Volume 29 Number 99
                 Produced: Tue Nov  9  6:35:50 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Previous Generations
         [Moshe Feldman]
Shidduchim and Lashon Hara (3)
         [Rachel Furman, Anonymous, Daniel Israel]


From: Moshe Feldman <MFeldman@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Nov 1999 11:08:38 -0500 
Subject: Re: Previous Generations

Mordechai Kamenetsky <kummings@...> wrote:
<<I've watched with interest the discussion on the p'sokim of previous
generations and I did see that Meir Shinnar refered to a film of the Rav
z"l dancing publicly with his wife.  Did anyone raise the question of
the p'sak of the Remo in Even Ha'Ezer (21:5) that a public display of
affection to one's wife is prohibited (c.f. Beit Shmuel #12)?  I find it
hard to believe that such a film does in fact exist.>>

Your posting induced me to research this issue.  After researching it, I
literally stumbled upon (I wasn't looking for it; seems to me a case of
bashert) a tshuvah in Bnei Banim by R. Yehudah Herzel Henkin (vol 1 #37)
which agreed with my conclusions.  Rabbi YH Henkin was asked about a
report regarding the wedding (forty years before) of the son of certain
Rosh Yeshivah to the daughter of the menahel of the Yeshivah (the Rosh
Yeshivah died between 1977, the date of the writing of the tshuvah, and
1981, the date it was published, so it was obviously not the Rav) that
there was couples dancing participated in by important rabbanim.  Rabbi
YH Henkin replied (I do not own the sefer; this is my recollection of
what I read 2 days ago):

1. Although the Ramo uses the word "assur," the source of the halacha
(from comment of Nimukei Yosef on the Gemara Bava Batra 58a) is that
this is an "eitzah tova" [good idea].  Therefore, the prohibition should
not be viewed as a blanket prohibition but one tailored to the goal of
ensuring that the beholder of public affection does not have hirhurim.
Public affection which does not have connotations of the sexual act and
therefore does not cause hirhurim should be permissible.

2. Rabbi YH Henkin suggests that the case in B.B. 58a involved Avraham
lying in Sara's bosom while she was checking his head lice.  Lying
together implies a connotation of the sexual act.  (This would seem to
contradict the Bet Shmuel, who bases himself on the Shu"t HaRashba #1148
[which I could not find on my Bar Ilan CD; anyone have info on it--which
chelek?], that checking lice even without lying in her bosom would be
prohibited.  Of course, Rabbi YH Henkin may be basing himself on Ramo's
citing Nimukei Yosef, not Rashba.)

3. I would add that other halachot mentioned in se'if 5 (such as
she'elat shalom [sending a greeting] to a woman) are dependent upon
social mores.  If one does something out of the ordinary, this is likely
to create sexual urges.  In a society where public affection is rarely
shown, a public display will arouse hirhurim.  I would argue that in
today's society (at least those of us who walk the streets of NYC), we
are inured to such displays (except of the most coarse type).

4.  Rabbi YH Henkin says that dancing (while he does not recommend it)
would not be prohibited as long as it is hand-in-hand rather than
body-hugging (which has greater sexual connotations).  He does not find
any problem in mere hand-holding while walking on the street.  He also
cites (at length) many responsa from different Jewish communities which
imply that couples dancing was done with permission of rabbanim
(although other communities banned it).

All in all, it is a fascinating tshuvah and I highly recommend it.

Kol tuv,


From: Rachel Furman <rsusselj@...>
Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 10:23:49 -0500
Subject: Shidduchim and Lashon Hara


Shalom everyone.  I have been reading with much interest the discussions
about Shidduchim and Lashon Hara.  It is especially pertinent to me for
a number of reasons, one of them being that I myself am single and am
dealing with the shidduch world on an almost daily basis.  I also am the
one, who, a few months earlier posed a request to this list for
pertinent information regarding shidduchim and lashon hara and also
hilchos of "agency" since a Shadchan is, in effect, an agent.

Many of you responded to me personally with sources and to you I thank
you very much.  I have since done some reading on these topics.

