Volume 30 Number 35
                 Produced: Wed Dec 15  6:14:48 US/Eastern 1999

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Hair covering
         [Sherman Family]
Negiah (3)
         [Nosson Tuttle, Chana/Heather Luntz, Gitelle Rapoport]
Previous generations (3)
         [David I. Cohen, Chaim Mateh, Eli Turkel]


From: Sherman Family <sherman@...>
Date: Wed, 8 Dec 1999 17:24:20 -0500
Subject: Hair covering

In the excellent book LOVING TRUTH AND PEACE by Sefardic Rabbi Marc
Angel, the religious world view of Rabbi Benzion Uziel is expounded.
Rabbi Uziel was the first Sefardic Chief Rabbi of of Medinat Israel.

Re: women's hair covering, the text describes Rabbi Yosef Messas of
Morocco, in 1955, as viewing head coverings as a custom.  He states the
sages felt any woman who did not cover her hair was immodest because all
women ...  Jewish and non Jewish... covered their hair. Rabbi Messas
thought that since women as a whole no longer cover their hair, the
prohibition of uncovering hair was lifted.  Rabbi Uziel (1880- 1953)
however viewed hair covering as Tora Law , not as a custom. He strongly
advocated traditional hair covering.



From: Nosson Tuttle <TUTTLE@...>
Date: Mon Nov 29 16:25:01 1999 -0500
Subject: RE: Negiah

   Just a short comment on a snippet from a posting
>From: Chana Luntz <Chana/<Heather@...>
>he again brings the Pnei Yeshua cited above as distinguishing between
>single women and a man's wife on the grounds that a man cannot look at a
>single woman, but can touch her, while his wife in nida, he can look at
>her, but he can't touch her).

 From my Rosh Yeshiva (Rabbi Leib Tropper of Yeshiva Kol Yaakov, Monsey,
NY, I have heard that "looking at" women is not an issue, but "staring
at" them is what is Asur or forbidden.  This distinction makes a big
difference in both the business world and the Shidduch world (to say
nothing of singles events which I run).  Not easy to do business with or
get married to somebody you can't look at!

-Nosson Tuttle, Mazel Tov Singles coordinator

From: Chana/Heather Luntz <Chana/<Heather@...>
Date: Mon Nov 29 22:29:04 1999 -0500
Subject: Re: Negiah

<TUTTLE@...> writes
>>From my Rosh Yeshiva (Rabbi Leib Tropper of Yeshiva Kol Yaakov, Monsey,
>NY, I have heard that "looking at" women is not an issue, but "staring at"
>them is what is Asur or forbidden. 

Yes, that is a paraphrase of what I referred to immediately above the
bit you quoted ie " the widely relied upon heter (from the Rema brought
the shita m'kubetzes meseches ketubos daf 17a) that such looking is
permitted for limited periods [l'fi sha'a] (ie casually)"

Another way of saying casually is to say not staring. 

> This distinction makes a big difference in
>boththe business world and the Shidduch world (to say nothing of
>singles events which I run).  Not easy to do business with or get
>married to somebody you can't look at!

Well the Rambam brings as a specific exception looking at a woman in
order to decide whether you want to marry her.  But it is fair to say
that the normative halachic position is in accordance with the heter
referred to above.  One should, however, be aware that not everybody
holds by the looking/staring distinction (in particular, certain
chassidic groups do not, and hold it is forbidden to look at a woman at
all, some with the specific exception of the circumstance permitted by
the Rambam, and traditionally, some not even then).  And there are
certainly enough sources for somebody to justify a not looking position
as well as to justify a looking one.

The point that it appeared to me that Rav Henkin was making in his
teshuva (although I am concerned that on this particular point, I may be
misrepresenting him, as he does not state so explicitly), is that just
as casual gazing (what you call looking) is mutar while staring
(sometimes characterised as looking lustfully) is ossur, so casual
touching (eg a business handshake) is mutar unlike hugging and kissing
or even sustained touching (eg as found when dancing) which is ossur.

