Friday, October 02, 2009

Am I A Deviant? I Think That Some Jews Would Think I Am...

In the comments to this post, a topic sprung up about the propriety of common courtesy vis-a-vis tznius. In the post, I mentioned that I was fairly certain that Rabbi Falk (of the famed tznius sefer Oz V'Hadar Levushah) would allow someone to say "thank you" to a person of the opposite gender who held a door open. Two people (Joseph and Rabbi Waxman over at his blog) have rightfully pointed out that it's entirely possible that Rabbi Falk would not permit it.

Truth be told, I don't know what Rav Falk holds. If anyone knows him personally, I'd love to hear what he has to say. But that aside, it's not really about Rav Falk, because (as Joseph pointed out), even if Rav Falk does not hold that way, there almost certainly is someone who does.

Upon reflection, I realize that to whomever holds that position, I must be a really dangerous deviant. After all, I am routinely (multiple times daily) guilty of the following breaches of tznius according to that position:
  • If a woman holds a door open for me, I actually have the nerve to say "thank you" to her.
  • If I bump into a woman on the subway, or step on her toe, or hit her with my bag, I actually say "I'm sorry."
  • When I get on the bus in the morning and evening, I say "good morning" or "good evening" to the bus driver -- regardless of the gender of the driver.
  • When I pass people on Shabbos* I say "Good Shabbos" to them if they appear to be Jewish, or "good morning/afternoon/evening" to them if they don't appear to be Jewish.
  • When I walk into the local grocery, I say good morning, etc. to the person behind the counter, who just as often is a woman as is a man.
  • I say hello to the person at a checkout counter when I buy something -- and yes, often times that person is a woman.

I suppose that with these multiple lapses of tznius that I commit daily, there are those in some communities who would view me as downright lecherous.

In the comments to my previous post, Joseph expressed a concern that such common courtesy can lead to inapporopriate behavior. In his viewpoint (and others, I suppose) the fact that a torrid affair could arise from a "thank you" is enough grounds to prohibit it. But in truth, I think he vastly overstates the danger. The odds of a simple "thank you" leading to something inappropriate are so remote as to be negligble. Does it happen? I'm sure it does sometimes -- but not enough to make a general rule of rudeness about it. Making such a rule falls right into the "If Only One..." fallacy.

The Wolf

* I do so sometimes on weekdays too, but more often people are rushing on weekdays and don't want to be bothered.

70 comments:

Anonymous said...

You might trump them with Rav Shach:

http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com/archives5766/terumoh/TRM66features2.htm



Wherever You Find Derech Eretz — There You Will Find Emunoh

The trait of derech eretz — decency, propriety, consideration for others, common courtesy — is what is known in Yiddish as menschlichkeit. And this attribute was deeply ingrained in Maran to an amazing degree.

Rashi explains why the Torah states the verse, "Let us make man in our likeness," in the plural form. "Even though the angels did not assist Hashem in man's creation, and there is an opening here for heretics to err [as if some power did participate in the making of man], nevertheless Hashem did not refrain from teaching derech eretz and humility: that a great being should consult with lesser ones and ask permission to proceed, as it were."

Maran expressed surprise at this: Are we not talking here about a flaw in a doctrine of faith? About the fear that heretics will find substantiation in the very Torah for their misguided ideas? Is not the damage here tenfold worse than the benefit of teaching derech eretz and humility?

Maran himself supplied the answer: "Wherever you find courtesy and humility, there is no fear that faith will be undermined. A person with common sense, common decency, who is not swayed by any negative character traits and physical desires, is sure to have a strong faith. Whereas a haughty, arrogant person is automatically distanced from Hashem."


GT
Joel Rich

Joseph said...

Wolf:

You're usage of the term deviant is far too strong. Misguided would be a far more appropriate term for your discussion.

It is extremely easy to underestimate, as you have, how quickly the most innocent inter-gender interaction can lead one astray.

That being said, I don't think a hello or good morning or thank you etc. (without further conversation) will do harm. But that's just my (or your) position. Who are we to take on our leaders, who are far wiser in making these determinations?

And I don't buy your "If Only One..." argument. The frequency it goes wrong is more than you estimate. Such is why many leaders took this position.

Larry Lennhoff said...

If the woman comes from a community where men won't talk to women other than their wives even to apologize or thank them then I can see how she might desire any male human being who shows a command of basic courtesy. Alternatively perhaps she confuses cause and effect and assumes that because you said 'sorry' to her you must be her husband.

Too tzanua to give my name said...

Wolf, After reading that long list of sins I can say assuredly that you're not a deviant. You're a pervert.

Sicko.

aaron from L.A. said...

What is wrong with the super-frummie world?A simple"hello","thank you",or "excuse me" isn't likely to lead NORMAL people to immorality.Common expressions of courtesy should not be confused with " how about coming over to my place to see some pictures of "Gedolim"(V'hamaivin yovin)

Got you now said...

"When I pass people on Shabbos* I say "Good Shabbos" to them if they appear to be Jewish"

Well now you've given yourself away! You're from Brooklyn (BrooklynWolf) and you say "Good Shabbos" to strangers. That's like, three people. HAHAHAHA. Not so anonymous now, are you!

Tzvi Haber said...

Why don't we look at the Shulchon Aruch? The only prohibition for a man is to ask a woman how they are. As in "How are you?" and after discussing the matter with a leading Posek, if not doing so would be considered rude, and is just really 'saying hello' then it is also permitted.

Shlomo Zalman said...

