New Periodical: Tradition 44:1

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There is a great new issue of Tradition, 44:1, Spring 2011 (link):

  • The Litvaks’ Buried Treasure: Further Thoughts on the Dictum “The Holier the Feeling, the More Intimate” by R. Shalom Carmy – A critique of touchy-feely Judaism and the public emotionalism that many see as true Judaism
  • Death in the Writings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik by Prof. Gerald J. (Yaakov) Blidstein – The negative attitudes and positive uses of death, such as “teach[ing] man to transcend his physical self and to identify with the timeless covenantal community” and recognizing “the redemption effected by returning my existence to its owner”. Surprised he did not connect “death is the price of renewal and enrichment” with Avodah Zarah 5a that if the generation of the desert had not sinned and died, we would be irrelevant.
  • The Practice of Gender Separation on Buses in the Ultra-Orthodox Community in Israel: A View from the Liberal Cathedral by R. A. Yehuda Warburg – Noting the conflict between liberalism and multi-culturalism, calls for the latter to dominate. In other words, we should respect Charedim’s desire to separate genders on buses.
  • Asymptotically Approaching God: Kedusha in the Thought of Ramban by Daniel Schreiber – Yeshiva-style analysis of the Ramban and super-commentators, written in academic style and with academic thoroughness. (Mentions one of my articles.)
  • Bringing the Prophets to Life: Rabbi Binyamin Lau’s Study of Jeremiah by R. Hayyim Angel – Book review, somewhat critical due to limited use of classical commentators and some questionable assumptions and interpretations.
  • Piscatorial Parasites by R. J. David Bleich – Lengthy analysis of Anisakis-infested fish (concludes we should be strict). Surprising that his science does not seem up-to-date, at least from what I understand, and he does not address R. Yisrael Belsky’s main reason to be lenient – his original explanation of “mineih ka-gavli“.
  • Communications – R. Chaim Jachter and R. David Mescheloff debate the extent of rabbinic support for prenuptial agreements. R. Shubert Spero critiques R. Nati Helfgot’s article about Avraham and Gideon.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student has served two terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and currently serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

67 comments

  1. Rabbi Shubert Spero, in his Communication in Tradition:

    >In fact, however, [Chazal] did sometimes present traditions which went back to a pre-Sinaitic period, namely the age of the Patriarchs. Given the historicity, particularly of Abraham (whose name is believed to appear on the Mari tablets) and the universality of his early beliefs, it is extremely likely that stories of his life not recorded in Genesis may have been circulated and transmitted orally down the generations.

    Ok, let’s say it’s not *crazy* to believe this is possible. But “extremely” likely?

    I also found his apparent suggestion that a gezeirah shava is not logical to be strange, particulary in light of what he had just said:

    >Given the wide gaps between Abraham and Gideon in terms of their place and role in the Bible, and the vast difference in the significance of idolatry in their times, to simply build on the similarities between the two stories has all of the “logic” of a gezeira shava!

  2. >Surprising that his science does not seem up-to-date, at least from what I understand,

    Gil, can you elaborate?

  3. “Noting the conflict between liberalism and multi-culturalism, calls for the latter to dominate. In other words, we should respect Charedim’s desire to separate genders on buses.”

    And that, in sum, is why the Muslims are winning: Their natural and best enemies, the liberals, are too emasculated and in thrall to a mythical “multicultural” ideal (which, of course, is not shared by the Muslims) to stand up to them.

    No, a thousand times no: Multiculturalism is a crock. All cultures are not equal. And even if you have a supposed “right” to stick your women in the back of the bus, it ends when you live in the same society (and ride on the same buses) as people who feel differently.

  4. Nachum – as devil’s advocate – what would you say about the “supposed right” to circumcise your kids?

  5. That’s halakha. There’s no halakha about sitting separately on a bus.

    Furthermore, there’s no consensus about whether circumcision is good or neutral. (Come to think, I’ve never heard an argument that it’s intrinsically bad.)

  6. Moshe Shoshan

    Nachum
    there certainly are arguments that circumcision is hardfull and there are certainly those who claim halachic basis for seperate buses.

