The Garbage Lesson, and What It Says About Expectations for Women

This is another story from Yael, whose husband is supporting her through medical school, while she supports his career in finance. 

We always loved substitute teachers. It meant a day of discussions and stories and the best part was that we would not be tested on anything. So I was pretty happy when one blistery winter morning, in which I showed up late to class, I discovered that our teacher was out. In front of the room stood a tall, blonde, and rather attractive woman with chiseled features who would be our substitute for the first morning period. The lines etched on her face made her look like the kind of woman who was very opinionated and I quickly saw that my instincts were right on target. I also learned later on that she was a “well-liked” teacher in a different local BY school.

Throughout high school, I had a habit of waking up as close to 9:00 am as possible and flying out the door with just enough time to slip into class at 8:59. This meant that I often didn’t have time to pop my lenses into my eyes before leaving my house, and so I would bring my lenses with a small bottle of lens solution with me to class. Then, ever so discreetly, I would slip my lenses into my eyes and none of my teachers seemed to mind.

But the substitute minded. She eyed me sharply as I was slipping my second lens in, cleared her throat, and said something like “put that away”. She was a tough one and the only person in my entire high school education who minded this little habit of mine. I was a little petulant after she told me off and I kind of spaced out, knowing we wouldn’t be tested on anything we were learning.

“You know, you should never let your husband take out the garbage,” Mrs. Substitute was saying.

My ears perked up and my newly-lensed eyes focused on Mrs. Sub.

“You know why?” Mrs. Sub was saying, “Because if you let your husband take out the garbage, then you… are the wife of a garbage man.”

Stunned silence in the classroom. This was enough to perturb even the most aidel, ehrliche, kollel-minded  among us.

“But if you let your husband learn Torah undisturbed, then you (dramatic  pause) are the wife of a ben-Torah. Don’t you want to be the wife of a ben-Torah, and not the wife of a garbage man??”

Even the girl who we all knew would be Chessed Head the next year looked uncomfortable now. It took a few more moments for the message to sink in before the entire class started to retaliate. We gave each other looks and then began raising our hands frantically in an attempt to make sense of what we just heard.

After some back and forth, Mrs. Sub added: “Well, my brother, when he was very newly married, called me up in a panic one day and told me that his wife just asked him to take out the garbage. ‘What should I do?? Should I take out the garbage?’“

She paused to smile. “I told him, don’t worry about it. Of course you can take out the garbage. L’maaseh, a wife may need help sometimes and of course the husband can pitch in. But the concept, the concept is still there.”

This wasn’t a new line. We were taught many “ideals” that were easy to challenge, like this one. The teacher would either grudgingly agree that we had a point but,  “l’maaseh it isn’t possible to do because we are not on that level” or would cling to the notion that it was possible “if only we had enough mesirus nefesh/emunah/bitachon.” Either way, they had planted the seed of the idea, and now it would never quite leave us.

But today, Mrs. Sub also taught for me some very fundamental concepts that all Bais Yaakov girls learn, albeit usually more subtly:

1 – A woman is not her own person. She has no value on her own. She is a reflection of her husband (or father). Thus, if her husband is a garbage man, her value is as “the wife of a garbage man.” However, if a woman is a garbage woman, this doesn’t matter, so long as she is “the wife of a ben Torah.”

2 – What’s derogatory and demeaning for men is just business as usual for women. Because a woman’s goals, aspirations, and accomplishments don’t matter. Her true accomplishments are solely those of her husband. (This concept is central to today’s kollel system.)  So taking out the garbage, scrubbing the toilets – it doesn’t matter how demeaning her work is as long as she does it to elevate her husband and help him learn Torah. That is her tafkid.

This is subtly and not so subtly taught in various ways with flowery metaphors and emotional stories. Man is the sun, woman is the moon. Chomer and tzura as explained by the Maharal.  She takes the raw materials given by her husband and creates a home. How beautiful.