Why don't we look at the Shulchon Aruch? It is prohibited for a man to even ask a woman how they are. As in "How are you?" and after discussing the matter with a leading Posek, if saying hello is being said in the same sense as "How are you?", then that is also prohibited.

Joseph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joseph said...

I see this discussion has turned to the Halachic aspects (which is always a good thing), with a previous poster bringing down the Shulchab Aruch prohibiting a man from asking a woman How are you.

Here are some additional halachic points, either directly or tangentially related to the discussion:

*** "Kol kevuda bas melech penimah"

*** "Im yesh lo derech achritah Rasha hu" - this is talking about a man who innocently walks down a street where women gather. "If he could go down a different street [but doesn't], he is a Rasha!" the Gemara says. Rashi comments, even if he averts his eyes.

*** "Al tarbeh sichah im haishah" - Do not talk more than necessary with women. The Mishnah continues: "Whoever does talk more than necessary with women causes bad for himself . . . and in the end will end up in Gehinnom!"

Reb Moshe, in the Igros Moshe, states that Lo Sikrevu means you can't talk to girls. Rav Moshe is quoting a statment of Chazal in Avos D'Reb Nosson and rulings of the Ran and others.

Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer:
"A person must stay far, far away from the women, and it is prohibited to signal with your hand, to hint with your eyes, to any prohibited women. It is furthermore prohibited to laugh together with them and to be frivolous in her presence, or to watch her beauty. Even to smell her perfume is forbidden...."

רבי יוסי הגלילי הוה קא אזיל באורחא אשכחה לברוריה אמר לה באיזו דרך נלך ללוד אמרה ליה גלילי שוטה לא כך אמרו חכמים אל תרבה שיחה עם האשה היה לך לומר באיזה ללוד
-מסכת עירובין דף נג,ב

R' Yose HaGillili once met Beruria on the road and asked her "By which road should we travel to Lod?" Beruria replied "Fool, Didn't the Rabbanim say (in Avos) 'don't talk excessively with women?' you Should have asked 'Which (road) to Lod?'
This is a Gemarrah in Eruvin

רמב"ם (הלכות יסודי התורה ה:ט):מי שנתן עיניו באשה וחלה ונטה למות ואמרו הרופאים אין לו רפואה עד שתבעל לו, ימות ואל תבעל לו אפילו היתה פנויה, ואפילו לדבר עמה מאחורי הגדר אין מורין לו בכך וימות ולא יורו לדבר עמה מאחורי הגדר שלא יהו בנות ישראל הפקר ויבואו בדברים אלו לפרוץ בעריות.

"Even to speak with her when she is behind a fence is not something we tell him to do. He should die rather than speak to her from behind a fence."

This Rambam is talking about even an unmarried woman.

Chida (Psach Ainaim Avodah Zarah 20), and Igros Moshe (OH 40) who rules that in the street you should look down and away from women, to the extent possible, and when a woman comes to a rabbi to talk he is obligated to avoid looking directly in her face.

Reb Moshe, in Igros Moshe EH 4:60, paskened that it is assur to talk to the opposite gender in a social context, and assur to be friends with them, and even seeming platonic relationships between boys and girls are assur min hatorah.

In the Sefer HaChinuch, mitzvah number 188, it states there that it is assur for boys and girls to talk to each other.

Rabbi Lars Shalom said...

i dont understand this

Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

Feh. I think she was secretly eyeing you the entire time you were on the bus together and was so shocked that you actually noticed her that she clammed up from shyness. Who wouldn't when the guy of her dreams sachets over and say "Excuse me?"

Mike S. said...

Joseph: While many of your sources mean what you imply they mean, the gemara in eruvin does not. We see elsewhere in the gemara that B'ruriah wasn't makpedet on a few word. Rather, she was criticizing R. Yose accordingh to his own shita and it was meant as a rebuke.

BrooklynWolf said...

*** "Kol kevuda bas melech penimah"

A statement that has no quantifiable measure. What, exactly, does this mean? That we should keep all our girls shut up in the house where no one can see them?

Please define, exactly, the philosophy of "kol k'vuda..." and then determine whether it really means that saying "Thank you" is forbidden.

(Also, keep in mind, a princess is *expected* to be courteous.)


*** "Im yesh lo derech achritah Rasha hu" - this is talking about a man who innocently walks down a street where women gather. "If he could go down a different street [but doesn't], he is a Rasha!" the Gemara says. Rashi comments, even if he averts his eyes.

Well, I could have walked home, I suppose. Does that make me a rasha for taking the bus at 11:00pm (assuming there are no safety considerations) because there are undoubtedly women on the bus? Also, what, exactly, does that have to do with common courtesy?

*** "Al tarbeh sichah im haishah" - Do not talk more than necessary with women. The Mishnah continues: "Whoever does talk more than necessary with women causes bad for himself . . . and in the end will end up in Gehinnom!"

I don't think saying "thank you" or "excuse me" counts as a "marbeh b'sicha." A conversation? Possibly. But a two word common courtesy? No.

Reb Moshe, in the Igros Moshe, states that Lo Sikrevu means you can't talk to girls. Rav Moshe is quoting a statment of Chazal in Avos D'Reb Nosson and rulings of the Ran and others.

And what, precisely, did R. Moshe mean by "talk." I don't think he meant saying "thank you" or "excuse me." I think he meant a true conversation.

Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer:
"A person must stay far, far away from the women, and it is prohibited to signal with your hand, to hint with your eyes, to any prohibited women. It is furthermore prohibited to laugh together with them and to be frivolous in her presence, or to watch her beauty. Even to smell her perfume is forbidden...."


