Volume 20 Number 22
                       Produced: Wed Jun 28  0:08:16 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Halachic Will = Halachic Way???
         [Mordechai Perlman]
Halakhic Will, Betrothal of Minors
         [Arnie Kuzmack]
         [Michael Lipkin]
Modesty; Chazal
         [Leah S. Gordon]
         [Jonathan Katz]


From: Mordechai Perlman <aw004@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Jun 1995 14:15:19 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re:  Halachic Will = Halachic Way??? 

Ira Walfish on June 23 wrote:
> Mottel Gutnick, vol. 20 #5, states "Where there is a Rabbinic will there
> is a halchic way."  (He was not sure who said this, but I believe it was
> Blu Greenberg).  As has already been pointed out in a previous post,
> this is a very debateable stand, and in fact I have heard a shiur given
> by Rabbi Frand of Ner Israel Baltimore devoted exclusively to why this
> statement is totally erroneous.  He used two issues, the controversial
> "Get" issue and that of a woman's minyan to illustrate why, in his view,
> the statement is not true.

      I believe the Jewish Observer in an issue during the last 10 years 
(honestly, I can't remember which one just that the picture on the front 
was of a page of Shulchan Aruch) spent a great deal of room on this issue 
and the erroneous conclusions that people come to because of it.

Gerald Sutofsky writes on June 23:
> I am writing this on behalf of my father in law who does not have access
> to a computer but would like to comment on "shok". It is very intersting
> to learn that despite the confusion as to the meaning of "shok" whether
> it refers to female part of leg from thigh to knee or knee to ankle, the
> machmirim have followed the chumra to compel females to wear skirts down
> to their ankles.

     In Bais yaakov circles a girl wears her skirt long enough so that 
even when sitting down it covers her knees.  Besides for this the rest of 
the leg is covered by socks or the like.  This is the opinion of --no, 
not machmirim but -----our Gedolim.  The same Gedolim that stated that no 
matter how long the skirt, if there is a slit in the skirt on the bottom, 
this is also pritzus.  Such a p'sak I saw here in our city from Rav 
Shlomo Miller shlita.

> I believe one must truly be oversexed if the sight of
> the knees /or ankles creates immoral thought and undue excitement.

     Perhaps not.  Perhaps those who take exception are no longer 
sensitive to these things because of all the offensive imagery that they 
allow themselves to view.  If you see pritzus constantly, you get used to 
this and something that just may be pritzus has no effect on you whatsoever.

> But
> then again those who machmir have even - as it was related here earlier
> - compelled yeshiva girls, in an all girl surrounding at the beach, to
> wear robes over their bathing suits. One wonders if they fear that an
> airline or heliocopter pilot may spot one of them and due to their being
> aroused jump down or are they afraid that some of them may G-d forbid be
> lesbians.

     Maybe  you should find out if this rumour is true.  The situation is 
altogether unclear to me.  What kind of scenario is it where at the beach 
---no, not in Israel ---- it's an all-girl surrounding.  And even if it 
is, maybe you should investigate for the reasons behind their decision 
before you come out with these cynical statements of yours.  The 
administration at that school are known for their level-headedness and 
would not impose undue hardship on their girls without good reason.

  When will we finally be true people who know our place - boy
> & girl - men & women - in the reality of the world and cease these
> practices which only create mockery of religion - if that is
> religion.

    Chumros, especially in the area of tznius, are never a mockery of 
Yiddishkeit.  It is a mockery of Yiddishkeit to rely on flimsy heteirim 
for women not to cover their hair, to attract attention at all social 
events, etc.  A woman who guards her tznius is a woman who is to be 
respected. Was not a mother of kohanim gedolim praised for the fact that 
even the walls of her house never saw her uncovered hair.  Now, we are 
not assuming that people should demand this chumra of themselves or their 
spouses but it gives us an indication that a chumra regarding tznius 
ought not to be taken lightly at all.  On the contrary a woman who in 
the face of all public opinion (especially the social norms of today's 
society --- even Jewish and Orthodox society) refuses to compromise an 
iota regarding her personal tznius ought to feel pride at her 
accomplishment and she will hopefully be a shining example and 
encouragement for all with whom she has contact.

Mordechai Perlman
Ner Yisroel Yeshiva of Toronto


From: Arnie Kuzmack <kuzmack@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Jun 1995 23:55:53 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: Halakhic Will, Betrothal of Minors

(1)  Ira Walfish writes:
> Mottel Gutnick, vol. 20 #5, states "Where there is a Rabbinic will there
> is a halchic way."  (He was not sure who said this, but I believe it was
> Blu Greenberg)....
> It should be pointed out, that IMHO, the statement is definitely not
> true, and if one holds that the statement is true, one must then
> logically place a fair degree of blame on the Gedolei Hadoor for not
> resolving a number of serious Halachic difficulties....

It definitely was Ms. Greenberg's intent to criticize the Gedolai Hador 
for not solving problems such as agunot.

> ....In other words, there are, IMHO, definitely times when there
> is no Halachic Way, even when there is Halachic Will, and the above
> statement should not be used as a blanket to criticize Poskem for not
> solving some difficult problems, which I assume they are just as
> desperate to solve as we all are.

While there are undoubtedly limits to halakhic flexibility, I would not
necessarily assume this.  Any number of proposals have been made on the
agunot question as well as others.  Had there been the will, IMHO, a way
could have been found.  While they Gedolai Hador would certainly want to
relieve the suffering of agunot and do what they can in individual
cases, I suspect that they have not found a general solution in part
because they give great weight to maintaining the position that halakha
cannot change.

