Leaving Home

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The claim that Jewish law must change with the times is at once loaded with potential antinomian sentiment but also quite true. Some aspects of halakhah are explicitly dependent on contemporary practice. Applying this limited concept broadly is dangerous, and a favorite trick of non-Orthodox scholars. But improperly ignoring changed circumstances is also a distortion of the sacred law.

Some, but not all, aspects of modest dress and behavior depend on local custom. When those practices change, the halakhic demands change. For example, the Mishnah Berurah (75:2) rules that a woman’s covering of her leg below her knee depends on local custom. Where modest women typically cover their calves, the practice becomes halakhically obligatory. Where they do not, it is optional (see this post: link).

With this in mind, we can approach the Rambam’s surprising ruling (Mishneh Torah, Hilkhos Ishus 13:11) that a woman may not leave her home often (echoed by the Rema in a gloss to Shulchan Arukh, Even Ha-Ezer 73:1). The Rambam writes:

Every woman should go to her father’s house to visit him, or to a house of mourning or a wedding hall to do chesed to her friends and relatives so that they will respond in kind, for she is not in prison that she may not go out and in. However, it is degrading for a woman to be always going out, “one time outside and [another] time in the streets” (Mishlei 7:12). A husband should prevent his wife from doing so, and not let her go out more than once or twice a month, as needed. There is beauty in a woman only if she remains in the corner of her house, for it is so written, “kol kevudah bat melech penimah [the honor of a princess is all inward]” (Tehillim 45:14). (translation from R. Henkin’s English book, cited below)

This limitation is clearly not common practice today. Women leave their homes regularly to do chores, go to work, eat out and every other reason imaginable. But sometimes we need to ask whether a law has fallen out of practice legitimately or due to ignorance or sin. If the latter, even those who view common practice as attaining halakhic validity when possible may recognize a supererogatory benefit (midas chassidus) to observing it. Before determining this, we need to first understand what the Rambam says and only then examine whether it still applies today.

In my search for halakhic literature, I found surprisingly few relevant discussions. Even books devoted to tzeni’us, such as R. Pesach Eliyahu Falk’s Modesty: An Adornment For Life and R. Shmuel Katz’s Kedoshim Tihyu, fail to address this ruling. However, I found a few explicit discussions by halakhic authorities in various contexts and one related responsum that assumes the prohibition no longer applies.

R. Yehuda Henkin (Responsa Bnei Banim 1:40 – link) explains that the Rambam was expressing a limited concept. The Rambam held that women may leave their homes for a purpose. He objected to women wandering around aimlesssly, hanging out in public. R. Henkin writes: “To stay in is not an absolute imperative, but is determined by circumstances and custom. A woman who goes out too often may be corrupted, and she can incur no greater dishonor; in addition, Rambam viewed a woman’s charm as contingent on her remaining a private person. But this does not prevent her from going out when necessary or for a mitzvah” (Responsa on Contemporary Jewish Women’s Issues, p. 199).

Leaving home for a mitzvah–and certainly going to work is a mitzvah (see this post: link)–is permitted. According to the Rambam, women can leave home to hang out once or twice a month. This is far less restrictive than many would have you believe but is still more limited than common practice. Even the most Orthodox of women come and go from their homes as they please.

R. Shaul Yisraeli (Ha-Torah Ve-Ha-Medinah vol. 4 p. 226 n. 4 – link) responds to the argument that women may not serve in the army because they may not even leave their homes. While there are many avenues to take in response to this claim, R. Yisraeli’s main argument is that this law depends on the common practice of women. In our times, R. Yisraeli wrote, women leave their homes every day. Therefore, the law requiring modest behavior would not prevent women from leaving their homes. (Instead of typical army service for women, R. Yisraeli advocates for what we would call today national service–working in hospitals, orphanages, etc.)

R. Shlomo Aviner (She’eilas Shlomo 4:302) was asked whether a woman is obligated to work. He responded that this is a personal decision and varies by community and by individual. He quotes the Ran (Kiddushin 29b) who explains that in Bavel the women used to work so their husbands could learn Torah. Certainly both R. Aviner and the Ran understand that women may leave their homes to go to work.

R. Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Ve-Hanhagos vol. 4 no. 299 – link) quotes this Rambam as referring to an ancient practice: “And it is known that in olden times they acted with extreme modesty in such matters. See the Rambam (ibid.): ‘A husband should prevent his wife from doing so, and not let her go out more than once or twice a month, as needed…'” Apparently, R. Sternbuch agrees that this refers to a practice that is no longer mandatory. He also implies this in his Orechos Ha-Bayis (ch. 21 n. 50).

R. Nissim Karelitz (Chut Shani vol. 3 p. 287 – link) also states explicitly that this ruling applies to the practices of a different time. However, even today when women frequently leave their homes, they must still act modestly while in public. As per the theme of this post, R. Karelitz’s standard of modesty do not seem appropriate for the places with which I am familiar (e.g. women not driving).

Clearly, as these authorities all assume, the determination of what is degrading and immodest for a woman depends on the practices of her time and place. A woman (and man) should genuinely act modestly according to the context in which she lives. Certainly, not all aspects of modesty are societal. However, the issue of leaving one’s home unnecessarily is relative, depending on the times. And today, in most places, even modest women go out in public frequently.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief 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 serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also 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.

183 comments

  1. Is there any indication that the Rambam ties his halachah to common practice?

    Are you saying that permitting women to leave home to hang out only once or twice a month is not objectively restrictive?

  2. By the intermediate value theorom (ok maybe not), even accepting that the Rambam meant it was time and place oriented (which he gives no indication of iirc), there was a time where this was accepted by all, so the first women who started going out were sinning but when enough ignored it, it was ok? BTW replace going out with uncovering hair and see what you get 🙂
    KT

  3. Some aspects of halakhah are explicitly dependent on contemporary practice. Applying this limited concept broadly is dangerous, and a favorite trick of non-Orthodox scholars. But improperly ignoring changed circumstances is also a distortion of the sacred law.

    What criteria are used to decide when it is acceptable and when it is a distortion?

    Women’s head covering is a more interesting case, since there is no argument that a generation or two of Modern Orthodox women did not cover their hair in accordance with contemporary practice — and yet, there was a backlash (which is not foreseeable for Rambam’s ruling, that incidentally is hardly surprising given his historical context).

  4. Zalman: Certainly the beginning of that halakhah discusses issues that are tied to time and place.

    Re objectively restrictive: Most of halakhah is be objectively restrictive, isn’t it?

    Joel: You can also replace it with walking around in a bikini. Not everything is objective and not everything is subjective. Regarding covering hair, the Gemara arguably has a say about what precisely is subjective and what is objective.

  5. IH: What criteria are used to decide when it is acceptable and when it is a distortion?

    What criteria should be used?

  6. Gil — your apologetics, your explanation…

  7. One source that I have never seen cited on this blog re sources for the concept of Tznius as even preceding Matan Torah is Ramban’s commentary on the Torah on Shmos 15:25 where “Hatzeas leches Boholaheim Binyan HaNashim VHayeldadim” is explicitly mentioned.

  8. “Re objectively restrictive: Most of halakhah is be objectively restrictive, isn’t it?”

    Your dodging the question. I think I am as concerned about people treating halachah as malleable or platitudes as you are, but I do not think you can fault people as feeling that a policy which essentially places one’s wife under house arrest runs afoul of “what is hateful to you do not do to others.” I think our culture is, frankly, extreme in its conception of modesty but such a standard seems hard to justify on purely on local norms.

  9. R. Joel:

    “BTW replace going out with uncovering hair and see what you get :-)”

    actually a more apt question would be regarding the rambam’s das yehudis of all females covering the hair as well as wearing a revid

  10. abba's rantings

    R. Joel

    that was me

  11. The focus in the discussion here is on changed times, changed mores, changes in the condition of women.

    I want to take a different tack. I submit that the Rambam’s milieu needs to be taken into account to properly understand his words here.

    We need to think of the society he lived in. An Islamic, Middle Eastern one. One in which (at least some, perhaps many, or most of his contemporaries) people live in compounds. Picture a house with a large yard, courtyard, perhaps surrounded by walls. Maybe with access to fields out back.

    It seems that typical readers are assuming that he is advocating limiting women to a house like their own, a house imprisonment (‘house arrest’) of sort, and people can’t understand it. In actuality, women then may have left the house and met their local female friends ‘over the garden fence’, just not left the compound or neighborhood much (remember there were no cars then either ;-).

    Additionally, in that (Islamic) milieu in general, women of various backgrounds (Jewish, Muslim, Christian..) did not venture out much into the business areas of town (whether for reasons of safety, modesty, religion..). If the other women didn’t venture out much in that way, it wouldn’t have been wise to have the Jewish women do so. The society that the Rambam lived in was not a liberal Western one, as most of the writers here may be subconsciously assuming.

  12. So with a return to greater tzniut, can we expect pesakim by some rabbis that women stay home as per the Rambam’s halacha?

  13. Mordechai,

    What is the difference between “changed times, changed mores, changes in the condition of women” and changed “milieu”?

  14. Skeptic-

    I think he means to add that it is not merely behavioral norms and social expectations that are a factor to be considered, but that actual physical notion of staying at home would because the entire structure of people’s living quarters where different.

    This is an interesting and important point but I would like to see a little more evidence that it is an accurate picture of what life was like in the period (I am reminded of a disagreement among the meforshim about whether the korban Pesach was supposed to make a point to the Mitzrim based on the suggestion that in Mitzrayim the doors opened into a courtyard and wouldn’t be visible to the Mitzrim). Even still it seems very restricting.

  15. The whole pretense of this post is flawed. You assume that that which Rambam codifies is/was halacha. But I think that can hardly be said in this case. Rambam’s halacha is not expressed in any known Talmudic/rabbinic text. Rambam seems to be expressing his own interpretation of tznius. Therefore its adoption into halacha would be contingent on its acceptance amongst the jews in each place. While it is possible that at some point women in the east conducted themselves in such a manner, I think that this can hardly be said about the women in Europe. For Ashkenazi women there was never such an halacha, and they don’t need a heter to go outside. Rama’s citing of Rambam is not evidence of practice or full endorsement but merely a way of bringing out the high level of tznius expected.
    As to where this halacha comes from, one must remember the influences Rambam was subject to. Rambam was an Aristotelian, and writes that Aristotle was the wisest of all men. It is likely that Rambam was influenced by his thought concerning women. Much has been written about Aristotle’s view concerning women, for a synopsis see the Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle's_views_on_women). Aristotle was a misogynist of the worst kind. Among the things he advocated was “that women should not leave the female quarters of the house” (well doesn’t that sound familiar). While Rambam was a whole hearted Aristotelian, Aristotle’s influence on the perception of women was actually quite prevalent in the Greek world in his time and the generations to follow. Much Aristotelian influence can be discerned in the Mishnah and Talmud (in contrast to the views in Tanach). This may have caused Rambam to think that the Sages actually adopted Aristotle’s outlook on women, hence we find the codification of Aristotle’s advice in Mishneh Torah.
    We also have to remember where Rambam was leaving as Modichai pointed out above. But I would like to focus on influences rather than circumstances. At the time Arabs commonly criticized Jews for their impious behavior. See the many examples in Avraham ben HaRamam’s work. Avraham’s solution was to wholly incorporate Sufi practice into Jewish ritual. While Rambam and his son were quite different, one wonders if Arab belittling had a similar effect on Rambam. Concession to Arabic standards in modesty is found elsewhere in Yad. Rambam requires unmarried women to cover their hair much like the custom Egypt at the time. But Rambam is the only authority to require such, as from the Talmud it seems that they didn’t. Therefore I think it would not be a long stretch to say that Rambam’s adoption of Aristotle’s advice was an effort to remove the scorn heaped upon them by their Muslim neighbors who (might have?) similarly kept their wives in the house.

  16. I am also concerned by the fact that you seem to imply that this rambam is of halakhic concern. What ever the Rambam means it is clear that we don’t poskin like him. This is very different from searrah where the rambam also takes a uniquly extreme positionon women in the public sphere, where it seems that many contemporary posskim are at least choshesh for the rambam’s psak.

  17. Pace R’ Henkin, knowing what life was like in the Muslim world in 1200- heck, knowing what it’s like in many Muslim countries today- I’d say the Rambam meant exactly what he said.

    As has been pointed out by those wiser than myself, it’s not that the Rambam was “modern,” it’s that he was modern *in his time*- that is, he thought the 1200’s in Egypt were the best era ever. A similar criticism is made of R’ Hirsch, who seemed to think that 1800’s Germany was the acme of human civilization. I guess it’s something we MO ought to consider every now and then, although modern culture can be pretty bad.

