Weekly Digest – News and Essays In and Out of Orthodoxy

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34 Responses

  1. mycroft says:

    “No one disputes the fact that kisui rosh (head covering) for married women is a clear-cut halakhah, and no rabbi – neither past nor present – would permit l’chatchilah (a priori) a married woman to walk about with uncovered hair in the reshut harabim (public domain)”

    “no rabbi” A clear exaggeration-if stated predominately, overwhelmingly would be true. For starters the Ravs wife, one of his daughters and one of his sisters did not cover their hair.

    A reasonably close talmid of the Rav once asked him what the reason for his heter was? The Rav answered “he didn’t have one or need one -but gdolei lita permitted it so he could not assur it”

    Respect for Tradition not selective respect.

     

    “but “Jewish terror groups” are the modern-day Biryonim, whose vile and reckless acts place the entire Jewish people at grave risk”

    Agreed-for a few years already I have used the comparison-not only for terror groups but those who agitate the non Jewish population there for political and symbolic reasons.

    • Shmuel Landesman says:

      Both of the Rav’s daughters and all his granddaughters cover their hair.

      • mycroft says:

        Dr Lichtenstein I have always seen with her hair covered.  Dr A Twersky as a married person did not regularly cover her hair despite the fact that her mother-in-law did-The Talner  Rebbetzen covered her hair.

        I do not know the granddaughters  at most one would recognize me.

        Are you maintaining that Dr A Twersky started covering her hair after her move out of Boston? The last time that I saw her was when I was menachem avel for her son HYD and her hair was covered. She was staying at her sons house in Har Nof-and certainly R Moshe HYD and his family were very charedei. What is relevant for our purposes what she did under influence of the Rav. Are you maintaining that Dr A Twersky covered her hair during all her  married life?

        Certainly, the Ravs sister Prof A Gerber did not cover her hair as a widow. Note the Rav stayed with her after his wife passed away until the walk to Maimonides was too far for the Rav and then he moved to the Twersky’s.

         

         

      • avi says:

        For the record, take a look in Nefesh HaRav where Rav Schechter records that the Rav did not at all approve of married women keeping their heir uncovered. Perhaps here the Rav meant that, just as gedolei Lita wished to stay married, so did he…

      • mycroft says:

        Did anyone hear the Rav state publicly that a married woman must cover her hair as halacha. It is not enough that he might imply it in shiur. The reason being they may well be a chakira that he raised in shiur not lehalacha. It is well known that there are many issues where the Rav apparently suggests one thing in shiur but in his actions clearly took another matter.

        The exact language that Rav Schachter heard  and response to a question is very crucial-thus if Rav Schachter reports that the Rav stated there is no logic or svara to permit a married woman not to keep her hair covered that is not inconsistent with my story.

        The Rav told my source he has no svara to permit it.  That may not be totally inconsistent. I submit the practice of his wife, daughter and sister is worth a lot in credibility.

        A separate issue entirely is I believe a different approach in general  al regel achat the Rav like Briskers treated minhag Israel very strongly, Rav Schachter is much more one who follows gdolim of Lita and Poland, Very simplistic but differences are there and are worthy of study by those far greater than I.

  2. YbhM says:

    > Reflective of the same problematic mentoring.

    OO rabbis are not tashbar.

    Rather than critiquing the “mentoring” that OO rabbis have received, it’s more illuminating to regard their writings as an expression of the fundamentally mistaken first principles of most of these rabbis who identify with OO.

    Specifically we see that many OO take contemporary attitudes about equality of cultures, essential sameness of men and women, the definition of justice etc. as given.  In their view there is nothing for us to learn from the Torah or our mesorah regarding basic issues of how to live and what to aspire to.

    • R. B. says:

      That is a good point. They are coming to Torah and Yiddishkeit with full acceptance of liberal cultural and social norms, and rather than challenge those inherited views, challenged Torah to conform with them or risk becoming irrelevant or rejected (hence the claim that women will abandon Orthodoxy in droves without OO’s intervention).

      Rabbi Gordimer, keep on truckin’ posting these weekly articles. OO and like-minded ideologues will, by their own writings, hashkafos, and halachic writing, expose themselves. Sunshine is the best remedy.

      • Behnam Dayanim says:

        It is naive to suggest that OO rabbis in the 21st Century are the first ever to be influenced by broader cultural norms.  Halakhic literature is replete with examples of rulings that clearly reflect and are influenced by the prevailing norms of the surrounding culture – sometimes explicitly, sometimes not.  (Witness varying views on appropriate dress, for men and women, over the centuries.)  There is nothing necessarily wrong with taking cultural norms into account in any event.  M(oreover, the mesora can only speak to that which it can speak: that something has never been addressed does not mean it was rejected – it simply may never have occurred to anyone.  Clearly, that is not the case with women’s head covering.  I make the point more generally.)  Lastly, and with specific reference to the question of women’s head covering, Rabbi Joseph Messas, Rabbi Moshe Malka and Rabbi Yosef Hayyim Sofer all permitted married women to go with their hair uncovered.  See http://desiretoshare.com/haircoveringwomen.htm.  None was “OO.”

