen to a song in Fiddler on the Roof. The song is: “Do you Love me?” The song says it all. That’s the reality we live in.5) You write: 
    Fun fact: Jewish law prohibits marrying someone who you’re not attracted toYes, Jewish law writes lots of things. And that’s what I’m pointing out; our life has very little to do with Jewish law!Do you know how marriages are done in my community? 
    You obviously don’t, because talking about “attractiveness” is not even good for a bad joke.Most of us will meet once or twice before we get engaged. That meeting takes place, in our parent’s house or -if you are lucky- in a closed hotel room and it usually lasts from half-hour to an hour . 
    And don’t forget that this is the FIRST TIME that we attempt to create some kind of connection with a member the opposite gender.6) I would continue; but it became late and I must go now.So I will finish with a 
    A suggestion to the writer :No one in the media is bashing “Orthodox Jews”.You may take the time to learn about an extreme community that originated from the Jewish Religion. The sad fact is that most of the things that I read in the media is the truth.And yes; we – the brainwashed, radicle, uneducated Hassidim – were at least 50% of the participants at this “Internet Meeting” that you are so proud of.You may want to learn about our suppressed lives; maybe one day you can help someone discover the spirituality in Judaism. 
    Reading Devorah Feldman’s book may be a good start.And a message to the readers:Next time you see a Hassidic woman pushing a double-carriage in Williamsburg, I hope you won’t look at her as being a depressed woman.Rest assure that she is so brainwashed that she doesn’t realize how her life is controlled and how all decisions in her life are made for her by others.Actually they probably pity YOU, that you never experienced the joy of having tons of kids and being so busy with taking care of the kids and the house that it DOES NOT LEAVE YOU TIME or energy to realize the human needs of individualism, freedom, self-discovery and …Oh and one more point if you feel that she looks at you like you don’t “belong”, don’t take it personal.
    We are trained from our childhood to keep a distance (not just physically) from any human that is not part of our community. 
    Nothing personal here. 
    That’s just what we need to do to “protect ourselves and our kids” from the filth and the immorality that the entire world –but us- lives in today’s era.Oh and next time that you see a Hassidic man … (I better stop now)There is much more to say.
    If you have any questions or comments, send them to me.
    If you want to have a public discussion, even a debate, let me know.
    If you just want to have an argument –about any issue- please consider me. 
    If you don’t care about anything on this planet: I don’t know what to tell you, but I really identify with you!
    If you have parents or kids and you love them; say it to them!Last but not least; 
    If –when asked to participate in a debate – you must know beforehand which opinion you are defending, you probably don’t know enough about the issue.Have you really read everything till here? 
    To be honest, I’m surprised and I thank you for reading it.yup, that’s me 
    ( a tiny part of me)theunaskedquestion AT gmail DOT com

  • ahg

    Great Post.

     I just wanted to address the topic of women being spiritually elevated answer to why they are not “encumbered” with certain mitzvot that in turn exclude them from certain communal roles (i.e. leading services)    

     I ask those who subscribe to the elevated spirituality of women theory:  If women
    are so spiritually gifted  then why wouldn’t you want the spiritually gifted to be your
    spiritual leaders (i.e. rabbis), learn and teach all facets of Torah,
    offer halachic guidance, and even lead the congregational prayer with
    their higher spiritual connection. After all, isn’t finding someone who
    is spiritually elevated, closer to G-d if you will, one of the
    qualifications one should seek in a chazzan?I think in the debate over women’s role in OJ, it might be more effective to first bypass the issues where there’s a “perception” of inequality (rabbi, cantor, minyan) and highlight the areas where the “It’s not you, it’s me” (as in it’s the man’s spiritual deficiency ) excuse doesn’t work.  e.g. I think the inability of women to be a witness for Jewish legal purposes and the prohibition of Talmud study as you have already mentioned are good ones.   Add to that divorce which is a one way street in which only the man can grant it to the woman leaving the women and her estranged husband’s mercy and the terrible pain abuses to that halacha cause.   There’s no perception issue there, the inequality is blantant, and it gives a woman 2nd class standing in halachic divorce proceedings.   Furthermore, in
    Parshat Ki Teitzei, if a man rapes a virgin, he pays 50 silver shekalim
    to the girls father, and then marries her for life. Later in the
    parsha, if a woman attempts to save her husband in a fight by grabbing
    the assailants private parts, we cut off her hand. (Even if we don’t
    interpret this literally, what does the difference in approach between a
    man sexually assaulting a women, vs a woman sexually assaulting a man,
    even with cause, tell you?)   Again, the inequality is apparent and objective not subject to dispute over who is given the upper hand in the matter. 

    • Cali Girl

      Yup yup yup. Everything you said is sad but TRUE. Just wanted to add that adultery in Halacha is also demeaning to women as human beings….

  • http://www.facebook.com/VooreInc Moshe BT

    there is one difference between you Rabbi and Chaya, is a proud and unapologetic for her way of life and I’m proud to be in such a way of life, and respectfully feel sorry for your apologetic life and sad point of view

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      Don’t feel sorry for me. I am very happy. Thankyouverymuch. But my happiness does not hinge on telling everyone how much better I am or my religion is than everyone else.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

        Using your logic to describe Chaya’s happiness, your happiness hinges on telling Chaya and her supporters how much better and smarter you are than them and everyone else. Of course its a silly inference to make, but the logic of your statement would force you to that point.

  • http://profiles.google.com/holyhyrax Holy Hyrax

    I enjoyed your article. I think secular media does in fact look down on orthodox culture is intolerant, sexist. Well of course they do. They are judging orthodox standards by western progressive thought. So I guess her original piece was sort of a “gloves come off” reaction. I think she would have made a better point if she left out chassidut and just talked about orthodoxy in general.

    Rabbi I was wondering about your opinion on something Abandoning Eden said:

    “And my role as a wife (and I’m not a mother yet- also because of my career) is secondary to my role as a sociology professor.”

