Orthodox Judaism & Sexism [Title Change]

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Orthodox Judaism & Sexism [Title Change]

Postby jewish_scientist » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:10 am UTC

There was a column published in a newspaper recently (I am not sure which one) called "Why should bias against women get a pass?" by Amanda Bennett. Basically, I am confident that I can disprove every points she makes. However, what can I do to express myself?

I could start a blog or post on a forum, but then I am just some guy on the internet whose ideas will quickly fade into the sea of, lets say not so well thought out opinions. I could write to the newspaper, but I doubt they would even give me a response. I could write and send an article to my college's newspaper, but I doubt they would publish it. Even if it did, who would even read it. Even if they read it, who would even acknowledge its ideas as legitimate arguments against a well established journalist.

To put it simple, how can I express myself in a fruitful way? I have had this problem before, but I have yet to see a solution. If I wanted to be a little dramatic, I could say 'What is the use of free speech if no one will listen?'

P.S. If you are interested in what my arguments are, just ask and I will post them. It is worth pointing out that she specifically refers to the Jewish law that a man and women should not touch each other casually, e.g. shake hands.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby slinches » Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:12 am UTC

If your arguments really are sound post them anywhere and everywhere you can. The marketplace for ideas isn't a meritocracy, it's a bazaar where the loudest and flashiest displays are seen first. If you sell them well enough (and they are good enough to take hold) they'll begin to spread from there.

If you want to get credit for the ideas, you should find some way to publish them officially first. Then your work may be referenced enough that you'll get some recognition.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:35 am UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:There was a column published in a newspaper recently (I am not sure which one) called "Why should bias against women get a pass?" by Amanda Bennett. Basically, I am confident that I can disprove every points she makes. However, what can I do to express myself?


The title of this thread is unfortunate. Typos, especially visible ones, can kill an otherwise sound argument. Presentation matters for a lot.

I could start a blog or post on a forum, but then I am just some guy on the internet whose ideas will quickly fade into the sea of, lets say not so well thought out opinions. I could write to the newspaper, but I doubt they would even give me a response. I could write and send an article to my college's newspaper, but I doubt they would publish it. Even if it did, who would even read it. Even if they read it, who would even acknowledge its ideas as legitimate arguments against a well established journalist.


There's a huge amount of folks out there, for sure. And most of them believe their arguments are right, logical, and correct. Welcome to the club.

Freedom of speech does not mean you are entitled to others listening to or caring about your message. You must find a way to attract them. Mostly, this means a lot of practice. Forums such as this are excellent for refining arguments and presentation of them. Newspapers often want content, but they do need to filter for quality. If your letter is easy to read, clear in intent, and fairly terse, it stands a much better chance of seeing print.

As for legitimacy, plenty of people are willing to consider ideas other than those written by journalists. In fact, with the growing skepticism of mass media, and the increasing irrelevancy of traditional newspapers, legitimacy based on your identity is now less a problem than ever before.

Bust out your stuff here, and we can chat about it, if you like.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby Neil_Boekend » Wed Apr 29, 2015 11:05 am UTC

First voice them carefully in a single place where you can expect feedback. If you get shot down with good arguments then you'll feel silly if you posted it everywhere.

By the way, is it about this post?
I would like to hear your arguments but I'll note that this forum is a good place to get heavy criticism at anything that promotes sexism. That is both a warning and an invitation.
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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby jewish_scientist » Wed Apr 29, 2015 1:06 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
jewish_scientist wrote:There was a column published in a newspaper recently (I am not sure which one) called "Why should bias against women get a pass?" by Amanda Bennett. Basically, I am confident that I can disprove every points she makes. However, what can I do to express myself?


The title of this thread is unfortunate. Typos, especially visible ones, can kill an otherwise sound argument. Presentation matters for a lot.


My morning so far;
6:00 to 8:17 - stuff
8:17 - check forum for my post
8:17 - face palm

I my defense, I made that post at 2:30 AM, so I could have been so much worse. (https://xkcd.com/68/).

Tydmyr wrote:Freedom of speech does not mean you are entitled to others listening to or caring about your message..


I acknowledge and agree with https://xkcd.com/1357/ . What I am afraid of is that people will casually dismiss my ideas because of an ad hominem e.g. He is an observant Jew; he is on the internet; he is not famous; he is not published etc. If people seriously considered my arguments and respond with a counter-argument, I would accept it. That is actually what I would like to happen. That said...

Neil_Boekend wrote:I would like to hear your arguments but I'll note that this forum is a good place to get heavy criticism at anything that promotes sexism. That is both a warning and an invitation.


Challenge: Accepted!

-jewish_scientist

P.S. That is the same article.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby quantropy » Wed Apr 29, 2015 1:47 pm UTC

The place to express your arguments is this forum. There may be some other forum in the world where you can discuss things in a logical way, but if there is then I have yet to find it.

That said, I would also recommend setting up a blog or a web page expressing your views. Sometimes an argument may have interlinked parts, and these need to be put together in one place.

One thing to consider though is if you really believe that it's worth your time doing this. If you feel strongly about it then it probably is, but to respond to criticisms, clarify your arguments etc. may take longer than you expect, and there are no doubt better things you could be doing with your time.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby jewish_scientist » Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:18 pm UTC

I started rereading the article and some of the articles it links to, but I had to stop and get this off my chest because every time I see it a internally flip out.

The term 'Ultra-Orthadox' is offensive and possible antisemitic, depending on how you define antisemitism. Quick lesson on Jewish 'fractions'.

Orthodox Jews believe that all the laws that applied to our ancestors apply to us. It is worth pointing out that the vast majority (I would estimate 80-90%) of Jews 100 years ago would fall into this group. Also, people who believe that the laws should be followed, but do not actually follow them, are Orthodox. An example of a person in this group is an assimilated Jew want to become fully observant, but is currently in the middle of the transition. The Chassidic movement was a movement within the Orthodox community. To simplify things to the point of almost being insulting, it was a change in philosophy, not practical action (mostly).

Reform Jews believe that the laws are metaphors that do not have to literally be followed or do not apply to modern Jews. The movement was started by a rabbi who wanted to compromise with the secular world. His idea was that Jews should be 'citizens in the street, and Jews in the home'. This way, Jews would not feel pressured to assimilate while still, technically, keeping the laws of Judaism. When he saw how his movement actually lead to Jews not following the laws and were becoming fully assimilated, he regretted what he did.

Conservative Jews are compromise between these two. The story goes that a group of Orthodox Jews where convinced to become Reform. At a celebration of one kind or another, shellfish was served. Shellfish is not kosher. When ex-Orthodox Jews made a big deal about this, he Reform Jews said that because the laws do not have to be followed, shellfish can be served without any problems. The offended Jews disagreed and split off to start the Conservative movement. They keep some laws (usually in a water downed form) and not others. I have no idea what their philosophy is.

Knowing this, what does 'Ultra-Orthodox' mean. I think the definition would be along the lines of 'a Jew who follows all the religious laws more than an Orthodox Jew'. Do a simple substitution and the definition becomes 'a Jew who follows all religious laws more than another Jew who follows all religious laws.' Its like saying 'Ultra-Law-Abiding-Citizen', which would refer to a person who follows all the government's laws more than another person who follows all the government's laws. It makes Jews who are simple doing what the Torah (Bible) instructs them sound like an radical or extremest. This in turn implies that 'regular' Jews are the ones that believe that most, if not all, of the Torah is not applicable to modern times. By this same logic, Christian priests would be 'Ultra-Christians' , voters would be 'Ultra-Democrats' and people with a job would be 'Ultra-Capitalists'.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Apr 30, 2015 7:24 pm UTC

I'm gonna play devil's advocate, because it sounds fun, and hey, it'll be good practice.

jewish_scientist wrote:I started rereading the article and some of the articles it links to, but I had to stop and get this off my chest because every time I see it a internally flip out.

The term 'Ultra-Orthadox' is offensive and possible antisemitic, depending on how you define antisemitism. Quick lesson on Jewish 'fractions'.


*shrug* Not sure how it's antisemitic. Orthodox is a pretty normally used term, and it's not inherently perjorative or anything. It's a descriptive term about the religious subset that cares about this, not an insult.

Knowing this, what does 'Ultra-Orthodox' mean. I think the definition would be along the lines of 'a Jew who follows all the religious laws more than an Orthodox Jew'. Do a simple substitution and the definition becomes 'a Jew who follows all religious laws more than another Jew who follows all religious laws.' Its like saying 'Ultra-Law-Abiding-Citizen', which would refer to a person who follows all the government's laws more than another person who follows all the government's laws. It makes Jews who are simple doing what the Torah (Bible) instructs them sound like an radical or extremest. This in turn implies that 'regular' Jews are the ones that believe that most, if not all, of the Torah is not applicable to modern times. By this same logic, Christian priests would be 'Ultra-Christians' , voters would be 'Ultra-Democrats' and people with a job would be 'Ultra-Capitalists'.