But strip off the poetry and you reveal the underlying idea that a woman is not meant to accomplish her own goals. Man and woman were not meant to be in a synergetic relationship. The man was meant to lead, accomplish, and direct while the woman “stood by his side”. And if she ever did accomplish something of her own, tznius dictated that she would keep it under hush and pretend like she never did anything.

This is explained in Rav Falk’s “Oz V’hadar” where he speaks about a well-known Rebetzin who was very knowledgeable in Torah but would pretend like she wasn’t when at the Shabboss table. The men would discuss Torah concepts at length, but she would remain quiet. Rav Falk praises this woman. This is the ultimate midda of tznius.

“…a rebetzin who never displayed her vast knowledge. Whenever the words of the Rambam, the Chovas Levavos, or the Mesilas Yesharim were quoted at the Shabbas table or at a family gathering, she would listen quietly and closely as if the words were new. She never hinted that she was fully acquainted with what was being quoted.” (Oz Vehadar Levusha, p. 45)

For a man, there is no violation of tznius if attention is drawn to him because of his accomplishments. But the exact same thing would be a lack of tznius for a woman.


Which brings us to the necessity of the glorification of tznius. How do you get intelligent, talented, but sheltered adolescent females to deny their own kishronos and importance? Dress it up in frills and lace.

Tznius is the crowning glory of a woman.

G-d saves your sweat earned by the tzniusdik clothing you wear in the summer and it’s akin to the sweat of a man as he toils over the Gemara.

Tznius is for a woman what Torah is for a man.

And the promises: you will have good children, you will have the zechus to marry a true ben-Torah, you will have a beautiful torahdik marriage (unlike the goyim who all have horrible marriages.) the list goes on.

It takes a large spoonful of sugar to make that medicine go down.

I’m pretty sure all of us were uncomfortable with Mrs. Sub’s comments that day. But the same ideas were repeated weekly, if not daily, reinforced through sheer brute force of repetition. After high school there was Seminary to take over the reins of inculcation. And beyond that, there is the powerful duo-combo of social pressure from shidduchim and the kollel-system, the former insisting that you won’t get a guy worth marrying unless you buy into the latter, and if you don’t find a husband soon, your life is pointless.


The Garbage Lesson, and What It Says About Expectations for Women

45 thoughts on “The Garbage Lesson, and What It Says About Expectations for Women

  1. DF3NYC says:

    Wow! I’d heard it was like that, but your story of Mrs. Sub, who didn’t seem too bright, but seemed more inclined to repeat things she was taught, was raised on this. It’s frightening that women are kept (relatively) ignorant and are expected to teach the next generation of women. I’m so sorry. I’m happy you came out of it a better person, despite the ignorance and bad rhetoric foisted on you.


  2. momsterid says:

    On the other side of the coin, I recall the story of the kollel guy who went to his rav and said “I come home, and the kitchen is dirty, the kids are screaming, and my house is upside down. What should I do?”
    His rav replied “nem (take) a broom”
    Meaning, clean it up yourself, help out.

    My husband is learning in kollel and does take out the garbage, wash dishes, change diapers, and does all that a contributing member of the household should do. (I cook.)
    My brothers and brothers in law who are still in kollel also do a lot in the house.
    I think Its a matter of how one was brought up. Don’t let a few misguided teachers blacken your view of all kollelnicks.


    1. Esther Bernstein says:

      Unfortunately, this story is not an isolated one. Like most stories on this blog, talking about a “kind” of incident does require a specific story. But I heard this from permanent teachrs, not substitutes, and I heard it many many times. In fact, our ninth grade school shabbos was all about this idea. We sang and danced about how our only worth is making sure our husbands and sons are able to devote their lives to learning and never have to worry about mundane things. Do some husbands help out? Sure. My “kollelnik” brother does. He’s amazing. His marriage is amazing. That doesn’t negate the fact that girls who are inundated with variations of this message over and over throughout high school and seminary have the real risk of walking away with a harmful view of themselves, their abilities, and their expectations. “Lmaaseh,” let’s hope the boys yeshivas teach “nem a besem.” I don’t think they do. I think their mothers do. But the schools don’t.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. In the version I heard, a kollenik is complaining to his rav: “My wife, she makes all these ridiculous demands on me. Like—she wants me to take out the garbage! Me, a ben Torah, taking out the garbage!” The next morning, the rav shows up at the kollelnik’s door and says, “I’m here to take out the garbage.”

