Volume 15 Number 84
                       Produced: Wed Oct 19  0:20:03 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Frum Dating
         [Shaul Wallach]
         [Janice Gelb]
Marriage - Lead us not into temptation
         [Akiva Miller]
More on Women/Workplace
         [Zvi Weiss]
Women and Careers
         [Marc Shapiro]


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Thu, 13 Oct 94 17:23:09 IST
Subject: Frum Dating

      Alan Stadtmauer differs with my interpretation of the Talmud in
Yevamot 63 about choosing a wife:

>> Did not our Rabbis tell us (Yev. 63): "Hut
>> darga we-sav itata" (go down a step and marry a woman)? As Rashi says,
>> a man should take a wife who is "less important" than him, because
>> otherwise he will not be accepted by her. It seems to be important for
>> the success of the marriage that the wife accept the authority of her
>> husband.
>Rashi uses the phrase "shema lo titkabel aleha" (_lest_ he not be
>acceptable to her). I see no reference to authoriy in this Rashi. Often
>the word "titkabel" refers to accepted in the sense of being desirable.
>Thus perhaps the Rabbis's concern was that if she comes from a higher
>social class, she may resent being married to someone less important.
>(Particularly if the marriage had been arranged.)

     I see your point here, except perhaps for the last sentence. I
don't think our Rabbis were concerned with the wife's resentment, since
she could not be married without her consent. In Qiddushin 7a (and
parallels, esp. Bava Qama 110b) it is evident that women were not
considered very choosy about picking their husbands, as Reish Laqish
said, "Tav Lemeitav Tan Du Milemeitav Armalu" ("it's better to sit two
people togther than to sit as a widow"). I think our Rabbis were more
concerned about what might happen if the wife discovered afterwards that
she was "more important" than her husband, whatever that means.

>The context (not quoted by Mr. Wallach) may support this reading: The
>immediately preceding gemarra recommends waiting to marry. Rashi explains,
>"wait until one has checked the woman's actions that she is not bad and a
>nag (my free translation of "kantaranit")". It seems the Rabbis are not
>suggesting that success depends upon the acceptance of the husband's
>authority, but that the couple be mutually acceptable to each other.

     Yes, I agree that there is no direct reference here to accepting
the husband's "authority" (a word that I added above). But it doesn't
necessarily follow that the first suggestion is similar to the second
one. It might be that our Rabbis were talking here about two separate

     Jastrow translates Qantaran as "quarrelsome, disputatious." See
the examples he cites. It doesn't, however, affect your main point.




From: <Janice.Gelb@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Fri, 14 Oct 1994 09:25:14 +0800
Subject: Re: Marriage

In Vol. 15 #62, Binyomin Segal says:
> 3. the traditional Torah marriage is not chauvinist. It merely accepts
> that there are two different roles needed in a marriage and each person
> should carry out the role to which s/he is best suited. Neither role is
> better or worse - they are different. [...]
> The answer to these questions has to do with the advantages that a woman
> has over a man. She has extra binah (lit perhaps intuition or
> discernment, but it should be clear that in jewish thought this is an
> intellectual ability, not a "superstition". 

He then goes on to explain why this quality was imbued in women, because 
it is so important in raising children:

> The answer is simple: G-d trusts women to raise children, to understand
> their needs and treat them well (in fact He gave them Binah so they
> could do the job well). He knew that no written code could tell you how
> to treat your children (can you just see it - 3 kids pulling on you -
> "wait I have to look up which of you I should speak to") so He gave one
> part of humanity the ability to discern a persons needs. [...]
> Men are given mitzvos to constrict their ability to fall too
> low. Women - with binah - can be trusted to "stay the course" without
> the mitzvos. 

I have two problems with this common line of reasoning:

1. It assumes that all women are basically the same. While it is true
that many women are maternal and intuitive, it is also true that many
women are not: they may tend toward being more intellectual and
primarily logical vs. emotional.  This, of course, is also true of men
-- that is, of people in general.  To lump all women together into a
common psychological profile cannot help but cause problems because
women who are different from the "norm" in that context will not fit
into their assigned role happily or effectively.  And, they will be
made to feel that the problem is theirs rather than with a society that
assumes that all women by virtue of being female think, feel, and react
the same way, and want the same things out of life.

2. What does this say for men who, due to divorce or death of a spouse,
are the sole parent of their children? That due to a lack of binah they
cannot possibly be as good a parent as a female? Needless to say, the
ideal is for all children to have both a mother and a father, but to
say that if a mother is missing a father is automatically incapable or
severely handicapped in raising his children by virtue of being male I
think is an insult.

It falls into the same trap as pointed out in #1 above: that while some
fathers may find it difficult to be open emotionally or to relate to
their children, others may be wonderful caring, supportive parents.
The difference is in the person himself, not in the fact that he is

Janice Gelb                  | (415) 336-7075     
<janiceg@...>   | "A silly message but mine own" (not Sun's!) 


From: Akiva Miller <75107.146@...>
Date: 14 Oct 94 01:10:25 EDT
Subject: re: Marriage - Lead us not into temptation

In issue 15:68, Ellen Krischer <elk@...> wrote:

>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, ...

Ms. Krischer, do you read newspapers or magazines? These problems are
real! They happen all the time! "We're adults here." Indeed! I grant you
that talking to the plumber rarely breaks up a marriage. But it does
happen! You "question the quality of a marriage that cannot withstand
casual non-sexual conversation with a stranger." Don't bother
questioning it; let's be honest and admit that such a marriage was a
weak one even before the conversation took place. To me, that simply
strengthens the argument to avoid such conversations.

>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?