    In my opinion, I have always felt this is where feminism failed. They simply taught women this. For myself, I have and still do feel like being a husband is a my primary role. My career is my career. It can always change, but it’s never primary over to my obligation to the person I have decided to be with and build a home with. Do you agree with what she said? And if you don’t, do you mind giving your opinion on where that hashkafa comes from? I’m not asking to zing you. Even though I may disagree with you at times, I still appreciate your analysis.

    • http://shanacarp.com/essays ShanaC

      I know of women who were mothers first as a role and proudly feminist.  It is less common, and in fact a failure of feminism. (Actually the real failure of feminism in the US is that it should have been familism, so that men, women, genderqueer, single folk, married folk, ect don’t have the economic pressures involved in raising kids)

  • RJM

    Thank you for this!

  • http://twitter.com/JacobSlinger Jacob Slinger

    I am making geirus, and the derech I have my eyes set on is Belz. This whole argument has concered me, and caused me to search deeper. After speaking to several Hasidic women; Some of Williamsburg, some from Israel, some from the UK, none of them have said that they feel the type of oppression which is being claimed. Yes, there are going to be hiccups within the Hasidic community – show me a community where there aren’t. Just because there are problems with a small number of families; it doesn’t mean that those problems are ingranted into Hasidus.

  • Jew

    I am curious to know if your wife feels like a “second class citizen” or if you perceive her as one? from my understanding the Torah given at Sinai is the same Torah. same laws. same restrictions. the difference between the different sects in Judaism are their minhagim (customs). your wife, Deborah Feldman, Chaya, myself (for purposes of identifying my “denomination” I’ll call myself an orthodox Jewish woman), and every other Jewish woman have the same laws. We may choose (be it a choice made easy or difficult by different circumstances, by your own example being asked to leave the community, given a quick divorce, and losing custody of one’s children) to keep its laws or throw them to the wayside. Sometimes we make the right choices and sometimes we don’t. There are always choices. If a loaded gun was put to your head and you were told to hand over everything you have or be shot there is still choice. Granted, a choice between “bad” and “really bad”, but still a choice. Going back to the perception or feeling like a second class citizen: so what? So sometimes a woman, or a man for that matter, may feel shortchanged or like they’re not as important as someone else. To that I answer, so what? Get a grip. I don’t appreciate this write up. I don’t appreciate the constant “stabbing” and “knocking down” of one fellow Jew to the other. We have enough people who hate us for no other reason than our bloodlines. We don’t need to hate ourselves for those same bloodlines. I am a proud Jewish woman. and yes, some of the commandments are hard to do. Many I don’t do perfectly (far from it), but to sit here and badmouth the Torah that you will be re-given in just a few days I don’t understand. I don’t understand the point (maybe by doing so you feel you will gain some points…). You want to spread a love of Torah please do so, but not in this way. All this does is spread hate, misunderstanding, and gross misconceptions.

  • Guest

    To all those who state otherwise: I am a Chassidic woman in Boro Park and boy oh boy are we treated like second class citizens. From this entire article that is the line that resonated with me the most. And to those women in this community who say they have no issue with the state of affairs, please understand that there are woman who do not feel the same way, and I’m sure if you would honestly think about the matter, you would understand why so many aspects of the community in regard to the treatment of woman may bother some; frankly usually more intelligent women (I know if that if this ever gets posted I’ll get a lot of flak for the last part-but I’m sticking to it)

  • HappyObservantWoman

    As a modern Orthodox Jewish woman I can see many points in this article.  It is true that in some communities Women are limited.  My main objection is that this is not true for the entirety of Torah Observant Judaism!  We need to ensure that the world is not ignorant to how the majority of Jewish women actually live.

    There are many Orthodox (just not Chasiddik) communities where women learn the Talmud and teach both men and women about the Torah and Halachah just like Deborah in the Navi.  We are able to wear current (although modest) fashion, drive (seriously, how else can I shop in the suburbs), vote, get a higher education, have careers as lawyers, doctors, executives, CEOs and etc.  For me family purity is a responsibility that is an honor to uphold.  We also need to respect the privacy of this matter.  How many women go to a male doctor because he is particularly the best around?   There are stronger privacy laws than HIPA in regards to that matter of observant life because it is a private matter for each family.  You have to choose a Rabbi (Kenai L’Chah Rav) that is sensitive enough to be discreet about the whole thing. Personally, I grew up FFB (Frum -or Orthadox- from birth) and I still choose to remain as observant as I possibly can.  We all struggle with the personal choices of following Torah Judaism every day – and so do many men.  It really is a question of our free will, something that G-D gave every human being.I enjoyed reading Chaya’s article and fully  admire her decision to become observant.  She allowed me to remember that respecting people’s individuality is important.  Kudos

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      I agree with you! My point is that we cannot pretend that Chassidic Judaism offers the opportunities you have.

      • HappyObservantWoman

        I hear you.  No, Chassidic Judaism does not offer the same opportunities.  When I read your blog my immediate reaction was that you were saying this about observant Jews in general – I am sure others have done the same.  We already have so much internal division.  I wish there was a way to discuss this without breeding ignorance and hate.

      • Jew

        What opportunities? The same opportunities you’ve had to receive an “education” and have used to belittle your fellow Jews so as to possibly appeal to the secular world and secular Jewry?!!? I’ve seen people successful in kiruv without resorting to belittling and defaming the Orthodox and the Torah life they follow. This is hypocrisy at it’s best. How can you really teach someone to love a Torah that you obviously don’t fully love and appreciate?!!? What exactly is your approach? Hey, come learn Torah with me. A Torah that seats women “in the back of the bus”, is stuck in yesteryear’s fads and traditions, and has no bearing on your life in 2012. Great tag line. I’m sure you’ll get plenty of neshamos (souls) sparked that way.

        • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

          Why don’t you come to my shul and find out for yourself? Or read some of the other (almost 900) posts on my blog?

