Volume 53 Number 91
                    Produced: Tue Jan 30  5:10:28 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Back to the back of the bus
Explaining catastrophies
         [Michael Poppers]
More on "Back of the Bus"
         [Yisrael Medad]
Move to the front of the bus!
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
Shul dynamics
         [Russell J Hendel]
Those bad, bad Charedim


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 23:56:24 +1100
Subject: Back to the back of the bus

From: Lawrence Feldman
> As a matter of fact, there was a follow-up article:
> http://haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=801449&contrassID=19

That is the original article - not a follow-up. And nothing since.  I
have twice contacted the writer (and am cc-ing this to her as well).

I invite all those here who desperately want to believe this story, to
do their own research -seeing that the Haaretz have dropped it in their
too-hard basket.

> the event was reported soon after it occured by other Israeli news
> media (Maariv) as well:
> http://www.nrg.co.il/online/11/ART1/522/025.html

That is a straight take from the Haaretz article.  (It has been copied
to many sites - but that doesn't make it a fact).

> (And on what basis do you characterize the woman involved as someone
> with a reputation for being a loudmouthed troublemaker?)

>From what bloggers who claim to know her have written about her.
Admittedly, they are anonymous. But reading her own words - she
basically describes herself as such.

I know very few women who would behave in such fashion - despite feeling
that they have been wronged - especially re such a naarishkeit. (My kids
when they were 6-7 years old, used to fight over who gets to sit where
in the car...)

> the main issue is that this incident aside, cases where "chassidim
> shotim" harrass and embarrass women over the bus-seating issue are
> unfortunately commonplace,

Is it really? Thousands of women travel on buses daily and one rarely
hears of such a case.

> this behavior apparently is not condemned by anyone of authority in
> the haredi community.

You obviously have missed some posts.  I have twice linked the statement
by the Bes Din of the Edah Charedis.  http://tinyurl.com/so56l



From: <MPoppers@...> (Michael Poppers)
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2007 10:04:36 -0500
Subject: Re: Explaining catastrophies

In mail-jewish Vol. 53 #83 Digest, Dr. Eitan Fiorino wrote in response to
Martin Stern:

> Talking in shul. It is hard to say that talking between aliyot or even
> during chazarat hashatz is really an aveira of any kind (this is coming
> from a non-talker, so I am not trying to justify my behavior, I'm just
> trying to be objective). "Not right" - yes, we can all agree....
> Let's even assume the worst - chatter during birchot kriat shma - now is
> that an infraction worthy of the two of the greatest disasters to
> afflict Jewry since the Crusades?

With respect, Eitan, would you dare talk if you had an audience with
President Bush and were directly in his line of sight & hearing? How
about if you had an audience with Queen Elizabeth? Now, what kind of
punishment would you be liable for in monarchic days of yore if you had
dared utter a word out of turn in the King/Queen's presence? Take these
thoughts and run with them :-).

All the best from
Michael Poppers via RIM pager


From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 21:58:48 +0200
Subject: More on "Back of the Bus"

Point #4 of the new modesty regulations was reported as stating: Under
the current set of circumstances on public buses it is very hard to
maintain proper modesty with women walking down the aisle past the men,
both in terms of the men and the women themselves, therefore it has been
decided to arrange to have women board via the rear door and the public
is asked to assist in upholding these arrangements.

The point that needs be discussed here, on a philosophical and civic
political plane, is just what is a "public" bus?  Does it not "belong"
to all the public?  The majority of the public?  Does a "public" bus in
NY or London also have to conform to modesty standards as set by
Rabbonim?  If the standards are unacceptable to those who are in charge
of the "public" order, can Chareidi Jews demand a change or are they
obligated to change and use private buses?

But beyond all this, I recall the apocryphal joke about Sammy Davis
Jr. who boarded a bus in the South.  The driver looked at him and said,
"Hey, N______, get to the back of the bus!"  "But I'm Jewish," exclaimed
Sammy.  "Well, then," replied the driver, "the get the h___ off

Yisrael Medad


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 14:56:10 +0200
Subject: Move to the front of the bus!

