April 25, 2019

The Musicality of Jewish Purity Laws

“Through the ages poems and songs have been composed in praise of the traditional role played by the Jewish woman and mother, most notably King Solomon’s “A Woman of Valor” at the end of the Book of Proverbs. Some of today’s feminists would not mind foregoing the role-centered praise in exchange for what they consider an “egalitarian” Judaic mode – i.e. assuming halakhic roles traditionally filled by men.

In my view, they are missing the point. An accurate definition of the Torah’s view on gender is “equal but different”– same abilities, same standing before G-d, but differences in the ways to try to be closer to Him and observe His laws. Not at all an egalitarian issue.

The Jewish woman was given special status by three commandments that it is her responsibility to fulfill: Lighting the Shabbat candles, separating a portion of dough for the Temple when baking bread (today it is burned) and the observance of the complex laws of what is termed Taharat Hamishpacha, family purity.

What stands out is that the first two mitzvoth can be performed by men if the situation warrants it and there are injunctions for men regarding family purity, but only women perform the mikva (ritual bath) immersion that grants a spiritual and ritually pure aspect to the love and intimacy of a married Jewish couple.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"After five years of war with the Islamic State, the biggest problem for the winners is coping with the losers. The aftermath has produced one of the world’s most perplexing postwar challenges..."

"What do we mean when we say that the “soul of the city” is under threat? Often, it’s really about politics, nostalgia, and the fear of community change."

"...the pendulum of history never stops moving. Indeed, one of the few constants of history is unceasing change. While we seem to be heading in one direction, we must remember that there will surely be pauses, turns, and reversals."

""Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé," premiered early Wednesday and it was the fulfillment of all the ancestors' hopes and dreams. Beyoncé also dropped "Homecoming: The Live Album.""

"Seven in 10 adults ages 18 to 34 received financial support from their parents in the last year, including more than half of those in their early 30s. Almost three in five millennials said they couldn’t afford their lifestyles without the support."

"Social media influencers have helped turn public lands into tourist-infested swamps. And one cantankerous man is fighting back."

"One particular myth that attached itself to Ledger was that his death was somehow a result of immersing himself in the character of the Joker."

"In 2018, for the second year in a row, American publishers released fewer translated titles: 609 books were published, down from 650 in 2017 and the industry high in 2016 of 666."

"Egg freezing had become so routine among my single peers that when I hit 35, I never thought twice. Here’s what I wish I had known."

"When it comes to Passover cuisine, most home cooks know to avoid wheat, oats, rye, and other forbidden ingredients. But what consumers might not realize is just how much cotton they eat during the holiday."

"A masked figure looms over your recumbent body, wielding power tools and sharp metal instruments, doing things to your mouth you cannot see."

"Passover is a holiday that commemorates the Jewish people escaping slavery in Egypt. It is often referred to as the “festival of freedom.” My Passover in prison was at a place called the Wallkill Correctional Facility..."