(2)  Israel Botnick writes:

> Regarding the suggestion that husbands relinquish their rights to marry
> off their daughters, I understood the suggestion as saying that just
> as a husband (at the time of marriage) can relinquish his right to inherit
> his wifes fortune, so too he can relinquish his right to marry off his
> daughters. My objection is, that the gemara says that the reason the
> husband can give up the inheritance, even though the torah says that a
> husband inherits his wife, is because by monetary matters, a condition
> can be stipulated even if it goes against the torahs rules. But by non-
> monetary matters, that is not the case. (The means of relinquishing the   
> inheritance is through a tnai(condition), not through a vow).

If this is the case, then the issue can be converted to a monetary one.
The husband can sign a binding contract that, if he betrothes a minor
daughter or claims to have done so, then he will pay his wife a VERY
large sum of money.  I believe that some Orthodox marriages are now made
with a similar commitment if the husband witholds a get.

Of course, this would not solve the problem for marriages that now exist.


Arnie Kuzmack


From: <msl@...> (Michael Lipkin)
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 1995 08:20:24 +0500
Subject: Modesty

I found Gerald Sutofsky's post on modesty to be rather obnoxious and
inflammatory.  All in all quite an immodest display of literary malice
bordering on lashon Hara. (e.g. "the machmirim have followed the
chumra..." and "I specifically would like to hear for the Yeshivese and
Heimshe communities.")  Flippant comments about pilots seeing the girls
on a beach or fear of lesbian aggression added nothing to whatever
dubious point was being made.

Following Gerald's logic, 
>I believe one must truly be oversexed if the sight of the knees /or 
>ankles creates immoral thought and undue excitement.

then in today's society where people have become desensitized to
underdressing, frum men and women should be able to socialize wearing
nothing but pasties and g strings!  And if you think I'm exaggerating,
try spending a summer in New York City.  Yet I'm sure Gerald, assuming
he is a Torah Jew, does not believe this and has some standards of
modest dress.  That being the case there will be someone with lower
standards looking over and mocking him just as he's mocking others.

>When will we finally be true people who know our place - boy & girl - 
>men & women - in the reality of the world and cease these practices 
>which only create mockery of religion 

With all due respect to those of us in the "center", I think the
"Yeshivese and Heimshe communities" are the ones who are most confident
of their place and who know that the only reality is the reality of
Torah.  No matter how much you try to accommodate the "real world",
which Gerald seems to envy, people will always be out there mocking you
until you accommodate so much that you become one of them.



From: Leah S. Gordon <lsgordon@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 1995 15:09:57 -0700
Subject: Modesty; Chazal

In response to Mr. Gerald Sutofsky's father-in-law's post on modesty,
Mr. Yehudah Prero writes that the Mishna B'rura says a person should be
modest even when alone (i.e. only with G-d), and that therefore, when a
body part does not need to be uncovered, it should not be.

But Mr. Sutofsky would probably agree with that sentiment--his point, as
I understood it, was that even in a case where the swimming girls were
not going to be near boys, and under conditions that would make it more
reasonable for them to have worn bathing suits (i.e. there was a call
for their bodies to be more exposed, for comfort while swimming), then
there were people who would be excessively "machmir," and forbid the

In other words, here is a case when the legs and arms had a 'need' to be
uncovered--I personally cannot imagine going swimming wearing a
full-length robe.  It almost seems like a drowning hazard.  (I suppose
wetsuits are out of the question because they might be mistaken for

Mr. Prero continues to dismiss Mr. Sutofsky's points, by claiming that
chazal, "in their infinite wisdom," made the laws which are not to be
questioned.  I challenge the idea that chazal had infinite wisdom.
Certainly, they were bright and well-learned, acquiring significant
wisdom over their years.  But no human being has infinite wisdom, and
chazal were human beings just as we are today.

Finally, Mr. Prero concludes that Mr. Sutofsky must not understand the
laws of modesty, and is therefore speaking out of ignorance.  It is not
at all clear to me that Mr. Sutofsky fails to understand anything; he is
just analyzing current practices in a critical light.  Just because two
individuals disagree on an interpretation of halakha does not mean that
one of them doesn't understand the halakha.  And I think that even being
very machmir on modesty, there is room for divergence of opinion on
whether girls, in a single-sex swimming environment, are allowed to wear
appropriate swimming apparel.

Leah S. Gordon


From: Jonathan Katz <jkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 27 Jun 95 10:22:29 +0300
Subject: Re: Tz'niut

Gerald Sutofsky recently wrote:
 "...the machmirim have followed the chumra to compel females to wear
skirts down to their ankles. I believe one must truly be oversexed if
the sight of the knees and/or ankles creates immoral thought and undue

I wish to make two points:
 First of all, it is not up to you to decide what parts of the body
cause excitement and which parts don't. I know that sounds silly, but
it's true. If the "machmirim" decide that the average person would be
excited by the sight of knees/ankles, then it doesn't matter what your
personal feelings are.

However, this is not even relevant. As far as I am aware (please correct
me if I'm wrong), the issue of Tzi'ut (modesty) is not contingent upon
the arousal of males. In other words, Tzi'ut is a law unto itself, and
although we can speculate as to the reason, we cannot say that the
definitive reason is because of possible arousal. Thus, for example, as
far as the laws of Tzi'ut go, skin-tight pants are ok (although they
would not be allowed for other reasons).  Since they do cover the entire
leg, they do not violate the law of Tzi'ut itself. 
 -Jonathan Katz


End of Volume 20 Issue 22