The substituted definition is congruent. Extreme Right Wing is a reasonable term that sees use. What's radical is determined by the population, not by it's relationship to a ruleset. If only a few percent of the population take the same viewpoint you do, with the rest all arrayed to one side of you, guess what, you're extreme.

Also, we call the equivalent sort of Christian folks "fundies". Or "crazy fundies". Cultists might be more appropriate for some. LOTS of people see following old religious rules in great detail to be a little ridiculous. Judaism is not treated special in regards to this. Welcome to the club.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri May 01, 2015 8:20 am UTC

Indeed. Fundamentalism and strict literalism aren't wholly well looked upon by secular society, and it's probably to the article's credit that it didn't just use the word "fundamentalist," which has some fairly negative connotations when used in conjunction with Christianity or Islam. At least within Christianity and Islam, those groups also tend to be shaped a bit by reactionism - the basic views wouldn't have been unusual 100 years ago, but now there's a push and pull with the new majority that causes people to 1) shore up their identities in the difference, which can have the effect of exaggerating their stances and the fervency with which they're held and 2) still feel pressure to conform and make exceptions in other ways, although that may be less relevant in this case.
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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby Neil_Boekend » Fri May 01, 2015 8:43 am UTC

In the article I read "ultra-Orthodox" as "Orthodox Jew who stands by his religion even when it is insulting to others". Because that is what Amanda means.
If that is insulting and antisemitic then we must first determine whether it is insulting to identify the "old rule following" subgroup of Orthodox Jews at all or whether that name itself is insulting. If the name itself is insulting it should probably be possible to find a different name that still describes clearly what it means. To get people to use it is difficult to say the least.
If the identification is problematic then the problem is quite different. Not allowing the subgroup to be identified is even more difficult than changing the name used to identify them, and even that seems impossible. People have a tendency to label, as it makes things easy. And, as others have noted, the most likely alternate label ("fundamentalist") is far worse.
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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby ivnja » Fri May 01, 2015 9:43 am UTC

I agree with Neil and quantropy that this forum is the sort of place where you'll be able to get some close examination of (and very likely pushback against) your ideas, with the benefit of being able to continue to interact with us and shape your arguments. I do look forward to seeing what you have to say.

Some quibbles about what's already been posted:
jewish_scientist wrote:Quick lesson on Jewish 'fractions'.
This is super-minor, but while "fraction" can technically mean a dissenting group within a larger one, the much more commonly used word in this context would be "faction" (no R).

I also agree with Tyndmyr that your "ultra-" comparisons may not be quite apt. As far as Ultra-Law-Abiding-Citizen goes, assuming you drive, do you ever speed in your car (or on a bicycle, ride on the sidewalk or turn without signaling)? Have you used an unsecured wi-fi network without getting permission? I absolutely consider myself a law-abiding citizen, but at the same time I'm aware that while I follow the spirit of the laws (and in the vast majority of cases, the letter), there are some that end up being just too strict to be kept religiously, especially when everyone else is also bending them - and in some cases, strictly keeping to the rules can be inconveniencing or harmful to others, like sticking steadfastly to a 65mph limit when traffic is all moving at 75. The Ultra-Law-Abiding-Citizen would be the person who goes strictly by the book, no exception. [This analogy is perhaps complicated by the fact that our laws are also constantly being updated. If I kept faithfully to the original laws in my state, I'd still be obligated to bring my shotgun to church every Sunday in case of Native American attack.]
The other three "ultra-"s you mention are really not spectacular analogies either. I'm pointing these out more for the sake of critiquing argument style than anything. I voted Democrat in a couple races in the last election here...I also voted Republican, and a couple independents. Am I ultra- all three? I have no particular affiliation with any of the parties. On the other hand, I know folks who I would consider Ultra-Democrats - their political views line up very closely with the official platform of the Democratic Party, they help spread those views, and they are registered members of the party. If they skip voting in an election, do they stop being Ultra-Democrats? As far as Ultra-Capitalists, the "capitalists" in the Capitalist system are the actual owners of capital - i.e. the folks who invest the money to buy the factories (and other equivalent money-generating assets) and reap the rewards. John D. Rockefeller was an ultra-capitalist. Having a job does not make one a capitalist. Do jobs not exist in socialism (for example)? Be careful when you're making your arguments that you don't get sloppy with your analogies - it detracts from what you're trying to say.

However...to get back to your point, if you feel that Ultra-Orthodox is derogatory, I don't want to call them (you?) that. I've seen "Strictly Orthodox" used - would that be an acceptable alternative?
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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby jewish_scientist » Sun May 03, 2015 11:48 pm UTC

I am Orthodox and had just been reading a lot of articles that used the term 'Ultra-Orthodox', so I was emotionally charged when I made that last post. I will try to be calmer in the future. Just a warning, but this post is going to be long.

Tyndmyr wrote:
jewish_scientist wrote:I started rereading the article and some of the articles it links to, but I had to stop and get this off my chest because every time I see it a internally flip out.

The term 'Ultra-Orthadox' is offensive and possible antisemitic, depending on how you define antisemitism. Quick lesson on Jewish 'fractions'.


*shrug* Not sure how it's antisemitic. Orthodox is a pretty normally used term, and it's not inherently perjorative or anything. It's a descriptive term about the religious subset that cares about this, not an insult.


It is not the term orthodox that I find offensive, its the prefix ultra-. If the articles got rid of that prefix then I would have no problem.

Tyndmyr wrote:
Knowing this, what does 'Ultra-Orthodox' mean. I think the definition would be along the lines of 'a Jew who follows all the religious laws more than an Orthodox Jew'. Do a simple substitution and the definition becomes 'a Jew who follows all religious laws more than another Jew who follows all religious laws.' Its like saying 'Ultra-Law-Abiding-Citizen', which would refer to a person who follows all the government's laws more than another person who follows all the government's laws. It makes Jews who are simple doing what the Torah (Bible) instructs them sound like an radical or extremest. This in turn implies that 'regular' Jews are the ones that believe that most, if not all, of the Torah is not applicable to modern times. By this same logic, Christian priests would be 'Ultra-Christians' , voters would be 'Ultra-Democrats' and people with a job would be 'Ultra-Capitalists'.


The substituted definition is congruent. Extreme Right Wing is a reasonable term that sees use. What's radical is determined by the population, not by it's relationship to a ruleset. If only a few percent of the population take the same viewpoint you do, with the rest all arrayed to one side of you, guess what, you're extreme.

Also, we call the equivalent sort of Christian folks "fundies". Or "crazy fundies". Cultists might be more appropriate for some. LOTS of people see following old religious rules in great detail to be a little ridiculous. Judaism is not treated special in regards to this. Welcome to the club.


Those are some good points. Referring to a person as politically radical is very (with an 'e' :)) different than referring to a person as religiously radical. People who so strongly believe in their platform that they refuse to compromise are called extreme [insert political party here]. People who so strongly believe in their religion that they use violence are called [insert religion name here] extremist. What I am trying to say is that people at the furthest ends of a spectrum are extremists. People at the furthest ends of the religious spectrum are horrible people. Therefor, Orthodox Jews are not extremest. We may be more to the left or right on the spectrum, depending on how you define it, but we are not at the ends.

I have never heard the word cult used in a complimentary or neutral way. If 'crazy fundy' is equivalent to cultist, then it is an insult. Just because there is an insulting word that corresponds to every group, does not mean that the words are not insulting. For example, there are a lot of words (that I do not want to type out) that insult people who are African, Asian, Latino, and Inuit, but those words are still racist.


Copper Bezel wrote:Indeed. Fundamentalism and strict literalism aren't wholly well looked upon by secular society, and it's probably to the article's credit that it didn't just use the word "fundamentalist," which has some fairly negative connotations when used in conjunction with Christianity or Islam.



I kind of agree with you, but kind of disagree are the same time. When referring to religion, fundamentalist definitely has some negative connotations. I guess Ultra-Orthodox is like the Jewish version of fundamentalism. It just that whenever I see it being used, it is always in a negative light. In addition, no one self-identifies as 'Ultra-Orthodox', but some people would identify are Fundamentalist Christians.


ivnja wrote:The other three "ultra-"s you mention are really not spectacular analogies either. I'm pointing these out more for the sake of critiquing argument style than anything. I voted Democrat in a couple races in the last election here...I also voted Republican, and a couple independents. Am I ultra- all three? I have no particular affiliation with any of the parties. On the other hand, I know folks who I would consider Ultra-Democrats - their political views line up very closely with the official platform of the Democratic Party, they help spread those views, and they are registered members of the party. If they skip voting in an election, do they stop being Ultra-Democrats? As far as Ultra-Capitalists, the "capitalists" in the Capitalist system are the actual owners of capital - i.e. the folks who invest the money to buy the factories (and other equivalent money-generating assets) and reap the rewards. John D. Rockefeller was an ultra-capitalist. Having a job does not make one a capitalist. Do jobs not exist in socialism (for example)? Be careful when you're making your arguments that you don't get sloppy with your analogies - it detracts from what you're trying to say.


