Volume 53 Number 54
                    Produced: Thu Jan  4  5:03:08 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Aseh Lecha (my) (haredi) Rav
         [Lawrence Feldman]
A Cheredi View of the Bus Attack
         [Tzvi Stein]
Dati Leumi views on halchic norms in everyday life
         [Abbi Adest]
Segregated Buses
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Women, Men on Buses (2)
         [Bernard Raab, Tzvi Stein]


From: Lawrence Feldman <lpf1836@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Jan 2007 19:23:35 +0200
Subject: Aseh Lecha (my) (haredi) Rav

In digest no. 48, Daniel Wells asserts the following in reference to
those who are unwilling to go along with sex-segregated buses:

> 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 halacha."

Let me see if I correct understand the ramifications of this
statement. Suppose Reuven and Rachel are an RZ couple living on an RZ
yishuv, and they have accepted Rabbi Shimon, the yishuv mora d'atra, as
their posek. One fine morning, Rabbi Gedaliah, a haredi rav who lives
elsewhere, declares that men and women should sit separately on
buses. If Rachel then gets on a bus and sits where she pleases, she is
besmirching Rabbi Gedaliah, and in turn Jewish tradition and halacha?!

Lawrence Feldman
Ramat Modi'in
father of a young women who is routinely harrassed by haredi men on the
Kiryat Sefer - Jerusalem bus line


From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Jan 2007 15:46:05 -0500
Subject: A Cheredi View of the Bus Attack

Having spent many years in charedi communities in Israel, I still have a
few people there I keep in contact with.  I asked one of them for his
take on the bus incident.  When I read his viewpoint, although it took
me aback some, after I got over the initial shock, I realized that
looking back to my own time in Israel, it was totally consistent with
the general outlook I had absorbed from the community then.  For this
reason I think his viewpoint, although on the extreme side, is probably
quite representative of a significant portion of Israeli charedim.

Since I don't have his permission to share his remarks, I won't quote
him verbatim... I will just summarize the gist of his main points in
"outline" form.  Just to be clear, these view are not my own, so please
direct any outraged response to the list and not to me.  Also, my
purpose here is not to fuel the fires of controversy, but just to
present another view for educational purposes, as many people on the
list may never been exposed to this "hashkafa", and I think it helps to
have an understanding of where people are "coming from".  Try to read
them in a subjective way, like an anthropologist or a diplomat would.

      - The publicity and vocal opposition to this incident is mainly
      coming from non-religious (he used the word "frei") elements who
      will seize at any opportunity to attack the chareidim

      - These takanas about tznius on buses were enacted by the gedolei
      haDor, and thus all Jews are obligated to adhere to them.

      - Most of the trouble is being caused by "modern Orthodox" women
      who are being "dafka" (deliberately provocative).  They are trying
      to flaunt their disagreement with the takanos.  They use the
      excuse that "their rav does not agree" with the takanos, even
      though that would put their "rav" on the opposite side of all the
      gedolei haDor.

      - These takanos are a good idea.  A previous terrorist attack on
      the same #2 bus line was linked to the mixture of men and women on
      buses.  (He attributes this linkage to a prominent Israeli rav,
      whose name I prefer not to repeat, out of respect).

      - The man who perpetrated the attack was lacking in self-control,
      and needs to learn Mussar.

      - However, the woman (i.e. the victim) is guilty of provoking him.
      There is just so much provocation that a person can take.

      - The stories about the incident are probably leaving out details
      of her provocation.  He's sure there is more to the story.

      - They are both equally guilty of "chilul Hashem"

I repeat... these are not my personal views, so please hold your emails!


From: Abbi Adest <abbi.adest@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Jan 2007 10:18:54 +0200
Subject: Re: Dati Leumi views on halchic norms in everyday life

> 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.

I find it very disingenuous to suggest that this issue is just a matter
of degrees of influences of secular/halachic norms. The men on that bus
did not assault the woman with nuanced arguments or halachic discussion.
Somehow, the "halachic requirements of non touch or gaze" seem to have
eluded them at the moment they were beating her up. If they were so
concerned about such requirements, they would have stuck their noses in
a sefer, turned their backs, and gotten on with their day. Instead, they
chose to physically inflict bodily harm on the woman, the very person
they were supposed to get as far away from as possible.

Millions of frum men have succeeded in using public transport and all
forms of public venues safely without fear of harming their souls for
generations. I fail to see where the historical or halachic basis this
type of sex segregation exists. As such, with regard to this matter, I
disagree that the chareidi world simply wants more halachic and less
secular influence in their lives.

I think this violent incident is a direct consequence of corrupted
halachic thinking, as were the violent riots in Yerushalayim protesting
the gay parade, as were the massive coverups of sexual predators that
are now coming to light.

I fail to see how physical and spiritual damage fit in with a "Torah
true" lifestyle.

Abbi Adest


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Jan 2007 20:35:26 -0800
Subject: Re: Segregated Buses

> From: Daniel Wells <wells@...> Date: Thu, 28 Dec
> 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.

