Knowing our Limits

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141 Responses

  1. BubbyT says:

    This is beautifully expressed.

  2. Will Choose says:

    “No doubt among my readers there are those who will point the finger of blame at Mrs. Shear: Why couldn’t she have moved to the back of the bus? Why did she have to distribute her Email so widely, knowing that it would generate great attention? And perhaps they are right.”

    No way Jose!
    They are wrong, wrong, wrong.
    Let them stand if they need to.

    I am reminded of the old joke about the little boy on the bus who watches a woman sit down next to a black hatted rabbi who immediately jumps up from his seat (I said it was an old joke). Thereupon a Sephardi rabbi sits down in the seat. The boy asks his father about it. The father replies, “Harishon hu rav, vehasheini hu chacham.”

  3. Moshe P. Mann says:

    Excellent critique – I couldn’t agree more! Gee, Rabbi Rosenblum, you might have more in commonwith Naomi Ragen than you realize! 🙂

    The only problem is that this “small segment of the community” has the implicit approval of many gedolim, as witnessed by the mass chareidi violence against the Pride Parade. I have even heard stories (though I can’t confirm them) that in shtetls in Eastern Europe, Jews accused of kefirah were often executed impromptu by the beis din!

    It hurts to admit it, but use of occassional violence is part and parcel of ultra-orthodox ideology.

    And unfortunately, airing our dirty laundry is currently the only way to put an end to it.

  4. Noam Stadlan says:

    The author writes “Why couldn’t she have moved to the back of the bus? Why did she have to distribute her Email so widely, knowing that it would generate great attention? And perhaps they are right.”

    Anyone who puts any blame on this victim is absolutely certainly not right. And if Rabbi Rosenblum entertains the thought, then he is part of the problem, not the solution. Just because some people want to skew the values of Torah into grotesque caricatures of tzniut and have someone with the title of Rabbi behind them doesn’t mean that they reflect the will of Hashem. These distortions need to be combated no less than distortions about mashiach or other tenets of our faith. She is to be commended for not letting a bunch of hooligans hiding behind religion intimidate her. And while the publicity gives Torah judaism in general a black eye, it seems that it was neccessary. Anyone who questions her actions, especially in not moving is contributing to the problem of extremism in tzniut at the expense of the much more important values of shalom bein adam l’chavero. Shame on Rabbi Rosenblum for even suggesting that she was wrong for not moving.

  5. joe daniels says:

    “All that matters, in any given situation, is what they perceive as the immediate religious imperative. Concern with the spiritual state of their fellow Jews is not even on the radar screen.”

    There is another dimension to your point which affects a larger proportion of chareidi society than you imply and which reflects that something is sorely lacking in our system of chinuch. It is a fact that even amongst those of us who would care about the spiritual state of our fellow Jews (I would like to think that I am talking about the majority of us)- of people who sincerely believe themselves to be “Yirei Shomayim” – do not appreciate that every action or word spoken by one to another can have a consequence as to whether he has brought about a Kiddush H’ or chas vesholom a Chillul H’ through his speech or action.

    As a simple example, I was on a flight last week between two European cities, and there were about a dozen chassidim on the flight. I knew some of them personally and they were all people I would consider to be respectable. If any of them had been on that bus you referred to going to the kotel that morning, they would have kept quiet and moved to another seat on the bus. They are the sort of people who would care about the spiritual state of others and would be embarrassed if they knew they were causing a Chillul H’.

    Yet there were a number of aspects of their behavior that I found disturbing. The way they shouted to each other in conversation across the rows on the plane, oblivious to the existence of other passengers – the way they stood in the aisle in conversation much to the consternation of the cabin crew.

    This was not an ElAl flight and even on ElAl we should be careful of the example we could make to other passengers – definitely an opportunity for Kiddush H’. But in practice we behave very badly in public to the extent that a number of non religious friends of mine were delighted when they heard recently that chareidim were no longer flying with ElAl. It was a genuine sentiment – not one borne out of ill regard for chareidim.

    I could give various other examples but I would rather write of the wonderful traits of our brethren, and the point has been made.

    But my primary point is that it is not just a small proportion of our society who help “make Torah Judaism appear as something ugly and fanatical” – those you refer to may or may not be a lost case. It is a much larger section of Torah society – those who would care if it was shown to them that instead of being people who could be perceived as Torah role models – that in reality they are seen in public as boors and caricatures.

    So is there a solution for the well meaning majority? Can this be handled in the chareidi schools and yeshivas? Or my being someone who dresses normally, is it perhaps me who is prejudiced and needs to be re-educated and change my hashkofos?

  6. HILLEL says:

    JONATHAN:

    You wrote: “If we want the majority of Israeli society to respect the rights of the chareidi minority, then we have to also respect the rights of the majority.”

    In the new Sefer published by former MK Shlomo Lawrence, entitled BiMeChiTzoSom, there is a direct quote from the Chazon Ish, ZT”L:
    “When our Torah principles are at stake, we must act decisively, even if the secular majority does not understand or disapproves.”

    We cannot constantly be on the defensive, looking over our shoulder at what the seculars think of us!

  7. Jewish Observer says:

    resorting to the argument that charedi misbehavior is just not worth it pragmatically provides a window into how low of an opinion RJR has of his readers

  8. mb says:

    No doubt among my readers there are those who will point the finger of blame at Mrs. Shear: Why couldn’t she have moved to the back of the bus? Why did she have to distribute her Email so widely, knowing that it would generate great attention? And perhaps they are right.

    Perhaps they are right? Really?
    Other than this, well said.

  9. Bob Miller says:

    1. Private groups should not set the rules for public mass transit systems.
    2. Private groups should be allowed (in fact and not just on paper) to set up private mass transit systems with seating, dress codes, etc., along whatever lines they choose.
    3. The public systems should not sabotage the private systems.

  10. G says:

    “No doubt among my readers there are those who will point the finger of blame at Mrs. Shear: Why couldn’t she have moved to the back of the bus? Why did she have to distribute her Email so widely, knowing that it would generate great attention? And perhaps they are right.”

    There was no need to include these lines. This is not germane to the point that, I think, this article is trying to make.

    “But to focus only on her actions is to miss the point.”

    Exactly, and yet the above lines still made it into the article.

  11. Avigdor M'Bawlmawr says:

    Reb Jonathan;

    I think you err in writing “[a]dopting violence as a tool would be a disastrous mistake.” That would imply if it worked it would be okay. Undoubtedly you meant not only is it morally wrong, but would as well be a disaster.

  12. Zev says:

    You’re assuming that Mrs. Shear’s story is true. I’m told by those who know her that she is an entirely untrustworthy individual. Have you verified the facts of the incident beyond what she told you?

  13. Harry Maryles says:

    Beautiful post! I could not agree more. I honor Rabbi Rosenblum for his courage in writing it and Mishpacha Magazine for publishing it.

  14. Eliot says:

    “he also compared chareidim to the Taliban in Afghanistan, and that comparison has been picked up and repeated ad nauseum.”

    Quite frankly, the comparison is painfully germane. From the defacing of “obscene” signs in Willy to the stoning of Shabbos desecrators to Mrs. Shears’ unfortunate experience too many of our Chareidische bretheren would seem to be forming the next “Va’ad For The Propagation Of Virtue And Prevention Of Vice”. Don’t fault the Leitzanim for repeating what should be an obvious truth to anyone who will look!

  15. Yisrael Moshe says:

    R’ Jonathan,

    What is the BaGaTz?

    Oh, and an excellent article, as usual. Thank you.

  16. joel rich says:

    R’JR
    Well said, we all need to keep in mind the words of Robert Burns “O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.”

    As to “Democracy may not be the Torah’s ideal form of government” iirc there is an interesting discussion amongst the commentators as to whether monarchy had a value in and of itself or whether the question is what is the most utilitarian form of government. In current times IIUC R’ H Schachter (RY-RIETS) posits that the issue of dina dmalchuta (the law of the land) does not need to flow from the power of the monarchy but rather the agreement of the majority (much like a partnership) as to how they will live together. As long as the rules of the Torah are not contravened, certainly at least in monetary issues, the majority rules.

    KT

  17. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Is there a historical precedent to today’s situation? When was the last time most Jews were not observant, not because they consciously rejected Judaism, but because their ancestors did?

    This isn’t even the same as the Judeans sacrificing on the Bamot. The Judeans thought it was proper to sacrifice there, as was their parents’ minhag – they did not think that worship anywhere was silly.

  18. HILLEL says:

    To Bob Miller:

    Well said, short, and to the point(s).

    No discussion of this issue is complete without a clear understanding that the Eged bus company is not a Hareidi organization.

    The “Mehadrin” buses were instituted by Eged only after a Hareidi group organized a rival bus service, called “Darka Acharina,” to provide separate seating for Hareidi passengers who didn’t want to be crammed into crowded buses with men and women together.

    Eged jumped in solely to pre-empt the growth of this rival service, which threatened to make major inroads into the bus transportaion market among Hareidim.

    Since Eged really didn’t care about the issue itself, they did a half-hearted, half-baked job. They did’t mark the “Mehadrin” buses, and they didn’t enforce the separate seating rules. It was left to the passengers to sort everything our themselves. This is a formula for chaos and conflict, as illustrated by the present incident.

    The solution is for Eged to fish or cut bait!

  19. Noam Stadlan says:

    Mrs. Shear was the victim of an assault, which is a crime here in the united states, and I assume also in Israel. It was a criminal action. She was spat upon, kicked and hit.

    Why did this happen to her? Because she refused to move her seat on a public bus.

    Why was she asked to move her seat? Because the person asking thought/had been taught that Torah-true Judaism dictated that it was the right thing to do. That Judaism required that she not sit where she was sitting. As has been noted, Mrs. Shear was a religious person herself, wearing a head covering. However, her view of Torah-true Judaism was that she was not required to move here seat, and in fact, that there was nothing wrong with her sitting where she was. The male passengers obviously thought that the appropriate next step from a Torah-true Judaism point of view was to spit on Mrs. Shear, followed by a pummelling.

    The most horrible aspect of this story is not that it happened. That is bad enough. The worst is that some people think that the actions of the male passengers were appropriate, that they followed a Torah-true Judaism. In fact, the actions of the male passengers were a grotesque perversion of Judaism and the values taught by the Torah. They have not only perverted the laws of modesty into a monster of repression, but they have placed the value of those perverted laws above Torah dictated values such as ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’, and many other concepts that order Torah-true Jews to treat their fellows with love and compassion. In addition, the male passengers failed to acknowledge that Mrs. Shear’s idea of modesty was totally within Torah guidelines. It may have not been the passenger’s idea of the right guidelines, but nonetheless, part of the mesorah, the accepted body of laws that have been handed down from generation to generation. Just because they chose to be incredibly stringent, doesn’t mean that she has to. They refused to respect her belief and practice, which again, resided in the Torah-true spectrum.

    I cannot comprehend how anyone can agree with, or even condone what was done to Mrs. Shear. Torah-true Jews don’t act this way. Torah-true Jews are forbidden from acting this way. If someone is agreeing with or condoning this activity, they are advocating activity which is against Torah. Period. It is a perversion of Torah. A PERVERSION. Torah Jews dont tolerate perversions of Torah on the liberal side. We should not tolerate perversions of Torah on the conservative side.

    Rabbi Rosenblum has written a nice piece about the ramifications of what happened. But he has focused only on the outcome of the action, not the action itself. Where is the outrage that Torah Jews could behave this way? What about the perversion of the laws of modesty that encourages this to happen? Where is the condemnation of spitting and beating a grandmother? No, Rabbi Rosenblum only writes about the public shame, or the possible public policy implications. He then goes on to say that those who blame Mrs. Shear for not moving or for publicizing her beating may be right. Right? Mrs. Shear should not publicize the fact that a crime occured and she was assaulted? Where should she turn? To a court of rabbis whose decisions led directly to this event? Does anyone think she had the remotest chance of recieving justice there?

    As Bob Dole said during his campaign against Bill Clinton(in reference to Clinton’s multiple indiscretions) “where is the outrage?” Where is Rabbi Rosenblum’s outrage? Not outrage at the embarrassment to the Torah community, and not outrage about the public policy implications. Where is the outrage that Torah has been so perverted that poeple think that attacking a grandmother is the right thing to do.

  20. Ariel Cohen says:

    Bravo!