          • Jew

            I think I’ll pass. I’ve read enough in this one post. I’ll stick to a shul where I know all “types” of Jews are welcomed. Where bringing someone closer to Torah and mitzvos isn’t dependent on turning one’s nose down on that same Torah and mitzvos. That’s what I feel you’ve done. Whether you say it’s just about “Chassidic Judaism” or not makes no difference. Like I said before, same Torah, same laws. Have a good night and a meaningful shavuos.

            • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

              You’re funny. The most diverse shul in the world, besides the Kotel, is my shul.

  • Anonymous

    This is a wonderful article, thanks for pointing out all the inconsistencies in the source article.

  • http://harediandproud.wordpress.com/ Harediandproud

    Eli, do you believe women are better off as Charedi/Chasidi or secular?

    To me, secular society objectifies women more than anything else. Sure, there’s more equality, but respect? Hardly.

    • Anonymous

      @a41caf36309f854ecae5d6bf87655a8b:disqus do you believe women are better off as Charedi/Chasidi or secular? 

      But those aren’t the only two choices. Unless you consider anyone not Charedi to be secular.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

        His statement does not preclude other choices. If I ask you if you theoretically would rather have a chocolate or vanilla icecream, that does not mean I believe that strawberry ice cream does not exist. Oh Logic Logic I feel your pain.

        • Anonymous

          @yahoo-AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU:disqus His statement does not preclude other choices.  

          And that was exactly my point. Why ask “better if charedi or secular” isntead of “charedi or orthodox non-charedi”?

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            Because those are the 2 lifestyles primarily discussed and compared on this blogpost.

  • http://twitter.com/skazm Metal Israel

    On the other hand, I think your article does a disservice to non-Chabad chassidish women (of which I have many in my family)… Fink, do you know any personally?  There are definitely bad things but there are many happy and fulfilled women who are doing just fine.  

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      I am sure there are many happy chasidic women. That’s not really relevant to the issue here.

      • http://twitter.com/skazm Metal Israel

        the issue is you just totally tore up Judaism and are making ugly generalizations.  I also chose to be religious and I don’t believe the whole shelo asani isha because they get more mitzvos bs either – there is a lot of good you seem to be ignoring

  • http://twitter.com/skazm Metal Israel

    I just re-read your article – whatever, dude you’re just another modern (if that) anti religious person.  Whatever.  Nothing more to see here.

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      You don’t know me. But that’s cool.

      • http://twitter.com/skazm Metal Israel

        I see you totally not getting the point of Judaism… and say you’re right about frumkeit being oppressive to women – so what’s better, living secular and being worthless if you’re over 20 and not a size 6?  Cause that’s what the real ‘free’ wrld is about.. most of the chasidish ladies I know (and I know a lot considering my mom’s first cousins are the Dinover Rebbe and Munkatch rebbes) take real joy in their lives and help a lot of people, like my rebbitzen Chaya Frankel zichron tzadika l’vracha who spent her days helping thousands of people running Satmar Bikur Cholim.  People are people, and  one more thing – the man may be the head but the wife is the neck – any woman worth her salt knows this and this is the way of life – we don’t need masculine roles to shine – your article has some truth but has no small amount of cynicism and falsity – btw thi sis a great rebuttal to you if you haven’t seen it yet:  
        http://popchassid.com/respecting-chaya-baal-teshuvas/

        • http://twitter.com/skazm Metal Israel

          woo hoo be free wear a miniskirt – o wait… who REALLY benefits from that – the guys?  oh we just want you to be able to express yourselves… 

          • http://shanacarp.com/essays ShanaC

            uhh, me!  Shorts give wedgies in  the summer sometimes.  Miniskirts allow me to go running without a wedgie?

        • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

          So you don’t think the frum world is obsessed with looks? Did you read Yitta Haleberstam’s article suggested girls get plastic surgery so they can get a shidduch?

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

            A more scientific approach would be to determine the levels of plastic surgery done in the Hassidic vs. Secular culture, then to rely on some individual’s silly opinion. 

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

          Just want to say your cousin the Munkatcher is a very dedicated and caring person.

  • Aussie Girl

    Let’s give a round of applause to Rabbi Fink for speaking out for us. We are born with characteristics and I think Chaya would be happy anywhere, she seems like that type of person. It’s in her nature. Curve balls are sent to make us stronger, and certainly the infertile couple and the agunah grieve over their lot, but people, be comforted that you have a GADOL in your midst, on your side who will help you shoulder your burden. He is helping you through your ‘second class citizen’ status by putting it out there in writing! He feels your pain. He’s seen it in his office and women’s issues hurt him too.  You aren’t alone in your plight, you have a knight in shining, holy armor. Yashar koach Rabbi Fink. 

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      Your sarcasm needs work.

  • http://twitter.com/gedalyahreback Gedalyah Reback

    This is one of the most ignorant and irresponsible things I’ve ever heard a Rabbi say.  The distaste this man is putting forth because of her background is unjustified and ignorant, just like his lower-case Os and inability to use the proper comparative.  
    Disagree with Chaya Kurtz on the merit of her arguments, not because of where she’s coming from.  Stay on task and you won’t get this sort of reaction.  Maybe you wanted this reaction because it generates traffic.  I don’t know.   This woman’s background as a Chabadnik is actually irrelevant.  Hordes of Baalei T’shuva have this positive attitude toward their experience.  Her affiliation is irrelevant and doesn’t undermine her writing.  That’s just on one point.  Secondly, the fact she is a baal t’shuva is also not a disqualifying factor in her opinion.

    This article, just like Deborah Feldman’s, is inappropriately patronizing.  As if her baalat t’shuva status automatically makes her a figure much less qualified to have an opinion.  Baalei t’shuva live under similar circumstances as do converts.  Their opinions are just as legitimate, and to ever dismiss what they say because of their status as converts is categorically prohibited in Jewish Law.  Whether or not the law applies to baalei t’shuva in the same way, the attitude the Torah demands of established Jews toward converts applies here, because much of the spirit of those laws is to not disdain the newcomer to the community merely on the basis of that person’s nouveau life as an observant Jew.

