Jen Taylor Friedman, famous for being the first (only?) female sofferet (or scribe – trained to inscribe mezuzahs and Torahs etc. which have to be written by hand) had some extra time on her hands recently and decided to create Tefillin Barbie, pictured here.
Jen’s friends of course love Tefillin Barbie, as do the usual suspects. DovBear I guess took a more neutral approach, but his commentors mixed it up a bit. My take? There’s nothing wrong with women wearing tefillin. Women are not obligated to wear them – they are excused from all mitzvas that are time based and since tefillin have to be worn on weekday mornings at specific times then the mitzva of wearing them isn’t imposed on women. However, should a woman decide to start wearing tefillin and a talit then she has to do so always – thus rabbis generally advise against it.
Tefillin Barbie bugs me because the lower part of her Tefillin Shel Rosh (the head part) is below her hairline and thus incorrectly worn. And then of course there is the issue of Barbie herself who represents a depiction of beauty that is not only not particularly Semitic, but also impossible to attain – no real woman has boobs that big and a waist that tiny.
Beauty Myth Hello!
Then there’s the Hebrew Steinsaltz Talmud that Barbie is holding (as opposed to the usual Aramaic one) implying perhaps that women don’t have the intellectual fortitude for a traditional talmud? I’m not even going to comment on the blue fringe on the tzizit!
And what of the tznius (modesty) issue? Barbie’s arms aren’t covered and that skirt looks awfully tight! That’s not so much of an issue for me. Women in my Sephardic Orthodox synagogue wear pants and short sleeves and no one says boo. Try to tell them they’re being immodest and they will literally tear your eyes out. They’re plenty modest! But amongst the Ashkenazic Yeshivish crowd this is apparently quite an issue! I can write a whole other post just about the “Hot Channie” phenomenon that was brought to the fore in part due to the discussion on Tefillin Barbie. Check out the Hot Chanie Blog where an attractive, well put together Orthodox Mom takes umbrage with those in her community who look down upon her nice sheitel (wig), gym enhanced body and attractive clothing (like skirts with a slit!!) which technically follow the rules of tznius but are still far too attractive to be tznius (according to them). Hot Chanie believes that tznius does not need to mean frumpy (Oh Renegade Rebbetzin!).
Whatever. The point is that whoever you are, if you’re going to wear tefillin, wear them properly. Like me! (in this pic my head tefillin is improperly placed on my head with the lower part below my hairline. That’s because of the cowboy hat and I was still putting on my tefillin. I always make last minute adjustments so don’t flame me ok?)
Hat tip: boing boing. Now go on, click on the audio link below. I know you want to Barbie Girl![audio:barbie_girl.mp3]
…and yes, there’s video too, after the bump.