I used four 'ultra-' analogies. You forgot about priests being 'Ultra-Christians'. I used 'democrats' to refer to the system of government, not the political party. I really should have worded that better. If I did mean the political party then you would be completely right. The rest of the analogies are rubbish. Rereading it, I can't believe I actually made them.

ivnja wrote:However...to get back to your point, if you feel that Ultra-Orthodox is derogatory, I don't want to call them (you?) that. I've seen "Strictly Orthodox" used - would that be an acceptable alternative?


Yes, that is a much better term. Orthodox Jews, like myself, would call themselves strictly Orthodox. That is really important when trying to find a label for a group of people. In addition, it does not imply extremism.

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First things first; establish what the objective is. My objective is to show that Amanda Bennett is incorrect.

Second things second; recognize the opposition. Exactly what is Bennett saying? She says that sexism that has a religious motivation is tolerated by society. This is known because the behavior of some Jews is sexist and is tolerated by society. Then she says that biases of other types that have a religious motivation are not tolerated by society. She concludes that society should be changed so that sexism that has a religious motivation is not tolerated.

Third things third; set up a strategy. Her conclusion is based on two principles. If either one is removed, then the conclusion cannot be reached. I will prove that the first of her principles is wrong; society does not currently tolerate sexism that is motivated by Judaism. I will do this by proving that Judaism does not promote sexism. To achieve this I must explain why the behaviors of some Jews are not sexist. Bennett targets two behaviors in particular; men should not touch women and men should not sit next to women.


In Jewish law, the touching of men and women is forbidden. Men and women may sit next to each other according to the letter of the law, but it is not preferable. Bennett gives two reasons why men do not touch women.

The first is that for about 2 weeks every month a woman is ritually unclean. During this time, it is forbidden for her husband to be intimate with her and to touch her. This law does not apply (as far as I am aware) to men who are not her husband. Therefor, it is irrelevant to this conversation.

The second is that, "women are such powerful sexual stimulants that men must avoid any touch that might awaken their senses..." Women are not just powerful sexual stimulants, the are THE sexual stimulant. A man* is physically aroused by things that remind him of intercourse e.g. women or the reproductive organs. It is forbidden for men to fantasize about woman. I would prefer to not explain why. I am sure that everyone reading this can thing of a good reason. This is why men and women should not touch.

The reason that I keep writing 'and' in bold is because the prohibitions go both ways. A woman should not shake hands with or sit next to a man. Reread the above paragraph but replace the words 'man' with 'woman' and 'woman' with 'man'. The logic still holds.

If the actions taken by men and women are identical and the logic behind the actions identical, the actions are not sexist. Therefor, society does not tolerate Judaism's bias against women. Therefor, Berrett's conclusion is wrong.


Here is something to think about, by why do all the articles she brings up mention a man refusing to sit next to a woman. The prohibition applies to women also. Unless women travel significantly less than men, there should be just as many incidents and articles about woman refusing to sit next to men. So, why are there not? I have two suggestions.

1) When a woman feels uncomfortable sitting next to a man, it is understandable and no incident occurs; when a man feels uncomfortable sitting next to a woman, it is taken as an insult and an incident occurs.

2) Orthodox men can be recognized by how they look while Orthodox women cannot. When an Orthodox man refuses to sit next to a women, people object because they know that the reason is most likely religious in origin. When an Orthodox woman refuses to sit next to a man, people do not object because they assume that the reason is unrelated to her religion.

*I am ingoring homosexual men. There is simply no way to mention them in this context that will not completely redirect the conversation.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby elasto » Mon May 04, 2015 1:10 am UTC

Do you have a link to the article you're trying to refute?

I think you make a good case that if women are not allowed to sit next to men and men are not allowed to sit next to women that that directive can't be sexist. You don't need to go into any details for the reasons (valid or otherwise - I'd argue otherwise) for the prohibition - the fact that it is symmetric is enough.

However I assume you'd never try to deny that Orthodox Judaism per say is sexist though, right? For example women aren't allowed to be ordained as Rabbis, correct? I assume as a practising Orthodox Jew you'd argue that there are 'good reasons' for that, but it's sexist purely by definition.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby krogoth » Mon May 04, 2015 1:13 am UTC

While you call yourself an Strictly-orhodox, vs ultra-orthodox, vs Reform it's a bit hard to know how I would characterize you,

Reform would be as, follow the law until it's too hard or conflicts with internal morals. Do you watch out for Shatnez?

How do you treat Ex-Haredim?

Are there any questionable things in the book you follow as law?

Do you bend to the laws of man over the laws of the torah(bible)? never? rarely? sometimes?

I haven't actually read the torah, how much is the same as with the Christian old testament?

You don't have think of coitus just because you are in physical contact with someone, I generally don't think too much about the gender of people I meet and know. I recognize it, (most of the time, some people these days :/ not that it matters), but that as far as I'm aware has little to no impact on how i react to them.

Women are not just powerful sexual stimulants, the are THE sexual stimulant. A man* is physically aroused by things that remind him of intercourse e.g. women or the reproductive organs. It is forbidden for men to fantasize about woman. I would prefer to not explain why. I am sure that everyone reading this can thing of a good reason. This is why men and women should not touch.


I would be careful with my wording here if I were you, I'm sure you are trying to say this in both directions, the way it's written makes it sound like women are the temptation, as a one directional statement rather than

"They(one gender) are the sexual stimulant, physical contact with said other gender can cause fantasy." I'm sure this could be worded better.
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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby elasto » Mon May 04, 2015 1:24 am UTC

Yeah. Though I think the directive as described by you isn't sexist, the reasons you gave for the directive are horrifically sexist. Unforgivably so in the eyes of a modern, liberal, liberated society really.

Why should a woman be 'unclean' around the time of her p.eriod? Whatever 'science' you could back that up with couldn't possibly stretch to two weeks out of the month.

And, as krogoth says, why the emphasis on women tempting men and not men tempting women? Sure, the male sex drive is typically stronger but that doesn't mean women don't and won't fantasise about men. That's an extremely out-dated and sexist notion.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby ivnja » Mon May 04, 2015 2:12 am UTC

elasto wrote:Do you have a link to the article you're trying to refute?
Why is it okay to discriminate against women for religious reasons? - Neil_Boekend had posted it above.

jewish_scientist wrote:Orthodox Jews, like myself, would call themselves strictly Orthodox.
Like Krogoth, I'm a little confused here. From an outsider's perspective, there appears to be two fairly distinct groups of Jews that are both referred to as Orthodox. Wikipedia tells me that the (again, from an outsider's perspective) more mainstream / less strict / more willing to integrate with society group is Modern Orthodox. I'm under the impression that this is the group that most people might think of when someone just says "Orthodox". I'm also under the impression that they (including the men) do not tend to wear all black and aren't as outwardly identifiable. The second group is what outsiders would call Ultra-Orthodox or strictly Orthodox. In your quote, I can't tell if you're suggesting that Orthodox Jews in general would all call themselves strictly Orthodox, or if you're just placing yourself in the group of Jews that call themselves strictly Orthodox. If I have the distinction between the groups right, maybe for discussions in the thread we could try to always use Modern Orthodox vs strictly Orthodox (or even more clearly, Haredi?) to keep it straight who is talking about what?

Also, when it comes to our replies, do you want us to focus first on what I guess you could call the internal consistency of strictly Orthodox laws (e.g. commenting on whether the prohibition on touch goes both ways means that the law is not sexist), or are you fine with everyone jumping right in with questions/comments about how the law fits in modern society and ritual cleanliness and such? You'll eventually have to address those sorts of questions, but I don't want us to overwhelm you with waves of criticism right off the bat.
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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby jewish_scientist » Mon May 04, 2015 7:50 am UTC

elasto wrote:I think you make a good case that if women are not allowed to sit next to men and men are not allowed to sit next to women that that directive can't be sexist. You don't need to go into any details for the reasons... the fact that it is symmetric is enough.


I know! I just have to do that one thing and I refute the entire article. Thanks.

elasto wrote:However I assume you'd never try to deny that Orthodox Judaism per say is sexist though, right? For example women aren't allowed to be ordained as Rabbis, correct? I assume as a practising Orthodox Jew you'd argue that there are 'good reasons' for that, but it's sexist purely by definition.


I think you misunderstand the logic I used. I said, "If (with one 'f') action A is symmetrical, then A cannot be biased." You think that I said, "Iff (with two 'f's) action A is symmetrical, then A cannot be biased." In logic, there is a huge difference between the two.# The second statement is rather easy to refute. If it is true, the doctors are sexist for not giving men pregnancy tests.

krogoth wrote:While you call yourself an Strictly-orhodox, vs ultra-orthodox, vs Reform it's a bit hard to know how I would characterize you...


That is a different talk for a different time. The short answer; I am a Chabad Lubavitch ba'al teshuva.

krogth wrote:Are there any questionable things in the book you follow as law?

Do you bend to the laws of man over the laws of the torah(bible)? never? rarely? sometimes?

I haven't actually read the torah, how much is the same as with the Christian old testament?


