Thanks to social media, two important social problems in the Jewish community are gaining attention — gett-refusal and erasure of women. Both of these problems are man-made and they’re both made by men who leave Hashem out of the picture.
These two problems are not the first problems of that kind — man-made, leaving Hashem out. We’ve had them several times throughout our history. And while they were caused by leaving Hashem out, we solved them by bringing Hashem back in.
In Mitzrayim, the men lost faith in Hashem and decided not to father a new generation of slaves. We women didn’t lose faith and so we polished our copper plates into mirrors and used them to dress nicely and put on makeup and get our husbands back. Thus was conceived the generation that left Mitzrayim. Amram ben Kehat left his wife for the same problematic reason and his daughter Miriam brought Hashem’s will back in by pointing out that he (Amram) was preventing more girls too. Amram got it and went back to his wife and thus was conceived Moshe Rabbeinu.
In Persia, the Jews lost faith and attended Achashveirosh’s party despite the warnings of Mordechai and the other leaders. But when Esther HaMalka decided to do something, she did her hishtadlut while Mordechai led the Jews in prayer and fasting. They all brought Hashem back into that picture and we got the salvation that left us with Chag Purim.
When Eretz Yisrael was under the rule of the Syrian-Greek kingdom, there were Jews who lost faith and became Mityavnim and tried to get everyone else to go along with them. But there were Matityahu, his sons the Maccabim, Yehudit, and other Jews who brought Hashem back into that picture and fought for Torah and Mitzvot and that’s how we got the miracles that we celebrate every year on Chanukah.
Many years later, in Europe, Jews were getting caught up in the various assimilationist movements of those times and they left Hashem out. The rabbis responded by bringing Hashem back to them and setting up yeshivot to allow the boys and men to study Torah and be protected from those influences.
Unfortunately, while the yeshivot helped the boys, they didn’t help the girls. Girls were also getting caught up in those movements. Sarah Schenirer responded by bringing Hashem back to them and setting up the Bais Yaakov system which paved the way for all girls to get formal Torah education and keep Hashem in that picture.
When it comes to both gett-refusal and erasure of women, the problems are caused by leaving Hashem out of the picture (pun intended). These problems can be remedied by doing the opposite which is to bring Hashem back into the picture. We have to remember that Hashem doesn’t want either one. Gett-refusal is a violation of halacha and it is abuse. Erasure of women is a little more insidious both because of its inherent subtlety and because it’s officially done in the guise of “what Hashem wants,” even though there is NO basis for it in Halacha or Mesorah.
How do we bring Hashem back into that picture? Here’s how I plan to do it…
First, I plan to do whatever hishtadlut I can. If that means emailing people about these issues, I’ll do that. If that means writing articles or blog posts about these issues, I’ll do that. If it means boycotting publications that don’t use photos of women, I’ll do that. I need to help raise awareness that Hashem doesn’t want either one of these things. And if there’s any more hishtadlut that I’m capable of doing, I’m going to do that.
Second, I will daven IN ADDITION TO my above-mentioned hishtadlut, not as a substitute for it. Only Hashem can guide me and make sure that my efforts help us all move in the right direction.
Third, whenever I hear about an agunah receiving her gett, I will respond with “Baruch Matir Assurim.” After asking Hashem for help, I need to give Him credit for that help.
Most problems are solved when we do the opposite of what caused them. So if we have problems caused by leaving Hashem out of the picture, then we can solve them, or at least remedy them, by bringing Hashem back into the picture.