Volume 16 Number 1
                       Produced: Mon Oct 24  0:31:35 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Another reference Re: Wife Beating
         [Yossie Halberstadt]
Frum Dating
         [Zvi Weiss]
The First as Mr. Right
         [Sam Juni]
Watch wearing on shabas
         [Warren Burstein]
Wife Beating
         [Rivka Haut]
Women & Apologetics
         [Binyomen Segal]


From: <fx_joe@...> (Yossie Halberstadt)
Date: Thu, 20 Oct 1994 09:55:41 GMT
Subject: Another reference Re: Wife Beating

Although this topic has been well covered by numerous posters,
for the record I would like to add one further reference.

Rabbeinu Yona Z"L in Shaarei Teshuva, his classic work on the mitzvah of
repentance, in the third sha'ar (chapter (lit. gate)), discusses the
commandment of Lo Yosif Haccoso. This is actually written in the Torah
instructing a Beis Din not to lash a person more than he can stand.
However, it is also interpreted as meaning that one must not hit anybody

Rabbeinu Yona Z"L, says that people who err and hit their wives should
realise that they are trangressing this commandment, as for hitting
anybody else.

Yossie Halberstadt                                 <HALBERSTADTJ@...>


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 1994 12:44:58 -0400
Subject: Frum Dating

Shaul Wallach takes issue with Alan Stadtmauer's explanation of "Hut
darga..."  because Shaul apparently cannot comprehend that "our Rabbis
were concerned with the wife's resentment, since she could not be
married without her consent..."  I fail to understand what ensuring the
wife's INITIAL consent has to do with the issue of resentment that can
develop in a marriage over time.  Shaul -- in effect -- states that
CHAZAL were not concerned with the wife's feelings that may develop over
time -- as long as she "gave her consent" initially....  That he should
make such an assertion without any proof implies a tremendous
insensitivity to women... [Of course, anyone who can defend a distressed
woman being told that divorce is the woman's fault -- and apparently
disregard the pain such a statement causes may honestly feel that it is
not so important to be concerned with such things....]

Since no other "proof" is provided, I find Alan's assertion much more
reasonable AND much more in line with the overall issue(s) -- i.e., that
the couple be acceptable to "each other".....

BTW, the citation of Resh Lakish's statement "Tav L'meitav..." as
"proof" that women were not choosy fails to include ANY sort of analysis
in terms of (a) social conditions -- [an unmarried woman was sometimes
the source of ch'shad that she was a harlot or the like... a man was
considered to be liable to "sinful thoughts" if he was not married --
but not necessarily suspected of ACTING upon such thoughts] (b) economic
conditions -- the Gemara ALSO discusses the fact that a woman can be
upset over not having children because she needs a "support" for herself
-- esp. as she ages -- even though she is not obligated in the Mitzva of
p'ru u'rvu....  To claim that women were "not choosy" -- and then to
develop -- based upon that notion -- the idea that CHAZAL were concerned
about what might happen if the women discovered she was "mor important"
says more about Shaul's attitude toward women than about scholarly

A last point.  As Alan points out, marriages were often arranged -- and
involved young people.  While this can be an excellent system, it is
important to realize that consent can easily be "coerced" -- and that it
is the rare young woman who can stand up to parental pressure/social
pressure.  In such a case, if CHAZAL really wanted to ensure the success
of "the system", it would make a LOT of sense that they would not only
be concerned with the initial consent but with factors from BOTH the
husband's and the wife's perspectives to ensure a stable and fulfilling
relationship.  Such factors would necessarily include matters per-
taining to the WIFE's happiness, as well.


P.S. Please pardon some of the more overt typos.... I have been trying to
type this in haste....