    “that a generation or two of Modern Orthodox women did not cover their hair in accordance with contemporary practice”

    That’s not quite true. Up until the 1960’s, proper men and women covered their heads at all times under certain circumstances (outdoors, especially). MO women (and men) didn’t cover their at times that you might expect Jewish custom to say they should.

  18. Does anyone know historically what was the situation in the Rambam’s day? Did any women follow this halocho or was the Rambam just expressing a wish about how society should function?

  19. “Rambam’s halacha is not expressed in any known Talmudic/rabbinic text”

    I believe the Rambam is paraphrasing and playing on the the ten curses that chazal say chava (and womankind) received, one of which is וחבושה מכל אדם בבית האסורין. Maybe it’s only a play on words, but I’m inclined to think that Rambam deliberately uses this language to interpret this expression in Chazal non-literally. I wonder if there were those who argued that this curse should be taken literally and Rambam was trying to mitigate that argument?

    Incidentally עטופה כאבל doesn’t work that well with feel-good rhetoric re hair covering.

    On that topic, חבושה מכל אדם בבית האסורין also doesn’t work well with the analysis quoted on this blog in the name of Rabbi H. Schacter that men have to “sacrifice” tzniut and take on burdens of public roles that compromise tzniut and that women are spared this sacrifice. According to Rav Schachter, God is described as “keyl mistater,” and therefore expressions of tzniut fall under the rubric of vehalachta bedrachov and emulating God’s ways, with women able to achieve a higher level of emulating God as keyl mistater due to halachot that bar them from public roles that in his argument require sacrifice of tzniut. I find this analysis dissatisfying for a number of reasons. As relates to the topic in this thread, the expression keyl mistater is not found in tanach; it comes from a 16th century piyut. To the extent that the piyut is based on language in tanach and chazal, God’s “hiding” is associated in our primary texts with punishment and exile. This is readily apparent in the primary texts; is it obscured by the paytan’s poetic references to these texts?! ואנכי הסתר אסתר פני ביום ההוא etc, במסתרים תבכה נפשי on which chazal sayמקום יש לקב”ה ומסתרים שמו וכו’ מפני גאותם של ישראל שניטלה מהם וניתנה לאומות העולם … Ironically, and contrary to R Schachter’s expressed intent of casting women’s “non-public role” positively, linking tzniut for women to the expression keyl mistater only amplifies the negative association to women’s tzniut. His analysis extends the linkage of women’s tzniut with diminishment and punishment for the sin of chava that is explicitly found in chazal and further links their requirements in tzniut to the later exile and God’s punishment of the Jewish people as a whole.

  20. What ever the Rambam means it is clear that we don’t poskin like him.
    ======================================
    agreed-i’m just trying (as always) to understand the underlying processes. One answer is “Not everything is objective and not everything is subjective. ” The challenge is imho we have been selling for years the idea that to a large extent halacha is a science (see r’ chaim)
    KT

  21. Aryeh A. Frimer

    From: Aryeh A. and Dov I. Frimer, “Women’s Prayer Services — Theory and Practice. Part 1: Theory,” Tradition, 32:2, pp. 5-118 (Winter 1998).

    R. Yehuda Henkin204 argues that kol kevuda, even according to the stringent formulation of Maimonides,205 bars only unnecessary exposure to public life. However, the fulfillment of mitsvot (e.g., visiting parents, aiding the sick and needy, comforting mourners, rejoicing with the bride, etc.) is a perfectly legitimate reason for venturing into the marketplace. If so, going out to pray, be it in shul or at a prayer service, should be no different than fulfilling any other mitsvah. Other posekim make it clear that kol kevuda does not apply to an activity which is carried out away from the public thoroughfare and which is all-female or where the sexes are separated.207 Clearly, women’s tefilla groups conform to these criteria.
    Finally, many posekim maintain that kol kevuda is a relative concept, depending on local habits.208 In this regard, the noted halakhist, R. Sha’ul Yisraeli, states:
    It would also seem that the boundaries of kol kevuda bat Melekh penima depend on local custom, and only in communities where women never leave their homes is behavior to the contrary to be considered improper. However, in our generation, religious women work in various offices, hospitals, kindergartens, and schools, and yet no one objects.
    Certainly, from the perspective of kol kevuda, a woman’s participation in a prayer group should be no different than her involvement or even leadership role in any other women’s organization. In light of twentieth century realities and the unchallenged integration of religious women—hareidi,210 modern Orthodox or otherwise—into all walks of life, the charge of kol kevuda simply does not ring true.

    204. Resp. Benei Vanim, I, sec. 40. See also ibid., Ma’amar 6. Translated into English in R. Yehuda Herzl Henkin, Responsa on Contemporary Jewish Women’s Issues (Ktav: Hoboken, New Jersey, 2003), Chap. 24, pp. 196-200.
    205. M.T., Hilkhot Ishut, 13:11. We note the R. Israel ben Hayyim Bruna, Resp. Mahari Bruna, sec. 242, maintains that we do not rule in accordance with this dictum of Kol kevuda. This ruling of Mahari Bruna is challenged by Resp. Hatam Sofer, E.H., II, sec. 99. See also: R. Joseph Engel, Gilyonei haShas, Shabbat 67a, s.v. “Sham, R.Sh. hi;” R. Nahum Weidenfeld, Resp Hazon Nahum, I, sec. 99, no. 3; and the discussion of R. Tsvi Zev Friedman in Tiferet Yosef, Bereshit (Monsey, 5764), va-Yera 18:9, p. 221.
    207. Nitei Gavriel—Dinei uMinhagei Purim, sec. 13, no. 3, end of note 6. R. Shlomo Chaim Aviner, Hesed Ne’urayyikh (Jerusalem, 1991), p. 68ff—see especially p. 72.
    208. R. Sha’ul Yisraeli, editor’s note 4, p. 226, to R. Moses Dov Wilner, HaTorah ve-haMedina 4 (Elul 5712), p. 221—reprinted in BeTsomet haTorah ve-haMedina (Jerusalem: Tsomet, 1991), III, p. 230, note 7, p. 235; R. Issacher haLevi Levin, HaTorah ve-haMedina 5-6 (5713-5714), p. 55, section 12, p. 61—reprinted in BeTsomet haTorah ve-haMedina, III, p. 236, sec. 8, p. 242; R. Aryeh Binosovsky (Bina), HaTorah ve-haMedina 5-6 (5713-5714), p. 62, section 14, p. 70—reprinted in BeTsomet haTorah ve-haMedina, III, p. 221, sec. 6, p. 228; Resp. Mikvei haMayyim, III, Y.D. sec. 21; Resp. Benei Vanim, supra, note 204; R. Asher Eliach, cited in Resp. Rivevot Ephrayyim VI, sec. 68. Surprisingly, even R. Menashe Klein seems to agree that there is a relative element to kol kevuda; see Resp. Mishne Halakhot, IV, sec. 125. To this list should be added all those posekim who allow women to assume community leadership roles (elected or otherwise). See R. Chayim Hirschensohn, Resp. Malki baKodesh, II, as well as assorted letters of concurring scholars in volumes III and VI; R. Jacob Levinson, HaTorah ve-haMada (New York: 5692), pp. 22-54; Resp. Mishpetei Uziel, H.M. III, sec. 6; R. Samuel E. Turk, HaDarom 41 (Nisan, 5735), p. 63 and Resp. Peri Malka, secs. 67-71; R. Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, Torah she-be-al Pe 20 (5739), p. 66 and Resp. Binyan Av, I, sec. 65; R. Joseph Kafah, HaIsha veHinukha (Kefar Saba: Amana, 5740), p. 37; R. Shlomo Goren, interview in Ma’ariv, April 1, 1988, second section, p. 3; R. Haim David Halevi, “Zekhut Isha liVhor u-le-hi-Baheir,” Tehumin 10 (5749), p. 118 and Resp. Mayyim Hayyim, I, sec. 70. See also R. Simon Federbush, Mishpat haMelukha beYisrael, ed. Ben-Tzion Rosenfeld (Jerusalem: Mossad haRav Kook, 1973) p. 69; Aryeh A. Frimer, “Nashim beMo’eitsot Datiyyot: HaHalakha Davka Be’ad,” HaTsofe, November 3, 1986, p. 3.
    210. G. Kranzler, “The Women of Williamsburg: A Contemporary American Hasidic Community,” Tradition 28:1 (Fall 1993), pp. 82-93; T. El-Or, “Maskilot uVurot” (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1993); J. Rotem, “Ahot Rehoka” (Tel Aviv: Steimatzky, 1993). See also: M.C. Katz, “Communications: Women and Orthodoxy,” Tradition 34:2 (Summer 2000), pp. 99-100.

  22. With all respect to Rav Schachter, if you have a bright girl of approximately bat mitzvah age listen to one of his MP3s (I have done this experiment) where he describes how men are occasionally required to violate their “midat hahistarut” to serve as a ba’al tefilah because someone has to do so she will immediately notice that the men don’t seem to view it that way. Indeed, the next wedding I am at where the MC says something like “the Chasan and Kallah would like to thank her Uncle Shloimie for forgoing his midat hahistatrut and reciting the third bracha” will be the first. The famous story of R. Akiva Eiger fainting when he was given shlishi in the presence of R. Ya’akov of Lissa suggests that this attitude toward what we call kibbudim is not entirely modern or foreign to rabbinic thought.

  23. Yirmiahu: I think I am as concerned about people treating halachah as malleable or platitudes as you are, but I do not think you can fault people as feeling that a policy which essentially places one’s wife under house arrest runs afoul of “what is hateful to you do not do to others.”

    I do not believe you are properly understanding the Rambam, as explained in the post.

  24. Moshe Shoshan: The Rema’s citation of the Rambam as normative makes it halakhically relevant, at least to deal with.

  25. Mike S: Agreed but that is a flaw in our community that needs to be fixed, not expanded.

  26. It’s hard to say that the Rambam had no source for his ruling. He had plenty. It’s more that he expanded them to a degree. See this Hebrew article: http://www.ybm.org.il/hebrew/LessonArticle.aspx?item=2901

  27. “R. Yehuda Henkin204 argues that kol kevuda, even according to the stringent formulation of Maimonides,205 bars only unnecessary exposure to public life. However, the fulfillment of mitsvot (e.g., visiting parents, aiding the sick and needy, comforting mourners, rejoicing with the bride, etc.) is a perfectly legitimate reason for venturing into the marketplace. If so, going out to pray, be it in shul or at a prayer service, should be no different than fulfilling any other mitsvah. ”

    come, why are we relying on deductions from the Rambam for this conclusion when we learn sechar pesiot from a woman who not only walked to shul, but walked further than necessary? Surely this should be the first source. The yalkut also teaches that the reward for attending public tefila is arichat yamim from a woman.

    I don’t know why you find it necessary to skip directly to a contemporary source to justify something encouraged by chazal.

  28. With all respect to Rav Schachter, if you have a bright girl of approximately bat mitzvah age listen to one of his MP3s (I have done this experiment) where he describes how men are occasionally required to violate their “midat hahistarut” to serve as a ba’al tefilah because someone has to do so she will immediately notice that the men don’t seem to view it that way.
    ==================================
    and give a man hagbah and he wants maftir – but that’s an educational issue that needs to be addressed (and I’d also say an influence from outside society)
    KT

  29. I was going to mention the curses of chava but nd already has. It seems to me that that gemara has several implications: first, that many of the restrictions on women are not just “women have some restrictions, men have others.”. Chazal saw them as objectively negative. Second, they are not virtues so much as indicatirs of negative status. Third, they are not jewish values per se, but are viewed as universal acoutrements of womanhood – all descendents of eve. By this analysis our changed circumstances re leaving the house are sinmilar to the advent of technologies that minmize the pain and danger of childbirth.

  30. So then it shouldn’t be with an article about how great hagba is, as was in Jewish Action once. 🙂

  31. R’ Nachum – don’t get me started, I realize we live in an olam hafuch (as was frequently pointed out to me with regard to the issue of kavod by avi mori vrabbi zll”hh). Required reading:

    On His Blindness -John Milton.

    When I consider how my light is spent Ere half my days in this dark world and wide, And that one talent which is death to hide Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present My true account, lest he returning chide, “Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?” I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed And post o’er land and ocean without rest: They also serve who only stand and wait.”
    kt

  32. Gil:

    Why the pretense that this is only a Rambam? Shulkhan Arukh itself rules like this Rambam:

    Shulkhan Arukh (73:1): A man must give his wife clothing like women normally wear outside. A woman should not go outside much. The beauty of a woman is to stay inside – “Kol Kevudah…”

  33. emma: Remember that working is one of Adam’s curses.

    David: Read the post more carefully.

    nd: We are making deductions in the Rambam to clarify what he held.

  34. “nd: We are making deductions in the Rambam to clarify what he held.”

