Monday, June 11, 2012

Taliban Women and More

Taliban Women and More

Marc B. Shapiro

1. In this post I am going to respond to a number of emails and requests to deal with certain topics. I can’t get to everything I was asked about, and will only touch on some topics, but here is a start.

Let’s begin with the common practice in the Israeli haredi world of ignoring what the Sages tell us in Kiddushin 29a and not teaching young men a trade so that instead they can devote themselves to Torah study.[1] People assume that this is a late twentieth-century phenomenon. While it is true that the numbers of people who currently follow this approach is much larger than ever before in history, it must be noted that even in previous years there were those who acted in the same fashion. We see this from R. Pinhas Horowitz’ strong words against this approach in his Sefer ha-Berit, vol. 2, ma’amar 12, ch. 10.

R. Meir Mazuz has recently suggested that this negative attitude towards work explains a passage in one of the most popular Shabbat zemirot.[2] The following lines appear in Mah Yedidot.

חפציך בו אסורים וגם לחשוב חשבונות, הרהורים מותרים ולשדך הבנות, ותינוק ללמדו ספר למנצח בנגינות

Artscroll, Family Zemiros, translates as follows:
Your mundane affairs are forbidden on it [Shabbat] and also to calculate accounts; Reflections are permitted and to arrange matches for maidens; To arrange for a child to be taught Scripture, to sing a song of praise.
(R. Jonathan Sacks, in his siddur, p. 388, translates the last words similarly: “singing songs of praise.”)

The first thing to note is that the translation is incorrect. The words למנצח בנגינות do not mean “to sing a song of praise”. The word למנצח is not an infinitive (that would be לנצח, patah under the nun). It is a noun with a prefix, and means “to the choirmaster” or something like that. Artscroll, in its Tanach (Ps. 6:1), translates למנצח בנגינות: “For the conductor, with the neginos.” The note tells us that neginos are a type of musical instrument.

I sympathize with Artscroll when confronted with the need to translate the words למנצח בנגינות in the song. It is obvious that the words make no sense. Until then the passage was speaking about what was permitted on the Sabbath and then you have למנצח בנגינות .

This is an old problem and while a couple of forced answers have been suggested, others have argued that what we have here a mistaken reading, and instead of למנצח בנגינות it should read וללמדו אומנות (perhaps even reading אומנות with a final holam in order to make it rhyme). The entire paragraph in Mah Yedidot is derived from Shabbat 150a, and there it states: משדכין על התינוקות ליארס בשבת ועל התינוק ללמדו ספר וללמדו אומנות. After seeing this, can anyone still have a doubt that the standard version is incorrect?

R. Mazuz is apparently unaware that others before him had already suggested that וללמדו אומנות was the original version,[3] but he is the only one to suggest why the text was changed. Although it strikes me as a bit far-fetched, he assumes that when people stopped teaching their sons a trade this verse became problematic, and therefore someone took it upon himself to alter the text.

After criticizing Artscroll’s translation (and in future posts I will have more such examples), let me now mention an instance where of all the translations I have consulted, only Artscroll gets it right.

Every Friday night we say the following (which is based on Isaiah 52:1):

התנערי מעפר קומי לבשי בגדי תפארתך עמי

Sacks translates: “Shake yourself off, arise from the dust! Put on your clothes of glory, My people.” All the translations I have consulted render along these lines. The problem, however, is obvious. If “My people” is being addressed, then why are the verbs and the suffix of תפארתך  feminine?

Artscroll recognized the problem and translates: “Shake off the dust – arise! Don your splendid clothes, My people.” The translation is explained in the note: “Jerusalem – your most splendid garment is Israel. Let the redemption come so that they may inhabit you in holiness once more.” In other words, Jerusalem is being addressed, not the people of Israel. “My people” is therefore identified metaphorically with “your splendid clothes.” The stanza thus needs to be read as a continuation of the prior stanza – מקדש מלך עיר מלוכה – which is also addressed to Jerusalem.

Furthermore, if you look at Isaiah 52:1, upon which the text is based, it reads: לבשי בגדי תפארתך ירושלים עיר הקודש  “Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city.” So we see that also in the original verse it is Jerusalem that is being addressed. Artscroll cites this interpretation in the name of Iyun Tefillah (found in Otzar ha-Tefilot) and refers to it as “novel”. This understanding (which is actually the peshat of the words) was also suggested by R. Kook[4] R. Baruch Epstein,[5] and R. David Hadad.[6] 
2. A long time ago I was asked to deal with the so-called Jewish Taliban women, who completely cover their faces when they go out. I know that everyone has downplayed their significance and referred to them as crazy. I think that this is too optimistic an assumption. Although I am not predicting it, I would not be surprised if this turned into a real phenomenon. All these women need is one somewhat respected Torah scholar to support them and they will then become just another faction in extremist Orthodoxy. You will then have groups that don't allow women to drive (or smoke, or use a cellular phone, etc.), and another group that also requires that they cover their faces when they leave home. The real difference today is that while with the other groups we have men telling women how to behave for reasons of tzeniut, the Taliban group is completely female driven and led.

The truth of the matter is that the Taliban women make a certain amount of sense. They are part of a community that forbids women’s (and even little girl’s) pictures to appear in printed matter because seeing this might arouse sexual thoughts in men.[7] Even though these women never studied Talmud, we know that one doesn’t need to be talmid hakham to derive a basic kal va-homer. Even these uneducated women can conclude that if men’s souls can be destroyed by seeing a picture of a woman or a little girl, how much more so can they be driven to sexual frenzy by seeing a live woman or girl? As such, it makes perfect sense that when they go out on the street they are completely covered and only their husband and children are permitted see their faces.[8] It is their opponents in the haredi word who have to explain why it is permitted to see the faces of real live women but forbidden to see their pictures. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, as the Taliban women have rightly concluded.
I am sure that any rabbinic authorities that come to support the Taliban women will be able to find relevant sources to defend this lifestyle. I know this will surprise readers, especially as many rabbis have declared that the Taliban women are completely distorting Jewish rules of modesty. These rabbis have claimed that unlike Arabs, Jewish women have never dressed this way (unless they were forced to) as the face is not ervah. Therefore, these rabbis have asserted, Jewish tzeniut has never, has ve-shalom, seen it as a value for women to completely cover their faces.

Lines like this are good for applause in a Modern Orthodox (and even a haredi) shul, among people anxious to be reassured that these Taliban women couldn’t possibly have any sources in our tradition for their actions. The truth of the matter is that, whether we like it or not, there are sources that are strong supports for the Taliban women, and there is no reason to deny that they exist.[9] Sotah 10b is clearly praising Tamar when it mentions that she was so modest that she covered her face in her father-in-law’s house. R. Joseph Messas (Mayim Hayyim, vol. 2, Orah Hayyim no. 140) points out that Shabbat 6:6 refers to Arabian Jewish women going out veiled, which means that their entire face was covered except for their eyes. He also points to Shabbat 8:3: כחול כדי לכחול עין אחת, which as explained in the Talmud refers to those women who were so modest that they were completely veiled, with only one eye showing in order for them to see (see Rashi, ad loc. See also Rashi to Isaiah 3:19.) Messas tells us that in his youth he personally saw Jewish women who dressed like this: וכן ראינו בימי נעורנו. R. Meir Mazuz’s mother testified that brides in Djerba would only show one eye, also for reasons of modesty.[10]

Here we have evidence that the Taliban dress was actually a traditional Jewish dress, just the sort of material that can be used to support the new dress code. In fact, one doesn’t even need to look to Morocco or Djerba, or even to talmudic literature, to find sources that women dressed this way. It is found right in the Song of Songs 4:9. This verse states: “Thou has ravished my heart with one of thine eyes.” The Soncino translation explains: “It is customary for an Eastern woman to unveil one of her eyes when addressing someone.” In other words, normally, for reasons of modesty, the woman is entirely covered (although this covering would be see-through so she could walk properly), and only at certain times would she remove it to reveal one eye. I know some people are thinking that this is exactly the sort of explanation you can expect from Soncino, which loves to quote non-Orthodox and even non-Jewish commentators, and if you look at the various traditional commentaries they do indeed provide all sorts of allegorical meanings for this verse. Yet the Jerusalem Talmud, Shabbat 8:3, also understands the verse as giving an example of modest behavior on the part of the woman, that she only uncovers one eye. As explained by Korban ha-Edah:

מביא פסוק זה לראיה שדרך הצנועות לצאת באחת מעיניה מכוסה ואחת מגולה

(Korban ha-Edah and all the other traditional commentaries I have seen assume that the woman always goes with one eye uncovered, while Soncino explains that she only uncovers this one eye on special occasions.)

