Friday, June 11, 2004

Avodah B'Simcha (Service In/With Joy) and Shaitels.

Almost every morning, when Rachel wakes up, I try to be the one to go in and get her from her room. I tell G that this is so that she can get a few extra minutes of sleep, but truthfully I'm greedy for the three or four minutes I get to spend with her while she's still a little groggy and very snuggl-able. She's also much more cooperative about getting her diaper changed (a) if she doesn't see her mother (a/k/a food!) when she's hungry and (b) when she's still kind of asleep.

We have a little morning ritual, Rachel and I. By the time she's made enough noise to wake us up, she's usually standing up in her crib, on the side of her crib near the door. We keep the door open a crack, held there by a burp cloth on top, so what I'll do is stick my fingers in the crack and wiggle them a little, which tips Rachel off that I'm there. She stops squeaking and I come in. We talk for a few seconds, mostly, "Good Morning! Did you have a good night!?" That kind of stuff. Then I pick her up, and as I say Modeh Ani I lift her, first to my eye level and then up above my head.

All of which is prelude. Rachel is, B'H (Baruch Hashem = Thank God), a healthy and wonderful baby girl, and being one of those, she's getting bigger every day. If I had to estimate her weight, I'd have to guess about 25 pounds. And getting bigger.

So G knows about this, and yesterday morning she watched us. And she joked that it was going to be harder to lift her up like that when she's older. I joked back that it would be really hard when she gets to be sixteen. It was funny.

But, as I am wont, I started thinking about it. As one friend of mine used to quote, "we laugh because it's funny, we laugh because it's true."

The fact is simple; Rachel will never get big enough that I won't be willing to carry her. Okay, that's not precisely true -- I'm sure that some hot summer walking around the city I'll be right there with all the other parents on the "no way am I carrying you, you can walk" conga line. But setting aside those moments of weakness, there's never going to come a time when Rachel needs me to carry her that I won't be willing to, or (I honestly believe) that I won't be able to. Even now, there are times when I'll have been carrying Rachel for a while and my arms (I'm not too proud to admit) will be getting tired.

But there's a sweetness to it. And I don't put her down not only because if I'm carrying her that long there's probably a reason, but also because of that sweetness.

She's getting heavy, sure, but it's the sweetest heaviness; a burden (of only the physical sort), but the sweetest burden.

If the point of these musings is to examine what it is that being a father is teaching me about being an Orthodox Jew, and what being an Orthodox Jew is teaching me about being a father, then this is a moment where each informs the other.

There is a moshol (parable) that I don't remember precisely, but it deals with two men carrying two equally weighted suitcases, one of whom thinks his suitcase is full of rocks and the other is aware that the suitcase is full of precious gems. At the end of the journey, the one with the rocks is exhausted, and throughout the journey he is always just this far from dropping the suitcase and quitting; the one with the jewels is just as physically exhausted, but feels it less, and is never close to quitting.

For anyone who hasn't heard about the whole sheitel (wig) controversy raging through the Orthodox Jewish world right now, this article or this one runs down the basics. If you don't want to read them, then here's the very distilled version: Married Orthodox Jewish women cover their hair. A very popular means of doing so is with wigs (a/k/a sheitels), some of which are made with human hair, much of which is collected in India, some of which is collected as a part of a Hindu religious process -- exactly which part of what process is the crux of the issue. If it's the wrong part of the wrong process the women in question (and their husbands) are not allowed to even have the hair in the house, let alone wear it. The community thought it had settled the issue (to the effect that the wigs were okay to wear) but recently it seems the research done some years ago might have been incorrectly premised and so. . . uncertainty.

A truly fabulous comprehensive review and discussion of the issue is ongoing at Frumteens (which is not just for teens). It's spun a little out of control, as is the way of the web, but the Moderator there does a good job of keeping things on point. It's also very long, but the first page alone is well worth reading.

In any event, there was (and continues to be) a minor hue and cry over the intricacies and implications of the whole sheitel question, and I'm not interested in getting into those details. I want to tell a story about my wife, G.

When the whole brouhaha started, a lot of people were really worried about a lot of things, including how much this was going to cost (sheitels can be fairly expensive) and how difficult it was going to be to go out in public with other forms of hair covering.