  21. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Jonathan Rosenblum: No doubt among my readers there are those who will point the finger of blame at Mrs. Shear: Why couldn’t she have moved to the back of the bus? Why did she have to distribute her Email so widely, knowing that it would generate great attention? And perhaps they are right.

    Ori: May I defend this statement? I don’t think it means Jonathan Rosenblum thinks that blaming Mrs. Shear is right. It merely means that he is trying to close that issue to focus on charedi behavior, his main topic.

    When one’s group is criticised, the natural human response is to get upset and say the blame lies elsewhere.Yetzer Hara, the evil inclination, loves this response. Once we deflect the blame we get defensive and ignore the actual criticism.

    By meekly accepting that blame might lie with Mrs. Shear too, Jonathan Rosenblum makes it harder for the readers’ Yetzer Hara to take control and tell them he is an enemy they should fight or ignore. Then, having pacified that Yetzer, his rebuke is more likely to be heard by the people who need it.

  22. Rabbi Chaim Frazer says:

    I note that Rabbi Rosenbaum mentions that the late Rav Moshe Feinstein, zz’l, ruled authoritatively on an American version of this issue. Perhaps we can hope that the current outstanding poskim in Eretz Yisrael will issue a similar ruling, and perhaps address publicly the broader issue of how to establish sanctification of G-d’s Name in relations with non-observant Jews. That, it seems to me, is a bedrock Torah principle about which we should be firm and unyielding.

    Rabbi Chaim Frazer

  23. Boruch says:

    Rabbi Rosenblum

    Might you clarify why you referred to the women bringing the petition as “feminists”? Even if they are ( however you choose to define the term), how is that relevant to the case other than to betray your real deep seated antagonism to anything women say or do that offends your perceived self righteous religious way of life.

    Your criticism is that the incident involved had to have been wrong because it resulted in a black eye for Torah Jewry but in essence feminists are the true aggressors. If the incident played out with less fanfare you would have seen no reason to pen your column.

    If referring to the thugs who created this terrible nuisance
    nauseates you why not give some thought to laying off the nauseating use of the term feminist for any action or reaction taken by a woman.

  24. ja says:

    “Separate seating on buses may be a very positive thing. And if it is important enough to the chareidi community, then the community will support our own separate bus lines (though hopefully not by throwing stones at competing public lines, as has happened in Ramat Beit Shemesh).
    But separate seating is not the only Torah value at stake.”

    Why may it be a positive thing? “Torah value”? Has anyone heard even any rumor of any of the gedolei yerushalayim who advocated separate seating? Did RSZA advocate for it or R Schach? The separate seating on buses appears to be the brainchild of local individuals, not daas torah.

    It’s worrisome that you cede so much to kanoim even in Mishpacha Magazine. Their bullying appears to be quite effective. Is that the message you really wish to send?

  25. de la costa says:

    r rosenblum is still too american— he has not totally adopted the brand of my way or the highway brand of judaism, so dominant in israeli charedi domain…. but there is hope for his native born grandchildren…

  26. S. says:

    >You’re assuming that Mrs. Shear’s story is true. I’m told by those who know her that she is an entirely untrustworthy individual. Have you verified the facts of the incident beyond what she told you?

    This incident has been scrutinized without stop for many weeks. Thus far no one has managed to rebut her version of events. The only things which arise are questions of whether her behavior was wrong, if she had it coming or “is an entirely untrustworthy individual,” but no one who witnessed it has claimed that in essence the incident did not occur.

  27. Aviva says:

    For some reason, many posts question Rabbi Rosenblum’s paragraph: “No doubt among my readers there are those who will point the finger of blame at Mrs. Shear: Why couldn’t she have moved to the back of the bus? Why did she have to distribute her Email so widely, knowing that it would generate great attention? And perhaps they are right.”

    I am one of those readers who points the finger at both Mrs. Shear AND her attacker. There isn’t always an innocent victim and a guilty perpetrator in a conflict. Sometimes, as in this case, both are guilty. She obviously recognized that she was boarding a bus dominated by deeply observant Jews, and the norm was for women to sit in the back, even without the official designation as a Mehadrin bus. Whether she liked it or not, that was the custom of the regulars on the bus, and she was just a visitor from abroad. By insisting on sitting in the front, she was looking for trouble and she found it. Yes, violence is wrong. The men on the bus should not have attacked her, but she did still provoke the confrontation with her actions. And, as she herself wrote in her email, she was belligerent and reveled in the thought of sticking it to the hareidi men on the bus who asked her to change seats. She is not blameless.

  28. Zev says:

    “but no one who witnessed it has claimed that in essence the incident did not occur.”

    Not so. In the original article, the bus driver was quoted as saying it did not occur.

  29. Zev says:

    Besides, the absence of contradictory accounts does not constitute verification of the facts. What is needed are witnesses who confirm her account. I wonder whether Mr. Rosenblum has received confirmation or if he has simply accepted Mrs. Shear’s word for what happened.

  30. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “No doubt among my readers there are those who will point the finger of blame at Mrs. Shear: Why couldn’t she have moved to the back of the bus? Why did she have to distribute her Email so widely, knowing that it would generate great attention? And perhaps they are right.”

    Goodwill and compromise can deflect at least some secular/religious conflicts. While I believe that there is value in assertively taking a stand against kannois(zealotry), which would be a reason to be emulate Rosa Parks , I can understand that darchei shalom might mandate avoiding confrontation. Had someone taken the time to patiently explain the situation to her(this can take mote than five minutes), then we can debate if she should have been non-confrotational. Based on her version of the story, however, she never had that opportunity. In any event, all agree that any intransigence on her part would not mitigate the behavior of those who attacked her.

    As far as the e-mail, there is indeed an issue of weighing chillul Hashem against the need to fight zealotry. On the other hand, the situation is already ripe for such actions. What is the correct course of action for someone with a grievance against a part of the charedi world, even a negligible one? Do nothing(“v’limkalilie nafshi sidom”), speak to a Rav, complain to the Badatz or Agudah? Maybe there should be forums for venting feelings. In another situation, someone with a grievance against a person in the charedi world, because he had no outlet, created a movie that led to chilul Hashem, saying, ” if there were a forum for the open discussion of ideas in the haredi world, that’s the right place for [discussing] this idea. But there’s no place for it”.

  31. Baruch Horowitz says:

    If commenters keep in mind the readership of Hamishpocha, they will appreciate the complexity of writing an article of this sort. If one wants to accomplish communal introspection, it is necessary to be perceived as impartial as possible.

    Althoug I cheered when reading “Burning Down our Neighborhood”, others seemed to have a knee-jerk reaction of deflecting blame and communal introspection, which went beyond a simple appreciation of the complexity of the situation. As Ori pointed out, it is human behavior to rationalize and deflect blame. In addition, the charedi world is under siege from a hostile press. Some of Hamishpocha’s more insular readers who are unaware of resentment(fair or unfair) against some charedim, which one seees on blogs coming even from Frum circles, would therefore perhaps have a hard time seeing the full picture, which many feel extend beyond this event. Whatever the case might be, avoiding the problem is a counterproductive strategy.

    The goal of writing such an article is not to directly affect the kannoim who perpetrated the deed, but rather to raise awareness amongst reasonable people, and to encourage those who already have an abhorence for zealotry. What we really need is a formal and sustained educational effort at the highest levels emphasizing kiddush Hashem. I equate the importance of this with boycotting El Al, or organizing tzniyus gatherings. Such efforts would have the ripple effect of ostracizing the kannoim and their behavior, and changing our community’s image.

  32. shalhevet says:

    Though I know this is not the point, I want to point out that such behavior is not the norm. I also took the Netz bus, and sat in the front. I was politely explained that the custom here is to sit seperately, and while I didn’t have to, it would be appreciated if I moved back. I did. On other ocaasions I refused (There weren’t good seats or I wasn’t feeling well), and never did I get such a reaction. Yes, I am part of the “Charedi” community, and no, I don’t get the point of seperate seating on the busses, and even strongly disagree. But I figure, if I expect others to respect my way, even if they disagree, I need to respect their’s, even if I disagree.

  33. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Rabbi Rosenblum touched on the subject of the “bus wars” here in Beit Shemesh. What’s happening here makes Mrs. Shear’s case look trivial. On a regular basis there are roving gangs of chareidim blocking intersections, burning tires, turning over dumpsters, and stoning cars, busses (filled with children), and people (a neighbor of mine required stiches to his head.)

    This is the face Chareidi Jewry is showing to the world. Yes, I know the vast majority are fine, peace-loving, chessed-doing individuals. But that matters not as “no news is good news”. The most troubling aspect is that this silent majority is, well, remaining silent. They remained silent in the riots in Mea Shearim over the gay parade, they remained silent on Mrs. Shear’s bus, and they continue to remain silent here in Beit Shemesh. The halachic concept of “shtika k’hodaa hu” seems to apply here; the silence can be interpreted as acceptance of the actions of the hoodlums thus indicting all chareidim and in fact all Torah Jews.

    Thousands of Jonathan Rosenblums are needed to speak, if there is to be any hope of this situation improving.

  34. Menachem Lipkin says:

    And now on the brighter side.

    For the last six months I have been commuting on the bus from Beit Shemesh to Jerusalem. I ride Egged bus number 417 which starts in Ramat Beit Shemesh Alef, goes through Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet (The scene of the worst of the rioting.), then through my Dati Leumi neighborhood, and then express to Jerusalem.

    I have found this bus to be a model of co-existence. It is a typical intercity bus with an aisle down the middle and pairs of seats on either side of the aisle. Though it is not a “mehadrin” bus, most people tend to self-segregate themselves; not men in front and women in the back, but in the seat pairs men sit with men and women with women.

    On this bus you will find Chassidish, Yeshivish, Dati Leumi, and Chiloni. Even the Chilonim tend to honor the segregation. However, if a man and woman do sit together, nobody says boo. I often ride in the morning with my daughter and on the rare occasions that there are two seats open next to each other we sit together. Nary a glance.

    Sometimes, gasp, you even see long payosed chareidim seated together with their wives. And you know what? They even seem to enjoy it!

    I also find people to be very considerate in trying to rearrange themselves. The other day I got on the bus and there were two open seats. One next to a chareidi woman and one next to a chareidi girl. I was fully prepared to stand, but in an instant the woman commanded the girl to come sit next her so I could sit down.

    I’ve even seen rare instances of a woman sitting down next to a chareidi man and have yet to see a negative response.

    I only ride this bus twice a day and maybe there are problems that I’m not aware of, but from where I sit (or stand) we certainly have the potential to do things right.

  35. Ori Pomerantz says:

    HILLEL: We cannot constantly be on the defensive, looking over our shoulder at what the seculars think of us!

    Ori: First, welcome back. I missed your comments.

    Second, there are two reasons for Charedim to be concerned with how they are perceived by seculars in Israel.

    The first, as Jonathan Rosenblum said, is practical. Practical considerations are obviously overridden by Halacha. Circumcision stays a mitzvah even if the Romans kill you for it. Is enforcing a Mehadrim bus halachically required, more than, lets say, punishing Chilul Shabbat (which is specified in the Torah)?

    The second reason appears to be in Mishnah Avot 1:12 (“הלל ושמאי קיבלו מהם. הלל אומר, הוי כתלמידיו של אהרון–אוהב שלום ורודף שלום, אוהב את הברייות ומקרבן לתורה.”)? When Hillel says that we should get people closer to Torah, doesn’t that mean to be concerned with how they perceive it? Seculars usually don’t believe in G-d – they only perceive the Torah based on what Jews who appear to be following it do.

  36. Ahron says:

    This is the first action on a religious issue that I’ve agreed with Ms. Ragen on for many years. I only wish some of the protestors had come from within the chareidi community. But alas…

    >“Where is the outrage that Torah has been so perverted that poeple think that attacking a grandmother is the right thing to do.”

    There is no widespread outrage because the dominant pervading “ethic” in many locales is that “You can never go wrong by being frummer”. I use the term “frummer” with extreme reservation–but it basically means that as long as what you’re doing seems more machmir, “zealous”, or just separate from dominant Western culture, then you must be doing something right. I cannot see how the situation will improve until this doctrine of non-thought–nay, anti-thought–is unambiguously and categorically rejected. And there seems to presently be no consideration at all given to the question of whether “machmir-ized” transportation is a net gain or net loss for Am Yisrael in the first place. But alas again…. that’s not a “frum” question to ask.

