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Thursday, October 21, 2004

My Daughter's Voice

On the Fringe has an interesting diatribe on the Orthodox law of Kol Isha. I have to admit, I'm not too fond of that one (my school used to sell tickets to the Chassidic Song Festival, which had women singing). It seems like this was less of an issue in the 70s. Or maybe it's just the fact that I'm increasingly surrounded by right wingers.

Still, I find myself in the unenviable position of having to enforce a halacha with which I don't personally agree, but which if disregarded, would undermine my children's whole understanding of the binding nature of Jewish Law.

My daughter now takes guitar lessons with a woman teacher at the music store. She has been...pressuring is not the right word...suggesting that my daughter participate in a performance that her students are giving. My daughter is turning out to be a rather talented guitarist/songwriter. Unfortunately I can't really sanction her singing in public to men. I suggested that she speak with some of her teachers at school for some guidance. I'm her father, but I hardly consider myself to be a halachic authority.

If I give her carte blanche to do this, then I lose my authority to advise her about kashrut, shabbos an other things (don't think this doesn't become an issue with teenagers, even those schooled in the yeshiva system). Her teachers are mostly of the charedi persuasion, but there are a few involved in kiruv who understand these issues better. I think she was too embarrassed to bring it up.

I suggested that she play but not sing. I don't want to put her in the position of dictating to the non-Jewish teacher conditions for her performance ("make sure there are no men there..."). I think that would be hard for my daughter and create a chillul Hashem.

Bottom line is, I have to teach her how to be frum in this world, but still live a successful and fulfilling life. She has to know that, as Captain Kirk says, "there are a million things in this universe that you can have, and there are a million things that you can't have." Orthodox Jews who understand both sides of this are happy with their million. The others go astray. She has to understand her boundaries.

I expect the comments are going to fall into two camps. Those who call me a hypocrite for enforcing a rule which I don't like and which is out of touch with modern society, and those who call me a hypocrite for calling myself Orthodox but entertaining the notion that women's voices should be heard.

4 comments:

jrose said...

I must say I fall into the 2nd camp. I do enjoy your blog, but this time I think you're very much mistaken. It's not up to you to choose to "agree" or "disagree" with certain halachos. Kol Isha was instituted by Chazal for a reason, and whether or not you understand it, your duty as an Orthodox Jew is to adhere to it. That is not to say you should simply follow halacha blindly--by all means try and investigate the reasoning behind it.

PsychoToddler said...

What am I mistaken about, though? I'm following the party line and telling her not to sing. As you said, I don't have to like the rules, just follow them.
I do worry very much about sending mixed messages. With teenagers, any degree of grey is an opportunity for them. I'd personally like to feel more comfortable about the decision myself, so I can reassure her that it's not just Orthodoxy being misogynistic.
At an age where she's trying to flourish, so many people are trying to block out her sun.

Shira Salamone said...

As a parent, I've found myself in the unenviable position of having to act in a manner not of my own choosing in order to protect my child. I think that, given the time and place in which you're living, you're probably in the same boat. Should your daughter sing in public in the presence of men, it might harm her standing in the Jewish community in which you live. My diatribe aside, sometimes a parent's gotta do what a parent's gotta do.

Anonymous said...

I see a world full of singing men, urghh, ugly world. You don't need to say "Shma" if she is singing, let her enjoy her life.

Think please, what does "oneg shabbat" means without the possibility of sing "Lecha Dodi" or "Yedid nefesh"?

The orthodox should stay orthodox and not bekame more and more extreme haredy.