With all the literature flying out of Heshy via Frum Satire, Ari via Failed Messiah and dozens of others, as well as general mass media as a whole, it’s hard not to notice the child molestation crisis that seems to be seeping out of the ears of everywhere from Williamsbug (here, here, here), to Brooklyn (here), to YU. Even with my head buried in the sand with personal projects, I can’t help but laugh when people claim that ‘around 50% of boys in Williamsburg are being molested.’ (here, here)
On another reverie, a few days ago I took a look at the PDF published by Halachically Yours (here) and browsed through it, looking at all the line items, every single one of which I had learned from Porn at the age of 13, and all the ‘recommended titles’, most of which I read over the teenage years out of sheer curiosity. It actually boggles my mind how someone married for 20+ years doesn’t know what the term PC Muscle means but more on that in a later post.
I took the Hallacically Yours pdf and put it on my screen to the left and placed the article about satmar child mollestation to my right, pondering the photos of Williamsburg citizens clad in black against the couple embracing on the HY coversheet.
I took an article from Abby Lerner (Gender Relationships in Marriage and Out, Blau) noting how ‘with all the Taboo, nearly everyone she encountered over her years as a Taharat Hamishpacha instructor (who had gone through the Orthodox educational system), had some sort of sexual inhibition’ and put it together with HY on the left. Rabbi Wachsman’s ‘Puuuurrrrity now!’ Asifa rave obviously went to the right.
I continued this process for a few more minutes, comparing the left and the right… which became my representations of attempts at ramping-down the eros-sensitization lever (left) versus those trying to crank this lever up (right) and a sad truth emerged. Namely, if the left of orthodoxy is as bad as it is at integrating sex with religion, it’s no surprise that the right is falling off the chimney! Quoting David DeAngelo, who as a mass marketing PUA, frequently deals with desperate men: “If you attempt to repress your sexuality for long enough, it won’t just come out as the desire to #$%@ a woman’s brains out… it’ll come out in unexpected, and very odd ways.” From what it looks like on my screen, Orthodoxy’s quite the circus of “unexpected, and very odd ways” from the left to the right… the difference just being how loud the act is, and how many of the freaks are on display.
If there’s one point that I could ever make to the religious community, it would probably be this:
“Trying to lever up sentiments of ‘Taharah’ and at the same time create sexual normalcy in the community is a proverbial game of whack-a-mole!”
The requirements of one, visa-vi the other, are completely incongruent, so it is impossible to go in both directions at the same time. Williamsburg and others have chosen to dash head-long into the former and are suffering the inevitable consequences. This can be contrasted with the neo-MO 612rs who have ‘allowed themselves’ to drift in the other direction. The rest of Orthodoxy straddles somewhere in the middle of this equation.
While browsing the HY pdf, I came upon a whimsical headline which demonstrates my point as well as Orthodoxy’s unwillingness to recognize it.
➢ Nothing halachically permissible should be taboo
In the back of the mind of any rational person, there should be a small voice screaming: “But it is! But it is!!! Why is it!? Why is it so while everyone screams that it shouldn’t be!??” The answer isn’t simple but I think it can be summarized as follows: “The church and the brothel are joined at the hip!” (or the Synagogue in our case)
Take a look at Jewish nomenclature for a second and note that on the altar there were two angels depicted as nude babies, one male and one female, that face one another. In clinical psychology it’s obviously known that there are psychological diseases relating to a belief that sex is dirty but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when you think about the aforementioned nomenclatural fact. To those mystically inclined amongst us, I would say its like this. The same Sefirah of Yesod that represents ‘Taharah’ and Divinity, also represents sex and genitalia (this just happens to perfectly match Haidt’s models, note my previous posts here and here but more on that later). The most sacred relic in our nomenclature mirrors this idea, that experiential religious elation-feeling as driven by sentiments of ‘innocence’ is counter-balanced with sexual undertones. It’s a delicate balance that needs to be managed by a healthy psyche.
So why to the sexual taboos in the Orthodox community exist? Most people agree they weren’t deliberately created because the Talmud deliberately talks about the penis lengths of major Babylonian Rabbinic luminaries (Bava Metzia 84a). People argue that they ‘seeped’ into Judaism from Catholicism, Sufism, or some other influence of the years but this begs the question, “why weren’t these influences not resisted?” Maybe because we never saw a need to go in the opposite direction and it ‘felt right’.
Here’s the interesting and unfortunate part. Once the sexual dialogue is closed to public conversation as it slowly became through out the centuries, it’s really freaking hard to re-open. Anyone who’s ever been through various sections Iamamother.com knows how immanently true that is. The 21st century doesn’t help much either, because the mussar schmoozers need something to decry, and no Yesiva bachur seems to have the cojones to stand up and point to the aforementioned tractate and tell-off the puritanical rave.
Finally, there is of course the masterbation issue; this 21st century reality which rabbinic authority has not fully come to terms with, is probably the most hilarious of them all. Chassidish cheder rabbies seem to absolutely loooove scaring teenagers, ranting about how if they masterbate, their ‘unborn children’ will come to beat them in the grave and how they’l be flung from world to world… I believe that ironically these rebbis are perhaps the biggest culprit of them all and should bear a vast amount of the blame for molestation, because they’re ramping up the sensitization lever to absolute overload (here’s an example of that).
Is it really a wonder that within those who are hyper repressed, sexual dysfunction and deviancy comes out the most? Probably not, but orthodoxy has performed a great deal of effort to fan the flames of this wildfire, and it’s leaders still don’t get it!