      Liked by 2 people

  3. YOSEF says:

    It seems to me his torah is ruined by his attachment to a garbage individual. Wouldn’t it be better to hire a goy to take out the garbage? When the wife of a king does commoner stuff, it reflects badly on him


    1. Are kollel students so well-paid, and day school for their children so cheap, that kollel families can afford to hire people for such trivial chores?

      During World War II, when Queen Elizabeth II was still Princess Elizabeth, she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (the women’s branch of the British Army) and was trained as a truck driver. Obviously she was more concerned about showing solidarity with her subjects than avoiding work that was beneath her royal station.


  4. I’ve followed this blog for the past few months, and here’s what I think of it:

    The posts on this blog are consistently negative. I feel bad for the person that runs it, because she seem to be a very pessimistic person. Look, there are always going to be some teachers that misrepresent the Torah’s view on things. In every area of life, there will always be people make fundamental mistakes when it comes to the values they hold. I don’t know that a blog like this is accomplishing anything other than increasing the amount of negativity in the world.

    I am a senior in a prominent, yeshivish high school in New York. Yes, I’ve had some truly dreadful teachers whose opinions on the role of a woman in Judaism disgusted me. But I’ve had far more wonderful and intelligent teachers than awful ones, and it is during their classes that I pay attention and form my values.

    If I wouldn’t be in school right now, reading this blog would make me think of all Bais Yaakovs as misogynistic and patriarchal. So I’m typing this comment to make people aware that this is decidedly NOT the case. There are hundreds of moros at prominent Bais Yaakovs that represent the true Torah view. Students recognize them as the real deal and ignore the drivel that inferior teachers teach. All hope is not lost.


    1. The “true Torah view” *is* misogynistic and patriarchal. One could debate whether this is a byproduct of halachah having been shaped exclusively by men in what, until a few decades ago, were overwhelmingly misogynistic and patriarchal societies, or whether it is a core feature of Judaism, but one can’t pretend that Orthodox Judaism holds women to be of the same value as men.


      1. Sarah says:

        I have to agree with Pearlexist. While I might not have loved all of my teachers, I actually can’t remember ever hearing that a woman’s only purpose is to support her husband and sons. That role was definitely emphasized as important (it should be — Torah is the core of Torah Judaism and relationships are important), but my teachers always made clear that we had inherent value and purpose to life other than mating and procreation. That sub would never have been welcomed back at my school, if she had been even been allowed in to begin with.

        I’ve had so many hackneyed debates with people about the role of women in Judaism and I don’t want to start here, but women and men are deemed different in Judaism (biology and neuroscience confirm that) and, as such, have different roles. Women’s roles don’t have to be inferior and anyone who thinks they do clearly has not studied Tanach, meforshim, the writings of gedolim and hilchos nashim. Cherry-picking quotes does not count as study.


      2. That the solution to men being attracted to women is a strict dress code for women is misogynistic.

        That women are denied leadership roles is misogynistic.

        That women are denied the opportunity to shape halacha is misogynistic.

        That women are denied the opportunity to participate in Torah learning, for the sake of which the world was supposedly created, and are relegated to supporting role is misogynistic.

        That halacha recognizes rape only as a monetary matter is misogynistic.

        That women are routinely grouped with children and the mentally disabled in the gemara is misogynistic.

        That women have no legal standing, but are subject to their father’s or husband’s will is misogynistic.

        I could go on.

        Yes, men and women have different roles in Judaism. The man is the star of the movie, and the woman is, at best, the supporting actress.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. I second what Momsterid said.

        G*3, there are solid and comprehensive explanations for all of the objections you raised. I know this because I went through a phase in which I believed that OJ was misogynistic, and debated this with some of my teachers. I hope that whatever is troubling will be resolved very soon, in a positive way. Once you’re okay emotionally, I think that a discussion with a competent Rav will prove to be very enlightening.

