When victims don’t care about other victims
I’m not going to mince any words here. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen (pun not intended). What I write is 150+ years overdue.
Agunot, chained women want a Jewish divorce from their husbands while the latter won’t agree. Then, for Jewish Law, they’re trapped. (The reverse happens, but it’s extremely rare, there is a loophole for the man to start a second marriage, and any kids with his new wife won’t be bastards!)
1. They stay married to a man they want nothing to do with. Would you say: That’s just a formality? Even if so, such a fake bond is depressing.
2. They also can’t marry another man. If they still want to, they need to seek a civil marriage that Jewish Law cannot acknowledge. Not nice.
3. The worst thing: they can’t have their own kids with the new hubby, or those will be bastards. They and their offspring can’t marry most Jews.
Most agunot used to come from a husband getting lost at sea or in a war with a remote chance he’s still alive. Now satellites spin the earth, this doesn’t happen so much anymore. Now, most agunot come from recalcitrant husbands. (No wonder such women want out.)
One should ask why this happens. Not why this happens to individual agunot. I’m sure they’re just innocent victims or husbands who are con artists, control freaks, who don’t know how to love and have no empathy.
Now, I’m asking, what message is God sending us that this now happens?
Just like the Holocaust. Perpetrated by Nazis and their friends. Don’t blame G^d. But, what message was He sending us? We were drifting away from Judaism. True, most of the murdered were very devoted Jews. They were as innocent as most agunot now. But, the Divine message is still there.
Not such a puzzle. There are a couple of thousand agunot. There are one million gay Jews and Jewesses in the same condition. Look at the parallels.
1. They cannot marry their same-sex partner for Jewish Law. Would you say: That’s just a formality? Even if so, such fake singlehood is depressing.
2. They can only marry the love of their life in a civil marriage that Jewish Law cannot acknowledge. Not nice.
3. Now the worst thing. Statistically, research shows, women have more empathy than men, and gays more empathy than straights. Incest is a giant problem in traditional families but not with same-sex parents. They are the best parents and teachers. They deserve to fulfill their duty and wish to live on in the next generation. But, Jewish Law will hinder them every step of the way to raising or teaching their own kids. That’s so cruel.
See the three similarities? The Rabbis call this ‘measure for measure,’ midah kenegged midah. This doesn’t mean it’s your fault. We’re all born innocently into a world that was a mess. It means that if you are hit by hardship (as heterosexual agunot), and you see the same for homosexuals, you should spend time on fighting homophobia. Especially so because lesbians helped all women and the favor isn’t returned by straight women.
The call for women suffrage predated the Stonewall Inn riots by 100 years. Lesbians helped feminism as no other group. But straight women as a group haven’t helped lesbians. And, straights, in general, abandoned gays.
(Another group over-represented in fighting everyone’s liberation but their own are Jews. So, imagine how much Gay Jews have done this.)
Worse, there are even ‘feminist’ women that pride themselves in attacking transgenders. And, they are not expelled by the other ‘feminists.’ Just like missionaries targeting Jews are not ousted by mainstream ‘Christians.’
Gay Jews are not a handful of people who fall between the cracks. There are one million non-straight Jews—conservative estimation! And you think that G^d will just sit on His Hands while the 95% ignores them?
Where there is a halachic will, there is a halachic way, as is shown by the Prosbul, Mechirat Chametz, Yibum, Heter Iska, and Heter Mechirah. The problem is not that the rabbinic hands are tied but that they don’t care.
Neither does the regular Jew. The Agunot crisis will continue as long as gay and lesbian Jews are left in the halachic cold. Promise. When will straight women show enough empathy and courage to stand with the others?
This is nothing out of the ordinary. Marxist theory says that no one will be free as long as one is not. It the whole basis of Intersectionality.
I must admit that the publicity around the worthy and wry plea of agumot sometimes irritates me. The focus is so much on a couple of thousand victims and their terrible situation. Yet, there is very little recognition for the same or worse situation of one million Jews and half a billion Gentiles who are chained too through the (in)action of the Rabbis. The parallels as pointed out above are not far-fetched at all if one has no homophobia.
Should you get offended or defensive, then? Not so. Homophobia is the state of the world, just like sexism, racism, etc. The only constructive way to react to it is to be an activist, not by taking it personally or denying it.
But why am I airing our dirty laundry? Because abuse flourishes in silence.
Not to blame the victim but also not let anyone off the hook: It’s high time that gays en masse stop being so niiiice. As Andrew Yang told a young, prospective, Asian-American staffer: I need you to become less timid.
The Times of Israel refused this blog post.
More blog posts by this author you may find here: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/author/moshe-mordechai-van-zuiden/ and here: https://mmvanzuiden.wordpress.com/.
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