    Furthermore this sort of stuff would never fly with liberal judges in the US. In the american tradition, public accommodation cannot discriminate in any way. So I think you attack on liberalism and multi-culturalism is way off base.

    Rather we have a problem of insufficiently developed discourse on indiviudal civil right in Israel on both the right and the left. Ultimately, Israel is a country of its constituencies rather than of its citizens. The question that needs to be confronted is, How can you have a liberal democratic society when a such a large, and growing, portion of the population rejects western liberal values?

  7. I’m not holding as well as I should be in ANE inscriptions, but I thought that the name “Benjamin” (Ben Yaminna) appeared at Mari as an identity marker (and so possibly relevant to Breishis). Where does the name “Abraham” appear there? And is there any indication that it is ‘our’ Abraham? Did Dr. Spero provide a citation?

  8. Moshe, that’s the US. But look what’s going on in Europe, or Canada.

  9. Mark:

    >Surprising that his science does not seem up-to-date, at least from what I understand,

    Gil, can you elaborate?

    Some rabbis recently commissioned top scientists to study the life cycle of parasites in fish. I spoke briefly with one of the rabbis who dealt with the scientists and he is convinced that their research supports leniency. I’m sure it will eventually be published but right now I can’t speak intelligently about it based on a brief conversation.

  10. I don’t want the government telling people what is and is not halachically mandated.

  11. The argument that people should be allowed to do anything on religious grounds because then they can target bris milah is not legitimate. First, because “they” can target bris milah anyway. Second, separating the sexes in this discriminatory (and violent) way doesn’t only affect those who want/ require it. You can’t make an analogy to a baby who is in the custody of his parent. Or, you can, but that makes no difference.

  12. >Did Dr. Spero provide a citation?

    I would think the context of his remark should probably give you a hint as to what is the answer to that question.

    Something which some people think is Abram turned up in an Ebla tablet. See O. Loretz, “Hebräer in Ebla? Eine Fehlanzeige zu cibri ‘Hebräer’ und dem ‘Hebräer Abram’ (Genesis 14:13),” in Lingua di Ebla e la linguistica semitica (Firenze 1984).

    But as it happens, Speiser in the Anchor Bible Genesis page 108 basically says that since it is so poshut that the story of Abram and the kings is highly Akkadian in influence, and so out of place in Genesis, that it must have come from another source and that

    “if Abraham was cited in a historical or quasi-historical narrative that was written not by Israelites but by outsiders, it necessarily follows that Abraham was not a nebulous literary figure, but a real person who was attested in contemporary sources. Short of a non-Israelite text mentioning an Abram son of Terah, or an Isaac son of Abram, this is as close as we can as yet come to a direct epigraphic witness of the patriarch.”

  13. Re buses: How about splitting the difference by distinguishing between public and private lines?

  14. Part of the problem with the Warburg article is that it embraces a position that I doubt that he truly supports – because it is convenient. After all, the liberal cathedral that he cites in support of his position is one that has a very consistent position – and the same argument is used to support the state allowing honor killings, allowing genital mutilation, and allowing segregated buses. He may wish to go with the liberal cathedral to enable support for segregated buses, but as Orthodox Jews we should oppose such arguments – as we oppose honor killings, we oppose genital mutilation, and (IMHO) we should also oppose segregated buses…-

    However, even if someone supports segragated buses, he should not do it with arguments that he does not endorse, nor be happy that the society endorses such arguments.

  15. lawrence kaplan

    Indeed, the Haredim should have the right to have sexually segregated — PRIVATE– buses.

  16. As far as I understand, there are no State owned buses, so they are all “Private” by definition. The State sells franchises to companies under certain T’s and C’s.

    Increasing the number of franchisees to allow for, say a sexually segregated line, cannot be done without altering the existing contracts as it changed any business plan calculation.

  17. If the proponents weren’t so tone-deaf, by the way, they would be well advised to have the women in front of the bus and the men in the back. That would at least take away the sting of the “back of the bus” memories that any American has.

