Searching for the man


By Rabbi Aaron Gol...
November 28, 2010
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There is a fascinating trend in the weekend supplements that I believe no one is too sure what to make of. That is the role of men in society. There are headlines and strap-lines which read:

“Depressed, repressed, objectified: are men the new women? They’re less fertile, more weight-obsessed and ‘non-essential to parenting.’ No wonder men are confused about modern masculinity.” (The Observer Woman, August 08)

“How to be a real man: Do you know how to change a tyre? Give a speech? Or shave without leaving a nasty rash? Gather centuries-old wisdom for the metro-generation” (Sunday Independent, 10.08.08)

“Fixing the British male: Men in 2010 are a shadow of their former selves. We’re dab hands at whipping up a cheese soufflé, but our tools lie unloved in the shed and we’ve forgotten the simple pleasures of working with our hands. Top Gear’s James May believes its time for a full service.” (The Observer, 31.10.10)

There are also books written following research showing that both ancient man and woman were stronger, faster, more springier than any of today’s male world record holders. These and other eye-catching claims are detailed in a book by Australian anthropologist Peter McAllister entitled "Manthropology" and provocatively sub-titled "The Science of the Inadequate Modern Male." "We are simply not exposed to the same loads or challenges that people were in the ancient past and even in the recent past so our bodies haven't developed. Even the level of training that we do, our elite athletes, doesn't come close to replicating that. We wouldn't want to go back to the brutality of those days but there are some things we would do well to profit from." (Reuters, 14.10.09)
In the light of our modern world, I wonder what strength we might draw from our Jewish tradition and Liberal interpretation of it...

...Men do not need to be dominant to play an affective role in society and indeed when they do not try to be, they, like Joseph might allow their skills to come to the fore and as a by-product be successful. The equality that our society allows for men and women is positive. It is one of the founding principles of Liberal Judaism ahead of its time. Yet the empowerment of women should not be at the cost of men playing a role in society, in our Synagogues and in our homes.

See the full sermon at:
http://www.npls.org.uk/Sermons/New/Vayeishev%205771.html

COMMENTS

Yvetta

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 10:47

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The pendulum has swung too far - women's rights should not mean the abrogation of men's. Furthermore, the feminisation of society - of western society - has disturbing implications for the defence of western society in the future. After all, there are few female chess champions, because we lack that essential "killer" instinct ...


Jonathan Hoffman

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 11:04

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Why can't women be United Synagogue Trustees?

No reason whatsoever. But they can't.


The Bubble Maker

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 13:15

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"Why can't women be United Synagogue Trustees?"

I would say that the essence of the synagogue is prayer, to which men are obligated and women are not, since Judaism regards their task as women (home, children) as being more important, and thus frees them from obligations that have to be performed within certain time-frames - such as prayer.

In my synagogue, which is also a social group, women serve on the commitee and contribute well to the social activities.


Yoni1

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 13:17

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"Depressed, repressed, objectified: are men the new women? They’re less fertile, more weight-obsessed and ‘non-essential to parenting.’ "

Ignorant sexist crap.


Yoni1

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 13:20

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Yvetta makes some good observations about the pendulum and about the defence of the West. When fascist sexists like HarpicPerson reach positions of power, things are really bad.

In synagogues that have progressed beyond the 12th century, such as the West London Liberal Synagogue, women play a full part.


The Bubble Maker

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 19:47

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"West London Liberal Synagogue" - aren't they the ones who perform mixed and same-sex "marriages"?


Yoni1

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 20:00

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No idea. I do know from personal observation that they behave like decent human beings, not like stone age relics.


The Bubble Maker

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 20:09

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Anyone who isn't you is a stone-age relic?


Jon_i_Cohen

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 20:25

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"Liberal Synagogue", isn't that an Oxymoron, like
an acurate estimate, a little pregnant or an authentic replica?


Jon_i_Cohen

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 20:25

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"Liberal Synagogue", isn't that an Oxymoron, like
an acurate estimate, a little pregnant or an authentic replica?


The Bubble Maker

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 20:44

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"No idea. I do know from personal observation that they behave like decent human beings, not like stone age relics."

An acquaintance of mine asked me to publish the following comment:
"Seeing who is one of Jonathan Sacerdoti's best friends (I don't want to out him), that remark is quite in character."

(I'm not sure what he meant, but I did a favour).


The Bubble Maker

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 20:46

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Good Point, Jon_i !


Jonathan Hoffman

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 21:26

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"In the way that Liberal Judaism has allowed Jews to live in the modern world, all too often men have forgotten that their tradition allows them to emote, encourages them to, creates rituals through which to do so."

What's going on here?

Can Orthodox Jews not live in the "modern world", according to this author?


Yoni1

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 21:39

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Bubble, those who regard either men as inferior to women or vice versa, are stone age relics, yes.

A Liberal synagogue regards them as equal. No, that's not an oxymoron: it's a sign of being a decent human being.


Yoni1

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 21:39

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"Can Orthodox Jews not live in the "modern world", according to this author?"

If they regard women as inferior, then no, they can't.


telegramsam

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 23:01

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Bubble, good evening. Who is this Jonathan Sacerdoti of whom you speak twice? I haven't seen him post here.


The Bubble Maker

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 23:14

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telegramsam, ask yoni1. And yes you have.

"A Liberal synagogue regards them as equal. No, that's not an oxymoron: it's a sign of being a decent human being."

No it isn't; it's the sign of a confused human being. Men and women are not physically equal because they have different tasks awarded by nature. Their psychological makeups are thus different. The very use of the word 'equality' here is out of place and shows a basic misunderstanding of ... oh crap, to who am I explaining all this at all?

Men and women have equal rights, but are complimentary rather than equal. And I find your relating to women as

THIS SPACE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK


The Bubble Maker

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 23:16

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telegramsam, since we haven't been formally introduced, I would prefer to be addressed as Mr. Bubble. You are allowed to make a similar request of me, should you so desire.


Jonathan Hoffman

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 23:42

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The notion that Liberal men regard women as more equal than Orthodox men regard them is arrant nonsense.

Orthodox men are possibly more conscious of the difference between the sexes but that says nothing about their attitude to equality.


telegramsam

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 23:56

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Bubble, if it's all the same to you, I'll avoid the titles. It's much friendlier. Also, no, I haven't seen a Jonathan Sacerdoti mentioned here other than in your posts. Who is he?


telegramsam

Mon, 11/29/2010 - 23:59

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Jonathan, the point you make is quite good. However, if you look at your siddur, from the United Synagogue or any other Orthodox group, you will no doubt note that while men are required to say Barcuch shelo asani ishah (Blessed be he for not making me a woman) in their morning prayers, women do not have its equal Baruch shelo asani gever (or ish)--blessed be he for not making me a man.


jose (not verified)

Tue, 11/30/2010 - 04:14

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while men are required to say Barcuch shelo asani ishah (Blessed be he for not making me a woman) in their morning prayers, women do not have its equal Baruch shelo asani gever (or ish)--blessed be he for not making me a man.

The Christians are required to say "Beati pauperes spiritu"... I guess you would be tempted to convert!

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