May 23, 2014

Striking Contrasts - Paul Eidelberg

Ralph Peters, a former U.S Army officer and adviser of the U.S executive department is a strategic analyst who has traveled extensively in the Islamic world.

In his book Looking for Trouble, Peters describes Islam's degradation of women in Pakistan.  He writes:

For most women in Pakistan, life is circumscribed and miserable.  In the West, our spouses or lovers may also be our best friends, and in the healthiest relationships there is not only passion, but conversations about God and the world and the price of corn flakes.  In Pakistan, a wife may be an ally, but it is hard to imagine any wife as a best friend.  Men and women live in great separation, psychic as much as physical.  The woman is simply not a full-fledged human being in the sense that male is.  While a woman's chastity is respected (and occasionally exaggerated), this has nothing to do with her human rights, but with her status as an object—the property first of the family that spawned her, then of her husband.  She is rarely educated (almost never to serious effect), seldom employed beyond the home, and possesses, at best, the freedom of the pet dog, but without the master's unstinting affection.

This stands in striking contrast with the exalted status of women in Judaism, as exemplified in the Bible and in Jewish law.  It may be one of the reasons why Islam is more hostile to Jews than to people of other faiths.

Here is a stark example.  According to the Babylonian Talmud (tractate Horayot 23a):  "If a man and his father and his [Torah] teacher were in captivity [for ransom], he takes precedence over his teacher and his teacher takes precedence over his father, while his mother takes precedence over them all [perhaps because of her greater vulnerability]."

There is no simplistic or doctrinaire egalitarianism in Judaism.  Thus, in his commentary to Tractate Kiddushin, the illustrious Meiri (Rabbi Menahem b. Solomon Meiri, 1249-1316) points out that "God is a partner in every person equally with the person's father and mother."

"Scripture mentions the father first in regard to honor" (Exod. 20:12); "the mother is mentioned first in regard to fear" (Lev. 19:3).  "This is to equalize the natural tendency to honor the mother and to fear the father."  Judaism is very rational, which may be another reason why Islam is so hostile to Jews.

No comments:

Post a Comment