Recently I heard a story about someone who did not pass The Real Mensch Test.
This past year, I lived in a religious neighborhood of Jerusalem, Israel where I studied in a seminary for newly-observant Jewish women. Every day, I learned about anything from Jewish prayer and spirituality to how to read biblical Hebrew. Now, I don’t know if you’re planning on ever cracking open a bible written in Hebrew, but one thing for sure is, if you’re going to do it, you will need serious help. Thank G-d, I was fortunate enough to sit every day with a kind tutor, who didn’t mind listening to an American butcher the holy language. To my delight as well, it just so happened that my tutor and I got along so well, that we would sometimes chat during our time together (I have a theory that she would strike up conversations to distract me from my reading/noise making). I found one story she told to me during this time to be particularly share-worthy.
Once upon a dinner meal, my tutor was a guest at someone’s house when an odd thing happened to her. At one point during the evening, when she was peacefully standing by the bookshelf, one of the men of the household came over to her, and *gasp*, tapped her on the shoulder! It’s horrible, I know--how dare he have the audacity to do such a thing?! You can only imagine, that my tutor never went back to that home after that. Never again!
Now…at this point, you may be a tad confused. What’s the big deal? He only touched her shoulder! Well, the big deal is that in Jewish religious life, men and women do not touch one another, other than immediate family (stand back, creepy uncles!) In fact, if a man even tries to hit on you, without ever actually hitting you, it is still completely frowned upon. These laws and social constructs are there to keep men from seeing and treating women as sex objects. They are also there to protect and savor our sensitivity to touch, in order that when it does happen between a married couple, it brings as sweet, as fresh, and as profound a feeling as possible—a feeling that reflects a deep and mutual sense of respect and love towards one another. So you can imagine the horror on my tutor’s face when she realized that this un-mensch of a man had violated her shoulder, when she had never been touched by an unrelated man in her life. And although this idea may seem a bit extreme, a bit un-P.C., or a bit of anything else, it’s also a bit of what I like to call, The Real Mensch Test.
Now, of course, The Real Mensch Test can’t save you from every man with ill-intentions out there, but it definitely helped my tutor out. Because she lives in a world where it is socially appalling for a man to touch any other woman than his wife, it is extremely easy to see right through a man via his simple TReatMenT of you (I’m trying to see how far I can stretch this thing). Iin her world:
1. If the man taps you on the shoulder, ponytail, or G-d forbid your back—he fails The Real Mensch Test
2. If he gives you a wink when there is no dust to be found—he fails The Real Mensch Test.
3. If he doesn't ask a third party to be introduced to you, and directly asks for your phone number (and he is not a tax collector) he fails The Real Mensch Test.
4. And lastly, if it gets to a point where he asks you to go to his place to “talk”—he receives the Olympic gold medal for men who have failed the The Real Mensch Test.
Sounds extreme, right? Well keep in mind, people in this community are dating for the purpose of marriage only.
When I was in sixth grade, a seemingly very nice boy put his shoulder around me. I was kind of irked, but embarrassed to complain about it because it was only a shoulder hug. Later on, that same nice-eleven year-old enlightened me to the fact that my bra-strap was showing. In this day and age, we’re supposed to let everything “slide”. If a guy calls you hot at the bar after knowing you for two seconds, we’re supposed to be flattered. Or if a guy is upset that you haven't gone all the way after three dates, we can't really blame him, right? This is too bad, because nowadays what we do see as troubling and line-crossing is so far down the line, that he may have us cornered alone in a room by then. So I’m here to say, that if a guy does not respect your right to be appreciated as a woman with a beautiful body and soul, then he is not a mensch! And that anyone who makes you feel stupid for wanting only the best treatment—well, he is not a mensch either.