Friday, December 09, 2016

The ‘Guise of Saving Lives’?!

Seminary women (Arutz Sheva)
It’s a stupidity like this that makes me so strongly reject the Hashkafos from which it is sourced. From Arutz Sheva: 
The haredi educational journal, Kol Hachinuch (Voice of Education), recently published an article under the title “Serious Breaches,” which criticized the training of haredi girls in emergency first aid in a leading haredi seminary. The article states that under the guise of saving lives, girls would arrive at the scenes of accidents, and from there…“needless to say…” 
Needless to say... what?

It’s always nice to know that when attempting to teach even their own standards of modesty, they won’t even describe the kind of serious breaches they are trying to avoid. They just leave it to your imagination, I guess. Why do they do that? I suppose they feel that it would be immodest to actually describe such situations.

This mentality is also responsible things like for not mentioning the word ‘breast’  when dealing with breast cancer. When they write about this illness in an attempt to spread awareness and teach women the means of identifying the symptoms or how to deal with it, women are left guessing what they are really talking about.

Those who have these Hashkafos might respond that they don’t need to actually mention the disease. One can ‘get it’ from the context. But is this ridiculous level of modesty justified by the fact that women can figure out which disease they are talking about by themselves? 

When dealing with a serious life threatening illness that is unfortunately becoming all too prevalent in the world today - one ought not dance around the disease without naming it. A simple and direct description of the disease and detailed information about what to do is  the correct approach - eliminating even the slightest possibility for confusion.  

These types of modesty extremes are absurd. It is almost the way the Gemarah describes the concept of a Chasid Shoteh (pious fool). A Chasid Shoteh is a religious man that refuses to save the life of a drowning woman because of modesty issues. Not only is such an individual a Shoteh he is in violation of the Halachic prohibition to not stand idly by while your friend’s blood is being spilled.

And yet, that is what this group so obsessed with modesty is in essence teaching here. They are telling their young women that it is a serious breach of modesty to learn how to save lives. Which also means that whenever they encounter a life threatening situation, they may very well be afraid to act even in ways which do not need special training, lest they violate their standards of modesty.  Even if they are taught about the importance of saving a life! 

When the Gemarah describes a Chasid Shoteh its intent is to prevent such a situation… realizing that some righteous people might make the mistake – based on habit – of not acting to save a life because of modesty issues.

Now I have no clue if Kol Hachinuch is mainstream or renegade. But I have not heard of any Charedi leaders coming out against this article. One might argue that if this is a renegade publication then there is no need for a mainstream response. That it is so obviously ridiculous that the Charedi leadership won’t even address it.

That might be an argument in a vacuum where there has never been any other attempts to establish or enforce ridiculous modesty standards. But that is far from the case – as has become painfully clear from numerous incidents of violence in the name of it. Like those perpetrated by extremists against women sitting in the front (men only) section of even an empty bus. There have been far too many incidents like this or worse  to count - in the name of modesty.

So that even if this publication is not representative of the mainstream Charedi thought in Israel, it is imperative that the leadership speak out against it. If they say nothing, their acquiescence can easily be interpreted as agreement. And frankly I don’t believe that for a minute. Should I?