“When You Go Out to war…”
A Hasidic homily connects the titles of the Torah portions read during the month of Elul with the theme of that month, of spiritual searching self-examination and renewal. Re’eh: “See…”—Take a good look at the state of your mind, soul and actions. Shoftim ve -shotrim: “You shall place judges and police at every gate…” Be vigilant about what comes in and out of every aperture of your body—eyes, ears, and especially mouth. Ki Tetzei: “When you go out to war”—You must wage war against your Evil Impulse. Ki Tavo: “When you come into the land…” If you do all these things, then you shall come into the Land of the Living. And finally, Atem Nitzavim: “You are standing this day before the Lord your God”—you stand ready to receive His kingship on Rosh Hashana.
With only some homiletic license, one could say that the opening section of this week’s portion (Deut 21:10-14) in fact speaks of the war against the Evil Urge as much as any other. As we mentioned earlier, much of this parsha (over 50% of its verses) deals with a wide variety of aspects of family and sexuality: divorce; levirate marriage; rape of a betrothed virgin; claims against the virginity of a bride; bans against various national and other groups entering (i.e., marrying) into the congregation; cross-dressing; etc. It starts with the most chaotic, uncontrollable aspects of sexuality—the law of the Yefat To’ar, the beautiful enemy woman. (That this portion is not a direct sequel to the laws of war in Chapter 20 is suggested by the placing of extraneous material in 21:1-9 between the two blocs of war material, thereby requiring the repetition of the introductory phrase “when you go out to war.”
This section portrays a situation in which a man goes to war, sees an attractive woman among the enemy captives, and desires her. He is allowed to take her home, but the Torah requires a series of acts—that she shave her hair, grow her nails long, weep for her home and parents, in the process making herself generally disheveled—and only then, if he still desires her, may he marry her. The implication is that all this will dissuade him.
The consensus of Rabbinic tradition is that all this takes place after he has already had sex with her once (whether by rape or otherwise) near the battlefield. The assumption, which seems to me to be borne out by much of human experience, is that his initial desire is likely to be well-nigh uncontrollable; only after the intensity of his lust has been dulled somewhat by this initial intercourse is he at all susceptible to being influenced by other, more rational considerations. There seems to be a frank acknowledgement that this is how soldiers may behave in such situations; the reality, albeit far from ideal fact (matzuy, not ratzuy), is that under such circumstances the Yetzer ha-Ra, the “Evil Impulse,” cannot be fully curbed. In such a situation of warfare, of extreme fear, with death hovering wherever one turns, tension finds outlet in almost barbaric, very direct physical behavior. (The halakha also allows the eating of non-kosher meat in this situation.)
All this is very problematic to our refined, modern, Western morality (or is it a hypocritical Puritanism, which does not like to look at unpleasant realities too directly?). What is left out here is the woman’s humanity, her own wishes; she is very much an object to be taken at will. There seems to be an acceptance of war as a kind of moral holiday. The Torah sees this as something that can only be dealt with retroactively: “making the best of a bad deal.”
“Every love that is dependent upon some thing…”
Continuing the theme of family and sexuality, a passage in Sefat Emet I came across some weeks ago reminded me of the mishnah in Avot 5.20: “Every love that is dependent upon some thing shall in the end be negated. And every love that is not dependent upon some external thing is everlasting.” The examples given are, respectively, the love (or lust) of Amnon for Tamar, and that of David and Jonathan.
The story of Amnon and Tamar, related in 2 Samuel 13, is psychologically a very interesting chapter. Amnon desires his half-sister Tamar, but does not dare do anything to her; so, like a true romantic hero of one of the Schubert leider the Israeli radio is fond of broadcasting all the time, he languishes all day long with unrequited passion. One day a “clever” friend convinces him to take action. He feigns illness, telling his servants that she must serve him food with her own hands. While she is preparing him some pancakes, he propositions her; she protests, saying “shall you behave like a scoundrel?” (vv. 12-13). Once they are alone he grabs her and has his way with her; immediately thereafter, he finds her repulsive: “And he felt a great hatred for her, greater than the love with which he had loved her” and sends her away in shame and disgrace. The picture in vv. 17-19 is especially vivid and true to life: he orders the servant to turn her out and lock the door; she puts ashes on her head, tears her fancy striped robe [like that of Joseph], and walks back and forth holding her hands on her head and crying out. It seems clear that this “hatred” was a projection of his own self-loathing, his sense of shame at himself for having betrayed his better self (the pure-minded, decent young man we first met in verse 2 could not conceive of doing such things), and his awareness that his much-vaunted “love” was no more than lust and desire, spent in a single sex act. (This is also, I believe, the origin of the stigma attached to prostitution.)