Assuming that 'the book' means the Torah, that's a trick question. I am sure that you did not intend it to be. A law student follows the laws even if he does not currently understand the rationality behind them. Same with me and the Torah. Right now I do not know what the reasons for each law are, but I know that they exist. There is a law of the Torah (Bible or Old Testament) that says that the law of the land is the law of the Torah, except when there is a conflict between the two. That means that there is a religious obligation for me to put stickers on my mailbox.

krogth wrote:You don't have think of coitus just because you are in physical contact with someone, I generally don't think too much about the gender of people I meet and know. I recognize it, (most of the time, some people these days :/ not that it matters), but that as far as I'm aware has little to no impact on how i react to them.


The point is not that touching always causes lustful thought, but that it can. Can you honestly say that physical contact, of any kind, between a man and a woman has 0% chance of causing lustful thought in one of them?

krogth wrote:
Women are not just powerful sexual stimulants, the are THE sexual stimulant. A man* is physically aroused by things that remind him of intercourse e.g. women or the reproductive organs. It is forbidden for men to fantasize about woman. I would prefer to not explain why. I am sure that everyone reading this can thing of a good reason. This is why men and women should not touch.


I would be careful with my wording here if I were you, I'm sure you are trying to say this in both directions, the way it's written makes it sound like women are the temptation, as a one directional statement rather than

"They(one gender) are the sexual stimulant, physical contact with said other gender can cause fantasy." I'm sure this could be worded better.


That paragraph is out of context. The following paragraph tells you to reverse the genders. If people are going to quote me out of context, no matter what I do they will make me into a straw-man.


elasto wrote:Yeah. Though I think the directive as described by you isn't sexist, the reasons you gave for the directive are horrifically sexist. Unforgivably so in the eyes of a modern, liberal, liberated society really.

Why should a woman be 'unclean' around the time of her p.eriod? Whatever 'science' you could back that up with couldn't possibly stretch to two weeks out of the month.


To be clear, it is not physically unclean. It is ritually or spiritually unclean. Those are really not good translations. The point is, being ritually unclean does not mean that you are in a lower status or state. It is just something that is.

The time is not exactly two weeks. Its a little bit shorter. What is very interesting though, is that when a man's wife becomes ritually clean, he is required to 'know' her. This is noteworthy because at about this time in a woman's monthly cycle, she is most likely to become pregnant.

You did not explicitly ask this, but I will put it in anyway. This separation helps bring the couple closer, emotionally. For half the time, they cannot touch each other. This forces then to look at their partner as a human being with a personality, desires, and life goals. If they could always be together, this emotional connection would not form as quickly and would not be as strong. Physical contact absolutely depends the bond between them. This cycle of "knowing" physical-emotional guaranties that a husband and wife connect in ways no one else can. It is fairly telling that the word "know" is the most accurate translation of the word used to describe that act.

elasto wrote:And, as krogoth says, why the emphasis on women tempting men and not men tempting women? Sure, the male sex drive is typically stronger but that doesn't mean women don't and won't fantasise about men. That's an extremely out-dated and sexist notion.


The prohibitions are symmetrical. Woman must not touch men least they imagine lustful thoughts. Whether or not men tend to be tested in this way more often does not change the fact that the law goes both ways.

ivnja wrote:
jewish_scientist wrote:Orthodox Jews, like myself, would call themselves strictly Orthodox.
Like Krogoth, I'm a little confused here. From an outsider's perspective, there appears to be two fairly distinct groups of Jews that are both referred to as Orthodox. Wikipedia tells me that the (again, from an outsider's perspective) more mainstream / less strict / more willing to integrate with society group is Modern Orthodox. I'm under the impression that this is the group that most people might think of when someone just says "Orthodox". I'm also under the impression that they (including the men) do not tend to wear all black and aren't as outwardly identifiable. The second group is what outsiders would call Ultra-Orthodox or strictly Orthodox. In your quote, I can't tell if you're suggesting that Orthodox Jews in general would all call themselves strictly Orthodox, or if you're just placing yourself in the group of Jews that call themselves strictly Orthodox. If I have the distinction between the groups right, maybe for discussions in the thread we could try to always use Modern Orthodox vs strictly Orthodox (or even more clearly, Haredi?) to keep it straight who is talking about what?


At a certain point we are just arguing semantics. Unless you, personally, want to research this topic further, there is simply no way for me to explain this all to you. Even if I was teaching a weekly in person class, it would take months to explain this all to you. There is a famous saying that we have: "Ask two Jews a question and you will get three answers."

ivnja wrote:Also, when it comes to our replies, do you want us to focus first on what I guess you could call the internal consistency of strictly Orthodox laws (e.g. commenting on whether the prohibition on touch goes both ways means that the law is not sexist), or are you fine with everyone jumping right in with questions/comments about how the law fits in modern society and ritual cleanliness and such? You'll eventually have to address those sorts of questions, but I don't want us to overwhelm you with waves of criticism right off the bat.


If everyone is o.k. with me doing very long posts that address everyone individually, then ask away. Just make it clear in what context your question is being asked because we probably start to have overlapping conversations.


# http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_and_only_if
Last edited by jewish_scientist on Fri May 08, 2015 12:31 pm UTC, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby Trebla » Mon May 04, 2015 11:44 am UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:
elasto wrote:However I assume you'd never try to deny that Orthodox Judaism per say is sexist though, right? For example women aren't allowed to be ordained as Rabbis, correct? I assume as a practising Orthodox Jew you'd argue that there are 'good reasons' for that, but it's sexist purely by definition.


I think you misunderstand the logic I used. I said, "If (with one 'f') action A is symmetrical, then A cannot be biased." You think that I said, "Iff (with two 'f's) action A is symmetrical, then A cannot be biased." In logic, there is a huge difference between the two.# The second statement is rather easy to refute. If it is true, the doctors are sexist for not giving men pregnancy tests.


Treating genders differently for physiological reasons isn't (necessarily) sexist. Denying one gender something they desire that the other gender has is, by definition, sexist. In other words... if men wanted to take pregnancy tests, they could.

In casual conversation, "if" is often "iff." If you mean the formal logic "if" rather than "iff" then it would be better understood if you clarified (e.g., this sentence).

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby jewish_scientist » Mon May 04, 2015 12:19 pm UTC

Trebla wrote:
jewish_scientist wrote:
elasto wrote:However I assume you'd never try to deny that Orthodox Judaism per say is sexist though, right? For example women aren't allowed to be ordained as Rabbis, correct? I assume as a practising Orthodox Jew you'd argue that there are 'good reasons' for that, but it's sexist purely by definition.


I think you misunderstand the logic I used. I said, "If (with one 'f') action A is symmetrical, then A cannot be biased." You think that I said, "Iff (with two 'f's) action A is symmetrical, then A cannot be biased." In logic, there is a huge difference between the two.# The second statement is rather easy to refute. If it is true, the doctors are sexist for not giving men pregnancy tests.


Treating genders differently for physiological reasons isn't (necessarily) sexist. Denying one gender something they desire that the other gender has is, by definition, sexist. In other words... if men wanted to take pregnancy tests, they could.


Do you agree with me that in terms of mental health, men and women are different? E.g. a therapist should take the patient's gender into account when deciding what techniques and therapies are appropriate.

Trabla wrote:In casual conversation, "if" is often "iff." If you mean the formal logic "if" rather than "iff" then it would be better understood if you clarified (e.g., this sentence).


It has not been that way for me. In casual conversation, people who want to make an 'iff' statement would usually make two 'if' statements. However, I understand your point. I will try to be clearer in the future.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby elasto » Mon May 04, 2015 12:38 pm UTC

Ok. Thanks for the link ivnja; Must have missed it.

Having now read the article I think your argument is fatally flawed, j_s. You are straw-manning her.

Several times in your argument you talk about refuting a charge of sexism. The trouble is that Bennet never once uses the terms sexist or sexism! Go search for them; They're not there.

So your counter-argument of 'Jews aren't sexist because the prohibition is symmetric' is irrelevant, because that's not the argument she's making.

To summarize her position, she's making some analogies:

An Orthodox Jew refused to shake her hand, saying 'a man should not touch a woman'. She also says that Orthodox Jews refuse to sit next to women on planes.

She then compares that to a white person refusing to shake the hand of a black man, or a Christian refusing to sit next to a Jew on a plane.

It's no good saying 'well, it's not racist to refuse to shake the hand of a black person, because the prohibition goes both ways: Black people should also refuse to shake the hand of a white person' - because the argument is not about racism but about whether it's good for society to have segregation along racial lines!

Sure, society could function if black people never sat next to white people but I hope you acknowledge that there'd be all sorts of consequences to such an edict. Not least the fact that while society is racist and sexist - with white men holding much more of the balance of power than black men and white women - that such segregation would perpetuate and reinforce such power imbalances!

You may argue that there are 'good reasons' for keeping society segregated along gender lines but I'd argue that society loses much more than it gains. If you as a man are so inflamed by lust that you can't sit next to a woman without losing control then, frankly, that's your problem to work on. You probably also risk a lustful thought merely by seeing the face of a pretty women - so maybe women (and men) should veil up also?

