6/13/2007

The Antinomian Wife

In honor of the wife of On ben Pelet, who midrashically violated halakha in order to save her husband, I want to post some observations about my own wife’s antinomian tendencies (as an aside, I saw in one of the weekly Hebrew publications in shul this past Shabbat that the writer consistently misspelled ‘Pelet’ with a ‘tet’ instead of a ‘tav’; those of us who grew up on the Ashkenazis ‘On ben Peles’ would never make such a mistake).

It just so happens that every good Rebbetzin has antinomian tendencies le-chumra. We’ve all heard the story about the wife of [insert name of Litvishe gadol] who, brandishing the ever-fearsome holtzen leffel, chased her erudite husband out of the kitchen, screaming “YOU AND YOUR SHULCHAN ARUKH ARE GOING TO TRAYF UP ALL MY POTS”.

The idea is that these women generally have a more intuitive sense of what’s right and wrong, and often will not resort to halakhic codes in order to reach that determination. Call it ‘Torat imecha’ if you will; it is a very real phenomenon.

I will highlight this with two examples where my own ADDeRebbetzin reacted to a specific practice or ruling with visceral condemnation. The first is with regard to the burgeoning practice of women getting aliyot at what are being called ‘Egal-Orthodox’ or ‘Shira-Chadasha-Style’ minyanim. My reaction is to evaluate it on its halakhic merits and demerits. Hers is to condemn: “I don’t care what the halakha says; it’s just wrong.”

The second was with regard to former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu’s ruling that if it will protect Jewish lives, then it would be completely permissible to carpet-bomb the heck out of Gaza (though it seems that they really don’t need much help over there), even if it would mean a number of civilian casualties. Her reaction was equally visceral: “I don’t care if that’s what the halakha says; it’s just wrong.”

I wonder if Rebbetzin Eliyahu is screaming at her husband: “YOU AND YOUR SHULCHAN ARUKH ARE GOING TO PERPETRATE WAR CRIMES!

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