Volume 23 Number 67
                       Produced: Tue Apr 16 20:36:12 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Agunah issue
         [Tara Cazaubon]
Forced (or not) Gets
         [Alana Suskin]
Forcing a Get (v 23 n 63)
         [David Simen]
Slit Skirts and Makeup (2)
         [Heather O. Benjamin, Jeremy Nussbaum]


From: <tarac@...> (Tara Cazaubon)
Date: Tue, 16 Apr 1996 16:13:25 -0800
Subject: Agunah issue

Heather, you are not the only woman troubled by the posting about the
agunah issue being "blown out of proportion."  But I have found that
arguing with Orthodox men is like arguing with a brick wall.  I prefer to
expend my energies elsewhere, where I feel they will be more productive.
In the meantime, I have voted with my feet and joined the Conservative


From: Alana Suskin <alanacat@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Apr 1996 09:06:25 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Forced (or not) Gets

Actually thank you, Ms. Benjamin, for pointing out that more women
should be jumping into this fray. I suppose that I hadn't previously
because I tend to forget that people (especially, as you point out, men)
take such ridiculous statements as "the giving of gets are getting out
of hand" seriously.
	Getting out of hand for whom, is the question. There is
substantial evidence that gets aren't being forced (or even attempts at
persuasion made by beitei gittin) often enough! There are hundreds of
cases (probably actually more: there are hundreds of *documented cases*)
of women who are not being released from marriages filled with physical
and sexual abuse of themselves and their children. Why? Frequently their
words are not being believed, and their evidence refused. Admittedly
this simply mirrors the problems of the secular world. Indeed, I believe
is encouraged by secular culture's tolerance of such outrageous
behavior, but that we should be so influenced by secualr culture to the
extent that we are willing to allow abuse of half of our people (tacitly
or overtly) is a horror, particularly when it is defended as a right,
somehow, of a religious man.
	There is, of course, the additional issue of what the problem is
when there is emotional abuse, which is a legitimate one. Under that
heading also comes the now infamous problem of kidushei katana. We can
see that many men are quite unscrupulous about abusing even their
children simply to get what they want, and frequently what they want is
to "get even" or simply to make themselves feel better about what they
perceive as humiliation by humiliating or tormenting in kind. One sees
this sort of thing all the time, but as observant Jews (of what halachic
denomination) one would want to encourage rabbis to teach men that if
they engage in this sort of behavior they are not acting in accordance
with Judaism. They are certainly not walking humbly n the ways of God.
	Finally, even if the only problem with the marriage is that the
husband and wife do not love each other, they certainly should not be
living together. And if the wife does not love her husband, and wants to
leave, and the husband does not want her to leave, and refuses to give
her a get, is that an act of love? or one of pettiness and vengefulness?
If my husband wanted to leave me and no longer loved me, I would be
heartbroken, but I couldn't ese myself refusing to grant a get. What
would be the point? WOuld he love me more if I forced him to stay?

Alana Suskin,
Mitnaggedet Mama


From: <dcs@...> (David Simen)
Date: Tue, 16 Apr 1996 12:12:12 +0500
Subject: Forcing a Get (v 23 n 63)

This is in response to Heather O. Benjamin's posting in mail.jewish v 23
# 63.

Heather, not every man supports the unlimited right of men to browbeat
their (soon-to-be-ex-)wives by holding a get hostage to various demands,
usually -- but not always -- for money.  The original poster's claim
that "the whole agunah business is getting blown out of proportion" is
in fact quite self-serving, since he just concluded (or may still be
concluding) a divorce in which holding back on the get was an issue.

There is a valid concern that batei din will not consider the realities
of emotional abuse in weighing whether a man may be forced to give a
get.  I would submit that such abuse is definitely domestic violence,
but unfortunately I fear that the timidity of the Orthodox leadership in
America would preclude most batei din from the recognition that
emotional scars can be as real as physical ones.

Does anyone know of any precedents in which emotional suffering or
mental illness are treated as seriously as physical suffering or
illness?  For example, if a woman is suicidally depressed because of
pregnancy, counseling has not helped, and the danger of suicide is taken
seriously, is this sufficient grounds for an abortion to save her life?

