Monday, January 3, 2011

Egalitarian Weddings and Evolutionary Halacha

Ben Z at Mah Rabu has an interesting five-part series of posts on his egalitarian wedding (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.) In short, he took three things quite seriously: the traditional Jewish ideas and rituals of marriage, contemporary gender and sexual-orientation egalitarianism, and pragmatic reality. He then reshaped some of the rituals and ceremonies and ideas of the traditional marriage.

This is an important project for several reasons. If a contemporary and more liberal view of halacha is to evolve and emerge, some people have to take it seriously. Perhaps some of these innovations will become widely accepted, perhaps they will be rejected outright, and perhaps they will be modified or supplanted in some way. But this on-going dynamic process is itself important to keep traditions relevant and meaningful in light of serious contemporary challenges.

I am not a fan of change for change's sake. But marriage might be a good place where some change is warranted. The traditional Jewish non-egalitarian view of marriage is not the way most Jews view their marriage or live it. Ben Z. has taken an important and thoughtful step here, and it is worth reading.