    I would propose for consideration that this newfangled style of fanaticism creeping over our kehillos is suggestive of galus Yishmael. It certainly mirrors, with disturbing fidelity, the thought and behavior patterns that are dominant in most Muslim societies in the Middle East. Of course, that’s also not a “frum” observation to make.

  37. Jewish Observer says:

    “he has not totally adopted the brand of my way or the highway brand of judaism, so dominant in israeli charedi domain”

    it is hard to blame the charedi masses for using this approach as this way of thinking has been promoted from the top. “Mesiach lefi tumam” accounts of the lives of greats such as the Chazon Ish, the Brisker Rav, and Rav Shach (can you figure out which book I recently read?) speak to and ably defend the virtue of a staunch approach. What existed among the gedolim as attitudes is being practiced by the masses as actions, many of which, I am sure, would not have met with these gedolim’s approval.

    Still, the gedolim, likely responding to the needs of their tenuous times, very much emphasized the values of kano’us and the fundamental differences between Torah-inspired actions and non; but are not as famous as American gedolim for valuing mesinus, inclusiveness, viewing our non frum neighbors as brothers or at least non annoying cousins.

  38. Eli Singer says:

    I pity the Yid who spit in Mrs. Shear’s face. What a despicable thing to do! This fellow is obviously lacking in Torah and midos. Such people give all frum Yidden a bad name. His behavior caused a great chilul Hashem.

  39. Michoel says:

    ja wrote: “Torah value”? “Has anyone heard even any rumor of any of the gedolei yerushalayim who advocated separate seating?”

    In Monroe NY, men and women walk on seperate sides of the street. the Eidah Hacharedis is associated with Satmar. So it would not shock me at all if the daas Torah of a siginificant part of Yerushalayim favors and even advocates seperate seating on buses.

    Why should we assume that Americans have a “right” to behave according to their own norms when they are in Yerushalayim? Thugs that resort to violence should be put in prison. But Noam Stadlan, ja and others seem to think she did a mitzvah rabba by standing up to those that seek to pervert tzinus into a “monster of repression”. They are not entitled to hit and spit and should be strongly ostracized and brought to trial. But behaving provocatively and looking for a conflict (and yes I think her behavior is objectively provocative and confrontational) is also assur al pi din.

    One writer states that comparing charedim to the Taliban is “unfortunately” accurate. Well, if we hear that a moderate American Moslem woman went to visit Afganistan 10 years ago and wore western clothing that she held were mutar al pi din, and took a stroll through a Taliban neighborhood, we would sensibly and correctly blame her a bit for her own demise.

  40. Avichai says:

    In reply to comment by Zev as to Mrs. Shear’s story being untrue as she is untrustworthy.

    I know her very well. She happens to be very trustworthy and honest. Her only fault if it is a fault is she is completely not PC and sees everything as black and white without any shades of gray. That comes from honesty and not from being untruthful

  41. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Yisrael Moshe, BaGaTz stands for “Beit-Mishpat Gavo’a leTzedek”, literally “High court for justice”. That’s the term used for the Israeli supreme court when it is used to sue the Israeli government.

  42. Aaron says:

    The talibanization of frumkeit is troubling. A better and more Navardok-mussar-like prescription might be for the Charedim to cancel their separate bus lines and focus on ivdu es Hashem b’simcha in proximity to others who don’t hold exactly as they do. Is bumping into a stranger of the opposite gender really kryptonite for one’s neshama? Am I really going to do an extra few turns on the spit in gehinnom because a female bank teller touched my hand by accident while handing me cash?

    I’m a BT with girls in Beis Yakov, but THAT’S not what I signed up for.

    Maybe learning to politely say “excuse me” when the vehicle jostles the passengers together is a greater kiddush Hashem?

    Four words we need to hear more often from our leaders: “Deal with it… politely.”

  43. David Paletz says:

    My son just contacted me and directed me to this site. He is attending Yeshivat Sha’Alvim. This is in fact the very story I relayed to my family when I returned from Vatikin one early morning in November during the week of Thanksgiving. I had just passed thru the security and saw about 8-10 women around a tall man wearing a black hat. He stood about 6’2″ with a neatly trimmed grey/black beard. The women was repeating the story of what had just happened on the bus. She was sickened by the fact that this man spit in her face because she was on this bus. She said something like how could a religious frum person behave like this. He tried to walk away because someone said the police were on the way. All of the women tried to create a tight wall around the man to prevent him from leaving before the police got there. He pushed his way thru the women and started to proceed accross the plaza towards the kotel. He was walking really fast but the one women was right at his side. I was right behind both of them as we proceeded towards the wall. As they approached the wall the lady stopped out of respect of the fact that she could not go any further. Some men came up to the lady and screamed at her for being where she was. The man quickly dissapeared into the tunnel to the left of the wall. The lady turned to me and asked me to go get the police but someone had already called them. The police were there in less than 30 seconds. We gave a description of the man and they went in to see if they could find him. They brought someone out but it clearly was not the correct man. If anyone knows how to contact Mrs. Shear please let me know. I have a picture of her and the man as they were walking torwards the kotel. Maybe someone will recognize this man. This was the picture I showed to the police before they went into the tunnel.

  44. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Why should we assume that Americans have a “right” to behave according to their own norms when they are in Yerushalayim?”

    It depends what the issue is; sometimes, there is minhag hamakom. But a person can’t force his or her frumkeit on someone else; it’s a public bus. That is essentially why the kannoish elements in Ramat Beit Shemesh are wrong(besides their excessive behavior); they don’t own the municipality. As I said above, maybe she should have gone l’fnim meshuras hadin(beyond the letter of the law) and moved, but I don’t know if you could call her behavior “provocative”, if she insists on her rights, and compare her intransigence to the Women of the Wall.

    As Shalhevet said above:

    “I was politely explained that the custom here is to sit seperately, and *while I didn’t have to*, it would be appreciated if I moved back.” That is the norm of how to behave or not to behave in an instance of l’fnim m’shuras hadin–a person does have the option to follow the “din” if they choose.

    Also, Shalhevet’s and Menachem Lipkin’s comments(# 32 & 34) are very encouraging. The problem is that the media doesn’t emphasize that part.

    On a lighter note, I’ve taken the Satmar bus from the Catskills to NY, and on at least one route, there was a curtain down the middle. “When in Rome, do like the Romans”, and I spend the trip talking to my friendly neighbor, Reb Chassid. 🙂

  45. Menachem Lipkin says:

    “One writer states that comparing charedim to the Taliban is “unfortunately” accurate. Well, if we hear that a moderate American Moslem woman went to visit Afganistan 10 years ago and wore western clothing that she held were mutar al pi din, and took a stroll through a Taliban neighborhood, we would sensibly and correctly blame her a bit for her own demise.”

    Michoel, it’s implied from your statement that you agree with the assertion that these overzealous Chareidim are similar to the Taliban.

    Yes we would have criticized the woman for being stupid, but at the same time shaking our heads in disbelief at the primitive behavior of the Taliban. Well, now we are shaking our heads in disbelief at the behavior of our own “Taliban”.

    If I ever had to choose between a Tommy Lapid/Shinui government and one run by these Zealots, it would be a no-brainer. And I’m not alone in the frum world in thinking that way. If the spread of this ideology is not checked it will lead, C”V, to another Churban.

  46. ja says:

    “And there seems to presently be no consideration at all given to the question of whether “machmir-ized” transportation is a net gain or net loss for Am Yisrael in the first place”

    On the contrary, this article concedes the point to the kanoim – the carefully crafted “may be a very positive thing” followed by description of separate seating as a torah value.
    What we really need to understand is that separate seating was bound to have this result and that consideration of whether it is, as you put it, a net gain or net less” ought to have taken place before mehadrin seating was implemented.

    “I would propose for consideration that this newfangled style of fanaticism creeping over our kehillos is suggestive of galus Yishmael. It certainly mirrors, with disturbing fidelity, the thought and behavior patterns that are dominant in most Muslim societies in the Middle East. Of course, that’s also not a “frum” observation to make.”

    Unfortunately, this has become a “Frum” observation. Some prominent spokesmen have said that the z’chus of yishmael is tznius and that am yisrael needs to “Fight” back on that ground by copying them in their area of strength. My understanding is that mehadrin seating was instituted on some buses (I believe the one M. Shear was on) as a response to terror attacks on those lines. The mimicry is overt – and nary a word of chukas hagoyim, let alone of the negative societal tradeoffs, such as the pritzus that is rumored to go along with such public displays of tznius or the violence that accompanies it in the society they emulate.

    “In Monroe NY, men and women walk on seperate sides of the street. the Eidah Hacharedis is associated with Satmar. So it would not shock me at all if the daas Torah of a siginificant part of Yerushalayim favors and even advocates seperate seating on buses.”

    I understand that chassidim have been active in RBS, but I don’t think the mehadrin bus lines in yerushalayim are the work of chassidim, nor are nonchassidic charedim following daas torah of chassidic rabbis.

    “But Noam Stadlan, ja and others seem to think she did a mitzvah rabba by standing up to those that seek to pervert tzinus into a “monster of repression””

    I don’t know how you got that from my comment (#24 above). I think an event like this was bound to happen, and focusing on the inevitable, instead of on those who implement policies that are bound to result in bad outcomes, is the sort of externalizing, defensive attitude that leads to problems like these in the first place.

  47. HILLEL says:

    TO ORI:

    Nice to hear from you, too

    Although separate seating on buses may not be Halachically required in ordinary circuumstnces, it makes Halachic sense when we run into situations of “A-Vak GiLui A-RaYot”–near-immorality.

    When men and women are squeezed together in an overcrowded bus, it does not take a “Taliban” Hareidi Rabbi to recognize that this situation does not conform to the norms of HilChot TzeNieUt.

    That is why Rav Poppenheim, spokesman for the Edah HaChaReiDis of Jerusalem, strongly supports the real “Mehadrin” bus company, Darka AchaRina. This company is being undermined by the fake “Mehadrin” buses run by Eged, A totally secular organization.

    Even though grandmother Shear did not see any compelling requirement to go to the “back of the bus”–Rosa-Parks style–she should have had enough respect for the Torah way of life to inconvenience herself when asked instead of insiting on her “rights.”

    I guess you would agree with this quote from Henry Kissinger:
    “It is not a matter of what is true that counts, but a matter of what is perceived to be true.”

  48. Mendy says:

    R’ Rosenblum, I believe (WADR) that you have overstepped your bounds on this issue.

    While no one would argue that the actions of the thugs on the number 2 bus were deplorable, I do not understand how you can claim that mehadrin buses are not an imperative worth fighting (non-violently) to attain.

    The Gedolim of Eretz Yisrael, namely R’ Elyashiv, R’ Lefkovitz, R’ Steinman, R’ Kaniefsky and R’ Alter have unanimously stated that mehadrin buses are not chumra but halacha. The above Gedolim also signed a proclamation declaring that bus bombings (r”l) are a result of immodest commingling on Egged buses. The only solution to terrorist attacks, they declared, is Mehadrin bus lines.

    Have you spoken to our Gedolim and asked them if their position has since changed? If not, I do not understand how you can issue what amounts to a halachic statement that stands in direct and blatant contradiction with the instructions of our Gedolim.

  49. independentfrumthinker says:

    What an excellent article!
    Everything must be viewed in proper perspective. As a very Frum individual I fail to comprehend how this whole incident transpired. None of the Gedolim I knew and know advocated such violent behavior. We must stand firm for our Torah-true principles, but only in the ways we were taught by the Gedolei Yisroel.
    Independentfrumthinker.blogspot.com

  50. Joe Fisher says:

    Even according to her own testimony this woman intentionally set out to tease the Charedi passengers on the bus, ultimately cursing them with vile obscenities and ridiculing their faith.

  51. Will Choose says:

    There is a saying, “zo vie man cristelt zich, yidelt zich.” The newer version, pace Ahron, ought to be, “zo vie man ishmelt zich, yidelt zich.”

  52. Loberstein says:

    r rosenblum is still too american—- he has not totally adopted the brand of my way or the highway brand of judaism, so dominant in israeli charedi domain…. but there is hope for his native born grandchildren…

    Comment by de la costa — February 7, 2007 @ 4:10 pm
    This comment punchs me right in the stomach. I have grandchildren in Israel and I pray they never become like the people Jonathan Rosenbloom so acrurately describes. There is a violent and vocal element in Chareidi society in Israel that is c chillul hashem. They are by no means typical of most frum Jews. My experience with “ultar-orthodox” Jews is that they are good people who go out of their way to help another Jew, regardless if he or she is frum.