One of the biggest problems being faced in the world of Jewish singles
and shidduchim and shadchanim is not so much the lashon hara, altho' to
be sure there are problems related to this.  The biggest problem arises
from the need by, shadchanim in particular, to "classify" everyone--and
to put them in a neat box.  I know of many examples where this has
caused anguish and distance between people who otherwise would be suited
for one another.  I do not feel comfortable using someone elses example
but will use myself as an example.

I am a Ba'al Teshuvah.  For most people this term conjures up an image
of a "hippie has been", a former drug user, a meshugena (weird) person.
None of this applies to me.  It so happens that my entire family is
frum--my parents, and both my sibs.  My brother is, in fact, a Rabbi,
and teaches at yeshiva of Los Angeles.  He is a VERY well respected Rav
there and in demand as a speaker.  He replaces Rabbi Muskin at YICC when
R' Muskin goes away.  He teaches Daf Yomi, not once, but TWICE a day!
My parents, with whom I share a home with my 13 yr old daughter, are
extremely frum.  Rabbi Berel Wein is their Rabbi, and he has been the
one to have the most profound influence on my brothers' and my parents'
and my own hashkafahs.  However, we do not fit into a neat box.  When
pressed to "classify" myself I say " Yeshivish with a secular frame of
reference, to the right of modern" .  However, I have been told by
Shadchaniyot that because I am a "BT" that is not a "realistic"
classification.  No one who is "Yeshivish" will be interested in me.

At a Shabbaton I recently attended, a shadchanit stood up in front of
the entire group of people and stated quite clearly that she will not
match a "BT" with an "FFB".  "The just do not mix" were her
words--verbatim.  This is an attitude that is hurting the singles
community.  This is the attitude that is KEEPING us single.  These
shadchanim are perpetuating myths and prejudices.  This MUST change.

I am a "BT".  I would love to marry someone--anyone--who has the same
familial support of my lifestyle that I have.  Of course, I may meet and
choose to marry man who is a BT withOUT the familial support that I am
so lucky to have.  But should I be relegated to meeting and dating ONLY
BTs???  We have been frum for over 18 years.  I attended Machon Gold in
Yerushalayim.  I speak Ivrit fluently ( at least I USED to (grin)).

Thank you for allowing me to express my thoughts and feelings.  By the
way, I am also the Producer/Editor of two websites devoted to Jewish
Singles.  The first is The Single Jewish Womans Website .  This site is
a virtual resource for Jewish singles (male and female),listing hundreds
of links to sites devoted to Jewish singles.  The second is
www.jewishmatch.com.  This is an online lifestyle magazine devoted to
Jewish singles with articles, columns, advice, humor, personals, events,
shopping and more.

I would love to hear from anyone on this list regarding this issue
and/or my websites.  I am always looking for writers.

Rachel Furman

From: Anonymous
Date: Sun, 7 Nov 1999 11:06:42 EST
Subject: Shidduchim and Lashon Hara

<<{...snip...}Rabbi Lowy also says that you should only warn people if
you know something that is "detrimental to establishing a Jewish home, a
happy marriage and a wholesome relationship."  He mentions "seriously
flawed character traits, immodesty, or a lack of religious commitment,
and definite health or emotional problems."  These are listed as
"Category 1" and should be told even if you were not asked.>>

With all due respect, does this mean that individuals with "definite
health problems," irrespective of their other middot, should forget
about ever finding a shidduch?  Or, perhaps even worse, accept that they
are "damaged goods" who must settle for a loser of a partner (e.g.,
seriously mentally ill, mentally retarded, addicted, incapable of
earning a living, with a criminal history, or worse) in order to be
married at all?

Granted, there are health problems and there are health problems.
However, most are not inimical to the establishment of a wholesome
marriage, though admittedly many do have implications for childbearing,
especially the seemingly endless variety that appears increasingly
normative in the dati world.  With all due respect, though, at least my
own understanding of halacha is that childbearing is not the only
purpose of marriage.