The question that occurred to me is: why is the counter-example one of love between two men? (And, despite the homophilic dispensation of the past 20 years, the reading of these two as homosexual does not ring true. It seems clear to me that 2 Sam 1:26 “You were very pleasant to me; your live was more wondrous to me than the love of women,” is speaking of non-sexual, comradely love.)
The mishnah could have chosen to use, say, the example of Rachel & Yaakov. There too we find a portrayal of intense love, of the man doing heroic acts for love—beginning with rolling the enormous stone off the mouth of the well (Gen 29:10), to working seven years for her, “and they were like only a few days in his eyes, because of his great love for her” (v. 20). This love did not dissipate after the first tumble in bed, but endured throughout life, and beyond. Her premature death was the great tragedy of his life, one of the first biographical facts he tells his two grandchildren upon meeting them (Gen 48:7); he clearly looked back at her with longing so long as he himself lived. (The Rav once spoke of the opening word of the Kinot for Tisha b’Av , Shavat, suru meni sham’u okhray, translating Shavat as “It is finished.” He commented that there are times in life when events occur that are so traumatic, that life itself loses its savor thereafter. One goes on living, but as if there is a stone inside oneself. I felt that the sub-text he was speaking of was the loss of own wife, as the seismic split in his own life. So Jacob must have felt when Rachel died.).
But to return to our mishnah: Why not give an example of a positive example of love of man and woman, in which companionship, friendship, a shared life project, and eroticism all join in an organic whole? Is there an underlying fear here of the explosive power of sexuality, even within the pure and holy form of marriage? There is something here suggestive of the dichotomy of eros and charitas in Christian thought. Or is the sensibility of Hazal simply one for which sexual love is not necessarily the most significant relationship in life, as it is generally taken to be in our society? Indeed, in the Bible the most central relationship seems to be that between fathers and sons, to which, in later Judaism, is added that of rebbe and talmid. I once read an essay by a mid-century literary critic (perhaps Lionel Trilling) who said that the great theme of literature is that of fathers and sons: e.g., as in the bildungsroman, in which the young man rebels against his father, and eventually comes full circle to confront him, and form a new, mature relationship—hopefully, one of mutual respect and love.
Where does male camaraderie and peer friendship, fit into this scheme? A thought: David was of course Tamar and Amnon’s own father. Perhaps we are meant to contrast his friendship with Jonathan with the tragic results of Amnon’s friendship with the clever but evil scheming Yonadav ben Shim’ah. The latter touched off the series of bloody events that eventually destroyed both Amnon and Avshalom, and left David as a feeble and tragic figure, left to weep and bemoan the shambles of his family.
All this requires much further thought. It may well be that the centrality of romantic love, as a freely-willed, individual choice, and the down-playing of family links—specifically, of fathers and sons—is one of the important roots of our highly individualistic society, for good and for ill.
What is the larger message that I derive from all this? That one must learn how to see Torah, not only as a system of rules and regulations, but as providing one with a perspective enabling one to go outside of his own society: to challenge the conventions and ideas of the so called avant-garde, to look at life in a broader way. Paradoxically, that which is most “conservative” may give one the courage to be most radical, as the zeitgeist can be a very tyrannical and demanding master.
My model is not a separatist one. I see Judaism as adopting and adapting many of the literary, cultural, legal and other forms from all of the cultures that it has encountered and with which it has entered into contact—from the ancient world, through the Greco-Roman world and Medieval Europe, to the “high modernity” (to coin a term) of 19th century Germany, and to the United States. Through all this, it has exercised a certain selection, on the basis of—I hesitate to use the much-abused term “essence of Judaism”—but a certain unique perspective, sensibility, spirit, and covenant consciousness.