    I was responding to the quote from Rabbi Frimer, who was addressing whether women are discouraged or prohibited from attending public tefila due to kol kvuda(“be it at shul or in shul or at a prayer service”), not the Rambam’s position per se (“even according to the stringent formulation of Maimonides”). On reflection, he probably omits the sources I cited because his focus is on prayer services, not shul.

  35. re: working is one of Adam’s curses.

    You originally wrote, in response to the suggestion that being stuck at home is “objectively restrictive” that “Most of halakhah is be objectively restrictive, isn’t it?” My point is that “most of halacha” is not the proper comparison, at least according to that particular gemara, since this is not just another rule, but is in fact a rule that chazal themselves recognized as “objectively restrictive” and unpleasant. Now you say that there are other objectively negative things that men have to do. Fine. Although circumstances have changed there as well. (Most of us would probably not look too kindly on a woman who insisted her husband take a second job before she took a first because it’s his curse, after all…)

  36. Sorry for being brief. My point was that your deductions about Chava’s curses do not hold true because Chazal held a positive view of working, which was one of Adam’s curses.

  37. R. Gil,
    I agree with the linked hebrew article that ” שאינה בבית הסוהר עד שלא תצא ולא תבוא” refers to the gemara in yevamot on “havushah be-veit ha-asurin.” But I am not sure that you have translated it correctly as “she is not in prison that she may not go out and in.” IT seems to me at least equally plausible that the Rambam means “she is not in prison to the point that she cannot go and come.” I.e., she is still “in prison” in terms of having her movements restricted, per the gemara, but it’s not to be taken literally as a prison that forbids _any_ exit/entry.
    Thoughts?

  38. As indicated, I used the translation from R. Yehuda Henkin’s book.

  39. It’s clear that not all curses are positive, in the sense that one is not obligated to make them true if one happens to be lucky. So one is permitted to use pain medication in labor, and one with independent means is permitted to, say, study torah instead of working. I am open to an understanding that while both of those things are permitted something is lost when one does so.

  40. Sorry, forgot that. Do you agree that there is another plausible translation?

  41. Further to what Mordechai wrote (re changed structure of living quarters), one thing I always wondered about that Rambam is how were women expected to do mundane household obligations, like food shopping, clothes, etc. I vaguely recall reading somewhere that in Islamic societies even as recently as the 20th century, it was common that merchants and peddlers came to your house to offer and deliver goods. So, for example, the food used to prepare the family’s meals was commonly delivered to the door; the mistress of the house was expected to then cook it, perhpas with the assistance of servant or family members.

    Don’t know if that is true, but it sure makes staying home easier. Today most of us have to go our for almost anything (although recently our local supermarket has an arrangment whereby you place an order through their website, and then they deliver it to your door).

  42. “emma: Remember that working is one of Adam’s curses.”

    A lot of commenters are able to put down their hoes and wipe their sweaty brows as they take breaks from work to comment in torah discussion forums on the internet. We overschedule our lives, but never have so many people had leisure to spend years of their lives in educational settings, and to work at physically non-tiring jobs that leave time and energy for intellectual pursuits.

  43. “Sorry for being brief. My point was that your deductions about Chava’s curses do not hold true because Chazal held a positive view of working, which was one of Adam’s curses.”

    ] לא נתאוו הנביאים והחכמים ימות המשיח–לא כדי שישלטו על כל העולם, ולא כדי שירדו בגויים, ולא כדי שינשאו אותם העמים, ולא כדי לאכול ולשתות ולשמוח: אלא כדי שיהיו פנויין בתורה וחכמתה, ולא יהיה להם נוגש ומבטל, כדי שיזכו לחיי העולם הבא, כמו שביארנו בהלכות תשובה.

    ח [ה] ובאותו הזמן, לא יהיה שם לא רעב ולא מלחמה ולא קנאה ותחרות–שהטובה תהיה מושפעת הרבה, וכל המעדנים מצויין כעפר. ולא יהיה עסק כל העולם, אלא לדעת את ה’ בלבד. ולפיכך יהיו חכמים גדולים, ויודעים דברים הסתומים העמוקים; וישיגו דעת בוראם כפי כוח האדם, שנאמר “כי מלאה הארץ, דעה את ה’, כמים, לים מכסים” (ישעיהו יא,ט).

    Rambam is making an assertion about Chazal’s perspective on yemot hamashiach and their ideals. Does anyone disagree with him?

    Chazal viewed work positively for a number of reasons, but I don’t see them viewing it as an ultimate ideal. Idleness begets sin; one shouldn’t be dependent on others, etc. But when Jews do God’s will מלאכתן נעשית על ידי אחרים and they will be free for study of torah.

  44. ” I vaguely recall reading somewhere that in Islamic societies even as recently as the 20th century, it was common that merchants and peddlers came to your house to offer and deliver goods”

    I believe this is true. I heard a lecture that I more than vaguely remember where the scholar stated that Jewish women in the Rambam’s time would often weave, and that cloth merchants would come to their homes to buy the cloth. There are similar scenarios in folk stories from Morocco from more recently. I don’t know directly about merchants for other things but it seems likely. I also agree w mordechai that we should probably be thinking about being “inside” a compound, perhaps witha courtyard and an outdoor stove, say. That said, the ramabam writes of sitting in a corner.

  45. Hirhurim- is there a reason for the truncated quote from the rambam? It sounds like the first sentence conveys something that the rambam didn’t advocate. There is no translation of the word l’fei – that begins the sentence.
    Also, there is no context since you only quote part of 13:11. The whole Halacha is about what the husband is obligated to provide so that she can go out to the shuk. The issue is whether her going out for these acts of chesed ( as oppose to mitzvot in general which I find interesting that the rambam focused on this) can override her husbands demand that it’s immodest to do so.

  46. Mike S and R Gil: There are two separate types of modesty conflated in R Schachter’s argument. The first is modesty or lack thereof in being singled out for a particular honor from within a group that is obligated in or capable of performing a mitzva, such as public tefila or aliyot. This is where it is viewed as positive to be reluctant to accept honors. Distinct from this is is the notion that to be a qualifying member of a group obligated in a public mitzva is not desirable and itself impinges on ones modesty. The latter is a remarkable claim. I know of no source for it, and R Schachter bases this claim that being a member of a group obligated in a public mitzva is undesirable on the very different principle that a person should not seek individual honor within the group. On the other hand, there is considerable evidence that being a member of the obligated group is viewed positively. Individuals are also encouraged to be present to enlarge the group performing a mitzva in public even when their individual presence is not necessary for the mitzva’s performance because of berov am hadrat melech.

    “Mike S: Agreed but that is a flaw in our community that needs to be fixed, not expanded.”

    If people enjoy being singled out for public honors, maybe that needs to be fixed. But can you find a single source that would encourage one to “fix the flaw” of being a member of a group obligated in mitzva peformed by a group or of being pleased to be in the group of the obligated?

    Rabbi Akiva Eiger is alleged to have fainted when called up for an aliya. He’s not alleged to have fainted at the prospect of being in the audience for kriat hatorah or being eligible for an aliya.

    As I note, keyl mistater is a piyut and the language and the expression are associated with hester panim, and with כביכול God’s distress over this state of affairs.
    As a side point, there is a dispute whether Vehalachta bedrachov applies to all midot of hkb”h, for example all the 13 midot, or only to those associated with rachamim. What would it mean to emulate the RBS”O as keyl mestater – to adopt hester panim of one’s own as a desirable end goal? To identify with כביכול God’s tears over the state of the Jews in exile? More to the point, we pray for the day when this state of affairs ends. Does it follow that when Moshiach comes, and there is no hester panim and no crying over the loss of Jews’ national honor, that being obligated in performance of mitzvot betzibur will again be desirable and tsniut no longer “sacrificed” for their performance??

    R Schachter is not encouraging one to emulate the trait of keyl mistater. He is encouraging the very different trait of personal modesty that is unrelated to the kabbalistic piyut keyl mistater.

  47. For an evocative memoir of life for women in early-20th century Baghdad and their houses, see Memories of Eden by Violette Shamash: http://tinyurl.com/88uhcxm

  48. Regarding women and covering their hair, my late grandmother told me that she remembers her grandmother putting a piece of cloth inside their hair, they would then wrap their hair over the cloth so only they would know that their hair was covered. Ie they would hide their ‘modesty’!

  49. “It’s clear that not all curses are positive, in the sense that one is not obligated to make them true if one happens to be lucky. So one is permitted to use pain medication in labor, and one with independent means is permitted to, say, study torah instead of working. I am open to an understanding that while both of those things are permitted something is lost when one does so.”

    There is a line of kabbalistic thought that argues that women’s status was demoted as a result of Chava’s sin and this will be corrected in acharit hayamim in a time of nekeva tesovev gever. R Gil once posted R Twersky’s review of a book that presents this perspective on women’s issues. This would mean that a state of affairs where the curses don’t apply is desirable (parallel to a state of affairs where work is unnecessary).

  50. nd, I think you and I basically agree.
    The view you stater re: the curses being undesirable and eventually reversed is my prefered view. What I meant was that I am “open” to (ie, acknowledge as within the tradition) a claim that working and/or painful labor are, for example, yisurin that help purify the soul and/or give kapparah. I believe some communities do take this approach and eschew pain medication in an attempt to gain kapparah and forestall yisurin after death.

    I agree that it is incorrect to claim that “working is viewed positively” simpliciter. Working is viewed more positively than idleness and/or dependency, but not than using independent means to pursue other worthy activities (esp torah learning).

  51. regarding this:
    “My point was that your deductions about Chava’s curses do not hold true because Chazal held a positive view of working, which was one of Adam’s curses.”

    If you meant to argue that ideally, work should have been unnecessary, as in Gan Eden and a return to that ideal in acharit hayamim, but in the “real world,” i.e. the fallen world, work is still viewed positively, why do you assume that Chava’s curses are to be seen as equally positive?

  52. “Mike S: Agreed but that is a flaw in our community that needs to be fixed, not expanded.”

    I’ll believe that R. Schachter truly thinks it’s a “flaw” when he, or indeed any other rabbi, turns down reading the ketubah at a wedding or making one of the shevah brachot. Saying it’s a flaw or a breach of modesty which should only be doine when really necessary is one thing; believing it — or, really, acting on it — is something else entirely. And I think we can understand what one really believes from the way they act and not simply from what they say.

  53. Yirmiahu: I think I am as concerned about people treating halachah as malleable or platitudes as you are, but I do not think you can fault people as feeling that a policy which essentially places one’s wife under house arrest runs afoul of “what is hateful to you do not do to others.”

    Hirhurim: I do not believe you are properly understanding the Rambam, as explained in the post.

    I certainly can be guilty of reading posts to quickly but most of your post deals with the circumstances in which it does or does not apply. And although your write, “According to the Rambam, women can leave home to hang out once or twice a month.” and draw from that”This is far less restrictive than many would have you believe but is still more limited than common practice.” I would argue that this is an extremely limited standard that you yourself would not like imposed on you. I have known individuals in jail who get out more often.

  54. nd & Gil : כל כבודה might be the impetus to Rambam’s directive that she should not leave the house more than twice a month, but it can’t be said to be the source. כל כבודה is ambiguous enough that it can be interpreted to mean almost anything . Ultimately it was Rambam’s own opinion about tznius that was codified and is now the subject of discussion, like I wrote originally. Rambam does sayשאינה בבית הסוהר עד שלא תצא ולא תבוא which might be an illusion to the curses of Chava, but he is actually saying the opposite, that she is allowed sometimes to go out. I think it is more likely that it comes from what the gemrah says about Papus ben Yehudah at the end of Gittin, while the phraseology might come from the curses. Either way I fail to see a source for the halacha of Rambam being discussed.
    Once we are involved in the terminology Rambam uses in this halacha, I should point out that it actually does seem to be coming from Greek sources. Rambam writes שאין יופי לאשה אלא לישב “בזוית” ביתה. His specifying the corner seems to preclude Mordachai’s idea of that house means within a great courtyard. זוית seems to be a reference to the Greek gynaikonitis (women’s gallery,) the section of the house that women were confined to and rarely ventured from. For many accounts from women about their confinement to the house in Greek and Roman times see Women’s Life in Greece and Rome (http://tinyurl.com/89bgw2j).
    Regarding Remah, I already wrote that his glosses don’t in this insistence necessarily imply that he agrees to the exact practice advocated by Rambam. He does not say how often she may go out. He only quotes Rambam in writing that she should sit in her corner. You might still question the custom of Jewish women today, but the question stems from their total negation of the precept of כל כבודה.
    Gil, I’ve noticed now and before that you’ve avoided engaging me directly, why?

