Volume 19 Number 73
                       Produced: Sun May 28 23:03:05 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Coed classes & dancing
         [Meir Shinnar]
Conduct in Single-sex schools
         [Zvi Weiss]
Girl/Boy Contact - Bnei Akivah in Jerusalem
         [Eli Turkel]
         [Adina B. Sherer]
Women's Sleeves
         [Aleeza Esther Berger]


From: <meir@...> (Meir Shinnar)
Date: Tue, 23 May 95 11:38:50 -0400
Subject: Coed classes & dancing

In an article, Ari Shapiro, continuing his opposition to coed schools,
cites Even HaEzer prohibitions and then cites the fact that shuls used
to sponsor mixed dancing, and views it as clearly wrong, just as, in his
view, mixed classed are wrong.

	It should be understood that mixed dancing is by no means
clearly wrong.  There are tshuvot from noted poskim (I believe the
Maharam miPadua among them - I will check the sources) who permit mixed
dancing between singles and between people married to each other who are
tahor.  While some Poskim objected strongly (I believe the Maharshal),
others permitted.  Indeed, the main objection of some poskim was dancing
by people married to others.  Even that was permitted around Purim.

	While many poskim today are far more stringent about mixed
dancing, forbidding it even between people married to each other who are
tahor, the issue is by no means clear cut.  Furthermore, those who
follow the poskim who are machmir (strict) may very well be over the
issur of being mozti laaz (slandering) those in the past who allowed it
for good halachic reasons, and being meheze keyohara (appearing proud by
being more strict - an avera whose mention is today not at all popular).
It is not at all clear that return to the Young Israel mixed dances is
so bad, and we should be careful of criticizing people who were
following valid halachic positions, even if we no longer follow those

	Thus, even for the issue of mixed dancing between singles the
issue is by no means cut and dried.  Therefore, the exposure to the
other sex in coeducational schools, occuring under educational auspices,
should surely be mutar from the point of view of sexual mixing.  Whether
it is to be encouraged from an educational perspective is a different

	One more point.  R. Moshe Feinstein zt"l tshuva on coeducational
schools is often cited.  It should be remembered that R. Moshe had a
consistent educational philosophy.  He opposed the teaching of girls
Torah she bealpe (the Oral law), and he opposed college education for
men.  The ban on coeducation is but one part of this philosophy.  After
all, if the main emphasis for men should be on limudei kodesh, and girls
can not learn torah shebealpe, coeducation is not a feasible option.  He
may have had other reasons as well for banning coeducation.  However, I
think it is somewhat hypocritical for those who reject the other
components of R. Moshe's educational system to rely on this tshuva to
ban coeducation.

Meir Shinnar


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Tue, 23 May 1995 11:36:42 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Conduct in Single-sex schools

 I am well aware that the conduct of Boys in single sex schools -- esp.
vis-a-vis their secular (poss. female) teachers is an ongoing source of
shame and disgust.  However, I would raise the matter in terms of why
the Rebbeim are apparently unable to convey to their students the Derech
Eretz needed for Teachers.
 My mother taught many years in Bais Yaakov in Chicago -- and taught for
a while in the Boy's division (which only recently was actually named as
a "yeshiva ketana" -- so that my brother can actually honestly say that
he went to a Bais Yaakov school in Chicago... but that is another
story.:-) ).  The point that she made was that the *Girl's Classes* were
ALWAYS better behaved than the boy's classes.  The Boy's classes were --
indeed -- horrible and a real chillul Hashem.
 In that light the poster who recorded her experiences as observing more
derech eretz in mixed classes could simply be observing the fact that
the class has a quieter element -- girls rather than being populated
solely by the rowdier element -- boys.
 In general, I am somewhat confused by the logic here.  *If* we posit
that (in various cases) coed is not the proper mode, then does the
poster mean that we should do somehting improper simply because the
Roshei Yeshiva and other Teachers are doing an Abysmal job of teaching
Derech Eretz to their male students?  It seems that the proper way to go
is to insist that the Yeshiva Worls take responsibility for the Chinuch
that it is supposed to provide as part of that chinuch includes Derech
Eretz!  (Of course, the parents have to work with the Yeshiva here... If
the parents convey that people who are Goyim or who do not spend their
time "learning" all day are somehow not as "worthy" as the "shining
stars" of the (e.g.) Lakewood Kollel, then I must questtion whether this
problem will get better....
 When the *parents* and the Yeshiva *work together* to convey the need
of Derech Eretz and Kavod Habriyot, then I have hope that this matter
will improve.