I happen to be a woman with very definite health problems which make
childbearing not a smart idea, but am not an invalid and have managed to
be productive in work that I love for over a decade.  I have, if I say
so myself, a decent mind, as attested to, among other ways, by 4
university degrees.  OK, I know that for much of the observant world
that's at least as major chisaron (shortcoming) as my medical issues,
but be that as it may.  Also, if I say so myself, my other middot
(character attributes) are not the worst.  As such, I find the
implication that I'm unworthy of a husband with decent middot, including
but not limited to kindness, caring, concern for others, reasonable
intellect and emotional stability, congenial interests, decent hygiene
(yes, this has been a major issue with some men I've met), and some sort
of occupational stability, to be quite hard to take.  At the same time,
I'm afraid this implication is too reflective for my liking of the
reality in the observant world.

Indeed, after having 3 prospects go sour, once I had to disclose my
health problems, over a decade ago, I gave up on even trying to find a
decent husband and didn't go out with anyone for over 8 years because I
wouldn't settle for a loser.  A year and a half ago, I let a Jewishly
learned individual who had the status of trusted friend persuade me to
try again, which has proven to be one of the most foolish mistakes I
ever made.  If the going was tough for a woman with significant health
problems a decade ago, it would appear to be orders of magnitude worse
now.  Almost every man who's crossed my path as a potential prospect,
and to whom I've had to disclose my circumstances, has reviled me in the
strongest possible terms for even daring to seek a husband given my
situation.  Among the more polite epithets thrown my way has been "pond
scum"; others have used the Nazi expression "useless eater," and on from
there.  For the most part, the men who haven't condemned me for daring
to look have had such serious "baggage" that I'd be self-destructively
stupid even to consider them.

I would also note, admittely slightly off-topic, that the pain I have
felt as a result of being condemned in this manner has been one reason
that I haven't disclosed my medical situation even when I could have
done much better with some moral support or even concrete assistance
(e.g., with grocery shopping) during an acute episode of illness, while
convalescing from surgery, etc.  For the same reasons, even when I have
needed my rest, I have not felt able to decline Shabbat or yom tov meal
invitations or other social commitments, which has at times exhausted me
or made me more ill than I needed to be.

Back to the topic at hand: Granted, marriage is incumbent upon men and
not women; however, an unmarried woman is far more stigmatized than an
unmarried man on many levels.  Again, I would respectfully point out
that most of us with significant health problems, even those of us who
are female but for whom childbearing is problematic are not misfits in
other ways.  Although I'm self-taught in limudei kodesh, and don't have
the benefit of much in the way of yeshiva background, such background as
I have makes it extremely hard for me to fathom that health problems
should be regarded as ipso facto and insurmountably "detrimental to
establishing a Jewish home, a happy marriage and a wholesome
relationship," especially when the affected individual has tolerable
middot in other aspects.

There are more folks out there like me than much of the observant world
would care to think about, but we're not going to go away.  Indeed, our
numbers will increase as medical technology allows individuals with
formerly lethal conditions to survive ever longer.  Granted,
childbearing is an issue, but surely there must be a way that we as a
community can find matches between individuals who can't have children
but are not misfits in other ways, and suitable mates (e.g., a woman
like me with a decent man who's already had children).

With all due respect, and IMHO, the observant community, in all its
various "colors," could do with learning and practicing a great deal
more sensitivity to these issues and to tolerance and inclusion in the
life of the community of those who are affected by them.  Alternatively,
I would humbly suggest that we ask ourselves the question: Do we really
want, and are we truly obligated, to perpetuate yet another class of
"unmarriageables" with such rhetoric, and behavior, as I quoted above?

From: Daniel Israel <daniel@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1999 16:39:51 -0700 (MST)
Subject: Shidduchim and Lashon Hara

Two points that have not yet been mentioned in the excellent responses
on this subject.

1. If you think that the person you are warning will ignore your warning
you shouldn't say it.

2. Queries l'toeles [for a purpose] shouldn't be answered in public.
Vis a vis the mailing list, I would think that asking questions on a
mailing list about merchants (where the asker needs to know) would be
fine, but the answers should be in private e-mail.

Daniel M. Israel
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ


End of Volume 29 Issue 99