    Rabbi Fink, if there were a board that sanctioned Rabbis for their conduct, I’d make an appeal to it.  This is the sort of thing over which politicians resign.  I might have expected this sort of casual approach to someone’s serious appeal from someone  like Deborah Feldman, who doesn’t have a title behind her name to maintain, but from you I would have expected so much more caution.

    This article does a much larger disservice to the women AND men who call themselves baalei t’shuva.  What possessed you to write this way is beyond me.  Whatever your political opinions, the Referee demands more care with your words, lest your words lead your students to bitter waters.
    Then again, my opinion probably doesn’t matter as much as yours, because I’m not an FFB and even more because I had to convert to compensate for my Mother’s non-Jewish background.  Apparently, that combo leaves me out in the cold.  I can talk about convert stuff, but draw a red line for me if I want to talk about women, gays, or whatever else.  Let the grown-ups run the house and I’ll go play in the corner?  This is a despicable attitude I’m seeing here, and I can’t write enough about it.

    • Moishele

      Buddy, every time you make an ad hominem attack (I counted over 8 of them in this post), it makes whatever point you are trying to make significantly weaker. Just a bit of advice for any future debating plans you might have in the future. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

    It is actually relevant. You see Chayas article was 5 points about Chassidic women. You decided instead to attack her  right to an opinion as a Chabadnik. However you barely attacked her 5 points as to their applicabilty to other Hassidic groups. One of them was the happiness of Hassidic groups. I think it is unfair for you to attack someone for choosing to stay on the issue.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

    Don’t  you think a study of the plastic surgery habits of Hassidic versus Secular women would be a  more objective indicator than some article some idiot wrote? 

    • Joseph Nerenberg

       Since the Hassidics would never allow any polling of their communities, what be the point?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

    I would be interested if the diversity of your shul extends to normative Hassidic types. Of course that’s a paradox because normative Hassidic types wouldn’t daven in your diverse shul. It is not a pejorative, but you cannot claim any status as an expert on Hassidic culture other than as a light observor (take it with it’s dual meaning) of their culture.

  • http://rivkamalka.com/ Rivka Malka

    there are so many comments here, its not necessary to post more about this article. I’ll just add that Torah is an incredible realirt. Start Living! Live with joy! Society stinks, it has its problems, but don’t blame that on the Torah.

  • frum and proud

    I think you whoever wrote this article are unhappy. It comes out. Any orthodox woman who is questioning her role in life and is feeling like a second class citizen should question it until she finds satisfying answers. Many chassidic women are happy and you know what? they are brought up in that lifestyle and don’t know differently. To them on the inside it’s normal. I think to project on what is not known to you first hand is WRONG. And one persons experience does not reflect on the entire community. Orthodox women ARE TOO allowed to learn Talmud if it is their wish but it is not necessary for them too, it does not help them in their every day lives to be better people and they do not have the mitzvah of learning so that is why they don’t. You say women don’t hold important positions in the religious world? Bruriah the wife of Rebbe Meir held one. Women are the back bone of men. Without women men would not be able to achieve half of what they do. In the Garden of Eden when God said man should not be alone, He created a WOMAN. We have power and should live up to what we can do. We do not need to have prestigious positions in society to be able to go far. It’s all about perspective. Honestly, if you look around, in the secular world the women are so much more exploited than in the religious orthodox world. Open your eyes

  • http://www.AliveAwakeJewish.blogspot.com/ Braha Bender

    I am not Chassidic, I am what they like to call Ultra-Ultra-Orthodox. I live in a tiny enclave of barely touched Judaic hegemony in Jerusalem. And I concur completely with Chaya.

    You dispute her first, excellent point that we are not imprisoned. What your ranting ignores is that all societies incur social consequences for behavior, including secular societies that have nothing to do with Judaism. That does not limit personal freedom, it is simply a component of choice. There is nothing wrong with this. Rather, it is one definitive element of what a society is, i.e. a body that responds to the choices of the individual.

    Secondly, your “incontrovertible facts” about halacha vis-a-vis women represent the most superficial, thoughtless spooning that those with an elementary-school level Jewish education like to spew about a body of religious, social, psychological, and spiritual thought that has been rigorously developed over the course of millennia. Grow up and stop writing about so-called religious womens issues like a seventh grader. I challenge any woman or man who would rally to your cause to have the integrity to spend several years in yeshiva first. (Knowing that you have already done so makes your misleading stances all the more disturbing.)

    I am sorry to use such harsh words, but your own words are so offensive that they demand response in kind. Were you aware that you present women like me as anything but free agents? That you present women like me as idiots who are pleased to be relegated to a second-class status? Surely you jest. My life experience (and I joined the Charedi world at twelve, thank you) attests that Chaya spoke very well for the vast majority of Chassidic and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish women.

    • tesyaa

        (and I joined the Charedi world at twelve, thank you)

      Still, this is not nearly the same perspective as being FFB.

    • Joseph Nerenberg

       So what are you doing on the internet?

  • guest

    thank you for writing this!  i breathe easier knowing that someone has posted an intelligent & thoughtful response to that newbie rah-rah 

  • Michael

    To be fair, I am a male and would also not last a week in Kiryas Joel or New Square (I couldnt make one minyan there without being offended).  the problems you point out are not born into/born out of problems.  Lubavitch in general is more balanced with in the Chasidic community, and as a whole exemplify the goals and visions of the original chasidim more.  the problem you raise is that of extremism.  if youre unhappy with the role of women in Judaism that is fine, and youll have to come up with answers that you dont find to be apologetic.  but the restrictions you listed for the other groups of chasidim are NOT halachic in nature.  they are stingincies unique to those communities, and probably wrong.  Your response is probably fair, but it is mislabeled.  please be as careful as you request Chaya being in not misrepresenting the Orthodox world as a whole

  • http://twitter.com/alexphilo7 Philo

    Bravo – excellent post.