  18. What’s wrong with having sections on buses or trains for women only? They already do this in other countries, including Brazil, Japan and Mexico. Whether customers want this option to prevent sexual harrassment or to meet their modesty preferences, let customers decide. This in no way compares with racial segregation.

  19. >If the proponents weren’t so tone-deaf, by the way, they would be well advised to have the women in front of the bus and the men in the back. That would at least take away the sting of the “back of the bus” memories that any American has.

    It’s not tone deaf. The men don’t want to sit in the back, and they’re the ones who are in the final analysis setting the policy (even if some or many women say they like it that way – they would also say they like it in the front).

    Why do you think American blacks were put in the back? Why do you think the women are put in the back? It’s not as nice in the back, people are jostled and rearranged to sit further back as necessary. Women who get seats wind up standing to accommodate men (and boys) who come on.

    It’s a little analagous to the mechitza. Yes, I get that men are in shul on a daily basis. They use it more. But there is a reason why women are *behind* the mechitza, even though halacha actually mandates mechitzos as a separation, i.e., in theory the men could be “behind” a mechitza, but of course shuls will never be constructed that way.

    The men aren’t being tone deaf. They just don’t want to sit in the back because it’s not as good, and they know they don’t have to – which is why the women *do* sit there. They have to.

  20. I guess you have your answer now, Canuck. By the way, if you’re ever in Tokyo, try to allow a woman out of the elevator before you and watch desperate confusion register on her face.

  21. On trains or subways, it’s easy enough to assign separate cars for women. For buses, some politically-correct people are apparently caught up in the symbolism of being in the back of the bus. This is ridiculous. Would everybody be happy with men being in the back of the bus? How about half of these buses, women sit in back, and in the other half, women sit in front? In reality, separate seating would only be offered on routes where there is sufficient demand; this would likely only affect routes in and near religious neighborhoods. Perhaps special buses with women only can be offered on these routes during the rush hours.

  22. “Would everybody be happy with men being in the back of the bus?”

    YES. Then the tzni’ut argument would be taken seriously.

    “How about half of these buses, women sit in back, and in the other half, women sit in front?”

    Not bloody likely.

    “In reality, separate seating would only be offered on routes where there is sufficient demand”

    Yes, sufficient demand from the same zealots who burn Israeli flags and protect abusive and neglectful mothers simply because they’re “one of us”…The Charedi “street” is shanghaied by a small but vocal minority of lunatics. This has been known for years.

    This entire women to the back business is about male domination and female inferiority.

  23. >On trains or subways, it’s easy enough to assign separate cars for women. For buses, some politically-correct people are apparently caught up in the symbolism of being in the back of the bus.

    Not me. But it’s not as good, there can be little doubt about it. That’s why blacks were made to sit there. The whole problem with separate but equal was that it never was equal.

    >How about half of these buses, women sit in back, and in the other half, women sit in front

    Great suggestion, except that men won’t sit in the back of a bus any more then they’ll build a shul with a curtain in front of their noses.

  24. Are women who opt to exercise in women only gyms being forced to do so by a patriarchal, sexist society? Or, should we protest that they are discriminating against men? Some of the men here are ruled by their emotions. Are there any women who care to offer rational opinions on the subject of separate seating on buses?

  25. I won’t say who is being ruled by their emotions. Maybe I am too! :-).

  26. >Are women who opt to exercise in women only gyms being forced to do so by a patriarchal, sexist society?

    A close analogy would be if women would be given the most inconvenient hours at a gym, while men are given the most convenient. Yes, that is mistreatment. What isn’t mistreatment if the hours are arranged fairly so neither has a huge advantage. Yes, I get that practically speaking in such an arrangement someone usually gets the shorter end of the stick. But the point is that of course it isn’t the men, just as it of course wasn’t the whites in an earlier time. Frankly the idea that a 17 year old bochur takes precedence over a 60 year old woman is disgusting. And, yes, when more men come on the women have to move a little further back. It’s not like the seats are exactly even and the men stand while the front couple of rows of women’s seats remain open. That doesn’t happen.