G, however, made a quick call to our Rabbi, made a few calls to the people from whom she bought her various head coverings, packed up a little box with one of her sheitels and a fall (a sort of half-sheitel for use with hats or headbands), and told me to throw them out. We didn't bother burning them, just put 'em in the dumpster and away they went.

As I was walking to the dumpster, I had the brocha of being conscious of the sanctity and beauty of my holy wife. A little while later I read this post by Cookie over at Heimishtown, where she writes, "I don't think the chance of possibly being party to idolatry is worth my vanity." That was pretty much my wife's thinking, too, and I felt really honored to be her husband at that moment.

I'm walking to the dumpster, knowing that replacing what I'm about to throw away will cost upwards of a thousand dollars.

And I started to dance. Just a little skip and jig kind of dance, not the big ole funky chicken, but still. . .

Carrying Rachel, carrying jewels, getting rid of a thousand dollars that I'm not supposed to have: All reasons to dance, all reasons for joy.

Burdens of a sort, but the sweetest burdens.


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At Dec 17, 2009 10:51:00 AM, Anonymous Deborah Shaya said...

There is No codified Halacha that a married woman must cover her hair totally and constantly whenever she steps out of her house.

The Halachah has been MISinterpreted. When the Halachah refers to "Covering hair," it does not mean "Cover your hair with hair!" and "constantly for life." The Halachah is that:

A married woman is required to cover her hair when:

(1) she lights the candles to welcome in Shabbat and Yom Tov – lechavod Shabbat ve Yom Tov, and

(2) when she goes to the Synagogue, because that is the place of Kedusha.

The Halacha does not require anything more from married women. This is the true interpretation of the Halacha.

The misinterpretation of the Torah is completely Assur, and a twisting of the Torah.The Torah must remain straight.

At Dec 17, 2009 10:52:00 AM, Anonymous Deborah Shaya said...

In ancient times, a woman would only cover her hair upon entering the Beit Hamikdash.Similarly for the Sotah-otherwise she would not be required to cover her hair ordinarily, day to day.

It is very important for people to know and realise that when a married woman covers her hair with 'Real Hair' the woman is covering herself with 100% Tumah. This is totally against the Torah.

Nothing could be more nonsensical than for a Jewish woman to cover her hair with someone else's hair -who was not Jewish as well!She can never fully be sure that this 'hair' has not come from meitim-despite any guarantee by the seller.This 'real hair' is doubly and in some circumstances, triply Tumah.

1.It will contain the leftover dead hair cells from another person - however much it has been treated, the tumah is still there.

2.This other person (likely to be a non-Jew who most likely was involved in some kind of Avodah Zarah) may have eaten bacon, ham, lobster etc, all of which are totally forbidden as unclean and non-kosher foods in Halacha.

3.If the woman happens to be the wife of a COHEN, then she is bringing her husband into close contact and proximity with meitim and Tumah Every day, and throughout their married life. This is clearly strictly against the Torah.

There is nothing more degrading and demeaning to a woman than to make her cover her hair FOR LIFE upon marriage.It is an abhorrent practice.

At Dec 17, 2009 10:52:00 AM, Anonymous Deborah Shaya said...

Any man who makes such a ridiculous demand on his wife, or wife-to-be, should similarly also be required by his wife to wear: long white stockings, even in the summer; a fur streimel; grow a long beard; wear a black hat and coat constantly, and cover his face when he speaks to his wife.Wigs -"la perruque"- were merely a fashion item in the time of Louis XIV-they are not for the Jewish woman!

Rabbi Menachem Schneeersohn tz”l, gave the directive that a married woman must cover her head with a “sheitel.” This needs to be corrected. Rabbi Schneersohn a"h, was a Tzaddik, – but on this – he was, unfortunately not correct.

It is extremely unhealthy and unhygienic for a woman to cover her hair constantly.The hair needs oxygen to breathe.A woman's hair will lose its natural beauty and shine, she may have scalp problems, some of her hair may fall out, she may get headaches, and she may end up cutting it short like a man, when she always wore it long, in order not to have too much discomfort from her hair covering.

Do you think that HaKadosh Baruch Hu commanded this of women? I can assure you that He did not.The commmandments are not meant to cause so much repression and oppression in women.Was Chava created with a wig? Of course not! Did she start wearing a wig? Of course not!

Please Wake Up.

Use the spark of intelligence that Hakadosh Baruch Hu gave to you and blessed you with.

And give your wig back to your husband if you wear one.

