Tefillin as straw men

Tefillin as straw men

In “Chasing Shadows” (February 24) Eliana Aaron misconstrues feminist tenets. The touchstones of feminism are opportunities, choice, and balance. By opening opportunities for both men and women, feminism, in its ideal form, enables everyone to engage in that for which they are best suited and most inclined.

The hope – sometimes unattained – is that society as a whole benefits. There are difficult trade-offs for everyone, and the innate individualism of this approach is very challenging. That said, I question how Ms. Aaron can use “a feminist point of view” as a vehicle for suggesting that opportunities should be closed off. For better or worse, feminism asks both men and women to “juggle” all sorts of activities and responsibilities, religious and otherwise.

Feminism should not be a straw man for Ms. Aaron’s discomfort with women wearing tefillin. Let’s keep the conversation in terms of how halachah evolves when confronted with new realities and, as a corollary, how to distinguish between halachic dictates and halachic sensibilities.