Prof. Gideon Aran: Below The Belt – The Haredi Body

It is understandable that the problematics of the Haredi body should be concentrated in its lower regions. One could say that for Haredim the lower part of the body is more bodily than the upper part, where we find the heart, brain and kidneys, which symbolize the spirit, the intellect and morality – an inversion of corporeality.

Written By Prof. Gideon Aran 

The lower part is relatively distant from the sky, the abode of God, and closer to the floor, associated with materialism, lowliness and pollution. Accordingly, the Haredim refrain from sitting on the floor (except when mourning). For similar reasons they have a hesitant relationship with their feet, and they make an effort to avoid direct contact with the ground. However, without a doubt the bulk of Haredi sensitivity to the lower part of the body stems from the fact that it houses the penis, the essence of physicality, the source of impurity. Incidentally, inspired by the Kabbalah, the Haredim are aware of a mysterious affinity between the feet and the penis.In fact, the penis may be related to the (Jewish) nose too. Taken from “Denial Does Not Make The Haredi Body Go Away Ethnography of a Disappearing (?) Jewish Phenomenon”, By Gideon Aran.

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