Diamonds in the Safe

Why do benos Yisroel need to be so tznius? The mashal is often given to a precious diamond, which is kept hidden away in a safe, not exposed where anyone can see or steal it.

In the opening anecdote of Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt’s latest article, a NYC taxi driver points out a problem with this comparison:

We usually don’t take a car,” the yeshiva boy says to the driver, an older Irish man with a hearty laugh and a dapper straw hat. “But the lady was inappropriately attired (he winks at his date), in her heels I mean, so we had to — “

The yeshiva boy’s date cuts him off and leans forward to the driver, deciding to turn her frustrations into a joke: “Sir, he doesn’t really care about the heels. It’s my actual choice of attire that he finds inappropriate. My skirts are too short, it makes him nervous, he won’t even call me by my name, you know how religious boys are…”

The driver turns the corner. “That’s the problem with religion, it’s sexist,” he says, looking at her in his mirror. “I know because my parents were religious Catholics. It’s all a bunch of sexist garbage.”

The boy and girl laugh nervously over the profanity, and the girl says slowly, “Well, I don’t think religion itself is sexist, it’s just that chauvinists still exist…” She casts the boy a look.

The boy turns back to the driver: “But don’t you agree, sir, that if you have the most precious diamond in the world, you keep it wrapped up? You don’t take it to the streets to show the entire world?”

The girl gasps silently — she is taken backwards in time, back to the apologetics they taught in 7th grade, again and again, bas melech, kol kvoda pnima, a princess’s honor is all inside, a divine jewel to be kept hidden…

But before she can respond, the driver presses the brakes. He turns around and faces the yeshiva boy, and says slowly, his voice shaking with rage: “Listen to me, boy. This is not an object you’re talking about. This is a living, breathing human being.”

What he is saying is: when you treat someone like a diamond, you are treating them like property, not a person. This is inherently objectifying.

The author goes on to point out some social implications of such diamond-like treatment, the more extreme of them being the elimination of women and girls from frum publications. (This, arguably, leaves the realm of mere objectification and enters the more insidious realm of sexualization. But let’s keep this family-friendly.)

Anyway, it’s an interesting article from a bais yaakov grad and one of the best chareidi writers I know of. Hop over and read it.

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Diamonds in the Safe

6 thoughts on “Diamonds in the Safe

  1. The issue of objectification aside, the “keep a precious diamond in a safe” reminds me of one of Aesop’s Fables.

    A miser buried a sack of gold in his yard. Once a week, he’d dig it up and look at it, then rebury it. One day a robber saw him, dug up the gold, and stole it. The next week the miser went to dig up his gold, only to find it was gone. A passerby saw him wailing, and asked what was wrong. The miser described how he buried his gold and dug it up once a week, and bemoaned its disappearance. The passerby tossed a stone in the hole, and told the miser, “Bury that. It’s just as much use to you.”

    If you keep your valuables locked safely away and never take them out, they may as well not exist. And if you keep women locked safely away and never let them out, they may as well not exist

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  2. Avi says:

    Her article is absolute crap. First, that cab ride never happened in New York. Second, this newfound obsession with objectification and sexualization. chas veshalom you should be sexually attractive! To the person you’re marrying. Third, it’s both ways and we all know it. Or maybe we don’t and that’s the problem. But from the guy’s side, there are the same thousands of guys that are considered crap and not dated by girls or not second dated. And the girl complains she’s not getting any dates when she is. She’s getting dates with a barber and a bus driver if she would want. But no way she’s dating those untouchables. And I know, I don’t know the scale of this and the thousands of girls that exist that aren’t getting dates. Maybe. But I know all the single guys somehow. The bitter older suicidal single guys. The guys the system ground up and extricated and get no ink in any paper anywhere. So spare me this sob story, I’m sick to death of this bullshit.

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  3. In the comparison to the diamond that is not put out on display, what is the diamond and who is the owner? You understand it to be that the woman is the diamond and the man is the owner. Could it be understood instead that the woman’s body is the diamond, and she herself is the owner? To what extent are we our bodies, and as opposed to possessing our bodies for some time period?

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    1. > Could it be understood instead that the woman’s body is the diamond, and she herself is the owner?

      That is much better, though the diamond is still useless if it’s never used. And it makes women responsible for protecting this precious object that is their bodies. It’s also not at all the way the frum world approaches tznius. When women don’t get blamed for tragedies, the charge is never that they weren’t careful enough with the precious diamond God gave them. The charge s that their licentiousness is causing men to sin, and it is this sinfulness that caused the tragedy.

      > To what extent are we our bodies, and as opposed to possessing our bodies for some time period?

      Materialists would say that we are our bodies, and our minds are software that runs on our brains. Kaballists would say that our bodies are puppets, connected by a few strings to our true selves in the olam shel emes. Dualists would say that our minds and bodies are made of essentially different stuff, and our mind rides around in our body like we ride in a car.

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  4. Shira says:

    “Could it be understood instead that the woman’s body is the diamond, and she herself is the owner?”
    No, because – as this blog and Bad4’s original blog document – this mode of thinking in tznius translates into restrictions far beyond physical dress codes (don’t laugh too loudly, etc. etc.)

    Liked by 1 person

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