July 17, 2022 Street poster: working girls and selling kidneys
Here’s a Yiddish street poster that cropped up in July 2022. I think it’s a must-read.
It is a lesson on why it is a terrible idea for girls to work! I should caveat by saying that despite the harsh words in this poster, many Hasidic girls continue to work as secretaries or other positions in Hasidic offices.
Where do you get money to marry off your children?
A father worries: how will I be able to marry off my daughter? You need a lot of money!
So a friend comes to him and says:
“I have a good idea for you. I just read that there is a hospital that pays a hundred thousand dollars when someone donates a kidney. So your daughter has two kidneys. Let them do the operation — she can live with just one kidney. And then you’ll be able to marry her often comfortably to the best boy, have a luxurious wedding, and her husband will be able to sit and study the Torah for many years after the wedding.”
The person who gives us advice is a big fool!
And if you send your daughter to work in an office, and you cut out… and take out the whole feeling of shyness, modesty, demureness — of which she does not have two, only one! — and you cool off the whole feeling of the expression “the honor of the daughter of a king is to be inside,” and you cool off the whole feeling of modesty… and never mind the other very serious problems that occur when girls work in offices, of which the rabbis are hearing day in and day out…
You think sending her there is a smart thing??
A father who sends his daughter to work in an office will send her to be either an angel or a demon. (??)
And the Talmud says: During the sinful generation of Noah before the floods, there were angels who were sent down from heaven to earth and they became demons. They became rotten!
If the daughter will be hanging out in an office, even if she is an angel today, she can instantly become a demon, god forbid!
It is sadly a story that happens every day!
So dear reader, pray tell, can you see the moral of the story?
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C. GoldbergPosted at 21:37h, 04 September
There is truth to the message related on this Williamsburg poster.
I am a Jewish woman from a secular background who accepted Torah observance as a teenager/young adult. I attended a (very prestigious) public high school, have a college degree, and currently work in an office.
To my high school self, the poster above probably would have seemed bizarre.
However, in recent years I’ve seen my perspective on such issues shift.
First of all, to clarify, the issue of concern here is not “girls working in an office,” but women, especially naive young girls, socializing with men.
People do it, but there are dangers involved.
In the secular world, it’s known that office romances – including extramarital affairs – are a distinct possibility.
Rabbi Avigdor Miller has often spoken against women mixing with men. He said it’s best for both genders to stay as far away as possible from each other.
More recently, I’ve seen a non-Jewish man on Twitter protest that his wife won’t work for (serve) a male boss. It’s easy for the modern mind to dismiss this man’s view as “patriarchal” and “macho” – but perhaps he’s just aware, experienced, and realistic about male-female dynamics.
I’m not Hasidic, and I do not find such posters in my neighborhood. In my circles, “working in an office” is not taboo.
At the same time, there is awareness about precautions to be taken when women and men work together.
Young post-high school girls may be discouraged from working with men.
As mentioned, I work in an office, and some young Orthodox Jewish girls work in my office as well. However, our office staff is mainly female; there is little danger of a boss and his secretary being secluded together – in general, the environment is one that discourages inappropriate relationships.
The secular world complains that women are being exploited and groomed; the “Me Too” movement protested abuses they said were caused by a power discrepancy between men and women.
The Hasidik solution to this very real problem is to keep their daughters safe and innocent. They discourage their daughters from “working in an office,” because they correctly recognize that their daughters’ safety and innocence is precious, and their loss, like the loss of a kidney, cannot be replaced.
Perhaps instead of dismissing them as quaint or backward, we should take a lesson from the Hasidim’s wisdom.