And, interestingly, I didn't do any of those things. I held a door open for her.


רבי יוסי הגלילי הוה קא אזיל באורחא אשכחה לברוריה אמר לה באיזו דרך נלך ללוד אמרה ליה גלילי שוטה לא כך אמרו חכמים אל תרבה שיחה עם האשה היה לך לומר באיזה ללוד
-מסכת עירובין דף נג,ב

R' Yose HaGillili once met Beruria on the road and asked her "By which road should we travel to Lod?" Beruria replied "Fool, Didn't the Rabbanim say (in Avos) 'don't talk excessively with women?' you Should have asked 'Which (road) to Lod?'
This is a Gemarrah in Eruvin


Notwithstanding Mike's point above, are you suggesting (according to your understanding of the Gemara) that even utilitarian speech is forbidden? Does this mean that I shouldn't ask a female clerk for help in a store if there is no male help available? If I'm lost and I see a female police officer, I shouldn't ask her for directions? If I go into a bank to take out a mortgage and I'm led to the desk of a female loan agent that I should say to her "sorry, I'll wait for your male colleague? If I apply for a job and the HR person is a woman, should I just not answer any of her questions?


רמב"ם (הלכות יסודי התורה ה:ט):מי שנתן עיניו באשה וחלה ונטה למות ואמרו הרופאים אין לו רפואה עד שתבעל לו, ימות ואל תבעל לו אפילו היתה פנויה, ואפילו לדבר עמה מאחורי הגדר אין מורין לו בכך וימות ולא יורו לדבר עמה מאחורי הגדר שלא יהו בנות ישראל הפקר ויבואו בדברים אלו לפרוץ בעריות.

"Even to speak with her when she is behind a fence is not something we tell him to do. He should die rather than speak to her from behind a fence."

This Rambam is talking about even an unmarried woman.


That's right. But note the context that the Rambam is using for his ruling. He doesn't say that a man should die rather than ever talk to a woman -- he's talking about a case where he *has an interest* in the woman -- one so severe that he's going to die if it isn't addressed. That's hardly the case at hand.

(cont)

BrooklynWolf said...


Chida (Psach Ainaim Avodah Zarah 20), and Igros Moshe (OH 40) who rules that in the street you should look down and away from women, to the extent possible, and when a woman comes to a rabbi to talk he is obligated to avoid looking directly in her face.


And what does that havet o do with common courtesy?


Reb Moshe, in Igros Moshe EH 4:60, paskened that it is assur to talk to the opposite gender in a social context, and assur to be friends with them, and even seeming platonic relationships between boys and girls are assur min hatorah.


I wasn't discussing a friendship or platonic relationship. I was discussing a common thank you from a woman I did not expect to ever see again. It's hardly the same thing.


In the Sefer HaChinuch, mitzvah number 188, it states there that it is assur for boys and girls to talk to each other.


Again, I don't think the author of the Sefer HaChinuch meant a complete and utter ban on all speech in all occasions.

See, Joseph, in a world such as that you're proposing (where *all* speech is forbidden), we'd have some really messed up situations. Imagine any of the following:

* A female co-worker announces that her son is engaged. A normal person would go over and say "Mazel Tov." You would have me ignore her.

* If my sister has a baby, you'd tell me that I shouldn't even call her -- I should only say Mazal Tov to my brother in law. If I did such a thing, my sister would be crushed. But that's not important -- she's an ervah to me and so I musn't say anything.

-- Eeees is cooking for shabbos and is very busy. However, she sees that she's out of flour, and so she sends me to the grocery to get some. I look on the shelves, but I don't see any. I know they normally carry it -- maybe it's still down in the storeroom? Normally, I'd ask one of the store helpers to go check -- but there's a problem -- the only person manning the store is the owner's daughter. You would tell me, better to not ask and simply either shop elsewhere or go without challos for Shabbos.

When my wife has a baby and a neighbor cooks dinner for our family for a night or two while my wife is in the hospital, I shouldn't thank her -- I should take her food wordlessly -- with no hint of hakaras hatov whatsoever.

Do you see the picture? There is a certain amount of social interaction that is normal and healthy between people -- regardless of gender. The world you propose is one filled with rudeness, awkwardness and downright ingratitude.

The Wolf

Joseph said...

Wolf:

You are taking offence at my merely quoting the sources. I didn't interpret them. That you did, and you didn't like your own interpretation.

I clearly indicated from the outset of my comment, that I am quoting sources both directly and tangentially related to the discussion.

BrooklynWolf said...

Joseph,

Fine. That's a fair criticism.

But then, please explain to me what you meant by bringing the sources. What point were you trying to make? Or were you just "throwing stuff up" with no real point?

The Wolf

Joseph said...

I think all of these sources are worthy of consideration, even if they may not necessarily directly apply to the current situation at hand, they surely give you a feel how our Chachomim view the entire issue ervah and how vigilant one must be in this arena.

BrooklynWolf said...

There's vigilance and there's over-vigilance.

One is a good thing and one is not.

The Wolf

Joseph said...

Nor did I suggest any "over"-vigilance.

Joseph said...

And in conclusion I will add, that it is far, far, far easier to err on the side of under-vigilance than over-vigilance in this area (as even a cursory reading of anyone from the Mishna through the Achronim make very clear.)

And the consequences of erring on the side of under-vigilance are generally far harsher than erring on the side of over-vigilance.

