|Or can we????|
Once this pressure went away however, I still felt something unhinging inside me, creeping up, an old friend. I was at a school Shabbaton sitting with a small group of friends and rabbis. I asked them their thoughts on Shelo Asani Isha ("Thank you G-d for not making me a woman). There was some apologism, but mostly answers I expected. The talk turned to the female exemption from positive timebound mitzvot. I began to cry, I debated with the rabbis, each respectful and even in awe that a teenager cared so much about religion. After that session I realized what I've really been struggling with all throughout Tefillingate, and in general, regarding liberal Judaism and complete egalitarianism.
Ritually treated as someone with nothing to add, my only realms of control are sex and children, rich realms, to be sure, but not highly communal, visible or commended ones. I crave to lead, to lay, to leyn, and to learn. I am an important part of the Jewish people, not just someone's mother, but rather the next generation of Chazal, poskim, respected leaders. As someone so passionately committed to Halachic Judaism, I feel betrayed by the frum community's awkward sweeping aside of my leadership and care.
However, this passion is its own prison. Whenever I've been to fully egalitarian, liberal Jewish spaces, I feel that everything is a bit too casual, too new, too fluid. It doesn't feel legitimate to me (NOT that it isn't, just that it doesn't feel that way to me, personally). I want to be respected by Orthodox rabbis, I want Partnership minyanim to be considered fully Halachic, because that is where I feel safe. I don't want Neo- Halacha, I want old Halacha supporting the things that bring me spiritual fulfillment. I want my voice valued, and contrary to my usual prerogative, I want to be normative. Not in the eyes of society, but in the eyes of G-d.
So who knows if I will end up wearing tefillin (call me in 5- 10 years). But before I decide, I have something to say. To me, this Tefillingate is not about tefillin, or even chiuv(that's for another post...). It's about weighing citizenship with legitimacy. I'm not 100% sure of the Halachic support or leniency for women laying tefillin, but, I do think that dissenters harm the Jewish people by alienating the women who care most. The women who think critically, worship devotedly and experiment with new ways of achieving intimacy with G-d. For if these strong, beautiful women have their spirits broken, all is lost.