Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Proofreading, part 28

Most readers here, I imagine, live in countries where rights and responsibilities in the social plane are officially not apportioned with reference to gender. Broadly, this is because it is a matter of principle that women and men function as equal members of society. How well this actually plays out in practice is another matter, but in principle, that's how it is.

It is then implausible to expect the religious plane to stand orthogonal to the social plane. To function as a full citizen in one plane and an adjunct citizen in another plane requires either a superhuman suspension of disbelief or an impaired existence in one or both planes.

This isn't good for religion's chances – if you're used to functioning fully in a social plane, you're not going to take kindly to being told you have lesser status in a religious plane. But further, it encourages the idea that the religious and social planes are and must be distinct. As someone who sees religion as an enhancement to, not a removal from, the social plane, this doesn't work for me.

Like it or not, social climate filters into Jewish life, and in social climates which foster egalitarianism, there will exist egalitarian Jewish life, in which the idea of women as an adjunct class is in principle both redundant and repugnant. Given such a change in the makeup of society, it is not implausible for its women to write Torahs. Naturally there are communities in which women are, and are content with being, adjuncts, and certainly these communities shouldn't have women writing their Torahs, but these are not communities I choose to live in.

The halakhic aspect to follow.

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