So if I weren't sure if one way was perhaps being under-vigilant or the other way was possibly being over-vigilant, I would clearly choose possibly being over-vigilant than being under-vigilant.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Those issues only are in effect if they are done with erotic intent.

an essay by R' Henkin the Younger

This is all highly dependent on societal norms and assumptions — i recently witnessed a particularly horrifying example of culture conflict where a man from a Hareidi community tried to explain to a group of Modern Orthodox people how a man and a woman sitting on the same couch is equivalent to a brothel. He was scandalized, they were confused.

Larry Lennhoff said...

Joseph opined:

And the consequences of erring on the side of under-vigilance are generally far harsher than erring on the side of over-vigilance.

I don't agree at all, I'd rather have ten million thank yous at the cost of 1 mamzer (and I think that ratio is ridiculously high) than live in a world in which nothing a member of one gender does for a member of the other gender other than their spouse or parents can ever be acknowleged.

And I'd like to suggest you actually take a stand on this issue. Simply posting source while declining to state what they mean or to distinguish whether they are directly or peripherally related to the case under consideration is not helpful, in my opinion.

Joseph said...

*** "Kol kevuda bas melech penimah"

A statement that has no quantifiable measure. What, exactly, does this mean? That we should keep all our girls shut up in the house where no one can see them?

Please define, exactly, the philosophy of "kol k'vuda..." and then determine whether it really means that saying "Thank you" is forbidden.


I found a very good answer to this from the ftmod:

The point of Tznius is not only to avoid unwanted attention, but to dress in a manner sufficiently dignified for a Princess, as in "kol kevuda bas melech penimah". The Queen of England does not run around in short sleeves, regardless of what male attention she would or would not attract. Of course, we don't really care what the Queen of England wears - she is not our role model - but is serves as a Moshol and an understanding that royalty demands a certain formality by its own right. The Torah decides what that formality is.

The Chasam Sofer says the reason many women do not light Chanukah candles is because it was the custom (and in some places, including Eretz Yisroel, it still is today) that people lit Chanukah candles outside their house, near their doorposts. And because Kol Kevuda Bas Melech Penimah, women did not go outdoors to light. Are women Halachicly obligated to stay indoors? No. But the Queen of England does not hang out on her front porch like a commoner, and Hashem's Princesses, Bnos Yisroel, who feel the same way about their royal status in Hashem's eyes are expressing a good thing by not doing so unless necessary.

The idea is this: Kol kevuda bas melech penimah means that women, even though they obviously need to be on the street at times, should at least look like they don't belong there. Now, I did not say that they should not look like they belong there, but rather that they should look like they do not belong there. There is a big difference. When you walk down Wall Street for instance, and you see these women in suits and briefcases, it's clear that they belong in an office, and that they are not merely strolling down the avenue, but need to be on the street to get somewhere. It's that type of look that Kol kevuda bas melech penimah desires. Again, this is not to say that someone who does not have that "out of place" look on the street means they are hanging out, nor does it mean that they are any less frum than anyone else. But the point is NOT that your clothing makes you look like you're hanging out. Avoiding that look is not enough for Kol kevuda bas melech. To reach that level, the look must be one of out-of-placeness on the street. Like a princess whose formal dress hopefully lets everyone know that she only walks out of her castle for a purpose. Or at least, a businesswoman.

ProfK said...

Joseph,
You really need to remove the Queen Elizabeth analogy. One, she does wear short sleeves, and even sleeveless--formal gowns are made that way. Two, A woman of her age adjusts her clothing style because of changes in her body--look at the pictures of the younger Elizabeth and your analogy doesn't hold true. Three, this same Queen that you have walking out in formal dress? Baloney. She goes fox hunting and riding. She goes out into her gardens. She does some of the very same things ordinary women do. And she dresses for the occasion as required. Queens don't wear formal dress when riding to hounds. Thus she steps out of her castle dressed in all different ways, not just one.

Wolf,
If you are a deviant for expecting that common courtesy be extended, then hurray for deviancy. It is not having a conversation when you respond with a please or thank you or you're welcome. Mentchlichkeit requires that you follow the dictates of courtesy. We are required to give hakoras hatov at the time of a courtesy.

Men are never allowed to speak with women? No speaking in a social situation? No being friends with them? If someone really believes that or follows that then the answer to why there are myriad shalom bayis issues is clear. So men and women on a date will do exactly what? If there's no conversation allowed in a social situation--and what is more social than a date?--then just what are they supposed to do?

Joseph said...

Men are never allowed to speak with women? No speaking in a social situation? No being friends with them? If someone really believes that or follows that...

Do you wish to argue with the Shulchan Aruch, Igros Moshe, the Chida, and the Sefer HaChinuch?

BTW, all agree that if there is a necessity, it is permissible for that purpose. So your dating question, is not a question.

Shlomo Zalman said...

Shmoozing stam without reason, between the two genders, even if unknown to each other, is included in Harcheik Min Hachiur Umin Hadoimeh Loi.