        Hold on tight! Life is rough sometimes, but if you hold on to the Torah for dear life, you won’t drown. Please reach out for help. You deserve it.


      4. PEARLEXIST, thanks for your concern, but the problems with OJ are much deeper than its inherent misogyny.

        You and I are at very different places in our lives. Your a teenage girl in high school, and I’m a middle-aged guy, married with three kids. I’m far past the point where criticizing Yiddishkeit might be construed as a sign of rebellion and emotional distress. If Orthodoxy works for you, that’s great, but not everyone agrees that the answers for these kinds of things ” are solid and comprehensive.”

        Liked by 1 person

    2. AReader says:

      Wow, really? Consistently negative? This, literally one post after “The Time Our Principal Was Really Awesome.” You need to read less selectively.

      That said, yes, it’s a blog with a message for the world: what Bais Yaakovs are teaching / telling our students, as recalled by the students.

      If you have something different to say, why don’t you? Most posts are submitted by readers. What’s stopping you from writing a post?

      Liked by 1 person

    3. DF3NYC says:

      Pearl: You use an interesting phrase: “the true Torah view”. Is there really only one? If there was, there’d be no need for Bais Yaakov, Bais Rivkah, Chofetz Chayim, Torah Temimah, Lubavitch, Satmar, Bobov, Young Israel, etc…There are many authors and they recount a wide variety of experiences. There was one who wrote about the time many of the girls had a nice leibedik time, didn’t go back to class, and the principal joined them for a while, and THEN shephereded everyone back to class. That’s smart administration and speaks well of that principal.

      Some authors point out infantilization that goes on in fundamentalist education. Some of that can’t be helped. You can’t teach very high level stuff about God and the universe to a fourth grader.

      But when a seventeen year old yeshiva student’s basis for a Torah life is built on the foundation of her first grade Chumash class, and nobody taught her to challenge, to ask questions, to make teachers actually WORK beyond the rhetoric they were taught, that SHOULD be brought to the attention of the Jewish community. The schools that don’t encourage asking tough questions are raising automatons.

      What happens when rabbis are child molestors? Was Elisha Ben Avuya’s gripe legitimate?
      How can someone be a good Jew and be gay, lesbian, or transgender? Many ideas about science in the time of the G’mara have since become obsolete. The Rambam challenges us to grow intellectually, and even admits that anything he writes about medicine might some day be obsolete, and to feel free to discard what he says if he’s proven wrong.

      People who are taught to just *do*, what they’re told, accept what they’re taught will leave the second they find out a fundamental thing they were taught in Bais Yaakov (or some other school) was dead wrong and based in simple ignorance.

      No teacher’s perfect. But teachers should be challenged, and Bais Yaakov shouldn’t be hiring the types of people who are shocked by the types of questions some of the authors in this blog asked in class.

      There is more than one way to have a “true Torah view”. The women who recounted their experiences here are brave, smart, and funny. It’s clear that some sought to have a greater understanding than their high school experience provided them. If Bais Yaakov was smart they’d pay attention and maybe start being a little more self-aware and critical of their educational methods.

      But that’s not going to happen so long as the majority don’t challenge the status quo. And so, mediocrity will be allowed to continue on and on for generations and generations. The OTD movement is mobilizing, and Bais Yaakov isn’t at the forefront of counteracting its influence. They just do the same thing over and over again. They should be reading this blog and making notes about how students experienced them.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. momsterid says:

    G*3, you are obviously very sad, angry and bitter. I’m sorry that you feel that way.
    I will not go through your examples, because I sense from your tone that you will not listen to any explanation or refutation I give.
    As a great rav once told a talmid who had gone secular “your questions are really your answers (to yourself).”

