Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"She Knew She Was in Trouble When Weberman Closed the Bedroom Door"

Regarding the case of Nechemya Weberman, a man who was supposed to be counseling a 12 year old girl and molested her for years instead: 

She was a bad girl. Was it because she talked to boys, or she was dressing too fashionably, or she asked too many questions? That didn’t matter. She was bad and the vaad hatznius (modesty committee) of Williamsburg was willing to fix her, for a hefty fee, of course. The alternative was being stuck with a reputation as a nebbish(loser), an oiysvorf (outcast), and a shiksa (gentile). Once you you acquired that reputation no decent family would let you marry their son.
Her family’s last hope was a “torah therapist” who could change her into a good girl. She didn’t know what to expect. But she assumed he would counsel her with words of torah. He would be a rabbi with a reputation for being zealous about torah and tznius(modesty). That of course meant he would scrupulously observe all the halachos(rules) and minhagim (customs) governing relations between men and women. She was only twelve, just a bat mitzvah, and thus liable for violating any of the halachos applying to a grown woman.
Read this blog post. Support this girl, even without knowing her name. Justice demands it. 

Woman of the Year

More like "Woman of the Decade." This woman should win some sort of prize. To protect herself and her children, Yael Matzpun fought off a terrorist who had broken into her home using Krav Maga, a special form of martial arts.

Even as he slashed her face and stabbed her in the shoulder she drove him into the bathroom, locked him in, called the IDF for help and took her children to safety. 

That's one hell of a woman. 

I salute her. 


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dark Side Confession #2: Birth Control

As promised, once I got a confession from the Dark Side in my comments section, I am writing another confession of my own. This one is about birth control. 

First of all: Get your mind out of the gutter. I'm not confessing to whether or not I myself take birth control. That's a bit too personal, even on an anonymous blog. Also -- ew, T.M.I.

No, I'm going to make a confession about my beliefs about birth control. 

In my post-high school year I went to an ultra-Orthodox seminary for girls in Jerusalem where we had a lesson about "family planning." The following are actual notes from that class. I apologize in advance for my horrific grammar and vacuous explanations : 
  • "Don't worry about פרנסה (livelihood) because each birth is a סגולה (a sort of lucky-charm) for פרנסה (livelihood)."
  • "Talmud: If someone doesn't pro-create, it's as though they're destroying the world."
  • "Some people think to have less kids will help world because there's already too many [people in the world]. Not true: If we have many children and raise them correctly, you're contributing to a better society." (sic on this whole sentence)
  • We are told, "... not to do family planning because you're supposed to have however many [children] Hashem (G-d) wants you to have... Especially after the Holocaust,  [we] must rebuild [the] world." 
  • "If someone is worried about פרנסה (livelihood) with many kids (sic), they don't have proper אמונה (faith in G-d). G-d will provide!"
In short, we were taught that using birth control (though actual methods of birth control were never discussed) was a statement of distrust in G-d. 

This is the actual, really-and-truly, attitude of the frum community. "Have children, and keep on having children and don't worry about the cost, just keep having children." 

The biggest problem with this philosophy is that it's taught to us when we are young, naive, and unsuspecting. There's a tremendous amount of peer\community pressure to have children, and to keep on having them, without any regard for financial planning or emotional capability. So often this results in overtired, overworked, and over-the-top-in-debt couples who tend to neglect their children - not because they don't love them or because they are bad parents, but because they simply don't have the time and the energy to properly care for their children.

I witnessed this pattern when I was growing up and I continue to witness it around me today. 

My confession here? 

I confess, in defiance of the community that I was raised in,  that I do not believe that birth control should be forbidden.

I defy the community's belief that having children is more important than financial and emotional health. I protest the value of putting the necessity of rebuilding the Jewish people in the hands of the young and naive. 

And I beg that the halachot (Jewish laws) that DO allow the use of birth control be taught to these young people. The laws exist for a reason, and promoting a philosophy of disgrace in "family planning" is unfair and unhealthy.