There is also a Mitzva D'oiraisah of V'hoyo Machanecho Kodoish.
Let's not forget the G'morah on V'yad L'yad Loi Yinokeh, or, Hamistakel B'etzbah K'tanoh Shel Ishoh, and even if it is Muter,what about V'asu S'yug Latoirah?
Has everyone forgotten the the Posuk Ayeih Soroh Ishtecho?
It also says Al Tarbeh Sichoh Im Ho'ishoh, not Im Ishoh, for a very good reason.
Not calling married people of the other gender by their first names is not just a custom.
V'hoyoh Machanecho Kodoish is a D'oiraiso.
V'al Zeh Umru Harcheik Min Hachiur Umin Hadoimeh Loi

Even Hoezer Siman 21 S'if 7 Ein Shoialin Bishloim Isho K'lal Afilu Al Y'dei Sh'liach "V'afilu Al Y'dei Baloh" V'osur Lishloiach Lo Divrei Sh'loimim, even sending her the greeting is forbidden! 2) G'moroh Yuma 74: Omar Raish Lokish etc. & Rambam Hilchois T'shuvoh 4 Uk'var Kosvu Horishoinim, where you can see how the Yetzer has people do things that are not explicitly Osur Kdai Sheloi Y'hei Liboi Noikfoi V'yachazir Bit'shuvoh. 3) Maseches Kalloh 1 Omar R' Elozor Kol Hshoiseh, even unintetionally. 4) G'moro Nidoh 13. Kol Hameivi....Ein Machnisin Oisoi Lim'chitzosoi Shel HKB"H & the Rambam explains V'im Poga B'machashovoh Chetoi Godoil B'harbeh 5) Chinuch 188 even if he knows he will not faulter. 6)Y'rushalmi B'rochois P'1 H'8 Omar HKB"H Im At Uhiv Liboch V'einoch Ano Yodaano D'at Dili, what A Z'chus & S'char 7) Midrash Shir Hashirim 3, 13 T'nino B'shem R' Doiso, ....Omar Hakodoish Boruch Hu Mi Shehu Oimeid B'yetzer Shel Haznus Maaloh Ani Olov K'ilu Oimeid Bishteihem (including S'char for A"Z which is not around anymore & there is no other way to get S'char for it) 8) G'moro Makois 23: R' Shimoin Bar Rebi....Gezel V'aroyois....Hapoiresh Meihem.....Sheyizkeh Loi U'l'doiroisov.....Ad Soif Kol Hadoirois.

Shlomo Zalman said...

It is not not permissible to greet someone from the other gender even through a Sh'liach and even through her husband.

ProfK said...

Just curious Shlomo Zalman--so you never say good Shabbos to your aunts, grandmothers and sisters? Or your sister in laws? You do not say hello to them when you enter their homes? You wish them no mazel tovs when the occasion warrants it?

And what do you do in a house of mourning when you pay a shiva call and only women are the aveilim? Do you not say to them "Hamokom etc."?

the junior said...

"Do you wish to argue with the Shulchan Aruch, Igros Moshe, the Chida, and the Sefer HaChinuch?"
If they're talking nonsense, yes.

BrooklynWolf said...

BTW, all agree that if there is a necessity, it is permissible for that purpose.

I would maintain that thanking someone for something good they did for you *is* a necessity.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

Shlomo Zalman,

There is also a Mitzva D'oiraisah of V'hoyo Machanecho Kodoish.

That could mean a lot of things. How does it impact on our specific conversation?


Let's not forget the G'morah on V'yad L'yad Loi Yinokeh,


Since I'm obviously not the talmid chochom that you are, can you please briefly point me in the right place and even give a brief summary of the point of this gemara?


or, Hamistakel B'etzbah K'tanoh Shel Ishoh, and even if it is Muter,what about V'asu S'yug Latoirah?


The gemara of Hamistakel is specifically talking about someone who is taking erotic pleasure in the woman. It is *not* talking about innocent and common courtesies.


Has everyone forgotten the the Posuk Ayeih Soroh Ishtecho?


Have you forgotten that is an significant difference between taking an active interest in someone else's wife (hence the pasuk quoted) and simply saying "thank you" or "good morning?"


It also says Al Tarbeh Sichoh Im Ho'ishoh, not Im Ishoh, for a very good reason.


What, specifically, do you mean by this? Please elaborate.


Not calling married people of the other gender by their first names is not just a custom.


Saying "thank you" to someone is not calling them by name. In most cases when I say "thank you" to someone I don't even know their name.


V'hoyoh Machanecho Kodoish is a D'oiraiso.


You stated this earlier.

The Wolf

the junior said...

R Falk's book is on Google books (in part).
Page 529 - he holds that you can't open a door for a woman, including your wife.
I don't care if that's endorsed by some bloke who lived in the 16th century or a man whose world was 19th century Poland. It's wrong and it's stupid.

BrooklynWolf said...

Joseph and Shlomo Zalman,

Let me try this little experiment. Try picturing this in your mind. Rav Moshe is walking in the street and he drops something (a dollar, a piece of paper, whatever) and does not notice. A woman comes over, picks up the item, says to Rav Moshe "excuse me you dropped this" and hands the item back to Rav Moshe.

Now, what do you think Rav Moshe would do next? Would he say "thank you" or would he simply walk away with nary a word of acknowledgment?

The Wolf

the junior said...

"Now, what do you think Rav Moshe would do next? Would he say "thank you" or would he simply walk away with nary a word of acknowledgment?"

And let's assume that he would just walk away without a word of acknolwledgement - would that make it right? Of cousre not. So why would we care what he would do?

ProfK said...

Sigh Junior, and thus speaks someone clearly not of the generations that lived when R'Moshe was alive.