As you say, the distinction between looking and staring makes a big
difference in the business world (lets leave the shidduch world aside,
given that there there is also the specific heter of the Rambam to rely
on).  Similarly, a heter to shake hands with your business
partners/clients can also make a big difference.  One of the sub-threads
of this particular thread has involved people trying to squeeze a
d'orisa issur of handshaking into the Rambam's d'orisa prohibition of
hugging and kissing b'derech chiba. The point is that it is just as easy
(if not easier), if you try your own hand at interpretation, to come up
with a "no looking" d'orisa prohibition. (Of course, you run the risk of
being over that fascinating Rambam which suggests that if you make out a
d'rabbanan prohibition to be a d'orisa prohibition, you are over on the
d'orisa prohibition of bal tosif - although again, like most halachic
positions, there are opinions to the contrary). 

As always, it takes real knowledge to be makil.

Kind Regards


From: Gitelle Rapoport <giteller@...>
Date: Mon, 13 Dec 1999 08:45:24 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Negiah

I received the following message from Rav Yehuda Herzl Henkin a few days
ago, with a request to post it to mailjewish.

Gitelle Rapoport

[My thanks to Gitelle for relaying this, and my thanks to Rav Henkin for
his message below. Mod.]

    <<Yesterday I was told of the existence of "Mail Jewish" and of the
recent discussions. I would appreciate if you would post the following:

    Chibat bi'ah alone without chibuk venishuk does not violate the lo
ta'aseh of"lo tikrevu legalot ervah", which can be translated as "do not
do the preliminaries to forbidden sexual relations." This is the opinion
of the Rambam and many rishonim, as I discussed in Bnei Banim, I ,
nos. 37-39. Hand-holding, handshakes, circle dancing--none of these
activities are part of the run-up to relations and do not violate the lo
ta'aseh regardless of what chibah and ta'avah may be subjectively
involved. One the other hand, a sexually explicit, erotic conversation
may violate the lo ta'aseh, as I explained in the case of "mi
she'achazato tina." Whether this applies in the case of a telephone
conversation as well requires study.

    Because something is not a lo ta'aseh does not mean it is permitted,
and the Ramban and others do not classify "lo tikrevu" as a separate lo
ta'aseh at all.  Married couples, in my opinion, are permitted to hold
hands even in public (when the wife is tahorah), depending on local
mores. Unmarried couples may not, in public or private.

                With Torah blessings,
                Rabbi Yehuda Henkin


From: David I. Cohen <BDCOHEN613@...>
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 1999 14:03:14 EST
Subject: Previous generations

In vol. 30 # 31 Zev Sero responded to my earlier post"
<<Where is there an obligation to divorce ones spouse if he/she violates
<<halacha?  I don't know whether Mr Cohen is married, but if he is, would
<<he divorce his wife if she wore shatnez?  if she wore a male garment?
<<if she skipped benching?  if she refused to put a mezuzah on her shop?
<<if she cooked meat and milk at a treife restaurant or soup kitchen?  if
<<she was a vet who fixed cats and dogs?

<<In America in the 1920s and 1930s observant husbands were not exactly
<<thick on the ground, and many women married men who were not observant;
<<they worked hard to make sure that their children would grow up al
<<taharat hakodesh, and for the most part they succeeded.  If they had
<<held to Mr Cohen's standards many of them would have remained single,
<<and they certainly wouldn't have married the husbands that they did and
<<had the children and grandchildren that they did.  I take this a bit
<<personally, because if that had happened, I would not be here to write
<<this note.
        I'm afraid Zev missed my point. I was not denigrating anyone who
had a non-observant spouse.
        And, no, I was not saying that there is a halachic obligation to
divorce a non-observant spouse.
        My point was reserved for some of the "gedolim" of that
generation, whose wives did not, for example, cover their hair. Now, one
can safely assume that these wives (most of whom themselves descended
from well-respected rabbinic families) did so, not because they did not
care about the requirements of the halacha, but because they believed
that the halacha allowed them to do so. This is as reasonable as
assuming that they would not purposely violate Shabbat. It is also
reasonable to assume that their husbands, knowing of the sincerity of
their wives' fidelity to the halachic way of life, would make sure to
instruct them (gently, one hopes) on the requirements of the halacha,
including, whether a married women needs to cover her hair. From the
reported fact that these wives did not cover their hair, one might
conclude (although I do concede it is not the only possible conclusion)
that hair covering is not halachically required. This conclusion is
bolstered by the fact that the gedolim had to know of the "maarit ayin"
implications of their wives' actions, and even in the circumstances
where the wife was acting contrary to the halachic position of her
husband, the gadol certainly had some obligation to make this known so
others would not be led astray.
    Since that did not happen, this is the type of "maaseh rav" upon
which halachic practice could be based.
    That was my point.
    Chag sameach
    David I. Cohen