R. Baruch Epstein takes note of this passage in the Jerusalem Talmud in his commentary to Song of Songs, and adds.

לפנים בעת שהיו נוהגות הנשים ללכת עטופות היו מגלות רק עין אחת כדי לראות מהלכן, ומכאן רמז שמנהג כזה הוא מנהג כשר וצנוע, שהרי כן משבחה הכתוב שלבבתו בעין אחת.

If this practice is, as Epstein says, a מנהג כשר וצנוע, then I don’t think we should be surprised if some circles attempt to bring it back into style.

A few paragraphs above I quoted a responsum of R. Joseph Messas.[11] In this teshuvah he also explains why women can’t be given aliyotAs is well known, in earlier days this was permitted but the Sages later forbid it on account of kevod ha-tzibbur (Megillah 23a). There have been lots of interpretations of what kevod ha-tzibbur means, but Messas has a very original perspective. He claims that the reason women were banned from receiving aliyot is because this would lead to sexual arousal among the male congregants. Messas believes that this came from the actual experience of the Sages, who saw what happened when women received aliyot. He also assumes that these women would have been dressed in a Taliban-like fashion[12]: בהסתר פנים כמנהג נשים קדמוניות. But even such a woman, covered head to toe, still created problems with the sexually fixated men.[13]

ובדורות שאחריהם ראו שיש בזה מחשבת עריות, שהצבור היו שואלים זה לזה, מי זאת עולה . . . ואם היה קולה ערב מוסיף להבעיר אש היצר, ולכן עמדו ובטלו את הדבר.

Knowing how concerned the Sages were about avoiding situations that could lead to sexual thoughts, it makes sense that they would ban the practice if they thought that women’s aliyot would lead in this direction.[14] But Messas now has a problem, because the Talmud doesn’t give this as a reason for abolishing women’s aliyot. Instead, it states that they were abolished because of kevod ha-tzibbur. This leads Messas to offer one of the wonderfully original interpretations that can be found so often in his writings. He claims that because the Sages didn’t want to insult the (male) community by telling them the real reason why they abolished the aliyot, namely, that even during Torah reading men can't control themselves from sexual thoughts, therefore they invented the concept of kevod ha-tzibbur! However, this is not the real reason, and therefore all attempts to explain the meaning of the term are irrelevant. The real reason is the male sexual desire which as Messas states, is always in need to being fenced in:[15]
וכדי שלא להראות את הצבור שחשדו אותם, תלו הטעם מפני כבוד הציבור, שלא תהא האשה הפטורה מן הדבר מתערבת עם האנשים המחוייבים בו וכן בכל דור היו גודרים גדרים בעריות

Based on this male weakness, Messas claims that the mehitzah has to be built in such a fashion that the men cannot see the women. He even has a most original way to explain to the women why they are placed in what amounts to a completely other room. Rather than being a sign of their insignificance, it is a sign of how important they are. The proof of this importance is that men are constantly drawn to look at them. Therefore, by building a high mehitzah we are able to save the men from themselves.

I haven’t yet mentioned the shawls that some women have started wearing (and which was the practice in the days of the Rambam; see Hilkhot Ishut 13:11) Most shawl-wearers are not so extreme as to completely cover their faces, and because of this the practice has been defended by some fairly mainstream people. According to R. Ovadiah Yosef’s son-in-law, R. Aharon Abutbol, and R. David Benizri, R. Ovadiah sees the practice in a positive light for those women who are able to take it on.[16] Among others who have spoken out in favor of the shawls are R. Yitzhak Ratsaby,[17] R. Avraham Baruch,[18] and R. Mendel Fuchs, a dayan for the Edah Haredit (who refers to the “heilige shawl”).[19] There is even a fairly recent book that discusses the matter in detail. It is Ahoti Kalah, by R. Avraham Arbel. Here is the title page.

Arbel is a great talmid hakham.[20] His book carries haskamot from mainstream figures, including R. Ovadiah, R. Neuwirth, and R. Nebenzahl. In the book, he explains the importance of the shawl, how women are not supposed to leave their home and if they must go out they should appear unattractive so that men are not drawn to them, and how it is absolutely forbidden for women to wear jewelry outside their home. (Recently, Arbel expanded the section of the book dealing with women’s tzeniut into a full-fledged book of its own.)

3. In the last post I quoted R. Kook’s comments about the holiness of the am ha’aretz. This is not a sentiment that has been widely shared among the rabbinic elite, and negative comments about the am ha’aretz abound in rabbinic literature from all eras. Most of these comments appear in non-halakhic contexts, but there are plenty that are found in classic halakhic works. See for example Shulhan Arukh, Yoreh Deah 198:48, where R. Moses Isserles states that if a woman coming home from the mikveh enounters a דבר טמא או גוי , if she is pious she will immerse again. This is obviously not so applicable today, as in any big city in the Diaspora, where people walk to the mikveh, it is impossible not to come across a non-Jew on the way home. The formulation of Rama was made in an era when Jews lived in their own quarters, and at night it wouldn’t be common to come into contact with non-Jews. On this halakhah, the Shakh quotes the Sha’arei Dura who expands the lists of things a woman hopes to avoid on the way home to include an am ha’aretz. (This formulation obviously troubled some, and Pithei Teshuvah quotes the opinion that only an am ha’aretz gamur is meant, i.e., one who doesn’t even recite keriat shema [due to his ignorance]. This definition of an am ha’aretz is found in Berakhot 47b and Sotah 22a. Examination of rabbinic literature shows that the term “am ha’aretz” has a variety of meaning, ranging from a simple ignoramus to one who is actually quite wicked and hates the Sages.)

Speaking of the am ha’aretz, here is something interesting, as it includes both a difficult comment of Rashi (actually, the commentary falsely attributed to Rashi) and what might be is an example of Artscroll purposely omitting mention of it because of how problematic it would be to explain. Nedarim 49a states: “Rav Judah said: The soft part of a pumpkin [should be eaten] with beet; the soft part of linseed is good with kutah. But this may not be told to the am ha’aretz.”

Why don’t we tell this to the am ha’aretz? Artscroll quotes the explanation of the Ran that if the boors knew about this, they would uproot the plants before they could be harvested. Tosafot claims that the ignoramuses won’t believe what we tell them and they will mock the teaching of the Sages. “Rashi” has a completely different explanation. He writes:

משום דדבר מעולה הוא לרפואה ואסור לומר להם שום דבר שיהנו ממנו

What this means is that we don’t let the am ha’aretz know about the medicinal property of this plant. In other words, we don’t want the am ha’aretz, even though he is another Jew, to benefit, and he is thus treated no differently than an idolater. (Tosafot cites this explanation and rejects it.) Even though “Rashi” is referring to a real am ha’aretz, as per the Talmud’s description in Berakhot 47b, it is still quite a shocking explanation. It is true that there is a passage in Pesahim 49b which states: “R. Eleazar said: An am ha’aretz, it is permitted to stab him [even] on the Day of Atonement which falls on the Sabbath . . . R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in R. Johanan's name: One may tear an am ha’aretz like a fish.” Still, these passages are according to almost everyone not meant to be taken literally,[21] while “Rashi,” on the other hand, means exactly what he says.