I had occasion to be sent to consult with R'Moshe over a question that my local rabbis said was definitely one for him, not them. A meeting was arranged and I met with him in his apartment on the lower East Side. When I arrived for my appointment the Rav was having a glass of tea and the Rebbetzin asked if I would like one as well. The Rav told me to drink and then we would talk. I sat at the table across from R'Moshe and he asked me to repeat my situation again. He asked me pertinent questions. And then what he suggested was not only a brilliant answer but was so different from what any other rabbi even guessed at as a solution. All this in his kitchen, with his wife the only other person there. He was kindness and graciousness personified. I was scared before I went to see him, wondering how one should behave in the presence of such a Gadol. I took my cue from the Rav himself--I acted with manners and with mentchlichkeit.

So yes, I, for one, would care what the Rav did, and I, for one, would doubt that he would not respond to a simple courtesy with the required "thank you."

aaron from L.A. said...

The only way one can avoid the dreaded hellfire Issur of not talking to women and still not offend them,is not to be courteous to men,either. That way people will understand that frum Jews just aren't polite to anyone.There you have it! A perfectly rational approach to the whole inyan.Now everyone can be happy.

Larry Lennhoff said...

Aaron:
And people say the average sabra isn't religious. Hah! You've proved them wrong!

aaron from L.A. said...

Larry: I'm so frum, I don't even eat in my own house!

the junior said...

Prof K: I think you rather missed the point.
I have no doubt that R Moshe would have acted politely. My point was that even if (for the sake of argument) he had not done so, would that mean that we would not act politely too? If he had beaten his wife throughout your meeting with him, would you beat your wife, too?
We aren't sheep and the Rabbis aren't sheepdogs. That's why, in teh final analysis, I don't care what he would or would not have done.

A Living Nadneyda said...

Sorry, I'm just trying to scrape myself off the floor out of true shock and despair, as I wonder why some people feel a need to defend normative, polite behavior among human beings.

I'm with Prof K -- Mentchlichkeit behavior is a basic, a given, and I will add that if you need to justify it by searching in the halacha or wondering what a gdol haDor would do, you have entirely missed the point of our Torah.

If you have identified yourself as a person who cannot show basic politeness to others for whatever reason -- because you will lead yourself astray, or because you do not know how to be polite on the most basic level -- than indeed, you should avoid all contact.

BrooklynWolf said...

Junior,

You're right... for me it doesn't make a difference what Rav Moshe would have done. However, the experiment wasn't for me (or you) but for Joseph and Shlomo Zalman. They are the ones who may be swayed by Rav Moshe would have done.

The Wolf

ProfK said...

Junior,
Obviously not clear from my posting and from your comment about "would I beat my wife" but I am female. The incident about R'Moshe was intended to illustrate that his behavior towards a female stranger was not distant and was not disrespectful and was both courteous and polite. I can't tell you what he wrote in Igros Moshe and I can't tell you how to interpret his words or where the exceptions are, but I can give personal testimony to how he treated me within his home. Common courtesy was a given.

Zvika said...

There is also a Mitzva D'oiraisah of V'hoyo Machanecho Kodoish.

First of all, please do us all a favor and if you're going to quote huge chunks of the גמרא and פסוקים, write it in Hebrew script. It took me 5 minutes to figure out what the heck that transliterated jibberish you wrote was.

Second, the last I checked, this was in reference to war and specifically in regards to going to the bathroom, not banning simple pleasantries and what is considered to be in the realm of basic politeness.

V'asu S'yug Latoirah?

How about "תקנתא לתקנתא לא עבדינן". There are already איסורים regarding ערוה in place, including the idea of Shomer Negia.

Ayeih Soroh Ishtecho?

Shall I assume you advocate keeping women in the house at all times, considering Avraham's response?

It also says Al Tarbeh Sichoh Im Ho'ishoh, not Im Ishoh, for a very good reason.

Somehow, I don't think this includes common decency.

As for the last thing - Write it in Hebrew!!!!

מועדים לשמחה לכולם

Zvika

Shira Salamone said...

"October 02, 2009 5:37 PM
Shlomo Zalman said...
Why don't we look at the Shulchon Aruch? It is prohibited for a man to even ask a woman how they are. As in "How are you?" and after discussing the matter with a leading Posek, if saying hello is being said in the same sense as "How are you?", then that is also prohibited."


"October 07, 2009 2:09 AM

A Living Nadneyda said....

. . .

I'm with Prof K -- Mentchlichkeit behavior is a basic, a given, and I will add that if you need to justify it by searching in the halacha or wondering what a gdol haDor would do, you have entirely missed the point of our Torah."


So, those of you who agree with Shlomo Zalman, you mean to tell me that, had you seen me last December with both my arms in casts and slings (no joke--I broke both wrists last Dec. 11), you would have pretended that you didn't even notice?

I'm with ProfK and Living Nadneda on this--of what use is all your Torah learning if you have no midot (good character) and no kavod habriyot (respect for HaShem's) creatures? As far as I'm concerned, ignoring women except for purposes of sex, child-rearing, housekeeping, and/or supporting you while you're in kollel--which is essentially what you're doing by refusing to speak to a woman unless absolutely necessary--is a chillul hashem (desecration of G-d's holy name).

Larry Lennhoff said...

Shlomo Zalman and Zvika

It is possible that the extensive use of Hebrew and lack of English is designed to exclude those onlookers who are insufficiently educated, as their very lack of education might result in their reacting in a hostile fashion to the underlying concepts.

Even if they were translated, it appears SZ's original post was largely a series of out of context snippets. Perhaps a translation of those snippets wouldn't have done much either.

However, if your purpose is not to exclude the less educated I suggest that both english translations and providing a certain amount of context would gain you a wider audience.