I have no such question. I fully believe that the bulk of the blame lies
on "the men who can't control themselves." And I can't blame you for
your resentment of that. But we have to deal with reality, and both men
and women must do as much as we can to minimize these dangers to family

Many people have the attitude, when dealing with family matters, that "I
am a responsible adult. I have my eyes open. I be careful in what I
do. I will not cross over the line. And I resent those halachos which
treat me like a baby and presume that I will indeed cross over the line
and do things which I should not be doing."

But those same people understand that they cannot pick up a pencil on
Shabbos because of the remote possibility of absent-mindedly writing
something. And those same people understand that when the holiday falls
on Shabbos, every Jew in the world is denied the privelege of hearing
the Shofar, or of shaking the Lulav, because once upon a time, someone
carried it to shul where there was no eruv. And they understand that we
can't mix milk into chicken, even if we know that we'll be careful to
keep the milk out of beef. And they understand that we can't drink
non-Jewish wine, even if we promise to be careful not to intermarry.

But this, they say, is different. This idea, that we dare not risk
anything which might lead to something which might cause friction
between husband and wife, this is different. On this issue, the Torah is
supposed to allow you to trust yourself? Come on, people! We're talking
about major mitzvos here! One of the Big Three. Right up there with
idolatry and murder, is forbidden sexual relationships. We should give
up our lives rather than violate this, and you think it needs fewer
safeguards than Shabbos does? Fewer safeguards than kashrus does? Any
safeguards at all?

(Two important personal foonotes: (a) If anyone notices that most or all
of my examples were rabbinic safeguards, well, yes, so what. The point
is to demonstrate the concept and importance of having such
safeguards. If you think that the men-and-women-shouldn't-talk idea is
of Torah origin, then so much the better. (b) Personally, I do NOT
restrict my talking to women as much as Shaul indicates I should. But
that is my weakness. Depending of the circumstances, it is certainly
allowed, or perhaps even encouraged. But I recognize the dangers
involved and I will not make snide remarks about adulthood which mock
these concepts.)

Akiva Miller


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 1994 11:56:38 -0400
Subject: More on Women/Workplace

Shaul Wallach raises an intersting problem re the modern Workplace.
However, I believe that a different perspective can be applied.  From
Shaul's perspective, while we get in to the modern professional
workplace because of our normal human desires ("we are not angels"), the
stresses of such an environment then FORCE us to behave like angels
because of the horrible envrionment that we have chosen to enter...
Therefore, he suggests that the answer may be to avoid this strssful
situation so that we will not be forced to be "like angels" -- a
difficult, if not impossible role to fulfill.

I would suggest an alternative approach.  Everyone has to face SOME
challenge.  The only question is: what sort of challenge will it be.
The ability of one to handle that challenge is dependent upon that
person's character, knowledge (sometimes), Fear of Hashem, etc.  What we
should really try to do is best equip each individual to face his/her
challenge successfully.

Instead of asking "is it worth it? -- implying that people put
themselves into difficult positions for the sake of material gain, the
real question should be: Is it better for me to be
"intellectually/professionally fulfilled" (and I DELIBERATELY do not
quantify those terms nor do I mean any pejorative by them) when I will
be faced with certain stresses/temptations OR is it better for me to
"forgo" -- or redirect -- some of what I wish to achieve in order to
avoid such stresses.  This is a highly individualized matter.  Some
people can, indeed, follow the relevant halachot in the work- place and
not only "fulfill" themselves but also greatly benefit Jewish (and
non-Jewish) society around them and actually generate a tremendous
Kiddush Hashem.  I do NOT believe that such people are the "exception
that 'proves' the rule" -- I do NOt believe that they are but "one in a
thousand" -- I think that there are a significant number of such people.

On the other hand, there are people who cannot handle this environment.
For them, to be in this environment may be -- literally -- asking them
to "live like angels" -- which they are unable to do.  There may be many
reasons.  Perhaps, they just did not learn enough Torah before
entering this turbulent environment.  Perhaps, they cannot handle the
pressure.  Perhaps, they need to develop a stronger sense of Yir'at
Shamayim.  In any event, such a person should NOT enter the
"marketplace" (be that person man or woman)... unless s/he takes all
corrective action needed -- and even then thinks twice...

It is true that there is a "yeridat HaDorot"... On the other hand, it is
also true that never has it been possible to communicate Torah around
the whole world (literally!) as we can now do...  Perhaps, it means that
while we -- as individuals -- are Yordim, this generation [of/before
Moshiach] has a special opportunity for greatness ("Makom hinichu lanu
l'hisgader bo" -- a place has been left for us to make our mark).

I agree that we can and should use modern technology to minimize the
halachic problems (e.g., telecommuting) that one can find in the
workplace.  At the same time, instead of regarding solely as an
unmitigated evil, perhaps, it is best to regard the workplace as a
challenge and an opportunity.

Since we believe that the Torah is Eternal, that it provides guidance
for all circumstances and societies in which we may find ourselves, it
seems better to accept our Dor as a Challenge and realize the
positive... rather than regard it solely as a source of misery and long
for "the good old days".



From: Marc Shapiro <mshapiro@...>
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 1994 08:59:03 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Women and Careers

For those who are interested, R. Aharon Lichtenstein has an article in 
the book Ha-Peninah (Jerusalem, 1989), in which he speaks about how we 
should encourage women to have a career. He does say that there are 
certain things we shouldn't encourage, e. g. a girl to go ino the opera 
or ballet, that is he is not encouraging Virginia Slims Country, but I am 
sure he would say the same thing re. men, i. e. they should not be 
encouraged to go into these professions. The whole debate on Mail-Jewish 
comes down to how we view the place of women in society. As Rav 
Lichtenstein says, women should not be tied to the kitchen. However, 
apprently some on this line think they should (expecially after there are 
no more children in the house to take care of)

						Marc Shapiro


End of Volume 15 Issue 84