Wednesday, March 4, 2009

a little bit sad

There is a girl I went to high school with whom I see occasionally. She's really fun and bubbly and I liked her a lot in high school. I still like her now.

She got married recently. Yay, mazel tov. Only thing is -- her hair is totally uncovered. She's back in school, in classes, and the only way you'd realize she's married is that now she has two rings on her left hand.

What happened in between high school and now? Where -- or when -- did she decide that it was okay to leave her hair uncovered after marriage? When did she start wearing pants? When did her high school education wear off and antithetical choices set in?

I'm happy she's happy. But I'm sad, too. I wonder if something went wrong in her education that made her want to rebel against it and choose a different derech. She went to a seminary that I doubt would espouse women not covering their hair after marriage and wearing pants. Does she just not care? Does she just choose to ignore what she knows to be right, or does she really believe that what she does is perfectly fine?

I know that lots of women don't cover their hair and wear pants. Whatever. Not my business. But I always wonder, especially for the women who either had a Jewish education or who gave their children Jewish educations -- what are they thinking? I don't mean that in a dismissive or sarcastic way at all -- I really want to know. I don't think they could be ignorant about hair covering and pants wearing, since they either knew about it from their past or they learn about it via their kids in school. So what is it? Do they know some shittah about it that I don't? Do they just not care? Do they care, but they don't feel ready for those things? What is it?


Ezzie said...

(I'll assume you mean specifically tight pants and not pants some shittos are okay; and I'll assume you mean specifically people from schools that were taught these things.)

Often had similar Q's in the past; now, knowing many more people like this (to varying degrees), I think I have a better understanding than I did a few years ago.

I find that it's often one of or a combination of any of a number of reasons, including the ones you mentioned:

1) Some people just don't care.

2) Some have come to the justification that God really doesn't care that much so long as they're reasonably modest or He doesn't care, period. Internal Jew vs. External Jew, taken to a more extreme level.

3) Some actually don't know. It doesn't matter what the schools say, they never really paid that much attention and either assumed that the school teaches a more strict approach [often true, which clouds their knowledge of where the line should be drawn] OR there must be more lenient approaches, because their parents/friends/etc. do it. They also may think it doesn't "really" apply in today's times.

4) Some might care in one crowd but have ended up in a social crowd which simply does not do it or does not care enough that the person does not. Nobody bats an eye, so they see no reason to stress over it.

5) Some, once they've crossed the line they were taught, assume it's all the same - and since "most people" don't follow it, it can't be that big of a deal. (Combo 2-3 a bit.)

6) Some really only do things while they're in school because that's what people do in school. Once they're out, that's it.

7) A LOT of it IS a backlash against how they were brought up, either educationally or communally, from what I've seen. As an example, one close friend did not cover her hair at first, because of years and years of frustration in the BY system. A couple of years later, with some very non-pressured encouragement and being shown that she didn't need to be "frumpy", she started to cover her hair (at least partially when she goes out of her home). This, despite being in a social circle where many do not and despite not really knowing or understanding much about the halachos.

Erachet said...

OR there must be more lenient approaches, because their parents/friends/etc. do it

I think this is a big one in terms of why people won't follow certain halachos in general in the Modern Orthodox world. If their parents dress a certain way, it's fine for them, too. Especially when you're younger - your parents tell you what's good for you and not good for you. Little kids always say, "but my mommy says I can." A parent's word holds a LOT of weight for a young kid. And then those kids grow up into teenagers and young adults who wear pants, etc.

Even if in school they are taught differently, "it's school." Or "that's why she's the teacher. I'm not as frum." They just take it for granted that they're not as frum, that this is okay because friends and family are doing the same things, etc. For a lot of people, it doesn't enter their heads that they, too, belong to the group of people who should be dressing a certain way. They just write it off as "frummy." School rules are school rules, and usually the dress code is "so annoying" because "uch, my skirt is basically at my knee! Why are the teachers always looking us up and dowwwwwn?" It's not that they don't care about Torah and halacha. It's that they have this block towards realizing that certain things are not "so frum." They're actually required of all Jews.

And some grasp at different shittos that, like Ezzie said (and like various friends of mine have told me quite assertively), allow pants if they are not too tight, things like that.

I find that it's hard to come to one underlying reason why people do things. Each person makes decisions for different reasons. I also find it confusing when someone knows a halacha yet still doesn't follow it, but I also know that, somehow, for a lot of these people, it's not that they don't care. They do. They just...don't follow it, for whatever reason. It's hard to explain, it's hard to accept if you're not used to just accepting that, and it's hard to understand. is.

I know none of this really addresses the specific issue in your post, but, uh, I guess I just decided to share anyway. I hope some of it was useful.

EsPes said...

i agree with what ezzie said :-)
but this type of situation makes me sad too

corner point said...



Wish I had something smart to say. All I have is unlcarity about this...

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

It shouldn't be overlooked that in left-wing Orthodoxy and right-wing Conservatism there is full (halakhic) justification for such practices (in fact in that worldview the Orthodox practice in such matters seems puzzling.

YB said...

I agree that it is hard to find a specific reason for doing anything with a clearly halchik/hashkafic change.

I don't know who you are referring to at all. But often it has to do with the parents. The parents wanted to send their child to the good school and only facially accepted the requirements/hashkofa of the school.

As much as the school teaches, the parents teach more.

Also, you have to look at who she married. Maybe she decided that she would base her decision on her husband, and her husband didn't care. He may be a very learned and has made that personal halachik decision.

You could just ask her in a nice way why she made the change. It would be an interesting insight into religious development.

But as a proof to your theory that people should realize because they send their kids to a certain type of school, my mother (who grew up traditional but not per se frum) started covering her head when my older brother came home from nursery school and asked her why she didn't cover her hair. Of course she never could go to wearing a shaitel and still only wears hats (which according to many are better anyway in terms of halacha).

Anyway this is a very thought provoking post.

the apple said...

Yes, I meant specifically tight pants - think matchstick jeans.

I know that there are people who permit women wearing pants for various reasons, none of which I am all that familiar with, but suffice it to say that I am wary of that approach. I am familiar with many women who do not cover their hair at all (including the wife of a rabbi I know). I'm not trying to judge - I want to understand the *reasoning,* ie what is it that makes someone who was clearly taught otherwise decide to follow those approaches? I appreciate your suggestions.

Good comments, all.