I just remembered the time I took the 999 bus, which goes from
Yerushalayim to Rechasim. (I believe this is an "official" mehadrin
line, but I did not know it).  It was only about half full, and I saw an
empty bench 2 rows past the back door.  (Yes, I prefer to sit alone if
possible, and I often 'bury my nose in a book', but it is not meant to
prevent others from sitting beside me - just sit down or say 'excuse me'
if you want my attention).

At a later stop, with the bus filling up more, a woman got on, came to
my row, and angrily demanded that I, and the non-religious looking man
on the bench across the aisle from me, move forward in the bus. I did
not want to, both because of having to share the bench, and also having
to move to the sunny side of the bus, but chose not to argue the point
with her. OTOH, the man across the aisle started yelling back about
"Chok Kvod ha-Adam veCheiruto" (The law regarding personal dignity and
freedom, sort of "civil rights" law in Israel). He adamantly refused to
move, and stayed in his seat for the entire journey.

Another story: Last night my wife and I took the 417 from Yerushalayim
to Bet Shemesh. TTBOMK it is *not* officially mehadrin, but its
clienetele is largly frum/chareidi and people tend to sit sex-segregated
by bench (IMHO the most sensible method, without "rules").  Near the
back of the bus was the ONLY free seat I saw in the bus, a window seat
occupied by what looked like a hat box. I said 'slicha' (=excuse me) to
the bochur (=boy) beside it, and he moved over to the window. Being the
gentleman I am (and modest too!) I wanted to give the seat to my wife,
but she firmly refused. (I whispered to her to sit down and if the boy
doesn't like sitting next to her, I will be happy to do so for him, but
she still refused.)

When I finally did start to sit down, it turned out the boy wasn't
raised so badly either - he offered to stand and gave his seat to my
wife. :-)

Just more stories from the Egged trenches....  


P.S. We were going to Bet Shemesh for a sheva-brachot for our son
Nisan-Baruch who was married Monday night to Rachel nee
Hakohen-Pietrokovsky of Bet-El.

[Mazal Tov to you and the entire family! Mod.]


From: Anonymous
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 07:47:07
Subject: Shul dynamics

>> Sometimes "peace" can only be "increased in the world" after much strife
>> and pain. Sometimes even wars.
>> So I see no contradiction when talmidei chachamim "cause" discord.
> He obviously has not witnessed the result of the efforts of such a
> 'Talmid chacham' in our shul which have resulted in about a third of the
> active membership being driven out and no new faces coming in.
> Martin Stern

I sympathize with Martin.  Most of us are by nature conflict avoiders.
We think of the classic bully as a physical threat -- but a more general
definition might be of anyone who imposes their will upon others.  I've
seen this to various scale in several shuls.  The bully imposes his (or
her?) will and others either suffer silently because THEY wish to avoid
discord or they leave.  Examples, include people who talk in shul,
people who daven too loudly or with their own nusach, people who pick
petty fights, people who don't tend their children in shul ....  And
these aren't pet peeves -- and yes, you'll see the active membership
slip away (where there is an alternative.)

I don't have a cure -- I've been semi-successful in approaching shul
leadership and basically escalating it to an "it's him or me" -- either
you (Rabbi / President) deal with the bully I will leave and with it my
family and my fiscal support for you shul (and others will do the same.)
Is this an halachic approach on my part -- likely not.


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2007 22:38:34 -0500
Subject: RE: Smoking

I have written several times on smoking. My letter to the editor in
Tradition (1973) basically refutes Rav Moshes Teshuva. Rav Moshe
incorrectly cites Rambam Character Laws, 4 which says "Certain fruits
are bad but we cant prohibit them but you SHOULD abstain". Hence says
Rav Moshe we can't prohibit smoking.

I contrast the above law with Murder 12 "There are Rabbinic lashes for
sucking coins' (Because you might get sick from the dirt and poisons on

I offer the following distinction: If an object has redeemable and
harmful effects (like fruit which has some nutrients) then we DONT
prohibit it unless it is say fatal or immediately harmful. However if
the object has no physiological benefit we do prohibit it and punish
with lashes.