      • YbhM says:

        It is naive to suggest that OO rabbis in the 21st Century are the first ever to be influenced by broader cultural norms. 

        Really now, noone suggested this and these strawman arguments are tiresome.

        Yes there are always outside influences.  Yes normative halacha is changing all the time.

        OO supporters start from these observations and then jump to the conclusion that whatever they have soaked up from the media and from Feminism 101 can be treated the same way as Torah mi-sinai.

      • YbhM says:

        It is naive to suggest that OO rabbis in the 21st Century are the first ever to be influenced by broader cultural norms. 
        Really now, noone suggested this and these strawman arguments are tiresome.
        Yes there are always outside influences.  Yes normative halacha is changing all the time.
        OO supporters start from these observations and then jump to the conclusion that whatever they have soaked up from the media and from Feminism 101 can be treated the same way as Torah mi-sinai.

      • R.B. says:

        YbhM – exactly (about the straw man argument Behnam invokes). First, I always see Rabbi Messas quoted, as if a Daas Yachid does normative halacha make. Second, this attempt to trace OO’s open agenda of driven change to meikil or apparently meikil halachic positions of poskim throughout the ages, as if OO or Israeli Far Left DL is some kind of continuation of Rabbis Messas, Sofer, and Malka. Rubbish! This not just influence from the surrounding culture. This is embracing our culture and allowing sweeping and constant social changes to drive what changes to Yiddiskeit we are to make. That is completely new, and is nothing less than a deviance from our historical experience.

  3. YbhM says:

    > Women’s Tefillah Groups – Discussion of this (very objectionable) watershed innovation by OO leadership

    Women’s Tefilla groups have been around since the early 90s – long before the emergence of the OO leaders and back when Rabbi Avi Weiss was more or less mainstream.    90s Drisha could be regarded as proto-OO I suppose.

    • mycroft says:

      WTG have been around since at least the 70s. A  currently practicing Rav who was in a shiur with me at YU a few years ago told me the following story. He was a Rav in a schul in mid 70s and women wanted to start a women’s minyan in schul. He asked the Rav what to do and the Rav stated absolutely not in schul and offered to come to Rabbis schul to give a shiur on the matter. The Rabbi said Rebbe that is not necessary you gave me the psak and that is it. The Rabbi stated he has since felt sorry not taking the Rav up on the shiur possibility only because he is not aware of a clear analysis extant of the Ravs analysis on this direct issue.

      To me the most interesting aspect of what the Rav told the Rabbi to a question the Rabbi did not even ask. The Rav told the Rabbi that if they wanted to start a womens service outside of schul premises the Rabbi need not get involved if he didn’t want to. Thus, story clearly Rav opposed to WTGs in schul, WTGs go back to at least the 70s, the Rav did not appear to treat WTGs as AZ or the biggest threat to yahadus despite being opposed to them in schul.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft wrote in relevant part:

        “Thus, story clearly Rav opposed to WTGs in schul, WTGs go back to at least the 70s, the Rav did not appear to treat WTGs as AZ or the biggest threat to yahadus despite being opposed to them in schul”

        So, why then did RYBS devote the large portion of two shiurim ( Korah 1972) and Gerus ( 1865) to rejecting the claims of feminists ?

      • mycroft says:

        Show me the contradiction between being a lover of hashem and women getting together to pray. What is wrong with Amen groups, and Beis Yacov. They are examples of WTG

        Full disclosure in Ellul once on a Sunday I was phoned by someone in an Amen group would I come blow shofar for them-I said no-they said but we want to hear shofar then what should they do-I suggested daven as part of a minyan and you’ll hear it before ledavid.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Neither an Amen group nor a Beis Yaakov style davening by students remotely involves a Davar Shebekedusha.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Where in SA is it recorded that the Tekias Shofar in Chodesh Elul , which is clearly a minhag, must be recited before a minyan of 10 men and  cannot be recited either for a yachid such as a homebound individual , someone in a hospital or senior citizens facility, nursing home  or even solely a group of women?

      • mycroft says:

        “Neither an Amen group nor a Beis Yaakov style davening by students remotely involves a Davar Shebekedusha.”

        Thus, I guess you have no objections to a WTG having a service for Kabbalat Shabbat”Where in SA is it recorded that the Tekias Shofar in Chodesh Elul , which is clearly a minhag, must be recited before a minyan of 10 men and  cannot be recited either for a yachid such as a homebound individual , someone in a hospital or senior citizens facility, nursing home  or even solely a group of women?”

        Certainly implicit that the minhag is after Shacharit in Ellul see SA 581 sec 2 Ramam minhag ashkenaz litkoa acharei shacharis. You may be more aggressive than I in expanding on this but that was my interpretation-if someone else feels differently contact Amen group and volunteer.

  4. Mordechai says:

    mycroft: A reasonably close talmid of the Rav once asked him what the reason for his heter was? The Rav answered “he didn’t have one or need one -but gdolei lita permitted it so he could not assur it”

     

    Source?

    My recollection is otherwise, namely that when asked about his wife, he responded along the lines of “that is her matter”, implying that is was her decision, not his.

