Friday, October 05, 2007

simchat torah

why does watching a group of man in black suits and hats dancing around in a circle and being fantastically silly make me feel all warm and mushy about Jews and why I love them? There is absolutely no reason why watching Jews dance should make me love them more. But it does. Why is that?


Blogger Tobie said...

Really? Watching a bunch of men in black hats and suits dance makes me feel bored and grumpy and feminist and puzzled about charm could possibly exist in watching men stomp around in circles.

To each her own, I suppose.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

well in my shul the women dance together as well (or at least some of them do) and since they're not drunk they seem to have a lot more fun too.


(one of these days I'm going to crusade for a sefer torah or two to be taken to the women's section (we have a couple of very light ones, as in 5 to ten pounds, one of them kindergarden children could dance with without feeling tired.) so that they can dance with actualy sifrei torah, but I'm loath to do so now as I've already started to much trouble recently.)

tobie: I can't think of any halachic problems with women carrying sifrei torah (or simply reading them for that matter) can you?

9:37 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

tobie- exactly that's why I don't understand it.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

The feminist in me agrees with Tobie... I've always felt that women should dance rather than stand around watching kids. Growing up in Pittsburgh I kinda remember them doing that, but I haven't seen it anywhere else since. What are women supposed to do all night long besides waving those dumb flags? While we're at it, how is it appropriate for women to stand around checking out guys all night? And also, I'd like to extend the question further to the whole Simchas Beis Hashoeva thing where both in the times of the Gemara and nowadays, the women spend the night watching the men dance.

This discussion reminded me of a funny story. One Simchas Torah I somehow ended up in the women's section holding a Sefer Torah. All the girls start walking by to kiss the Torah. As fun as all of that was, it was getting a little tiring, so I started walking out. This girl tries to grab the Torah away from me and I wasn't sure what to do. I said something about how I'm just going to take it back to the men's side and give it to someone who was waiting for it. This girl says back to me in the most condescending voice, "Well, I'm glad I'm going to a feminist Minyan tomorrow!"

Yoni- The problem with women reading, as Shulchan Oruch puts it {P.C.?}, is "Kovod Hatzibur."

{Can of worms, hehe}

2:29 PM  
Blogger Nemo said...

What I meant is that Shulchan Aruch says it very PC- politically correct.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

I ment reading in the sense of at all, not infront of men.

although that would seem to imply that in a time when kavod hatzibbur is not such an issue, such as when hillary is president, it wouldn't be such an issue. :-)

(not that idiot heredim will ever understand that, but anyway.)

2:50 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Old post

7:48 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

Nemo- as regards women reading, I believe there is also some discussion regarding tumaah and whether or not it was an issue, but I think they came to the conclusion that it was not.
Also, there are many congregations where the women dance too, but maybe there's just more of them in Israel.

depending on the shul, they don't let the women kiss the Torah anymore either. ah well.

However, my point, to all, was that there is something heartwarming in watching Jews dance; maybe I just watch men dance more than women. But there's something of the universal Jewish spirit in it, when done properly. It's just nice to see.

10:28 AM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

However, my point, to all, was that there is something heartwarming in watching Jews dance; maybe I just watch men dance more than women. But there's something of the universal Jewish spirit in it, when done properly. It's just nice to see.

that much I agree to. I know that one time recently on purim, there where two sets of dancing going on, one for women and one for men, and the men had three concentric circles going very liveily, and the women had 3 or even 4 of them going with, if anything, even more life.

especialy since it represented a cross section of the jewish community (reform, conservative, orthodox, chassidic, non-affiliated) I couldn't stop crying with joy.

11:12 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Every orthodox shul I've ever been inside of, I get the vibe from the women that they are in a place that is not really THEIRS. It's like the difference of how you'd act in your own home vs being a guest in somebody else's.

There's a kind of awkwardness, a lack of comfort. This is why when I watch the women dance, I don't get the same feeling as when you watch the men.

I am just speaking of the sanctuary, not the social hall type of space.

