Friday, March 19, 2010

Notes towards Srugim and Talmudic Culture

Instability

Despite the accolades that Srugim has received for achieving a kind of objective correlative that affords access to dati and hillon audiences, it simultaneously point to aspects of the dati/hiloni divide - especially in terms of perceptions of the Other. A number of episodes ago, Hodaya, the rabbi's daughter who left the fold and is now officially a "datlash," and finds herself in a relatively unfulfilled relationship with a fellow datlash. One depressing evening she heads out to a bar, alone, and phones her old boyfriend - the Hebrew U archeologist Avri who was the focus of a number of episodes last season. Avri was truly secular. Not a drop of datlash in him. The chemistry is still there, but Avri has found someone new. And as he repeats over and over again, his new girlfriend, unlike Hodaya, is stable. The scene sheds light on an interesting assumption. Pretty much all of the characters are, in their own way, unstable - especially in their obsessive and unending search for identity and the interplay between identity and religion. Hodaya is of course the perfect example. but the same could be said of the other characters, like Amir - the married man who is less happy with having to fake as an Ashkenazi, Roi with the questions of his sexual identity, etc. One episode poked fun of a hilonit trying to leave her cozy Tel Aviv world and "play" the complex experience of being religious - clearly a nod to the experience of Srugim's actors.

It is worth noting that Srugim assumes that there is an inherent instability in the religious experience- an idea that R. J. B. Soloveitchik famously celebrated in "footnote 4" of his Halakhic Man. From the staid mid-century confines of Orthodox America, R. Soloveitchik tried to demonstrate that being religious was no trip alongside the tranquil waters, but a tortuous, existential experience. At least in certain corners of the Modern Orthodox world, it seems this battle of perception was won.


Identity

Speaking of identity, the questions of datlashim and borders came up as well. Hodaya's new boyfriend has no problem whatsoever with ordering shrimp. He is not dati, so what difference does it make if he transgresses the rules of Shabbat or eats creepy crawly things. But Hodaya is uninterested in the treif. Indeed, Hodaya is interested only in pursuing a traditional existential quest. So when she gets a tattoo on her back after wandering the streets of Tel Aviv, her datlash boyfriend is less than happy. It's an interesting way to think of the halakhic categories of mumar lehahis and mumar leteavon. The datlash boyfriend is essentially portrayed as a "mumar leteyavon." He is in it for the non-kosher food and premarital sex, while identity seems less a part of it. On the other hand, identity is Hodaya's obsession, and in order to concretize her new identity as secular she inscribes it as a sign on her body. I don't necessarily want to characterize Hodaya as lehahis - except in the sense that what she's doing is "for real" and not a temporary phase, in the passion of the moment. As much as possible, she wants her new secularism etched on her body, and soul.



Trust and Believablity

Amir and Yefat have been having some marital problems. Not only in conceiving a child, but also in trust - from the banal to the serious. Amir crashes the car and tries not to tell Yefat, etc. etc. At the beginning of the episode entitled Shivah Neqiyim, the glasses waiting to be immersed in the mikveh are still on the kitchen counter - Amir simply has not gotten around to do it. And Yifat has been taking hormonal supplements to play with her cycle since she's been having fertility problems - a matter of some controversy in Israel over the last few years (Menahem Mendel posted about it a while back). At Hodaya's insistence, Yifat considers rethinking when to begin counting the "shivah neqiyim". This is rather interesting since she is married to a Sefardi, who begin counting from the fourth (and not fifth) day of the onset of the period. But Amir loses trust in Yifat. He asks a Rav how one can trust one's wife that she has immersed in the mikveh and receives a lesson about notions of believability in Jewish law (the idea that a person is believed regarding "forbidden things" is actually derived from the menstruant's believability). It doesn't work for Amir and, he does everything to avoid the mikveh night since according to his (mistaken) calculation, Yifat has immersed too early. The irony is profound. The glasses that Amir finally ends up immersing are partially broken, while his wife, who has immersed properly is broken as well. Judging by the facebook comments on Amir's profile, he is not exactly the most beloved character right now, to say the least.

Niddah
As for the Shivah Neqiyim themselves, it is interesting how Yifat, the woman, is less sure of the process of shivah nekiqiym than her husband, while at least according to the Bavli it was a female innovation.
In my dissertation I made a fairly radical claim that I have yet to receive a response to. I hope I will get some pushback when I publish it in article form. For further details, I would suggest looking there, but in short, I argue that by comparing the Bavli and the Yerushalmi we can see that the phrase "the daughters of Israel were stringent" is a Babylonian addition to a Palestinian kernel, which merely declares a woman a menstruant even upon seeing a small drop of blood. In tannaitic sources, shivah neqiyim need not refer to seven "clean" days without blood but a period of time that is divorced from relations. This is at least how it appears in Tannaitic Hebrew. R. Zera cited the tradition in the name of R. Huna, and it made it into Babylonia in slightly altered form. In Rava's circle it was not entirely clear what the decision was - a stringency of the women or one that was simply "folk" or rabbinic and connected to the tendency to blur the distinction between zavah and niddah - already apparent, in some respects in the Dead Sea Scrolls. There also was the factor of Zoroastrian practice which similarly preached a need to divide the period from purification and underwent a comparitive development. It is interesting how the sources are in fact much less clear regarding who was responsible for the innovation - pious women, rabbis, general "folk custom" etc. And the same dynamic can be found in the later history of hilkhot niddah which ossocilates between rabbinic concern, female stringencies occasionally looked down upon by the rabbis, "mikveh ladies" etc. As always, things are messier than they first appear. The texts testify to this - if you look closely enough.

