Sisterhood Blog

Rabbi: Women Can Work, As Long As They Feel Bad About It

By Allison Kaplan Sommer

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As any working mother knows, balancing the competing demands of raising children and successful functioning in the workplace can be stressful and guilt-inducing. Now, as Elana Sztokman wrote on The Sisterhood, a West Bank rabbi has decided to make the situation even worse for the women in his religious community, who might, heaven forbid, feel the need to contribute to her family’s income.

Violent behavior in youth, proclaimed Kiryat Arba Rabbi Dov Lior, is a direct outgrowth of women leaving the house to earn a living. So, presumably, if every single mother was a devoted full-time housewife, all of humanity would be transformed into gentle folk handing out flowers and singing Psalms, and we would know war no more. Who knew it could be that easy?

Mind you, Lior generously offers that it is permissible for a woman to work if her husband is unable to provide for the family, but that it is not a desirable state.

This is even a bit more psychologically cruel than just forbidding mothers to work. He’s saying that a woman can go off to work if she must, but she needs to do so knowing that the Torah frowns upon it and that it will result in a life of violence for her offspring. Wonderful.

Not being part of the community, there is little I can do to offer solace to the guilt-ridden working women of Kiryat Arba. In an effort to do something to ease their minds, I decided to check out the mother whose child was arguably the most violent and destructive force of the last century. Surely, she had to have been career-obsessed. But no, it turns out that Klara Hitler’s life was “devoted to keeping house and raising children.” So much for Rabbi Lior’s theory


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