Postscript: After preparing the above two sections independently, I discovered an interesting connection between the law of the Yefat To’ar and the story of Amnon and Tamar: namely, that Hazal see Tamar as the daughter of a yefat to’ar: David took her mother, Maacah daughter of Talmai, as a captive woman in one of his battles. This resolves the knotty problem of why the account in 2 Sam is not troubled by the incestuous aspects of this incident, Tamar even telling Amnon not to rape her, because her father would certainly let him have her as his wife were he but to ask (v. 13). The Talmud explains that, as the daughter of a yefat to’ar, she was technically not considered David’s offspring (Sanhedrin 21a; cf. Rambam, Melakhim 8.2 ff., and Radbaz and Kesef Mishneh there; this fact is in turn used in support of the legitimacy of initial intercourse before the warrior brings her home, etc., an idea not required by the simple sense of the verses). Otherwise, one is forced to the historical-critical theory that the law against incest with half-siblings was not yet in force at that time, a solution posing deep faith-theological problems.
“When a man takes a wife… and hates her… and sends her away…”
The widespread incidence of divorce, a subject which is treated briefly during the course of our portion (24:1-4), is one of the striking features of contemporary society. Having myself undergone this painful and soul-wrenching experience, I bring a personal interest to this difficult subject. During the long years when I deliberated whether or not to seek a divorce, I sought guidelines in the Torah and the Jewish tradition for my own existential dilemma.
I encountered a certain difficulty in this quest. Gittin, the Talmudic tractate devoted to divorce, is primarily concerned with technical matters: how the divorce writ is to be written, the proper procedure for its writing and delivery, the testimony of the witnesses to its writing, etc. Similarly, the financial aspects of divorce—property rights and obligations of the two parties, etc.—are treated extensively in Ketubot. Material dealing explicitly with the moral issues involved in the decision to divorce is relatively sparse, appearing only on the final page of Gittin (90a-b); in the sugyot of moredet, dat Moshe and Dat Yehudit in the fifth and seventh chapters of Ketubot (72a-b; 62a-63b); and in isolated obiter dicta of the Sages. A thorough philosophical-halakhic analysis study of this subject, which will attempt to arrive at the underpinnings of these laws and to reconstruct the world-view underlying the details of these laws, is a desideratum. I believe that, properly understood, this subject is of relevance not only to the divorced and the divorcing, but to anyone interested in Jewish marriage; divorce, as its dissolution, teaches us something significant about the nature of marriage itself.
For the moment, I shall limit myself to a few insights about the final mishnah in Gittin (10.9). The Mishnah cites three opinions on the grounds for divorce: Beit Shammai limits divorce to the case of ervat davar, “an unseemly thing”—i.e., marital unfaithfulness on the part of the wife; Beit Hillel states that a man may divorce his wife “even if she burnt his food.” Rabbi Akiva is even more liberal: “even if he found another more beautiful than her.”
To my mind, these three approaches are rooted in three conceptions of marriage. The first view sees the essential purpose of marriage as the creation of legitimate progeny: the fulfillment of the commandment, “be fruitful and multiply.” Hence, anything short of adultery, representing a fundamental breach in the marital framework (as well as opening the possibility of another man’s progeny being passed off as the husband’s) remains tolerable within marriage. Beit Hillel’s view is more pragmatic: the woman’s principle practical duty within marriage is the running of the household (duties stipulated in detail in Mishnah Ketubot and elsewhere). Should she fail to perform her duties properly, she may be sent away (somewhat like an employee fired for failure to fulfill his job description?). In both these cases, the understanding of marriage is largely programmatic, functional. Rabbi Akiva’s view, by contrast, is rooted in a much more subjective understanding of marriage: the fulfillment of the subjective needs of the partners, which by definition are almost entirely dependent upon the person’s own feelings and sense of satisfaction from marriage. Here the standard is not objective, and certainly not practical, but closer to what we would call romantic (and remember that it was Rabbi Akiva who described the Song of Songs as the “holy of holies” of all the books of Scripture).
Perhaps the bottom line, then, is that such an intensely personal decision as divorce, touching upon every aspect of an individual’s life (the bitterness generated by a profoundly unhappy marital situation can poison every other life activity) cannot be found in the Shulhan Arukh in any simple way, but must be sought in ones heart. At best, examination of halakha can alert one to those reasons that are flippant.