Become a hermit and go live in the desert if you must 'keep yourself pure for God' and never once let a lustful thought enter your mind. As for the rest of us, 'cures' like gender segregation are far worse than the 'disease' - just as racial and religious segregation would be...

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby Trebla » Mon May 04, 2015 12:47 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:Do you agree with me that in terms of mental health, men and women are different? E.g. a therapist should take the patient's gender into account when deciding what techniques and therapies are appropriate.


Sure (at least taking your statement purely at face value that there are physiological differences between the sexes that may affect medical treatment), but I don't agree that women should be forbidden from becoming therapists (or Rabbis or Catholic Priests or Imams). Perhaps most women would be better suited for other careers (as most men are), but I don't see why that should preclude them from having the option.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby jewish_scientist » Mon May 04, 2015 3:28 pm UTC

elasto wrote:Having now read the article I think your argument is fatally flawed, j_s. You are straw-manning her.

Several times in your argument you talk about refuting a charge of sexism. The trouble is that Bennet never once uses the terms sexist or sexism! Go search for them; They're not there.

So your counter-argument of 'Jews aren't sexist because the prohibition is symmetric' is irrelevant, because that's not the argument she's making.


The title of the article is, "Why is it okay to discriminate against women for religious reason." Sexist is defined by Oxford Dictionary as, "Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex."* She does not use the word sexism, but that is what her article is about.

elasto wrote:You may argue that there are 'good reasons' for keeping society segregated along gender lines but I'd argue that society loses much more than it gains.
Underline added by me.

That phrase suggest that if the benefits are greater than the cost, then society should look down upon the touching of men and women. You said that you would argue on this, so let's argue. Tell me why you think allowing men and women to touch each other causally will benefit society.


Trebla, that was not my question. The therapist is not prescribing medicine. The patient is going to receive is psychological treatment. To restate the question: Should the therapist take the patient's gender into account when deciding what psychological treatments the patient will receive?



*http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/sexism

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby Trebla » Mon May 04, 2015 3:59 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:Trebla, that was not my question. The therapist is not prescribing medicine. The patient is going to receive is psychological treatment. To restate the question: Should the therapist take the patient's gender into account when deciding what psychological treatments the patient will receive?


To be fair, that's not what you said. You reworded this and now restrict yourself to psychological treatments. Though the answer is the same.

The answer is still "yes", there are physiological differences (specifically at the chemical level) which a competent therapist should consider when treating psychological issues. And again, this is unrelated to the claim that it's discriminatory to arbitrarily disallow women from the aforementioned professions.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby jewish_scientist » Mon May 04, 2015 4:42 pm UTC

I am sorry that I did not clearly state my question.

You believe that there are inherent physical and physiological differences between men and women. Is it so much of a stretch then to say that there are spiritual differences between men and women. You sill see how this all connects.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby elasto » Mon May 04, 2015 4:55 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:The title of the article is, "Why is it okay to discriminate against women for religious reason." Sexist is defined by Oxford Dictionary as, "Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex."* She does not use the word sexism, but that is what her article is about.


Even though the directive is symmetric, the results are not, because men and women don't have equal power in today's world. The results of segregation will always be to concentrate power further in the hands of the powerful to the detriment of the powerless. Hopefully that doesn't require too much explanation, but just take a quick refresher in the civil rights movement if it's unclear.

That phrase suggest that if the benefits are greater than the cost, then society should look down upon the touching of men and women. You said that you would argue on this, so let's argue. Tell me why you think allowing men and women to touch each other causally will benefit society.


Unless you're a radical fundamentalist you think that society benefits from men and women being allowed to look at each other's faces unveiled, right? Despite the fact that it risks 'inflaming lusts'?

The same reasoning applies to why men and women should be allowed to shake hands or sit in adjacent airline seats.

Basically, it's quite unreasonable to restrict someone else's freedoms in order to pander to your moral inadequacy, which is what both veils and segregation would end up doing.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby thefargo » Mon May 04, 2015 4:59 pm UTC

You believe that there are inherent physical and physiological differences between men and women. Is it so much of a stretch then to say that there are spiritual differences between men and women.


Yes. I do think it is a stretch. The first two lie firmly within the realm of the scientific method, where objective evidence can demonstrate those differences. The last is certainly subjective (I won't quibble that you are presupposing that a spiritual side even exists at all, which is not universally believed). Since we are talking about constructing a societal norm, I am reluctant to use something as ephemeral as "spiritual differences".

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon May 04, 2015 5:53 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:That phrase suggest that if the benefits are greater than the cost, then society should look down upon the touching of men and women. You said that you would argue on this, so let's argue. Tell me why you think allowing men and women to touch each other causally will benefit society.

I actually don't think that's an argument you want to open, is it? You've already said that the law is binding whether we "understand" it or not, that is, whether we can identify a way in which it would be beneficial to society. It must be accepted in whole without modification, and it has a spiritual dimension that is invisible to society. The idea that lustful thoughts or feelings - that is, any degree of arousal - are something to be avoided at all costs is simply not consistent or compatible with mainstream society. There just isn't a cost associated, and largely we'd assume that superficial gestures like avoiding contact with the opposite sex don't inhibit instincts, just mask them, or even encourage "forbidden fruit" effects, etc.

Soap commercials encourage sexual thoughts more than sitting next to a woman on an airplane does. And I'm not going to say that society has this sorted or that we don't still repress and commoditize, because we most definitely do. But you're going to have a hard time finding an argument for the practice in the best interests of society, and if you're starting from the point of "how do I justify this law," you frankly don't care about those interests in the first place. This isn't the conclusion you'd come to without the law.

It's like your rendering of "unclean." Maybe the primary real social effect is exactly what you say, causing partners to value sexual bonding through periodic abstinence. That sounds rather clever at first blush. But it doesn't change the fact that "unclean" already means a thing, and it isn't "tantalizingly unavailable." It's associated with, what, being 1) unfit for human consumption and 2) unworthy of contact with the divine? Those aren't positive associations.

And like it or not, anything you do to make sex a tightly regulated social commodity does hurt women more, because men have slightly higher sex drives and more than slightly higher social power, so when sex becomes a commodity, women kinda do, too.
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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby jewish_scientist » Mon May 04, 2015 7:19 pm UTC

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Judaism Prohibits Members of the Opposite Sex from Touching~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Eelsto, your post has two parts. I do not under stand the first part. I do not see the connection between what I said and what you said. Could you please make another post explaining what you meant in more detail. The second part is simple avoiding the question. You claimed that you can argue that society loses more than it gains from this practice. So... do it. Tell me what we would lose, what we would gain, and why the former is greater than the latter. Look at what you said.

elasto"[quote]That phrase suggest that if the benefits are greater than the cost, then society should look down upon the touching of men and women. You said that you would argue on this, so let's argue. Tell me why you think allowing men and women to touch each other causally will benefit society.[/quote]

Unless you're a radical fundamentalist you think that society benefits from men and women being allowed to look at each other's faces unveiled, right? Despite the fact that it risks 'inflaming lusts'?

The same reasoning applies to why men and women should be allowed to shake hands or sit in adjacent airline seats.[/quote]

There is a major distinction between looking at and touching another person. A woman/man who has a 'crush' on someone else will derive more pleasure from touching him/her than by looking at him/her. In addition, one can see another without being seen; when one touches another they both feel it. For these reasons the logic regarding touch cannot be applied to see. They are simply too different. Let me ask you though, what can be gained by men and women being allowed to touch each other? Also, I am not restricting anyone freedoms but my own. I have decided that I will not touch women because I believe it is the moral thing to do.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Why these Weird Title are here~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
[quote="thefargo wrote:
You believe that there are inherent physical and physiological differences between men and women. Is it so much of a stretch then to say that there are spiritual differences between men and women.


Yes. I do think it is a stretch. The first two lie firmly within the realm of the scientific method, where objective evidence can demonstrate those differences. The last is certainly subjective (I won't quibble that you are presupposing that a spiritual side even exists at all, which is not universally believed). Since we are talking about constructing a societal norm, I am reluctant to use something as ephemeral as "spiritual differences".


This exactly what I was afraid would happen. I said that in a conversation explaining why women cannot be rabbis. You mistook it for a reason I gave for the other conversation; whether or not forbidding men and women from touching is sexist. You know what, I have an idea...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Judaism Prohibits the Casual Touching of the Opposite Sex~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I said that I will follow the Torah even if I do not understand the laws. That does not mean that I cannot attempt to understand them, or explain them to others.

[quote="Copper Bezel"The idea that lustful thoughts or feelings - that is, any degree of arousal - are something to be avoided at all costs is simply not consistent or compatible with mainstream society.[/quote]

I am so confused. It sounds like you are saying that it is alright to have casual contact with the opposite sex because modern, main stream society says that it is alright. That cannot be what you are saying though because I trust that you are smart enough that the majority opinion is not always correct. I must have misunderstood you. Could you please explain this point to me again?

