Wednesday, August 29, 2012

More Thoughts On Egalitarianism

After yesterday's post, I think I need to explore and map out some more about how I think about egalitarianism, and the relationship between head-covering, tallit and tefillin, and communal aspects of egalitarian practice.  

I don't have a perfect legal relationship built up.  

Combining everything into one package is where I started- both because of my Reform background that presumed equality and sameness between men and women and because that was my feminist framework at the time.  I presumed that any adult Jew ought to do the same things- wear all the same ritual garments, etc.  I saw no reason not to.

Over time (mostly college), I saw that there were different sorts of considerations- concerns over beged ish (men's clothing- the prohibition against cross-dressing, very basically), and a general feeling that wearing a kippah was too masculine.  For some of my peers, the solution was to find a feminine adaptation- for kippot- anything from a lacy kippah to a scarf or hat.  For others, it was to just decide not to take on the practice.  It rankled me.  

Still, it eventually sunk in.  

Maybe it helped that I realized that the equality I was looking at and dreaming about wasn't complete- I wasn't even aware, then, about inequalities in Torah study, or the way that even I, the great egalitarian dreamer, wasn't so egalitarian about home ritual...  (I light shabbos candles in our home, my husband usually makes kiddush.  He doesn't want to light candles, when I offer- even though for me, it's one of the most potent religious experiences of my week.)  

Either I accepted that we can't make such changes for everyone over night, or I realized that one can want to take on some mitzvot without taking on others- I still don't know what I really think.  It seems to depend on what I'm thinking about.  

When I write without thinking, when I write with my emotions, I still go back to that notion that women ought to take on everything- because equality is the dream.  I realize now that we're not there- change doesn't happen overnight.  I don't wear a tallit katan, because it feels too masculine.  I keep meaning to try again (I did, for a few months, and felt uncomfortable with that), but so far, I haven't done it.  Still, I want to move in that direction- serious observance, egalitarian.  The question is- how patient do I need to be?  

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