    These very intolerant people do not own Jerusalem , itis just as much mine. I hope we never give in to thugs, whether they claim to be religious or not. Once again, I see one of your regular contributors delights in finding common cause with intoleratble and hateful behavior. Does he think it makes him a better Jew to side with evil over good, even if the evil is garbed in Chareidi cloting?

  53. Zev says:

    “I know her very well. She happens to be very trustworthy and honest.”

    Perhaps. But I am told a very different story by someone else who knows her.

  54. Loberstein says:

    One writer states that comparing charedim to the Taliban is “unfortunately” accurate. Well, if we hear that a moderate American Moslem woman went to visit Afganistan 10 years ago and wore western clothing that she held were mutar al pi din, and took a stroll through a Taliban neighborhood, we would sensibly and correctly blame her a bit for her own demise.

    Comment by Michoel — February 8, 2007 @ 3:10 pm

    In re-reading this blog, I can only add that Yerushalayim belongs to me as much as it does to those who spit and hit. Their is a lot of intimidation by baryonim – hooligans in the Israeli Chareidi communities. These dysfunctional people are acting out of frustration that they have no marketable skills, can only make a living by knocking on my door and askin for hachnosas kallah to buy an apartment that I couldn’t affordd for myself. The deep seated problems of Israeli chareidi society cause a lot of repressed rage with the ony outlet being demonstrations . My son inthe Mir doesn’t spit or harm others and neither do most all frum Jews or secular Jews for that matter. I am concerned that maybe Rav Elyashiv is a prisoner of his handlers and is powerless to do anythng to deal with the roots of this violence. He certainly dosn’t condone the evil perpetrated in the name of the Holy One Blessed Be He, but when he and Rabbi Shteinman and others they try to deal with a problem, they get in trouble with their base. How very tragic for them and for Klal Yisroel. Where is the Rav Meir Shapiro of our generation, who can fight the enemies from within , not only those from without?

  55. Doron Beckerman says:

    I think missing from the article is the fact that hitting people is an Issur De’Oraysa. Forget, for a moment, about whether tactically this makes us look good. It is just plain Assur. For far more egregious public issues, the Chazon Ish emphasized that violence is a “Neta Zar” – a foreign import, which is utterly alien to Daas Torah sensibilities.

  56. Miriam Shear says:

    Mendy writes: “The Gedolim of Eretz Yisrael, namely R’ Elyashiv, R’ Lefkovitz, R’ Steinman, R’ Kaniefsky and R’ Alter have unanimously stated that mehadrin buses are not chumra but halacha. The above Gedolim also signed a proclamation declaring that bus bombings (r”l) are a result of immodest commingling on Egged buses. The only solution to terrorist attacks, they declared, is Mehadrin bus lines.”

    No such statement was ever signed by the above Gedolim. Anyone who would believe that such Gedolim would state that terrorist attacks are the result of mixed seating on public buses would immediately discredit themselves as a Gadol. MAYBE – it was suggested that we need to increase our own personal stringencies as added “spiritual protections” against very evil forces – but the Gedolim never, ever made such blatant pronouncements as Mendy claims. I challenge him to submit these so-called proclamations. In fact, Rav Ephraim Greenblatt, who is highly respectected and consulted by Rav Eliyashiv has posited that Mehadrin buses run by Egged should be disbanded altogether as they create more sina between Jews and that Klal Yisrael should devote their energies to the much bigger issues that plague our people. My attackers proved Rav Greenblatt right by their actions. They have created a major Chillul Hashem and have denigrated their own neshamas even further. Had my attacker been so confident that what he was doing was truly kadosh, he would have gladly stayed with the police as he was ordered to do and defended his position. He did not. Rather, he ran away as a true bully and coward does when forced to confront the responsibility for their actions.

  57. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “The above Gedolim also signed a proclamation declaring that bus bombings (r”l) are a result of immodest commingling on Egged buses. The only solution to terrorist attacks, they declared, is Mehadrin bus lines.”

    Is there any way to see this statement in its original?

    Were these Gedolim using the prophetic power of “chacham adif mnavi”, to determine conclusively that Hashem brought the sucicide bombing r’l out of retribution for the sin of immodesty on Eged buses? Perhaps they were merely pointing to a general pattern in the Divine calculus, and identifying a *possible* area to do teshuvah(repentence) and likewise, recommending a means of shmirah(protection).

    For example, Rav Shteimnan and Rav Elyashiv issued a statement during the recent Lenbanesae war:

    “ *There is no way to know the ways of Heaven* , but certainly every individual can examine his own conduct… *We do not claim to know the reason why troubles have befallen us* , but certainly any areas we improve can be effective in removing HaKodosh Boruch Hu’s wrath. “

    I have developed a general approach for dealing with statements that I see or hear which appear startling to me, the first step of which, is to obtain accurate and exact information, and if possible, to see the original myself, rather than second-hand.

  58. sam says:

    In the early 70’s I was on a bus in Bayit Vegan which Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auebach ZTZ”L was also on. He had just got on the bus the stop before when a secular woman who was not dressed modestly sat down right next to him. He then pulled the string (bell remember 70’s), stood up and got off the bus at the next stop. He didn’t want to sit next to the young lady, but he also didn’t want to embarrass her by moving to another seat on the bus. So he got off the bus and waited for the next one. Gadlus!

  59. Miriam Shear says:

    HaRav Greenblatt says that when he travels to Eretz on El Al or any other airline and he is seated next to a woman, he does not ask the staff to move his seat or hers. The Rav simply brings a sefer – he doesn’t pay attention to her, she not to him. This is the proper way to behave. Part of being a Torah true Jew is to learn how to control one’s yetzer hara. Personally, I try to sit next to another woman – I am not comfortable sitting next to a man. But when a man sits down next to me, I would never dream of saying or doing anything to embarrass him or make him uncomfortable. This conduct goes a much longer way in bringing other Jews closer to Torah than the screaming, berating, violent tactics of so-called “frum” Jews toward others.

  60. ed says:

    >He didn’t want to sit next to the young lady, but he also didn’t want to embarrass her by moving to another seat on the bus. So he got off the bus and waited for the next one. Gadlus!

    Had Mrs Schear asked R’ Auerbach if she should continue to arrogantly and defiantly not listen to the pleas of the holy people of Yerushalayim asking her to move to the back, would he have suggested that she continue to ignore them?

  61. ed says:

    >In re-reading this blog, I can only add that Yerushalayim belongs to me as much as it does to those who spit and hit.

    And it just as well belongs to those who don’t hit and spit and wish to live B’kedusha knowing that they can board a bus without needing to bump into woman and having their backs protruding in their faces.

    >Their is a lot of intimidation by baryonim – hooligans in the Israeli Chareidi communities. These dysfunctional people are acting out of frustration that they have no marketable skills, can only make a living by knocking on my door and askin for hachnosas kallah to buy an apartment that I couldn’t affordd for myself.

    And those same people don’t waste their time bashing fellow jews, but rather with great Mesiras nefesh, they leave their families for weeks at a time to help their children.

    >The deep seated problems of Israeli chareidi society cause a lot of repressed rage with the ony outlet being demonstrations .

    If everyone would just leave them alone and the secular wouldn’t drive their cars through their streets on Shabbos, and the Government wouldn’t sent in gay marchers, there would be no need for demonstrations.

    >I am concerned that maybe Rav Elyashiv is a prisoner of his handlers and is powerless to do anythng to deal with the roots of this violence.

    Nonsense. You’re talking about a sub-minority which will always exist. Its you the bloggers who are making such a big deal.

  62. ed says:

    >No such statement was ever signed by the above Gedolim. Anyone who would believe that such Gedolim would state that terrorist attacks are the result of mixed seating on public buses would immediately discredit themselves as a Gadol.

    Amazing how a woman who acted so insensitive to the majority of her fellow passengers, and when confronted by a crazy spitter, she screams obcenities in public and targets kicks at men’s private parts earns a right to publicly declare what a Godol would do or would not do. (all info I just wrote here about her is from her very own words as per her publicised email).

    Sorry Mrs Schear, but Gedolim would have not defiantly ignored the countless requests to move to the back. If you didn’t act like a Godol yourself, please don’t preach to us what a Godol would do.

    >In fact, Rav Ephraim Greenblatt, who is highly respectected and consulted by Rav Eliyashiv has posited that Mehadrin buses run by Egged should be disbanded altogether as they create more sina between Jews and that Klal Yisrael should devote their energies to the much bigger issues that plague our people. My attackers proved Rav Greenblatt right by their actions.

    NO! Your defiant and arrogant pride that “no one is going to boss me around” is what caused the Sina. You could have EASILY avoided this whole ordeal, yet YOU chose not to.

    >They have created a major Chillul Hashem and have denigrated their own neshamas even further.

    You created a bigger Chilul Hashem by running around crying like a baby how they beat you when it was you who instigated the whole thing.

    >Had my attacker been so confident that what he was doing was truly kadosh, he would have gladly stayed with the police as he was ordered to do and defended his position. He did not.

    He was no doubt wrong for what he did. But so were you. Did you consult with a Godol before running to the press? Are you so sure that that was the correct thing to do?

  63. kar says:

    “The Gedolim of Eretz Yisrael, namely R’ Elyashiv, R’ Lefkovitz, R’ Steinman, R’ Kaniefsky and R’ Alter have unanimously stated that mehadrin buses are not chumra but halacha. The above Gedolim also signed a proclamation declaring that bus bombings (r”l) are a result of immodest commingling on Egged buses. The only solution to terrorist attacks, they declared, is Mehadrin bus lines.”

    I find this inexplicable and difficult to believe without a source. For many decades gedolim of Eretz Yisrael traveled non-mehadrin buses. If it were halacha that mehadrin buses are obligatory, surely they would have called for mehadrin buses and not permitted riding in non-mehadrin ones, and certainly not ridden them themselves. Perhaps some think that when mehadrin buses are already available, one is required to preference riding on them over non-mehadrin buses, but that doesn’t necessary imply that they ought to be set up in the first place or maintained.

    I’ve read several times in the papers that when the seats on the women’s side fill up, the women are supposed to stand rather than sit on empty seats in the men’s section. Is it permissible to expect an elderly woman or a choshuv woman to stand in such circumstances? I also question whether it’s permissible or decent to ask a preganant or ill woman to stand, or expect her to embarass herself by explaining why she needs to sit in what’s now labeled a men’s section. I find it difficult to believe that the gedolim would find such setups acceptable.

  64. Miriam Shear says:

    Yes, Ed – I DID consult with a Gadol before going to the press. And I didn’t going crying to anybody. I simply decided to expose the animal-like behavior of people like you and your cohorts who behave thus and condone it. Let’s see here who provoked who and who was the arrogant one:
    1) a man gets on a bus that he knows is a PUBLIC bus
    2) this man KNOWS it is NOT a mehadrin bus
    3) this man passes at least 3 empty seats and then….
    4) breaks his own rules of “tznius” by talking to a woman he does not know and telling her to get out of her seat
    5) she very politely refuses and tries to assist him by pointing out the empty seats
    6) he now arrogantly DEMANDS that she moves, acting like a school yard bully and big baby that he wants THAT seat
    7) she refuses and he SPITS IN HER FACE
    8) she spits back – and – like a coward – has 4 men accompany him in beating and kicking her

    Who provoked who? Who is the truly arrogant one?

  65. Miriam Shear says:

    And another thing about the press: I received requests from almost every major TV, radio and print media in the world and politely declined all of their requests. The only media I spoke with was Jewish media in Israel. And here’s something to chew on: Prior to this incident, a store in Geulah was burned down by thugs who did not like the sequins on the tznius clothing sold by the store owner – a rosh yeshiva’s wife; women were being sprayed with bleach on the streets; and hundreds of younger and older people were being sent to emergency rooms from inhaling the carcinogen filled smoke from the garbage burnings during the Pride Parade affair. Where were the Gedolim in issuing proclamations condemning the violence? Other than the Gerrer Rebbe, silence. It was only AFTER I sent my email that the Rabbonim felt it now necessary to issue public posters and ads in chareidi newspapers condemning violence as a tactic in imposing chumras or halachas. Separate seating is a chumra – not a halacha. And, as R. Frand points out, the first rule of chumras is the same rule as in medicine: First, do no harm. But those like Ed and his cohorts couldn’t care less about fostering good relationships with their fellow Jews; they couldn’t care less how their behavior demoralizes not just the heelonim but even those of us who very closely, if not exactly, identify with them in most areas of hashkafa and a Torah lifestyle. And that is precisely why people like R. Rosenblum and others must expose this non-Torah behavior and publicly condemn it. These violent street thugs do not represent Torah true Jews. Staying silent would give an appearance that we condone their behavior. We do not and we will not capitulate to them either.