  • concerned

    As a frum woman with an advanced degree, I often point out to my husband the craziness of the frum world.  We send our daughters out into the work force to support their husband in learning… making her a leader, someone who speaks in a public domain and who holds a leadership position and demands respect.  The longer the husband sits and learns, the higher up on the corporate ladder the wife needs to rise in order to provide financially for the growing family.  Then, we turn around and tell this same woman that she can not speak in public… not even at a sheva brochos for 30 people!!!! How ridiculous!!!!  When we need her to assume a man’s role and bring home a living we send her out into a public domain and have her speak and lead then we turn around and tell her when she gets home she needs to be quiet and not open her mouth in mixed company because that would be a lack of tznius…
    I only hope we don’t see more and more frum girls leaving yiddishkeit because of this hypocrisy.

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      Exactly.

  • Kaylee Suark

    Hi Rabbi Fink,
    As a young Chassidishe woman living in Williamsburg and a Satmar graduate I feel that I qualify to respond to some things in your article. 
    I don’t think your article was so off base but some details were not accurate. 
    I do agree that it seems that Hasidic or rather Orthodox women are second class citizens but I think most women themselves do not feel this way.  I cannot argue the fact that some things in Judaism do give credibility to this notion but I am not really looking to go into that. It is too complicated. 
    I actually just wanted to refute the statements specifically about the rules for women.
    You mentioned the medieval dress code for women. Usually when someone asks me about that I tell them to look at the men’s garb first. The women’s dress code is pretty liberal compared to theirs. Women can and do look fashionable in many hasidic communities. I know there are many women who don’t and I am not exactly sure if they choose it or if it is a direct result of their upbringing. All I know is that I live in Williamsburg and I am very fashion minded and I do not have a problem looking beautiful and trendy (in a modest manner). 
    Some hasidic communities are stricter and more insular than others and some families are stricter and more insular than others. I think a lot depends on that.
    In my family we do not wear ugly synthetic wigs, we dress fashionably, we enjoy a good movie here or there and watch tv shows that are not dirty or obscene (The shark tank, The biggest loser, just to name a few) and we get to choose who to marry, meaning our dates are arranged but not our marriage. (And most of us I believe have a great fulfilling s-xual marriage).

    Also contrary to what most people believe, many women take birth control and it is becoming more widespread and accepted. We do not necessarily believe in family planning (I only want to have 2 kids) but we do believe in birth control (I am overwhelmed and need a break right now). I take breaks between my kids as my husband and I see fit as to what works for us. 
    I also want to say that it is becoming more widespread for men and women -after marriage- (note I didn’t write boys and girls) to go for a degree. It is not so popular yet but it is not taboo anymore and that in itself is a step towards the right direction.  I agree that education needs a revamp  in our community. 
    About driving, there are many communities where hasidic women drive. (Orthodox not hasidic women do not have this rule). You will see many hasidic women drive in Monsey, and Boro Park and other places outside of insular communities like mine or Kiryas Joes or New Square. I am not happy with this rule but I can move away. I think the rule is ridiculous just like you do. I went ahead and got my driver’s license. I didn’t think there was a reason for me not to. 

    I want to say lots more but I have to run to work :-). I guess I just wanted to point out that many of us do have options if we don’t exactly fit in. For some it is harder to follow their dreams and for some easier, but for most of the women who want to leave or step out of the accepted cookie cutter frame I believe they can do so. 

    If anybody has any questions I hope to answer after I get home from work (It’s Erev Shavous too so it’s a hectic time). I hope you can realize that I have written this article in a friendly tone and with respect (as the tone is hard to get across the intenet). 
    Hope you all have a great day!

    Sara

     

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      Thank you for commenting. I am aware that things are changing. I am trying to help them change. Chaya’s fantasyland version of insular communities was a step in the wrong direction.

    • Anonymous

      @google-d12dd5132ef8c9053c32258df18c9de1:disqus Usually when someone asks me about that I tell them to look at the men’s garb first. 

      The men in the Charedi world also have far fewer choice in many matters than necessary. It’s sad that a Charedi young man who may have an aptitude for math and science is strongly discouraged from going to college and to graduate school to study and become an expert in a field. Instead he in only encouraged to sit in the beis medrash as long as possible, get married at some point, and eventually end up working in a “job” rather than have a “career” where he might have a chance to bring some great good to the world. The men are all encouraged to dress the same, behave the same, etc. That is also wrong IMO.

  • Hindy

    I think that it is going to be a slow and painful process but ultimately there will be more venues open to frum women to hold leadership and learning positions.  It’s inevitable and part of the Sara Shnerier revolution.  We have opened up doors in the secular world, and the medieval views of women still held in orthodox circles is going to change.  Nishmat and its Yoetzet Halacha program are prime examples.  Why shouldn’t women be super knowledgeable in niddah laws????  It only makes them more able to practice them properly.    Why is it more tzanua for a woman to discuss a niddah question with a male Rav than a woman  yoetzet who spent two years or more learning the halachas in depth and who has a Rav she can ask a question to if she does not know the answer herself????  I have super right wing orthodox friends who use the yoetzet hotline…. it’s just so much better to speak with a woman who really ‘gets it ‘ from every aspect when you ask her a question.

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      I am with you 100%.

  • Suzyg

    Just as the right wing world just banned the internet at Citi Field (even after proclaiming there would be no ban) they ban women’s advancement.  It is just so behind the times.  They are being reactive instead of proactive…. the internet like the phone will be everywhere.  The internet like the phone can be used for good and for bad (lashon hara).  Women gaining more prominence in society is the norm in the world, and the role of women is changing in society and the frum world.  The world has had Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel… this is not atypical anymore.  Holding on to outdated and unfounded rules is just silly and won’t last forever.  Doubt the change will be in my generation… maybe by my grandchildren’s.   Perhaps that is the real beauty of the internet -and for the religiously insular – danger of the internet.  It enables a society that has spoon fed a hashkafa to kids since nursery to suddenly realize they can THINK and QUESTION.  It is a vehicle that enables change and discussion.

