I Choose to Play the Vacuum . . .
This morning I checked out an interview in What is Enlightenment?, which featured two Orthodox women discussing “the Jewish view of femininity.” One was Esther Kosovsky, the Director of the Jewish Educational Resource Center in western Massachusetts, who is also the wife of a rabbi, mom to eight, and daughter of Rabbi David Edelman, leader of the Lubavitch Orthodox congregation in western Massachusetts. The interviewer, Amy Edelstein, asked Esther about men and women maintaining separate roles within Orthodox Judaism.
Esther’s response: “I view it as almost like an orchestra, where every piece has its own role. If they all play the best that they can, understanding that they’re only a part of the orchestra, then together they will make a wonderful concert.” She goes on to say: “There are differences that we can’t ignore” and that “we’re better suited for different roles.”
I’m not Orthodox, but the exchange still got me thinking. When I married my husband, we went through a lengthy process of divvying up household responsibilities. We ended up each choosing the duties we disliked the least. He puts away the dishes from the dishwasher; I put away items on the drying rack. He makes lunch for our toddler; I vacuum. He does food shopping; I pay the bills. It is in no way a smooth-running orchestra, and there has been a fair amount of chaos in trying to recall which instruments we play. Sometimes we duplicate efforts; we’re not always sure who should empty the cat litter or drag out the garbage. These are no-man’s-land responsibilities, which change from week to week. Yesterday we played a round of “odds or evens” to determine who would go out in the torrential rain to pick up our daughter.
It makes sense for husband and wife to follow traditional , well-defined roles, whether or not you’re Orthodox. I used to look down on couples who chose to split up the chores based on old conventions, but I no longer do. There would be less confusion, questioning, and irritation if my husband and I inherently knew our household chores, and were consistent.
But, personally, I prefer a concert where we get to play the instruments of our choice—not necessarily the ones that are convenient to play, are dictated to us, or that we are good at. It takes a while to find the harmony, but there’s satisfaction in working it through.
How do you choose, or plan to choose, your instruments?