Also, this is just my opinion, my observation. It is not intended as any kind of value judgement of Orthodox shuls.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Nemo said...

"But there's something of the universal Jewish spirit in it"

Yes, a universal Jewish Male spirit...

6:59 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

I have to say, the best Simchat Torah I have ever experienced was at U of C. There were 3 minyanim going on- Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform. Each one began dancing seperately and, since the Orthodox minyan gave the women a torah and there were only 3 women in that minyan, I totally got to hold the Torah for a good 40-50 minutes. Later, all the minyanim combined in with (see-through) mechitzot set up between three groups: men, women, and mixed. They only set up the separate women's bit for me, having asked me whether I'd be uncomfortable dancing with men even without touching them. So I danced around in the little third of the room, often by myself, sometimes with others who floated in and out to keep me company, usually holding a torah. And whenever the mixed section cleared of men, I would run over and join it or dance around the mechitzah between the two sections until eventually, since the middle circle was so often all female, the men got scared off and went to join the all-male circle and the women got both of the sections.

The point is that it was one of the few times when I did not feel like an intruder/visitor in the whole prayer- and especially the Simchat Torah- thing. It may have been the torah, but it was more the total freedom that everybody felt. I wanted a mechitza, so I could have a mechitza and if others didn't, they wouldn't, and there were no organized circles that keep breaking into smaller inner circles because a couple of people want to dance fast, but then of course everybody tries to join the inner circle and it slows down and then people start doing fancy steps that you don't know, unless of course you don't even get that and you just have to watch the men stomp about and nobody even thinks of bringing a torah woman-ward... it was just a small group of people I knew and mostly liked and knew well enough to act like an idiot in front of, all doing their own thing, usually but not exclusively together in circles...

Plus the torah. I really like the torah thing. They should always give us a torah.

And yoni, the argument I've heard against women holding or even directly touching a torah is tumah, which is simply ludicrous for a whole lot of reasons, so I really don't know.

12:36 AM  
Blogger Halfnutcase said...

Tobie, you sound like really angry about this, and honestly I don't blame you. In past years dancing with the torah was one of the most fun parts of simchas torah (especialy alone when you can dance your little jig in place, close your eyes and concentrate on the soft feel of the covers and feel physicaly close to torah.)

But if the best reason they can find to justify not giving the women a sefer torah to dance with is tumah, then by golly I'm going to steal one of the sifrei torahs next year and give it to the women (although I'd need a woman who was determined to take it and not give it back, because as we all know men can't touch women, and therefore once she's holding it in her arms, they CAN'T Get it back without her permission because taking it from her would necessitate touching her.)

that is such a rediculous reason to keep them from holding the torah, its not like we actualy follow any of the tumah and teharah laws tobegin with, and what we follow with niddah has less to do with tummah and more to do with the mitzvah not to sleep with a niddah.

oh wow this makes me angry, so very, very angry. If I were a girl I would want to still dance with the torah on simchas torah!

(me thinks this is going to be a one issue year. I'm going to look up the sources and when there turns up to be nothing segnificant, or at least applicable today, I'm going to bully rabbi in to arranging to send a torah woman word, mark my words. There is nothing wrong with it and it is totaly sinful not to because by golly it makes the girls happy, and possibly causes a totaly unecessary chillul hashem.)

5:34 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

>The point is that it was one of the few times when I did not feel like an intruder/visitor in the whole prayer- and especially the Simchat Torah- thing.

Sounds like Tobie agrees with my impression.

Interestingly enough, the last time I was in a Conservative synagogue (which was probably at least 5 years ago) I was astounded by how actively the women made themselves part of the service. It was like a mirror image of a traditional shul, where most of the time, most women (unless driven by ideology) let the men take the steering wheel.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Miri said...

I have to say,proably my favoritest simchat torah experiences happenedatyakar in Jerusalem; thementakethestreetsandthewomen gt the shul. with sifrei torah. it wasprettycool. but I have to say the women at my homeshul mostly don'tseem tomind the situation; they seem perfectly happy to stand around and watch or chat. I guess it's a sociological thing.

10:27 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home