Monday, May 30, 2011

In reply to an email

I received an email a couple of days ago, from a young lady who challenged me on some points I wrote about on this blog. I won't share the original email here, in part because I have not had the authorization to do so, and in part because it would be too lengthy. I will, however, share my reply - slightly abridged, out of which you will be able to get the gist of things.

I would like to humbly say that the time I can spare right now for blogging and/or replying to emails is very, very limited. I love and enjoy to hear from people who have visited the blog, but if you are writing in order to pick an argument, I beg you to please think twice, because often I simply cannot spare the time for replying in a proper way.


Hi and thank you for taking the time to write.

As I read your email, I must admit I stopped in puzzlement several times. You make quite a few assumptions about me and my personal life, just from reading my blog - and far from all are correct.

First off, I'm not exactly sure what you mean by saying "you've run away to Israel". I've been living in Israel since I was six years old. I became religious much, much later. 

You say, "you've thrown everything you've ever known away." Again, I don't know what makes you say that, but I assure you I have retained much of the things I used to like before I became religious - hobbies, books I like to read, anything that doesn't clash with my current religious values. Also, many of my friends are from my pre-religious time (which, by the way, answers your question regarding whether I have any friends).

I'm not sure what it is in my lifestyle (as it appears on the blog, which I assure you does not present the full picture, as I have notions of privacy and there's only a very little bit of my personal life that I choose to tell about) that makes you feel no one else could live the same way. Countless women all around me live pretty much the same ordinary life as I do - striving to be loving wives and mothers and successful home managers. Some of them are fortunate enough to be staying home with their children. Others work outside the home, but it doesn't define who they are, only what they do in their current circumstances.  

I have been accused numerous times of presenting male leadership as a Jewish idea, which it supposedly isn't, according to many Jewish women who wrote to me. I maintain that masculine leadership has been the cornerstone of Jewish life for many centuries, although undoubtedly, Jewish women have enjoyed far more extended privileges than their non-Jewish counterparts. Men are heads of their households and communities, and the fact that rabbinical discussion today tries to wriggle out of this issue only shows how deeply feminism has tampered with the thinking of us all. 

For example, some victoriously point out to me that Abraham was told by G-d to observe the advice of his wife, Sarah, regarding Ishmael. But the very fact that divine intervention was necessary in that instance points out that normally, the opposite would have been expected - her giving in to his leadership and accepting his decision. He was not initially supposed to obeyher

I wrote several posts in the past about how I do not mean women are supposed to sacrifice their talents. Again, time is limited, so I will only say it is up to every woman to find the best way to use the talents she was gifted with, in a way that will not come at the expense of her family. There is not one mold, nor one single way to do that. However, leaving one's children in the full-time care of someone else strikes me as not right. I believe we are given intelligence, compassion, artistic gifts and so on, and can use them in a multitude of ways. I don't believe in "I am meant to be a doctor/lawyer/rocket scientist and if I don't become one, I'm wasting my talents, so I must go along with it no matter what". 

You say you were raised by your grandmother, and admit that you were very lucky to have her. In your case, she probably was the feminine, ever-present influence every child needs so badly in our day. The fact is, while homes can be to some extent neglected without this causing immediate harm, children must be raised. It is a full time job which must be done by someone, and if the mother can't or opts not to do it, she has to accustom herself to the fact that the one who will be doing it will probably fare worse than she would have - unless, as in your case, she is incredibly lucky to have a thoughtful, caring and loving relative. 

There is another question of whether it is right to burden an older woman with the full-time raising of little ones, which is a mountainous, all-consuming task. Just as a sidenote, I know families which have placed their children in the care of a grandmother - an arrangement which suits the parents, and perhaps even the child, but which gradually makes the grandmother exhausted and resentful, while she doesn't dare to voice her concerns out of the fear of seeming selfish. After having done her share of childcare, she approached a time of her life which she thought would be a point of quiet retirement and enjoying her grandchildren without being fully responsible for bringing them up. Instead, she finds herself, once more, having to care for little ones full-time, while she doesn't have the vigor and energy of her younger years anymore. I'm not saying this was your case, just wanted to point out something that is widely practised but doesn't seem exactly fair to me. I personally wouldn't dream of handing my children over to my mother for full-time care. 

