Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More on the Jewish Burqa

Mynet is reporting on an Israeli wedding where the female guests are asked to come wearing a "Shal". A Shal is basically a big just covers the woman that much better. The invitation reads as follows:

guests should come dressed tzanua [modestly], and wear the shal [cloak]. It also added that doing so will please the holy shechina, and in the merit of the righteous women we will be redeemed. 
So why are so many Charedi women headed for burqa like clothing? I'm going to go out on a limb here. This has nothing to do with religion or Tzniut. My own guess is that this is a logical consequence of a culture that does not give women any tools to live in modern life. The women wearing these cloaks grew up in a culture that has been telling them that woman are second class citizens. They have been in a controlled environment their entire lives, and have been taught on a communal level to segregate from the people around them.  They have not been allowed to socialize with men past a very young age. Men literally scare them. We are not even talking about non Haredi men who must seem like ogres - Haredi men scare them. All of a sudden at 17-18 they are expected to leave their homes, and go live with a man! I'd even guess their own husbands are somewhat scary. And so a veil, or a burqa is a psychological reaction. The burqa allows them to hide in public. It gives them a sense of detachment. Many of these women are wearing the coverings at home as well. It allows them to keep a distance from everyone - including their strange husbands. Obviously this is true only in extreme cases – but some of those extremes have already happened and are spreading in Haredi culture.  
On a side note: In a post a week ago, I speculated that in the days of the Avot woman wore veils as well, quite possibly in the house as well. I have since continued to research the topic, and have seen that many scholars (as well as Here seem to think that women in the bible wore veils during the weddings - but not after.  

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