How breaking halacha made me a better Jew

charedi bus photoIn response to The Tablet article on a woman who stopped covering her hair

I grew up in a regular frum home in Brooklyn, everything was normal, I went to bais yaakov, got married, and had a regular frum life, until one day I became resentful. I started poking around online and realized that the frum community was screwed up. I never realized it before, but my husband and I were living in the midst of community leaders who supported treated women as second class citizens, thinking less of those who didn’t wear the right hat to shul on shabbos, and supported tax cheats, sex abusers, and a lot of other things that I would never support. I started reading blogs, I started commenting on forums. I got educated, I realized that my resentment wasn’t helping me be a good person or a good Jew, until one day I forgot to cover my hair as I stepped out to grab a coffee. That changed my whole world. Hashem didn’t reach down to smite me, satan didn’t magically make the wheels of my car fall off, and it felt really good. Of course, I couldn’t just leave the house with my hair uncovered, what would the neighbors think? So I started to secretly break all kinds of halacha because it made me feel better, less resentful, and I knew this would make me into a better Jew.

I started writing about my experiences online, after all, I wasn’t actually breaking halacha, I was breaking social norms established by men to rule over women. My husband was all for it, we both started to think that we could break all kinds of halacha and social norms and still be Orthodox, but this time we would be happy. I was happy to walk around with my non-halachic ervah showing. It helped me become better, some of the haters out there will surely question my willingness to break something which is purported to be one of the most important “mitzvahs” that a woman has, yet it has not only helped me feel better about myself, it has actually forced me to be better a Jew. I have started to have less resentment towards those who aren’t orthodox for instance, I recently attended the wedding of a cousin who married a non-Jew. I was the only relative there, if it were several years ago, I would have spit in his face, now I am part of his only family left. I have begun to work on projects to help children in Darfur, which as a hair covering women I would have shunned. I have begun to help out with one of the shuls in ideas on how to help interfaith families. I have also begun to publicly decry anti-women sentiment from the frum community. I feel that as a frum woman who’s opened her mind, I can really make a difference.

Once I started wearing pants and eating vegetarian in treife restaurants, I decided to start my own branch of Tomchei Shabbos. Eating treife and justifying it, allowed me to realize that kosher food is very expensive and those who choose to eat it, probably can’t afford it for shabbos, so eating treife helped me become a better Jew as well.  I find it unfortunate that there are so many strict halacha following frum Jews who don’t do anything to help their fellow humans. What good is it to follow halacha if it makes you into a bitter and unloving human being. Just because I wear pants, don’t cover my hair, eat out vegetarian, and support intermarriage, doesn’t mean that I’m not a good Jew. Many of my brainwashed friends don’t see it my way, the proof was in the pudding. The second I stopped covering my hair, my friends literally went into a rage, they told me that I may think I’m being a good Jew, but that when I went to the heavenly court I would see otherwise. I guess it’s a good thing that I don’t really believe in all that hogwash anymore and I guess it’s a good thing that there are even Orthodox Rabbis who support my decision and think that’s it good for the community.

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