Volume 53 Number 48
                    Produced: Mon Jan  1 22:23:23 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Abusive treatment of women and chldren
         [Saul Mashbaum]
         [Avi Feldblum]
Gender segregation (2)
         [Akiva Miller, Eitan Fiorino]
Prohibition on Smoking
         [Dr. Josh Backon]
Segregated Buses (2)
         [Janice Gelb, Daniel Wells]


From: Saul Mashbaum <smash52@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 14:19:04 +0200
Subject: Re: Abusive treatment of women and chldren

On Mon, Dec 25 2006 20:19:11 EST, Rabbi Mark Dratch wrote:
>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.

It is relevant to point out that among other things, this site contains
many excellent papers, written by Rabbi Dratch, on the subject of the
halachic approach to claims or suspicion of abuse, including thorny
questions of slander, presumption of innocence, mesira, definition of
abuse, and much more. In my opinion, these papers of great value both to
the scholar, since they cite and analyse a wealth of rabbinic sources,
and to the layman, since they are written with great clarity. For anyone
interested in examining this subject from a halachic standpoint, these
papers are invaluable.


Saul Mashbaum  


From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2007 22:13:24 -0500
Subject: Administrivia

Hello All,

There has clearly been a significant increase in the volume on the list.
It is hard to tell if it is only a short term change or whether the list
is moving back to a more active state. Time alone will tell on that.
However, there a number of significant and interesting topics that have
been brought up by a number of members that we are now discussing. A few
of them are, in my opinion, inter-related. I think that at this point in
the exchange, it is important to move to a more rigorous mode of
discussion. There have been various statements or indications of what
are the underlying halachot and piskei halacha (Rabbinic opinions), but
without actually referencing any sources. I think that we now need to
move where we do find and quote the available sources.

The set of inter-related topics revolve around the issues of
agunot/refusal to give get, spousal abuse, child abuse, financial fraud,
Neturei Karta etc. There have been a number of posts stating or
indicating that the current halachic authorities have not ruled (or have
ruled to permit) on these activities. I do not think that is correct. I
had the opportunity to listen to Rabbi Yitzchok Breitowitz speak on the
topic of "Mesirah: Are We Allowed to Turn In Our Fellow Jew?". Rabbi
Breitowitz has semicha from Ner Yisrael, is the Rav of the Woodside
Synagogue, as well as is a Professor of Law at the University of
Maryland. This topic was of specific relevance to the issues of
financial fraud. But as part of the talk, he also spoke about the
halachic concept of Rodef ^ someone who is an active danger to someone
else. Under such situations, the prohibition of Mesirah does not apply,
and all agree that one is required to report such an individual. He
specifically stated that this is the case for all cases of active
spousal and / or child abuse. In addition, he stated that all the major
halachic authorities have clearly ruled this way. When the question of
"Chillul Hashem" was raised in the question and answer session, he made
it very clear that the resulting potential or actual chillul hashem of a
"frum" Jew being exposed / arrested, is not a factur in allowing lack or
reporting. I did not get a chance to get specific references to piskei
halacha, but I will try to follow up with him on this.

As such, if anyone wants to post to the list that certain halachic
authorities permit any of these activities, I will be asking you to
supply reference to a psak halacha or equivalent. I have not yet had a
chance to review what R. Dratch has posted on his web site, but I would
invite those that may have access to specific teshuvot [response] on the
topic to post references to them. I think it is also important to
clearly define what falls under the category of Rodef. Several posters
have send items in that either state or imply that the actions of the
Neturei Karta put them in the halachic category of Rodef. That is not at
all clear to me that it is correct. I would be very interested if anyone
has references to any teshuvot that deal with this specific question.

OK, this is long enough for now, especially since I have a fair amount
of material in the queue. So now back to your submissions.

Avi Feldblum


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 13:16:38 GMT
Subject: re: Gender segregation

Leah Aharoni wrote:
> 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.

Yes, it does imply that they did not have separate market days. But it
does NOT imply anything about whether or not they WANTED separate market
days. It is possible that they would have wanted to do it, but were
unable for some reason, and that they would have approved of -- or even
been jealous of -- our ability to accomplish such a thing.

I am not taking a position on whether separate market ideas is a good
thing or a bad thing. I'm only commenting on the logic here.

Akiva Miller

From: Eitan Fiorino <AFiorino@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 10:30:58 -0500
Subject: RE: Gender segregation

> From: Leah Aharoni <leah25@...>
> 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.

I think it would be even more fruitful to analyze this question from a
social-historical point of view, to analyze what the actual practice has
been among the Jewish people for dorot with regard to segregation of the

For starters I'd suggest reading the Memoirs of Gluekel of Hameln for a
tremendously valuable perspective on the role of women in early modern
Ashkenaz.  Gluekel was a strong and accomplished woman who successfully
ran her husband's business after his early death and provided dowries
for all of her children among many other accomplishments.  For a medival
perspective, the Rokeach's hesped for his wife Dolce and his daughters
(who were murdered by intruders, not by Crusaders as is commonly stated)
demonstrates that even among the Chasidei Ashkenaz, women had active and
important roles in the financial life of the household and interacted
with men routinely in the course of doing business.  Avraham Grossman's
"Pious and Rebellious: Jewish Women in Medieval Europe" which I recently
bought but have not yet read, appears to offer a great deal relevant to
the subject as well.  Judith Baskin has also published extensively on
topics pertinent to the discussion, including several articles on Dolce
of Worms.