Based on this smoking is prohibited. As to the comment "Had Rav Moshes
known he would have prohibited" This is not halachic. In 1963 we knew
enough to prohibit. One cartoon in the 60's shows a scientist drowning
in smoking reports: The caption reads "Let us wait for more evidence"

Halachically those who defend the Tendler approach (Had he known)
Basically interpret Murder 12 to mean that coin sucking is lethal. So
the distinction is lethal non-lethal. Howevr no one dies from coin
sucking.  Rather they get sick

Hope this analysis helps
Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: SBA <sba@...>
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2007 02:36:19 +1100
Subject: Re: Those bad, bad Charedim

From: Avi Feldblum

> Not every post critical of the Chereidi community is "bashing
> Chareidim".  However, when the response to any criticism of individual
> acts by Chareidim is that one is "bashing Chareidim", it is likely to
> cause the opinion that the Chareidi community as a whole does support
> those acts that are criticized. If we take the case of the bus
> incident, and we take the assumption that it is correct,

The fact is that a report of the alleged violence by a couple of
charedim was the signal for the usual suspects to hop on the
charedi-bashing wagon - from which they have yet to disembark.

Whilst NOBODY claims that Charedim are perfect, like Jews who are
sensitive when the media reports that a crime suspect is Jewish, so too
are Charedim when the media tries to tar them all with the same brush.
And as you may have noticed here and on other blogs, the entire Charedi
community worldwide is accountable for bus lady's woes.

> the bigger issue is not the individual who did the action, but the
> response of the rest of the individuals. ..  if the society around him
> allows that to continue with no active stopping of that, that is cause
> to criticize the community as a whole.

How many more times must it be mentioned that the Bes Din of the Edah
Charedis, the leading and most influential BD in Jerusalem (even Israel
and maybe in the world), came out with a sharp condemnation of all acts
of violence against persons or property.  Here is the link (for the 3rd
time): http://tinyurl.com/so56l

OTOH, does ANYONE have any evidence that a charedi leader has EVER
ordered or indeed even permitted violence.

That Charedim set up a police force, build jails and put people in stocks?

All they can do is follow the laws of the Shulchan Aruch. Thus if
someone causes you any damage, the Bes Din will listen to your case and
rule upon it.

> there is no question that there are "deviant perverted sex-maniacs" in
> both the Chareidi and Daati-Leumi / Modern Orthodox communities (as
> well as any other community that you want to pick). I know that there
> is a significant problem of both Chareidi and Daati-Leumi / Modern
> Orthodox kids who are serious drug and alcohol addicts.

Kol yomai godalti ben hacharedim, I have never lived in a non-charedi
community and I can assure you that we have NEVER had any drug problems,
EVER, BH. (Kein yaazor Hashem leholoh..)  Furthermore, I spent 4 years
in a Yeshiva with 200 students in the US and in that time NEVER heard of
a drug problem. It is decades since I left, but keep in touch - and have
yet to hear of such a problem.

I have 3 sons who spent years in overseas yeshivos in Europe and Israel
and never once has any of them heard of a drug related issue amongst the

I may be naive, but I can only go by what I know or hear.  Yes, there
are kids who have gone of derech and gotten involved with drugs (not
that I know any personally), but that doesn't make it a leading issue
for the mainstream chareidi world. It belongs to the experts and
specialists who know how to handle these off-the-derech kids.

The situation is almost the same re "deviant perverted sex-maniacs".
True, one hears of a case every now and then. But it is still a rarity
amongst charedim (and for that matter, AFAIK, in the DL world).

And for those who may not know it, Charedim also have less thieves,
rapists,murderers, drug pushers, abortions, and indeed less of all the
other 'marin bishin' that exist in today's world.

Are charedim perfect? Far from it. Are there rude Charedim, ill-mannered
louts? Plenty. But no more than elsewhere. And, yes, they ought to be
far better and most educators acknowledge this and are working on it. I
know of many schools that in the past years have introduced serious
projects to increase and improve behaviour 'ben adam lechavero'.
Hopefully the impact will be noticeable sooner rather than later.

> There has been no claim made by even the most anti-Charedi person I am
> aware of, and surely not on this list, that there is a "Charedi
> chumrah of using blood of RZ children in matzos".

Hey, I wasn't being serious and I doubt that anyone took it that way.  I
was trying to highlight how some charedim may feel about the
bias/dislike/hatred of certain elements.

Remember that 'havei dan es kol ha'adam lekaf zechus' does not exclude



End of Volume 53 Issue 91