  66. Miriam Shear says:

    Clarification: There was only 1 secular media I spoke with – and only reluctantly, but felt out of necessity for the following reason: Globe and Mail had contacted me no less than 3 times requesting an interview. I respectfully declined each request. However, I was then informed that the Globe and Mail was doing a major article on the other issues of violence in the Chareidi community and the journalist – whom I believe to be sincere – wanted to take extra measures in presenting the facts in the most accurate light possible regarding the #2 bus incident. Within a very tightly defined scope which she agreed to, I allowed for a very brief interview. While exposing any of these issues does not do any favors to the chareidi community or any of us who are observant Jews, accuracy is very important. If left to the Eds of the world, we could end up with very skewed portrayals of our community that make us look worse than we actually are. Furthermore, as an orthodox person myself condemning violence, readers can be assured that there are those within our community who strongly object and will take it as far as a petition to the High Court to put the brakes on when the rabbis have not yet succeeded in doing so.

  67. joel rich says:

    Edmund Burke is often quoted as saying “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”

    Chochma bagoyim taamin (there is wisdom amongst the nations)

    KT

  68. Zev says:

    Miriam Shear wrote: “In fact, Rav Ephraim Greenblatt, who is … consulted by Rav Eliyashiv”

    This line shows how clueless this woman is.

  69. Miriam Shear says:

    Why is this clueless, Zev? Rav Greenblatt was indeed consulted by Rav Eliyashiv on the “sheitel crisis” and actually travelled to India at his behest to investigate the situation and gave his psak to Rav Eliyashiv. I think it’s you, Zev, who is clueless on the relationship between these two Gedolim.

  70. Zev says:

    Mrs. Shear: Seeing that you are reading this thread, perhaps you’d like to answer the question I posed to Mr. Rosenblum; namely, is there any evidence supporting your story, and if there is, why haven’t you put it out there? I would also ask the question posed by Mrs. Katz: Where is the photographic evidence you write about in your email? Why hasn’t it appeared?

  71. ed says:

    Mrs. Schear,

    Kindly please respond to the following question:

    If instead of you spitting back, you would have picked yourself up and gone to the back, what would have been the rest of the story?

    Would the spitter still have punched you? Would those 4 men still have attacked you?

  72. Miriam Shear says:

    Zev, yes there is eye witness testimony which has alread come forward to the press and to the police. I have absolutely no idea why the video camera evidence has not appeared. But with a half way intelligent guess one could deduct that is because a) I have no idea how to contact the video men. I did not receive their contact info as I was busy filing an incident report with the police while trying to apprehend my attacker. b) The video men who were heelonim most likely do not read “frum” blogs. c) I do not carry cameras around – I was only armed with my siddur, Tehillim, and Aneni as my goal that morning was not to get beaten up but rather to go daven at the Kotel HaKatan. FYI – just yesterday, an LA man did contact me and sent photos to me which I turned over to R. Rosenblum. I’ll let R. Rosenblum decide if he wants to post them here.

  73. ed says:

    >If left to the Eds of the world, we could end up with very skewed portrayals of our community that make us look worse than we actually are.

    Very funny, Mrs Schear. If not for your stubborness, this entire incident would not have occured.

    Let me repeat, it was not a Yerushalmi Charedi woman who got beaten. It was you Mrs Schear, who insisted on ignoring the plea’s of men AND women alike to move to the back, and instead of showing goodwill to the majority of the passengers, all you cared about was your rights.

    And then you have the Chutzpah to cry to the press and make a massive Chilul Hashem when it was you who with an absolute lack of Sechel instigated the entire thing.

    Yes, YOU created a massive Chilul hashem. The headlines were “Charedim beat a woman for sitting in the front”.

    That is a monstrous slanderous lie. They beat a woman for shouting obcenities, spitting at men, and for kicking and punching like a lunatic, NOT SIMPLY BECAUSE SHE SAT IN THE FRONT.

    In Shamayim, YOU will pay dearly for the bad name you have created for Charedim.

    But its not too late. You can still make an apology that you are sorry for being so insensitive to the other passengers and for causing so many people to look at Charedim in a negative light.

  74. Zev says:

    “Why is this clueless, Zev?”

    B/c they’re not even remotely in the same league. Nuff said.

  75. Zev says:

    And Miriam, how about addressing my second comment?

  76. shalhevet says:

    “I’ve read several times in the papers that when the seats on the women’s side fill up, the women are supposed to stand rather than sit on empty seats in the men’s section. Is it permissible to expect an elderly woman or a choshuv woman to stand in such circumstances? I also question whether it’s permissible or decent to ask a preganant or ill woman to stand, or expect her to embarass herself by explaining why she needs to sit in what’s now labeled a men’s section. I find it difficult to believe that the gedolim would find such setups acceptable.” Comment by kar
    I have never heard of any such thing, and have never been on a bus where this was so. In fact, in most of these buses women take up more than the back since there are more of them. I have also been on countless mehadrin buses where elderly women were sitting in the front seat, and no one seemed to say anything.
    ed – Do you know firsthand that these gedolim actually said or signes such proclomations? I know of MANY times that their names were signed to letters for them, without their knowledge (a recent example – the kosher pelephone – cheder admittance one)

  77. Jewish Observer says:

    “the question I posed to Mr. Rosenblum”

    Ed, do you feel R’ Jonathan Rosenblum did not fairly earn his smicha?

  78. bagbag says:

    “And it just as well belongs to those who don’t hit and spit and wish to live B’kedusha knowing that they can board a bus without needing to bump into woman and having their backs protruding in their faces.”

    what kind of way is that to talk?
    If separate seating is not disrespectful to women, then why do you write in such a demeaning and crude way about them?

  79. Loberstein says:

    Reading how Mrs. Shear is being “beaten up” by a few of the commenters makes me feel even more the loss of gedolim like Rav yaakov, rav Moshe and Rav Ruderman, who followed their teachers’ ways of pleasantness. The phrse that comes to mind when I read the insulting remarks made against Mrs Shear is that these people are what the Ramban called “Menuval bershus hatorah” but they are really much worse, because they are really violating the Torah of Hashem by their words and deeds. I would rather a person be a Jew without a beard than a beard without a Jew. That is how I view those who support discimination and intolerance against believeing observing good Jews who do not succumb to religious terrorism.

  80. Zev says:

    “Ed, do you feel R’ Jonathan Rosenblum did not fairly earn his smicha?”

    It wasn’t Ed, it was me. I have no idea whether or not Rosenblum is a rabbi, so I didn’t call him one. I don’t consider Mr. a pejorative.

  81. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that Mrs. Shear acted provocatively. Furthermore, let’s assume that Mrs. Shear is not really a human being. She is Satan, the angel charged with the job of tempting us to break G-d rules. If you gave her a large dose of truth serum, she would tell you all about Iyov (Job in English).

    Did the Jew who spit in her face act in accordance with Halacha? Assume she cursed him beforehand – is there a level of verbal abuse that justifies the humiliation of spitting in somebody’s face?

    Did the Jews who beat her act in accordance with Halacha? Is a humiliation sufficient provocation to justify violence?

    Judaism does not believe in turning the other cheek, and violence is at times justified to keep the social order, as shown in tractates Sanhedrin and Makkot. However, except in cases of immediate harm like rodef, doesn’t this violence require a Beit Din to make it Halachically justified?

    HILLEL: Even though grandmother Shear did not see any compelling requirement to go to the “back of the bus”—Rosa-Parks style—she should have had enough respect for the Torah way of life to inconvenience herself when asked instead of insiting on her “rights.”

    Ori: So she forfeited the protections Halacha gives people by her disrespect? Should a Chiloni like me, who does a lot worse, be afraid to walk in Charedi neighbourhoods or enter an Orthodox synagogue?

  82. Jonathan Rosenblum says:

    I have it on good authority that Rosenblum does not have semicha, and prefers to go by just Jonathan Rosenblum, even if the appellation “rabbi” is occasionally thrust upon him. Having learned for 12 years in Kollel in Eretz Yisrael, he has been known to respond to the question, “Are you a rabbi?”: Tell me who you call a rabbi, and I’ll answer you.

  83. Jewish Observer says:

    “Tell me who you call a rabbi, and I’ll answer you.”

    boruch shekivanta to an alleged rav ruderman ma’aseh. according to suburban legend when referred to as a godol RR asked the referrer whom else he called a godol. when told in whose company he was in he said, if so I am also a godol.

  84. Miriam Shear says:

    From Ed, AGAIN: “That is a monstrous slanderous lie. They beat a woman for shouting obcenities, spitting at men, and for kicking and punching like a lunatic, NOT SIMPLY BECAUSE SHE SAT IN THE FRONT.”

    Ed, the monstrous slanderous lie is the way you portray the sequence of events. I never threw one punch or one kick, nor did I spit at anyone until these actions were done to me. And the ONLY REASON this man spit at me is because I refused to succumb to his bully tactics. Even my 9 yr old son would have the seichel, the middos, the derech eretz to know that you don’t tell anybody to get out of their seat – male or female – and spit at them when they refuse. Which means, Ed, that since you defend such behavior one could rightly say you behave “worse” than a 9 yr old. Oh – and I’m still waiting for you, Ed, to tell me what halacha justifies spitting at someone. Hmmm? And please give me the source. While you’re at it, please tell me what halacha I broke when I defended myself by spitting back? Sorry – no Christian texts allowed.

  85. Zev says:

    Nu, Mr. Jonathan, now that you’re on the thread, tell us: Is your story based on anything other than Mrs. Shear’s own statement? Is there any corroborating evidence?

  86. ed says:

    >Ed, the monstrous slanderous lie is the way you portray the sequence of events. I never threw one punch or one kick, nor did I spit at anyone until these actions were done to me.

    Here Mrs Schear, are your very own words copy-pasted from Mrs T Katz’s thread:

    *But – I’m not moving. This man stared at me for about 10 straight seconds and then spat in my face.

    *Without missing a beat, I jumped up, called him a son-of-a-bitch, and spat back at him.

    *This brought screams from the women calling me a crazy woman.

    *He responded to my response with a push in the face and a punch to the breasts that sent me flying on to the floor.

    *I jumped up and punched him back.

    *At this point, no fewer than 4 other men jumped up – not to defend ME – but to ATTACK me by punching, hitting, slapping, and kicking me to the floor.

    Let’s review. The four men attacked you:

    *AFTER you spat back,
    *AFTER you shouted (without missing a beat ) “YOU S-O-B”,
    *AFTER the Charedi women screamed that you’re a crazy woman,
    *AFTER you punched him back.

    Now Mrs Schear, you called the following statement of mine a monstrous lie:

    “That is a monstrous slanderous lie. They beat a woman for shouting obcenities, spitting at men, and for kicking and punching like a lunatic, NOT SIMPLY BECAUSE SHE SAT IN THE FRONT.”

    Just to make sure you didn’t mis-understand my statement, I was obviously refering to the four men who beat you, as I clearly wrote – *They* beat a woman….

    Exactly which words is a lie?

  87. ed says:

    >I never threw one punch or one kick, nor did I spit at anyone until these actions were done to me.

    The spitter was clearly a wacko. No Charedi I know would spit at a woman. He was definitely Meshuga. Why did you take him on? Why did you lower yourself to his low level????

    >And the ONLY REASON this man spit at me is because I refused to succumb to his bully tactics.

    Agreed. He was baiting you. And you fell into his trap like a bee falling into a honeytrap. Are you 9 nine years old?

    >Even my 9 yr old son would have the seichel, the middos, the derech eretz to know that you don’t tell anybody to get out of their seat – male or female – and spit at them when they refuse.

    Would your son also stubbornly refuse to listen to the request of men AND women alike asking him to please move to another seat? Is he that cold-hearted?

    Where was your middos, Mrs Schear? You fully were aware that the majority of the passengers wish to have seperate seating. Why did you defiantly ignore them??? Is that how a Bas Yisroel acts?? Not to give a hoot about others, only about her own selfish rights????

