Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Outside-Inside World (a tad tighter)

The Outside-Inside World

So this is hide and seek. In this interplay I keep finding, not finding You. In modeh ani. In shehakol before the simplicity of a swallow of water. In the quiet ricochet of sunset. In my grandfather’s kindness. In the cavorting joy of l’cha dodi. In how simcha multiplies with social intercourse.

I encounter You in the in the least likely places, in the corners I’m told You do not reside. In the faces of oncoming drivers. In all kinds of music. In human genius. In technological interface. In the havoc-wrought marketplace and at the gritty street corner. It’s a grand surprise! Your image glows and these fleeting glances nourish. In the snapshots of a fragmented material world, I glimpse some of the wholeness, the source, the total connection. All together the frames blend and move to offer an approximate image of connection that I seek: devaikus, the big YES! I venture out and into difference.

Once in the wide outside, I see myself, my source, and other. Kadosh means separate, special in its difference. So I recognize contrast and create distinction that gives the world its structure. To reach new vistas, clamber outward, inward, upward on this growing trellis, there are seventy facets to the Torah, and infinitely more derachim. Kids are at risk of “going off the Derech” indeed if we make the mistake of seeing Torah as a single path alone. This view offers our youth a my-way-or-the-highway ultimatum that risks earning the hollow conformity of those who stay or collecting the dismissive spite of those who leave. I observe peers, my friends have abandoned the precious baby because the bathwater they encountered was so rank, so exclusive and uninviting.

It’s the gorgeous multitude, the subtle meanders of these pathways that we each have to forge and travel to arrive at a common destination that is Torah’s beauty and strength. Why reduce the dynamic vibrancy of yiddishkeit by paring it down to one method of living it? When did right-wing become synonymous with authenticity or rigidity? When did left-wing become synonymous with laissez faire or the freedom cause?

In the words of R’ Shloime Twersky, “We are not here to validate one another.” We are here to serve unified and distinct, together. We gotta move from tolerating to honoring difference: right/left, masculine/feminine, I/thou, where contrasts in interpretation don’t manifest as conflict, but compliment. Where you and I see one another and revel in the interchange of us that is greater than the sum of its parts. I want to integrate inside/outside, guf/neshama, body/soul, right brain/left brain, liberal/conservative, the mean/the extreme to the benefit of what is enduring and eternal. This bird can only fly with both wings.

In a world that did not honor the difference between men and women feminism raised a vital voice. But when the respect that the movement seeks is blind to inherent distinctions, when it devalues the very hallmarks of womanhood, we undermine ourselves. The honor and equity that we seek is lost fighting sexist fire with genderless fire with backfire as the sorry consequence. Giving voice is critical, but to create conversation, feminism needs to get out of monologue. Cause conversation is not one-way street. In partnership, in complimenting one another’s differences through shared vision, we can reach beyond ourselves to achieve wholeness, toward harmony, into shlaymus.

So I’m just the girl who wants to have her pie in the sky and eat it too: Integration. We have to diverge in order to merge, surge as one. Is absolute abstinence safer than a chancy moderation? For some, certainly. For all, temporarily. But when engaging for endurance, when seeking You, when entering into relation, when dealing with difference in this inside-outside world, to be m’taken and arrive at elevation, that’s just not gonna make the cut.

Questions, anyone?

Absolutely. All the time.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

We Need You

Shalom and love to all of you out there. We sincerely hope you are doing well.

A number of you have asked whether our blog is suffering a premature death due to lack of new posts. We wonder the same thing.

Our sitemeter says we're getting about 50 hits a day, not bad for a new blog, but thus far we have not succeeded in our raison d'etre, which would be generating stories from you.

If you are an Orthodox woman or ever have been one, if you want to share an amazing story about the experience of an Orthodox woman you know, or even if you just have a recommendation about the voices we are missing here, WE NEED YOU. If you don't like to write or don't have time to, send us the details of the experience and we'll try to form it into a monologue.

The bottom line is, we need you and your voices, as does the Orthodox community and Judaism in general.

We can't do this alone.