    All I can tell you is that I am an intelligent, self assured, inquisitive frum married woman who does not feel second tier. Just on a different tier altogether. As I used to tell my students (long ago…when I still taught) “not fair” is an incorrect statement. Hashem is fair. Torah is fair. It’s not equal, because we are not equal. To be equal, we all have to be exactly the same. And we’re not. Argue all you want, but the plain unvarnished truth is that men and women are different.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AReader says:

      You know, questions CAN be the Answers — when the questions are better than the answers. Like if the answers are fragmented, apologetic, recently contrived, and unsatisfying, then the question is better than the answer.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Bad4Shidduchim says:

      To me the most interesting aspect of this conversation is the assumption that G3 is female.

      Some of the most enthusiastic belaborers of the “Judaism is sexist” theme that I know happen to be male, so my assumption was actually the exact opposite.

      For those who say that G3’s issue is emotional, would your response change if he were male?


      1. I’m almost certain G3 is male (I have seen him in various other online fora). I find it interesting that because G3 expresses certain “problems” with the system, he is assumed to be sad, angry, bitter, troubled, needing help, etc.


    3. > G*3, you are obviously very sad, angry and bitter.

      Not in the slightest. Why would you think that criticism = sadness or anger?

      > As a great rav once told a talmid who had gone secular “your questions are really your answers (to yourself).”

      What questions? Did I ask any questions? I made some observations.

      Anyway, that goes both ways. If the questioner’s questions can be dismissed as answers he’s telling himself so he can be comfortable with his choices, perhaps those who don’t question avoid the questions in order to be comfortable with their choices.

      > All I can tell you is that I am an intelligent, self assured, inquisitive frum married woman who does not feel second tier.

      Glad to hear it.

      > To be equal, we all have to be exactly the same.

      Nonsense. Four quarters and a dollar bill are equal, and quite different.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Esther Bernstein says:

    Pearlexist, Sarah, and Momsterid: This post itself may be about misogynistic lessons learned in Bais Yaakov or from some Bais Yaakov teachers, but since you mention the entire blog and call the person who runs it pessimistic and bitter, I’ll go with that. Pearlexist, you end your first comment with “there is yet hope.” That is exactly the ideology of this blog. If you read all the (reader-submitted) stories, you’ll see, as AReader noted, that there are quite a few positive memories. Most of these stories are posted with the aim of pointing out what *can* be changed in BY to make it better – and by pointing out things like when a principal gets girls back to class not by yelling at them about wasting time but by joining their singing, we try to show how those changes can have such hugely positive effects. If *all* teachers and principals were like Rebetzin Kalmanowitz in that story… But we know they aren’t. And that’s what the rest of the stories show.

    Now, Pearlexist, you say you’ve figured out how to tune out the harmful teachers and only listen to the ones who don’t say things that you find “disgusting.” Not everyone has the skills to do so, and not everyone is aware enough of the need to do so.

    Your arguments also assume that the person you’re talking to is not frum. However, if you read the intros to many posts on this blog, you’ll see that quite a few contributors are happily religious. And they still think that BY has some flaws. That’s not a contradiction.

    But the real sticking point here is the tone you take – Pearlexist, Sarah, and Momsterid.

    As a teacher of English composition and rhetoric, I’m going to address the structures of your arguments as well as the content. You call G*3 sad, bitter, angry, etc. That’s an ad hominem argument. It doesn’t engage with G*3’s points, it simply attacks his/her character. Whether he/she is angry, sad, bitter doesn’t actually matter. If his/her arguments can be refuted, his/her emotional state is irrelevant. To then jump to the conclusion, based on your assessment of his/her emotional state, that he/she won’t listen to what you have to say which might refute his/her points – that stalls all debate right in its place. Not productive at all.

    You then become patronizing and condescending. “Once you’re okay emotionally”: you’ve created a possibly infuriating situation. The result of this in debate is usually an angry retort from the person you’ve just called emotionally unstable, and that retort is often used to prove that the person is, in fact, emotionally unstable. But think about it: how does a sane person react to a stranger calling them emotionally unstable on the basis of a few online comments about a charged topic?

    When you finish off with “hold on tight, Torah will get you through,” you’ve ignored any actual arguments and you’ve gone back to the rote sayings we’ve all heard a million times. If someone tells you “I don’t believe in XYZ presidential candidate’s policies,” answering that with “I know it’s scary now, but hang tight, and XYZ’s policies will get you through – just believe in them” – surely you see how ridiculous that is.