[1] Many have discussed why Maimonides doesn’t explicitly record this halakhah in the Mishneh Torah. See the interesting approach of R. Hayyim Eleazar Shapira, Divrei Torah, Eighth Series, no. 18 (p. 974), which can be used to justify the Israeli haredi perspective.
[2] See Or Torah, Heshvan 5772, pp. 169-170. R. Mazuz’s own attitude towards yeshiva students preparing themselves to earn a living is seen in his haskamah to R. Hayyim Amsalem’s Gadol ha-Neheneh mi-Yegio. The book is available here.

Here is R. Mazuz’s haskamah.

Here is the letter of R. Mazuz that appears at the end of the volume.

There are numerous texts I could bring in opposition to the approach of Amsalem and Mazuz (which I believe is also the approach of the Sages). One noteworthy one is found in Ateret Menahem, p. 23a, where R. Menahem Mendel of Rimanov is quoted as follows:

אם א' אומר לחתנו היושב ולומד תורה בהתמדה שיתחיל לעסוק במו"מ עבור כי איתא [אבות פ"ב מ"ב] יפה ת"ת עם דרך ארץ וכו', זה הוא מערב רב חו"ש

[3] See e.g., Naftali ben Menahem, Zemirot shel Shabbat (Jerusalem, 1949), p. 134.
[4] See Zev Rabiner, Or Mufla, p. 92.
[5] Barukh She-Amar, p. 238.
[6] See R. Meir Mazuz, Darkhei ha-Iyun, pp. 127ff.
[7] Regarding not seeing women’s pictures, this position can also find sources to support it. R. Joseph Hayyim, Rav Berakhot, ma’arekhet tzadi (p. 137), writes quite strongly against women’s pictures, because men will come to look at them. Here is the page.

[8] For some, it is better if the women basically do not go out of the house at all at all. Such a position is held by R. Hayyim Rabbi, a mainstream Sephardic rabbi (who like all significant Sephardic rabbis, also has a website. See here).

Here is his haskamah to R. Hanan Aflalo’s, Asher Hanan, vol. 3, and see Aflalo’s response that a rabbi has to actually be part of a community and know its situation in order to properly decide matters for it.

While Aflalo’s reply is phrased very respectfully, his feeling that Rabbi is way off base comes through very clearly.

Rabbi’s position about a woman not leaving the house can find support in a variety of traditional texts (not least, the Rambam, Hilkhot Ishut 13:11). What makes it significant is that he offers this advice even today. While it is true that in the Islamic world Jewish women were more accustomed to stay inside than their co-religionists in Europe, we also find European rishonim who see this as something to strive for. See e.g.,, Radak to 2 Samuel 13:2: ודרך הבתולות בישראל להיות צנועות בבית ולא תצאנה החוצה. See also Rashi, Deut. 22:23: פרצה קוראה לגנב הא אלו ישבה בביתה לא אירע לה. For other relevant sources, see R. Mazuz's comment in R. Raphael Kadir Tzaban, Nefesh Hayah, vol. 2, p. 267.

I was surprised to find that the Moroccan R. Raphael Ankawa, in the twentieth century, ruled that a husband could forbid his wife from leaving the house without his permission. If she didn’t listen, she would lose her ketubah. See Toafot Re’em, no. 3. In a letter of support for Ankawa by R. Shlomo Ibn Danan and R. Mattityahu Serero they go so far as to state that if the woman doesn’t go along with the husband’s command and take an oath binding herself in this matter, the husband can, if he wishes, refuse to divorce her and she will remain an “agunah” her entire life without any financial support from him! He, of course, will be given permission to remarry.

ואם לא ירצה לגרשה תשב עד שתלבין ראשה ונותנין לו רשות לישא אשה אחרת אחר ההתראות הראויות והיא אבדה כתוב' ואין לה לא מזונות ולא פרנסה ולא שום תנאי מתנאי הכתובה.

(As late as 1965, another Moroccan posek, R. Yedidyah Monsenego, ruled that where the husband had reason to suspect his wife of being unfaithful, he could require her to never leave home without him, even to visit relatives, except when she had to go to work. See Peat ha-Yam, no. 24)

All I can say is that contemporary women should be thankful that the RCA beit din and many of the rabbinic courts in the State of Israel have realized that in modern times men and women must be treated equally in the divorce proceedings, and women can no longer be held prisoner in a dead marriage as was often the case in earlier times. With this in mind, let me remind people that in an earlier post, available here, I wrote as follows:

R. Hayyim Benveniste, Keneset ha-Gedolah, Even ha-Ezer 154, Hagahot Beit Yosef no. 59, in discussing when we can force a husband to give a divorce, writes:

ובעל משפט צדק ח"א סי' נ"ט כתב דאפי' רודף אחריה בסכין להכותה אין כופין אותו לגרש ואפי' לו' לו שחייב להוציא.

Can anyone imagine a posek, from even the most right-wing community, advocating such a viewpoint? I assume the logic behind this position is that even if the man is running after her with the knife, we don’t assume that he will actually kill her. He must just be doing it to scare her, and that is not enough of a reason to force him to divorce her. And if we are wrong, and he really does kill her? I guess the reply would be that this isn’t anything we could have anticipated even if we saw the knife in his hand, sort of like all those who have let pedophiles run loose in the yeshivot, presumably on the assumption that just because a man abused children in the past, that doesn’t mean that he will continue to do so.

(I will return to the issue of sexual abuse in a future post, because readers might recall that I expressed doubt that any rabbis would ever join the Agudah’s proposed rabbinic panel to determine if an accusation warranted going to the police. See here. The Agudah has just acknowledged that it was impossible to form such a panel precisely because of the legal jeopardy it would place the rabbis in. See here. Since it looks like all the public pressure will lead to clergy being made mandated reporters, it will be interesting to see what the Agudah response will then be. Will they instruct their followers to follow the law or expect them to go to jail in order to avoid mesirah?)

Regarding Aflalo’s point mentioned earlier in this note that a rabbi has to know the situation of a community, I recently found a very interesting comment by R. Levi Yitzhak of Berdichev, Kedushat Levi ha-Shalem (Jerusalem, 1958), Likutim, pp. 316-317. He asks why we say תשבי יתרץ קושיות ואבעיות, that in Messianic days Elijah will answer all problems. Since Moses will be resurrected, and he is the giver of the Torah, why don’t we say that he will provide the answers? R. Levi Yitzhak explains that only one who is living in this world knows what the situation is and how the halakhah should be decided. This is not the case with one who is dead and has lost his worldly connection. This explains why Elijah will provide all the answers, as he never died and was always part of the world. Therefore, unlike Moses, Elijah is the one qualified to decide matters affecting us. The lesson here is obvious, especially for those who think that every issue must be decided in Israel by authorities who really have really no conception of how American Jews live.