Time is running short, so I would like to conclude by stressing, again, that what I reveal on my blog is only a very small part of my day-to-day life, and no one could assume to truly know me solely on the basis of reading my blog. We value our privacy, and choose to keep to ourselves far more than we choose to share online. Also, no offense, but what I don't reveal on the blog I will hardly reveal to someone who randomly stumbled across it and chose to email me.


leah Brand-Burks said...

Sorry you had to defend yourself to some angry, confused person who, like you said, stumbled upon you online. Take it or leave it, you're an awesome mom, and those of us who appreciate you will stay, others can go on about their lives!

Anonymous said...

I can not believe this person went out of their way to write you such a lengthy nasty letter. But, then again I never understand why some people decide that everyone needs to hear of their displeasure.

I for one love your blog. And while I don't share all of the same opinions that you hold, I've always been impressed that you share them in a very cordial manner.

I hope that woman's letter didn't ruin your day :(

Carol said...

Dear Anna,

I enjoyed reading your thoughtful post. The subject is timely for me. Yesterday our pastor gave a message about gender roles. He explained that we live in a culture where gender roles have become confused.

Here are a few points that he made:

1. Men and women are created equal. Genesis 1:27 reads: So God created man in his own image, in the image of god he created him; male and female he created them.

2. Men and women are physiologically different. He enumerated muscle and fat tissue, red and white blood cells, etc.

3. The roles and spheres of influence for men and women are different as described by verses in Genesis and throughout the Bible.

You can access this message online by going to:

Hilde said...

I think it is just unbelievable how this lady makes assumptions about your life! It is quite clear that you show only a small part of it in your blog, not like some bloggers who share even very intimate things. This is one of the reasons I love your blog, that you think before you write and not just babble along. Another reason is that you always state that what you write is your opinion and that what you do is not the only and universal way of doing it. I don´t always agree with you, e.g. about male leadership, but in general I wish I had known someone like you when I was your age.
Thank you for all you do, and don´t let yourself be discouraged by all the weird people out there!

Analytical Adam said...

Dear Mrs. Ana,

I agree that the Jewish bible cleary suggest certain amount of Pathriarchy in some areas.

However, organized Jewish religion has done everything it can to undermine and just as what you mentioned regarding Sarah many passages in the torah clearly are taken out of context to undermine the average Jewish man. This exists in Rabbinic Judaism and the Talmud and also in Karaite Judaism where they claim that because of Miriam and Devorah this shows complete equality between the genders which is a stretch to say.

Jewish people in exile have been in cultures where there are few rights for men that are not in leadership positions and in religious circles that has continued although some nations did try to give more rights to men and didn't want kings or religious male leaders to have all the power.

IN the context of our exile I do think men have had few rights and that has become the culture in so called religious circles as well even though clearly the Jewish bible recognizes that men do need some rights for the role that they have to play and even a king in the bible had more limits then the typical behavior of a king.

Hopefully now that Jews do have their own country that we will get out of this ghetto and dictator type religion we developed in the exile in imitation of other cultures. Certainly Jews have been in many Christian countries which as a book that the LAF site promotes have had serious problems with feminism in the book The Church Impotence which is very parallel to what goes on in religious Judaism today and sadly I have to say to a worse extent then in Christianity and other religions that I have asked people about.

Anonymous said...

I'm convinced some people just troll the internet looking for trouble. Though you didn't publish the e-mail that was sent to you, and we don't have the details of this individual's rants/accusations, it's all too plain why you have to maintain the privacy about your life that you do! Good grief!

As others have said, your blog is lovely, pleasant to read, & thought-provoking in its content. Aside from our religious differences, I do find many, many points of similarity between us. But where we differ would hardly make me feel annoyed at you, or lead me to assumptions about other areas of your life.