Monkey… or man?

At work today, I blundered into a heated discussion regarding the nature of man.

“Human nature is that if a woman walks past showing skin, a man will look,” one guy says. “If she shows lots of it, she should know what to expect… This is just the nature of man.”

Noticing me, someone reassures, “No offense.”

Oh, none taken. I’m not the one comparing myself to a gorilla.

Another coworker says, “That’s absurd. Say someone’s nature, or someone’s religion, dictates the slaughter of another person or nation. Should we accept this?”

“Adaraba!” the guy responds. “We should treat them like the animals they are!”

Aloud I wonder, “And why shouldn’t women do the same?”

He scoffs, “They can try.”

Well then. We’ll parade a couple of Victoria’s Secret models behind a stake-lined ditch… Problem solved, by your logic.

But I digress. My question is, what is the value of a faith which lacks practical use in everyday life?

You refuse to take responsibility for your own actions, blaming your natural “prey drive”, if you will, for your masculine mistakes. Basically, your faith is forgotten the moment you are faced with your most basic instincts. Let’s discuss this phenomenon.

When training a dog, most people begin with what is known as “obedience training.” While many commands do have practical use, this type of training is the foundation of any future technique because it helps the dog understand its place in your world. It learns that it does not need to think about or understand the importance of each command, it needs only to obey you.

Sure, it is important to have your dog ‘sit’ or ‘heel’ on command, but ‘roll over’, ‘paw’, and other fun tricks also provide your dog with an attitude that is essential for your relationship. But say after two years of practicing with your beloved dog, you decide to take him to the park. He sees a small child, lunges, you yell “SIT!” but it’s too late. Before you know it, your dog has made an irreparable mistake and is euthanized.

What, exactly, was the purpose of those two years?

I personally see many parallels. These self-sheltering religious men study the most obscure Halachot of Shabbat, the nitty gritty of temperatures and muktza and kashrut and history, debate amongst themselves about the greatness of our nation’s Gdolim past and present, and yet, when they walk onto the street, they burst into sinful flame at the sight of a woman’s cleavage.

Faith is important, and people should follow their religion wholeheartedly, with this I agree. The details of Halacha bear great importance, especially in our ever-evolving generation, whether we understand the reasons behind them or not. But don’t forget the true purpose of being a religious Jew. We are supposed to be a light unto nations, guiding lost souls to a greater existence, and yet, we ourselves cannot function in our own reality. Worse, many seem to almost choose to be “distracted” because they believe it somehow makes them holier to exaggerate and almost glorify what is merely a primitive drive. Instead, a true man of faith would see the woman, accept his nature, and move on, because he recognizes and remembers G-d in everything he does.

About the Author
Born in Washington, D.C., Abi Attwood lives in Jerusalem, where she is pursuing a dual bachelor's degree in biology and psychology.