From: Chaim Mateh <chaimm@...>
Date: Thu, 09 Dec 1999 22:54:54 +0200
Subject: Re: Previous generations

In vol 30#28, David I. Cohen <BDCOHEN613@...> wrote:
<< I don't get it. If a married woman must cover her hair or violate a
D'orayta (Torah level) prohibition, the it makes no sense that Gedolim
would allow their wives to do so and not divorce them. Would they allow
their wives to eat treif? to violate Shabbat? >>

Not everything is grounds for divorce.  IOW, if someone's wife does not
cover her hair, the husband is not mechuyav (required) to divorce his
wife.  There's a difference of opinion among Rishonim (Achronim?)
whether it's a mitzvah (good deed) for him to divorce this wife or just
a reshus (option) (Even Hoezer 115:4).  In fact, when a famous Gadol 50
years ago in America was asked this question (the questioner had
chutzpah because he knew that the Rav's wife did not cover her hair), he
replied tersely: "It is not grounds for divorce".  Add to this a
situation where it would have been very difficlut to find a wife who did
cover her hair, making this a shaas hadchak, perhaps justifying even
golding that it's a reshus in this circumstance.

Regarding her eating trief or transgressing Shabbos, this also doesn't
_require_ divorce.  It's also not even a mitzvah to divorce her.
Needless to say, the husband should try his best to convince her
(bidarkei noam) to cease her transgressions (Shabbos, trief, or hair
covering).  BTW, if she is machshil her husband by feeding _him_ trief,
or causing _him_ to transgress Shabbos, that's a different story, and
may be more grounds for divorce (although I'm not sure what the Hallacha
is in this case).

<<If the situation was one where the wife's uncovered head was allowed
halachically due to some extenuating circumstance,>>

I can't think of any "extenuating" circumstances (short of pikuach
nefesh) that would Hallachically allow her to go hair uncovered in
public.  Perhaps I don't have enough imagination <G>, so if someone can
think of such circumstances, I'd be interesting in hearing them.

<< is it not incumbent on the Gadol to publicize those circumstances,
just so people would understand the halacha. After all, despite some
posted opinions, "maaseh rav" does have significant halachic
implications, even if it's not the final word. >>

IMO it is incumbant, if only to prevent michsholim (stumbling blocks)
due to misunderstanding. I have never seen such a tshuva (that justifies
uncovered hair, under _any_ circumstances).  Has anyone seen such
tshuvos?  OTOH, we could say that the Gadol isn't mechuyav (required) to
publicize such circumstances.  However, until that Gadol publicizes his
Hallachic views on the subject, we cannot infer from his wife's actions
(and his inaction) vis-a-vis her hair covering, that he holds that it is
Hallachically permitted.

Kol Tuv,

From: Eli Turkel <turkel@...>
Date: Thu, 9 Dec 1999 23:22:58 +0200 (GMT+0200)
Subject: Previous generations

In relying on a maaseh rav of gedolim in previous generations it is
important to distinguish between lechatvhila and bideved.

One simple example:
It is well known that at the wedding of Rav Moshe Tendler to the
daughter of Rav Moshe Feinstein there was mixed sitting even though
both sets of fathers were roshei yeshiva. The obvious conclusion is
that Rav Moshe did not feel there was any issur involved.
On the other hand I have heard from family that if the same wedding
were held today it would be separate sitting. For whatever reason,
the families felt that given life in NY many years ago that a separate
sitting wedding would cause difficulties. Since no issur was involved
they had mixed seating. However, both families felt that ignoring
societal pressures that separate seating would be better.

Similarly, some gedolim may have felt that uncovered hair was not
a cause for a divorce. Hence, given the circumstances they lived with
a situation that was less than ideal.

Eli Turkel


End of Volume 30 Issue 35