Regarding the soap commercials; you now understand why I do not watch T.V. The rest of that paragraph does not make sense to me. The middle looks like the paragraph directly above it and the end looks like an ad hominem. It just adds to my confusion. You need to remember that "ritually unclean" is a translation. Whenever text is translated, it changes a little.

How do my ideas make sex a commodity? It cannot be traded.

These laws protect women, not hurt them. The only way for a man to do so much as touch a woman he must first marry her. This sends the message that the only time 'touching' is appropriate is when it is based on a deep commitment. Also, the purpose of the other law that requires regular separation is for this reason. A husband and wife must spend time to learn about each other and strengthen their bond regularly so that these actions are done in the proper frame of mind.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby Copper Bezel » Mon May 04, 2015 7:54 pm UTC

It is not in any way an ad hominem attack to say that your interests in this discussion are not consistent with the ones you are stating. You're implicitly arguing that segregating the sexes has a benefit to society. I could not at present tell you what that benefit is; the continued existence of civilization illustrates that contact between the sexes and candor about sexuality do not in fact bring about the collapse of society.

Saying that mainstream society is not amenable to your assumptions and values is not an ad populum argument, either. When we make assumptions about what is "for the good of society," that's necessarily coming from a culturally derived framework. If you think that society should value a thing and it doesn't, you have to make a case for that. Those are the people you're ostensibly hoping to benefit. And in this case, the ethical frameworks of most of the people participating in this thread, or likely to read your argument wherever you're taking it, are built on similar sets of assumptions and values and arguments. So no, I'm not saying, "it's how Western society does things, so it's how Western society should do things," I'm saying you've got a tough row to hoe if you want to make an argument for how something that is anathema to Western values would have beneficial outcomes within that value framework.

More importantly, segregation of the sexes is an active, systematic process. It has costs inherently associated simply because it is a set of inconveniences and problems requiring solutions; it is difficult to maintain. It is a nonsense question to ask what is the "benefit" of "allowing" contact between the sexes. It is identical to asking what is the benefit of allowing contact between people of different races or people of different hair color. The idea that there is a benefit to segregation or a cost to contact between members of opposite sexes is something you have to prove from the ground up. The burden of proof is entirely yours.

It is also not necessary to prove at all in the context of this argument. If the strictly Orthodox Jewish choice is to limit contact with the opposite sex, for personal, religious reasons, a person can make that choice and accept its consequences freely. In this case, that would mean things like not watching television or traveling by air. You can choose not to touch black people and be labeled as racist, or whatever else you like. Expecting others to participate in your scheme means trying to operate as a part of the society you are interacting within and understanding that the set of assumptions others are making about behavior is not the set of assumptions you are making.

On the semantic point, "commodity" implies that a thing is fungible, which is inaccurate in this case, but regulated sexuality definitely creates a social incentive system in which sex is the incentive, etc. Out in the mainstream, we really do generally try to see sex as either a part of a loving relationship or a consensual recreational activity, rather than as an incentive in a larger social scheme. That is the underlying assumption of most of the individual decisions we make about how it is treated.

On the other irrelevant semantic point, I know the "ritually unclean" discussion is really a sidetrack, but backing away from translation is a little nonsense if the word used in those other two contexts is the same, because the connotations stand. Is it the same word?
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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby Azrael » Mon May 04, 2015 7:58 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:Also, I am not restricting anyone freedoms but my own. I have decided that I will not touch women because I believe it is the moral thing to do.


To your first point, you are transferring the burden of following your beliefs on other people. Because to practice the restraints of your religion, you are requiring other people to behave in a certain fashion -- specific to the example, flights were delayed and other people had to switch around in order to accommodate another party's religious beliefs. Is this specific inconvenience a big burden? Probably not. But in societies with lots of different religious variants, your rights are going to be found to end when they conflict with another person's rights.

Similarly, your discrimination in the name of religious belief doesn't get an unlimited free pass -- that's the whole point of the initial article. Most western societies would not accept your religious beliefs if you made the claim you couldn't touch black people because it would make you morally unclean. Or if you believed in stoning adulterers*. Those aren't acceptable behaviors in modern society, regardless of whether there is a historic or religious precedent.

Back to living in a society with multiple religious and secular doctrines that conflict -- there is well established ability to reasonably burden the practice of a religion. We might outlaw stoning, for instance. Or strike laws from the books that prevented stores from opening on the sabbath. Or stop excusing your behavior when you refuse to touch women, and either make you take your seat or disembark the aircraft. Are these burdens placed upon your right to freely practice your religion? Yes. But, frankly, tough shit.


* SIDE NOTE: Stoning provides such a useful example. You say you want to follow the Torah even if you don't understand the laws, but what about stoning? Do you believe adulterers (or any of the other dozen or so crimes deemed worthy of that punishment) should be executed in that fashion? And if not, do you acknowledge that not all of the original laws can or should be followed? Isn't slavery in there too?

Because this is where people start drawing lines suggesting sexism in the case at hand. You want to follow the laws as closely as possible, but you acknowledge some of them can't be followed. So what makes this one OK? Especially when you start referencing texts that call women morally unclean, people are going to be skeptical that it's not an underlying discrimination that you're allowing to continue under the guise of a religious free pass.

Sorta like with Jim Crow or anti-miscegenation laws.

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Re: How can I express my vary logical arguments?

Postby krogoth » Tue May 05, 2015 12:03 am UTC

Sorry for the delay, timezones ect.
jewish_scientist wrote:
krogoth wrote:While you call yourself an Strictly-orhodox, vs ultra-orthodox, vs Reform it's a bit hard to know how I would characterize you...


That is a different talk for a different time. The short answer; I am a Chabad Lubavitch ball teshuva.

krogoth wrote:Are there any questionable things in the book you follow as law?

Do you bend to the laws of man over the laws of the torah(bible)? never? rarely? sometimes?

I haven't actually read the torah, how much is the same as with the Christian old testament?


Assuming that 'the book' means the Torah, that's a trick question. I am sure that you did not intend it to be. A law student follows the laws even if he does not currently understand the rationality behind them. Same with me and the Torah. Right now I do not know what the reasons for each law are, but I know that they exist. There is a law of the Torah (Bible or Old Testament) that says that the law of the land is the law of the Torah, except when there is a conflict between the two. That means that there is a religious obligation for me to put stickers on my mailbox.


This wasn't a trick question, I have quite poor grammar to say the least due to writing conventions at work, I wasn't trying to call you out as wrong doing.
On the laws, Azrael in the last post basically talks about what I was getting at. Basically, morally, I would hope you wouldn't follow these murderous laws to the letter. I still wont accept the man killed for collecting sticks on a Sunday making sence. Also thank you for calling it the old testament in one paragraph, I really wasn't sure how close the overlap was.

jewish_scientist wrote:
krogoth wrote:You don't have think of coitus just because you are in physical contact with someone, I generally don't think too much about the gender of people I meet and know. I recognize it, (most of the time, some people these days :/ not that it matters), but that as far as I'm aware has little to no impact on how i react to them.


The point is not that touching always causes lustful thought, but that it can. Can you honestly say that physical contact, of any kind, between a man and a woman has 0% chance of causing lustful thought in one of them?


Eating food made by others risks eating unclean food, do you stop eating food out all together? If you were dying and only a female paramedic could save you, would you rather die than have her try save your life? Are you willing to get your brethren to take you out of the town gates and accept your punishment if you were to sin such you were to be stoned to death?

jewish_scientist wrote:
krogoth wrote:
Women are not just powerful sexual stimulants, the are THE sexual stimulant. A man* is physically aroused by things that remind him of intercourse e.g. women or the reproductive organs. It is forbidden for men to fantasize about woman. I would prefer to not explain why. I am sure that everyone reading this can thing of a good reason. This is why men and women should not touch.


I would be careful with my wording here if I were you, I'm sure you are trying to say this in both directions, the way it's written makes it sound like women are the temptation, as a one directional statement rather than

"They(one gender) are the sexual stimulant, physical contact with said other gender can cause fantasy." I'm sure this could be worded better.


That paragraph is out of context. The following paragraph tells you to reverse the genders. If people are going to quote me out of context, no matter what I do they will make me into a straw-man.


I don't really need to answer this one it's already been said, but it's not a staw-man, as it's still an unreasoned divide between people, just the same as black/white segregation. or potentially religious segregation, "oh sorry the jewish town is that way. Careful, they enjoy stoning people there."

If you accept you would be stoned for breaking "such and such" torah laws and would ask your brethren to do it to you should you break those laws, and be willing to stone members of your congregation as required. I'm not sure what I can really say about that.
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Re: How can I express logical arguments?

Postby jewish_scientist » Tue May 05, 2015 4:28 am UTC

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Translation of "Unclean"~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Imagine trying to explain what the word 'right' means to a man who only speaks Russian. Depending on the context, 'right' can be a direction (Turn right at the stop sing), a philosophical principle (The rights of a citizen must be valued), or a moral evaluation (Lying is not the right thing to do). In addition, in different philosophies 'right' has different definitions. There is simple no way to explain the word to him without a lengthy discourse.