Moed Tov

Larry

Shira Salamone said...

"It is possible that the extensive use of Hebrew and lack of English is designed to exclude those onlookers who are insufficiently educated, as their very lack of education might result in their reacting in a hostile fashion to the underlying concepts."

Okay, Ms. Am HaAretz (Jewishly-illiterate) pleads guilty as charged. (It seems to me that we had a similar discussion concerning the brachah/blessing in which a man thanks G-d for not having made him a woman/sheh-lo asani isha.) In all honesty, I'm more interested in sacred liturgy than in sacred literature--I'd rather davven than study. But I also find it difficult to motivate myself to study texts that seem to this admittedly-undereducated female to be blatantly misogynistic. How else can I interpret a text that says that one shouldn't inquire concerning a woman's well-being, other than to feel that the individual who stated that this is the halachah quite literally doesn't care whether a woman lives or dies?

Tzipporah said...

Feh, enough wisdom from our fathers.

What did their WIVES have to say about it?

Until you can answer that, I don't much care what the "traditional halachic" understanding is.

Zvika said...

Larry

My apologies. In general, I agree that people should transliterate and translate to as so let everyone be involved in the discussion. I was simply asking SZ to not use Yeshivishe Hebrew. Hebrew is hard enough to transliterate (believe me, I know, being a professional translator and linguist) without vowels being flipped around to the point that no one understands what the heck is being said. I prefer things quoted in the original script because simply put, there is no room for people to manipulate the words to carry their interpretation.

As for the content of my post, it was directed towards SZ. For those who want to know what I was talking about, I was saying as follows:

SZ quoted several statements that are totally out of context. I was picking on a few specific ones that don't really fit this situation, but there was one in particular that I'm going after him on. In Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), there is a statement that we are supposed make fences around the Torah to prevent sin. However, there is also another statement from the Talmud (Tractate Bava Metzia if I recall correctly) that states that we don't makes fences around fences. As I recall, the Rabbis there were saying that we don't forbid and ban things to the extreme. I was applying that rule to this situation. While a certain amount of caution is necessary and I am not making light of the words of Chazal since they do in effect carry the Halachic authority of the Torah (as stated in Parshat Shoftim (1st aliyah)) that our leaders are the people we turn to for guidance), we also need to keep in mind that after a certain point the banning will cross into territory that simply makes people's lives impossible to live and quite frankly will be counter-productive to keeping people in the fold. Yes, Halacha is designed to prevent sinning and does sometimes make our lives very inconvenient, but after a certain point I think we need to start thinking about where this is taking us. Yes, we're supposed to be light unto the nations, and we're supposed to be separate from everyone else. However, if we're supposed to also be an example to the world, shouldn't we be able to interact with them in what is considered universal normal behavior? I think so. As I recall, Rav Ruderman ZT"L required Ner Yisrael guys to be able to communicate well and normally so as to be able to teach the public. This is the model I grew up with and try to emulate as much as possible. In addition, I think there are far more important things to be worried about than whether Raizy and Shmeel are talking on the phone or being seen in public talking unless it's definitely leading to things that are against Halacha. We should be more concerned about the fact that our brethren are desecrating Shabbat and so many have no clue as to what their heritage is about.

G-d willing, I will elaborate later on this today with a post on my own blog (http://aliyahprocess.wordpress.com).

In the meantime, Mo'adim L'Simcha to everyone.

Zvika

Zvika said...

And SZ, leaving a sources list is not helpful unless people know what you're doing (I only noticed this the third time around).

Shira Salamone said...

Somehow, this issur (prohibition) against talking to women under most circumstances strikes me as remarkably similar to the issur of kol isha (the prohibition against a man listening to a woman sing). In my opinion, both prohibitions seem to indicate that the rabbis had a very low opinion of the ability of males to control themselves sexually. I would say that not only are the issurim (prohibitions) themselves an insult to women, the attitudes on which these issurim appear to be based are an insult to men.

Aaron S. said...

I am quite astounded that the blog owner here has allowed to stand many comments that are clearly Mevazeh Talmidei Chochomim and are openly Bizayon HaTorah.

If this isn't hefkeiros and apikores mamesh, nothing is.

BrooklynWolf said...

Aaron,

My general policy is that I don't censor blog comments. The only exceptions I make are as follows:

1. Spam
2. Posts which threaten a person (and yes, I've had an instance of that -- one commentator once threatened the wife of another).
3. Unwarranted profanity or vulgarity.

Other than that, I prefer to let comments stand. If you feel that some people's comments are a "Bizayon HaTorah" then by all means, use that to form the basis of your opinions of people. But I will not censor my comments.

You may disagree with my policy, but that doesn't make it "hefkeiros" or "apikorsus mamesh."

The Wolf

Aaron S. said...

Unwarranted profanity or vulgarity, no. But Mevazeh Talmidei Chochomim and/or open Bizayon HaTorah yes?

Interesting.

Were you aware that the Gemorah in Sanhedrin 99b says that a Mevazeh Talmid Chochom is an apikorus and has no chelek in Olam Haboah? And you should read that Gemorah as well to see how easy it is to be Mevazeh a Talmid Chochom. An example given in the Gemorah is someone who says what benefit do the Talmidei Chachomim bring us.

BrooklynWolf said...

Aaron,

As I said, you're more than welcome to use what I say to form the basis of your opinion about me.

If you feel what I said is a bizoyon of talmidei chachamim, then you are entitled to that opinion -- even if I disagree with you.