  27. An alternative scenario, for those who don’t know the apple joke:

    A bus is going from Bnai Brak to Jerusalem, nearly full, mostly with Chasidim. At the last stop a pretty young girl in skimpy outfit boards bus. She has to sit next to a Chassid.

    He squirms a while, then reaches into his knapsack and hands her an apple.

    “What’s this?” she inquires.

    “An apple.”

    “Why did you give me an apple?” she persists.

    “Because until Eve ate the apple, she didn’t realize she was naked!”

    The next morning, she again boards the same bus making the same run to Jerusalem. She is better attired, and sits next to the same Chasid. She hands him an apple.

    “What’s this?” he asks suspiciously.

    “An apple,” she shoots back.

    “Why an apple?” he inquires.

    “Because until Adam ate the apple, he didn’t know he had to work for a living.”

  28. Many women’s gyms allow no men whatsoever to join. Are they oppressing men? Are separate clubs for men or boys a sign of oppression of women and girls? What about clubs for women and girls? I’ll concede that when separate seating is a result of sexual harrassment or groping, that is a case of men behaving badly. In Israel, the separate seating is a result of people seeking to promote modesty. If any women have any comments about this, please add your two cents.

    S., were our “alte zeidas” oppressing women when they instituted and maintained mechitzas in synagogues? Do you believe the Torah lifestyle is inherently degrading because it is not fully egalitarian?

  29. canuck,
    Separate cars in places like japan are instituted to protect women from groping. Separate buses are instituted not to protect women, but to protect men from having to see women. The impetus was not women saying “I hate having to sit down in the middle of the bus because there might be a man who sees me – I would rather stand in the back” but rather men who don’t want to see women. That’s the other reason the men will never be in the back – they would have to look at all the sheitels and turbans etc. and get terrible hirhurim.
    One can see further proof of the fact that the arrangement is for the benefit of men, not women, from the fact S. has raised many time s(and you have ignored) that, as applied, men may displace women from the women’s section, pushing them further and further back, but never the reverse.
    A separate car in tokyo is set up to protect women from men behaving badly; a separate bus in jerusalem is set up to protect men from women existing.

  30. >S., were our “alte zeidas” oppressing women when they instituted and maintained mechitzas in synagogues?

    That’s irrelevant. I fully appreciate the inyan of avoiding laaz al harishonim, but not as prescription for paralysis or avoiding any improvements. It was once acceptable for women to be virtually illiterate, but needless to say it no longer is, and so our girls have schools which they attend for many hours a day where they learn, have tests, etc. We do not say that this is wrong.

    I said nothing about fully egalitarian. I happen to think the bus issue is basically one big load of nonsense which is itself a form of outfrumming the “alte zeidas,” certainly not halacha, nor minhag. That is *also* degrades and oppresses women is reason enough to oppose it.

    Yes, I know that such language is not really helpful to the debate since chas veshalom anyone uses language which is even vaguely reminisecnt of the reshanta Feminazis, yshv”z. So when I am trying to be constructive and having conversations with people I don’t talk about oppression. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t . . . oppressive. Like Emma says, think about it: it sucks for the women, but not for the men, on the bus. Think about that. And try davening a shabbos mincha behind a mechitza once in awhile and see if it’s even remotely acceptable. Maybe your shul’s is. Some shul’s do try. But many do not.

  31. “And try davening a shabbos mincha behind a mechitza once in awhile”

    (If you are lucky enough to go to a shul that even has a mechitza, as opposed to a no-women-welcome policy, for shabbos mincha…)

  32. Well, in my shul’s defence, the mechitza by us is pretty low; anyone who is even of below average height can see everything. But that’s just us.

  33. My wife once sat experienced a mechitza made of lattice-work with such a dizzying pattern that it apparently induced headaches in some of the women. I checked after davening. The women were not crazy.