    “The question is the answer” – that’s what many of our teachers and rabbis told us, which meant our questions were never answered. If having a question is interpreted as not believing, as proof that the person doesn’t want answers, then that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yael says:

      Well said. The whole “you are emotionally upset and don’t really want to hear answers” shuts the whole dialogue down and is really just an escape. Sadly, this is a common theme I saw in chinuch and kiruv; that if someone isn’t being receptive to the wonderfully true and deeply intelligent things being taught, there must be something emotional blocking them. Circular reasoning at it’s finest. Because anyone with a clear head and seeking the truth would surely believe what was being taught.

      Altough I don’t understand why someone’s emotional disappointment with, for example, things they find misogynistic, disqualifies their opinion while someone’s passion about the beauty of women’s role in their sect of Judaism doesn’t disqualify THEIR opinion. If emotions make people biased, then if you are passionate about something, you can’t be taken seriously either.

      Which is ridiculous. We all have emotions mixed in with what we say. As you said, it’s the points being stated that need to be addressed.


  7. Yael says:

    The purpose of this article was not to bash Bais Yaakov and spread pessimism. The purpose was to create dialogue about something which the author (yours truly) experienced and found disturbing. As with all institutions and people who seek to better themselves, criticism is necessary to grow and improve. Unfortunately, directly criticizing the Bais Yaakov system will not work here. So people like me and bad4 resort to other modes of making sense of our BY experiences. My BY experience was deeply meaningful to me in many ways; if it wasn’t I wouldn’t be reading this blog. But there are some serious issues that I think should be addressed.

    Please don’t get hung up on things like “it was an isolated incident” and “I heard stories that were the exact opposite” – I heard those stories too. I was using this incident to as a springboard to discuss that we were subtly and sometimes not subtly taught that a woman’s accomplishments will never matter as much as a man’s. It’s not about whether or not the men actually take out the garbage. Even Mrs. Sub agreed that the husband should take out the garbage.

    For those of you who are saying that there are answers to all these questions, please share your answers. I would really like to hear them. A thorough BY education, seminary, and many years of teaching (limudei kodesh) have still left me grappling with the way women are viewed in the general charedi world.

    Also, I’m not sure that G*3 is so embittered; he/she just stated some facts that they find mysogonistic and if you don’t think they are, please share why.

    “Argue all you want, but the plain unvarnished truth is that men and women are different.”

    Absolutely. But please share why you think these differences warrant some of the things that G3 mentioned or points that I raised.

    How does the fact that men and women are different explain that women are viewed much of the time solely in RELATION to men?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. momsterid says:

    B4s, I don’t believe I mentioned gender in my comment. Though usually, one who is so upset about an issue had it occur to them.

    Esther, my comment was written to g*3, and not the author of the blog. And if he or she would like to speak to me in person, I can debate for eternity. (Though I doubt anyone wants to listen to me for that long) I had a blog once upon a time, and I can still remember the discussions in the comments. In person discussions are much quicker. And emotional state does matter, even when the answers are true. I did not think that the commenter is not frum. One can be frum and bitter and have questions.

    Yael, I did not mean to be dismissive to all questions. I’m one of those (former) bais yaakov teachers who actually encouraged questions (I taught in the English department). And if they weren’t asked, I’d ask instead.
    From the tone of the questioner’s other comments on different posts, I surmised that he/she would not be interested in what I have to say. Maybe I was wrong.
    But if you are interested, I can answer.
    I also had a thorough bais yaakov education and was filled with questions when done. I disagree with many, many, many of the things I learned in high school, and the way they were taught. Thank G-d I was able to discover that there is a large segment of orthodox Jews who had the answers, and treated me with the respect every human being deserves.
    Are there many in the bais yaakov world who dismiss women? Yes. Misogynistic people are everywhere. Does the Torah dismiss women? No.
    I will write up a comment later with my explanation. Right now, I just received a tornado warning from my kids school. Gotta go.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Esther Bernstein says:

      That’s kind of the point, though. When G*3 says “Torah true view,” and put it in quotes, that implies a cynicism about the way BY approaches the definition and limitation of “Torah true.” Whether “the Torah” dismisses women or not depends on how you interpret it, and so “are there many in the BY world who dismiss women? Yes” – well, that answers the main question in this post. Torah need not be misogynistic. The way BY interprets it, it is.