  • Guest

    Rabbi Fink,

    I read this blog all the time and find
    it incredibly insightful and true, so I mean no disrespect when I say that I
    disagree with this post. Due to my field of work, I read a lot of news and
    women’s blogs ( Gawker, Jezebel and XO Jane included) and also have many
    non-Jewish and non-religious friends whose opinions I’ve gauged on these
    topics. I feel that this article must be understood in the context of where it
    was published and towards whom it was directed. It’s not like this was put
    forth by the Jewish Press to address Flatbush and Boro Park, am I right? I
    probably fall into the minority of frum girls who are quite familiar with the
    content of XO Jane and Jezebel and because of this, I feel this article is such
    a boon to this type of media. Instead of belittling Chaya’s viewpoint for being
    marginal and out of touch with the feelings and ordeals of all the frum women in
    the world, it should be praised for promoting the positive values that we enjoy
    and defending us against the erroneous stereotypes that abound on these types
    of blogs. The positive things that Chaya mentions are objective I might add. If
    there are problems within our communities where these values are perverted and misconstrued,
    that’s a different issue and not the point of Chaya’s article. Sites like XO
    Jane often discus sexuality and relationships from such dysfunctional
    standpoints that you can’t help wonder how these college educated and
    intelligent women allow themselves to be treated, yes, like second class
    citizens, by the men they date. The sexual expectations women in the secular
    dating world are subject to are so degrading. And it’s totally normal by the
    way. What was once considered deviant or fetish behavior is totally standard,
    and if a girl doesn’t think its right or doesn’t want to do it, she’s labeled a
    “prude” and her dating value plummets in her social circle.

     
    No wonder Chaya, who is a women’s studies major, appreciates the
    constructive values and respect that is due to a woman in Judaism. She’s not
    trying to say all is good and amazing in our communities when it isn’t. What she
    is doing is saying that keeping Hashem’s mitzvos (and I’m not talking about
    erroneous community standards etc.) does not make you an oppressed and
    misguided woman, and in fact can do more towards making you a functional and
    happy human being then playing the field. I was personally inspired by her
    article and was glad that someone finally used that platform to address people
    who write negative things about people like me out of ignorance.

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      I appreciate what you are saying. But here is my opinion. I could not care less what they think on Jezebel or XOJane, when I compare it to how much I care about the future of orthodox Judaism. And so when balancing the two, the future of orthodox Judaism and the internal issues that we MUST deal with are supreme. That is why I wrote this article. I don’t believe PR for hip orthodox Jews is an especially meaningful or valuable pursuit. If we fix our problems WE WON’T NEED PR.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

        Do you really think if the Jews would fix their problems their would be no need for PR. There would be no latent antisemitism? I guess I have a different understanding of Esauv Sonei Es Yaakov. Would you say the Torahs view on homosexulaity would not require PR in todays society. If society theoretically had an incorrect view as opposed to Judaism, would Judaism not require PR? Your comment seems to imply that there is no viewpoint in the secular world that is at odds with Judaism. Right or wrong you are just an apologist.

  • ahg

    I’m going to try and make this question of perception vs reality real simple.  See Genesis 3:16:

     אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה אָמַר, הַרְבָּה אַרְבֶּה עִצְּבוֹנֵךְ
    וְהֵרֹנֵךְ–בְּעֶצֶב, תֵּלְדִי בָנִים; וְאֶל-אִישֵׁךְ, תְּשׁוּקָתֵךְ,
    וְהוּא, יִמְשָׁל-בָּךְ
    “Unto the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy
    travail; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall
    be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.’”
     
    There you have it, the Torah’s declares the role of women to be in a  subservient position to men.    A critical review of the Torah further supports this, be it a husband’s power to annul his wife’s vows, marital property laws, control over divorce, etc.   Looking at the examples, clearly this isn’t one of those verses in Genesis that was meant allegorically.

    That verse and subsequent laws of the Torah have set the tone for the millenia of rabbinic thought that followed until the past couple of centuries.   Sure you might find sources (Rashi) to tell you that’s not how it’s understood, and others who will remind us of how Judaism was progressive compared to the other nations 3000 years ago, yada, yada – but the simple understanding still has had an effect.

    If you’re going to solve a problem you first have to admit it exists instead of trying to explain it away as all about perception.   That’s not to say that women aren’t happy with it.  I’m sure generations of women never gave it a second thought and lived happy fulfilled lives.   Today, just as you see Mormon wives of one man describing how happy they are with their wonderful shared husband, and it boggles the modern mind, so too I’m sure many of the women in the insular ultra orthodox community are happy with their role. 

    But, for those who have embraced the modern world, and are uncomfortable with their status in the Orthodox community, it’s a real problem.  Maybe the apologetics were helpful in the past century.  Today, for many, they’re not.   You can either be honest and say this is the approach G-d expects, tough – and let the cards fall where they may.  Or, look at what’s really Torah prescribed and untouchable and what’s byproducts of rabbinic thought as seen through the eyes of their generation and look to see how we can work in those areas to affect positive change.   

  • ahg

    I’m going to try and make this question of perception vs reality real simple.  See Genesis 3:16:

     אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה אָמַר, הַרְבָּה אַרְבֶּה עִצְּבוֹנֵךְ
    וְהֵרֹנֵךְ–בְּעֶצֶב, תֵּלְדִי בָנִים; וְאֶל-אִישֵׁךְ, תְּשׁוּקָתֵךְ,
    וְהוּא, יִמְשָׁל-בָּךְ
    “Unto the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy
    travail; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall
    be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.’”
     