  34. S.,

    So sue the artist! 🙂

  35. Artist? It probably fell of a gardener’s truck.

    Seriously, the point is that many – not all – shuls implement the halacha of separation of the sexes with a mechitza in a way that makes it unpleasant for the women to be in shul at all. This is an example of just not being concerned for making a welcoming environment. Like I said, I do get that in reality men are in shul all the time and women only some of the time (usually). Even a fraction of a time. Practically speaking it’s not going to be arranged in a 50/ 50 manner. But things could be better than, say, 90/ 10.

  36. This is an example of just not being concerned for making a welcoming environment.

    Exactly. The shul in which I grew up has three women’s sections (beis midrash and two sections in the main shul), each of which has, by design, poorer lighting and lower ceilings than the corresponding men’s section. The shul was designed in the last 20 years and is “modern orthodox.” I like to say that the nonjewish architect was mesiach lefi tumo about the ancillary position of women in the synagogue.

  37. S., Can we stay on friendly terms? I’m neither Israeli nor religious, so I have no dog in this fight. I take your word that halacha does not mandate separate seating on buses. But, if it did, can I assume you would reject it? Did you attend graduate school or Ivy League college? Listeners of Dennis Prager will catch the reference. IMO, this is a legal issue, not a moral one. –> Do bus companies have the right to offer separate-sex seating accommodations based on customer demand for the purpose if increasing modesty on routes served by these customers. I assume there is a profit potential, though non-segregated users may end up subsidizing segregated ones. I don’t think this view is misogynistic. If you have been taken hostage by feminists who told you what to write, please signal us. All the best.

    emma, thanks for stepping in. The other night, I was watching American Dad (a cartoon): Stan Smith’s wife had allowed her looks to go and became unattractive, so he took her on a date to an orthodox synagogue service; since they sat on opposite sides of the mechitza, he was able to avoid having to look at her. Stan Smith even responded appropriately to the blessings recited before the Torah reading. It was hilarious.

  38. Canuck – it is a public policy issue, of which the legal issue is the knife edge. It is so contentious because it pits different views of morality one against the other. In this regard, it is not dissimilar to the abortion funding debate in the US.

    Earlier, I provided links to 4 articles (3 in Hebrew, 1 in English) but it is pending moderation. If approved, it will follow Emma’s first note in this thread.

  39. >S., Can we stay on friendly terms?

    I’m sorry if something unintended was coming across, but I’m not trying to be unfriendly, was not offended, hurt or wounded in any way. Shalom al yisrael. 🙂

    >I’m neither Israeli nor religious, so I have no dog in this fight.

    I’m not Israeli, but I have an opinion.

    > I take your word that halacha does not mandate separate seating on buses. But, if it did, can I assume you would reject it?

    That’s neither here nor there, because 1) we’re both agreeing for the sake of argument that it doesn’t, and even if it was 2) why do people deserve halachic bus service in Israel? Is the law of Israel the halacha? (Private buses may be a different story.) But of course in New York there are also frum Jews, and Israel has had buses for 40, 50 or 60 years and it wasn’t the halacha then, so it also isn’t now.

    > Did you attend graduate school or Ivy League college? Listeners of Dennis Prager will catch the reference.

    Hahah.

    >IMO, this is a legal issue, not a moral one.

    It’s a bit of both. Even if something is legal, if it is a bad influence and a bad idea then people who think that ought to oppose it – isn’t that the same thing that the people who are for these buses are saying? They’re saying that mixed buses are bad, and so they oppose them. I think the opposite is true.

    I also happen to suspect that “customer demand” really means loudmouths being loud, but I guess I can’t prove that. Fine. Also, Jerusalem doesn’t belong to the Chareidim and there are people who use those buses who don’t want that arrangement.

  40. I get the point that chareidi Jews who are asking for special arrangements on buses are inconveniencing other riders, adding to the cost of transportaton, and in some way, reproaching those who disagree with their demands. Maybe it’s religious coersion. But, maybe we need to accommodate these demands, because modesty is a value that needs special protection due to the modern swing towards immodesty that is so prevalent in the western world. There is too much anger on both sides, non-chareidi and chareidi. In Israel especially, there is acrimony about draft exemptions, subsidies and welfare, and religious coersion, that make it hard for both sides of the issue to debate the issue objectively.