    • mycroft says:

      I heard that comment in response to a semi private question after schul that a talmud of the Rav was asked by someone else in schul a few minutes after davening which was in a different neighborhood than that talmid lived. Since the talmid did not write about that conversation publicly and  is currently in the olam haemet I will not quote the source by name.

      I will just note that your story need not contradict my story. The issue of keeping ones hair covered would have been “her matter” if and only if the Rav did not feel that it was halachikally required. Obviously he had no objections to a women keeping her hair covered-if his wife wanted to keep her hair covered he would have had no objections.

      BTW the story illustrates the Ravs and Briskers respect for practice his heter was not based on svara but on precedent-gdolei lita.

      • Mordechai says:

        When someone gives their source as an overheard comment, from an unnamed person, citing unnamed ‘gedolei Lita’, it isn’t overly convincing. A Litvishe mirage is worth as much as any other mirage. The fact that some Rabbonim were lenient re ancillary issues, such as making a bracha in presence of such uncovered hair, is not the same as saying that they allowed it ab initio, lechatechila.

        The idea that I got was that the Rav wasn’t happy about it, but couldn’t force his wife to do so, and wasn’t about to divorce her.

      • mycroft says:

        It may not be convincing to you. The quote is from someone who certainly some in the blog have heard of-the person stating the information is quoting a conversation he had with the Rav. I wrote “heard” not overheard not that it should make much difference.

        “The idea that I got was that the Rav wasn’t happy about it, but couldn’t force his wife to do so, and wasn’t about to divorce her”

        Sentences like the above are ones that really get me upset-to imply that that the Ravs wife who gave up everything professionally to be the aid of the Rav would not have done something to please her husband is ludicrous and frankly IMO the worst revisionism that exists. One can see public manifestations of their closeness in the Rav going to her kever repeatedly despite his previous classical Brisker antipathy to kever visits. That false image of the Rav and his wife is an example of extreme revisionism willing to falsely impugn dead peoples motives to make the Rav have beliefs that agree with theirs.

         

         

         

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft-the issue remains, did RYBS ever tell anyone who asked him  that it was mutar lchatchilah for their wife not to cover their hair?

      • mycroft says:

        What is the difference than saying one cannot say its assur based on precedent than mutar lechatchila.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft-the issue remains, yes or no-did RYBS ever tell anyone who asked him  that it was mutar lchatchilah for their wife not to cover their hair?

      • dr. bill says:

        Steve Brizel, Where I grew up, we were taught not to question Gedolai Yisroel.  I witnessed a rabbi I suspect you respect asking the Rav ztl a significantly less charged question based on his implication from what the Rav told him.  The response,  following some  rather derogatory remark, i do not need to repeat, was don’t make conjectures, if that results, come ask another sheailah. BTW a few other wives of Lithuanian gedolim did not cover their hair in the US, as happened quite often in pre-war Lita.

        Someone asked RAL ztl about a different topic where RAL was much stricter than the Rav (on an issue of greater communal consequence than hair covering)  if he ever asked the Rav about his approach.  The answer was recorded and I forget his precise words but it was a polite version of “are you crazy?”

      • mycroft says:

        If you demand  a yes or no I interpret someone asking the Rav for the svara behind his heter for a women not to cover her hair and receiving an answer no svara but can’t assur something which gdolei lita permitted as mutar lchatchilah but if you interpret that story differently fine.

      • dr. bill says:

        The issue has been widely discussed, the articles by rabbis Brodie and Schiller among the most lenient.  The main point of contention revolves around the issue if exposed hair is an intrinsic ervah and hence not permitted, or it is subject to what is customarily covered, and hence potentially changeable.  the fact that it depends on one’s marital state, would appear to make its classification as an intrinsic ervah difficult to maintain.

  5. Steve Brizel says:

    RHS gave a hesped for RYBS in the Beis Medrash in the months following the Petirah of RYBS where he stated very forcefully that RYBS never approved of women not covering their hair and that RYBS stated so in that very BeisMedrah.

    • mycroft says:

      Parsing of language is important-I wrote the Rav didn’t assur it-that would be consistent with never having approved it. Thus, the Rav didn’t take a position-he could answer both people RHS and state what RHS reportedly heard and state what I heard. The Rav was very specific and precise.

      Look at his close family-his wife, a daughter and a sister not covering their hair.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Mycroft-listen to RHS’s hesped . Then revisit the issue.

      • mycroft says:

        Is there a tape of what the Rav stated exactly in context-or is there a transcript of the lecture of what the Rav said. When I hear  that I will revisit the issue.

      • Confused says:

        Mycroft,

        You wrote below (Jan 8 at 2:58) that there’s no difference between “not assering” and “mutar lechatchila”. Now you’re saying he didn’t assur, but also didn’t approve…

        Which is it?

      • mycroft says:

        I don’t understand the question-the Rav specifically said he couldn’t assur it because gdolei lita permitted it. I believe that is equivalent to permitting something.

        Not approving meant the lack of stating why it should be approved IMO saying you can’t assur something because of halachik precedent is equivalent to a heter.

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