Anyway, the problem of the `aghuna is very real and painful for many
women, and anyone, man or woman, who treats it lightly because it
doesn't affect him or her personally shows a lack of sensitivity that
clearly delineates that writer as the antithesis of a tsaddiq.  Anyone
who treats it lightly because he's on the giving end, as opposed to the
receiving end, is a rasha` pure and simple.



From: Heather O. Benjamin <BENJAMIN@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 1996 10:35:36 -500
Subject: Slit Skirts and Makeup

This is in response to Yisroel Rotman's comments:
<Question: why is everyone worried about the impropriety of a
<slit in a skirt below the knee, yet we don't worry about makeup
<(which is also designed to attract men's attention - hence the
<adjective "attractive")

  .. in addition to the slit-in-the-skirt issue.

First of all, for all you men out there who think that the only reason
women wear makeup is to attract your attention, here's a little wake-up
call. Women wear makeup because it makes us feel good about
ourselves. Did it ever occur to you that many of us wear makeup even
when the only people that are going to see us are other women and/or
children? I mean really!

This question further proves my point (see entries regarding domestic
violence, gittin, etc) which is that when women are not listened to, or
taken seriously, or consulted when it comes to issues that affect them
alone, the men making the decisions make them out of outdated
assumptions or stereotypes. To think that women wear makeup to attract
men is just silly.

One final thought. The whole slit in the skirt discussion is
ridiculous. We are supposed to be observing mitzvos because Hashem wants
us to, not to out-frum the "Schwartzes." There seems to be a trend,
nowadays, to be frummer than the next guy/gal.  This is not in the
spirit of mitzvos. Now women's faces are too seductive to show in
public? Are you kidding me? Is this where it's all coming to? You want
we should look like Muslims? With a turban wrapped around our faces?

I'll tell you a true story. One day a woman and her husband went to a
dress store/maker in Monsey. The dress that the woman had on was easily
mid-calf or lower. Her husband had her sit down in a chair, he then
proceded to get down on the floor on his hands and knees inorder to look
up her skirt to assure that it was long enough. I almost cried when I
heard this. When, when, when is this "test" ever going to prove
practical. All it is is humiliating for the woman.

Just stop this already. Follow the halacha. Find a rabbi to poskin for
you. Stop judging women who actually like to feel good about themselves
with a little makeup, and enjoy walking like a strong Jewish woman, and
not a little Geisha girl with broken feet.

From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
Date: Mon, 8 Apr 96 12:05:49 EDT
Subject: Slit Skirts and Makeup

> From: Yisroel Rotman <SROTMAN@...>
> Question: why is everyone worried about the impropriety of a slit in a
> skirt below the knee, yet we don't worry about makeup (which is also
> designed to attract men's attention - hence the adjective "attractive").

Perhaps Yisroel is implicitly saying that the issue is not attraction of
attention.  It seems clear to me that there are ways for women to
attract attention that are condoned or tolerated, and there are ways
that are forbidden and discouraged.  There may be a distinction between
general looking good, e.g. nice clothes, standard makeup, and more
"prurient" attractions, such as revealing normally covered parts of the
body, especially the lower body.  Even if you will argue that revealing
the legs below the knee is ok anyway, it may be that doing this with a
slit is actually more objectionable than not having anything there
altogether, since it can be looked upon as a "teasing" way of revealing
one's body.

I am not saying that this is the only way of looking at slit in skirts,
nor do I forbid my admitedly young daughters from wearing such skirts.
I want to suggest a way of looking at the issue that may make such
concerns more easy to relate to.  While Yisroal raises the issue, I
would like to generalize it to the general tension between the desire of
halacha/chazal to minimize sexual tension in general (e.g.  general
requirements for women to cover their body, hair, general prohibitions
and discouragement of the mixing of the sexes, even the discouragement
of men talking to women) and the circumstances and methods that are
condoned for increasing sexual tension (e.g. makeup and perfume are not
forbidden, we don't require unmarried women to cover their hair, at
least nowadays).  Mixed up in this is the question of what has an
element of sexual tension and what doesn't, or no longer does, (the
ritual handshake greeting comes to my mind as something that probably
has little if any sexual connotation, but is an issue for many people.)

Jeremy Nussbaum (<jeremy@...>)


End of Volume 23 Issue 67