I'm afraid that in the context of reams of evidence to the contrary,
this is not a supportable assertion.  Chareidi men absolutely do treat
women poorly as a class.

A personal example--when my husband and I were last driving in B'nei
B'rak and had to ask directions, we pulled over and the two [black-hat]
men whom I asked [nicely, in Hebrew] just kept walking until my husband
leaned over and asked them instead.  It's hard to imagine that there
would have been a legitimate halakhic reason that a modestly dressed
woman with her husband and two young sons, should be ignored when
saying, "excuse me, do you know what street this is?"  The simple
geometry of the car/sidewalk situation (he was driving) meant that it
made more sense for me to interact with the pedestrian.

Another example--we were on El Al and the chareidi family in front of us
had a messy situation with one of their kids.  I offered some baby wipes
to the dad, who totally ignored my existence.  After a very awkward
pause, the mom turned to me and accepted the help gratefully.  From
other conversations that I heard, I know that he understood my English
perfectly well.  And, it's not that he was uninvolved with the baby's
mess or unaware of the family's need for some more baby wipes.  He just
didn't want to look at me or answer my friendly offer.

I don't want to hear any defenses along the line of "these men are
trained not to look at or talk to women, so that's fine".  Where I come
from, it is the highest human-to-human insult to ignore someone's
humanity/existence when they speak to you pleasantly in a reasonable
context like asking for directions, or offering assistance on public
transport.  That's what's called an "aversion to women" and/or "think of
them as second class citizens".

It takes a seriously demented mind to confuse "excuse me, what street is
this?" or "would you like some more baby wipes for that vomit?"  with
"hey baby, look up my miniskirt and maybe cop a feel".  It's not
extra-holy to make that confusion on purpose.  It's also not real
halakha, judging from the thousands of Gd-fearing Orthodox Jews who can
tell the difference.

Ok, now let's look at the bus example.  Since when is "back of the bus"
an equal or neutral requirement for women?  It is surely second-class
for someone to have to go through more trouble to board/de-board/pay,
not to mention sitting farther from the driver in case she needs any
information or assistance.

> 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.

Why in the world would anyone even conceive of a males-at-front model
unless there is an expectation that women will sit in the inferior seats
with less-convenient accommodation?  If this were an intellectually
honest idea of gender segregation for "everyone" to benefit, then there
would be a mechitza down the center of the bus aisle.  Or odd-numbered
routes would have women in front and even-numbered would have men in
front.  Or some other *fair* solution.  That's if it were a centralized
rabbinical/societal decision.

But if it's just individual men who don't want to look at or
accidentally brush by women, then they can/should move themselves to
less obtrusive seating or choose another mode of transport.  By the way,
even if a woman is walking to her designated second-class seat in the
back as ordered, how does that reduce the chance of her being
seen/touched as she goes through the all-male section, possibly with a
stroller or possibly still having to keep walking while the bus starts
moving and she loses balance (hm, have we all ridden Egged :) )....  It
seems to me that there are *more* chances to be ogled/brushed.

> 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 halacha.

Anything that I can do to lower the "esteem" of rabbis who tell women to
sit in the back of the bus, I will do.  Anything I can do to prevent
second-class seating for Jewish women becoming "Jewish tradition," I
will also do.

> 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.

Au contraire...there is no valid *halakhic* basis for this
back-of-the-bus stuff.  There is, however, a great deal of misogyny
inherent in the whole situation.  Probably including the lack of driver
involvement, but that's another issue.

--Leah Sarah Reingold Gordon


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2007 03:22:38 -0500
Subject: Women, Men on Buses

>From: Russell Jay Hendel 
>I would respond by focusing on Leah's comment "It would a form of
>physical assult to place scarfs...". That was my whole point. I am
>trying to differentiate "childishness" (which I cant stop) with
>criminality. If people keep on kicking and spitting someone will get
>hurt I know in one of the synagogues I attend a person (in fact a
>former shule president) got a black and blue eye from candy throwing
>during an offroof. My whole point is that kicking, spitting, and
>throwing **are** assaults while placing scarfs over people is childish
>but not an assault.

Sorry, but I have to agree with Leah here.  If somebody invades your
physical space with a scarf which he evidently intends to place upon
your person against your will, that is threatening behavior, which is
the definition of assault. If he proceeds to contact you in any way,
that is battery. This might be childish behavior but it also might be
criminal.  Again, I have to agree with Leah: Putting the scarf on his
own head would be both effective and non-threatening.

Bernie R.

From: Tzvi Stein <Tzvi.Stein@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Jan 2007 16:16:39 -0500
Subject: Re: Women, Men on Buses

From: Russell Jay Hendel <rjhendel@...>
> My whole point is that kicking, spitting, and throwing **are**
> assaults while placing scarfs over people is childish but not an
> assault.

Actually, according to U.S. law "assault" is a plausible imminent threat
to commit "battery".  An example of assault would be pointing a loaded
gun at someone, holding a blunt object in a threatening way, or bringing
back one's fist.

A "battery" is any harmful or degrading contact on the person of another.

Actually placing a scarf on someone would be "battery" and holding it
over them would be "assault".


End of Volume 53 Issue 54