It was rainy and windy, and Suzie was driving me home from work. In the midst of the evening rush hour, some jerk in an SUV swerved right in front of us, cutting us off and very nearly side swiping the car. We could have been killed! Who in their right mind drives like that? What kind of maniac risks everyone’s lives just to arrive some place ten seconds earlier? How selfish! What an @#$%^*!
I yelled obscenities and flipped off the SUV driver in front of us. We continued our drive home, and by the time we were eating dinner, everything was fine.
Fine? WHAT KIND OF A HORRIBLE REBBETZIN AM I?!
The driver of the SUV could have been a congregant. The driver of the SUV could have been on the board of the synagogue where Suzie works! And had he or she recognized us and seen my antagonistic behavior, what would he or she have thought? Suzie’s wife certainly can’t keep a cool head in a stressful situation. Suzie’s wife sure is rash and impulsive. Suzie’s wife would be horrible at counseling someone who is having a difficult time–she would just tell said person to scream and swear and perhaps make vulgar gestures, and if that’s the advice we can expect from rebbetzins, what is the world coming to?
I should have kept a cool head. I should have thought to myself, “gee, that SUV driver must be in a rush. I wonder what is stressing him or her out so much? I wish I could help him or her with that stress.” And then I should have thought of the perfect quotation from the talmud about how we shouldn’t rush through our lives, and I should have written it down for that person in Hebrew and in English, and then at the next traffic light I should have gotten out of the car and walked over to his or her drivers side window and knocked and given the SUV driver the piece of paper with an understanding smile.
And of course everyone knows good rebbetzins should bake, so I should have also given the person a freshly baked kosher bran muffin (not cookies; Michelle Obama wouldn’t like that) that I baked right that very minute in the kosher EZ Bake oven I keep plugged into the cigarette lighter thingy in Suzie’s car for just such occasions! Because perhaps that driver was just cranky and in a rush because he or she had low blood sugar, and a fresh kosher bran muffin would have been just the thing that made his or her whole evening better.
Yup. I’m a horrible rebbetzin. My rude behavior in traffic was just one step away from the baboons screeching at each other in the zoo, and I DON’T EVEN HAVE AN EZ BAKE OVEN. Oh the humanity! The world is falling apart.
Bad Rebbetzin Blog #2.
Note: I don’t actually think I’m going to be the world’s worst rebbetzin. However, I want to draw attention to rebbetzins and the expectations we as a community have for this anachronistic yet still relevant role. I think it’s important to problematize our unquestioned notions of gender, tradition, and perhaps even the very concept of spiritual “leaders” (e.g. the way we tend to think of clergy as superhuman). I want to think about exactly what I’m not allowed to do and why I’m not supposed to do it. This is the second part in a ten part series (the “Bad Rebbetzin Blog” within my Jewish Boston blog) exploring the themes of humanity and gender as they relate to our expectations for rebbetzins.