Thursday, January 13, 2005

How Can A Pretty Girl Be Expected To Escape The Advances Of Her Superior?

Rabbi Yaakov Menken writes November 30, 1994:

The problem with Sherut Leumi [women serving in the Israeli Defense Force with men] is that a girl cannot abandon her post the first time a man makes a pass at her. With all the debate over sexual harrassment in _this_ country, you would be amazed at what Israelis consider "normal" behavior. Can one expect that a pretty, innocent girl with an older, "experienced" superior will be so easily able to escape his advances? It's hard for me to fathom the naivete of a person who, in the 1990's, questions whether it was appropriate to forbid religious girls to do this kind of service. If you want to call preserving religious mores "stifling" religious girls, that's your prerogative.

Immediately before I became frum, I met two religious girls who were on a break from their "Sherut Leumi" - on a beach in Teveria. I can assure you that it wasn't their religiosity that was on display.

Why is it that no one has remarked on how the State of Israel "stifles" people by forcing them to serve in the Army, or how the US "stifles" us by forcing us to pay taxes? Just as the leaders of the country are called upon to tell us what is necessary for preservation of the nation, so too the leaders of the Torah community should be _expected_ to tell us what is necessary for the preservation of Torah.

Checking out Rabbi Menken's website, it is clear that he employs a lot of women. He tends to hire single women. They get married and know that they can move anywhere and still work for him. They can move to Israel and support husbands who study all day in yeshiva. At any time, rabbi Menken may have several, say six or more, single young women working for him. They are known around Baltimore as "Yaakov's harem." Some of these women may be vulnerable and he can act as a positive father figure. But of course rabbi Menken is a holy rabbi, not a secular army leader, and he wouldn't think of having his way with, or forcing himself upon, a naive, single, pure, virginal, Bais Yaakov girl who works for him and looks to him for guidance.
Incidentally, I was discussing these lofty issues with a Bais Yaakov girl of my recent acquaintance. She had read some things I had written and wanted to discuss them in greater depth.
"You're a sociopath," she laughed. "That's why you drive a Timothy McVeigh van. Luke Ford is a sociopath. You may quote me. And you laugh.
"You scare them. They know you have the story and they're scared."
I was reading the blog The Beach of Yellow. I enjoyed her entry (I've spoken to her many times and I and others have fact-checked her and she is credible) called "Feel the Power":

I was reminded today that the tables have shifted between me and my ex-abuser. When I was under his control, he had all the power. I felt weak and defenseless. Then the day came and I told. This simple act of telling enabled me to take my life and my power back. No longer am I weak, I am now exceedingly powerful. I am sure that my ex-abuser is beginning to shake in his pants as he realizes that I have taken my power back, and I am free to take action against him.
The wheels of justice grind exceedingly slow, but they grind exceedingly smooth.