Sunday, March 29, 2009

Could it be…SATAN?

There is a custom in some circles that prevents women form giving eulogies for their loved ones at a funeral. I say custom because I doubt that it is based in Halacha. I could be wrong but I do not recall seeing anything like that in the Shulchan Aruch. But it is a very strong custom and is observed scrupulously in some circles.

I have attended many religious funerals where religious women have given eulogies for their loved ones. They were just as dignified and poignant as any man’s eulogy might have been. The idea is to allow the bereaved to express their feelings about the deceased and to honor their memory. In just about every eulogy that I’ve ever heard - that was accomplished by the eulogizers. Whether they were men or women.

But in those communities where women are not allowed to eulogize their loved ones - what happens if a woman gets up to speak? Should a rabbi get up and physically remove her? This is what happened at a recent funeral in Israel as reported in Ynet. I find such behavior to be akin to the type of extremist behavior that has been happening all around the world by various religious zealots.

There is a certain mindset that seems to permeate some communities that will not allow anyone to violate their standards under any circumstances. The woman who lost her father and tried to eulogize him was humiliated by this fellow. He was just not going to let that happen. Here is an excerpt from the Ynet article:

"I wrote my father things that sting one's flesh. There are things you don’t say during your life, but you want them heard when bidding farewell," she says.

She went on the stage and said she would like to lament her father, but Rabbi Amar suddenly asked her to get off the podium.

"I was surprised. I looked at him and said, 'What do you mean? I want to say a few words to my father.' But he insisted," she says. "The mayor and other people tried to talk to him, and he replied, 'You are a woman, you mustn't say a word.'

"I tried to grab the microphone back, but he blocked me with his body. I felt I had to fight to say goodbye to my father. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me."

Other family members tried to convince the rabbi, but to no avail. "He acted like a dictator, arguing that she was desecrating the dead and that according to the Halacha (Jewish law) a woman is not allowed to deliver orations"

I have no idea who Rabbi Amar (...not to be confused with Sephardi Cheif Rabbi Shlomo Amar) is or what his Hashkafos are. But I do know who his spiritual partners are. They are the same bunch who attacks religious singers they don't like at religious weddings, or the type that commandeers a Lag Bomer concerts in public parks and tells everyone to go home because they don't like the family style seating arrangements. And he is not that far off from those who take the next step and use even greater violence to make their point.

Here is how this rabbi explained his motives:

Rabbi Amar confirmed the report, saying that "wise men, headed by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, said that grave and serious things happen when women go up to deliver an oration in front of men during a funeral.

"The wise men warn that this causes, God forbid, an epidemic among the people of Israel and that Satan dances in the cemetery while women attend funerals.

So his source is an obscure Gemarah that tells us of the dire consequences of such actions. I see. I guess all those women I saw who eulogized their fathers are the reason we have this epidemic of serious things happening to us now.

I get it. We ought to re-direct out energies and stop chasing down child molesters. It’s not their fault. Satan has been let loose by those nefarious women who dared to eulogize their fathers. If we can only get them to stop - Satan will retreat and all will be well. Mr. Hikind, Dr. Twersky, Rabbi Horowitz, do you all hear that? You are barking up the wrong tree!