Volume 15 Number 68
                       Produced: Tue Oct 11  5:54:04 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Marriage - Lead us not into temptation
         [Ellen Krischer]
Modesty of Women
         [Shaul Wallach]
Role of Women
         [Rivka Haut]


From: Ellen Krischer <elk@...>
Date: 10 Oct 1994 10:20 EDT
Subject: re: Marriage - Lead us not into temptation

I've been trying very hard to read Shaul's pieces while keeping in mind
the "right wing" "black" "yeshivish" "pick-your-frum-adjective" male
viewpoint from which they come.  In this latest piece, however, I must
wonder if Shaul is treading into territory he knows little about.

Shaul Wallach writes:
>      In the face of all this, I earnestly ask, "Is it all worth it?"
> To be honest with ourselves, is it right for us to lead ourselves into
> temptation and jeopardize our dignity for the sake of material gain?

Excuse me?  Lead ourselves into temptation?  Jeopardize our dignity?
What kind of office do you work in?

Recently you quoted a source which spoke of not prolonging conversations
- even a few words to a bank teller - because it might lead to discontent
in marriage.  I question the quality of a marriage that cannot withstand
casual non-sexual conversation with a stranger!

Work relationships are, of course, more prolonged than bank teller
conversations, but come on -- we're adults here!  If I were going to be
"tempted" in the workplace, I could just as easily be "tempted" at home
by the milkman, the mailman, the plumber, the school bus driver, ...
need I go on?  What is it about the workplace that suddenly makes all
us women hussies?  (Or is it the men you don't trust and we women have
to stay at home because men can't control themselves?)

> Or because we feel discontent staying home and seek status in
> professional careers?

Just out of curiosity, I wonder what it is I'm supposed to do at home
all day by myself?  Vaccuum the floor?  With today's modern conveniences,
it just doesn't take all day to cook and clean.  And if you tell me
I should go visit the sick (which I probably *should* do more of!) I'll
tell you about all the cute doctors in the hospitals.  Even some of the
checkout clerks at the grocery store aren't half bad. ( :-) in case you
couldn't tell.)

> I do think, though, that we should be more imaginative in exploiting
> modern technology to allow a woman who must pursue a career to do so in
> such a way as to minimize the risks involved.

See above re: milkmen.  Again I question whether it is us women who become
hussies or the men who can't control themselves.  If it is the latter, do
you at least understand that I might resent my movements being curtailed
for that reason?  Considering the example of Devorah the Prophetess, I find
it hard to believe that God frowns on all women who step out of their homes.

> And last, but not least,
> men should show their wives more affection and appreciation for their
> home roles so that discontent should not become a motive for seeking
> satisfaction outside the home at the expense of their modesty.

Oh yes.  If my husband really appreciates his clean shirts and thanks me
every day for the bowl of Cheerios, I will feel that doing laundry and
washing dishes are meaningful activities, I will not wonder why God gave
me a brain, and I will realize that women in the workplace should at
least have the good sense to wear those outfits they wear in Iran!

Ellen Krischer
(with apologies to my husband who, in addition to his share of the laundry
and dishes, does almost all the shopping, and, in fact, buys all the


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Thu, 06 Oct 94 20:03:05 IST
Subject: Modesty of Women

     In another posting I have tried to show that the Shabbat peace the
Netzi"v wrote about was one that is celebrated within the confines of
one's house or courtyard, and does not involve compromising the modest
woman's virtue of staying at home. In this posting I would like to
expand a little more on this sensitive issue of a woman's modesty.

     Last summer, in the course of a discussion on mail-jewish of
yeshiva dropouts, I bemoaned the progressive breakdown of the time-
honored standards of modesty within Haredi Jewry. As evidence of this,
I noted posters that had been put up in Benei Beraq signed by anonymous
committees protesting, among other things, the strolling together in
the streets on Shabbat even of married couples. Over the past year
or so there has been continued agitation against other things, such
as the latest women's fashions and even the wearing of the wig as
a hair covering by women. I pointed to this agitation as evidence of
concern over the growing influence of secular Western culture even on
Israeli Haredi Jewry. While the cases both for and against the wig
were already discussed back then on mail-jewish, I would like to
present here some other aspects of women's modesty that rabbis in Benei
Beraq have addressed themselves to.

     At the time of the discussion last summer, there was a large
assembly of women devoted to matters of zeni`ut (modesty), which filled
up the outdoor square of the largest girls' school in the city (Or
Ha-Hayyim). My wife was among the thousands of women who attended, and
she brought home copies of a booklet entitled "Halakhot we-Hanhagot
Be-`Inyanei Zeni`ut" ("Laws and Practices in Matters of Modesty"),
written by R. Moshe Shaul Klein, who is one of the Morei Hora'ah
(poseqim) at the Beit Din of R. Shemuel Wosner (author of Shevet
Ha-Lewi), probably the most widely respected and authoritative poseq in
Benei Beraq today. The 14-page booklet gives 20 guidelines for women, in
addition to an abbreviated digest of the laws of yihud (being alone with
men). Some of the guidelines appear quite strict, at least in comparison
with the things one often sees today in Benei Beraq - after all, the
purpose of the booklet in the first place is to improve our observance.

   The following is an abbreviated summary of the guidelines:

*  The first guideline starts with a discussion of the verse (Ps. 45)
   "Kol Kevuda Bat Melekh Penima..." ("All the glory of the king's
   daughter is inside..."). It is a woman's virtue that she not
   leave her house for other than cases of need (shopping, visiting
   relatives, etc.), and a woman who refrains from going out in the
   street just to see and be seen (like Dina - Gen. 34) is worthy
   of the title of respect "Bat Melekh" ("King's Daughter").