    >Which means, Ed, that since you defend such behavior one could rightly say you behave “worse” than a 9 yr old.

    My god, In my entire life, I have never heard such distorted logic. No wonder it was you who got tangled in this mess.

    >Oh – and I’m still waiting for you, Ed, to tell me what halacha justifies spitting at someone. Hmmm?

    There isn’t any such Halacha. The guy was Koo-koo. Where was your sechel not to realize that?

    >While you’re at it, please tell me what halacha I broke when I defended myself by spitting back?

    You didn’t. I don’t have a problem with you defending yourself. I have a problem with you bad mouthing Charedim all over the media when with the slightest amount of Sechel, you could have avoided this. But no. You couldn’t lower your pride, and when you got beaten for it, you went like a crybaby to the anti-charedi media.

  88. ed says:

    Mrs. Schear,

    I still await an answer to the question I asked above:

    “Kindly please respond to the following question:

    If instead of you spitting back, you would have picked yourself up and gone to the back, what would have been the rest of the story?

    Would the spitter still have punched you? Would those 4 men still have attacked you?”

  89. Yaakov Menken says:

    While the man who set upon Mrs. Shear is unquestionably a hooligan and avaryan, the sad truth is, as well, that Mrs. Shear picked this fight. According to her own text, she deliberately chose, day after day, to sit in a seat that the other passengers (of both genders) loudly requested that she yield. Eventually she found a hooligan willing to take the bait.

    While in the Western world any sort of division implies discrimination, in Judaism the separation of the genders is, indeed, a religious value. While I do not personally leap to my feet if a woman chooses the seat next to me on a bus, I do respect those that do. Whether or not we may personally behave that way, we cannot pretend that it is motivated by prejudice or sexism rather than sincere religious values.

    Even my 9 yr old daughter would have the seichel, the middos, and the derech eretz to know that regardless of her rights, it is simply rude and inappropriate to eat a hamburger on a bus full of Hindus — and that if a Hindu hooligan spits in your face, spitting back is about the last thing you want to do.

    Rather than admit any of this, Mrs. Shear is now joining in a petition to disallow any sort of gender-separation on public bus lines in Israel, supporting IRAC — whose ongoing war with Torah values and education in Israel is well known. I have great difficulty believing any gadol b’Torah would approve.

    Frankly, to the question of “who was in the right” between the hooligans and Mrs. Shear, the obvious answer is “none of the above.”

  90. Menachem Lipkin says:

    From R. Menken:

    “Frankly, to the question of “who was in the right” between the hooligans and Mrs. Shear, the obvious answer is “none of the above.””

    Sometimes you have to ask the right question. From my perspective here on the front lines, it’s not a question of “who was in the right” as much as “was it necessary”. Clearly, from where I sit, the answer is “Unfortunately, yes.”

    With all do respect to everyone’s 9 year old children, it takes the bravery and ideological conviction of an adult to do what’s necessary. A 9 year old black girl would never have sat at the front of the bus in Montgomery in 1955.

    If it took Mrs. Shear stumbling on some poor deranged wacko to “take her bait” then so be it. But the truth is that there is a growing number of these “wackos” who are not really wacko, but merely people following certain Chareidi ideologies to their logical conclusion.

    As a frum Jew, I fully support the lawsuit. As I’ve mentioned several times already, separate seating can be achieved voluntarily, respectfully and tolerantly. Forcing separation only gives the zealots a sense of empowerment to behave as they do and those who are against it a reason to antagonize the zealots.

    This is true in many areas of Israeli society. The more force there is, the more resistance there will be. Forcing religious issues on people does nothing to promote the beauty of Torah Judaism and the idea that “Deracheha Darchei Noam”.

  91. Miriam Shear says:

    Ed:”Exactly which words is a lie?”
    ANSWER: Ed, you lied by deliberately omitting the word “after” from your original post. That is lying and deceit by ommission. Because the way anyone who has not been following this thread would read that is that there was no provocation – I was the sole attacker and provocateur. That is a significant nuance that differentiates between emes and sheker. Of course, based on the twisted logic I’ve been reading from you, I would not expect you to be sensitive to those nuances.

    Ed asks: “Would the spitter still have punched you? Would those 4 men still have attacked you?”
    ANSWER: None of us can answer that with certainty for the simple reason that I would have never, ever expected anybody to spit at someone in the first place over a simple refusal to move their seat. So, any answer would be shear (no pun intended) speculation and conjecture. What I DO know is this: That arrogance and belligerance and violence that is not confronted; that is allowed to go unheeded; will only serve to a) empower and embolden the bully to become more belligerant and even more violent the next time; b) that a non-response response actually reinforces the twisted mind of the attacker into thinking that he is correct in his position. It is only the “push back” that a violent person understands. Obviously, he is not capable of reasonable dialogue. He uses violence as his means to an end. Given a taste of his own medicine he may, yes, continue the counter-attack. But he will also learn that he will not committ a violent act against others with impunity. And here’s another angle: Any person viewing this despicable act, can feel somewhat empowered and emboldened to “push back” if s/he is attacked in the future. That is how every single important and worthy cause has gained impetus and resulted in important moral changes in raising the bar in society. Someone decides: Enough is enough. And this gives courage to others. And, yes, if I encouraged just 1 person reading this or who witnessed this horrendous incident to not just sit there and take it – whether it be some arrogant thug on a public bus or even their own husband – then something very positive was accomplished and some good came from this. Nobody should be anybody else’s punching bag. Period.

  92. Miriam Shear says:

    While preparing for the parsha shiur I am giving tomorrow, I came across the following: “Whoever has a fixed place for his prayer, Avraham’s G-d will help him” (Berachos 6b)

    Rav Yaakov Culi comments on this verse: “Still if a person comes to synagogue and finds someone else in his place, it is not fitting to start a fight over it. Certainly, one should not humiliate another because of this. This should not be done in any place, and certainly not in the synagogue, which is likened to the Holy Temple” (Rav Culi cites Rashdam, Evven HaEzer 122, Yoreh Deah 212)

    Hmmm – how timely. And I wasn’t even looking for it . . . .

    Do I even have to spell out the kol v’chomer?

  93. Noam Stadlan says:

    Dear Rabbi Menken,

    Your comments astonish me. You say that Mrs. Shear picked a fight. That is like saying that the Jews pick a fight with the Arabs when they go to daven at the kotel. There are a number of issues:

    1. Mrs. Shear, as Mr. Rosenblum correctly pointed out by quoted R. Moshe, was absolutely and unquestionable within mainstream orthodox halacha by sitting where she was. However, her(and R. Moshe’s, btw) hashkafa and halachic stance were not respected. If a person wants to be more machmir on themselves, they should do it without interfering with others. They can walk, take a car, wait for a different bus, etc. Standing up for what one believes is the halacha should not be called ‘picking a fight.’ Just because someone takes a machmir position doesn’t make them right. Sometimes the machmir position is not right, and in fact against halacha. Just because the chareidi gedolim don’t hold by Mrs. Shear’s position doesn’t make it wrong. There are religious zionist gedolim, and non’chareidi gedolim. What happened to elu v’elu?

    2. The chareidim on the bus broke major halachic rules just by asking her to move. What happened to not embarrassing someone in public? What about not talking too much to women? Not embarrassing someone has to be more important that keeping an admitted chumrah in tzniut. Where is the balance of values?

    3. Not to mention spitting and hitting the woman.

    You mention your 9 year old daughter. I would hope your 9 year old daughter would have the courage to stand up for what she believes in. And that she has the courage to stand up for the Yiddishkeit she has been taught. And that she doesn’t allow herself to be pushed around by those whose ideas of Torah have been warped. And that she recognizes that while there may be other valid views of halacha, hers, if it is true to Torah, is also valid, and should not be pushed out of the way just because someone else claims that their gedolim are greater than her gedolim.

    This isn’t about respecting someone elses religion. This is about mainstream orthodoxy no longer being accepted by the Chareidi community as legitimate. And if mainstream orthodoxy is not being accepted, then its about time someone took a stand. That isn’t picking a fight. Its standing up for Torah, for Yiddishkeit, and for what Hashem wants. If you cant see that, then you are part of the problem as well.

    You wrote about sincere religious values. I understand that the people wanting her to move were motivated by religious reasons. But values? which is more of a Jewish value? a chumra in tzniut vs. not embarrassing a person in public? which is more of a value, not looking at a woman, or not spitting at her? Just because someone acts from religious motivation does not mean it is appropriate religious behavior. I think you have that confused.

  94. Yaakov Menken says:

    Regarding Noam’s comment, it is obviously true that embarrassing someone in public is against Halacha. But to claim that “the chareidim on the bus broke major halachic rules” is simply false. The first request to move was undoubtedly delivered quietly, and likely by a woman.

    The rest of Noam’s comment is, in like mind, an anti-chareidi rant, especially as observed by those Jerusalem charedim who separate more stringently than most Americans. Since when is it a matter of Jewish religious principle to not separate? Noam insists that it is a “mainstream Orthodox” value, and that is, again, simply false.

    Respect for the values of others means you observe “when in Rome” even when it is a minor inconvenience… similar to not eating that hamburger when surrounded by Hindus.

    You should be willing to do no less for your fellow Jews.

  95. Miriam Shear says:

    Dear R. Menken: Along with Noam, I too was shocked by your comments.
    Let’s use your dictum “when in Rome.” Well, Rabbi, as has been pointed out repeatedly, this “Rome” was none other than the Land/State – call it what you prefer – of Israel where the custom AND law is that there is a public bus system that provides both mehadrin and non-mehadrin buses. When I get on the mehadrin buses, I DO sit in the back – even though it is more bumpy and most uncomfortable and at times I’ve had to stand when the women’s section filled up and the men’s section was literally half empty. As for NON-mehadrin buses, I would expect that others would not feel they have the self-righteous arrogant authority to mutinize a public bus and even suggest to others to move their seat. So – who did not have “respect for the values of others”? And – are you even aware of what the agreement is between the hareidi commnity and Egged? This is what Egged told me: The agreement means that on mehadrin buses, if someone sits in the “wrong” place, the passengers may ask the person to move, pointing out the “correct” place. However, under no circumstances would any passenger be harrassed or intimidated or forced to move their seat if they refused to do so. In other words, Rabbi Menken, it is still a volunatary arrangement. As for NON-mehadrin buses, the hareidi community agreed to not try to implement any mehadrin status UNLESS they petitioned Egged for the status to be changed to mehadrin. At the time I spoke with Egged, no petition had even been submitted. So – even with the option of due process available to them – these people chose to break their agreement with Egged. And you say I picked a fight???

  96. Miriam Shear says:

    There is one other detail that seems to keep getting ignored. I was not the only person who wanted to sit non-Mehadrin style. On several occasions, both MEN AND WOMEN, had been harrassed,yelled at, and even bodily removed from their seats. Even my friend’s 76 yr old husband was told to move while seated next to his wife. One woman, after the 2nd attempt to move her, adamantly refused to be moved. She was joined by 4 other women who chose to sit next to and around her and myself. In no way can one claim that this was the “majority” wish – if that even had legitimacy in view of my above posting. Furthermore, I had a number of men and women who told me that they vehemently opposed the separate seating arrangment but “didn’t want to start up” or “make a scene”. One even told me “I don’t want to cause them to talk and cause problems for my children or grandchildren”. In other words, Rabbi Menken, what we have here is a herd mentality and rule by intimidation. THAT is called anarchy.

  97. Menachem Lipkin says:

    From R. Menken:

    “The first request to move was undoubtedly delivered quietly, and likely by a woman.”

    You’re making an assumption that directly contradicts Mrs. Shear’s account of events, i.e. that it was a man who initially approached her.

    Furthermore, even if it was a woman who made the “first” request, any subsequent “requests” by a man would have violated the halachot that Noam was referring to.

  98. George says:

    Mrs. Shear,

    How would you have responded to a polite petition to you from all the men and women on the bus to please respect their feelings and move to the back?

  99. Menachem Lipkin says:

    From Ed:

    “Very funny, Mrs Schear. If not for your stubborness, this entire incident would not have occured.”

    This statement shows, more than anything else, how Ed simply doesn’t get it. There are “Mrs. Shear” incidents happening all over the place.