From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Tue, 23 May 1995 15:43:56 +0300
Subject: Girl/Boy Contact - Bnei Akivah in Jerusalem

    Ari Shapiro writes
>> A man should not ask about a woman even through an intermediary.

    Though he correctly quotes the Shulchan Arukh I have severe doubts
how much this is observed in most communities. I know of some chassidic
groups were it does happen but in my contacts with Charedi people it is
basically ignored. Again, given the mixing in a modern society it is
impossible to avoid man-woman contact. As others have pointed out poskim
do not prohibit working in a mixed group because a couple may become
friendly. This is not to deny that affairs happen at work, only that a
practical solution is not to avoid all contact between males and

    In a related topic I have heard rumors that the Bnei Akivah groups
in Jerusalem are separate. Can any of our Jerusalemite friends verify
this? I do know that Bnei Akivah yeshivot in Israel have disagreed with
the local branches (snifim) over the issue of mixed groups.



From: <adina@...> (Adina B. Sherer)
Date: Wed, 24 May 95 7:32:04 IDT
Subject: Maimonides 

We just managed to get back on mail-jewish after a long absence and I
noticed that there has been a lot of discussion about Rav Soloveitchik
zt"l holding that Maimonides being co-ed is "l'chatchila".

As someone who grew up in Boston and knows (or at least knew) the
community, I don't believe that the Rav zt"l would have agreed with that
statement in the least.  Maimonides was founded by the Rav zt"l in 1938
at a time when I think it's amazing that Boston could support a day
school at all.  I don't think that Boston could have supported a
non-co-ed day school then (I seriously doubt that it would have had
enough students to be economically viable) and I'm not sure it could
have as recently as ten or fifteen years ago.  I seriously doubt that my
parents would have sent me to such a school in 1961 and I'm not sure
they would have have kept me in a single sex school in Junior High or
High School.  As the years went on, I think that the fact that
Maimonides was co-educational and had a high academic level was used to
attract bright students who would otherwise have gone to public schools,
with or without afternoon Talmud Torah's which were popular in the '60's
and '70's.  It was only well after I graduated (1974) that the school
started restricting admission to those who come from religious homes
(and I'm not "bainyanim" enough to know how strict those restrictions

Those who think that co-ed schools always lead to better relations
between the sexes or that the children in co-ed schools are less unruly
than those in single sex Yeshivot are deluding themselves.  This
depends, IMHO, strictly on the school and its students.  I don't think
any of those generalizations are valid.  In my class most of us were
Shomer Shabbat at graduation, but in the class behind me, for example, I
don't think that was the case.  And teachers acting as chaperones at
class weekends and the like were a miserable failure - especially in the
class behind me.  And there were just as many instances of teachers
being hounded out by unruly students and of cheating on exams as there
are in any other school - single sex or coed.  I don't think one can
generalize that people who go to ceoed schools turn out better
"mentschen".  And unless they learn very seriously in post-high school
Yeshivot (something that statistically they are LESS likely to do), I
think they're a lot less likely to become talmidei chachamim....

I should add - if it's all indicative of the Rav's views on the matter,
that two boys in my class left after eighth grade - one to go to
Philadelphia and one to Scranton.  Their fathers were among the Rav's
closest circle in the Brookline community and I'm sure those boys didn't
leave without their fathers' first discussing it with the Rav zt"l.  In
fact, most of they boys in my era who went to out of town Yeshivot were
children of those who would have been considered as being in the Rav's
"inner circle" in the Brookline commmunity.

Based on my contact with the Rav zt"l, I believe that those who would 
make him a proponent of co-education l'chatchila are re-writing history.