My point is that modern attitudes towards and treatment of women in some
charedi circles appear to represent a sharp turn off the derech with
regard to the historical role of women in the Ashkenazic world.  Because
I find it implausible to claim that contemporary charedim are somehow
more observant of halachic norms than, say, the Rokeach was, therefore I
must conclude that the contemporary chareidi disempowerment of women (I
would interpret the strict gender separation as a form of disempowerment
because it is part of a systematic exclusion of women from public life)
is driven by sociological issues rather than by perceived or real
halachic concerns.  As such, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind
that these behaviors will not be reduced through the citation of
pasukim, midrashim, mishnayot, gemarot, piskei halacha, or any other
texts.  Unfortunately change in these communities will come about only
through the sudden development of enlightenment at the top (seems highly
unlikely) or revolution from below (which seems almost equally



From: Dr. Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 15:09:19 +0200
Subject: Re: Prohibition on Smoking

Risa Tzohar asked:

>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.

Who says smoking isn't prohibited ? See: Iggrot Moshe Chelek Bet Siman
18 and Siman 76 who states "aval vadai min ha'raui l'chol ish u'bi'frat
l'vnei torah she'lo l'asheyn". And the NISHMAT AVRAHAM Choshen Mishpat
156 and the article by Harav Halperin in ASSIA Vol. 37:21. Harav
Valdenberg z"l (who passed away 2 weeks ago) author of the Tzitz Eliezer
categorically prohibited smoking, as did Harav Wosner.

In a post on the AVODAH list a few years ago, I added an additional
prohibition of smoking for males, that of causing damage to sperm.

"I just got back from our hospital library and the first post I read was
that from R. Chaim Brown that the danger from smoking isn't
immediate. Less than 2 hours ago I finished reading a paper (British
Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 2000;107:55-61) that mentioned the
evidence demonstrating the detrimental effect of cigarette smoke on male
fertility. I then remember that there has been extensive work on the
almost immediate (i.e., within 5-10 minutes) effect of nicotine or
cotinine lowering sperm motility, morphology, viability and count
(Fertility & Sterility 1993;59:645; J Asstd Repr Genetics 1995;12:217;
Fertility & Sterility 1996;65:835-42).

I then checked in Shulchan Aruch EVEN HA'EZER 5:12 and saw what the Beit
Shmuel wrote about Kos shel Ikkarin (even for a refuah it's assur). See
also the Aruch Hashulchan EH 5 #23 who calls it a psik reisha (and thus

PEYRUSH RASHI: every puff of a cigarette by an adult male engenders a
Toraitic prohibition.

Who says passive smoking isn't prohibited? It is prohibited even if only
one person objects to someone smoking in his presence. See: Shulchan
Aruch CHOSHEN MISHPAT 155:41 (in Din harchakat nezikin): "kol davar
she'yadua she'ein h'me'ar'er yachol l'sovlo, af al pi she'she'ar bnei
adam sovlim oto, ein lo chazaka k'neged m'ar'er zeh". See also Iggrot
Moshe CM II 18, Rambam Hilchot Shechenim 11:5, gemara in Bava Batra 22b,
ROSH BB Siman 18.

And halacha prohibits recreational drugs [see: Iggrot Moshe YD III
35]. (except for LSD which every good Jew takes every day: Lox
(breakfast), Salami (lunch) cheese Danish (supper) :-)

Kol Tuv
Josh Backon


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 04:45:25 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Segregated Buses

--- SBA <sba@...> wrote:
> AFAIK, they did established one or more such private bus lines
> (Beth Shemesh-Jm?) and Egged was very unhappy about it
> and did whatever it could to stop it. (I can't recall how it all ended.)
> Maybe someone from BS remembers this. It happened about 2-3 years ago.

I would be very interested in the details of how Egged could possibly
stop a bus service that was run and funded by private individuals for a
specific community.

-- Janice

From: Daniel Wells <wells@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 2006 14:46:41 +0200
Subject: Segregated Buses

Let's put things in perspective after all the brouhaha.

Chareidi men are just as human as the rest of the population and do not
have an aversion to women as such and surely do not think of them as
second class citizens.

However in order to avoid the accidental touch of, or gaze at, a member
of the opposite gender in Egged's generally overcrowded buses, the
rabbonim in high charedi concentrated areas have requested separate
seating, with male embarkment, seating, and disembarkment at the front.

While Egged drivers can not enforce rabbonic dicta, violation lowers the
esteem of those rabbis who are trying to maintain and enhance the
halachic requirements of non touch or gaze. And those discussion members
who are in disagreement with that, should be aware that the policy of
this forum, as far as I understand it, upholds Jewish tradition and

This discussion perhaps has brought out the subtle difference between
those who align themselves generically with Chareidi consensus and those
who align themselves generically with Dati Leumi consensus.

In other words the difference would appear to be the amount of influence
halachic/religious norms should have on the daily secular life, and
conversely, the amount of influence secular norms should extend into the
daily religious life of the Jew.



End of Volume 53 Issue 48