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Thu, 20 Oct 94 22:35:55 EST
Subject: The First as Mr. Right

   Related to the recent controversy concerning the relatively short
 period of time which couples allow themselves to get acquainted before
 resolving to a life-long commitment, there is an other feature in
 Yeshiva courtship which gave me pause.  It seems that a good percen-
 tage of engagements are finalized where at least one of the dyad has
 never "gone out" with another prospect.  (My impression is that this
 is more common for girls than for boys.)  I have several quarrels with
 this phenomenon:

    1. When we bought a house, we resolved not to put down a binder
       on the first house we liked. This allowed us to see if we found
       something better yet.  Moreover, we might find that, by comparison
       the house we thought we liked was really unsuitable.

    2. The above worked for us despite the fact that we had first
       seen quite a few houses which we absolutely did not like, so
       that we came with some experience under our belts.

    3. Some of the people under question come from backgrounds where
       they NEVER had meaningful relationships with peers of the oppo-
      site sex.  They thus have no basis for comparison.

    4. Some interpret the absolute decision to proceed with the first
       person they go out with within the emotional context of "falling
       in love."  Evoking this buzzword often seems to negate rational
       evaluation.  I would suggest that the construct is rather fuzzy
       and given to self-deception, particularly for one who has not had
       previous meaningful experience in the area.

    5. As with the phenomenon of short dating periods, I noticed in
       two such engagements (with the first contender) a sense of
       pride in the engagee. Unless this pride is a cover-up for dis-
       comfort, I don't understand what there is to be proud of.  I
       sense an unspoken value here that those who choose their "first"
       are better off than those who don't, much as there is a sense of
        triumph which varies inversely with the number of dates logged
       in before the announcement.

    6. Despite the pre-investigations of demographics and objective
       criteria, I question the validity of a decision without base
      comparisons, since many of the non-investigatable issues which
      remain are subjective and not black/white types.

    7. The absurdity of the "first" phenomenon is compounded when the
       shidduch consists of mutual "firsts" who decide to tie the knot.


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 1994 10:49:09 GMT
Subject: Re: Watch wearing on shabas 

Bobby Fogel writes that without a watch on Shabbat he can still make
it to prayers because

    These are important enough that I don't need to rely on a watch to
    keep on schedule. 

Were it a case of actual pikuach nefesh (danger to life), let alone
simply being very important, the only way I could get myself to
somewhere on time later today, were I not wearing a watch, would be to
go there this very second.

 |warren@         bein hashmashot, in which state are the survivors
/ nysernet.org    buried?


From: Rivka Haut <0005446733@...>
Date: Thu, 20 Oct 94 10:49 EST
Subject: Wife Beating

