Sisterhood Blog

Rabbi Eliyahu on a Woman's Place

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

  • Print
  • Share Share

There seems no end to the stream of astounding stories out of Israel relating to the official rabbinate there.

This one, for instance, which says the rabbinate revoked an Ethiopian immigrant’s conversion to Judaism in retaliation for the legal action against a prominent rabbi. The immigrant was injured when he tried to leave the parking lot where she was the attendant without paying, and drove right over her.

This week brings another story relating to women — as so many of these rabbanut-related stories do — brought to us courtesy of former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, who is considered one of the most important living Sephardic halachic interpreters and kabbalists. The rabbi condemned his colleagues who “kowtow to women.”

According to the story on the Israeli news Web site Ynet:

During a Torah lesson delivered Monday, the prominent national religious leader spoke at length about the importance of observing chastity codes. He advised soldiers to cover their ears during military ceremonies that include women singing. “It’s better to go to jail than to obey the commander and hear a woman sing or play,” he stated.

Eliyahu stressed that listening to a woman deliver a speech, if she did so while using hand gestures, was also forbidden: “It’s very serious. One should watch out for these things.”

Hand gestures? I infer from the story that a woman delivering a speech (not that women have many opportunities to do so in front of a mixed audience, in Rabbi Eliyahu’s world) using hand gestures is forbidden because it’s potentially arousing to a male listener. If this is the rabbi’s reasoning (though “reason” seems a nearly impossible term to use in the context of this discussion), then it says far more about the way the rabbi views men than it does women.

It is a strange, sad view of human behavior and potential. Unfortunately, it continues to be women who ultimately pay the price for attitudes like his — relegated to ever-shrinking domains where it is “appropriate” for women to be present, to be visible, to be human.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Speech, Mordechai Eliyahu, Kol Isha

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.


Comments
Woody Mon. Jul 13, 2009

Rabbi Eliahu better not travel to Iran. They might confuse him with the Ayatollah Khamenei both in appearance and demeanor.




Find us on Facebook!
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • Meet the Master of the Matzo Ball.
  • Pierre Dulaine wants to do in his hometown of Jaffa what he did for kids in Manhattan: teach them to dance.
  • "The first time I met Mick Jagger, I said, 'Those are the tackiest shoes I’ve ever seen.'” Jewish music journalist Lisa Robinson remembers the glory days of rock in her new book, "There Goes Gravity."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.