–“I have a housing problem,” is one way to explain the discomfort some babies and small children may feel about having to fit a big soul in a small body; this disconnect may manifest in adulthood as malcontent with our physical embodiment, says Rabbi Asher Crispe in the introductory portion of a talk he gave on gender theory at the National Jewish Retreat held in August 2017. His hour-long talk, which can be viewed on the video posted here, is titled “Reimagining Gender: A Jewish Investigation of Essentialistic and Non-Essentialistic Facets of the Masculine and Feminine.”
Rabbi Crispe is a recipient of a Targum Shlishi grant to support a publication he is writing on gender theory. In this talk on the topic, he focuses on the psychological and spiritual dimensions of gender and not on Jewish law, as he notes that the topic of gender and Jewish law is well covered elsewhere. He particularly concentrates on translating the perspectives of Chassidic thought into contemporary gender theory.
View this video of Rabbi Crispe
As Rabbi Crispe notes, gender theory is a topic that is currently “challenging all aspects of our society.” He has observed a divide between the understanding of gender theory in today’s world at large and the teaching of this topic in a Jewish context. There is a general sense that rabbis and Jewish teachers often don’t have the educational background in gender theory to address this controversial and charged topic with enough sensitivity. Targum Shlishi is supporting his forthcoming publication in the belief, as Rabbi Crispe puts it, that “openness breeds compassion. It fosters understanding and enhances our ability to properly relate to each other.”
The founder and executive director of Interinclusion.org, an educational initiative that explores the convergence between arts and sciences and Torah, Rabbi Crispe is a frequent speaker known for his ability to explain esoteric texts and sometimes difficult concepts of Kabbalah and Chassidic philosophy to the general public.