A new madness has infected the world of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. Female members of the community, in a violent protest against immodest dress of religious Jewish women, have taken upon themselves the cult of the Taliban, covering themselves from head to toe in black garb with a cape over their heads and a black veil covering their faces so that their identity cannot be identified.
These are the new women referred to as the cult of the Taliban. It is absolutely impossible to distinguish these ultra-Orthodox fanatic Jewish women from Muslim women who dress similarly as a sign of modesty.
Most of the ultra-Orthodox rabbis have condemned this new madness as a violation of Torah dictates concerning modesty. Women of this cult have been accused of withholding sexual marital relations with their husbands, of child abuse, of refusing to send their children to yeshivot which undermine their illogical beliefs. They are practicing what may be called Torah-itic Talibanism. They observe fully the teachings of our Torah but extend their practice to the dress custom of Taliban women.
For decades Israeli Jews, particularly those in the Old City of Jerusalem, have been scorned by believers of normative Judaism. Their religious practices were with more fervor and devotion than those of lesser modern Orthodox Jews. But who, in spite of differences, practiced Judaism with sanity.
The women of the new cult are removed from the sanity which, while many of us have not practiced, nevertheless respect.
It is for almost all of us who love our Jewishness, whether we are secular, or liberal in our beliefs and practices, a disgrace to look upon the black-garbed cultic women as true followers of the Jewish customs which we value, although do not always practice.
Several husbands of these “Taliban” wives are seeking divorce. They object to the “meshuggeh” new custom practiced by their wives and daughters. Little girls are now being dressed from head to toe and veiled in black garments.
Our police, in efforts to identify possible terrorist suspects, are unable to distinguish between Muslim women and ultra-Orthodox women of the cult of madness.
There is a world which separates Pharisaic (rabbinic) Judaism from the practices of the Zealots. Especially at this season of the Chanukah re-dedication of our Holy Temple, it would be incumbent upon all Jews, practicing and non-practicing, to rejoice in the heroism of our brave defenders of Torah and truth, the Hasmoneans of Modin, the Maccabees, sons of Matityahu the priest of Modin.
To the women of this very un-Jewish custom of veiling the entire body, I would wish that as the eight days of Chanukah are upon us, the veils will be lifted as the candles are kindled to recall the miracle of the weak against the mighty in days of yore.
Mi yemalel gevurot Yisrael otan mi yimneh…who can recall the things that befell us, who can count them? Ba yomim ha hem bizman ha zeh… in those days at this season. Let the season reflect reason.
Black garb, capes and veils, do not for more religiousity or modesty make. Sanity must prevail in keeping with modesty within reason.
The ancient separation of Pharisees from Sadducees, from Essenes to zealots to Sycari led to our ultimate destruction. Let this new separation not follow that destructive course.