Recently there was a television documentary about FDR. The program pointed
out that, when he was running for the presidency, Roosevelt was seriously
handicapped. He could not walk at all, he could stand only with help, and
whenever he appeared publicly, his heavy steel braces could be plainly seen
around his shoes. Nevertheless, despite the clear facts before their eyes,
the American people refused to acknowledge the obvious, and Roosevelt was
always portrayed in drawings and newspaper cartoons as jumping and running,
never in a wheelchair or even sitting down.
        Denying that there were (are) rabbis who prescribe wife beating
under certain conditions is likewise a refusal to face the truth. The words
    I have never seen any sources permitting a wife to beat her husband.
Does anyone know of any such sources? (please do not respond with sources
permitting the beit din to flog; that is not what i am asking).
        As I stated, in my work with agunot I have many times witnessed, and
continue to see today, rabbis sending women back to physically abusive
husbands. In 1986 there was a conference on Women and Halakhah, in
Jerusalem, organized by P'nina Peli. The rabbi who headed the Jerusalem beit
din spoke, and before an audience of over 500 women (including me), and a
few men as well, stated that merely because a man beats his wife, that is
not sufficient cause to end a marriage. He reported sending a woman whose
husband's beatings caused her to be hospitalized three times, back to him
because he still loved her and wanted shalom bayit. He advised us to work at
keeping marriages together instead of helping agunot to obtain their gittin.
        This past Sunday night I took six agunot to meet with a local rabbi.
Each told her story. Two of the women had been physically attacked by their
"husbands." One, whose husband is a jeweler and kept a gun in the house
repeatedly threatened her with the gun, and bashed her face in with it. She
still lacks a get after five years. The other had her ribs broken. This one
is in civil court fighting over child custody, and her hsuband is bringing
in a local rabbi to testify on his behalf.
        These are bitter truths in our community, unpleasant to face, easy
to ignore because most of these women have neither money nor political power
in the Jewish world. Unlike Jonathan Pollard, thousands do not come to rally
on their behalf, and very little money is raised to help them. Yet they too
are prisoners. We can continue to deny their existence, and to deny that
there are halakhic sources supporting husbands' rights to beat women. The
rabbis are certainly aware of the sources, and this knowledge probably
underlies their treatment of battered women. 
        I believe that it is better to face the truth, not create a fog of
ambiguity around it.
        Last week my daughter showed me a flyer she was handed in the West
Side of Manhattan's mikva, giving women information about the resources
available to help battered women who are Orthodox. We have reached such a
point of escalation of domestic violence that women who use the mikva need
access to this information! At least, thank God, the existence of these
situations is finally being acknowledged in some circles, and help is being
made available.
        To the poster who felt I did a horrible thing to the woman who asked
me for help, I will inform him about her circumstances. She had serious back
trouble and had surgery on her back. She had been married for over 20 years.
During one argument, her husband threw her down and viciously kicked her,
four or five times, on her back, her most vulnerable spot. She filed a
complaint against him with the police, an act which she was later criticized
for "going to the goyim for help." She threw him out of the house. He
dragged her around to various rabbis, some  of whom advised her to take him
back because he really loved her. Now, five years after the kicking
incident, she has her get, she has custody of the kids, but no money, no
child support.   
        There are many such women. If anyone would like to help agunot,
battered or not, please respond to me privately. If the poster who was so
critical of me feels he can do better to help these women, write to me and
if I feel you really can help, i will give you an opportunity to do so. 
Rivka Haut


From: <bsegal@...> (Binyomen Segal)
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 1994 02:22:28 -0600
Subject: re: Women & Apologetics

From: Marc Shapiro <mshapiro@...>
>This reminds me of contemporary apologists who like to show
>that women are closer to God etc. If it weren't so laughable (for anyone
>who knows what traditional sources say on this) it would be very
>insulting to men. Of course, it is usually the men who toss this out as
>a sop to the women.

Marc seems to think that all the traditional sources agree that women
are secondary to men & it is only in our modern enlightened era [sic]
that jewish writers have tried to change the perspective. To disagree
with Marc is to show ignorance of the traditional sources and insult

I disagree. I find that an honest and complete look at older sources
will find a balanced approach that insults neither men nor women, indeed
it presents honestly the values (and shortcomings) of being either a man
or woman.

I already refered to various sources that are rishonim or earlier
(15:62) that deal with ways in which women are superior, though i did
not give the specific references, I think Marc (and others with a broad
background in jewish sources) should have no trouble finding the
medrashim (many quoted by rashi)

(I guess one might argue that the sources I quoted are non-halachic and
thus somehow not "really" part of judaism. I guess they might, but
judaism is far more than halacha. medrash is meant to convey attitude
and outlook and that is very much a part of traditional judaism.)

There are other sources as well - for example the medrash (BR 17:7) that
describes the power of a woman to either corrupt a rightoues man or
purify an evil man.

However, I would like to address specifically the idea that women are
closer to G-d. I found that the Maharal (1526-1609 and certainly not a
modern apologist) makes reference to this idea in his drashot on the
torah (27) on the pasuk (exodus 19:3) "so you should say to the house of
jacob and tell the children of israel" the medrash (michilta) takes the
first phrase to refer to women (hence bais yaakov seminaries) and says
that "say" indicates a gentler communication than "tell". The Maharal
explains that women are existentially holier than men and as such need a
gentle reminder rather than a stern command.

Now before anyone tells me I am selectively quoting I will admit that
there are various interpretations of the medrash's words, I am merely
pointing out that this idea that women are holier in some ways than men
is _not_ apologetics but rather a return to traditional sources. It was
around far before the woman's movement.



End of Volume 16 Issue 1