*  Just as a man is forbidden to ask about the welfare of a woman,
   so is a woman forbidden to ask about the welfare of a man.
   Although it is not strictly forbidden to say just "Shalom",
   a woman who does this sparingly is considered worthy to be

*  Since Haza"l considered riding immodest for women, one should
   be particular not to let girls ride bicycles.

*  Women should not not walk or stand together in such a way that
   men cannot pass by without passing between two women. In
   particular, women should not stand and talk in stairways.

*  A modest woman speaks in a low tone.

*  The dress code is given in detail. Short, split and semi-
   transparent clothes are forbidden. Tight clothes are likewise
   discouraged. Colors should be quiet so as not to attract attention
   and must not be red. Stockings must be opaque and without colors
   or patterns. Hair styles must not be according to modern fashions.

*  Excessive makeup or perfume is discouraged. Many modest Benot
   Yisrael do not use makeup or perfume at all, and do not polish
   their nails.

*  Women must not sing where men can hear, and in classrooms and
   girls' clubs ("Batya") the windows should be closed at the least.

*  Gatherings and parties should be very particular to finish
   early at night (in any case, NO LATER THAN 21:00) (emphasis
   in text), and afterwards women are to go home immediately.

*  When girls are FORCED (emphasis in text) to return late from
   a wedding, etc., they are not to go alone without the company
   of adults.

*  Girls are encouraged not to stay overnight at the house of
   a girlfriend.

*  A girl who has to travel alone in a taxi during the day
   must sit in the back seat.

*  Women should respect men who are particular not to look
   at them even when speaking to them, as well as those who
   do not pass objects to them directly from hand to hand.

*  People must be very careful about reading literature
   that has not been checked.

*  People should avoid those who make cynical or light
   remarks about the pious, and girls must make supreme
   efforts to befriend only those girls who are adorned
   with fear of heaven, modesty and pure qualities.




From: Rivka Haut <0005446733@...>
Date: Sun, 9 Oct 94 15:52 EST
Subject: Role of Women

I have been a silent "reader" of this list for quite some time, and,
although I found it difficult not to respond to the recent postings on the
"role of women" in halakhic Judaism, I decided to nevertheless not get
involved in the discussion. I long ago made up my mind never to debate
women's "right" to learn, as I would not debate women's right to vote (a
subject about which there was much debate in rabbinical circles, and many
gedolim, including Rav Kook, declared that women are not halakhically
permitted to vote in political elections in Israel, as reported by Menachem
Elon in his opinion on the Leah Shakdeil case). But, after reading
"Anonymous'" response to Shaul Wallach, I felt impelled to respond in order
to support her.
         For the past twelve years, as a director of the AGUNAH
organization, I have met many such women and have witnessed their pain.
        Agunot from all across the Orthodox spectrum have come to AGUNAH for
help: modern orthodox, Satmar, Lubovitch, as well as from yeshiva circles.
(Most of our women have actually come from yeshiva circles, for who else
would allow their lives to be ruined other than women who are deeply
committed to halakhah?) This is not the place to discuss all the agunah
abuses in the halakhic world, nor the place to discuss the corruption and
lack of proper functioning that prevails in the beit din system. I too know
many women who have been spoken to by rabbis in the same way that
"anonymous" was spoken to. In fact, I have witnessed, many times, the same
sort of thing: women being told that it is their responsibilty to fix their
marriages, and sent back to abusive husbands by rabbis who explain to them
what the proper role of a wife is.  I recently told a local rabbi, who had
forbidden a woman to get an order of protection, that he was then to be held
responsible for her physical safety.
        Quite often, these agunot are escaping from marriages in which the
husband has the attitude espoused by Shaul Wallach, namely that the husband
is the "authority" in the home, and the wife's role is to be "obedient." 
Following Wallach's guidelines for a happy marriage is no guarantee that the
marriage will survive, and, in fact, is often a recipe for disaster. 
        I have no blueprint for a happy marriage. Wallach stated that he has
been married for 18 years. I have been married for more than 30 years, but I
do not consider myself an authority on marriages. I do know, however, that
my marriage would never have lasted two years if my husband had the
hierarchal attitude  Wallach describes.
        Relying on selected quotes from the Rambam while hiding others is
not an honest tactic. Rambam, Hilcot Ishut 21:10 states: "Any woman who
refrains from performing those duties which she is obligated to perform, may
be forced to do so even by the use of a whip." I once was called by a
distraught woman who had just been beaten by her husband. She asked me to
supply rabbinic sources to help her convince him that he was acting in
violation of halakhah. Unfortunately, I had to inform her that while there
were respected sources prohibiting wife beating, there were also eminent
sources, including Rambam, permitting it. As her husband was a Sephardi, he
would be likely to justify his attitude by citing the Rambam.
        Would Wallach, in his reliance on the Rambam, recommend the Rambam's
approach to wife beating?
        In the course of my work for agunot, I have visited a battered
women's  shelter which has kosher facilities. There are several such in NY,
as well as several in Israel that I know of. They are filled with refugees
from marriages in which  husbands felt they were the "authorities" and their
wives must be obedient to them.
        In short, it is possible to be a "menuval bershut haTorah."  Let men
refrain from defining what women's role is, as each marriage has its own
dynamics. Lecturing women on their "proper role" as good wives according to
halakhah provides unscrupulous, as well as mentally disturbed men, with
dangerous ammunition. 
Rivka Haut  


End of Volume 15 Issue 68