      And if you realize that you have to say you were “one of those bais yaakov teachers who actually encouraged questions,” then you surely are acknowledging that there were many teachers who did not, and in fact that the norm was not to encourage questions. Again, that is the point. Not that there are a few gems, though of course there are. But that on the whole, BY students have to sift through the mud in order to find the gems, and that leaves our hands covered in mud.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. momsterid says:

        Esther, you quoted what I wrote to the commenters, not in reference to the original post.
        G*3’s bitter comment (and yes, I realize that he is a guy… Doesn’t change the “bitter” aspect) was about halacha, gemara and other general aspects of Jewish life, not about the bais yaakov teacher’s skewed way of teaching.


      2. Esther Bernstein says:

        But G*3’s list of things that are misogynistic are not all inherent to Torah, unless you define “Torah true views” as Bais Yaakov/ultra-Orthodox/charedi views. Women do learn Torah, do help shape halacha, and are allowed leadership roles in many other interpretations of Judaism and of Torah. Using “general aspects of Jewish life” as an argument makes no sense if you take into account that this generalness encompasses so much more than what the ultra-Orthodox world defines as “Torah-true.”


    2. > Though usually, one who is so upset about an issue had it occur to them.

      What did I say that makes you think I’m “so upset?” I’m genuinely curious about this.

      > I had a blog once upon a time,

      Which one was yours?

      > In person discussions are much quicker.

      I find that I prefer online discussions. Face to face discussions go off on tangents, and you can’t respond to people line-by-line. Also, I try to make sure that I can justify my arguments, and it’s much easier to do that online when I can take the time to check if that thing I sort of remember is true.

      > I did not think that the commenter is not frum.

      I’m Orthoprax, if it matters.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I think that the biggest problem here (and in fact, I would say that the vast majority of problems in Beis Yaakov stem from this one) is that girls are taught without sources. Did the substitute teacher provide any source for any of the assertions she made? Has any teacher ever provided a source for the idea that tznius for girls = Torah for boys? Has any girl actually ever seen any of the sources in Rabbinic Literature that portray women negatively, or any of the sources that repudiate such negativity?

    In fact, I once read through someone’s notes for a certain class, and in the entire semester’s worth of notes (which, granted, was not all that much) I did not find one source. The pages were full of the teacher’s assertions, but none of them were backed up. There was one thing which came close to being a source – it said that a certain rabbi said XYZ. However, this itself was unsourced, and, moreover, I happened to know where the rabbi had addressed the topic in in his sefer and he had not said what the teacher attributed to him.

    When girls are not given sources for assertions, anyone can say anything and get away with it. Girls are then at the mercy of any authority figure. And even if the person is questioned for a source and says that it’s a Gemara in Chulin, the girls are no better off. How can a girl who has never opened a Gemara in her life determine whether the Gemara in Chulin actually says what has been asserted? I have seen girls fall prey to this — someone (more often a man) says that the Gemara says ABC and the girls accept it. Meanwhile, the Gemara says nothing of the sort, or says something similar which has been misinterpreted, but the girls don’t know that.

    Another problem this leads to is that people then think in terms of the “true Torah view”. If everything you ever hear is simply your teacher’s assertions, it is automatically the “true Torah view” — a teacher wouldn’t say a non-Torah view. When you learn sources, though, there is no “true Torah view.” You might learn the Rambam’s view, the Ramban’s view, and the Ralbag’s but those are the views of a person (based on his understanding of the Torah). Of course, if something relates to a halachic question there is a methodology for how to decide what to do in practice, but the only “true Torah view” there is that we can decide how to act irrespective of knowing the true Torah view.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yael says:

      Very true. But what happens many times when a girl DOES go back to the sources on her own, as in my case, she discovers both clarifications that put women in a better light AND disturbing teachings about women. Perhaps this is one reason women are not taught sources.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So perhaps an even bigger problem is that teachers are not equipped to explain the concept of differing opinions. But almost everyone will find out sooner or later that there is in fact a multiplicity of opinions on just about every issue. Which makes sense due to the sheer volume of rabbinic works, and the various schools of thought. While it might be easier to teach kids an unsophisticated, naive view of religious development and thought, in the long run I wonder if it is worth it.