[9] I can’t tell you how often I have been with people (usually at Shabbat meals) who go on about how backwards the Muslims are, the proof being how they treat their women. This is usually contrasted to Judaism, which puts women on a pedestal. As an example of this “backwardness” people have pointed out that in Saudi Arabia (which is only one Muslim country, mind you), women are not even permitted to drive. I never have the heart to point out that there are hasidic sects, less than an hour away from where we are, that also don’t allow women to drive.
[10] See Ma’amar Esther, printed together with Va-Ya’an Shmuel (n.p., 2001), vol. 4, p. 19 (third numbering).
[11] Messas’ responsum is analyzed by Avinoam Rosenack, “Dignity of the Congregation” as a Defense Mechanism: A Halakhic Ruling by Rabbi Joseph Messas,” Nashim 13 (2007), pp. 183-206. On p. 201 n. 41, he provides references to scholarly literature that discusses medieval Jewish women’s adoption of Muslim modes of dress.
[12] Contrary to what Messas assumes, as far as I know there is absolutely no evidence that Jewish women generally dressed like this in the Rabbinic period. The fact that the Mishnah specifies the Arabian Jewish women shows that only one specific group dressed this way.
[13] Since he mentions women’s voices, let me return briefly to my second to last post which dealt with kol isha. I neglected to note the pesak of R. Abraham Yaffe-Schlesinger, Be’er Sarim, vol. 2, no. 54, who sees it as obvious that a woman is permitted to sing in front of non-Jews.
In the post, I mentioned three Modern Orthodox high schools that allow young women to sing solos. I was informed that the North Shore Hebrew Academy also has to be added to this list. See here.

My correspondent further wrote: “I wanted to let you know that the son of Rabbi _____ (former president of the RCA [name deleted by MS]) told me that his father used to go to see Broadway shows based on the Psak of the Rav, who felt that if you couldn't totally make out the face of the female singer it would be permitted."

One of the commenters on the post called attention to R. Yehudah Herzl Henkin, Bnei Vanim, vol. 4, no. 7. In this responsum, he says a couple of things very relevant to the post. To begin with, he writes that it is permitted to listen to the singing of a single woman if this is something that you are used it, and it will not be sexually arousing.

לע"ד מדינא מותר לשמוע קול שיר של בתולות אם רגיל בקולן שאז שמיעתן זהה לראיית שערן

This is the same viewpoint I quoted from R. Jacob Pardo, who distinguishes between married women, whose singing is always forbidden, and single women whose singing is only forbidden if it is sensual song. Also noteworthy is that R. Henkin rejects the viewpoint found in various aharonim that a post-pubescent female (i.e., niddah) has the same status as a married woman, and her singing is therefore forbidden:

וכיון שנהגו להקל בשערן של בתולות ולא חלקו בין נדות לטהורות הוא הדין בקולן, כל שהוא רגיל בו ואינו מהרהר.

He concludes his responsum by stating that if the song is not sensual, and the woman’s voice is heard on the radio or out of a loudspeaker, since this is not really “her” voice it is permissible to listen. What this apparently means is that any time a woman sings into a microphone, it is permissible to listen to her (assuming her very appearance is not arousing). This basically gets rid of the entire kol isha prohibition in our time (when the songs aren't sensual), since today every event with a woman singer uses a microphone. Based on R. Henkin’s responsum, all Modern Orthodox high schools could once more return to having young women sing solos (even though I am certain that this is not his intention).. Here is his conclusion (emphasis added):

ולא מפני שאנו מדמים נעשה מעשה להתיר לכתחילה לשמוע קול אשה המזמרת לפננו לבדה, אבל בשירה ברדיו או דרך רמקול וכו' שעל פי דין אינה קולה ממש ובצירוף עוד טעמים [ראה להלן מאמר כ'] ובתנאי שהשירה אינה של עגבים נראה פשוט להקל.

In Bnei Vanim, vol. 2, p. 211, he quotes his grandfather as even permitting watching a woman sing on the television, because again, the voice is not her actual voice. He also notes that his grandfather later expressed doubt on this point.

שמעתי מפיו הקדוש שקול אשה על הרדיו אינו נקרא קול אשה ומותר לשמעו [בפעם הראשונה ששאלתי אותו על זה אמר בפירוש שגם בטלביזיה אינו נקרא קול אשה ומותר לשמעו, אבל כשחזרתי ושאלתי אותו על זה אחרי זמן לא היה ברור אצלו – ואולי מפני חולשתו]

In vol. 4, p. 30, he refers to a woman singing the national anthem, which based on his argumentation would, I think, be quite easy to permit, even watching on television. As he notes, this is not the sort of song that arouses sexual thoughts:

ורבים מקילים לשמוע קול שיר של אשה ברדיו כשהיא אינה לפניהם, ואינה שרה שירי עגבים אלא שירי מולדת וכיוצא באלה ורחוק שיהרהרו בה ואינו תלוי באם מכירה או לא.

I would also like to share an email I received from Benny Hutman which relates to R. Moshe Feinstein’s opinion. In my post I called attention to a responsum of R. Moshe Feinstein which I claimed cast doubt on R. Mordechai Tendler’s assertion that according to R. Moshe kol isha is entirely situational and depends on whether or not someone is aroused.

Benny writes:
It seems to me that R’ Moshe must hold that the prohibition on Kol Isha depends on whether a person is used to hearing women sing. R’ Moshe holds like the Aruch Hashulchan that nowadays one can say Shema in front of a woman with uncovered hair because the reality is that we are constantly confronted with such hair and therefore it is no longer arousing. For this to make sense we need to understand the Gemara in Berachos when it says “sear b’isha erva” to mean that hair could be ervah, meaning I would have thought that ervah by definition could only refer to parts of her body, ka mashma lan that hair despite not being skin can be ervah. However it won’t actually be ervah unless it is normally covered. Since the language of the Gemara is exactly the same (as is the source) it follows that the gemara means that Kol Isha could be ervah despite not physically being attached to the body at all. However, just as R’Moshe says that our constant exposure to uncovered hair makes sear no longer be ervah, the same logic dictates that if someone has been listening to women sing all his life kol isha will not be ervah. Arguably it can also be situational so that if someone has been going to the opera all his life such singing will not be kol isha, but pop music will be. It seems to me that this heter should apply to almost all Modern Orthodox men. This would explain how Rabbi Tendler could say that R’ Moshe held that the prohibition is situational despite R’ Moshe’s tshuva apparently holding it is forbidden. It depends on who is asking the question and the time, place and manner of the singing.
Finally, R. Hayyim Amsalem, in his recently published Derekh Hayyim, p. 45, states that it is a well known fact that great Torah scholars and chief rabbis have in the past been present at various official events that included women singing, and they did not walk out. As he explains:

הם ידעו לחשב שכר "מצוה" כנגד הפסדה, ושגדול כבוד הבריות שדוחה לא תעשה שבתורה (ברכות דף יט ע"ב), שלא לדבר על העלבת פנים העלולה להגרם, והרי המלבין פני חברו ברבים אין לו חלק לעוה"ב (בבא מציעא דף נט ע"א), יתכן וכשהיו יכולים להשתמט מלהופיע בטקס כזה שידעו מראש שיכלול גם שירת נשים היו נמנעים מלהופיע, אבל היכן שההכרח אלצם להשתתף הרי שמעולם לא נשמע רינון אחריהם על השתתפותם, או על העלבת המעמד ביציאה פומבית.

[14] Rosenack writes (“Dignity”, p. 190): “Messas’s remarks allow the inference that he knew of an ancient tradition—either from the days of his own ancestors, or from the time of the talmudic sages—of women going up to the Torah, before the institution of the [talmudic] prohibition discussed here.” This is incorrect. What Messas is doing in this responsum is describing what he imagines the situation was like in the era that women received aliyot, and why this was later prohibited. There is not even the hint that he knew of any ancient tradition in this regard, and he certainly did not.