-- Carl
	Adina and Carl Sherer
		You can reach us both at:


From: Aleeza Esther Berger <aeb21@...>
Date: Wed, 24 May 1995 14:03:02 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Women's Sleeves

> >From: Talya Naumann <an379@...>
> [My daughter has a question she would like to put to MJ readers. Thank You.
> Pam Naumann.]
> I was asked to send out this question by my Mishpacha (family studies) 
> teacher at school: What do the Rabbis say in regard to covering_the_elbow 
> for women (this is not about wearing sleeves TO the elbow)? Rav Noyvert 
> (in hebrew spelled nun-vav-yud-bet-yud-resh-tet) wrote an article in 
> Shemaatin (in hebrew spelled shin-mem-ayin-tuph-yud-nun), periodical #11, 
> p27 about this topic. 


I think this is a great class project. I hope you are reading the
primary sources yourselves in class and this request is just an adjunct.
School is the time to learn how to find things yourself!  One way to
start finding the primary sources (although kind of backwards) is to
read an article like Rav Neubert's and look up all the footnotes to
mishna, shulkhan aruch, etc., and see where else that leads you.

Another book with collected sources on this particular topic is
R. Elyakim Ellinson's "Hatsnea Lechet", which I am pretty sure is also
available in English.  That book has the advantage of quoting the
sources themselves (although again, it's better to see them in the
original). However I confess I haven't made the time to do it even
myself even though I have interest in the topic.

To start at the end :-), Rav Neubert in that article (not sure of
English spelling of his name; I also don't know who he is, do you?) says
yes, you have to cover your elbows.  The article is from 1966, by the
way.  Now the background.

Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 24 states the opinions that a "tefach" (9
centimeters - sorry for the anachronism) showing of a woman's body is
nakedness, and that "shok" (limb) is nakedness.  The Talmud opines that
tefach is considered nakedness with reference to a man's reciting the
sh'ma in front of a woman who's showing a tefach of skin.

"Shok".  Although an animal's "shok" is the part between their knee and
ankle, a person's shok is taken to be between the thigh and the knee,
and between shoulder and elbow. Jewish women who cover up to their
wrists and ankles are (I believe) doing it because it's customary in
their communities, not because they have a definition of shok the same
as the animal part. (ALthough Hazon Ish Orach Chaim 16:8 suggests that
shok might mean between knee and ankle for a person as well.)

Now "tefach".  One issue is: How does the prohibition for a man to
recite shm'a in front of a woman who's showing a tefach affect how the
herself woman should dress?  Can a woman show a tefach - in practical
terms, show the elbows plus some more?  That is, does the tefach
prohibition lessen the prohibition to show "shok"?  Rabbi Neubert thinks
not.  Others (e.g. Rabbi Ellinson cites Iggerot Moshe (Feinstein) Even
Ha'ever 1:58, but doesn't quote it) as saying up to a tefach is ok. to
show and that most agree to this. Obviously all are basing their
opinions on interpretations of previous authorities.

Rabbi Ellinson thinks the second opinion is probably the basis for the
Religious Education Ministry in Israel's school dress code that girls
can't wear sleeveless shirts but can keep their elbows showing, although
it appears to me that he is kind of uncertain about this because this
dress code allows for showing more than one tefach.

Interestingly (this is me, not Rabbi Ellinson talking now) this leads to
a question of whether showing more than one tefach (the upper arm is
longer than 9 cm) is ok if that is the custom of the place (similar to
following the custom of the place in covering to the wrist if that is
the custom of the place) I have one private rabbinical opinion to this

The situation you mentioned about wearing sleeves to the elbows but not
covering them is interesting.  This could be the strictest
interpretation of "showing up to a tefach is ok". But since elbows are
not as big as 9 cm, what could be the source for the strictness such an
opinion?  I think this could hinge (ha ha) on where one starts counting
from... (the pointy part of your elbow? Somewhere above or below it?)
Or perhaps "to the elbows" means you should buy the shirt so that it
goes to your elbows, but when it shrinks in the wash or you pick your
arm up, you will show up to a tefach.  (I am relatively serious about
that.)  Alternatively, conceivably, common sense says that "to the
elbows" could be the most lenient opinion of "covering the entire shok,
not showing even a tefach". I haven't seen the "to the elbows" opinion
anywhere. Maybe it is an urban legend based on one of these conjectures,
or maybe I missed it.

Good luck in your studies!
Aliza Berger


End of Volume 19 Issue 73