Well, not for the famous reason: This is an American blog. But Happy Half-Birthday wishes to a former (?) reader of this blog, belated birthday wishes to my brother, estimated birthday wishes (I don't know the exact date, tsk, tsk) to one of my brothers-in-law (come to think, the other's birthday is around this time as well), and slightly-premature wishes to someone who probably doesn't even know this blog exists.
Wow! Lots of reasons to be happy, including a very nice Kollel Yom Rishon today. So let's have a little rant:
There's a popular sheet distributed called "MeOrot MeHaDaf Yomi," which is exactly what its title says it is. This week, they have a full page advertising a new book they have out about Shabbat. Here's a picture from the book they use in the advert, twice because my photography ain't so good:
Yeah, it's a family sitting around a Shabbos table in der Heim. Father, random dude (Oyrech?), son. Notice anyone missing? Oh, yeah, a mother. There is a vague humanoid shape in the shadows at the left (of course, since the candles are at that end of the table, that should be the most lit area) which, I think, we can safely assume is the woman of the house, the She who must Not Be Seen.
No, I don't think I'm being paranoid. This is, I'm afraid, par for the course in Charedi publications today. Chassidim especially have, shall we say, a somewhat odd view on the image of women, and it seems like even the velt has a right shoulder to look over. For example: A set of "Mitzvah Cards" recently was released, I think to tie in to the "Encyclopedia of the Taryag Mitzvoth" that is now being published. My rabbi happened to have the one for Sippur Yetziat Mitzrayim- in two versions. One showed a yeshivish father, in a hat (like anyone wears one at the seder, but we'll let that go) and beard (natch), merrily explaining the Haggadah to his son and daughter. The other had the same picture, except the hat had become a shtreimel, the beard and payot were longer, and the daughter...had been replaced with another boy. After all, who knows what znut the tayereh kinder might be driven to if they see a drawing of a little girl on a card.
And, of course, it's much worse. A little while back, one of those "Help a family in need" letters (I think this one was an insert) went around. (The actual narratives usually make me quite mad in and of themselves, but once again we can let that pass.) Very slick, color photos of the family in question. Except all the women's faces had been pixellated out. Even the babies, although how they know the gender is beyond me. (Something similar happened when they reprinted The Bamboo Cradle.) I kid you not. After all, who knows where it can all lead? Who knows where our society will be if we allow women who write for Charedi newspapers (and books, etc.) to use their first names instead of an initial? (Never mind that the same society is the very one that, perversely and yet logically, requires those women and not their spouses to work, among other mishegas, but yet again we'll let that go.)
Well, I guess I should be grateful that all this is is a pandering (for money?) to the lowest (and I do mean lowest) common denominator (I hope), and it's not, say, Iran or the Taliban. Problem is, as Europe is finding out, you start by pandering and pretty soon they want to take over. Look at the streets of Jerusalem.
Eh. Enough Charedi-bashing. The latest issue of Tradition only serves to remind me that we MO don't have much to brag about either. It's one of my "statement" subscriptions, but this issue has me wondering about even that. Too much ranting here- maybe another time. Or maybe I'll just stick to Sherlock Holmes next time. There's always plenty there!
Have a great week, all!