    There you have it, the Torah’s declares the role of women to be in a  subservient position to men.    A critical review of the Torah further supports this, be it a husband’s power to annul his wife’s vows, marital property laws, control over divorce, etc.   Looking at the examples, clearly this isn’t one of those verses in Genesis that was meant allegorically.

    That verse and subsequent laws of the Torah have set the tone for the millenia of rabbinic thought that followed until the past couple of centuries.   Sure you might find sources (Rashi) to tell you that’s not how it’s understood, and others who will remind us of how Judaism was progressive compared to the other nations 3000 years ago, yada, yada – but the simple understanding still has had an effect.

    If you’re going to solve a problem you first have to admit it exists instead of trying to explain it away as all about perception.   That’s not to say that women aren’t happy with it.  I’m sure generations of women never gave it a second thought and lived happy fulfilled lives.   Today, just as you see Mormon wives of one man describing how happy they are with their wonderful shared husband, and it boggles the modern mind, so too I’m sure many of the women in the insular ultra orthodox community are happy with their role. 

    But, for those who have embraced the modern world, and are uncomfortable with their status in the Orthodox community, it’s a real problem.  Maybe the apologetics were helpful in the past century.  Today, for many, they’re not.   You can either be honest and say this is the approach G-d expects, tough – and let the cards fall where they may.  Or, look at what’s really Torah prescribed and untouchable and what’s byproducts of rabbinic thought as seen through the eyes of their generation and look to see how we can work in those areas to affect positive change.   

  • http://www.facebook.com/isobel.phillips Isobel Phillips

    I enjoyed Chaya’s post – and another perspective on it.

  • tesyaa

    I think that as time moves on we become  more moral
    and more ethical, but I dont think anyone would tell you we are at the
    pinnacle.

    To quote MLK, “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

    • Anonymous

      I think that as time moves on we become more moral and more ethical, but I dont think anyone would tell you we are at the 
      pinnacle.

      While this is generally true, I think that when the sh*t hits the fan (war, economic dislocation, hyperinflation, etc), and people’s lives are disrupted, a lot of the morality and ethics can go quickly out the window.

  • Sarah

    I think you have missed the point of Chaya’s article; and while you make several valid – and *extremely* important – points, they are not in any way in conflict with anything Chaya wrote.  It is true that oppression, neglect and abuse occur in some communities – as they do everywhere; but as Chaya herself said, they do not represent the whole community.  More importantly, they do not represent TORAH.  She was describing the *system*, not the people in it.  People are flawed; the Torah is not.  Her description of her experience, b”H, happens to be a wonderful reflection of what’s *possible* if people look into the Torah truly and deeply – of the ideal.  Unfortunately, many women are not experiencing that ideal, whether because of the communities they are in or their individual situations; but it is not because the system is flawed, or because the possibility of that ideal doesn’t exist. The people carrying out what they think is the correct interpretation of Torah are human, and therefore fallible.  But Hashem is neither.

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      That is absolutely NOT what she did. She was speaking about her experience as if it were universal. And the system is not flawed. It’s just stuck in 1950.

  • Sherree

    Although I found the original article irritating, I take exception to your article as well. I am a frum Jewish Woman and have been for over half a century. Never have I felt like a second class citizen , quite the opposite as a matter of fact and I have relayed this phenomenon to my non Jewish counterparts countless times throughout my life. The entire religion is carried through the centuries and really rests solely on our shoulders. The whole question of who is a Jew is fully and completely determined through the maternal line, hence through a woman. You are NOT a Jew if your mother was not a Jew and her mother before her, etc. we don’t recognize halves, quarters, eighths, etc. we believe in wholes and completes and that is only determined by a woman. That makes us women the most powerful and trusted species in the religion.

    A man can have a hundred children but if not born to a jewish woman they are not Jewish. Wow how powerful and important are we? It matters not if the man is a king, a Rabbi, the wealthiest man alive. It truly levels the playing field. Even if the mother is the lowliest servant on earth but is still a Jew, the child will be a Jew . Wow how powerful is that?

    Furthermore, you neglect to mention that only in cases where a true question is involved where neither the husband nor the wife can determine if the discharge on the underwear is a problem or not, does one have to consult a Rabbi. Nor do you mention that the wife can also go to the Kallah teacher who might know the answer, nor do you mention how the whole thing is done in a very discrete manner where the Rav doesn’t even need to know who is asking the question or who the item belongs to. I find your article and your attitude very cynical and not helpful to the cause at all. If ou are looking to help the plight and equality of women it would be best if you concentrate on real issues such as abuse and blackmail. Also how the batei dinim do not treat women fairly and with compassion and basically allow men to walk away epwithout responsibility or accountability for their actions. Please place fault and blame here it is due and not on the chassidus or on the religion or Halacha itself. It is with those who interpret the Halacha for their means and purposes and not in th way the Halacha was intended

  • sara

    All those picking on exact wording.. citizens or not citizen we all know the truth that women are deemed as being less then men in every aspect of life. What about them praising God every single day for not making them a woman.
    Don’t fool yourself, we all know why that Kj husband can afford to lavish her with jewels and she can afford to sit in the sun with her kids?!!!?!! Its because u guys are not that observant as you would like to portray yourself. Were you taught lying is a sin? Were you taught stealing is a sin? I’m sure you were. So how can anyone take you seriously when you pick and choose what mitzvos you want or wont observe. In the real sense of the word you are off the derech. It doesn’t matter if u look one way or another, you are swerving away from true religious observance.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

      I see, it is morally wrong to say a millenia old prayer but it is perfectly fine to use Protocol tactics and insinuate that every hassidic jew is a lying, scheming thief. You wish to spread vicious nastly statements about your fellow Jew, fine, but don’t wrap yourself in trappings of piety.

