Volume 53 Number 42
                    Produced: Thu Dec 28  6:28:49 EST 2006

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Abusive treatment of women and chldren
         [Rabbi Mark Dratch]
Chareidi Mind Set
         [Batya Medad]
         [Risa Tzohar]
Gender segregation
         [Leah Aharoni]
Segregated Buses
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Separation of Church and State - Trees and Menorahs
         [David Charlap]


From: <MSDratch@...> (Rabbi Mark Dratch)
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2006 20:19:11 EST
Subject: Abusive treatment of women and chldren

 Shani Thon <shanit716@...> asks:

> There have been posts about spousal and child abuse in the Jewish
> community, but but what is the likelihood that any male member of this
> list has said "enough" of this in my community/the Jewish community as
> a whole and done something positive about it?

Here's one male on this list that is actively involved in these matters.
Last year, I founded JSafe: The Jewish Instiitute Supporting an Abuse
Free Environment.  See our website at www.JSafe.org.  (If commercial
pitches are allowed): Contact us if there is any support or program that
we can offer individuals or communities.

Rabbi Mark Dratch
Founder and CEO, JSafe


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2006 13:24:47 +1100
Subject: Aguna

> ... an Agunah is a woman with a missing husband - usually, MIA
> or at sea, rarely do we have Agunot nowadays b/c the husband managed to
> get a new ID and disappear. 
> Most of the cases discussed are actually Mesoravot Get: The husband is
> present and accounted for, but he refuses to grant a GET.

Isn't that basically the same thing?  AFAIK, when a man refuses to grant
a Get, he is 'me'agen es ishto'.  Or am I misunderstanding something



From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2006 20:59:25 +0200
Subject: Re: Chareidi Mind Set

Mail Jewish is mostly MO, I guess.  If you're demanding a label, I guess 
that's what I am.

I'm also an out of the box thinker by nature, so I could never be
chareidi.  Recently I discovered how different the chariedi mind set is.
Someone emailed me complaining about one of my articles.


The person objected to my depiction of King Saul.  When I said that I
took it from the pshat, the straight words from the Tanach, the response
was that we're not supposed to learn from the pshat; we're supposed to
find out what the rabbis say the words mean.

Remember the chareidi women aren't objecting to sitting in the back of
the bus, since their rabbis and husbands have informed them that it's a
psak halacha.  If there's an undercurrent of complaint when women talk
in private, that's where it will remain.



From: Risa Tzohar <risa.tzohar@...>
Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2006 13:54:03 +0200
Subject: Demonstations

In the recent discussion of discussions on this list Jeanette called for
a rally or demonstration about agunot, violence within the family and
other serious problems which it seems are not receiving appropriate
attention and action necessary from the poskim and other men or groups
whose power could be used toward bringing about solutions. Many listers
didn't think that was the way to go. I would be interested in hearing
what listers think would be an appropriate method of pointing out a
problem with an eye to briniging it to the forefront of halachic
discussion fostering hidushim and hastening the the change in attitude
necessary to gain acceptance for creative halachic solutions to painful
or dangerous situations for example.

Or what about other topics which should perhaps be viewed in light of
things we know 'bizman hazeh' that maybe earlier poskim didn't take into
account. Take for example, cigarette smoking which R. Moshe Feinstein
did not prohibit (I believe he said that it wasn't proven that
cigarettes actually caused damaged and people could rely on 'shome
petayim hashem). Now that it's pretty much universally accepted that
smoking is bad for everybody including people who don't themselves smoke
but come in contact with those who do what can we do if we want to be
hearing rabbonim clearly coming out against smoking, educating their
talmidim to condemn the practice and in general maybe put smoking into
the halachik catagory it which it belongs.

Risa Tzohar


From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2006 22:47:52 +0200
Subject: Gender segregation

The gender segregation trend in Israel is by no means restricted to bus
services. Over the past years, supermarkets and libraries have set up
separate shopping days and now there are even man (or women) only
stores, such as the Mashbir branch in Bnei Brak. Pictures of women are
absent from charedi magazines (even those targeting a wholly female

The impropriety of the bus story aside, I suggest we analyze the trend
as a whole from a HALACHIC point of view (the idea is culturally
difficult for most people brought up in a democratic society).

While chazal make numerous statements regarding the need for separation
between the genders, there is no sign that the Jewish society 2000 years
ago was segregated. For instance, women were enjoined not to weave at
the market so as not to expose their arms. That implies that women were
present at the market and that they did not have separate market days
for men and women.  Likewise, when Bruria criticized a man for using too
many words when asking for directions, we can assume that it was natural
for a man to approach a woman with such a request.

Where does this leave the present day segregation proponents?

Leah Aharoni


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2006 18:51:21 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Segregated Buses

Avi Feldblum writes:
> There are "mehadrin" lines which are part of Eggad, as opposed to
> totally private lines . . . The bus under discussion was NOT a mehadrin
> line, although there had been petitions to make it a mehadrin line.
>  . . .
> I think it is clear that the rules in Israel are different than what I
> think would be allowed in the US.   . . . There is a clear petition
> process, as I understand it, to show that the majority request the line
> be made mehadrin, and then it needs to be approved by Eggad. As this has
> been true for over four years, does anyone know what the legal status of
> this is. I would suspect that it would not be allowed in the US, but that
> does not mean that it is in any violation of Israeli law.

