Last week tapes surfaced wherein Donald Trump, the man who is running for President, bragged about grabbing women’s genitalia without their consent. (Trump’s defense is that the tapes were from 2005, when he was young and immature. He was 59.)
Bragging about sexually assaulting women is awful for many, many reasons.
Let’s explore some of the Jewish ones.
1. Shomer Negiah
In many observant communities, it is prohibited for men and women who are not immediate family members to touch each other. Part of the reason for this is that a man might not know whether or not a woman is menstruating. If a man touches a woman who is menstruating, he is considered ritually unclean, and must cleanse himself in a mikvah (or ritual bath). Donald Trump’s comment clearly indicates a blatant disregard for people practicing shomer negiah.
2. B’tzelem Elohim
Perhaps you do not consider people who menstruate and those who shake hands with them ritually unclean. That’s okay! Donald Trump’s behavior is still Jewishly unacceptable! B’tzelem Elohim is the concept that each of us are created in the image of Gd. Due to this concept, we must respect each human on this planet as a soul worthy of respect. Trump’s comment shows a lack of respect for other human beings, specifically human beings with vaginas.
3. The Seventh Commandment
Ah, the good old commandments. During the time when Donald Trump made his unsavory comments, he was married to Melania Trump. In addition, the woman upon whom he made his advances was also married. His comment regarding grabbing women’s genitalia against their wills clearly demonstrates a lack of respect for the seventh commandment, which prohibits adultery as it falls under “coveting a neighbor’s wife.”
This list is not meant to be exhaustive. What are other Jewish reasons for being outraged at Trump’s comments regarding women? Let’s brainstorm here. Our traditions have many interesting insights for our crazy modern political climate, and I would love to hear from other scholars and lay people. Can we use our traditions and values to find some sanity in this bizarre moment in American politics? Can we use our traditions and values to clarify exactly why certain things are so horrible? Or will we just end up continuing to sputter in outrage, holding our heads, dumbfounded at the sheer stupidity of those who might end up with enormous power?