Two points seem to be missing here. First, the interest of the children: how does one responsibly balance the inevitable harm and suffering that divorce brings upon innocent children against the considerations in its favor? I have not found this issue addressed in any obvious way by the sugyot. Second, the reasons for divorce are all (or almost all) phrased from the standpoint of the man—not surprisingly, given that the formal initiation of Jewish divorce is in the hands of the man. (Needless to say, the knotty problem of the agunah, the “chained wife,” is a major issue in this context). What considerations justify divorce from the woman’s viewpoint? And, given the skewed nature of Jewish divorce, what indirect mechanisms exist enabling the woman to nevertheless initiate divorce and how, under modern conditions, may they be made more effective?
Another, totally different, perspective on this issue. If we believe that on some level God matches each person with their destined mate (his/her zivvug or, in Yiddish, beshert), how can divorce be possible at all? More important, why is it so common today? One of the most interesting answers I have heard is that one of the underlying Divine purposes in bringing two individuals together is tikkun hamiddot (“character correction”): that is, Divine Providence throws us together with a particular person in order to create a situation in which we are forced, in order to make the marriage work, to correct our own character flaws. In this view, divorce results when one or both partners are unwilling to make the necessary changes, to engage in self-confrontation, etc. These may involve subtle shortcomings, or gross faults. Certainly, there are cases where one can’t fault a person for leaving a marriage. The most obvious example is that of the wife beater: he clearly requires tikkun, but beyond a certain point no sane woman will stay around, literally risking her neck, on the off chance that she will help him to correct his character.
On Feminist Theology
One of the much-discussed topics today in intellectual circles, both Christian and Jewish, is what is known called “feminist theology”—the attempt to rethink basic religious issues in light of the new feminist sensibility. This is expressed, among other things, in a flood of books analyzing Biblical and other sources relating to sexuality, the family, etc., in light of this new perspective.
My friend Alifa Saadya, one of the most brilliant women I know, summarized many of the salient issues in the following personal communication. Inter alia, she said:
… men rarely thought of women as having any brains at all, and so men defined what spirituality was supposed to be, and what morality was supposed to be, with no thought at all to what women’s spiritual experience might be. In particular, the hard work of childcare and the service to husbands and fathers and brothers seemed to indicate that women didn’t have time for lofty intellectual and spiritual pursuits anyway. Most women were illiterate, and had few if any outlets into “culture.” Throughout the history of women’s religious life (i.e., nuns), whenever women would develop a rule for their communities, some man—priest or bishop or whatever—would find it necessary to intervene and modify it so that it came more into line with what men thought spiritual development should be. Women in different ages have mightily objected to this interference, too.
So, it seems to me that men addressing moral issues realized that sexual sins are very disruptive to society, and worse yet, the men found themselves in a quandary, because their own male sexuality is so up front and obvious, and it interferes with what they define as “spiritual.” Thus, instead of seeing arousal as a natural process that you can either get mentally involved with and pursue to its climax, or else push aside as circumstances demand, they tended to look rather accusingly at women as temptresses—the root cause of that physiological reaction—rather than seeing it as merely a natural function of the body with elements of choice involved and themselves in charge of making the choices.
In a slightly different mode, Mark Kirschbaum, in an essay “Towards a Theology of the Feminine in Judaism” (Radical Readings, Ekev and Tisha b’Av), wrote the following:
While many of the halakhic hurdles that prevent full participation by Jewish women in Jewish life can be overcome by proper analysis of the texts, there is not yet an adequate theology of the specifically feminine in Judaism to provide meaning to the contemporary observant woman. For many years, I have been attempting to conceptualize just such a theology, without recourse to an essentialist argument, or one that derives from male defined gender roles. The problem with many of these approaches is that these definitions tend to be extensions of an exclusionary approach, as pointed out by Genevieve Lloyd in her study of the concept of reason… [and by Alcoff]: “Feminists have argued that these concepts of reason and knowledge, as well as those of man, history, and power, are reflections of gendered practices passing as universal ones.”
The Sefat Emet explains… much of what is critical and difficult in Judaism is a direct result of the errors of Man at that critical, almost mythical time of the Exodus, and that had they listened to the women, we would have an entirely different history and experience. This, I believe, is alluded to by the term used for dancing, holot, [derived] from the word mahol…. circle imagery is specifically used to point to a mathematical equality among all the participants, as the radius of a circle from any point at the circumference is the same. This Torah of the Messianic time is what the women allude to in their dance, the dance of those not tinged by the sins of the golden calf and the spies.