  • Lettuce8befriends

    Rabbi, your judgemental essay does a disservice to the reader. Your judegement is based upon your personal perception of what makes people happy or sad, fullfilled or un fullfilled which initself is based on where you are today. I know many member and rabbi’s of Chabad Lubavitch as well and members (men and women) of Satmir who are extremely happy with their personal status within their respective communities. I consider my as an Observant Jew as I am unable to observe some of the common laws. Because of where I live I must drive to shul which is and will remain my problem as I will not be moving in the foreseeable future. In addition I know that neither I nor my wife would not be happy in most  of the Chasidic communities, mostly because it was not part of our lives in the past. But, some of the members of the Satmir communities that we know, who did not grow up Satmir are very happy-one is even a convert. You speak of the women being kept back, how they dress, they can’t vote, etc. which may be factual-depending on the community-but that is only a negative to you not to them. There are members of any community who are more or less happy than others. Arranged marriages may not be to your taste but the incidence of divorce is much lower-to which you’ll argue they have no choice. As you know -Orthodox marriages are usually not arranged. Orthodox men and women date, learn about each other through talking, what they like , where they want to go in their lives and how they want to live those lives. They decide if they should marry and the parents have already checked the backgrounds and the families. They also make sure that they are in fact Jewish.  Chasdis came about to preserve the european ways of Jewish religious and social practice during the pograms. They exist to continue these ways. Chabad Lubavitch does more outreach  than any other Jewish group in the world. They don’t try to make their students become anything other than than Jews who practice today more than they did yesterday. Rabbi, I could go on and on discussing what you’ve written-but at the end it’s still you judging others, which as Jews we should not be doing. Have a god Shabbos and a Great Yom Tov.   

    • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

      I never said people weren’t happy. I never said oppressive rules against women can’t be desirable or valuable. I just said that unless one BUYS apologetic the default is that women are perceived as second class.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/AU2EM44YN57KOZ3NNEYARQ7OAU Abraham

    That article has no relevance to my point. I can agree whole heartedly with that article and my point stands. Personally, I view that concept in the Nietzschean sense of the struggle between Judaic and Roman ideals etc. My point, which you failed to answer, is that no matter how perfectly Jews follow Judaic principles there will be those who vehemently despise and disagree with our ideals.
    Your second question would again only apply to the box you chose to put me in. In my view your question is meaningless. Your question is also logically meaningless because I never proposed PR, I was responding to your statement of when PR is neccessary. And even those who view every Gentile as an antisemite (a view which I see no reason to take) as a fete accompli there is still room for PR. To put it simply without discussing the variables, I would prefer a person who calls me a dirty kike behind my back than one who send me to a gas chamber. Logic, my friend logic.
     
    As an aside Rabbi Adlerstein commentary has no bearing if someone elses view is right or wrong. I find it preposterous that you would argue that a statement in gemara can not have a certaiin interpretation because some rabbi had another view.
     
    Now please answer just one of my questions. You said “If we fix our problems WE WON’T NEED PR.” If we fix our problems would you tell your gay friends that you stand by the torah which says it is an abomination, or would you PR your way out of it?

  • Chanibird

    Listen Rabbi, you’re wrong okay. You’re just wrong.
    In the past couple weeks I have watched both Pearl Perry (part 1 at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rO6PXoTO1bQ) and Deborah Feldman (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8bcbYf1k-k) rant in unsophisticated English about their most horrible experiences in the Hassidic community, now being able to broadcast them having scandalously left their respective communities. Both publicly embarrassed themselves (by expressing their ideas with slightly too much emotional fervour for national TV,  but let’s even say they’re free to make whatever impression they want of themselves…) as well as embarrassing Orthodox Jewry as a WHOLE!
    Both misrepresented thousands and thousands of people, using their pain to generalise for hundreds of communities, to pin this somewhat ‘evil’ description of frum Rabbis all around the world. As I watched, I cringed. I have friends in a variety of Hassidic communities and I tell you, poor Deborah and Pearl are the minority. Because they know nothing better? I admit this could be true in some cases, but hey, happiness is happiness.
    When I read Chaya’s article I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally, someone had the sense to write something GOOD about Jewish Orthodoxy. It was positive, it was forward, it was funny, it was everything people needed to hear. The comments were great – people asked questions about Judaism in interest, not in criticism, as some had in response to the above youtube videos). It was a success Rabbi, Orthodox Judaism got just a little bit of respect for a change.
    You’re saying she generalised? I’m saying so many others have generalised about Orthodoxy for the worse, let her do it for the better! Let her speak for all those people, Chabad AND other Chassidim who are truly happy with their way of life.
    I mean, you’re a frum Rabbi, don’t you want to be represented in a positive light? Why are you complaining?
    And I mean, saying that Chaya is setting you back ‘several decades’ in advocating for women’s rights – really. How so? What so in order for us to succeed in creating more opportunities for women in insular Hassidic communities, you need the whole online community and the media to believe that Jewish women are oppressed and unhappy and in need of saving? You need an increase in antisemitism? Who are you kidding?

  • Frum Feminist

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nahidworld2011 Shafiqur Rahman Nahid

    As I am quiet new in Jewish, looking around for some Jewish information> Got something important here. Nice to get it.
    This piece http://goo.gl/DT6FN of video helped me forgive and let go of my frustration.

  • Masha Chava Staffin

    You who wrote this response to Chaya\’s article are obviously biased on the sheer basis of your your viewpoint. Which is one that is assuming that these\” freedoms\” for women are actually objective freedoms. Myself like Chaya were/are members of both worlds at one span of time and we both CAN speak objectively. I would any day shave my head, follow halacha as observantly as this oppressive sexually and lustfilled world/culture will allow, have a rabbi check my underware 5 times a day, and I would find it less repressive then this feministic culturally relative world-view which I am most confident from your point of view I \”ironically\” find most oppressive. You obviously speak from this viewpoint and it therefore has no validity or purpose in response to her article. Very best, Masha Chava.