IMHO, the legality of this under Israeli law is wholly beside the point.
First, I wonder if a formal, reasoned responsum mandating separate
seating on buses, and that women sit in the back, exists.  Second, even
if I does, the halacha itself recognizes that not all halachically
mandated things can or should be pursued, under priciples such as
"halacha v'en morim kein" (that is the rule but we don't say so) or "eit
laasot lashem, hefeir toratecha" (it may be ok for rabbis to permit or
require violation of the law for a higher principle).  IMHO, the
question that responsible halachic authorities - and I do not know who,
if anyone, falls into this category - need to address, publicly, is
whether, even assuming that sex-segregated public buses--particularly
with women at the back and including the current "Mehadrin" buses--are
somehow halachically mandated, the hatred that this practice presumably
generates in non-Charedi Israeli riders who are subjected to it and the
ridicule to which Israel will undoubtedly be increasingly subject as
word of this practice leaks out would require this mandate to be


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Dec 2006 13:20:47 -0500
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State - Trees and Menorahs

Well, it seems that my observation has gotten a lot of people very 
upset.  Let's see if I can clarify somewhat....

R E Sternglantz wrote:
> The "public square" is state property. If a single religion has its
> display in the public square and no other religion is permitted to make
> its display there, that's state approval of a religion.

If you follow the news, the groups that claim to want government to be
religion-free seem to have no problem allowing all kinds of
non-Christian religious symbols.  And they also protest these symbols on
private property, when it is a place frequented by the public.

Our courts are creating a reverse-establishment - favoring all-but-one
religion.  This has just as much potential to destroy our religious
freedom as laws establishing a religion can.  Some of the first signs of
this are the presence of pro-Christian legislation that is being
proposed as a backlash to these court decisions.

Leah S. Gordon wrote:
>>> And, there is a signficant movement right now to move *away*
>>> from the "Happy Holidays" because some Christians apparently
>>> think that it was an annoying concession to (who else?) the
>>> Jews, and that it's time to go back to "Merry Christmas"
>>> universally.  I was irritated enough at the "Happy Holidays"
>>> when everyone knows it's just really Christmas, but at least
>>> that formulation was an allowance that there might be some
>>> non-majority people out there.  The backlash that I hear now on
>>> the radio etc., "Why can't my kids make paper stockings in
>>> public school?  This anti-Christmas has gone too far...." is a
>>> scary harbinger of majority intolerance IMO.
>> And demanding a religion-free public square is just feeding the
>> fires of this intolerance.
> I assume you are kidding.  No one could believe that standing up to
> intolerance is "leading them on"....

I am not kidding in the least.

There have been dozens of recent decisions by activist judges to permit
religious symbols by every religion in the world EXCEPT FOR
Christianity.  This is creating justifiable hatred by the Pro-Christian
groups against these courts and the groups (like the ACLU) that persist
is filing the suits.

As a backlash to these decisions, there are several groups that are
pushing for legislation that would (if passed) create a very real
establishment of Christianity as a state religion.  Some of the
supporters (including Congressmen) even go so far as to admit this,
using phrases like "this is a Christian nation...".

I blame the ACLU, and their anti-Christian supporters in the courts for
the giving Christian-supremacist people a legitimate excuse to push
their hatred into legislation, and word it in a way that is gaining
public support.

> At any rate, what would you (or anyone) suggest to reduce the
> intolerance and/or chillul hashem all over this issue?  Have you
> constructive suggestions?

Very simple.  Stop all of the politically correct lawsuits.

Allow towns to put up their Christmas displays, on condition that they
permit the other religions in town to put up displays for Chanuka,
Kwanzaa, and anything else the locals want to set up.

Religious tolerance does not mean prohibiting it all, and it absolutely
does not mean prohibiting the majority while promoting all of the
remaining minority groups.

Orrin Tilevitz wrote:
> The most recent directly relevant U.S. Supreme Court pronouncement is
> County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union Greater Pittsburgh
> Chapter, 492 U.S. 573 (1989), in which the court held that display of a
> crèche outside government buildings violated the establishment clause
> because it was purely a religious symbol, but permitted a public display
> of a menorah because it "is not exclusively religious. The menorah is
> the primary visual symbol for a holiday that, like Christmas, has both
> religious and secular dimensions."

And these are precisely the activist decisions that will ultimately
destroy our freedom of religion.

Regardless of the wording, the court decided to prohibit Christian
displays while permitting Jewish displays.

Does anyone seriously think that this decision won't feed the fires of
antisemitism?  Does anyone think these decisions are not the reason for
all of the Christian-establishment rhetoric (and occasional legislation)
we're hearing about today?

Just this past week, one Congressman is protesting the fact that another
(a Muslim) wants to put his hand on a Koran for a private swearing-in
ceremony.  He wants to prohibit swearing on anything other than a
Christian bible.  This is just another symptom of the backlash we're all
experiencing as a result of courts passing anti-Christian legislation
from the bench.

Yes, I read the other quoted decisions which are all over the map, but
you must realize that decisions like the Allegheny decision are the ones
that are advertised all over the news, and those are the ones that are
shaping public opinion.

> The bottom line is that (1) in the Supreme Court's view  a menorah is OK
> (and a Christmas tree apparently isn't an issue), but only because
> neither is a purely religious symbol, and (2) if you do put up a menorah
> in a public place, you are inviting a law suit.  (Whether an airport or
> shopping mall is a public place is an entirely different issue.)  So
> Leah's statement that it isn't "appropriate" to put up religious
> symbols in public places is pretty close to on target.

As for the bottom line, I know what the courts have said, and their
decisions make no sense.  They sound more like political activism than
any logical derivation from law or facts.

Christmas trees and menorahs are absolutely religious symbols.  If the
respective religions did not exist, the symbols wouldn't exist either.
You wouldn't see people decorating the public square with secular
symbols of the season, like snowflakes, if the season didn't also play
host to three major religious holidays.

-- David


End of Volume 53 Issue 42