The same is for 'unclean', 'stoning', and 'Supreme Court of Israel' (it is going to come up below). Without writing several papers that are worthy of being published in a respected journal, I simple cannot explain the word. This is what is meant when people say, "Lost in translation."

You (not speaking to anyone in particular) may see what I am doing as dodging the issues and avoiding a debate that I fear losing, but that is the way it has to be. I am sorry, but I cannot in good consensus talk about the definition of these words. The purpose of this forum is to spread knowledge and destroy ignorance. However, any attempt we have at analyzing the exact the meaning of translated words will end in misunderstandings. We can still discuss the topics that use these words e.g. how the idea of a woman separating from her husband because she is 'unclean' effects their marriage. We just cannot examine the exact definition of these words in great detail.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Capital Crime~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When the 'Supreme Court of Israel' is not in existence, capital punishment may not be executed by any court. 'Supreme Court of Israel' refers to the court as established by the Torah, meaning that no modern court of the State of Israel qualifies. Without you understanding the procedures of the 'Supreme Court of Israel' regarding how cases are decided and how 'stoning' is carried out, we cannot talk about the morality of the system. Once again, there is no way for me to explain the Torah's judicial system. Some rabbis dedicate their whole careers to the Torah's judicial system and how it compares to modern judicial systems.

This is a super, super small detail that in no way affect anything else on this tread; Jews believe that Shabbat is on Saturdays.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~My Decision puts an Unfair Burden on Society~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The current code of ethics that American society uses in sexual matter was created by the Sexual Revolution. The Sexual Revolution had one axiom at its center: Anything sexual that all immediately effected parties consent to is moral. This was used to argue that the restrictions of the past should not be followed; but this is a two way street. Just as the Sexual Revolution says that society should respect the decision of people who choose to experience certain forms of sexuality, society must also respect the decision of people who choose not to experience certain forms of sexuality. The motivation for the decision is irrelevant; societies that follow the morals set by the Sexual Revolution must respect the decisions of people who take opposite approaches to sexuality. That is why I am allowed to putting an burden on society; society has already said that it will accept such burdens.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Sex as a Commodity~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language: Including a Dictionary of Synonyms: and Twelve Supplementary Reference Sections* defines commodity as, "Suitable or convenience; what is useful; specifically, an article of merchandise; anything that can be bought and sold, as goods, wares, produce of land and manufactures." The only man/woman who may 'know' a woman/man is a spouse who has a deep emotional connection with their spouse. There is no way for this to be a commodity because simply cannot be traded.

You refer to this act as an incentive, but it is only as much so as any good thing is. Remember, ~50% of the time a husband and wife must see each other as people whom they wish to deepen their relationship with. "... and they shall become one flesh," means that on every level that a person exists they should unite with their spouse. If you consider the physical unity of marriage an incentive that is destructive to society, then you must say that all other forms of unity in a marriage is an incentive that is destructive to society because all of these the same purpose.

*This actually my favorite dictionary because anything scholarly thing that you want to look up is in it. Star charts, origin and meaning of names, famous quotes, basic business law, advanced grammar, foreign phrases and much more is in it. Also, there is no way to say the phrase, "my favorite dictionary" without branding the speaker as a nerd for eternity.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~To krogoth~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I did not mean to accuse you of making a trick question on purpose. I am 100% sure that it was an honest mistake and that you were not trying to, or want to, trick me into misrepresenting myself.

Eating food is necessary for a person to live a healthy, fulfilling life. Touching the opposite gender out side of marriage and family is not necessary for someone to live a healthy, fulfilling life. It could be argued that doing so hinders a person's attempts to live a healthy, fulfilling life. To compare these two is a mistake because they are different on a fundamental level.

It is required that a Jew transgress any commandment if there is even a remote chance that doing so could save someone's life. The only exceptions to this is the prohibition to idolatry, adultery, and murder.

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Re: How can I express logical arguments?

Postby krogoth » Tue May 05, 2015 5:07 am UTC

While you don't want to or can't explain what "Unclean" means in the biblical sense, this leaves at a sort of impasse, unclean has many negative connotations, from what I can tell is it's been translated lazily, or inaccurately if your other posts are to be understood. In this case it isn't that the person is unclean, but the act it forbidden on the slippery slope argument? "I could be shaking hands one day, naughty thoughts the next, who knows where I'll end up! I could end up fornicating with trees in the woods!" Yes I am using Reductio ad absurdum, but that's how the slippery slope slides.
If this isn't what it/you mean, and that there is a supernatural taint, that is passed between genders, that it isn't scientific then would be considered sexist/bigoted.

'Supreme Court of Israel'
I'm not sure I understand this and once again it is important and needs to be explained, I assumed the church leaders in this case filled the role and that generally the community as a whole should be charged with dealing the punishment in the same way
re:*stoning*and the charge, put had/has a very literal meaning, killing people outside of the city so their blood didn't make it unclean.


Eating food is necessary for a person to live a healthy, fulfilling life. Touching the opposite gender out side of marriage and family is not necessary for someone to live a healthy, fulfilling life. It could be argued that doing so hinders a person's attempts to live a healthy, fulfilling life. To compare these two is a mistake because they are different on a fundamental level.

This needs to be argued then, it could also be argued that never coming into physical contact with the opposite gender is detrimental to mental development and thus detrimental to a healthy and fulfilling life, we could do better in life than to waste time worrying about who we sit next to and how I may not be able to help someone who has fallen over, or getting a comforting hug from a friend who cares about my issues.
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Re: How can I express logical arguments?

Postby jewish_scientist » Tue May 05, 2015 5:44 am UTC

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Translations~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
krogoth wrote:While you don't want to or can't explain what "Unclean" means in the biblical sense, this leaves at a sort of impasse, unclean has many negative connotations, from what I can tell is it's been translated lazily, or inaccurately if your other posts are to be understood.


Yes, that is exactly the problem. 'Unclean' and 'ritually impure' are bad translation. I used those words because any other translation would be wronger than these. There is no translation that can accurately describe the meaning of the Hebrew word. What I wrote is the best I can do.

A reductio as absurdum is not a fallacy; it is just used incorrectly a lot. This is how it should be used:
-Adam: In situation A, my logic explains what should happen.
-Ben: Your logic, when applied to situation B reaches a ridiculous conclusion.
-Adam: 'A' is different than 'B' in significant ways. Therefor, logic applied to 'A' cannot be applied to 'B'.
That is what I did. I showed that the differences between eating and touching as significant enough that logic applied to you does not apply to the other.

krogoth wrote:
Eating food is necessary for a person to live a healthy, fulfilling life. Touching the opposite gender out side of marriage and family is not necessary for someone to live a healthy, fulfilling life. It could be argued that doing so hinders a person's attempts to live a healthy, fulfilling life. To compare these two is a mistake because they are different on a fundamental level.

This needs to be argued then, it could also be argued that never coming into physical contact with the opposite gender is detrimental to mental development and thus detrimental to a healthy and fulfilling life...


That is basically what the rest of this thread has been.

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Re: How can I express logical arguments?

Postby ucim » Tue May 05, 2015 5:48 am UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:Translation of "Unclean"...
This is not about the etymology of a word. It's about communicating an idea.
Spoiler:
...which is why your example of the word "right" is irrelevant. There is only one meaning that is important, and that is the one that embodies the concept you wish to express at the moment.
If you wish to "express logical arguments", you need to speak clearly. It is not sufficient that you understand the word you are using to express a concept; it is however necessary that we do.

Words carry many levels of meaning, and it is important to choose the words that do not bring along unwanted baggage. It is also important to realize that words do carry baggage, and sometimes that baggage is used to be duplicitous. "Ritually unclean" is such a word. (Are men routinely "ritually unclean"?)

You are trying to debunk the article claiming sexism in Judaism. You need to define what you mean by sexism in this case. The word is not important, but the idea is. My take on it is that sexism expresses the idea that sex differences are sufficient, in and of themselves, to discriminate against a particular sex, usually the one that is at a disadvantage in the situation under discussion. The idea would generalize to {anything}ism, but like in Airplane, that's not important right now.

1: Does the article claim or support the idea that sex differences are sufficient, in and of themselves, to discriminate against a particular sex?

2: Does it matter? That is to say, the article seems to say "{something} is bad about this aspect of Judaism", and "it looks like sexism". Even if you thoroughly debunk the latter, you are still left with the former. Just because it's not sexism doesn't make it not bad.

3: Taking that into account, I suspect that your objection to the article (and the perceived objection to the indicated behavior) actually lies elsewhere. I think it comes down to "If you want to inconvenience yourself by following some ruleset, fine. But if Sarah doesn't follow that ruleset, it should not be her problem."

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Re: How can I express logical arguments?

Postby krogoth » Tue May 05, 2015 6:53 am UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:~~~~~~~~~~~~~Translations~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
krogoth wrote:While you don't want to or can't explain what "Unclean" means in the biblical sense, this leaves at a sort of impasse, unclean has many negative connotations, from what I can tell is it's been translated lazily, or inaccurately if your other posts are to be understood.