In terms of women’s aliyot, in my post here I called attention to R. Samuel Portaleone’s opinion that in theory it is permitted to give a woman an aliyah in a private synagogue. Without knowing of Portaleone’s view, R. Yehuda Herzl Henkin concluded that ”if done without fanfare, an occasional aliyyah by a woman in a private minyan of men held on Shabbat in a home and not in a synagogue sanctuary or hall can perhaps be countenanced or at least overlooked.” “Qeriat Ha-Torah by Women: Where We Stand Today,” Edah Journal 1:2 (5761), p. 6. (Henkin also assumes that women’s aliyot on Simhat Torah are permissible.) There is another source in this regard that has been overlooked by those arguing for women’s aliyot in so-called partnership minyanim (I hate this term!). R. Moses Salmon, Netiv Moshe (Vienna, 1899), p. 24 n. 112, sees no problem with women getting aliyot today. As mentioned already, women are denied aliyot because of kevod ha-tzibur. Yet according to Salmon, since today men who get aliyot no longer read from the Torah, kevod ha-tzibur is no longer a concern. This was all theoretical for Salmon, as no one in his Hungarian town was dreaming of calling women up to the Torah, but from the standpoint of pure halakhah, he saw no objection. He also claims that according to Maimonides, women can be counted in a minyan. See ibid., n. 111. Here is the page from Salmon.

[15] The same approach is adopted by R. Matzliah Mazuz, Ish Matzliah, vol. 1 no. 10. He writes:

לע"ד כבוד ציבור דהתם, אינו כפשוטו, אלא לישנא מעליא, ועיקר הכוונה כאותה ששנינו בסוכה דנ"א תיקון גדול

[16] See here and here.
[17] See here and here. See also his Shulhan Arukh ha-Mekutzar, vol. 6, pp. 246ff., and here for a placard signed by some leading Sephardic rabbis.
[18] See hereHe thinks that a woman who refuses to say good morning to her male neighbor is demonstrating proper tzeniut.
[19] See here.
[20] Incidentally, in no. 328:2, he states that there is no longer a problem taking medicine on Shabbat, since people today do not grind their own medicine.

  • [21] See the numerous explanations of these passages in R. Moshe Zuriel, Leket Perushei Aggadah, ad loc. Tosafot, ad loc., quotes one opinion that does take the passage literally, but this opinion assumes that the am ha’aretz spoken of is a violent person suspected of murder


Ehrlich Yid said...

<p><span>"</span><span>I never have the heart to point out that there are hasidic sects, less than an hour away from where we are, that also don’t allow women to drive."</span>
</p><p>Now now, that's not fair Professor. As you pointed out, Saudi Arabia is but one Muslim country who prohibits women from driving. Skver or Kiryat Yoel, or whoever else you're thinking of, is not the majority of world Jewry today. So yes, there's a far gap to be extended between Islam sr"y and Judaism.
</p><p>And let's not fool ourselves here, it's not like it's unheard of for a Skverer woman to drive. Same goes for the rest. Although it is less common to find a "Skverer Manal al-Sharif"</p>

Transient said...

Here are my hurried comments:

1) Re למנצח בנגינות, while the dikduk problems don't seem so vexing to me (poetic license et al.), those words do seem to ruin the meter as they contain 7 syllables instead of 6. Additionally, why wouldn't they be preceded by a ו as in the previous two lines. OTOH, וללמדו אומנות only contains 5 syllables (unless you employ (and count) a חטף פתח under the first ל), and ללמדו would be repetitive, so perhaps there was another verb in the original.

2) Re לכה דודי, I am always surprised when scholars and layman alike attempt to intrerpret this hymn as alluding to the nation of Israel or to Jerusalem. It is quite clear that the plain meaning of the song is Kabbalistic, and refers consistently to the sefira of מלכות. Since מלכות is linked both to כנסת ישראל and ירושלים, and since it is clearly meant to be addressed in the feminine, it follows that the entire sentence be written thus even when a reference to Israel is occasionally thrown in.

3) Re your representation of the reasoning of the Taliban women, 1) many of the sources you cite where Jewish women were found to cover their face give no indication that this was recommended; they were simply following the local fashion as you sort of point out later. As to Tamar, while I won't quibble over that particular passage of Talmud, it's noteworthy that Midrash Raba makes the same point with the opposite conclusion: had she not covered her face in his home, Yehuda could have identified her and thus wouldn't have sinned (similarly, see this amusing/disturbing tale). 2) The women of the past were certainly not deliberately trying to come off as ugly and may have put a personal touch on their ensemble, where it's pretty clear the Taliban women are aiming to appear as black freakish balls. 

Alright, I have more to say, but I've gotta run.

Marc said...

<span>Someone emailed me as follows  
I think Shulchan Aruch in Hilchos Niddah means that the woman should be careful about the first thing she sees after coming out of the Mikvah. Once the woman encounters something Tahor, like the face of a fellow Jew, then there is no problem gazing upon something else that is less than desirable. I think what I just wrote is the understand of most poskim (if you know of someone who says that she can never see these things until she gets home then I would be interested to see it).  
The Sidrei Tahara and the Sharei Dura explain that this is one of the reasons we have a Mikvah lady. Once the woman encounters the Mikvah lady she is "home free" and there is no problem gazing upon the face of the countless Amei Ha'aretz that she may pass on her way home.  
You are correct, and I was not careful in my formulation, as I should have stressed in the text that the real reason the halakhah is not applicable today in big cities is precisely because there is a Mikvah lady there.   
And thanks for pointing out that this might be the reason for having the Mikvah lady. An interesting suggestion. One way to test this out would be to see if there were Mikvah ladies in Sephardic countries.  
My correspondent is correct, and I wasn't clear in what I wrote. In fact, it is not just the understanding of "most poskim", the Rama states so explicitly in the passage I quoted. But if you look at the Rama and the Shakh (also the Shaarei Dura) you see that the situation was not like we have today, and there was a possibility of encountering all sorts of things before one got home.  
And the more I think about it, is is perhaps precisely when Jews were no longer confined to ghettos, and there were plenty of non-Jews etc. around the mikvah at night, that the Rama's issue would become real and one would want a Jewish woman inside the Mikvah.</span>

Marc said...

What you say flows directly from what I wrote. Just like we can't attack all of Islam because of what one country does, so too there are hasidic sects that do likewise, and not only is Judaism not attacked for that, but even those sects are not attacked as women haters etc. I happen to think that the entire issue is a red herring. If women choose to live in communities where they are not permitted to drive, then that is their choice, end of story.

Transient said...

I realize that I must clarify my last statement a bit: there's a lot more to the Taliban women than shawls or face coverings; their chief tenet is that tznius at its most optimal is when there isn't even the slightest outline of a body, any body part whatsoever, under a woman's clothing. Thus they wrap themselves till they resemble the balls I alluded to. Let's see what sources you dig up for that.

I'm also glad to see you've been corrected on the mikvah bit, that was something I wanted to point out but didn't have the requisite time to do.

Yitzchok Pink said...

You assume that women choose to live there, yet the vast majority of the women who live there never really made the choice. They are usually brought up and married off in these communities before they can ever conclude that this is not the life they want. By the time they realize it, they have a number of children and leaving is no longer an option.

Ehrlich Yid said...

"<span>Just like we can't attack all of Islam because of what one country does"</span>

Hmm, I think "one country" is an understatement. A country that stands for Islam by default shows something Islamic followers adhere to. Their point is how their religion as a whole has this (mis)treatment, and you're compariing it to a (Jewish) minority. No, America is not either an Islamic country (yet, haha) but do you see any Islamic women drivinig? The point isn't how many Islamic countries enforce this practice, rather how many other religions of the world don't, hence rendering them "backwards".

Marc said...

Obviously there are a number of Islamic countries that are our enemies. But I was referring to the women driving issue. Only one Islamic country bans women drivers and therefore you can't use that as an issue in which to condemn the entire religion

And yes, in America Muslim women drive. They even drive in Iran.