  41. Canuck — but, even if one ceded that, it is not limited to buses. What about city streets?

    See: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=191169

  42. “Hirhurim on May 5, 2011 at 9:18 am
    I don’t want the government telling people what is and is not halachically mandated”

    Any government inclu8ding the Knesset-halacha must be determined by Rabbonim-there is no room for central legal compulsion absent a Sanhedrin.

  43. “chareidi Jews who are asking for special arrangements on buses are inconveniencing other riders, adding to the cost of transportaton, and in some way, reproaching those who disagree with their demands”

    I suspect there is another cost-a few months ago I was visiting Jerusalem and my wife and I took an Eged bus to Neve Yakov/Kamenetz-unofficially segregated by sex. I was naive and saw women getting on in the back and apparently not paying. Got to place and inquired we were told oh there is apuncher for one to punch their ticket. I was a little doubting so on the way back from Neve Yakov I sayt near the dividing line and watched the women get on about 10-15% punched their tickets. Not a scientific sample but interesting.

  44. Canuck

    >But, maybe we need to accommodate these demands, because modesty is a value that needs special protection due to the modern swing towards immodesty that is so prevalent in the western world.

    If they get to say how far they need to go to do that, we get to say that it’s too far – we have that right no less than they do. As you acknowledge, it affects everyone, not only themselves.

    At the very least some acknowledgment that only a few years ago this was somehow not required, and that in the diaspora very religious Jews manage public transportation. I think a lot of people could handle it better if it would at least be acknowledged that this is something new, and maybe the reasons for it would be explained. Unfortunately the approach underlying these demands also considers things which are new and change to be religiously offensive, so they will hardly acknowledge that something is changing.

  45. about the mechitza – there seem to be separate arguments here. one is that the women’s section is too often less comfortable/welcoming, more marginal and more cut-off from services, than it could be.
    the other was that men wouldn’t be “behind” the mechitza, they would only put women there. this I don’t understand. the men aren’t behind the mechitza, because by definition where they are is where the part of the service that needs to be heard is going on. in shuls where there is a divider along the length, so women/men are divided right/left – let’s assume the mechitza is exactly midway down the center of the room, which is identical on both sizes on all relevant variables (light, space etc.) The women are still going to be “behind” the mechitza, even though the mechitza is dividing the room into 2 equal halves, because the women will be trying to hear what’s going on on the other half, whereas the men will not have to. (Subjectively, I find dividing the room lengthwise one of the worst set-ups in terms of allowing women to follow services, even though it’s done that way to avoid having women “Behind” the men or on the two sides etc.)

  46. I’m starting to favor the side which thinks if Israeli society gives an inch towards chareidi demands for public separation of sexes, then the chareidim will take a foot. If Judaism does not mandate the separation of sexes in public, then why do it, especially if it causes disputes? On the other hand, I don’t think politicians or courts should be involved in a decision that is best left to the managers of the bus companies.

    I prefer mechitzas which block the view of women in the synagogue, because davening in the sight of attractive women is sexually distracting. Also, men have almost nowhere else where they can be in the company of other men, without having to compete for female attention. I happen think upstairs balconies are a great idea for the women’s section, because there, the woman can clearly see and hear the service going on below, and the men can’t easily see the women.

  47. “also, men have almost nowhere else where they can be in the company of other men, without having to compete for female attention. I happen think upstairs balconies are a great idea for the women’s section, because there, the woman can clearly see and hear the service going on below, and the men can’t easily see the women.”

    you have, apparently, never attended one of the “singles shuls” where the hoards of men spend half of daavening looking up or over at the hoards of women, and all of daavening conscious that the women are doing the same to them…

    btw, I assume by “I prefer mechitzas which block the view of the women” that you prefer mechitzas that block your view of the women, but your statement is equally true if read to mean that they block the women’s view of the services. So this is not necessarily a win-win (though some women I know prefer blocked views).