… just what does/would this feminine Torah contain? Is it some more innate and direct connection and consciousness of God’s will? Can this be connected to a reversal of the privileging of reason vs. sense (that is, reason and empirical evidence, as symbolized by the “need to know” of the spies episode, were destructive, whereas the more “feminine” sensitivity was closer to God’s will)?
Michael Kagan concludes his comments on Tisha b’Av, in his Sefer Hakavvanot, by noting that:
After evening prayers the blessing for the New Moon is customarily said. It should have been declared the previous Saturday night but is delayed. The Moon is female energy and is blessed as the healing of the Wild Male energy of the day…. Tu B’Av (the Fifteenth of Av) is the traditional day of love. It comes as a direct consequence of Tisha B’Av. It is a full moon—the female energy of compassion now fully flows. The anger of the Father has dissipated and healing of the relationship can now begin.
And Martin Lee, a friend from the Yakar learning community and a reader of these pages, commenting on a question I asked in another context, wrote:
… Precisely because the nature of man (vs. woman) is to relate to law, judgement, awe and fear more easily than we relate to love, kindness, compassion, and mercy—that we need to pray. Woman—at least in the archetypal and more usual case—relates to compassion, mercy and kindness as a more natural extension of her nature. Thus, men may have a greater need of the spiritual depths of prayer to achieve what perhaps comes easier to women.
Taking all of these comments together, we find several motifs that repeat themselves: that woman has a certain innate spirituality, that has traditionally been suppressed or forced into its own channels by traditional patriarchal culture; that it relates to compassion, is closer to direct, natural human emotion and humanity as opposed to the more structured and rule-oriented spirituality of men; that it stems from woman’s biological experience as mother and her traditional role as caregiver; etc. Kirschbaum’s formulation about “the reversal of the privileging of reason vs. sense” has much to recommend it. There is something too exclusively male in the very core of the sensibility of Judaism as we know it; something hard and harsh in the halakhic way of thinking (particular since halakhah has become hardened into an ideology called Orthodoxy, in reaction to the Enlightenment), too easily caught up in objective parameters and limits, that may as a result be too insensitive both to spiritual leanings and to human needs. Clearly, the call for an infusion of feminine, and feminist, sensibility into Jewish religious life, is an idea whose time has come.
This idea (if not the feminist critique thereof) is in fact suggested by the well-known midrash on the verse: “’Thus shall you say (tomar) to the house of Jacob, and speak (tagaid) to the children of Israel’ (Exod 19:3): Say to the women [referred to as Beit Ya’akov] through soft speech [amirah]; but to the men, speak in a manner tough as sinews [giddim]” (Rashi ad loc., quoting Mekhilta and Shabbat 87a). Men are seen as thinking in tough-minded, objective, depersonal concepts; women, in more personal, emotional, “softer” categories.
This difference in sensibility was epitomized, for me, in the following experience. Many years ago I visited the home of a Lithuanian Talmudic scholar of the old school. In the course of a discussion of the teachings of Rabbi Nahman of Bretslav, which greatly interested me at the time, he asked rhetorically: “What ideas did he innovate? What new ideas did he bring into the world? One idea you mentioned already appears in Hovot ha-Levavot; the second is found in the Kuzari; the third so-called innovation is in the Maharal of Prague.” At this point his wife interrupted: “When I read Rabbi Nahman it makes me feel frum (pious).” (Interestingly, Rav Soloveitchik has applied aspects of this male-female dichotomy to the difference in spiritual temperament between Mitnaggedism and Hasidism, as in his eulogy of the Talner Rebbe.)
Traditionally, Judaism has shown a clear preference for the masculine mode of thinking and being in the world. Women followed the orders given them by their men-folk, and alongside this had a certain semi-underground spiritual tradition of their own, passed down orally and by memesis from mother to daughter: certain ways of observing things; tehinot (women’s prayers, mostly in Yiddish or other vernaculars); etc. During the early years of the nascent Jewish feminist movement much emphasis was placed on women doing things hitherto thought of as exclusively “masculine,” such as studying Talmud, wearing tallit and even tefillin, etc. But over the years, there have also been voices calling for women to discover their own unique modes of spirituality within the tradition, and perhaps to share these with the public of both sexes. Already twenty-five years ago Rochelle Furstenberg issued a call for a renewal of the “more emotional, more amorphous (and perhaps freer) spiritual life traditionally assigned to women…” rather than “the exclusive supremacy of the Halachic or ‘normative’ ideal in the Jewish religion .”