  55. I’ll believe that R. Schachter truly thinks it’s a “flaw” when he, or indeed any other rabbi, turns down reading the ketubah at a wedding or making one of the shevah brachot.
    =======================================
    I’d view it similarly to being asked to daven for the amud – demur but if pressed, accept.
    KT

  56. “I believe some communities do take this approach and eschew pain medication in an attempt to gain kapparah and forestall yisurin after death.”
    I think we agree…Are there really such communities (as opposed to individuals)? But this is a bit like saying that something is lost if beit din doesn’t give malkot and arranging to receive them privately, as some also do. Malkot are still a response to sin, and don’t represent the ideal.
    I imagine you’d agree that the mainstream approach is to do what one can to minimize yesurim that distract from ability to do mitzvot. The Rambam writes at length about punishment for sins being further distractions that are obstacles to avodat hashem and reward being removal of difficulties that distract from avodat hashem, so that would seem to be his approach.

    I found this article that discusses the rambam’s language and chava’s curse
    http://www.ybm.org.il/hebrew/LessonArticle.aspx?item=2901

  57. (R. Gil linked to that article above.)

  58. Dear nd 8:04 AM
    Much thanks for your comments. Your points were well taken.

  59. “(R. Gil linked to that article above.)”

    I blame the difficulties of galut for my lack of concentration 🙂

  60. Everyone is talking about the Rambam here, but doesn’t Rema say in EH 73:1 that women should not go out very often?

    More broadly, from an Orthodox perspective is it possible to say that the Shulchan Aruch (plus Rema) was just wrong? The Beit Yosef wasn’t infallible, was he?

    There’s also the Rambam in which he says one should deviously kill a heretic, such as by taking away his ladder when he’s down in a hole. I’m not sure if that made its way into the Shulchan Aruch. But can an argument be made that that was derived incorrectly and is just wrong?

  61. I think that it is very difficult to declare the Rambam or the SA “wrong”. This doesnt mean that our own moral sense might lead us to embrace other legitmate positions.

  62. Moshe — Very fair, but if one can’t dismiss its relevancy today due to the historical context of the time it was written, that also poses a problem — since some set of people may choose to revive it as legitimate and binding.

  63. About 10 years ago I saw a pashkevil citing this rambam as proof of how far our generation ahs fallen in matters of “tsnius.”

  64. I would just like to point out that if some are going to say that the Rambam’s statement on this issue is the ideal, then they only give legitimacy to those people who search twist halacha to find every permissive or western position possible.

    If it’s ok for some to twist halacha into this zealotry against sexual desire, then it’s also ok for some to twist halacha into a zealotry that gives in to sexual desire.

    This is the problem with zealotry in general.

  65. moshe – “This doesnt mean that our own moral sense …”
    where do see moral sense as the issue here? i agree with you that to say the rambam and sa are wrong is difficult to say and a bad approach of why we do not follow x halacha.

  66. Ruvie — but, absent a textually-argued rationale of why we don’t follow the halacha, in conjunction with a refusal to put the halacha in historical context, then why should it not be viewed as legitimate if some set of people revive it?

    And if some set of people revive it, is it legitimate halacha and moral? Would Gil be able to condemn it in a post, or would he have to be charitable given the textual sources that would be used to justify it?

  67. also, if one looks in sa even ha-ezer 21:6 and earlier you will halachot that we no longer practice as well (but not as widely known as the rambam’s) like a man is not allow to inquire on the shalom of a women even via a messenger – you can only inquire via the husband. imagine kiddushes in shul today where one cannot make small talk with the women.
    also, its assur to look at colorful women’s clothes – even on a rack in a store (we are not talking victoria’s secret here). are all of these halachot not followed because of societal change? can there be any other factors involved? and when does socital change have zero influence on halacha (i assume most of the time but what are the parameters here in halacha when it can and cannot influence?)

  68. IH – i ask the same question (i think) as well. for one thing the burka women have been vilified by almost chareidim and their rabbis to my knowledge. but shouldn’t they be commended as minhag chasidut (except the rambam states where they wear veils(scarfs) the husband must provide one and since we currently don’t wear veils it doesn’t apply).

    also, this rambam is in a chapter that deals with the husband making vows of what his wife will do or forbids her to do – hence my issue on the context of the halacha posted above. looks more like husband’s control or dominion over his wife and her lack of independence of herself.

  69. Shalom Rosenfeld

    Emma:

    “About 10 years ago I saw a pashkevil citing this rambam as proof of how far our generation ahs fallen in matters of “tsnius.””

    I think that was one of Professor Koppel’s joke pashkevilim that he posts on Purim.

  70. RHS’s position re Kel Mistaser is eminently supportable. If one looks at many Halachos and Minhagim, especially related to Shabbos, Yom Tov, Krias HaTorah and Tekias Shofar and the Yamim Noraim,one can easily find an emphasis on keeping things hidden, secluded and private until and unless absolutely necessary. That’s why the Sefer Torah is in the Aron until we take it out for Krias HaTorah and uncover it only for Krias HaTorah, and why we return it back to its secluded place in the Aron. We also hide the Challah, the knife used for cutting the same, as well as the Shofar until right before the Maaseh HaMitzvah and note Gilui Shechinah and Siluk HaSchinah in our Tefilos on YK. Moreover, as RYBS stressed, only in Tefilas HaYachid does man confront, confess and obtain Taharah as an individual, in contrast to Tefilas HaTzibur where man is part of a community and embraces his or her covenantal relationship with HaShem Yisborach.

  71. I understand why an average Joe cannot just say the SA or Rambam is “wrong.” But why can’t a posek say the SA was wrong? Where is it written that the Beit Yosef and Rema were infallible and that the SA is the last word? If Orthodoxy is the religion that upholds the Oral Torah as recorded in the Gemara, that makes sense, but to say we’re the religion of one halachic sefer and one commenter writing a thousand years later, that seems a bit arbitrary.

  72. I think that the bottom line really is that due to changed economic and social circumstances, women are working, and that many Halachos and Minhagim that might be followed Kpshuto in different Charedi communities just aren’t followed in other Charedi communities, let alone MO and RZ communities. As in the case of many Halachos and Minhagim, the same remain “on the books”, but require a Posek with the requisite “broad shoulders” to determine their applicability for his community.

  73. RHS’s position and views re Tznius has been discussed in this thread. For those interested, see the annexed link. http://www.torahweb.org/torah/2004/parsha/rsch_dvorim2.html

  74. Steve — so you don’t think there is any moral issue if a posek determined this halacha was applicable to the women in his community?

  75. “As in the case of many Halachos and Minhagim, the same remain “on the books”, but require a Posek with the requisite “broad shoulders” to determine their applicability for his community”

    (putting aside your habitual but confusing use of “the same” that makes it unclear whether you think not leaving the house remains “on the books” or not…)

    I am deeply uncomfortable with a situation in which the rule “on the books” is that a man should compel his wife to stay home but for rare occasions, because it’s more aesthetically pleasing to him. Even if that rule is observed in _no_ communities. Is there nothing where we can say that the prior “on the books” rule is, at least in our times, wrong, not because it just so happens that women do go to work, but because we don’t think that husbands should be able to control wives, or that women’s activities should be determined primarily by what is aesthetically pleasing to men rather than what serves the purposes they set for themselves?

  76. the question remains why some halchot (not minhagim) like leaving the house no longer applies but others like serrah of the rambam’s is applied today by many in the orthodox community (but not by all) where its questionable (not dealing with a queen but elected officials or president of a shul)?

    could it be that the halcha of a women leaving the house had more time to evolve and in different societies (hundreds of years) while the serrah issue in our age is barely 50-75 years old? just wondering.

  77. emma – i think people are reluctant to even say that this halacha no longer applies because of societal changes because of the slippery slope argument. if that is true, then why can’t women receive aliyot etc.
    but aren’t there many halachot in the sa that we no longer follow? i believe marc shapiro is working on a book on said subject.

  78. IH wrote:

    “Steve — so you don’t think there is any moral issue if a posek determined this halacha was applicable to the women in his community”

    I think that your question borders both on the irrelevant as well as a profound lack of respect for the right of a recognized Posek to render Psak, as opposed to some Man DiHu whose Piskei Halacha are well beyond any mainstream halachic opinions within the Mesorah. It is also illustrative of the logical absurdity of hypothetical POVs that are the equivalent of saying that if my grandmother had wheels, she would be a bicycle.

    That being said, who am I or anyone else to sit in moral judgment on what a recognized Posek who is Higiah LHoraah views as appropriate fior his community?

  79. Emma wrote:

    “I am deeply uncomfortable with a situation in which the rule “on the books” is that a man should compel his wife to stay home but for rare occasions, because it’s more aesthetically pleasing to him. Even if that rule is observed in _no_ communities. Is there nothing where we can say that the prior “on the books” rule is, at least in our times, wrong, not because it just so happens that women do go to work, but because we don’t think that husbands should be able to control wives, or that women’s activities should be determined primarily by what is aesthetically pleasing to men rather than what serves the purposes they set for themselves?”

    I would contend that your response is pure egalitarian feminist and gender theory rooted apologetics that views Halacha and TSBP as a male dominated and male controlling system. We have no right to say that any Halacha or Minhag is per se wrong. What Poskim do is determine how and when any Halacha or Minhag applies or does not apply to the times that we live in.

  80. When one reads all of the views cited by R Gil with respect to this Halacha, the conclusion is obvious:

    “Clearly, as these authorities all assume, the determination of what is degrading and immodest for a woman depends on the practices of her time and place. A woman (and man) should genuinely act modestly according to the context in which she lives. Certainly, not all aspects of modesty are societal. However, the issue of leaving one’s home unnecessarily is relative, depending on the times. And today, in most places, even modest women go out in public frequently”

  81. steve b. – please read the entire perek of the rambam where this halacha is quoted from and tell me if its not one sided husband dominion over his wife that rules here. that is the reality of the context of the the halacha – just be honest about it at least.
    not right in your accusations of emma.

  82. That being said, who am I or anyone else to sit in moral judgment on what a recognized Posek who is Higiah LHoraah views as appropriate fior his community?

    Steve — That is a form of moral relativism.

  83. Ruvie-I decline to read the above cited Perek of the Rambam with your feminist gloss attached to the same, and stand by R Gil’s conclusion.

    When read without any such feminist gloss, the Perek is spelling out the duties of the husband and wife in a society where women do not work and their primary responsibilities are that of wife and homemaker.

    Unless your view of the same is the communist influenced Betty Friedan, I have no difficulty in stating that how this Halacha applies is wholley dependent on the society and Posek within which such a Halacha is applied. When you use phrases such as “one sided husband dominion over his wife”, that is feminist code and gender theory writ large in an attempt to encrust the same onto the Rambam.

  84. “That being said, who am I or anyone else to sit in moral judgment on what a recognized Posek who is Higiah LHoraah views as appropriate fior his community?

    Steve — That is a form of moral relativism.”

    To the contrary-If I don’t live in that community, I have no right to criticize what is considered to be Halacha LMaaseh therein. I think that you are equating my refusal to engage in such criticism as the equivalent of not condemning such repugnant social systems as communism and fascism. but I think that the argument does not make sense to men and women who follow their duly recognized Posek in determining what is appropriate. In contrast, your failure to recognize that such a situation could exist is indicative that tolerance is a one way street.

  85. “where women do not work and their primary responsibilities are that of wife and homemaker.”

    First, many women did do marketable work (eg, producing textiles). Second, markets/wages aside, as I’m sure you know, refering to the physical labor of homemaking (ie, feeding and clothing people) in a preindustrial society as “not work” is just wrong.

  86. “RHS’s position re Kel Mistaser is eminently supportable.”

    It may very well be supportable. It just has no basis in the way anybody, including those who propose it and our other leaders, act. And my conclusion therefore is that it’s has no meaning except as a reason to deprive women of things that halacha allows them.

  87. Steve B. said:
    RHS’s position re Kel Mistaser is eminently supportable. If one looks at many Halachos and Minhagim, especially related to Shabbos, Yom Tov, Krias HaTorah and Tekias Shofar and the Yamim Noraim,one can easily find an emphasis on keeping things hidden, secluded and private until and unless absolutely necessary. That’s why the Sefer Torah is in the Aron until we take it out for Krias HaTorah and uncover it only for Krias HaTorah, and why we return it back to its secluded place in the Aron. We also hide the Challah, the knife used for cutting the same, as well as the Shofar until right before the Maaseh HaMitzvah and note Gilui Shechinah and Siluk HaSchinah in our Tefilos on YK. Moreover, as RYBS stressed, only in Tefilas HaYachid does man confront, confess and obtain Taharah as an individual, in contrast to Tefilas HaTzibur where man is part of a community and embraces his or her covenantal relationship with HaShem Yisborach.

    Even if R Schachter is 100% correct on the substance, it is so far at variance with social reality in any society I have seen as to be utterly wrong pedagogically.