    It was not “stubbornness” that caused:

    – A bus load of school children to be stoned in RBS B.
    – Countless motorists in Beit Shemesh to have their cars stoned DURING THE WEEK. (Not to imply that’s it’s any more acceptable on Shabbos.)
    – A man to require stitches to his head when he attempted to save a woman whose car was disabled by rock-throwing Chareidim.
    – A Rabbi who was merely observing a “demonstration” passing by our neighborhood to be injured by a rock that was thrown, not by the demonstrators, but from a family of Chareidim standing on their mirpeset.

    That’s just a handful cases that I know of personally. I know of dozens more. In none of these cases were the victims doing anything that could remotely described as being provocative.

    These are the criminals we are dealing with. These are the criminals that Mrs. Shear dealt with.

    I have nothing but admiration for Mrs. Shear. She did what heroic figures do; she stood up to evil. All who know of her actions have received chizuk from her.

    Thank G-d she brought this to the media. If she had not, her actions and sacrifice would have been for naught. I think it’s davka important that she gave an interview to Haaretz. The frum media has a way of trying to keep things like this within the “family”. The embarrassment factor of having this brought to the secular media is a key factor in inducing change.

    Kol HaKavod to Mrs. Shear. Instead of excoriating her we should be honoring her.

  100. Noam Stadlan says:

    In response to Rabbi Menken. Embarassing someone in public is a major halachic rule. There are also halachic rules against spitting on someone, hitting them, kicking them, exposing women’s hair in public, touching women and more. It may be that the first request to move was delivered in a soft, nice tone of voice. It certainly is possible that the first request would bring her embarassment. Certainly persisting in requesting was certain to bring embarrassment. At this juncture, those requesting were essentially saying that embarrassing Mrs.s Shear was an appropriate halachic price to pay for the amount of tzniut they would recieve by her moving. Does Rabbi Menkin agree with that calculation? That it is ok to embarrass someone in order to have more(not just some) tzniut?

    Next. Is there a value in more tzniut? Is tzniut a continuum, where the more tzniut there is, the better it is? Does my daughter get more reward by covering more than her elbows? does covering the fingers get more reward than covering the wrists? If she wears a burka does she get maximal olam haba points so only the eyes show?

    The lines of tzniut need to be observed, but I am not sure that going far beyond what has been accepted brings any more reward. In addition, tzniut is not an issue in a vacuum. Tzniut has effects on both men and women. With more tzniut comes more restrictions on women. Is the value of more tzniut worth the increased restrictions? Is there not a value placed on women being able to have a life? Women were allowed to do smicha on korbanot so they could have nachat. But we can’t let them sit in the front of the bus? Should we add to the religious burden that women carry so that men can have the questionable benefit of tzniut taken to its machmir extreme? Being machmir on tzniut has side effects which neither the Chareidim nor Rabbi Menken seem to take into account. And, if they are taking them into account, it seems that they do not value what they are discarding.

    It is incredibly disheartening to see a distinguished rabbi not realize this. How can this perversion of values be seen to be authentically true to Torah? Cant you see that it is precisely because tzniut is valued over the lives of women that this behavior occurred? I doubt it is an isolated person and an isolated act. Look at all the people who think that this behavior was appropriate. That she got what she deserved. This type of weighing of values leads to this type of behavior. Look at other pronouncements from the Edah HaChareidis. Women should leave shul before adon olam, so as to avoid mixing, or the recent pronouncments regarding education. There is a lack of sensitivity to people. Of sensitivity to women. A sensitivity that the Torah commands us to have. This is not an issue of equality, or feminism. It is simply an issue of having respect and concern for other people. It isn’t there for women, and it isn’t there for those who hold other valid halachic viewpoints.

  101. Jewish Observer says:

    “Since when is it a matter of Jewish religious principle to not separate?”

    – Vacation Village swimming pool

  102. dovid says:

    “The frum media has a way of trying to keep things like this within the “family”.”

    “Thank G-d she brought this to the media.”

    To go to Ha’aretz or Channel XYZ? Have you lost your mind? What do you hope to achieve? If you go Ha’aretz, why shouldn’t Naturei Karta go to Arafat or kiss Ahmadinejad? What’s the difference? Yes, we have “bad apples” in our family. The issue must be dealt in a manner prescribed by our Torah leaders. You seem to have a major problem in your neighborhood. Ask a sheilah. Go to the very top until you know what you have to do. Not one of them will suggest to enlist Ha’aretz’s help.

  103. dovid says:

    Rabbi Menken:

    Why do you expect Mrs. Shear to comply with the local mores (when in Rome…), but you make no comparable demands from her assailants who touched and molested a married woman in public and uncovered her hair(derech chibbah or derech sinnah makes no difference)? This is certainly not done in Yerushalaim. Since we are on the topic, Mrs. Miriam Shear has answered our questions. Where are her assailants? Why are they hiding like vermin?

  104. dovid says:

    Would anyone be surprised if we find out that Mrs. Shear’s attackers also beat up their wives to the pulp and treat their mothers like doormats? I wouldn’t. These things usually go hand in hand.

  105. dovid says:

    Zev write: B/c they’re not even remotely in the same league.

    Are you in any of the two’s league to entitle you to classify them?

  106. Jonathan Rosenblum says:

    STOP THE PRESS

    I just received a call from a woman named Feigy Miller in Har Nof who was on the number 2 bus the morning of Mrs. Shear’s altercation on the way to the Kotel. She called me after reading the article in Mishpacha, and her account is different in a number of ways and in nuance.

    Mrs. Miller rides this particular bus every Friday morning. Though the number 2 bus is not formally designated a mehadrin bus, she says there has been a long-standing custom for men and women to sit separately on the very early morning route, with most women even entering from the back. In fact, her husband adds, during peak usage times, like Chol HaMoed, Egged even sends two buses — one for men and one for women.

    Mrs. Miller told me that she was sitting about four rows behind Mrs. Shear. According to her, when the assailant got on in Mattersdorf there were no more seats in the men’s section besides the one next to Mrs. Shear, and he asked her to move. When she refused to move, he spit at her as Mrs. Shear said. She does not remember seeing Mrs. Shear spit back, only her sitting there looking terribly humiliated. At some point, Mrs. Shear stood on her seat and ripped off the man’s hat and kippah. Her head covering was also removed and tossed.

    At no point, did Mrs. Miller see anyone strike Mrs. Shear. Nor did she see a bruise on her face. And she says that when Mrs. Shear summoned the police after getting off the bus, she kept repeating, “He spit at me; he spit at me.”

    [No one is defending spitting, which, like removing a woman’s hair-covering, is subject to a very heavy fine in the Mishnah in Bava Kamma.}

    As long as I am here, I’d like to respond to something Rabbi Menken wrote yesterday. He said that what took place on the bus was not an instance of bias or prejudice but of sincere religious belief. The two are not antonyms. Those who genitally mutilate young Muslim girls or who kill their older sisters to protect “family honor” may also be motivated by sincere religious belief. As I always tell feminist religious advocates, how much you want to do something — i.e., your sincerity — is not a halachic criterion.

  107. Menachem Lipkin says:

    From Dovid:

    “Have you lost your mind?”

    Yes, if you happen to find it, please return it to me. 🙂

    “If you go Ha’aretz, why shouldn’t Naturei Karta go to Arafat or kiss Ahmadinejad? What’s the difference?”

    Just night and day. Ha’aretz does not deny the holocaust, call for the extermination of world Jewry, threaten the destruction of Israel, or blow up innocent children on buses and in restaurants.

    Actually, in a sense these “zealots” are worse than Neturei Karta. (Who are finally, in no small thanks to massive media attention, being ostracized.) The Neturei Karta have “only” conspired with those who would do harm to their fellow Jews. The “zealots” continue to physically harm their fellow Jews on a regular basis.

    “You seem to have a major problem in your neighborhood. Ask a sheilah. Go to the very top until you know what you have to do.”

    We have a major problem all over Israel not just in Beit Shemesh. Our rebbayim have met with the Rabbis in RBS B and other chareidi hot spots. The Chareidi Rabbis have explicitly stated that this problem is beyond their control. These “zealots” have even been reported to have attacked Rav Eliyashiv’s house and car. The Rabbinic leadership has abdicated it’s responsibility to deal with this issue.

    “Not one of them will suggest to enlist Ha’aretz’s help.”

    I heard a shiur from Rav Hershel Schachter on Mesira. He was asked if there are times that it’s OK to go to the media. He said that when the Rabbinic leadership can’t or won’t deal with the situation then it is sometimes necessary to start a “crusade”, i.e. go to the media.

    (You can listen to the shiur here:
    http://www.torahweb.org/torah/audio/nobodytalks.html
    The question I’m referring is about 29 minutes into the shiur.)

  108. Jonathan Rosenblum says:

    FURTHER UPDATE

    I should have waited before the last post, but I’m leaving the country and was afraid I would not have a chance to post again before doing so.
    (As far as I can tell the Comments don’t have a draft function, like regular posts, or I would have held it.)

    Just talked again to Mrs. Shear’s host in Har Nof. She confirmed that Mrs. Shear’s face was red and swollen when she entered the house after returning from the Kotel, and she could immediately tell that something was wrong. (I had previously spoken to her. This just a reaffirmation of what she told me then.)

  109. Jewish Observer says:

    “during peak usage times, like Chol HaMoed, Egged even sends two buses—one for men and one for women”

    I think it is important to stop and take note of a “lefi tumo” comment that we as charedim tend to take for granted. Egged sends two buses. EGGED SENS TWO BUSES!! Do we appreciate that??

    Might it be useful for us – if only from a purely pragmatic point of view – to call out and publicly recognize Egged’s accomodation toward our religios needs much as we are always on the ready to pounce on any misdeed e.g. El Al? If we charedim are as benevolent, big hearted and compassionate as we like to say we are, what is the worst that come out of a public declaration of hakarat hatov to all those institutions who have made our lives as charedim better? Maybe then people would take our whining more seriously (that’s the pragmatic side).

  110. Zev says:

    “Are you in any of the two’s league to entitle you to classify them?”

    Don’t be ridiculous. Anyone who knows anything in learning knows who’s who in the hierarchy of talmidei chachamim, and the facts are as I said.

  111. Zev says:

    “Those who genitally mutilate young Muslim girls”

    That’s a poor example. The same could be said by anti-Semites regarding bris milah.

    Re. the Shear case, from Mr. Roseblum’s post it now appears that her story may not be entirely true, which would explain why no corroborating witnesses or video have appeared.

  112. dovid says:

    “the sad truth is, as well, that Mrs. Shear picked this fight.”

    Rabbi Menken, if the thugs that molested Mrs. Shear will in 6-week time spit and kick me in my face, etc. for eating gebrocht, will you say it’s my fault and that I picked this fight?

  113. Miriam Shear says:

    Zev: There IS a corrobarating witness who has come forward both to the police and the media. He has verified the accuracy of my statements 100%. He was sitting literally only about 3 seats away and had an excellent view of the entire incident.

  114. Bob Miller says:

    “…if the thugs…will in 6-week time spit and kick me in my face, etc. for eating gebrocht, will you say it’s my fault and that I picked this fight?

    Comment by dovid — February 14, 2007 @ 10:55 am”

    You need to arm yourself with high density knaidlach and flaming matzo brei.

  115. dovid says:

    “If you go to Ha’aretz, why shouldn’t Naturei Karta go to Arafat or kiss Ahmadinejad? What’s the difference?”

    Arafat and Ahmadinejad want to eliminate us physically. Ha’aretz hates our mahus and want to finish us off spiritually. Mr. Lipkin, name your preference.

  116. Baruch Horowitz says:

    Because it involves creating additional chilul Hashem, I also don’t think that it’s the right approach to tell the media , but have we provided an alternative? It’s a little like Monday morning quarterbacking telling people from Ramat Beit Shemesh not to go to Haaretz; Haaretz reports about these things all the time because of their own agenda. When there is a long-standing problem, you can not tell people, solve it yourself by “going to the very top, until you know what you have to do”. That is not the way to run a community.

    It is the job of the community to publicly communicate that it has a game plan for solving problems, and to create a structure for dealing with issues, instead of leaving things to an ad-hoc process, with people needing to figure out what is yashrus(correct behavior) on the #2 bus, or how to deal with a particular problem without desecrating G-d’s name. The fact is that there is a problem of zealotry unique to Israeli society, as in America we don’t have these issues.