    On the original mutliculturalism question i think it raises all the problematic analogies nachum notes, but that buses are in one way even more problematic than genital mutilation or the like, since it is not only a minority culture imposing oppressive practices on “its own” women (and the idea of owning women is not always so far off) but imposing the practices on the broader culture as well. The amish are free not to drive cars and not to educate their kids past 8th grade. but they are not free to demand that no one else’s kids get educated past 8th grade lest they become a negative influence. If there were a way for the sex-segregated buses to be truly charedi-only, with no imposition on noncharedim, it would be different.

  48. (rereading i see you dealt with the women’s view issue too – apologies! i personally don’t like balconies, since i feel like a spectator at the thater rather than a congregant, but i would say most orthodox women disagree with me.)

  49. emma, thanks to you, I learned that there is such a thing as a “singles shul.” I must be living in a bubble. The constituency for these shuls must be quite small.

  50. I was a little doubting so on the way back from Neve Yakov I sayt near the dividing line and watched the women get on about 10-15% punched their tickets.

    Yes, it is well known that the population which insists on separate buses highly overlaps with the population which considers it legitimate to steal from non-Jews and secular Jews.

    btw, I assume by “I prefer mechitzas which block the view of the women” that you prefer mechitzas that block your view of the women, but your statement is equally true if read to mean that they block the women’s view of the services. So this is not necessarily a win-win (though some women I know prefer blocked views).

    As a man, I prefer sitting under the balcony when possible, so that I cannot see the women or vice versa, yet the women can still see things, so I don’t feel that I’m “encaging” them.

    I learned that there is such a thing as a “singles shul.” I must be living in a bubble. The constituency for these shuls must be quite small.

    Apparently you live don’t live in the UWS/Heights or Katamon.

  51. Canuck
    Your original comments were far more target.
    If anything ,it’s the women who don’t like when teenage boys prefer to sit in the back of the bus for obvious reasons.
    Many here don’t like it, but Halacha does mandate separate seating(when feasible).

  52. mycroft
    As with any bus in Is.,people who enter in the front fill the ticket for the whole family.

  53. “emma, thanks to you, I learned that there is such a thing as a “singles shul.” I must be living in a bubble. The constituency for these shuls must be quite small.”

    perhaps i live in the bubble (aka manhattan) 🙂

  54. “Many here don’t like it, but Halacha does mandate separate seating(when feasible).”

    Bold statement. Do you have any pre-1960 sources? Rav Moshe’s famous tshuva can be found at: http://hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=918&st=&pgnum=326

  55. IH: R. Moshe Feinstein’s position is based on a big machlokes over whether negi’ah she-lo be-derekh chibah is assur. He was meikel but many are machmir. See Otzar Ha-Poskim for the whole discussion.

  56. I now remember hearing and reading about a synagogue friendly for singles in downtown Toronto, known as the Annex Shul. Apparently, they have a trichitza (three sections), allowing for mixed or separate seating.

  57. Gil, thanks, but that seems to indicate Anonymous’ bold statement is incorrect. Some may view it as assur, but no less than RMF did not.

    I don’t have time to chase this one myself, but I am vaguely curious to know the names and approx dates of the Gedolim, at RMF’s level, who paskened that mixed seating on public transportation is assur.

  58. EMMA:

    “A separate car in tokyo is set up to protect women from men behaving badly; a separate bus in jerusalem is set up to protect men from women existing.”

    i used to go to a shiur by an old yemenite rav. one day he was discussing separation of the sexes and strongly advocating for it. he said that if guests are invited for shabbat the women shouldn’t even be at the table. a young guy asked “what did they do in back in teiman? was it really like this?” the rav answered, “in teiman there were no women.”

  59. S:

    “It’s a little analagous to the mechitza. Yes, I get that men are in shul on a daily basis. They use it more. But there is a reason why women are *behind* the mechitza”

    don’t knock being “behind” the mechitza. at least they’re in the same room. what about the brooklyn shuls where the women sit in a separate room with some small windows that look into the men’s section, or house shuls where the women sit on the second floor and there is a small hole in the floor?

    i’m also reminded of the shul i grew up in. the women’s section only comprised about 30% of the shul, which was fine for the most of the year when neither the men’s or women’s side were anywhere near capacity. of course the yamim nora’im attracts many more people. the men’s side would become more popualar, but not full. the women’s side would become packed like sardines and overflow into the hallway. so i once suggested that they move the mehitza a few rows forward (it was portable). of course it never happened.