  88. One of the problems is that Rambam doesn’t cite his sources. What is the ultimate source of the (alleged?) mitzvah for women not to venture outside the home too much? If I recall correctly something I read on another blog, the source may just be a midrash. Does the Beit Yosef discuss the origin of it?

  89. Mike S-are your Sefer Torah, challah and challah knife and shofar always on public display? Gilui Shechinah and Siluk HaShecinah as well as times when Tefilos are more likely to be accepted by HaShem are part and parcel of so many Halachos and Minhagim. More critically, when Chazal talk about HaShem performing the ten Plagues, the unfavorable moshul used is that of a man being able to nurse because it is understood that HAshem need not demonstrate His Malchus by an audio visual demonstration throughout history. “Social reality in any society” is not the measure of HaShem being a Kel Mistaser, but rather our willingness act in a fashion of following this and all of HaShem’s other Midos in a proper fashion.

  90. Mike S-since when is “social reality in any society” is the benchmark for how to act properly Btelem Elokim?

  91. By the way, one should not think that women’s dress (and deportment) is the only area of halacha that is societally dependent. For example, a good deal of Choshen Mishpat depends on the local market place customs. And when we do not follow a business practice listed by the Mechaber, it doesn’t mean he was wrong; it often means that standard business assumptions have changed since his day, and we often assume that conditions not explicitly stated in an agreement are in accord with common practice.

  92. I didn’t say social reality is a benchmark for how to act. I said that it sets context for what sort of instruction can be successful. I said Rav Schecthter’s approach was pedagogically useless, not fundamentally wrong.

  93. ND wrote:

    “To the extent that the piyut is based on language in tanach and chazal, God’s “hiding” is associated in our primary texts with punishment and exile”

    Look at Minhagim and Halacha-there are so many Halachos and Minhagim such as the ones that I cited where we avoid revealing the instrumentality used to perform a Mitzvah until right beforehand. I would submit that such a POV has nothing to do with punishment or exile, but rather avoiding revealing that which should be concealed until it is absolutely necessary for the performance of a Mitzvah.

  94. Mike S-IMO, there is precious little difference between “pedagogically useless” and “fundamentally wrong”. You used the phrase that RHS’s view on the issue of Tznius is so far at variance with social reality in any society I have seen as to be utterly wrong pedagogically” Would you advocate not leaving a Sefer Torah uncovered or out of the Aron when not in use? Would you advocate leaving challah , the challah knife or the shofar uncovered? I think that your POV advocates adopting Halacha and Minhagim to social reality, as opposed to viewing social reality in the light of halacha, no matter how uncomfortable that may seem to you.

  95. Mike S wrote:
    “By the way, one should not think that women’s dress (and deportment) is the only area of halacha that is societally dependent. For example, a good deal of Choshen Mishpat depends on the local market place customs. And when we do not follow a business practice listed by the Mechaber, it doesn’t mean he was wrong; it often means that standard business assumptions have changed since his day, and we often assume that conditions not explicitly stated in an agreement are in accord with common practice”

    One should be careful not to compare local practice in Dinei Mamonus with Heter VIssur-two very different halachic realms and which Chazal themsleves cautioned against doing.

  96. Joseph Kaplan wrote:

    “It may very well be supportable. It just has no basis in the way anybody, including those who propose it and our other leaders, act. And my conclusion therefore is that it’s has no meaning except as a reason to deprive women of things that halacha allows them”

    Really? Do you conceal your challah, challah knife? Does your shul allow the Sifrei Torah to be displayed out of the Aron all the time in an open fashion? Do we say Baruch Shem all year round in a loud voice? Are Tefilos more liklely to be answered in Aseres Ymei Teshuvah than the rest of the year because HaShem hears our Tefilos there than in the rest of the year? Viewing the above Halachos and Minhagim as being rooted in a fundamental sense of favoring the private and concealed act, and allowing the revealing of an instrument for a Mitzvah as little as possible is IMO a fundamental premise of Yahadus. Viewing the same as depriving women of “things that Halacha allows them” does not answer the question of whether the Halacha and the often unwritten Ratzon HaTorah views it properly if and when women should act in a manner.

  97. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that the only sources for this halacha are 1) a creative interpretation of “all the glory of the princess is internal;” 2) one midrash, “Hash-m did not create Chavah from Adam’s foot, lest she roam too much (Bereishis Rabah 18:2).” Is that all there is? If so, and the Gemara itself didn’t discuss this issue, why can’t we argue that Rambam was just mistaken, and the Shulchan Aruch made a mistake in adopting a modified version of the Rambam’s view? These sources are not exactly a strong basis for this halacha.

  98. Do you conceal your challah, challah knife?”

    As a matter of fact, my challah board and knife (and shofar) are on display during the week, as are various kiddush cups, havdallah sets, etrog boxes etc. etc. But that’s not really my point. I’m not talking about me or my possessions; I’m talking about how people act. And even there, I’m not talking about me (or you); I’m talking about RHS, the RIETS RY, the various admorim, shul rabbis etc. etc. etc. They can say as much as they want about the virtue and importance of shunning the public role, but until they actually act on what they preach (you know, like give up reading the ketubah, having one of the shevah brachot, saying maftir on Shabbat haGadol and Shabbat Shuvah, sitting on a special dais at the siyum hashaas etc. etc. etc. it’s all words that don’t mean much other than to have a talking point that women should eschew public participation in things that halacha allows them to participate in.

  99. Steve,

    The argument from the challah knife, and so on is of little relevance. The challah knife is not trying to imitate God’s midah of concealment. Or anything else. it is totally inanimate. If you look at how people behave, even prominent talmidei chachomim do not behave in accordance with Rav Schachter’s approach to tzniut. Particularly with regard to going out in public and t’filah b’tzibbur. To be pedagogically useful, an argument must either connect with people’s experience or come at the end of a long line of arguments and experience designed to give the pupil a better frame of reference. Rav Schechter’s approach to tznuit is akin to trying to teach quantum mechanics to a six year old. It doesn’t matter that quantum mechanics is right; without plenty of physics instruction, including lab work to provide experience, there is no point in teaching it.

  100. I haven’t been able to follow because of work today. All I can say is that the talmidei chachamim I know accept honor only because they feel they have to, and avoid it whenever they can. That is what I have observed. However, as representatives of Torah, they are often obligated to accept honor.

    Convenient? Perhaps. But I’ve seen them avoid honor when possible.

    Rav Schachter’s explanation matches with my experience.

  101. All I can say Gil is that we have very different experiences — even with the same people.

  102. Sometimes we see what conforms to our presumptions

  103. Possibly. So aside from our differing experiences as we see them, I wonder what experience others have had with religious leaders eschewing a public role.

  104. Or reluctantly accepting one on being convinced that he owes it to others to use his talents for the benefit of the community

  105. R’ gil – I may be reading ” into your posts” but is there a reason – as I ask previously – for the truncated quote of the rambam. It semms slightly misleading – specifically the beginning of the quote to what is written in the rambam?

  106. Because I had to type it in by hand from a PDF on my iPad to my Blackberry while on the subway… and because long quotes are distracting, especially when the language is stilted.

  107. I understand “talents” if we’re talking about giving a shiur , paskening issues etc. But I’m not sure what “talents” any of these leaders have that just regular folks don’t re reading a ketubah, reciting a shevah bracha, leading benching, sitting on a dais and the like. I can do all of these (except reading a ketubah, although with a little practice probably even that) as well as any of them. The community would get along just fine if they stayed in their seats and acted “tzanuah.”

  108. It’s a simple matter of making the ba’alei simcha happy.

  109. Body language and comportment also counts in evaluating true modesty.

  110. You don’t seem to think very much of their leadership/teaching abilities. You think that if they explained to ba’alei simcha the importance of tzni’ut and thus the importance of teaching this lesson by personal example, people wouldn’t understand. And even if some people would understand initially, isn’t that what leadership is about? I, OTOH, think that they’re fine teachers and could pull this off easily — if they really believed it. But they don’t really believe it — except as it applies to women of course.

  111. I think you’re being ungenerous in your evaluation. I’ve seen roshei yeshiva bend over backwards in all sorts of ways to make ba’alei simcha happy. It’s a very emotionally sensitive time for people and the slightest insults are remembered for decades. If all the roshei yeshiva and rabbanim got together, they could probably pull it off. But just one… probably not.

  112. Gil — I hate to say it, but age may also be a factor in evaluating this. The body language and comportment of the generation that grew up before the Shoah was different in this regard — and I don’t think I am being nostalgic.

  113. You think I’m “undenerous”; I think I simply being honest based on many many years of experience. What it comes down to is that according to you there’s always an excuse: benefit of the community, kavod hatorah, keep ba’alei simcha happy — and probably dozens more. But when the excuses proliferate to the extent that they make the alleged “rule” effectively meaningless, it says something about the rule. And in this case, the supposed rule has effectively been writ out of existence — except to tell women that tzni’ut doesn’t mean length of sleeves or hemlines (or not ONLY that) but it means eschewing playing a public role — just like men don’t play a public role because of tzni’ut — except, of course, when they do, as they usually do.

  114. Getting back to the post, though, I am still waiting for a substantive response to some of the outstanding questions (e.g. from Ephrayim, Emma and Y).

  115. Perhaps it resonates with me because this was a message I was taught as a rule in life, totally removed from women’s issues. And because I learned that, and I’ve thought hard about the various exceptions that have to be made, I see things differently.

  116. Or, possibly, you have had no role model who matches the tzniyut of talmedei chachamim that some of us has the privilege of knowing.

  117. I have a real problem with a halacha being “on the books” but ignored for the sake of ignoring it. It really makes a mockery of the halachic system.

  118. “It’s a simple matter of making the ba’alei simcha happy.”

    This does not match reality at all. I have to been to quite a few weddings where the Bride/Groom complained that some Rabbi forced themselves into some bracha or honour.. for the sake of the community and all that.

  119. I was mistaken that the expression “keyl mistater” originates in a piyut and doesn’t appear in tanach. It does – yeshaya 45:16. Rashi on the posukאכן אתה אל מסתתר” – וכן יאמרו להקב”ה אכן הבנתנו כי לגבות חובותיהן של עמך אתה מסתתר מלהראות נצחונך כביכול אין בך יכולת ובהתעורר רחמיך אתה אלהי ישראל מושיע כך מפורש במכילתא.

    The larger question stands. Assuming that vehalachata bedrachav applies to all descriptions of God’s traits and not only to midat harachamim, what does it mean to emulate God as “keyl misater” – is hester panim a good thing??

    I don’t see how “keyl mistater” relates to hiding the challah knife and etc.

  120. This does not match reality at all

    Sure it does. I was at one wedding where they delayed the chuppah for an hour — with all of us standing/sitting there — waiting for the rabbi they (the parents) desperately wanted even though they had a room full of other rabbis. It’s all about making the ba’alei simcha happy that such a chashuveh rav was somehow involved in the wedding.

  121. Yes, Gil, there are cases where the ba’alei simcha really want a particular rabbi. Two buts:

    1. I have a very close and warm relationship with my synagogue rabbi and really wanted him to read the ketubah at my daughter’s wedding and, lehavdil, say the kel maleh at my parents’ funerals(he also happens to have a wonderful voice). But if he had told me: Joseph, I believe that tzni’ut and imitatio dei mean that we should eschew such public roles and I therefore have a policy not to accept such honors, I certainly would have understood. And so would you and all the other members of this list. If RHS made that his policy, his talmidim would understand. And if they wouldn’t, he isn’t such a great teacher. (And, having been a student in the very first shiur he had at YU — and was even instrumental in some way in getting him that shiur — I know that he is a very good teacher).

    2. More often than really wanting a certain rabbi is the following scenario: OMG, we have one rosh yeshiva and two synagogue rabbis and only two big honors (mesader kiddushin and ketubah); what to do? Or so many rabbis that ba’alei simcha have to figure out who wouldn’t be insulted if they were honored ONLY with eidei kiddushin.

    And in your example. If the late-arriving rabbi had the type of policy that RHS seems to say should be the norm, then 400 (+ or -) guests wouldn’t have had an hour of their time wasted. Keeping ba’alei simcha happy, service to the community, kavod hatorah are all pretextual, to try and make it seem that something that doesn’t exist really exists. But it simply doesn’t.

  122. “Sure it does. I was at one wedding where they delayed the chuppah for an hour — with all of us standing/sitting there — waiting for the rabbi they (the parents) desperately wanted even though they had a room full of other rabbis. It’s all about making the ba’alei simcha happy that such a chashuveh rav was somehow involved in the wedding.”

    And the more usual case is the family saying, “We have to have the rosh yeshiva with the biggest honor at the wedding, otherwise people will think we don’t respect the rosh yeshivah enough. It would be really nice to have Uncle Barry read the ketuba but that would be disrespectful to the rabbis, so we can’t do that.”