  10. Chani says:

    As far as the negativity claim- I think that it must be hard for Bad4 to have that balance of both being open with some critique without just bashing because you can, for no reason. I’ve written a lot of unsubmitted posts that I’ve trashed because I couldn’t see a purpose beyond expressing my dislike for a teacher, for example. The story was funny, but it said nothing constructive and was just me being bitter, so I trashed it. I have one I may write that I think could’ve constructive, while also being funny, so I may yet submit it. But it’s a tough line to balance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Bad4Shidduchim says:

      Thanks, Chani. The best posts, I find, are the ones that are universal — we have all experienced them, more or less, through different avenues.

      I think this post has resonated with many people for that reason, although the extremity of the opinion expressed might be offending some.

      (I can’t help the opinion of the first half; the teacher said it, not the writer.)


  11. Yael says:

    Momsterid, perhaps you can share a few core ideas that will explain why you thing haredi (I’m using that term broadly here for lack of better terminology, but let’s not get hung up on labels-I think we all understand which sects of Judaism are being dicsussed. Also, my chinuch was haredi so it is the only sect I feel comforbe discussing) Judaism respects men and women equally.

    Also, I don’t think G3 expressed bitterness, but even if he did, it’s really irrelevant. By the same token, I can say that you are “high on the cool aid” that was fed to you, cool aid that might be apologetics and conveniently leaving out many sources that disparage women. This is the same as calling G3 bitter; it makes you look like someone whose emotions are getting the better of them and that kind of disqualifies you.

    But I’m not saying that. You might have some very valid points despite your passion. Please share.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. momsterid says:

    Sorry. Been busy drinking kool aid all day and didn’t have much time to write my dissertation.
    And in case any of you were wondering, the tornado didn’t damage my neighborhood, thank G-d. Only a late start to school.

    So, to answer y’all, I’ll start with g*3’s misogynistic list.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. BYGRAD says:

    Alex, I loved your comment. When I was in shana bet, our principal was determined to show us that there are so many different opinions, even among the rishonim, on things that we took for granted as undisputable. All of us, smart, deep BY girls were in absolute turmoil the first half of the year… What a shock! We’d never been exposed to this before!

    Thank G-d we learnt it then. Because being in the big wide world post school exposes you to many opposing viewpoints. And we knew that it was okay, and it didn’t completely shake our foundation like it did to so many of our peers.


    1. Thank you.

      The problem is, though, that it is very hard to acknowledge that there is a multiplicity of opinions yet still convince the students that one opinion is correct. It is certainly easier to teach students a monolithic view than to teach them all the views and then convince them that one is correct. Most of these types of issues are not purely technical halachic issues that can simply be subjected to a list of formalized legal rules. So what is a teacher to do when there is a machlokes amongst the rishonim on a fundamental hashkafic/philosophic/theologic matter? One of the positions is the “accepted” position, yet I doubt that there are teachers who can compellingly demonstrate the correctness of one side over the other. Especially if the teachers also teach their students that we are nothing compared to the rishonim, in which case any proof/disproof that we can think of was already thought of by both rishonim and is thus meaningless. This is but a step away from religious anarchy. So how can a teacher both present multiple views and expect the students to follow a specific a view? I am curious as to how your principle straddled both sides of this fence — or did s/he perhaps not attempt to convince you of anything?


  14. momsterid says:

    Came back to check comments, and realized that my megillah didn’t post. Don’t know what happened. Don’t know if I have the patience or time to type it all again. Sorry, y’all.


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