34 comments:

  1. "the daughters of Israel were stringent" is a Babylonian addition to a Palestinian kernel -- first i don't know what this means, so i cannot even ask how you know it to be true or what difference it makes. do you want to spell it out?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is an excellent post. I admire your efforts. I will come again to check new updates. Thanks for sharing it.
      dissertation writing services in uk

      Delete
  2. It seems as if Hodaya has spent has spent so long defining what she isn't, that she has no idea of who she is.
    For more analysis of this week's episode read
    http://wwww.srugimrecap.wordpress.com/

    ReplyDelete
  3. Do you know that it's the best time to receive the loan, which would make you dreams real.
    Aberdeen bed and breakfast

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice article, i appreciate for putting this together! "This is obviously one great post. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here. Keep it up!"
    Fashion Dissertation

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. it is very good post nice and must be admitted one of best blog. thanks for sharing.

    Children Logo

    ReplyDelete
  7. Very informative and helpful. I was searching for this information but there are very limited resources. Thank you for providing this information
    HR Dissertation

    ReplyDelete
  8. Internet is studded with such type of blogs and your blog is doing a great job in educating people like me. Keep up the good work

    logo design help

    logo design companies

    ReplyDelete
  9. That's look great that people would love to share their educational matters and experience on internet, this would be good for readers who must face again this issues in their projects.
    Dissertation Help

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you for sharing this information. The information was very helpful and saved a lot of my time.
    Dissertation Editing

    ReplyDelete
  11. Different students search for the economics dissertation about this topic. When they know about your good enough knowledge, they would believably order the dissertation.
    Dissertation Help

    ReplyDelete
  12. Recently i ran into your website and so are already reading along. I think I’d leave my first comment. I don’t understand what to share with the exception that I’ve enjoyed reading. Nice blog. For certain i will keep visiting your blog really often. Logo Design

    ReplyDelete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. it's good to see this information in your post, i was looking the same but there was not any proper resource, thanx now i have the link which i was looking for my research.
    MBA Dissertation topics

    ReplyDelete
  15. After reading your post I can say that you have good command on the topic. It will help me in my research. I praise your work. Thanks for posting.
    Writing a research paper

    ReplyDelete
  16. I really appreciate your site! Very professional and helps a lot! Thank you. Timeline Apps for Pages

    ReplyDelete
  17. Its always good to learn tips like you share for blog posting. As I just started posting comments for blog and facing problem of lots of rejections. I think your suggestion would be helpful for me. I will let you know if its work for me too.dishwashers reviews dishwashers reviews

    ReplyDelete
  18. I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually lvzvthought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.

    ReplyDelete
  19. The article has really peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark poweredbysolarpanelyour site and keep checking for new information

    ReplyDelete
  20. Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up.Logo Design Blog

    ReplyDelete
  21. If you are in relationship then you should trust on your life partner otherwise your relationship will not survive.

    Regards,
    iPhone Application Development

    ReplyDelete
  22. Sounds interesting, i would love to see Talmudic culture. Life and Style

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hello, i am glad to read the whole content of this blog and am very excited and happy to say that the webmaster has done a very good job here to put all the information content and information at one place.
    Corporate Logo Design

    ReplyDelete
  24. You have done a Great job, keep doing more work like this ! Thanks. Beauty Reviews

    ReplyDelete
  25. This site is excellent and so is how the subject matter was explained. Buy Silver Coins

    ReplyDelete
  26. Wonderful concept, and inspiring. Your post makes me think ... If I do not really want to be Cheap Essay Writing

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thank you for your share with us such a good article. This is an impressive blog. I will continue to read your article, very thank you for taking the time to submit. I want to share it. Hire a Magento App Developer

    ReplyDelete
  28. This is a very good blog. I appreciate very much this text, thank you, let me know so I have moved the article.
    website designing company

    ReplyDelete
  29. Really good information and facts! Thanks for that awesome posting. Dawn Travels

    ReplyDelete
  30. Well, my huge data set (Biology; EEB) and resulting dissertation tell a compelling story. Guess I was lucky...
    Airport Taxi

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thanks for the great post. Those who come to read your article will find lots of helpful and informative tips.
    Airport Taxi

    ReplyDelete