Yes, that is exactly the problem. 'Unclean' and 'ritually impure' are bad translation. I used those words because any other translation would be wronger than these. There is no translation that can accurately describe the meaning of the Hebrew word. What I wrote is the best I can do.

A reductio as absurdum is not a fallacy; it is just used incorrectly a lot. This is how it should be used:
-Adam: In situation A, my logic explains what should happen.
-Ben: Your logic, when applied to situation B reaches a ridiculous conclusion.
-Adam: 'A' is different than 'B' in significant ways. Therefor, logic applied to 'A' cannot be applied to 'B'.
That is what I did. I showed that the differences between eating and touching as significant enough that logic applied to you does not apply to the other.


You can use more than two words to explain an idea, that is the point. I explained it, if you tease out more definition that would help. This doesn't contradict my statement in any way, you need to show that food-> physical contact are fundamentally different sins of different order of magnitude. It's just as easy enough to take your own food as it is to avoid sitting next to a woman without anyone noticing. But you choose to value one over the other.

jewish_scientist wrote:
krogoth wrote:
Eating food is necessary for a person to live a healthy, fulfilling life. Touching the opposite gender out side of marriage and family is not necessary for someone to live a healthy, fulfilling life. It could be argued that doing so hinders a person's attempts to live a healthy, fulfilling life. To compare these two is a mistake because they are different on a fundamental level.

This needs to be argued then, it could also be argued that never coming into physical contact with the opposite gender is detrimental to mental development and thus detrimental to a healthy and fulfilling life...


That is basically what the rest of this thread has been.

I was trying to dodge around the sex as a commodity bit, as I don't like this terminology.
You've yet to provide an argument as to what is detrimental, just the statement that it is.

jewish_scientist wrote:You believe that there are inherent physical and physiological differences between men and women. Is it so much of a stretch then to say that there are spiritual differences between men and women. You sill see how this all connects.

I'll go back to something simpler then.
Outside of "it's wrong" makes it wrong is important. We treat them differently for the needs of the gender, but not because of the differences between genders. We have no reason to think there is a spiritual difference between man and woman in the old testament that I can think of, take note of "till death do us part" I would think it clear that genders are useless/meaningless to spirits if they exist.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ignore above if you like. This needs to be more concise so,

Mature socially adjusted people don't get aroused at any handshake, the face clothing and smell are more likely to cause these emotions, and these things can't be removed from both genders easily.
Also worthy of note is the idea that suppressing emotions is unnatural, and very often disastrous mentally.

Also you still haven't clearly stated anywhere that I've noticed these things clearly.
Are both parties equally effected when non wed?
Why is there a uncleanliness time different between female and male birth if they are equal? If you don't know why that leaves this as sexist.
Is one party of a couple the cause for 50% of the time during marriage as it appears you are suggesting? If you don't know that leaves this as sexist.
If it's a spiritual need to be apart, why is it based on a physical condition and blamed on one party rather than just timed monthly or on moon cycles? I could see valid reasons for this but they are very weak.
Why the issue of leadership in the church?

One thing I won't talk about further but you may want to think about how these laws act with genderism, and how it can have very damaging effects.
(someone else is welcome to if they want but I don't feel confident on the topic enough to do it justice).
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Re: How can I express logical arguments?

Postby Angua » Tue May 05, 2015 6:58 am UTC

Also, unless men have an equivalent of whatever you want 'ritually unclean' to mean, it's still sexism even if both sexes shouldn't be touching each other.

The underlying thinking goes:
Man - 'I shouldn't touch her because she might be unclean'
Woman - 'I shouldn't touch him because I might be unclean'

Also, 2 weeks? The average period is 3-5 days (with 2-7 being within normal range). Yes, some people have longer periods than that, but some people may also be bleeding for more than 14 days too, if they're really unlucky.
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Re: How can I express logical arguments?

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue May 05, 2015 8:12 am UTC

The "ritually unclean" thing and the "no contact" thing are effectively separate things, at least according to what jewish_scientist explained earlier on. Men aren't permitted to touch their wives during that half of the month, apparently? (Phrasing with the man as active / subject intentional in this case, because that seems to be how it's stated.) Separately, men and women outside of marital bonds aren't allowed to touch each other at all, regardless of hormonal cycles.

On "commodity" terminology, I already backed off on that - it wasn't the right word. I do think that regulating sexual contact in a system in which men have greater agency than women is likely to have the effect of exaggerated the degree to which women are reduced to social "prizes", "property," etc., but the connection is indirect and complex. It is, after all, a system for determining when society allows men to have sex. And the focus is on the man's perspective, regardless of how the system's effects might often seem symmetrical.

On the "sexual revolution" and individual choices - to be honest, I don't see that anyone is being practically inconvenienced by a liberty that is defined, very much in the spirit of Enlightenment ethics, to end where it abuts with another's right to consent or otherwise. Regardless of whether or not the system is a beneficial one, it is symmetric, and the position of someone making demands of seating arrangement is not.

On the case for how it could be beneficial to segregate the sexes, I do not honestly see any affirmative case being made for that. Again, I think it's unnecessary if the rights argument could be found to hold, but also a case that must be made affirmatively if it's made at all. Segregating the sexes has a variety of obvious practical and social costs, enough that the benefits would need to be quite exceptional.
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Re: How can I express logical arguments?

Postby notzeb » Tue May 05, 2015 10:03 am UTC

krogoth wrote:'Supreme Court of Israel'
I'm not sure I understand this and once again it is important and needs to be explained, I assumed the church leaders in this case filled the role and that generally the community as a whole should be charged with dealing the punishment in the same way
re:*stoning*and the charge, put had/has a very literal meaning, killing people outside of the city so their blood didn't make it unclean.
Maybe I can help explain this - I went to an orthodox jewish elementary school for a few years way back when. Ever notice how jews haven't really been sacrificing animals a whole bunch recently? Basically, 90% of jewish law is put on hold until some temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt (maybe the messiah has to come too? I'm a little fuzzy on the details). A good analogy is what is currently going on with ISIS - a whole bunch of the more extremist parts of muslim theology were put on hold until a caliphate could be established by a descendant of Muhammad. The main difference is that no one expects the jewish version to ever actually happen (well, no one expected a new caliphate either).

As jewish_scientist point out earlier, jewish theology is also pretty pragmatic: there is a pretty clear ranking of how important the various rules are, so for instance if a strict orthodox rabbi was starving to death on a Saturday morning and the only food around was lobster in cream sauce with bacon bits served by a naked prostitute on roller blades he wouldn't hesitate to pay for it and eat it (but he would try to avoid being in that situation in the first place). The more thorny theological issues come up when you start comparing two rules from the top ten: for instance, what are you supposed to do if during a midnight stroll through the woods you discover your parents murdering someone?

As to whether orthodox judaism is theologically sexist: it probably is, and racist to boot (according to what I remember, arabs are considered subhuman in jewish theology, and jews are forbidden from even visiting egypt). What do you expect from a several thousand year old religion? Luckily, keeping men and women separate is not a high priority rule in judaism, so the pragmatism built into the religion together with the various religious interpretations mean that there are probably plenty of strictly orthodox jews who don't feel compelled to act like sexist jerks at all.

Edited to add: Hmm, I thought of an interesting analogy. How would your reaction to the situation change if instead, the reason given for not shaking a woman's hand was, "Sorry, I have an incredibly jealous girlfriend who will be very upset if I do anything resembling showing interest in another woman, and I don't want to have to lie to her about this later."? Of course, this analogy doesn't stretch far enough to cover the airplane seat rearrangement situation (actually, does it?). (It gets even weirder if you then try flipping all the genders...)
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Re: How can I express logical arguments?

Postby krogoth » Tue May 05, 2015 11:37 am UTC

notzeb wrote:
krogoth wrote:'Supreme Court of Israel'

Oh right, this is the 3rd temple isn't it? Sorry jewish_scientist, as I referred to before, I've only read the old testament from the christian pov, and it was some 8-10 years since I last read it cover to cover. I still would have thought there would be a leading body in the mean time that had similar power, my mistake. I have questions about this for another forum, at now I understand why the "evil" laws are ignored.

notzeb wrote:Edited to add: Hmm, I thought of an interesting analogy. How would your reaction to the situation change if instead, the reason given for not shaking a woman's hand was, "Sorry, I have an incredibly jealous girlfriend who will be very upset if I do anything resembling showing interest in another woman, and I don't want to have to lie to her about this later."? Of course, this analogy doesn't stretch far enough to cover the airplane seat rearrangement situation (actually, does it?). (It gets even weirder if you then try flipping all the genders in this analogy...)


I think this is a really good analogy, and I never really like most peoples analogies. The thing is, your girlfriend will be unhappy, even if you are only polite and and even if you have the best intentions and no-one else could ever see that you did anything wrong, and sometimes even if you had no way of knowing you did wrong (cross-gender clothing).
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