    Even if the process is a gradual one, the media must be apprised of a long-term plan for improvement, and dealing with complaints. For example, Mayor Mike Bloomberg rightfully takes credit for reducing violent crime in New York City. He didn’t solve the problem, and the city government certainly has plenty of failings, but at least he can point to a game-plan for the coming year that he put on the table(eg, shifting police when the area mandatess it), and he can be held accountable for its implementation. What is the equivalent of such a plan, even a long-term one, in Ramat Beit Shemesh and in Israel in general, and how is there communal accountability?

  117. Bob Miller says:

    The primary need in this case is to make tangible progress to solve the problem. Getting favorable media attention comes after that. Windy press releases won’t move anything ahead.

  118. dovid says:

    “Still if a person comes to synagogue and finds someone else in his place, it is not fitting to start a fight over it. Etc.”

    Mrs. Shear: Your kol v’chomer is not a kol v’chomer because a bus doesn’t have the din of a shul. The only makom kavua in the bus is that of the driver. In Europe, some seats are designated to the elderly and handicapped. No matter how many times you sat on your favorite seat, I can come tomorrow and take it if it is not occupied. Once you occupied it, it is all yours for as long as you wish. I would like to respectfully point out that the desires of the kahal need to be taken into account. For example, regardless of the nusach I usually daven, if I go to a shul and want to daven at the amud, I am expected to daven the nusach of the shul. We need to show more flexibility and be more forthcoming to one another, even when we are within our rights. Your error, however, is miniscule compared to the public that witnessed your being lynched without protesting, as well as those of us who continued the lynching on line.

  119. dovid says:

    Mr. Lipkin,

    You won. I listened to Rav Hershel Schachter shiur on Mesira. It is exactly as you wrote. From a pragmatic point of view, I still don’t see the toeles of working with Ha’aretz. It has no influence on the fellows that give your neighborhood a hard time. My question is whether you can ask for police protection. In the US this probably would not be an issue. I wonder whether the Israeli police’s indiscriminate eagerness to smash Charedishe heads, way beyond the call of duty, accounts for the reluctance of the Rabbis in question to resort to their help.

  120. Baruch Horowitz says:

    The question becomes, how can the charedi community bring improvement in this regard, and why isn’t the problem being addressed as strongly as the issues which we hear about in the media (cell phones, hechsherim on clothing shops, Beis Yaakov degrees, El Al, etc.)? What is wrong with a public gathering or some type of limud yomi for kiddush Hashem, just as there are for tzniyus and/or Shmiras Halashon?

    I also wonder how the religious Zionist community has gone about distancing itself from its own extremists that have tarnished its image in the press. Have they been successful? In the case of the charedi community, it is up to the non-Edah Hacharedis leadership to get the Edah leadership to institute harsh measures against zealots such as cherem, since I think most zealots are affiliated with that community. At the same time, both communities need to be able to demonstrate to the press and the public, that it’s image is on it’s agenda in education for both children and adults.

    If Menachem Lipkin(comment # 107) is in fact correct that “the Chareidi Rabbis have explicitly stated that this problem is beyond their control” and that “ the Rabbinic leadership has abdicated it’s responsibility to deal with this issue”, then that is a recipe for disaster. No community is immune from bad PR, but shaming the charedi community into change by involving the media comes with a high price in terms of new chilul Hashem.

    I’ve read that MK Avraham Ravitz is trying to make a dent in charedi poverty( $500 million is the total sum needed), by meeting with different groups abroad. I don’t know if the community can concentrate on the problem of it’s image at the same time that the humanitarian need is so acute, and while it is also constantly emphasizing insularity. In any event, I would sincerely like to see us reach a point when the American Agudah is able to publicly address the issue with brutual honesty, and in the meanwhile, I salute the lone voices who do discuss this, even gingerly.

  121. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Dovid,

    Nobody is winning here, except maybe the zealots. As for a toeles. The media publicity is not directed at these criminals. If they are not going to be affected by gedolim they certainly won’t be affected by a secular newspaper. The target audience is the more reasonable heads among the chareidim who may possibly be jarred out of their silence if the chilul Hashem that people who look, and in many cases think, just like them is magnified in this way.

    Here in Beit Shemesh, if anything, the police have been accused of being too benevolent. It’s sometimes reminiscent of the Crown Heights riots when Mayor Dinkins just let the rioters “vent”. However, in actuality from information we have received from the police liaison the police are doing some decent covert work and are making arrests. It’s sometimes those arrests that have triggered some of the rioting. I’ve had e-mail correspondence with a couple of people in RBS who actually have expressed that they wish the police would act more like the ones in Jerusalem!

  122. Jewish Observer says:

    “What is wrong with a public gathering or some type of limud yomi for kiddush Hashem, just as there are for tzniyus and/or Shmiras Halashon?”

    yes! I would also throw in hakoras hatov. reb baruch, I feel so strongly about this that would actively work (with you?) on an effort to influience charedi leadership toward such an event. it would have to start with the left or middle of the charedi world with the hope of spreading rightward. you in?

  123. Miriam Shear says:

    David – The kal v’chomer point was as you write: If a bus, which does not have the din (or kedusha) of a shul; if the only “true” makom kavua is the bus driver’s seat then just as one should not fight over their makom kavua in a shul, kal v’chomer over a non-makom kavua on a public bus. As for your point that we should all “give” a little: You are 1000% right. And that’s what bothered me here. Egged has “given” the chareidi community mehadrin buses; the rest of the community, for the most part and this includes our heeloni brethren, has honored this system. As the most minute measure of hakores hatov, the chareidi community should respect the non-mehadrin status of buses when THEY get on them. When I get on a mehadrin bus, I respect the status. I expect them to do the same on others. If they want to change it, they can go through the process which Egged has allowed them to change the status.

    What frustrates and exasperates people like myself is that, not only is their no “give” on the part of some of them, but the violence and intimidation that is heaped on others when their views are not adhered to. And sometimes, it is the innocent people in their own community who are made to suffer for their actions. An example of this was the tire, garbage can, car burnings that went on for weeks in most chareidi neighborhoods that sent hundreds of people – particularly babies, small children and the elderly – to the emergency rooms. The pleas of health professionals who were measuring air quality warning that the carcinogen particles in the air was at a dangerously high level fell on deaf ears. I was one of those people who was bedridden for 3 days with a respiratory infection from this toxicity. At some point, some of us decide “enough!” If it means digging my heels in on something as “minor” as a seat on a public bus, then that is one small way to say to the thugs “you will not push us around anymore and you will not do so with impunity”. Again, it’s the minor pushbacks that sometimes keep the thugs from imposing total anarchy.

    There are more issues here that I will be addressing from a broader view in an article that will be released soon.

  124. Steve Brizel says:

    After reading 123 posts, I side with Baruch Horowitz’s well reasoned posts on this issue. There does seem to be a lack of awareness that everything that a Torah observant Jew does, regardless of his or her hashkafa, will have the potential for Kiddush or Chillul HaShem, regardless of one’s connection or lack thereof. WADR, is that not the fundamental principal underlining the halachos of Kiddush and Chillul HaShem?

  125. Zev says:

    “There IS a corrobarating witness who has come forward both to the police and the media. He has verified the accuracy of my statements 100%.”

    Why then has his name and testimony not been reported in the media?

  126. Baruch Horowitz says:

    Jewish Observer,

    I am not sure what you have in mind, but you are welcome to e-mail me at [email protected](delete the capital lertters).

    Miriam Shear,

    If you are examining the topic of separate seating on Egged buses in the context of other modesty issues in charedi society, I hope that you will be fair to both sides of this issue. Even advocacy journalists acknowledge the need to be fair, despite advocating a particular point of view.

    There are sensitivities and concerns on both sides, and I am interested in reading an essay which will examine the issue fully. Mrs. Schmidt in her CC post and Op Ed articles makes a good point that the progressive promiscuity of secular society leads to additional insularity in the charedi world; it is like the Rambam writes about going to the other extreme. It is also understandable that teenagers would be distracted when women dress up during the wedding season on buses, even though the women in question are all frum and dressed modestly. Nevertheless, separate seating in reaction to the latter concern is a new chumrah.

    On the non-charedi side, some see the bus issue in terms of other new customs, such as separate lines in a Benei Brak bank(except during rush hour), or hechsherim on clothing shops. There is a concern that there needs to be a point of balance. Previously even in Israel, and currently in charedi neighborhoods in Brooklyn, there were never such stringencies. What is to stop the charedi world from moving in a continued direction this way?

    The NPR article mentioned that “senior Haredi rabbis in Jerusalem led a public burning of see-through stockings and other allegedly risqué dress”. I am curious if the “senior Haredi rabbis”, which I assume are limited to the Eidah Hacharedis community, are mainstream even within that community. Where is the source in the Torah for burning clothes in public gatherings?

    As long as the separate seating are confined to clearly marked Egged lines, the move to the right in the charedi world shouldn’t bother anyone from outside. As Mrs. Schmidt wrote, “the Orthodox need to do much introspection to minimize the offense to those who prefer mixed seating”. Once such sensitivity is displayed, the charedi world is free to adopt any new stringency it wants on its own buses. For those in the charedi world who are unhappy with all of these new stringencies, I hope that there will always be other communities in the charedi world where people can choose to live without adopting the different practices in question.

  127. Miriam Shear says:

    Zev, The witness, Yehoshua Meir, was not only identified by name but also had his picture taken and published in Haaretz. He lives in Har Nof. His name and phone # is also on file with the police. Furthermore, with his permission, I turned his phone # over to the journalists, a couple of whom acknowledge speaking with him. Again, Mr. Meir confirmed every single aspect of the events of November 24th.

  128. Jewish Observer says:

    “As long as the separate seating are confined to clearly marked Egged lines, the move to the right in the charedi world shouldn’t bother anyone from outside.”

    – I am sure it does put a cost or overhead on the system, which should at least be acknowledged / appreciated by charedim who want it. I think that a display of hakoras hatov would satisfy those who resent the extra cost

    “the charedi world is free to adopt any new stringency it wants on its own buses.”

    – Thing is the buses aren;t theirs, unless they actually develop a private bus company

  129. Zev says:

    Okay. Would you happen to have a link to a piece in which he is quoted?

  130. Zev says:

    Thank you. I see that Mr. Meyer does indeed confirm your account.

  131. SM says:

    Zev, I disagree with almost everything you have said on this thread and my sympathies are entirely with Mrs Shear.

    BUT, confirming in public what you previously doubted is a complete kiddush Hashem and you have set a real example.

  132. Jewish Observer says:

    “confirming in public what you previously doubted is a complete kiddush Hashem and you have set a real example”

    – I’d like to call out for commendation SM’s act of publicly recognizing the action of Zev

  133. Zev says:

    “Zev, I disagree with almost everything you have said on this thread”

    Really? What exactly did I say that you disagree with?

    “my sympathies are entirely with Mrs Shear.”

    Mine too, assuming the event actually occurred. However, unlike you, I am not prepared to simply accept the story on her say-so.

  134. Jewish Observer says:

    “Mine too, assuming the event actually occurred.”

    – echoes my sentiments about the Gush Katif episode last year; if that indeed took place

  135. Zev says:

    “echoes my sentiments about the Gush Katif episode last year;”

    Huh? I don’t get the connection.

  136. dovid says:

    “confirming in public what you previously doubted is a complete kiddush Hashem and you have set a real example.” Comment by SM — February 20, 2007 @ 6:41 pm

    SM, the above glorifications and praises were a touch too early: “I am not prepared to simply accept the story on her say-so.” Comment by Zev — February 21, 2007 @ 5:36 pm

  137. dovid says:

    Zev,

    Mrs. Shear has been b’cheskas kashrus throughout her ordeal. You asked for corroborating evidence. She produced it. Two individuals independently corroborated her story. You still don’t seem to be satisfied. If you can’t bring new facts to the table, just let it go.

  138. Zev says:

    “You still don’t seem to be satisfied.”

    True, I’m not entirely satisfied. On the one hand, Mr. Meir did corroborate her account. On the other hand, the same article quotes the driver of the bus, who claims it did not occur. It’s possible he’s just practicing some prudent CYA, but what about the woman on the bus who called Mr. Rosenblum and contradicted Mrs. Shear’s story? Anyway, it’s still unclear, which is why I’m not satisfied.

  139. Jewish Observer says:

    “Anyway, it’s still unclear, which is why I’m not satisfied”

    – We should defer addressing Mrs. Shear’s issue until Zev is satisfied …

  140. Zev says:

    “We should defer addressing Mrs. Shear’s issue until Zev is satisfied”

    No. You should defer addressing it until it’s clear there is an issue to be addressed.

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