  123. Avi and Joseph: Apparently we live in very very different circles.

    Joseph: Actually, in my circles, we intentionally did not tell our rebbe about engagement parties so he wouldn’t feel obligated to attend. But we insisted that he be mesader kidushin.

  124. If a rabbi accepts or seeks out kivudim, it doesn’t mean that halacha is in favor of kivudim, since there are often practical reasons as well as a yetzer hara for doing so. If a rabbi repeatedly puts (honest) effort into avoiding kivudim, the only explanation can be that halacha looks down on it. I have seen both types of rabbi. Not only is the latter type certainly a halachic model while the former type is only questionably so, but in my experience the latter type also seem in general to better embody spiritual approaches I feel are correct. So I am receptive to arguments like that of R’ Shechter.

  125. And when we do not follow a business practice listed by the Mechaber, it doesn’t mean he was wrong; it often means that standard business assumptions have changed since his day, and we often assume that conditions not explicitly stated in an agreement are in accord with common practice.

    Someone needs to write a book listing all the assumptions/hazakot that are taken for granted by halacha but not written down.

    A huge task, I know.

  126. “But we insisted that he be mesader kidushin.”

    And if he said “thank you very much; I really appreciate the sentiment behind your “insistence,” but it’s my policy not to take on these type of public roles [and explained why]” you wouldn’t have understood? Your chevrah in Brooklyn wouldn’t understand? Indeed, your respect for him might have grown.

    While my views are based on personal experience and observation over many years, it’s more than that; it’s based on the fact that this is something that is actually in the hands of our rabbinic leaders (as opposed, say, to regulating the number of guests at a simcha and the like), so if they really believed it, they could do it. My conclusion: since they don’t believe, they don’t do.

  127. We would have understood but probably would have been resentful and embarrassed that we couldn’t get our rebbe to be mesader kidushin for us.

  128. As R. Yonasan Mayall used to say:

    The time must surely come,

    For the laws to fit the times,

    But while the law is standing,

    You gotta open up your minds.

    (I’d give you a link, but it’s the 3 Weeks.)

  129. Mike S and Joseph Kaplan-The challah , the challah knife, the Sefer Torah, and the Shofar are all inanimate objects hidden and not displayed immediately prior to their use, when they become transformed into the means of performing a Mitzvah. However you display the same during the week does not add to the discussion, as opposed to how they are utilized immediately before performing a mitzvah.(I can state that in one of the shuls that I daven in regularly, that anyone, even our rav , who has a Yahrtzeit on Shabbos, will get an aliyah, but has a choice of either being the Shaliach Tzibbur for Psukei DZimrah of Musaf, but not Shacharis. AFAIK, there is a strong Minhag that a rav should get the aliyah on Parshas Zachor and Shabbos Shuvah because of the importance of the day.) Even the way that we proclaim Malchus HaShem immediately after Shema Yisrael is subdued for 364 days a year except for YK, as a means of recognizing Gilui Shechinah.Our sense of Gilui Shecinah is magnified and reduced at various times of the year. Dismissing the same as not being evident of a sense of privacy is conclusory.

    I chose those objects as opposed to whatever you keep on display such as a kiddush cup, etc, where there is absolutely no Halacha or Minhag not to display the same, except of course in the common sense meaning of an unnecessarily gaudy or over the top manner.

    I agree with R Gil’s comment re RHS, and I dissagree with the idea that “an argument must either connect with people’s experience or come at the end of a long line of arguments and experience designed to give the pupil a better frame of reference.” That strikes me as yet another example of what happens the inmates run the asylum, and dictate what is relevant to them, as opposed to approaching the study of Torah and how Talmidei Chachamim act without preconceived biases and seeing how and why they act under any given set of facts. That’s why Shimush of a Talmid Chacham is considered even more important than the actual study with a Talmid Chacham.

  130. “We would have understood but probably would have been resentful and embarrassed that we couldn’t get our rebbe to be mesader kidushin for us.”

    if this is his policy and he’s not mesader kiddushin for anyone?

  131. Steve, My comment about the kiddush cup etc. was an aside. As I noted, I’m not really concerned with inanimate objects; I’m talking about real people. So it should be clear to you, let me spell it out (Gil disagrees but at least he understands). AIUI, RHS believes that staying away from public roles is the preferred way of acting. I don’t believe that position is a serious one because RHS himself and almost all the other religious leaders that I’ve seen in my life do not practice this trait. So it’s not that I want the inmates to run the asylum; I understand that doctors should run it. But when I see the doctors who do run it acting in a way that doesn’t follow the rules they espouse, I conclude that those rules aren’t really the rules.

  132. Joseph Kaplan-the fact that a Kiddush cup is an inanimate object is correct, but a Kiddush cup and many other Tashmishei Kiddusha and Tashmishei Mitzvah cease being merely an inanimate object when you utilize them for a Kiyum HaMitzvah. My point was that we don’t walk around publicly displaying our Tashmishei Kiddusha and Tashmishei Mitzvah until and unless they are being used for their designated purpose.

  133. if this is his policy and he’s not mesader kiddushin for anyone?

    Until it becomes every rosh yeshiva’s policy, you feel cheated.

  134. is it possible to get back to the issue of the post? and questions regarding the post? the rambam’s very restrictive ruling – with no talmudic precedent – of a married woman leaving her house and our total disregard of this ruling. what determines when societal change can and cannot effect halacha (or in this case its just post facto rationale since obviously everyone has excepted the change a long time ago).

  135. the real question: is there a consistent theory of change and when it applicable in halacha? or is it the change happens first and then there are attempts to legitimatize or reverse it?

  136. “the only explanation can be that halacha looks down on it.”

    R Akiva Eiger’s ob”m contract with the kehilla of Posen specified that he was entitled to the first sandakoas of EACH WEEK. (I presume he didn’t faint weekly.)

    Not everything rabbis do can be explained by halacha. What halacha is there to refuse every last kibbud? Surely the explanation is that some rabbis are shy, some are busy and overscheduled and hope to be invited fewer places, and some are indeed modest and wish to refuse all kibbudim on a “mussardik” basis.

  137. Two sages, who describe the situation in Muslim countries during the second half of the twelfth century, indicate the extent to which restrictions upon women going out and the insistence upon covering their faces was accepted in Jewish society, and that Maimonides’ words are not to be seen as purely theoretical. R. Shlomo Ibn Parhon (mid-twelfth century) writes:

    It is the custom in the Land of Israel and Babylonia and Spain that all of the women cover their faces with a cloth. And when they wrap it around their faces they leave a hole opposite one eye at the edge of the cloth, with which to see, for it is forbidden to look at women . . . And only in the land of Edom [i.e., Christian countries] do women go out with uncovered faces.

    Similar things were written by R. Petahya of Regensburg, who visited Babylonia in the 1170s:

    And no one sees any women there, and nobody visits his neighbor’s home, lest he should see his neighbor’s wife; [and if he were to come] they would immediately say to him: “Go away! Why have to come?”

    From: Pious and Rebellious by Avraham Grossman (Brandeis, 2004) p. 106

    —–

    Incidentally, the quotation Gil presents from R. Moshe Sternbuch in the body of the post is effectively an argument of explaining away the halacha via historical context: “it is known that in olden times”.

  138. “The challah , the challah knife, the Sefer Torah, and the Shofar are all inanimate objects hidden and not displayed immediately prior to their use, when they become transformed into the means of performing a Mitzvah.”

    There are reasons that the challah, knife, and shofar are covered that are brought in halacha, and they are not modesty or need to be “mistater.” And the challah and shofar are mechuyav in vehalachta bedrachav? (The challah knife isn’t..Lo nitna torah lema’acheles hashoreis!)
    I don’t think the sefer torah is covered as a type of hester torah. If there is honor in covering the sefer torah, it is in covering it, not in hiding it or not taking it out in public to use it in the performance of a mitzva. But realistically, a sefer torah is valuable and mustn’t fall, so it needs to be put away someplace safe. It’s disrespectful to leave a sefer torah out when not learning from it. We also want to protect it from unnecessary exposure to dust, light and air. We cover the sefer torah protectively with something that functions like a dust jacket and we try to make the covering beautiful as part of noy mitzva and then we put it in a special place. And then we take it out and perform mitzot publically with it.

    “My point was that we don’t walk around publicly displaying our Tashmishei Kiddusha and Tashmishei Mitzvah until and unless they are being used for their designated purpose.”

    have you never noticed that the objects we are careful to not display, and hide from light, are easily degraded by the elements?

    “Even the way that we proclaim Malchus HaShem immediately after Shema Yisrael is subdued for 364 days a year except for YK, as a means of recognizing Gilui Shechinah.Our sense of Gilui Shecinah is magnified and reduced at various times of the year. Dismissing the same as not being evident of a sense of privacy is conclusory.”

    We should aspire to be sinners or we should aspire to be free of sin and able to say baruch shem out loud without having the malachim object? Which is the ideal?

  139. As we can see from this excerpt from Pious and Rebellious, the burqa is part of the same societal context as the passage from Rambam that we are discussing. It seems, however, that since the burqa is not codified in Rabbinic text, it can be condemned as wrong; but, this other aspect of the societal context cannot be condemned as wrong, as it is codified in Rabbinic text. Awkward.

  140. “My point was that we don’t walk around publicly displaying our Tashmishei Kiddusha and Tashmishei Mitzvah until and unless they are being used for their designated purpose.”

    Fine. So what?

  141. Lawrence Kaplan

    Joseph: You don’t really think that you will succeed in getting Gil or Steve to say anything even the slightest bit critical of RHS, do you?

  142. steve b. -“My point was that we don’t walk around publicly displaying our Tashmishei Kiddusha and Tashmishei Mitzvah until and unless they are being used for their designated purpose.”

    where is your source for this klal? or do these examples have a specific reason unassociated with the klal you provided.
    not that i want to get off topic but seems no one cares about the post and its implications.

  143. Dr. Kaplan: This isn’t about saying something critical about RHS. And, frankly, I’ve said plenty of critical things about him. But as I get older, I realize more and more that he was right and I was wrong. Still not about everything but maybe someday.

  144. Lawrence Kaplan

    Rabbi Student: I wasn’t being entirely serious, and I apologize if I exaggerated somewhat. But from your concluding remark it seems only somewhat.

  145. Ruvie asked in response:

    “steve b. -“My point was that we don’t walk around publicly displaying our Tashmishei Kiddusha and Tashmishei Mitzvah until and unless they are being used for their designated purpose.”

    where is your source for this klal?

    Except for carrying Arbah Minim and/or similarly needed items to Davening, do you walk around all week displaying Tashmishei Kedusha and Tashmishei Mitzvah in public at times when they are not in use?

  146. ND wrote in part:

    “There are reasons that the challah, knife, and shofar are covered that are brought in halacha, and they are not modesty or need to be “mistater.” And the challah and shofar are mechuyav in vehalachta bedrachav? (The challah knife isn’t..Lo nitna torah lema’acheles hashoreis!)
    I don’t think the sefer torah is covered as a type of hester torah

    We should aspire to be sinners or we should aspire to be free of sin and able to say baruch shem out loud without having the malachim object? Which is the ideal”

    R T P Frank ZL in Har Tzvi al HaTorah quotes the ShuT Anvei Nezer who argues that the challah knife, challah and shofar are all hidden for the same reason-busha. I think that the fact that the Sefer Torah is kept hidden and covered for as long as possible until it is read and then when Krias HaTorah is completed, immediately covered, is not just for the obviously utilitarian purpose that you cited, but rather as a sense of reminding that the Sefer Torah should be covered and hidden, untill and unless it is being read as a form of Talmud Torah.

    Like it or not, Gilui Shechinah is appparent on certain days of the year-regardless of whether a person is a Tzadik, Beinoni or Rasha, and the rest of the year, we cannot do see Gilui Shechinah on such an open level.

  147. ND asked:

    “We should aspire to be sinners or we should aspire to be free of sin and able to say baruch shem out loud without having the malachim object? Which is the ideal”

    Man is a mortal being,as opposed to an angel, and was given a blueprint in the form of Torah and Mitzvos how to live his or her life. All of us commit transgressions in our lives. We should all strive to do teshuvah on the levels of Mitzvos Bein Adam LaMakom and Mitzvos Bein Asam LChaveiro. I have also heard that in the name of the Gra that there are Mitzvos Bein Atzmo, we should also try to do teshuvah in that realm as well.