The point of all this is not that women should retreat to a realm of vague, cloudy emotion and intuitive “spirituality,” abandoning reason, study and the quest for Jewish erudition and intellectual attainment. Rather, in addition to these things, women, and the “feminine spirit” (including, if you will, the anima, or female alter-ego within each man), have a valuable contribution to make in softening and humanizing the harshness of our post-modern, technological, overly rationalized, hyper- competitive culture. The Torah, as studied in the yeshivot, and in the universities, does not seem to be succeeding in doing this. In my parents’ day, the zeitgeist was one that saw science and reason as bringing the salvation of humanity; the greatest dangers lurked in the irrational ideologies of Nazism, with its emphasis on archaic national myths; their heroes were such thorough-going rationalists as Bertrand Russell, John Dewey, and Morris Raphael Cohen (of New York’s Columbia University), and of course Albert Einstein, with his vaguely deistic humanism. Today, the situation is completely reversed.
But this movement is not an unmixed blessing. An interesting recent example of the application of Jewish feminist thinking is the novel The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (New York: Picador USA/ St, Martins Press, 1997). This book is a fictional reconstruction of the life of Jacob’s extended family, first in Mesopotamia with Laban, and later in Canaan, as shown from the perspective of a woman: Jacob’s daughter Dinah; it presents itself as a kind of “new midrash.” Certainly, the book is well and sensitively written, imaginative, and holds the reader’s interest. It posits the existence of an entire world of women’s secrets, passed on in the red tent of the title, where the women spend their menstrual periods together every New Moon. Dinah is not raped, but falls passionately in love with Shalem, the prince of Shechem; after her brothers massacre him, along with his family and the entire town, she totally cuts herself off from her family, ending up in Egypt, bears Shalem’s child, works as a highly skilled midwife, remarries in midlife, and encounters Joseph again, and even briefly sees Judah at Jacob’s deathbed.
But beyond its literary charm, the book has a definite theological message, that is two-pronged. One aspect involves a critique of the hardness and harshness of Jewish monotheism, whose severity is seen as connected with its masculinity. The God of Jacob, in the eyes of the women of the red tent, is one who makes cruel and uncompromising demands—epitomized in the circumcision of infant males. Second, the women are shown as having their own polytheistic world of gentle, loving, helpful earth goddesses, whom Dinah sometimes invokes at difficult deliveries; Rachel is shown as stealing the teraphim from Laban because she really believes in their power. Needless to say, this aspect is more than disturbing.
I cannot speak about Diamant specifically, but there are many New Age movements abroad in the land that are dangerously close to a resurgence of paganism. Not a few of these are connected with the rediscovery by women of their “own” goddesses. (Ha-Aretz recently described some neo-pagan womens’ rituals not dissimilar from those described here—and their counterpart certainly exist in the USA and Europe as well.) These movements stem from a genuine need and thirst for something vital and meaningful in life, against the general emotional and spiritual aridity of our technological and alienated society, the pressures of careers that dominate more and more of life, etc. One is reluctant to condemn these life-giving movements wholesale, but there is certainly much room for caution, and not automatically affirming every quirk performed in the name of women’s spirituality.
Perhaps I should add that, in general, we live in an age of great ambiguity about sex roles and sexuality per se. This ambiguity, raised in our portion, Ki Tetsei at 22:5, in the context of cross-dressing, is very much part of our culture. Sex changes have become a semi-acceptable social phenomenon; transsexual singer Danna International enjoyed a modest fame as an Israeli culture hero; in such films as Boys Don’t Cry sexually confused characters are portrayed in moving, sympathetic terms. How to deal with all this is a very large issue. One is torn between empathy for the human pain and suffering undergone by such people, and the Torah’s round condemnation of such practices as uprooting one of the fundamental distinctions in human life. Again, I believe that all these aspects of the sexual malaise of our day—the epidemic of divorce; the ambiguity of sexual identity for many; the revolution in sexual mores since the ‘60s; feminism and the confusion in relations between the sexes—are all ultimately interrelated, having their root in a deep cultural crisis for which there are no easy solutions.