Maimon said...

I heard a good pshat in למנצח בנגינות which doesn't seem to forced to me; the halakha states that inasmuch as taking payment for teaching torah is forbiden, one can only take payment in the form of שכר בטלה or שכר פיסוק טעמים. On Shabbat when teaching torah is certainly not curtailing one's ability to work at a different job, the only excuse for taking money is שכר פיסוק טעמים i.e. teaching the child the 'troppe'. Therefore, this song which is listing the few instances where engaging in business-like activity is permitted on the Shabbat it stipulates the condition of שכר פיסוק טעמים which is homiletically referred to as למנצח בנגינות.

Judah said...

<p>The whole פלפול on למנצח בנגנות is making a mountain of a molehill. Poetic license of this sort is extremely common in פיוטים, as you ought to know—many פייטנים don't scruple to bend grammar in order to accommodate a Scriptural allusion or the like. Ibn Labrat, for one, was criticized for this practice (see To adduce this bending of grammar with a clear motivation (the echoing of a well-known Biblical phrase) as evidence for an entirely different (not to say redundant [repetition of ללמדו]) reading, is simply wild speculation that is totally unsupported by the facts.
</p><p>As for Transient's comments about the existing reading "ruining the meter", I can't understand what he means. A cursory glance at the song reveals plenty of parallel 7-syllable lines—so many, in fact, that choosing a counter-example seems arbitrary, but here's one anyway: the line in the first stanza beginning להדליק.

Anonymous said...

See the attached translation of Hisnary, concistent with artrscrole.

JK said...

In this picture: from 1918
while the girls are not all covered up, they are all wearing plain smocks and the boys all black suits.

mendel said...

now you get into the politics of how much the artscroll took from the tehilas hashem ;)

DF said...

1) R. Meshulem Klarberg wrote several years ago, in "Morsels of Hebrew Grammar" about how to translate this section of the Lecho Dodi. I am quite certain he noted that Artscroll's commentary appears differently in the Sefard and Ashkenaz versions. In one of them the translation is described as "novel", not so in the other version.

2) Without a Shulchan Aruch in front of me, I wonder if the reason women should be careful about what they encounter upon leaving the mikvah is based on the belief that what they see will affect the appearance of their child. (Cf. the well known passages of R. Yochanon stationing himself by the mikvah for this reason, the discussion centering around Jacob's sheep machinations, etc.) Thus, you dont want to come across of Goy or Dovor Tomei. [Human babies were also believed to occasionally look like animals, several passages in Niddah TB to that effect.] Does not square with sidrei tehara tho.

Transient said...

Are you familiar with the difference between a יתד and a תנועה? The שווא doesn't count (or has its own count in more sophisticated poems). Now the fact that many people are completley oblivious to this lead to the corruption of the text in a number of places, but that a meter originally existed is pretty clear. So here goes:

מה-ידי-דות-מנו-ח-תך [6], את-ש-בת-ה-מל-כה [6], בכן-נ-רוץ-לק-רא-תך [6], בו-אי-כ-לה-נסו-כה [6], לבוש-בג-די-ח-מו-דות [6], להד-ליק-נר-בב-ר-כה [6!], ות-כל-כל-ה-עבו*-דות, לא-ת-ע*-שו-מלא-כה. Note how in one case what should be a חטף פתח on an ע is counted, yet it itsn't in the other. Fooling around with שוואs however, is a mainstay of piyut (and the original nikud may therefore have been a plain שווא for the first ע and a plain פתח for the second).

Now for the paragraph under discussion:

חפ-צי-ך-א-סו-רים [6], וגם-לח-שוב-חש-בו-נות [6], הר-הו-רים-מו-ת-רים [6], ול*-ש-דך-ה-ב-נות [6], ותי-נוק-ללמ-דו-ס-פר [6], למ-נ-צ-ח-בנ-גי-נות [7!], ול-הגות-באמ-רי-ש-פר [6], בכל-פי-נות-ומ*-ח-נות. Its unclear what the rule for a מלאפום ו at the beginning of a word is. In some cases it's clearly not counted [ובש-בי-עי-נ-גי-לה], in some cases it apparently is [ולשדך] (unless the author originally altered the nikud there for the sake of the meter), and then there's the case of ומחנות where it's either a מלאפום ו or a ח בחטף פתח which must be counted.

In any case, למנצח בנגינות clearly stand out here, and funny שווא business doesn't seem to be an option. (The ח בפתח at the end of a word clearly counts as its own syllable as evidenced later on [מ-חב-לי-מ-שי-ח, פדו-ת-נו-תצ-מי-ח]). What I do realize now, however, is that וללמדו אומנות would have the same problem as ולשדך הבנות as described above and so one may have to consider it to contain 6, not 5, syllables as well.

Transient said...

I should add of course:

להת-ע-נג-בתע*-נו-גים, בר-בו-רים-ושליו-וד-גים. Note the ע בחטף פתח which isn't counted (or is rendered a plain שווא).

Ehrlich Yid said...

Believe you me, if I were out to condem the entire religion, though it may be warranted (wink wink) I wouldn't come at them with sticks.

I'll just have to diagree and leave it at that because I don't have the time and close to no desire to debate the ideals of other religions, even if it may be with you.

(One quick point: the fact that women are permitted to drive in Iran or anyother country not yet run by the leading religious face of Islam, amonst other "modern activities", is result of the "reform" movement of Islam not the normative. And how faithful those ones are to their religion is quite questionable to say the least. Jewish women who drive, on the other hand, are not "chashud l'shum davar".)

Chaim said...

1. look up R' Yonason's drasha on teshuva where he writes that even that eye was covered with kechol for tzniyus reasons!
2. the 'sexually fixated' argument is extremely disrespectful of our ancient tanaaim and amoraim. I find that the only people who use that argument are being moreeh heter for their lustful behavior.  me yomar zakisi es libi...

Anonymous said...

The page you reproduce from Rav Berachot does not even touch on the subject of women's pictures, let alone "writes quite strongly against [them], because men will come to look at them".  Did you reproduce the wrong page, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

The page you reproduce from Rav Berachot does not even touch on the subject of women's pictures, let alone "writes quite strongly against [them], because men will come to look at them".  Did you reproduce the wrong page, perhaps?

Marc said...

Yes, thanks for pointing it out. It is on p. 137 and we posted p. 136. I will have the correct page inserted

Marc said...

R. Messas didn't have the tanaim or amoraim in mind. He was referring to the hamon am in shul, that they were sexually fixated and that is why women were not given aliyot.

Marc said...

<span>From Yehudah Mirsky  
<span>Fwiw, as I recall, Steve Wald in his book on Eilu Ovrin shows that he genuinely awful am-haartez passages in Pesachim are a later stammatic addition, and that Jeff Rubinstein argues has a chapter on this in his "The Culture of the Babylonian Talmud" where he argues both that that sugya in Pesachim is sui generis in Hazal and - interestingly - reflects the Stammaim's needing to justify their very scholastic lifestyle vis-a-vis people who were working for a living. Rubinstein cautions that the whole sugya may have been intended as a series of private jokes and need not necessarily reflect actual social relations between the stammaim and their surrounding society.</span></span>

Fotheringay-Phipps said...

1. I think your "kal vechomer" is a "kal vechomer shel shtus".

Everyone agrees that men should (ideally) not look at women's faces. But ordinarily, women going outside with their faces uncovered are not going there for the express purpose of having men look at their faces. Men can refrain from looking at them. When you put these pictures in magazines, it's for the express purpose of having readers look at them.

