Sunday, November 20, 2005

So, humor me

A couple of months ago I read a book called Around Sarah's Table, a sweet collection of stories about Chassidic women grappling with love and life in New York City. I liked it, I tend to like that kind of thing. And one story left me with a little bit of a question, which I am throwing out here for no apparent reason.

One of the women in the book has several daughters, and no sons. The neighborhood ladies band together to raise funds to send her a on a pilgrimage to Meron to pray for a boy. Naturally, this works, and she and husband are very happy--all fine and good.

The text assures us that this has NOTHING to do with a preference for boys, it's just that one is supposed to have both in order to have been multipliciously fruitful, and this woman and her husband's family would not have been complete without children of both genders.

I'm familiar with that concept. This is not the question.

This is the question: has anyone ever had the neighbor ladies raise money to send them to Meron (or other gravesites of revered rabbis) who desperately needed a daughter after several sons? Is such a case known? Because honestly, the Balabusta looked at this one and raised a skeptical eyebrow.



CornyPorny said...

Nothing shocks me anymore. I have been bombarded by fundraisers for every imaginable cause! This is no different. all in the name of "Yiddishkeit"

Rebecca said...

Meiron is a well known place to go to pray for children. I think there is another gravesite in Israel, I'm not sure where though that many people have visited and gotten pregnant shortly after. It can't hurt. A lot of people in the torah prayed for a child and their prayers were answered so ya never know. It sounds like an interesting book, who's the author?

Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

Ooops. Let me clarify. I get the Meron concept, no problem there.

What I was skeptical of was: the book insisted that sons are not sought after more than daughters at all, at all, but that this woman merely needed both for technical Torah reasons. My strong presumption is that there would not have been this outpouring of community support and financial aid for a woman who had five sons and needed a daughter to finish the set. I'm asking if anyone has heard of communities going to similar lengths to make sure a woman with only sons gets a daughter.

I'll check the author's name and post it, or you can look on Amazon. It was a nice read, although I found the lives of the women more interesting than the midrash, which weren't all that inspired.

The Jewropean said...

Obviously Chasidim are sexists. But I'd claim some Chasidic groups, notably Lubavitch and Breslev, are less sexist than Misnagidim.

Btw, I wonder why the Balabusta tends to write about herself in the third person. Or does she use a ghostwriter who states her opinion then?

Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

I don't know any Breslovers personally. The Lubavitchers I've met do have a very positive attitude toward women, no question. (In connection with this, was very baffled when reading "Mystics, Mavericks and Merrymakers" to see the degree to which the author was convinced that Chassidic girls would be downtrodden little mice. The real deal startled her.)

On the other hand, the claim that there was no preference for sons being shown in this story struck me as deeply dubious.

Why does the Balabusta write about herself in the third person? The Balabusta isn't sure. Possibly because 'the Balabusta' is to some degree a role, the identity I'm trying to put on as I try to run a nice home. It just seems to happen from time to time.

Eliyahu said...

interesting question. i don't have an answer, but thought of the modern day practices that sometimes occur in India and China with respect to choosing the sex of babies and what happens to baby girls.

i noticed this book: Discovering Eve: Ancient Israelite Women in Context, by Carol Meyers. i have not read it, but here is what says: Synopsis:
The everyday life of women in ancient Israel cannot be reconstructed from Biblical sources alone. This study uses archaeological and anthropological research to form a picture of women's status and way of life at this time.