Dear Man...

God gave us all the ability to make choices. The time has come for men to stop blaming women for their shortcomings.

By SHOSHANNA KEATS JASKOLL
October 25, 2011 05:26
3 minute read.
Haredi

Haredi 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Dear Man,

Hi, its me, Woman. It’s been awhile. Even longer since we frolicked in Eden, eh? Was nice back then – before you told me God said not to touch the tree, when what He actually said was not to eat from the tree. Such a world of difference between touching and eating, don’t you think? Like the difference between looking and lusting? Appreciating and desiring? Wanting and taking?

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But I digress. When that snake proved that I would not die by touching the tree, I thought perhaps you had misunderstood, that the message somehow was incorrect, for I believed you would never mislead me. But how to show you?

So I took of the fruit and gave you to eat too, and then the world went black. It was then that you revealed that the prohibition had been against eating from the tree and not, as you had taught me, against touching it. You told me we had just betrayed our Creator. I wanted to die. I didn’t understand why you had told me something false, something that was not commanded. But I had no time to contemplate, for you told me to hide and to make us clothing. Then He searched for us – called out and asked where you were. You did the one thing I could never have expected. You betrayed me – and as you did the world changed. The garden, so green and glorious, dulled to a shadow of what it had been. The vibrant cobalt sky paled in shame of your act. The Earth hardened herself against you.

I was your other half, the being you longed for, the only other person in the entire universe, and yet you screamed out: “The woman you gave me – she made me eat!” I can still hear that scream, it resonates in my soul and in the pieces of my heart. It echoes through the years and translates into Yiddish, in the pashkevilim, the huge posters that have been plastered on the streets. I hear it in the tomatoes, eggs and stink bombs that have been thrown at my daughters. They all shout out the same accusation: It’s the women’s fault! The women are our downfall!

You are still screaming. And I am still hurting. I have watched over the years, as slowly my daughters have gotten out from underneath the shame of the sin you foisted upon me all those years ago. I have seen them become more educated, more respected and more successful in all fields. They contribute so much to the world.

I will not allow you to take that from them, to make them feel shame, to hide their accomplishments, to throw your sins upon their shoulders. It has been said that in secular law men have rights, but in Jewish law men have responsibilities. It’s a subtle difference, but it is a world of difference.

You see, according our Creator’s actual word each of us must fulfill our obligations.

Man, it is your responsibility to fulfill your commandments and to not transgress your prohibitions. It is upon you to ensure that you fulfill your obligations. You do not have the right to insist that others fulfill theirs. It is not our female obligation to arrange our lives, dress and behavior according to your warped and distorted interpretation of God’s word. You are trying to erase my daughters from the society in which they were born and belong. You erase them from pictures, refuse them the right to go to school in peace and persecute them for your failings.

We are expected to cover ourselves lest you sin because of us, but when this modesty infringes on your pleasure, a witch-hunt ensues.

You scream our sins from rooftops as you hide behind dirty diapers. You harass my daughters as they come off the school bus. You want to cut off their voices to make yourselves more comfortable. But who holds you accountable, Man? Understand this: My daughters are stronger than I was. They are not so naïve. They no longer rely on your interpretations to tell them how to act. We are educated. We are wise. We are proud. We will not let you shame us again. God gave us all free choice. It is not yours to take away.

The writer is a resident of Beit Shemesh.

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