[Note this is NOT an endorsement of the policy of not publishing women's faces, but just a note about the "kal vechomer"]

2. R' Messas pshat in kavod hatzibur is a huge dochek, because Chazal said all sorts of things were forbidden because they might cause arousal, and were never troubled by the implication such that they had to give other bogus reasons. (It should be noted, BTW, that there are rishonim who do give kol isha as the reason for women not leining Megillas Esther.)

3. It's possible that if clergy become mandated reporters, the only approved approach will be to call rabbis who live in other countries and are thus out of reach of these laws.

4. The idea that kol isha does not apply to women's voices over the radio or tapes is quoted from the BR and RYSE. (There are some - e.g. R' Wosner - who distinguish between radio & tape/CD, presumably because of uncertainty over whether radio (or phone) has the status of an actual voice.)

5. Unless I'm missing something, Benny Hutman's diyuk is nonsense, because the Gemara uses that same language about a variety of things ("shok b'isha erva" etc.) which most poskim do not accept as being dependent on what people are used to. I believe RMF went to some length to explain that hair is different than other body parts, in that it's really learned from Sotah and not Shir Hashirim. [BTW, FWIW, RMF held that you should not really rely on this AHS, although he did hold that what he said was likely correct.]

Fotheringay-Phipps said...

I forgot to add:

If you read "Life is with the People", a study of the shtetel from the 1950s by some irreligious anthropologists, they describe the husband learning and the wife supporting the family as the norm.

This is not consistent with all other evidence, and I imagine they must have exagerated or been misled. But I would think it does show that it wasn't completely uncommon either.

Editor said...

Yes, the page before was mistakenly posted. It has been corrected. 

Ovadya said...

<p><span>See the Az Nidbaru (vol. 10, 35) about looking at women in photographs, where he asks the author of Toras Ha’histaklus to answer his “urgent question being that people can be misled etc.”. (A bit off track here - also interesting is that R. Kraus, who is Chassidish, in his Divrei Shalom (vol. 6, 129) after </span><span>differentiating</span><span> between glancing and staring with regards to looking at women/picture, is “lenient” in permitting the use of kosher wine which a gentile gazed upon (however there is makom l’heir on his words, aside from what he himself bases some of his proceeding responsa). Also brings to mind the Kitvei Abba Mari (pg. 66) who suggests – and I think it is his own chiddush – that that was the reason for the unique title given to R. Menachem br. Simai (Psachim 104a) who was not familiar with the “tzurta d’matbea”. Yet even though the simple understanding of the Gemara can be interpreted to mean that he would refrain from looking at the images on the coins (see Rabbeinu Chananel to Shabbos 129a), it’s doubtful that pshat is as he asserts.</span>

Marc said...

<span>Also see Stuart Miller's recent book which deals with the topic.</span>

Alex said...

I'd like to know on what basis either of them claims this. Isn't one of the hallmarks of the so-called stammaic passages that the give-and-take is anonymous? Here, every single statement is sourced to a named tanna or amora, or to a baraisa (which would be, at the latest, from the early Amoraic period).

Chaim said...

 Marc, any talmudist can tell you (while there are a couple of opposite extreme stories - kaaki cheevari, keshura, etc ) there must be hundreds of stories of Amoraim who were worried of the effects the ladies might have on them. ein apitropis laarios!
Once you concede that our level of Yiras Shamayim has declined, the 'modern' acceptance of saying we are conditioned.. is more probable a sign of that lesser fear, than any higher asexual being!

Judah said...

<p>Interesting. It hadn't occurred to me to treat שואs differently for metrical purposes, but I see how so doing makes the meter much more regular. That said, the occasional deviation from meter is a standard practice in English poetry, at least, so it wouldn't surprise me to find it in פיוטים as well, especially when it comes to 'half-syllables' like the פתח גנובה. You yourself point out similar inconsistencies with the חטף פתח, for instance.

Then again, if the extra syllable of למנצח בנגנות is bothersome, perhaps the simplest emendation would be to change it to Marc's grammatical version: לנצח בנגנות. That would have the right number of syllables, and it's easy to see how it could have been mistakenly "corrected" to the current version (as opposed to the ללמדו אומנות theory, which requires deliberate substitution).

With regard to the initial מלאפום, perhaps the rule is: "Count it when followed by a שוא but not when immediately followed by a תנועה." That makes intuitive sense to me, as surely there's a limit to how many sounds can be merged into a single syllable.</p>

Robin said...

1. Saudi Arabia has a tiny population compared to the rest of the Muslim world (the majority of the world's Muslims live in Indonesia).
2. Saudi Arabia's traditions concerning women driving are based on cultural customs, not Islamic law.
3. You are absolutely wrong that women driving in Iran is part of an Islamic "reform" movement. The Salafi movement in Saudi Arabia, from which the religious establishment there has established its anti-modernist stance, is very new. Iran is a Shia' country, which means that the religious establishment will have different interpretations of many things, but they are just as "frum" as Saudi. If you will remember, they had a revolution in 1979 that established Islamic law in the country, and the religious leadership has not become more liberal.

Muslim women driving is a question of minhag, if anything. Really, it's a question of culture and politics.

Marc said...

For some reason, the comments from people in Israel are only appearing on the mirror site (that ends, not here. If anyone knows how to fix this, please let us know. I will transfer the comments.

Marc said...

<span><span>Leor </span></span>

</span><span><span>RE Am Ha-Aretz (Yoshvei Kranot) in Hazal and Rabbinic thought, including Rav Kook. See my article which ran on this blog. </span></span>
<span><span><span>Leor </span></span><span></span><span><img></img></span><span>
<span>I was always very happy with the interpretation that Lamnatzeiach binginos refers to ta'amei hamikra which the rebbe teaches to the students and acc to the Talmud he is allowed to take a salary for, since it is not Torah. Thus, a lot of these issues are deftly hinted at in a couple of words.</span></span></span>
<span><img></img></span><span>Leor</span><span><span>View details</span></span><span></span><span></span>

<span><img></img></span><span>Leor</span><span><span>View details</span></span><span></span><span></span>

Marc said...

<span>great post as usual, marc. i always thought it was ironic that the sefardi poskim are so machmir in principle on tznius, but practically nowadays the chareidi sefardim are the most lax about tznius, no doubt because they are more influenced by secular israeli culture. it is only when baal tshuva sefardim join fundamentelist chassidic groups and make a complete break with their secular connections that they become even more extreme than the the chassidim and start wearing shawls and covering their faces. here in yerushalayim its been really hot the past few days, and i almost feel bad for these women under all those layers of black clothing. oh well, they took it upon themselves. regarding women referenced who covered their whole face except for one eye, i would hope they they switched off which eye they uncovered, or else the covered eye who become permanently weak, and the uncovered eye very strained. regarding the possuk in shir hashirim that "you excited me with one of your eyes", wouldnt that seem to imply that even one eye uncovered is not tznius, according to the gemara in brachos that learns out hilchos tznius from verses in shir hashirim? i guess you have to say the pesukim brought there are only an asmachta. incidentally, marc, when is your long awaited book coming out?</span>
<span><span><span>Nachum </span></span><span></span><span><img></img></span><span>
</span><span><span>-Could "Lamenatzeach benignos" be referring to a specific chapter of Tehillim said on Shabbat?  
-How would one teach omanut to his son on Shabbat?</span></span></span>
<span><img></img></span><span>Nachum</span><span><span>View details</span></span><span></span><span></span>

Alex said...

To Nachum's last point: it wouldn't mean doing the actual teaching on Shabbos, just arranging with someone on Shabbos to do it during the week.

Transient said...

This is a problem with previous posts as well. There is a 2 day-old comment on your previous Kalir piece which appears only on the Hebrew site.

Transient said...