  148. R. Adam Fertziger has a fascinating article entitled ‘Feminism and Heresy: Construction of a Jewish Metanarrative’. It describes how R Schachter has constructed for polemical purposes a meta narrative linking the Sadducees to contemporary orthodox Jewish feminism. The point is that the rise of feminism has engendered original theological responses even among those who claim to be the ‘guardians’ of tradition. It is available
    On the net

  149. Steve b- answer the question with not another question but a real source.
    My Chanukiah and Shabbat candelabra are always on display in my home as well as my besamin and hagadolah candle. Also, my washing cup…. The Sefer Torah is a bad example – I believe it follows the luchot in the miskan. It’s also kavod.

  150. Noam S. – thanks for the reference. Big fan of his work..link below – 53 pages and downloadable.

    http://www.bjpa.org/Publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=4807

  151. “R T P Frank ZL in Har Tzvi al HaTorah quotes the ShuT Anvei Nezer who argues that the challah knife, challah and shofar are all hidden for the same reason-busha.”

    reference please

  152. “Except for carrying Arbah Minim and/or similarly needed items to Davening, do you walk around all week displaying Tashmishei Kedusha and Tashmishei Mitzvah in public at times when they are not in use?”

    You mean like wearing tzizit all the time? 🙂

  153. “Except for carrying Arbah Minim and/or similarly needed items to Davening, do you walk around all week displaying Tashmishei Kedusha and Tashmishei Mitzvah in public at times when they are not in use?”

    Do you hide your 4 minim? I don’t. I put them down on a convenient flat surface, otherwise known as a table. Usually the dining room table, as it’s not in use when we eat in the sukkah. The etrog is wrapped and placed in a cardboard box (the silver etrog box that I inherited sits in a glass-fronted cabinet on display next to other “tashmishei kedusha,” as I’ve never owned an etrog that fit into it). Do you know why the etrog goes into a box? So the etrog not roll around and get damaged. On chol hamoed, I usually cover the hadassim and aravot with wet paper towels. This too is not done to hide them, only to preserve them. Is it possible to cut out the nonsense????

  154. I thought Steve Brizel was just making a bris milah joke, like R. Aharon Rakeffet often quotes in the name of R. Yerucham Gorelick.

  155. Ruvie wrote:

    “answer the question with not another question but a real source.
    My Chanukiah and Shabbat candelabra are always on display in my home as well as my besamin and hagadolah candle. Also, my washing cup…. The Sefer Torah is a bad example – I believe it follows the luchot in the miskan. It’s also kavod”

    Sorry-I think that how Tashmishei Kedusha and Tashmishei Mitzvah are treated when they are not in use is quite relevant, and based on real sources. We all display a Chanukiah and Shabbos candlesticks in our homes which are by definition a Reshus HaYachid.Unlike Arbajh Minim, I know of no Minhag to display the same in a puiblic manner. A Sefer Torah is kept covered in its own Reshus until it is carried in a completely covered and hidden fashion unless and until it is being utilized for its function as a means of Talmud Torah LRabim. Hakafos on Simchas Torah are avery late Minhag which celebrate and emphasize our completion and immediate beginning of a new cyle of Krias HaTorah.

  156. If you keep a sefer torah in your house, you also cover it and put it away when not in use. this is not connected to whether one is in a reshus hayachid or reshus harabim. it’s disrespectful to engage in mundane or non-learning activities in the presence of a sefer torah, “neglecting” it.

    But now the argument is that one needs to hide tashmishei kedusha in a reshus harbim and not in a reshus hayachid? The challah knife – it’s covered in a reshus harabim?

    And all of this is based on vehalachta bedrachav and emulating hester panim?

    Do you have the reference to the avnei nezer you cited.

  157. ND-seee Mikraei Kodesh:Yamim Noraim: 10 where R TPFrank Zl quotes ShuT Avnei Nezer 431 to the effect that the Shofar is hidden for the same reason as the Challah knife.

  158. ND wrote:

    “If you keep a sefer torah in your house, you also cover it and put it away when not in use. this is not connected to whether one is in a reshus hayachid or reshus harabim. it’s disrespectful to engage in mundane or non-learning activities in the presence of a sefer torah, “neglecting” it”

    I think that displaying a Sefer Torah publicly when it is not being used for its designated function has a lack of kavod because you have desecrated its Kedusha from its designated role-to be kept in the Aron until and unless for its designated purpose. Without the need for public Limud HaTorah which was deemed a necessity following the emotional let down after Krias Yam Suf, we would never take a Sefer Torah lout of the Aron Kodesh at any time during the week.

  159. I am surprised that R Ferziger did not consider the well known comments of the founders of feminisn with respect to marital life. Betty Friedan, wrote in The Feminine Mystique:

    “The women […] who grow up wanting to be ‘just a housewife’, are in as much danger as the millions who walked to their own deaths in the concentration camps…”

    Why would not an ideology rooted in a POV be viewed as being in direct conflict with Torah observance and values-especially on issues with respect to the traditional roles of men and women in Halacha?

  160. RSB: thank you for the mareh makom. Here is the avnei nezer
    http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=1344&st=&pgnum=486

    as you see, the avnei nezer’s explanation of why the shofar and the challah (not the challah knife) is covered is due to the immediate bracha being made over a particular object or action rather than over another object/action that might be expected to have precedence. The “busha” the avnei nezer is discussing has NOTHING to do with tzniut, hester panim, or any related concept, but rather to precedence in mitzvot. The person who passes over the expected order of precedence covers the object/or object with which the action is done so as not to give the impression he is maavir al hamitzvot. And the object or action that is being passed over even though the bracha over it “ought” to be made first is being “embarrassed” so it is covered.

    Does this have anything to do with covering tashmishei kedusha as a matter of course. No. To the contrary, the implication is if not for the element of maavir al hamitzvot, the shofar and challah would not be covered (IMO it’s odd to call challah a tashmish kedusha)

    Does this have anything to do with giluy shechina and the sefer torah in the aron and what all else? I’m afraid it does not. Nor does it have to do with covering the challah knife, as that is yet another issue.

    “I think that displaying a Sefer Torah publicly when it is not being used for its designated function has a lack of kavod because you have desecrated its Kedusha from its designated role-to be kept in the Aron until and unless for its designated purpose.Without the need for public Limud HaTorah which was deemed a necessity following the emotional let down after Krias Yam Suf, we would never take a Sefer Torah lout of the Aron Kodesh at any time during the week.”

    Really. Why is there a mitzva to write a sefer torah – just in order to construct an aron for it and leave it inside the aron? About the king’s additional sefer torah, it says explicitly
    והיתה עמו וקרא בו כל ימי חייו למען ילמד ליראה את ה’ אלקיו וכו
    the rambam says
    לא יזוז מלפניו, אלא בעת שייכנס לבית הכיסא, או למרחץ, או למקום שאין ראוי לקריאה this is based on the gemara in sanhedrin
    יוצא למלחמה והוא עימו, נכנס והוא עימו, יושב בדין והוא עימו, מסב והוא כנגדו–שנאמר “והייתה עימו, וקרא בו כל ימי חייו”
    this is borrowed from the language of the mishna in sanhedrin

    so what is your idea, that if moshe hadn’t been metaken public kriat hatorah, the sefer torah would be hidden away (as a sign of hester panim???)
    the sefer torah is meant to be learned from. This is implicit in the words of the mitzva to write a sefer torah ועתה כתבו לכם את השירה הזאת ולמדה את בני ישראל שימה בפיהםוכו – it’s written down in order to be taught and learned. This is from the sefer hachinuch on the mitzva to write a sefer torah
    “ועתה כתבו לכם את השירה הזאת ולמדה את בני ישראל”. כלומר, כתבו לכם תורה שיש בה שירה זאת.

    משרשי המצוה, לפי שידוע בבני אדם שהם עושין כל דבריהם לפי ההכנה הנמצאת להם, ועל כן ציונו ברוך הוא להיות לכל אחד ואחד מבני ישראל ספר תורה מוכן אצלו שיוכל לקרות בו תמיד ולא יצטרך ללכת אחריו לבית חבריו, למען ילמד ליראה את השם, וידע וישכיל במצוותיו החמודות והיקרות מזהב ומפז רב. ונצטווינו להשתדל בזה כל אחד ואחד מבני ישראל, ואף על פי שהניחו לו אבותיו, למען ירבו הספרים בינינו ונוכל להשאיל מהם לאשר לא תשיג ידו לקנות, וגם למען בספרים חדשים כל אחד ואחד מישראל, פן תקוץ נפשם בקראם בספרים הישנים, שניחו להם אבותיהם.
    etc
    וענשו גדול כי היא סיבה ללמוד מצוות התורה כמו שאמרנו.
    וכל המקיים אותה יהיה ברוך ויחכם הוא ובניו, וכמו שכתוב “כתבו לכם את השירה הזאת ולמדה את בני ישראל”.
    The purpose of writing a personal sefer torah is not to hide it away in an aron kodesh but rather to learn from it. Notice the mention of lending the sefer torah to others. We don’t put away a sefer torah to actualize an ideal that the sefer torah be hidden.

  161. Steve- as has been noted many times before, there are many different expressions of feminism- some are in consonance with Halacha. You try to tar them all with the same brush, in the same way that you bring up the ‘Rav’s rejection of the feminist critique’. All feminism is not the same. If you want to argue apples to apples, you need to address orthodox Jewish feminists who are committed to Halacha not feminism in general. The fact that you can find feminists not committed to Halacha does not invalidate the approach.

  162. And, btw, your quote has no bearing on R. Fertziger’s point- R. Schachter’s linking feminism to heresy is essentially made up

  163. Dr Stadler- I read that RYSE ZL as he recited Eshes Chayil to his Rebbitzen ZL, would nod and or point in her diection during the first voice. There is a world of difference between such a Minhag and acknowledging what our mothers , wives and daughters do as spiritual personalities, as opposed to viewing their lives as incomplete if they don’t imitate what men do in Tefilah. Baruch HaShem, one need only look at Chumash to see what Jewish women have contributed to Klal Yisrael, with no evidence whatsoever in Pshat or Drash that they wished to act like men.

    Are you denying or merely ignoring away the comment made by Betty Friedan, one of the architechts of feminism that I quoted in an attempt to claim that there are “are many different expressions of feminism- some are in consonance with Halacha” ?

    BTW, we are still waiting for you to let us know how and where the Harvard criteria of brain death can be squared with the views of the Talmud and Rishonim , as opposed to merely claiming that those who work from brain death are just working from a new set of rules developed in the 20th Century.Until then,I think that your comment re RHS and feminism deserve no response whatsoever.

    ND-Look at the relevant Psukim before and following Krias Yam Suf Was there ever any intent on a public weekday Krias HaTorah before hand? If you think that Bushah has no relationship wiith Tznius, IMO, you should reread the sources prior to continuing the discussion.As far as the contemporary nature of the mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah, intellectual honesty would seem to demand that one note how the Minchas Chinuch understands what may or not be a Machlokes Rishonim between Rambam and Rosh as to how the Mitzah is fullfilled today, and whether I fullfil the same by buying Seforim , as opposed to having a public dedication and Hachnasas Sefer Torah.

  164. “ND-Look at the relevant Psukim before and following Krias Yam Suf Was there ever any intent on a public weekday Krias HaTorah before hand?”

    Krias yam suf happened before maamad har sinai, so there couldn’t have been kriat hatorah beforehand. (The midrash says that on shabbat, the Jews in Egypt read megillot predicting their yeshua that were handed down to them.) We do not read about public kriat hatorah in chumash. We are taught that Moshe instituted kriat hatorah by chazal based on a drasha.

    “If you think that Bushah has no relationship wiith Tznius, IMO, you should reread the sources prior to continuing the discussion.”

    I didn’t discuss the relationship between busha and tzniut. I wrote that covering the challah and shofar and challah knife have nothing to do with tzniut. You referred to the avnei nezer, but the busha *the avnei nezer is discussing* is not related to tzniut. The avnei nezer is not telling us that the challah or shofar are embarrassed or covered due to tzniut. He says the opposite, that we cover them so as not to shame them by not giving them a kovod that they are due! The avnei nezer writes that we cover the challah and shofar because we embarrass them by not granting them particular honors that they ought to receive, but that the constraints of the situation don’t allow us to give. By your argument, the challah and shofar should not need to be covered, as they should not be “embarrassed” at not receiving public honor, as you equate mention of the word busha with willingness to forgo honor. Clearly, you do not mean to say that we wrong and embarrass women by not giving them public kibbudim.

    “As far as the contemporary nature of the mitzvah of writing a Sefer Torah, intellectual honesty would seem to demand that one note how the Minchas Chinuch understands what may or not be a Machlokes Rishonim between Rambam and Rosh as to how the Mitzah is fullfilled today, and whether I fullfil the same by buying Seforim , as opposed to having a public dedication and Hachnasas Sefer Torah.”

