Moving past the blame game
As the previous post touched on, the lack of tznius behaviour and dress on the religious Jewish street is highlighting the fact that a lot of things today are very messed up.
It’s crazy that frum matrons are wearing Barbie-style wigs and such tight clothes that it almost looks like they’re vacuum-packed. It’s also crazy that so many apparently respectable, religious men think it’s OK to make terrible, misogynist comments about women (while drawing heavily on their 5th Marlboro Light).
And the craziest thing of all, is that anybody actually thinks for a minute that blaming the women for dressing untzniusly, or blaming the men for being self-righteous, selfish jerks is actually going to achieve anything positive, and get things to move. (Although, I did that myself in the last post….)
So what will get things to move?
Well, as I touched on in the last post, we need to start asking big questions about WHY so many women are dressing so untzniusly, across all parts of the Jewish world, in the first place.
My thought is this: they want attention.
Why do these beautiful, innately holy women want attention from the street? Usually, because they’re not getting enough positive attention at home.
And this is where we start to hit a huge, ginormous can of worms, because Jewish home life is really struggling in 2015, even in the most orthodox of homes.
There is a general lack of caring, or empathy, in the world today, that underlies so many of the problems that the Jewish community is experiencing. I can’t really do any justice to this topic in a short post, so for now, I just want to start focusing on one aspect of it: the general lack of caring and empathy in the relationship between husband and wife.
‘Empathy’ means that you can relate to another person enough to put yourself in their shoes, and to see things from their point of view. When children are raised with enough empathy and caring, that in turn gives them the ability to empathise with, and care for, others, when they become adults.
When children aren’t raised with enough empathy and caring – then they can’t give it over to anyone else. Not their spouse, not their kids, not anyone. This reflects itself in self-centred, inflexible, stubborn behaviour, and when taken to an extreme, can blossom into a personality disorder.
Now, giving, caring and empathising doesn’t just mean you buy people stuff, and wash their clothes and cook for them (although sometimes, these are very welcome external expressions of caring.)
When you care and empathise about someone else, you take time to talk to them; you give their ideas and opinions ‘space’; you do your best to accept differences of opinion, especially non-crucial ones like what sort of kippa they want to wear, or what colour they want to paint their room.
But when caring and empathy is lacking, people can’t relate to each other on this deep, emotional level; and their relationship become controlling and superficial, and all about ‘keeping up appearances’.
So what does all this have to do with tznius, and the Jewish family?
As mentioned yesterday, the Zohar explains that the women are just reflecting the men they are married to. The men have their heads in their Gemara, or in their i-Phone, or in their football game (depending on the community). Externally, they may be doing all the ‘right’ things, but emotionally? So many men today are completely unavailable.
The wife normally wants a deep, fulfilling connection with her husband. After some time passes, she starts to realise that apparently, she can’t get it (I’ve met a lot of women who gave up on ever having a ‘real’ conversation with their husband a long time ago) – so she starts to look elsewhere for attention and fulfillment.
Let’s be clear that this is not the wife’s fault, and it’s not the husband’s fault, and it’s also not the parents’ fault.
It’s a post for another time, but there are many, many reasons why empathy has gone AWOL from so many people’s lives today; some of them are spiritual; some of them are energetic; and all of them have coalesced in our generation, to create some huge problems.
The main question for us, is what do we DO about it?
And God willing, I’ll start trying to answer that in the next couple of posts.