At Dec 17, 2009 10:53:00 AM, Anonymous Deborah Shaya said...

1. To all the women who are wondering about the sources:

We have all been created, "Betselem Elokim" - "in the image of Elokim."
This means that we have been given something called "intelligence." The source is the very first Parsha, Bereishit - 1:27. It is time that people use the spark of intelligence and Kedusha with which Hashem has blessed them.

If your rabbi will tell you to go and jump into the depths of a glacier, presumably you would do that too – and give me a source for it?

“According to the Zohar”, I should also be covering my hair with a wig when I have a bath. “According to the Zohar and the Gemara” and all the sources that have misinterpreted the Halachah, and MIStranslated the Zohar, I should also have been born with a WIG on my head.

These sources and translations are incorrect, as they have deviated very far from the true and correct interpretation, of the Halachah.

At Dec 17, 2009 10:53:00 AM, Anonymous Deborah Shaya said...

2.Remember that the Jewish women are very, very holy. They are much more holy than the men. Look at the exemplary behaviour of the women at Har Sinai.

The women never sinned at the Eigel, and so are greatly elevated. Many of the men, unfortunately, ran after a calf made out of a lump of gold – after they had just been given the Torah, and seen the greatest of all Revelations. The women refused to give their gold for the avodah zarah of the men.

The women were greatly elevated after such a wonderful display of Emunah, and they are regarded very highly in Shamayim.

That is why women are not even required to pray. They can pray at home on their own. Nor do women have to make up a minyan. That is how holy the Jewish women are. Men have to pray 3 times a day to remind them of their Creator.

The men are telling the women to put the hair of a non-Jewish woman who may have eaten things like snakes and sharks and alligators, and has worshipped in churches, Buddist temples or Hindu temples : on their own Heads. They had better wake up.

If the men don’t want to wake up to the truth, and the true interpretation of the Halacha, the women will wake them up – whether they like it or not.

3. Many righteous women influenced their husbands for the good at the Chet Haeigel and at the time of Korach.

It was these righteous women who succeeded in bringing their husbands back to their senses.

And because of these great women, the lives of their husbands were saved. Those men therefore turned away from the madness of avodah zarah, and the rebellion of Korach against Hashem's choice of Aharon, as Cohen HaGadol.

At Dec 17, 2009 10:54:00 AM, Anonymous Deborah Shaya said...

4. Look at the Jewish women in history, and remember how holy they are.

(a) Yaakov, who was the greatest of the Avot, came to marry the 2 daughters of Lavan, Rachel and Leah. Lavan was not exactly a tzaddik. Yaakov went to Lavan, of all people, to marry his 2 daughters – not 1 daughter, but his 2 daughters. Nothing could be greater than that.

(b) Rut, who came from Moav, became the ancestor of David Hamelech.

(c ) Batya, the daughter of Paroh, was given eternal life because she rescued Moshe from the river. No one could have been more evil than Paroh.

(d) Devorah, was a Neviah, and also a Judge.

Women who came from such adverse backgrounds, were able to become builders of Am Yisrael. That is how holy the women are, and how much more elevated they are than the men.

This was never the case with men. It never happened the other way round.

Don't tell me it is holy for me to wear a WIG! Hair over my own hair? This is ridiculous!

Similarly, don’t tell me it is holy for me to plonk a permanent head covering on my head for the rest of my life. This is equally vile.

Please Wake Up.

Use the spark of intelligence that Hakadosh Baruch Hu gave to you and blessed you with.

And give your wig back to your husband if you wear one.

5. Remember: Not a single “dayan” or “rabbi” has the slightest bit of interest in correcting the situation for the women. Therefore, the women will have to correct the situation................for ..................themselves.

Whether you wish to accept the correction – which is true – is up to you. Are you going to live by the truth? Are you going to use the spark of intelligence that Hashem gave to you and all women? Or are you going to follow rabbis and dayanim who tell you to wear a wig in a Heat Wave – and you thank them for it as well?

At Dec 21, 2009 12:22:00 PM, Anonymous William Dwek said...

The next things the bloody "rabbis" will come up with is to tell the woman to wear a CARPET on her head. Not a sheitel AND a hat, but a Carpet. Or you could go for 5 shaitels on your heads and a rug.

And do you know what the Jewish woman will say to her husband?
"Yes, husband! I am now wearing a carpet on my head!"

You women must either be extremely thick, or petrified.


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