    The question of how the mitzva of writing a sefer torah is fulfilled was not under discussion until you raised it. One doesn’t fulfill the mitzva of writing a sefer torah by having a public dedication and hachnasas sefer torah, nor are dedication ceremonies necessary to fulfill the mitzva of writing a sefer torah. Maybe you are referring to the opportunity that sometimes precedes hachnassat sefer torah for members of a community to write one of the final letters in the torah? I have no idea what you are talking about any longer. I made the simple point that you can see that there is no imperative to hide a sefer torah from the king’s obligation to write a second sefer torah that he carries with him and from the purpose of the mitzva on each individual to write a sefer torah.

  165. “I read that RYSE ZL as he recited Eshes Chayil to his Rebbitzen ZL, would nod and or point in her diection during the first voice”

    where did you read this?

  166. Steve- you are making an error in logic. Betty Friedan is a feminist and said something. That does not mean that all feminists agree with her. It is a straw man(person) argument. I dont agree with all things every feminists has said, and that is not the issue. You want to argue about Betty Friedan, and I am telling you that her statement doesn’t represent the views of Orthodox Jewish feminists. They dont have to agree with everything that every previous feminist has claimed. I would also note that you still haven’t addressed R. Fertziger’s point.

    Regarding brain death- I showed how the Harvard criteria are consonant with Halachic definitions of death in the critique that Rav Gil was kind enough to publish. A longer treatment will be available soon published by the International Rabbinical Fellowship as part of their publication on the topic. If my writing isn’t adequate for you, please see Rav Avraham Steinberg’s recently published book in Hebrew and in English that shows how the Criteria of the Chief Rabbinate are consonant with the sources that you note. Finally, you can review R. Daniel Reifman’s excellent discussion on the RCA blog in four parts.. He reviews Rav Moshe Feinstein’s positions and shows how R. Moshe would support Harvard criteria. Just so that it is clear, R. Steinberg and R. Reifman conclude that death is defined by the cessation of respiration in the context of brain damage. However, the tests to make that determination are the Harvard criteria or modifications of it, and therefore they fulfill your request for proof.

    I am not sure however, why I need to prove a point in order to be able to quote from R. Fertziger’s paper. I am simply stating his conclusion. If you want to argue, read the paper and argue with Rav Fertziger’s data and/or logic.

  167. Dr Stadlan-merely repeating the findings of advocates of Brain death as being proof that the Harvard criteria are consistent with the criteria of death known to Chazal and Rishonim avoids my point.
    As far as feminists are concerned, I merely refer you to R A Frimer’s most recent articles as to whether feminism or halacha is the the most important criteria for Orthodox feminists. Contrary to your assumption, I read R Ferziger’s article, but was not convinced by his logic or conclusions reached therein.

  168. ND wrote:

    “Krias yam suf happened before maamad har sinai, so there couldn’t have been kriat hatorah beforehand. (The midrash says that on shabbat, the Jews in Egypt read megillot predicting their yeshua that were handed down to them.) We do not read about public kriat hatorah in chumash. We are taught that Moshe instituted kriat hatorah by chazal based on a drasha”

    All true but why then and there? RYBS pointed out that Klal Yisrael could not maintain the emotional high of Yetzias Mitzrayim and Krias Yam Suf on a day to day basis and thus there was a need for Talmud Torah BRabim at least twice a week.

  169. ND-R Y Hoffman in an article in the Five Towns Jewish Times mentions explicitly that RYSE used to gesture or point to his Rebbitzen ZL during Eshes Chayil.

    Obviously, we disagree on the relationship between Tznius and Busha, and what is the limited purpose of a Sefer Torah and the very related issue of how one fulfills the Mitzvah of Ksivas Sefer Torah-purchasing seforim or having a Sefer Torah written and dedicated in a public fashion, as is commonly done in many communities.

  170. Dr Stadlan -name one early feminist of Betty Friedan’s stature who disagreed with the comment that I posted.

  171. Steve b. – Anna O. Aka Bertha Pappenheim

  172. Ruvie -take a look at the Bertha Pappenheim entry at Wikipedia and this excerpt:

    “On the one hand the goals of the JFB were feminist—strengthening women’s rights and advancing the gainful employment of Jewish women—and on the other hand they were in accordance with the traditional goals of Jewish philanthropy—practical charity as a divine precept. Integrating these different objectives was not always easy for Pappenheim. A particular objection was that in her battle against traffic in women she not only spoke openly about Jewish women as victims, but also about Jewish men as perpetrators. She criticized how women were perceived in Judaism, and as a member of the German feminist movement she demanded that the ideal of equal rights for women be realized also within Jewish institutions. She was particularly concerned about education and job equality.

    A statement she made at the first JFB delegate assembly in 1907: “Under Jewish law a woman is not an individual, not a personality; she is only judged and recognized as a sexual being”[4] prompted a violent nationwide reaction on the part of Orthodox rabbis and the Jewish press. The existence of the conditions Pappenheim criticized—traffic in women, neglect of illegitimate Jewish orphans— was denied, and she was accused of “insulting Judaism”. Also politically liberal and emancipated Jews had a patriarchal and traditionalistic attitude about women’s rights”

    I see precious little difference between the above cited views and those of Betty Friedan.

  173. “All true but why then and there? RYBS pointed out that Klal Yisrael could not maintain the emotional high of Yetzias Mitzrayim and Krias Yam Suf on a day to day basis and thus there was a need for Talmud Torah BRabim at least twice a week.”

    What does this have to do with tzniut and public honor again?

    “ND-R Y Hoffman in an article in the Five Towns Jewish Times mentions explicitly that RYSE used to gesture or point to his Rebbitzen ZL during Eshes Chayil.”

    thanks, i was able to find mention of this by R hoffman here (possibly this appeared in ftjt also)
    http://baltimorejewishlife.com/news/print.php?ARTICLE_ID=27253

    “Obviously, we disagree on the relationship between Tznius and Busha, and what is the limited purpose of a Sefer Torah and the very related issue of how one fulfills the Mitzvah of Ksivas Sefer Torah-purchasing seforim or having a Sefer Torah written and dedicated in a public fashion, as is commonly done in many communities.”

    RSB – Please try to focus on what I actually wrote, as right now you are more or less free associating. Again, I didn’t write anything about the relationship between busha and tzniut. I merely pointed out that the avnei nezer is not discussing anything related to tzniutu and is the word busha to indicate embarrassment at NOT receiving honor.

    Regarding the purpose of writing a sefer torah, you are getting carried away. I know you are a fine and frum Jew. You can’t possibly mean to take issue with a posuk in the torah, and it says *in posuk* that the king is supposed to have the sefer torah with him and read from it all the days of his life. According to Chazal, the only time he doesn’t have to have the sefer torah with him is when he goes to the bathroom or other places where one may not read a sefer torah – otherwise he must have it with him at all times. It is not up to you (or me or anyone else) to agree or disagree with any of this! The purpose of this sefer torah is written explicitly in the torah – so that the king will use it and read from it, and it is not hidden.
    Regarding the personal sefer torah, the mitzva is based on a posuk that also indicates the purpose of the sefer torah. ועתה כתבו לכם את השירה הזאת ולמדה את בני ישראל שימה בפיהם This is a little less explicit, but also indicates that the purpose of writing the shira (in tsb”p this is interpreted as writing the sefer torah) is to learn the torah. I also brought the words of the sefer hachinuch who explains that this is indeed the purpose of the mitzva to write a sefer torah, and in explaining this, he uses the same words that the torah uses to describe the purpose of the king’s sefer torah. Are you challenging the sefer hachinuch’s explanation of the purpose of the mitzva of writing a sefer torah, an explanation that I point out again is fully in line with what the torah says both in the posuk that contains the mitzva of each individual writing the sefer torah and the psukim describing the command for a king to write an additional sefer torah? I am confident that you are not, especially since you refer to buying seforim as one way to fulfill the mitzva of writing a sefer torah. On that topic – I did not write about how one goes about fulfilling the mitzva of writing a sefer torah as it was not relevant (again, I’ve already pointed this out). But as you think it is relevant – why does the Rosh say that one can purchase seforim a way of fufilling the mitzva of writing a sefer torah? Because the purpose of writing a sefer torah is to learn from it and this is also achieved by purchasing printed sefarim if one learns from those. The Rosh agrees that the purpose of the mitzva to write a sefer torah is in order to learn from it, and not in order to hide it as you apparently would have it. As you mention that one can fulfill the mitzva of writing a sefer torah by buying printed seforim, as per the Rosh, you have implicitly agreed that the purpose of writing a sefer torah is as I wrote.

    The public dedication of a sefer torah is a nice thing that we do to give kovod to the torah (notice that public = kovod) and to show our joy. It’s not part of the mitzva of writing a sefer torah. However, taking part in writing the sefer torah, even writing one letter in it, does fulfill the mitzva. I didn’t dispute this; once again, the matter is not really up for dispute as this is an issue of straightforward halacha. It also is not related to the issue of tzniut.

  174. Steve- do you think that Hertzl’s acceptance of Uganda as a Jewish homeland is a problem for today’s religious zionists? Do you see how illogical your position is?

    Regarding brain death- you asked for proof- I gave you proof written by people much greater than me. And, if you look at the Bavli, Yerushalmi and the Rishonim, especially Rambam and Shulchan Aruch, you will find that all, with the exception of Rashi, as a matter of pshat, define life as the presence of respiration. In modern times, cessation Of respiration has been interpreted as destruction of the brain including the parts controlling respiration. So the Harvard criteria actually fit very well with the Pshat in the Gemara and Rishonim. And this is not just my opinion, but that of Rav Steinberg, Rav Tendler, the chief rabbinate, Rav Yisraeli, Rav Yosef Carmel, and the hundreds of Rabbis in Israel who signed a letter of support for Rav Steinberg’s program. It is all in his book.

  175. Steve b. – actually I think most of what Pappenheim said is unobjectionable and from her perspective it seems correct. She was also back by many of the rabbis at the time and her work should be lauded even by people like you.
    Otoh, do you disavow all the Torah of roy when he makes certain terrible public statements like on Katrina?
    Or how about RHS on assisinating the prime minister? Self selected statements by you would disavow almost every human being that has lived.

  176. LongTimeReader

    Not sure if there’s anyone still here, but I just came across this thread.

    As for the curses, I have always enjoyed the irony of one segment of our community fighting “b’zayas apecha tochal lechem” tooth and nail but zealously protecting “v’hu yiimshol bach” and the other segment doing the exact opposite.

    I think that all curses are to be viewed as curses – a negative challenge to be fought and overcome to the best of your abilities. That’s why (as Emma pointed out) we are happy to use epidurals during labor. The independently wealthy or those who can find someone to pay their bills are welcome to sit and learn, and the nature of the relationship between men and women is ever-evolving. I think that it is appropriate that most contemporary marriages don’t closely resemble marriages of a generation before. This is not just the influence of Western feminism but a hashkafically desirable goal (note- this doesn’t logically imply egalitarianism as a goal).

    I view the curse of Cham the same way and a way for Jews to embrace the contemporary attitudes towards slavery and racism.

  177. ND wrote:

    “SB – Please try to focus on what I actually wrote, as right now you are more or less free associating. Again, I didn’t write anything about the relationship between busha and tzniut. I merely pointed out that the avnei nezer is not discussing anything related to tzniutu and is the word busha to indicate embarrassment at NOT receiving honor”

    If you understand that a crucial part of Limud HaTorah, especially TSBP, is being Mdameh Milsa LMilsa, you would see the intrinsic relationship between Busha and Tznius.

  178. Ruvie-read the Wikipedia entry and then ask yourself whether the same can be read as supporting the normative view of the Jewish family. As far as RHS’s comments re the then PM, subsequent events proved that the then PM was hardly a man of high ethical probity or a PM who had any idea what he was doing when he sent a half prepared IDF back into Lebanon. When I read ROY’s comments, I initially felt the same feeling of disgust-yet, compare how New Orleans reacted to Katrina-waiting for a federal bail out, whem in NYC , after 9-11, Mayor Giulani marshalled the private, local , state and federal sectors to put NYC back to work.

  179. Dr Stadlan-Hertzl’s infatuation with Uganda was rejected by the overwhelming objections to the same within the Jewish People. I see no relevance of that fact to this issue. Please don’t cut and paste who supports brain death. That is of no relevance as to whether the Harvard criteria have any basis in Chazal and Rishonim, as opposed to deciding that what had been the criteria for determining death have to comport with the Harvard criteria.

  180. “If you understand that a crucial part of Limud HaTorah, especially TSBP, is being Mdameh Milsa LMilsa, you would see the intrinsic relationship between Busha and Tznius.”

    my friend, you have to be medameh milsa lemilsa, not to the opposite of milsa without noticing!

  181. Steve. I am sorry but I have answered your question and I do not understand why you have not accepted what I wrote. . Feel free to email me.

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