Real pluralism

Real pluralism

Since when has the meaning of the word “pluralism” been changed to “uniformity”? Pluralism means tolerance for differences among people, such as religious, ideological, or cultural differences. The Women of the Wall’s quest to read from a Torah at the Western Wall is certainly not a quest for pluralism. It is an “in your face” attempt to overcome the inherent lack of pride these women feel for being Jewish women. It is also a blatant attempt to provoke traditional and Orthodox Jews into responding in a way that makes them appear to be the villains in this little power play. Those nasty traditionalists are so old-fashioned — they refuse to listen to a woman reading the Torah at the holiest site on Earth!

A Jewish woman is different from a Jewish man, and therefore, has different responsibilities and roles she must play in a Jewish home and in society. Just as Jewish men have mitzvot for which they alone are responsible, so Jewish women have mitzvot for which they alone are responsible. Women have inherent biological clocks and inherent spirituality that precludes their need for additional  mitzvot. A Jewish man is meant to be the head of the home, the public voice of the household, and in many cases, the breadwinner. The mitzvot he has are designed by God to remind him constantly Who is above him and to Whom he is responsible.

According to the Torah, a Jewish man and a Jewish woman come together to create a unified, complete home, in which the differences between them are equally valued and respected, but nevertheless, still differences. That is pluralism. Women who feel the need to don tzitzit, tallit, and read from the Torah are not exercising their right to do whatever Jewish men do; they are expressing, in a very obvious way, their discontent with their own value as a Jewish woman. When Jewish women try to commandeer the roles that were designated by the Torah for Jewish men, Jewish men end up looking elsewhere for wives. Once we start tampering with the Torah and its laws and traditions, we end up destroying what has sustained us for thousands of years, in exile and in Israel as a sovereign nation.

Jessica Savitt

read more: