Volume 23 Number 77
                       Produced: Thu Apr 25  7:42:09 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

An Insight for Slit Skirts (2)
         [Russell Hendel, Avi Feldblum]
One Immersion after Menopause
         [Shlomo Grafstein]
Slit Skirts (2)
         [Rachmiel, Linda Katz]
Slit Skirts/Makeup
         [Cathleen London]
Slits and Tehillim (not connected)
         [Alan and Sharon Silver]


From: Russell Hendel <RHendel@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Apr 1996 12:36:42 -0500
Subject: An Insight for Slit Skirts

I would like to offer an insight to a discussion on slit skirts, the
most recent reference being Jeremy Nussbaum's discussion in Vol 23, #

Jeremy correctly states that there are two opposing halachic forces:
    A desire for Modesty (--restricting sexual tensions by dress codes
    A desire for allowing women to look Attractive (eg the allowance to
wear jewelry etc) 

First, I would like to note that Jeremy uses the word "condone".
Actually there are many halachic sources that Encourage women to look
attractive.  Some examples might be (1)Rabbi Akiba's statement that
women should wear Jewelry while Niddah since otherwise their husbands
might find them ugly and divorce them.  (2)Similarly the Rambam
explicitly states that a person should look at a prospective wife to
make sure she is attractive.  I believe the Rambam in part derived this
from (3)the explicit statement by Moshe Rabaynu that Bnos Slafchad had
the right to marry "men that were good in their eyes" (=good looking).
These 3 examples show that halacha doesn't only Condone attractiveness
but may Encourage it.

Returning to the above mentioned halachic tension between Modesty and
Attractiveness I would like to introduce a concept found in Utensil laws
(Calim).  In Calim we find the concept of a Utensil with a Dual

For example a pencil could function both as a writing instrument and as an
erasing instrument.  The point of this observation is that if the pencil
becomes irreperably broken it is Still A Utensil because it has an eraser
(the secondary function).  This has relevance to the laws of Toomah which
need not concern us here.

Returning to laws governing sexual tension I would like to borrow this
concept and point out the following distinction between say exposing ones
face and exposing ones legs (with a slit dress): A face has a Dual
Function: It is used in Communication (it is generally agreed that
communication is more than words but also occurs thru facial and bodily
gestures...there are even studies which indicate what % of communication
come from these gestures and nuanaces)The face could also be used for
Sexual Purposes (call it what you like: attractive, arousal, feeling good

On the other hand exposure of a leg can have only One Purpose (sexual
tension).  (In hot climates it can serve an air conditioning effect and this
should be discussed separately).

We can now suggest that halachah opposed sexual tension when that was the
Only purpose of the act but did not oppose it if the act had other
purposes.  Thus one can expose ones face but not ones legs.

We can go a step further and state that halachah opposed Sexual
Confrontation...if the act had only one purpose...sexual tension...then
the receiver of the act is being confronted.  However when an act has
two purposes the receiver is not being confronted even though there is
sexual tension.

In connection with this I should mention a Heter I personally heard from
Rav Aaron Soloveitchick (he personally told it to me in response to a
question) concerning wearing pants for skiing.  Again we can analyze
this from the point of view of Purpose: Normally exposure of leg
separation (wearing pants vs skirts) is a cause of sexual tension.  If
this is the Only Purpose of wearing pants then In Addition To The Sexual
Tension there is also Sexual Confrontation and hence this should be
prohibited.  However if there is another purpose...such as the
facilitated ease of movement which comes with wearing pants for
skiing....then even though there is still Sexual Tension there is no
Sexual Confrontation and hence the act should be permitted.

I close with a discussion of wearing makeup (we only gave a heter for
exposing the face).  Makeup serves three purposes: (1) creation of
sexual tension; (2) combatting "ugliness" (the tendency of the viewer
not to want to remain viewing the person); (3) feelings of satisfaction
or "feeling good" to the wearer that come from wearing the makeup
(similar to the feelings from washing ones fact or putting oil on it).

If a person has a right to expose ones face for purposes of
communication then it would certainly be permissible to use makeup that
would combat any tendency of the viewer not to continue viewing.  It
would also be permissable to do so if it gave personal satisfaction to
the wearer.

There might still be categories of makeup that would be discouraged if
their sole purpose was to cause sexual tension.

In summary I hope introducing the idea of Dual Purpose will complement
the Modesty-Attractive tension in halachah and lead to a more precise
understanding: Single purpose acts that have sexual tension are
confrontational and should be discouraged: Dual Purpose acts that have
some other purpose, even if they also cause sexual tension, should be
condoned, allowed, or encouraged.

Russell Jay Hendel, Ph.d. ASA
Dept of Math and COmputer Science
Drexel University, Phil Pa 

From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 1996 08:44:28 -0400
Subject: Re: An Insight for Slit Skirts

If I follow Russell's logic above, it would appear to me that in
general, then, there should be no problem with many/most slit's in
skirts, and in the wearing of pants by women. I think it is clear from
all the discussions that the primary purpose of the slit is not the
exposing of the leg, but the allowing of freer motion of the
wearer. Obviously, there can be slits that go beyond that, and then the
indivuals good judgement of what is tzenuah (modest) is what comes into
play. In a similar manner, while it is possible (probable) that in some
previous generations, pants on a woman would be viewed as creating
heightened sexual tension, I think it is clear to any one living in the
world today, that the reason most woman wear pants is for the comfort,
and often to "reduce" the issue of sexual tension. There probably is far
more possibility of lack of modesty in todays active modern world with
woman who wear skirts/dresses than with pants. As in any matter, there
are styles that are modest and those which look like they are spray
painted on which clearly are not. 

In summary, it would appear to me that we should focus more on the
internal sense of the person to influence a desire to "walk modestly
with your G-d", than some of the recent discussions that so much remind
me of people who only live for what their external show, with no concept
of what should be inside one.

Avi Feldblum
Shamash Facilitator and mail-jewish Moderator
<mljewish@...> or feldblum@cnj.digex.net


From: <RABIGRAF@...> (Shlomo Grafstein)
Date: Wed, 24 Apr 1996 20:22:23 -0300
Subject: One Immersion after Menopause

 In response to the question of a 60 year old woman who never went to
the mikvah.  The status of niddah remains as long as woman has not gone
to the mikvah.  Even if there was not any blood let us say from age 50,
still the woman remains a niddah until she immerses herself into a
mikvah.  It is possible that she went swimming in a natural lake and her
entire body was immersed and the bathing suit was not tight so that
water enveloped her body and she had an equivalent immersion to a
 However the question of the opportunity of the use of the mikvah and a
brachah to sanctify the act is in the hands of your local Orthodox
Rabbi.  To compel and force a woman, one's mother to enter into the
unknown, never tried is a question of honour to a parent when most
likely she is pure from a lake from years ago.


From: <RACHMIEL@...> (Rachmiel)
Date: Thu, 18 Apr 1996 09:01:12 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Slit Skirts

In response to the latest flurry of comments on slit skirts, especially
Jeremy's: aren't women SUPPOSED to look beautiful and be well groomed
FOR THEIR HUSBANDS so that the husbands will find them attractive, all
this for the sake of a good marriage and shalom bait?  of course,
definitions of attractiveness are culturally determined.  But one can
not in fairness blame women for trying to be attractive by dressing
fashoinably as long as they follow the halachic rules about modesty.  it
seems to me that a husband who needs to check his wife's skirt as
described is embarrassing her in public (it was in public, someone
observed it to tell the story) which is a very serious sin according to
halacha and also probably constitutes or is part of a pattern of
emotional abuse (re the discussion on gets).

Also, I think there is another cultural misconception happening here:
halacha concerning modesty, separation of the sexes, avoidance of
'frivolous speech' and so on are NOT designed to "minimize sexual
tension"; they are designed to control and locate sexual tension where
it belongs, within a holy marriage.  Judaism is halachically and
traditionally a "sex positive culture"; this fear of sex is a christian
perversion which seems to have contaminated us through assimilation.
Also, I think there is another cultural misconception happening here:
halacha concerning modesty, separation of the sexes, avoidance of
'frivolous speech' and so on are NOT designed to "minimize sexual
tension"; they are designed to control and locate sexual tension where
it belongs, within a holy marriage.  Judaism is halachically and
traditionally a "sex positive culture"; this fear of sex is a christian
perversion which seems to have contaminated us through assimilation.

From: <MSGraphics@...> (Linda Katz)
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 1996 10:38:22 -0400
Subject: Re: Slit Skirts

I object to Heather Benjamin's assertion that considering the issue of
slit skirts ridiculous and humiliating for women.

I wear them- just because even with the fuller styles, finding dressy
skirts without slits is difficult- and walking when they're sewn up is
almost impossible... (perhaps frum manufacturers need to address

Nevertheless, if respected Rabbonim consider this a problematic
issue-it's not her or our place to call it ridiculous!

These are not anti-woman gestures and certainly not meant to
humiliate. When sexual mores and civility, decency, etc. decline in
general in society, it is the job of rabbinic leaders to compensate- and
even overcompensate sometimes. This is not the same as the "frummer than
thou" syndrome.. as it is on a generational and not a personal level.

Let me retaliate with a different story- also true- of the woman who
walks into an upscale orthodox-owned dress shop and says "I want the
sexiest thing you have that is still snius."  Skirt and slit lengths do
not define the modesty of a bas yisroel- it's about so much more than
that... attitude, demeanor...  Our Rabbis need to keep trying to
sensitize us to how far our generation is falling.... and to stem the
tide before it's too late.  

Linda Katz


From: Cathleen London <londonc@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Apr 1996 16:06:36 -0700
Subject: Slit Skirts/Makeup

I have been lurking on the slit skirts/makeup discussion, but now I feel
a need to add my 2 cents.  Halacha does NOT state that women cannot be
attractive.  We are to dress modestly, but that does not mean a sack, no
makeup etc.

A slit in a skirt is to make it possible to walk.  In the 1930's and
40's these same skirts were called hobble skirts - because that was the
only way to move!  The funniest part of this discussion for me is that
one of the only skirts that I have that has a slit in it was bought at a
clothing store in Baltimore known for there selection of "frum skirts"

When I wear makeup during the day (most of the time I don't have the
time to put any on) it is not to attract men!  I am happily married -
but I get tired of my patients telling me how tired *I* look - when I am
the doctor!

-Chaya London
Resident, Family Medicine
Oregon Health Sciences University


From: <silver@...> (Alan and Sharon Silver)
Date: Thu, 28 Mar 96 22:46:40 GMT
Subject: Slits and Tehillim (not connected)

In reponse to a few postings in MJ V23 #54, I would like to comment :

Slits in skirts
I find it interesting (but not altogether surprising) that all of the 
responses here are from women. As a man, I would like to add a comment. I 
find it very difficult to retain any air of kedusha in my life when walking 
around the streets due to the number (ie 99.999%) of women whose dress is 
highly immodest. I confess that it *is* stimulating to see a slit in a 
skirt, even when the skirt reaches the ankles and the slit is only a couple 
of inches long. This is a big problem. For this reason (and speaking as a 
male - ie in a position to judge) I do *not* think that the discussion is 
getting silly - it is very easy to be beguiled by western society into 
thinking that styles are alright when they are clearly not. I greatly 
appreciate the fact that most frum women dress correctly and avoid the 
seduction of western sexuality. By the way, I had never heard of a "kick 
pleat" before but it sounds like a very good idea.

Reciting Tehillim (MJ V23 #53)
Speaking as a daily Tehillim reciter (amongst others in my shul), I am under 
the impression that there is no specific tune, just a general musical tone 
to one's voice to add beauty to the recitation. It largly depends on why you 
are saying Theillim in the first place. If, as one would hope, you are 
saying them along with countless people around the world to rouse yourself 
to teshuvah, to try and bring rachmonos into the world and/or as a zechus 
for yourself/others (specifically ill people) then the tune is largely 
irrelevant and the kavonah is by far the most important thing. In this case 
I would just say them in whatever way you feel gives you the most kavonah as 
this is what really counts. I wish you complete success in your intent to 
say them every day, it is a great source of joy to the whole of klal Yisroel 
to know that there is one more person joining the daily reciters.

BTW, I do not know if you are aware, but there are many groups who organise 
daily Tehillim for refuas and for shmiras haloshon. If you are planning to 
say them every day anyway, you could double your mitzvah by joining one of 
these groups. 

| and was brought to you by Alan and Sharon Silver  |
|            <silver@...>                |


End of Volume 23 Issue 77