You'll note that I also allow criticism of me on the blog.

Just out of curiosity, can I ask what it was that I said that you consider a bizayon of talmidei chachamim?

The Wolf

Aaron S. said...

I didn't say you, but rather the comments that are posted here and you don't delete. You admit you delete vularity, but not apikorsus.

Allowing comments criticizing you is not apikorsus; allowing comments criticizing talmidei chachomim is.

BrooklynWolf said...

I delete vulgarity because it's offensive and it doesn't serve to make the point when it could be made without it.

I do allow criticism (which can be respectful or not). I allow people to decide for themselves what is respectful and what is not. If htat makes me an apikorus, you're entitled to that viewpoint.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

In any event, if you have a problem with something someone said here, why don't you complain to the one who made the comment?

In other words, rebut their point.

(Just out of curiosity, what was the comment that so upset you?)

The Wolf

Zvika said...

Aaron:

1) It is a very serious charge to accuse people of being either an apikoros or a Kofer B'Ikar. The amount of Torah one must know in order to qualify for a thing is astounding. I'm pretty sure that no one here knows enough Torah to be considered either an apikoros or a Kofer B'Ikar. You should be very careful before leveling such accusations against other people, especially if you consider yourself to be a religious individual who seriously follow Halacha.

2) While I can identify a few posts that probably would amount to degrading the sages, this is probably out of ignorance or frustration, not with malicious intent.

3) Who are you to go accusing other people of things? Have you ever thought things similar to what people here have posted in your lifetime? Have you ever wondered why Chazal issued the Piskei Halacha they have? If so, you have no business accusing ANYONE here of what you just did.

4) I warn you that if you are accusing me of such a thing, I highly resent it - you don't know me, my religious background, my experiences and the reasons behind the things that I say/do. G-d will judge you for issuing such accusations against others and certainly if you are issuing them against me.

Aaron S. said...

I delete vulgarity because it's offensive and it doesn't serve to make the point when it could be made without it.

BrooklynWolf: Is vulgarity more offensive to you than apikorsus and/or Mevazeh Talmidei Chochomim/Bizoyon HaTorah? Or is it, perhaps, the case that you are more motivated to fight vulgarity/profanity than apikorsus/Mevazeh Talmidei Chochomim/Bizoyon HaTorah?

Zvika:

I warn you that if you are accusing me of such things I haven't done, I highly resent it - you don't know me and the reasons behind the things that I say. G-d will judge you for issuing such accusations against others and certainly if you are issuing them against me. /sarcasm

Have you ever thought things similar to what people here have posted in your lifetime?

No.

Have you ever wondered why Chazal issued the Piskei Halacha they have?

After fully accepting it. And when I wondered, I asked, with the knowledge I would continue to fully accept what they issued regardless of the answer I received, regardless whether I liked or accepted the answer I received, and regardless whether I understood the answer I received.

If so, you have no business accusing ANYONE here of what you just did.

Absolutely incorrect.

G*3 said...

> An example given in the Gemorah is someone who says what benefit do the Talmidei Chachomim bring us.

Nu, so what benifit do the Talmidei Chachomim bring us?

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Dave said...

Removing profanity is a restriction on the form of the discussion.

What you are advocating Aaron, is a restriction on the substance.

If you disagree with someone's point, argue the point.

Zvika said...

Aaron

1) I do not appreciate being mocked in such a manner. I would expect that right after Yom Kippur that you would be more respectful towards those who disagree with you rather than treating everyone with with utter derision and condescension, which is what I am detecting in your posts. If this is not the case, I apologize.

2) I second Dave's point. If you disagree, argue the point you disagree with.

Aaron S. said...

Zvika:

Your apology is accepted.

Anonymous said...

I, for one, am still waiting for Aaron S. to give examples to back up his charge of 'Apikorsus'.

Ever notice how most of these bozos never bother to actually back up their accusations with facts?

Anonymous said...

Actually I think losers call others "bozos" and other names/ad hominems when their arguments fail.

Dave said...

It's worth pointing out that calling someone a "bozo" (or a "loser") is an insult, not an argumentum ad hominem.

Stating, "he's a bozo/loser/apikorsus and therefore there is no way that he could be correct", that's an ad hominem attack.

bankman said...

doesnt the mishna in avos say that one may not talk excessively with one owns wife?!?!

does that not trouble anyone? or, in fact, show that this particular "Issur" is utter bunk? (i hope that this does not fall in to the apikorses category, as I would feel SO BAD that Aron may feel the need to yell at Wolf for allowing such comments on his blog)

G*3 said...

> does that not trouble anyone? or, in fact, show that this particular "Issur" is utter bunk?

Oh, if only it worked that way!

The authority is always right. Always. So the mishnah is interpreted as an ideal. Really, we shouldn't talk to our wives. Unfortunatly, most people aren't on such a madreiga, so we're maikel and allow them to speak to their wives.

Anonymous said...

>>Let me try this little experiment. Try picturing this in your mind. Rav Moshe is walking in the street and he drops something (a dollar, a piece of paper, whatever) and does not notice. A woman comes over, picks up the item, says to Rav Moshe "excuse me you dropped this" and hands the item back to Rav Moshe.

Now, what do you think Rav Moshe would do next? Would he say "thank you" or would he simply walk away with nary a word of acknowledgment?<<

I recently read about an incident where a Yeshiva Bochur saw a neighbor of RMF who worked in a doctor's office give him a quick peck on the cheek when he came in for a visit and he didn't seem perturbed in the least. (!!)