On the last point, note ושליו. (The ש is a שוא נח, as are, I believe, all אותיות שוואיות following a ו במלאפום at the beginning of a word; likewise for the ל of ולשדך (without tampering)).

Also, there is a difference between the פתח גנובה and the others in that in ordinary questionable cases it isn't a matter of simply 'deviating' from the meter, one 'corrects' the nekudos in consonance (ha!) with one's agenda. No 'correction' is possible with regards to a פתח גנובה.

As an aside, אֲדון עולם is a perfect example of a piyut with perfect meter for both יתדות and תנועות. This actually ties in nicely with Marc's other posts about the meaning of Adon Olam; if אדון was menukad with a פתח it would mean 'eternal master', but since, for metrical purposes, the first letter had to be a שווא, it must mean 'master of the world'!

David said...

It happens in Canada too.  I get around it by entering the url as - ncr stands for no-country-redirect, and takes me to the .com site instead of .ca.  A quick Google search came up with instructions for basically pushing that solution out to everyone:  I have no expertise in this area, and don't vouch for the correctness or legality of their solution.

Daas Torah said...

The Kedushas Levi apparently took it from the Mabit

בית אלקים (שער היסודות - פרק ששים): והחכמים שימצאו באותו הדור ילמדו חכמת התורה לאותם שנקברו זה כמה שנים, וגם ימצאו ספרי התורה ונביאים וכתובים אשר יהיו באותו הזמן ומהם ילמדו תורה שבכתב ותורה שבעל פה, כפי מה שהוא רמוז בה כפי שלמדו החכמים שבדור ההוא, ואליהו ז"ל ימצא בפרסום בזמן ההוא אשר הוא "תשבי "יתרץ "קושיות "והויות, והוא ישיב לב אבות על בנים ולב בנים על אבותם בכל הדברים ובפרט בקבלת התורה ובכל העניינים שהיו נסתרים בעוה"ז הכל יתגלה על ידי אליהו הנביא, כי שאר הנביאים והשופטים והחכמים אשר היו בדורות העוברים וגם האבות והשבטים וממשה רבינו ע"ה עד ימי התחייה כשיחיו, לא ידעו מענייני העוה"ז ממה שקרה אחרי מותם, כי היו בג"ע התחתון והעליון מובדלים מענייני העוה"ז הגשמי, אבל אליהו ז"ל אשר חיה מימות משה רבינו עד ימי יהורם ידע כל מה שהיה בימיו, ואחר הסתלקותו בגוף ונפש נזדכך גופו כאחד מן הגרמים השמימיים או יותר, והכינו האל יתברך להמצא בעת צרת ישראל להצילם על ידו ובזכותו בכל הדורות אשר הם צריכים לו, ומתגלה ג"כ לחכמי ישראל לגלות להם סודות התורה כפי הכנת כל דור ודור, מלבד מה שמקובל אצלנו היותו מצוי נ(מצות ברית מילה אשר קנא עליה ואנחנו מכינים בפועל כסא לכבודו:

Melech Berlove said...

"Rashi" on Nedarim almost certainly understood the Gemara in light of the other AmHaaretz Gemaras you quote. I see no basis for a presumption that "Rashi" understood any of them literally. Presuming this shows a real lack of understanding as to how Rashi and similar kuntres-style perushim operated.

BTW, the Chassidic Minhad of reciting the first two and last two stanzas of Lecha Dodi when Shabbos is on or follows a Yom Tov is very problemastic. Such a recitation implies that Shabbos is the subject of Yamin Usmol Tifrotzi when the subject is in fact Mikdash Melech Ir Melucha.

Marc said...

<span>great post as usual, marc. i always thought it was ironic that the sefardi poskim are so machmir in principle on tznius, but practically nowadays the chareidi sefardim are the most lax about tznius, no doubt because they are more influenced by secular israeli culture. it is only when baal tshuva sefardim join fundamentelist chassidic groups and make a complete break with their secular connections that they become even more extreme than the the chassidim and start wearing shawls and covering their faces. here in yerushalayim its been really hot the past few days, and i almost feel bad for these women under all those layers of black clothing. oh well, they took it upon themselves. regarding women referenced who covered their whole face except for one eye, i would hope they they switched off which eye they uncovered, or else the covered eye who become permanently weak, and the uncovered eye very strained. regarding the possuk in shir hashirim that "you excited me with one of your eyes", wouldnt that seem to imply that even one eye uncovered is not tznius, according to the gemara in brachos that learns out hilchos tznius from verses in shir hashirim? i guess you have to say the pesukim brought there are only an asmachta. incidentally, marc, when is your long awaited book coming out?</span>

Marc said...

<span>Great post.  
Regarding Kol Isha, the Rema himself writes: אבל קול הרגיל בו אינו ערוה (בית יוסף בשם אהל מועד והגהות מיימוני):  
Regarding Aliyot for women, see what I have brought from R. B.Z. Abba Shaul and the Aderet: <span></span></span>

Marc said...

<span>I was always very happy with the interpretation that Lamnatzeiach binginos refers to ta'amei hamikra which the rebbe teaches to the students and acc to the Talmud he is allowed to take a salary for, since it is not Torah. Thus, a lot of these issues are deftly hinted at in a couple of words.</span>
2 days ago, 12:16:36 AM<span><span><span>– </span></span><span>Flag</span></span><span><span><span> – </span></span><span>Like</span></span><span><span><span> – </span></span><span>Reply</span></span><span><span><span> – </span></span><span>Delete</span></span><span><span><span> – </span></span><span>Edit</span></span><span><span><span> – </span></span><span>Moderate</span></span>

Marc said...

<span>RE Am Ha-Aretz (Yoshvei Kranot) in Hazal and Rabbinic thought, including Rav Kook. See my article which ran on this blog. <span></span></span>

Wrong said...

The majority of Muslims do not live in Indonesia. Less than 20% of the world's Muslims live there.

simcha said...

<span>Although shulchan aruch o.c. 139:8 refers to birchas haTorah before leining as mishum kvod haTorah, interestingly, mishna berura 47:1 refers to as kvod hazibbur. The kvod  hazibbur here be referring to b'lshon s'gey nahor that the people did not know how to make birchas haTorah in the morning, so chazal were mesaken birchas haTorah at leining to be mozai others who did not yet make birchas HaTorah?  If so, you see another example of kvod hazibbur being a euphemism to compensate a defect in the zibbur. (Even though chazaras hashatz was also for a publicy known reason that people did not know shemoneh esre, it is less of a gnai to explicity acknowledge that the zibbur did not know how to daven shemoneh esre as opposed to not knowing birchas haTorah that are deorays.) So kvod hazibbur could very well be a code word for g'nai hazibbur,  bl'shon s'gey nahor.</span>
Also, as a side point, the psychological origin of the Women Taliban is an unconsciously brilliant passive aggressive protest. Just as the anorexic woman might be unconsciously raging against the insane standards of beauty and perfection by making herself a grotesque caricature of thinness and perfection, so too these "paragons" of tznius are unconsciously and quite brilliantly mocking the charedi establishment by beating them at their own game of chumros potlatch. Coming soon in retaliation...the keiylu kof'o shed movement!  
<span>Also one last comment: an interesting nuance re the gemara in shabbos: as tznius as they may have been, the did put makeup on that one eye! Another great example of unconscious passive aggressive protest, or perhaps more charitably truly a countervailing Jewish tradition to always strive for beauty within the bounds of tznius.</span>

mycroft said...

<span> </span>
<span>"1. Saudi Arabia has a tiny population compared to the rest of the Muslim world (the majority of the world's Muslims live in Indonesia)."</span>
Wrong  Indonesia has more Moslems than any iindividual country. India and Pakistan together easily have more Moslems than Indonesia.

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