  60. IH: Absolutely. It’s a machlokes ha-poskim. I’m just not sure it’s the government’s job to tell people to follow the Shakh and not the Beis Shmuel. See these posts: https://www.torahmusings.com/?s=shaking+hands+with+women

  61. Thanks, Gil. While doing something else a post I read not too long ago popped into my head (http://rechovot.blogspot.com/2011/03/rav-shlomo-zalman-auerbach-ztzl.html)

    “He [RSZA] always traveled by bus from his home to the yeshiva. Once a non-tzenuah woman sat next to him. A minute or two later he rang the bell and got off the bus. He then got the next bus (or walked) to the yeshiva. When asked about this he said that he could not sit next to the woman the way she was dressed. On the other hand, to get up and stand in the aisle would be an obvious embarrassment to the woman. So his only choice was to pretend he was getting off anyway.”

    N.B. The issue was a “non-tzenuah woman” and it was he who inconvenienced himself.

  62. Hirhurim on May 6, 2011 at 10:52 am
    IH: Absolutely. It’s a machlokes ha-poskim. I’m just not sure it’s the government’s job to tell people to follow the Shakh and not the Beis Shmuel. See these posts: https://www.torahmusings.com/?s=shaking+hands+with+women

    However, halacha lema’ase, with regard to buses – the dominant psak has been to allow using mixed buses – TTBOMK there were almost no one (I am not aware of anyone who did, but while there may have been some – it clearly was not the accepted psak) who forbade using buses, say, before 1980 – when there were clearly no segregated versions. Clearly, the same people who paskened against hand shaking (which, while is not derech chiba, is a deliberate action establishing a personal relationship with the other)saw no issur with random jostling and contact.

    There is another issue (which also rises with handshaking) which this raises. Laws of separation are in roughly two categories
    a) mandatory regardless of actual emotional impact(eg, mechitzot in shul, and those poskim who view hand shaking as assur even if not derech hibba)
    b) Not mandatory (eg, not assur to be without) – but viewed as good to minimze possible hirhurim ….

    I think it is clear that the buses are (for the vast majority) the second (eg, most will fly without separate separate seating, will in other countries take mixed public transportation, etc)

    Furthermore, there is another issue in terms of the broader community. It is one thing to have separation that is mandated.
    However, if an individual feels that the experience on a regular bus (or shaking hands) actually causes hirhurim – for most of the broader society, such an individual deserves separation – not only from women, but from the rest of normal society. It is problematic to present halacha as leading to such a position.

  63. RMF was dealing with a fait accompli.

  64. Was he?

    And how are buses in Israel any different?

  65. Mycroft,

    “I was a little doubting so on the way back from Neve Yakov I sayt near the dividing line and watched the women get on about 10-15% punched their tickets. Not a scientific sample but interesting”

    More likely is that many of them had what is known as a “Chofshi Chodshi” which is a monthly pass which allows them unlimited use of the buses for one month. Almost any Israeli who uses buses regularly has one.

  66. “Mark on May 8, 2011 at 10:59 am
    Mycroft,

    “I was a little doubting so on the way back from Neve Yakov I sayt near the dividing line and watched the women get on about 10-15% punched their tickets. Not a scientific sample but interesting”

    More likely is that many of them had what is known as a “Chofshi Chodshi” which is a monthly pass which allows them unlimited use of the buses for one month. Almost any Israeli who uses buses regularly has one”

    If so, why were the mens tickets all being punched by the bus driver-I don’t live in Israel but while visiting I use them often -last time 1 used 3 kartisuot-given the now free maavar I used buses and my general recollection is that it would not be anywhere near any great percentage who did not get tickets punched.

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