Those Who Prey and Those Who Daven

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18 Responses

  1. Yossi says:

    Well said. And the truth is that while I commented on Chayi Hanfling’s article that I don’t know of many cases in my circles where women are sexually harassed, I’d agree that the harassment that letter writer is describes is, while not common to my knowledge, too prevalent in our seat change requests, back of the bus practices, and other instances where we make a woman move to the side because the men want to come through, daven, or something else like that. Those cases, and related issues so well described in the back and forth of Yisroel Besser’s Now famous column about his daughter’s graduation, are something that our community really does need to teach, explore, analyze, and make sure we can hear the voices of women and what they are telling us.

    And those cases, unfortunately, too many frum women are able to say #MeToo. Still hopefully not a lot, but I’m not positive.

  2. Leah says:

    No it is not enough to say these are exceptions.
    They are — but so what? Muslim terrorists are also the exception but the religious teachings have something to do with the actions of the few….
    A call for better education and a question for rabbis in those communities….do you stand with victims of harassment and abuse? Why does no rabbi go rip down illegal obnoxious signs telling women how to dress? We need more from the authority figures who do respect women.

  3. Raymond says:

    I have been fortunate enough to be a Shabbat/Yom Tov guest at many religious Jewish homes over the years. The overwhelming majority of them, have been inspirational enough and treated me well enough to keep me interested to be within arm’s length of the Orthodox Jewish community.

    However, I have also personally witnessed some pretty terrible treatment of wives by their Rabbi husbands. I am thinking now of cases in both Jerusalem as well as here in Southern California, in which the Rabbis told their wives to “shut up!” Bear in mind that the wives were not talking out of turn whatsoever; in fact, they were trying to give over words of Torah. And then there was that incident right at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem, right on the day of the funeral of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. A group of religious men came over to the bus stop where I was standing near (all of the local streets were blocked off due to huge numbers of people coming to or from the funeral), and yelled out in anger as they proceeded to rip up an advertisement showing a woman’s face. It did not show her body at all, only her face, and she had a normal expression on her face, meaning not provocative. That was over three decades ago, and yet I never forgot that: Jews behaving as if they were members of the Taliban. I have experienced many other disappointing words and behavior from supposedly religious people, but those are the ones that come to mind regarding men’s interactions with women.

    I also recall hearing how a little 7-year old girl walking in the very religious Jewish town of Beit Shemesh in Israel was called a crude name for a prostitute. How anybody can mistake a little girl for such a thing is beyond me, and how much moreso that should have been the case for the religious people who treated her that way. And then there is the matter of riding buses in Israel. If men are so afraid that they will automatically turn into wild animals if a woman dared to sit next to them on a bus, how about making the men instead of the women sit in the back of the bus? After all, it is the men who have the problem, not the women. Better yet, just have two different public bus systems in Israel, one for average people like me, and the other one for men too religious to acknowledge the existence of half of our population.

  4. joel rich says:

    So many cases the opposition can also call chapter and verse. For example they might going to the simple understanding of the time Talmud berachot 20a where r adds bar Ahava acres zealously. The real key is to have role models who understands what God wants of us in this world. This is what bothers me when I hear the defense of rabbinic leadership not speaking out more strongly as , “well they won’t listen to us anyway”. I always thought part of the mix the mitzva of hi ha ha (rebuke)was even if they won’t listen to show something else being unacceptable. But of course there are always exceptions.

  5. Sarah Elias says:

    There are boors all over the world and in every society. I’d be willing to bet that the man in the grocery who made the nasty comment about women makes the same sort of comments to men on other topics. He’s just a nasty person. Ditto to the man who was rude about the woman sitting in the men’s section. He is probably not a very refined person in the first place. I’ve heard lots of nasty comments directed towards my husband from all sorts of people, but I doubt he’d get a lot of sympathy if he cried about being sexually harassed.

  6. Heshy Bulman says:

    Those in the Frum world who behave in a boorish manner towards women, behave in an equally boorish manner to all. They are simply not Torah Jews, regardless of their appearance or their Shmiros HaMitzvos. However, I find it most interesting – and more than a little disturbing – that there are women who would almost rather be sexually mistreated by a non-Haredi man seated beside them, than be avoided entirely by a Haredi.

  7. Junjun says:

    When was the last time a woman spat at a man for not sitting in the back of the bus or simply walking in public? When was the last time a woman tore down a picture of a man because she thought it was inappropriate? When was the last time you heard a woman making rude and inappropriate comments about a man dressing like a prostitute?
    Call it all you want, frum education or whatever, but a woman’s education doesn’t require explicitly teaching them to treat men like people. That fact is never lost on them. The problem is how the frum world educates men. For all the backlash frum men have thrown at the women saying #metoo in the comments of previous articles here, they have a lot of chutzpah considering how much women have endured. Enough is enough. Take some responsibility for once.

    • Yossi says:

      Are you kidding? For most of us who don’t live in certain extremist communities, we don’t spit, comment, disparage, and are supportive, encouraging, respectful children, spouses, and fathers who share nothing with the people you are describing. So many of us condemned Beit Shemesh when it was happening, and don’t do any of these obnoxious or disgusting behaviors. So what do you want from the vast majority of frum men who are not extremists?

      • Junjun says:

        Condemning Beit Shemesh isn’t enough if you turn around and disparage the women who are fighting in the #metoo movement. Sit down and listen to women talk about their experiences, instead of dismissing them outright as “crazy feminists”. If you’re the same Yossi who was commenting on the previous two articles, your comments are a perfect example of someone who claims to fight extremism but turns around and says “not my problem” when the ones experiencing the problems are speaking about their experiences, or worse, not believing them because you haven’t seen it firsthand.

        • Yossi says:


          I am one and the same, and I disagree. Nowhere on the forum in that previous article did any of the women say they had any of these experiences; they were commenting on the general MeToo movement. And yes, I am claiming that the general MeToo movement isn’t particularly relevant to us- that what we have is a Bet Shemesh problem, a back of the bus problem, a blotting out women’s faces problem- all things I abhor and don’t subscribe to.

          But it is specifically because of that that when I hear people connecting those issues to issues of all sorts of sexual assault and predatory behaviors that I get extremely frustrated. Don’t ask every white man to apologize for every sin since the founding of this country, and don’t conflate the two issues.
          MeToo is a rampant issue of men in power taking advantage of women in horrific ways. We have extremist segments of our community that do the same, but for a large segment of our community- yeshivish, MO, and many others- women are treated with respect, and the issue that we have to deal with is one of hearing how to give them a better experience- note opportunities for learning, leadership, comfortable Shul experiences etc. But we ARE listening.
          So I think there’s a huge distinction, and that’s the one I’m making.

    • Bob Miller says:

      “…a woman’s education doesn’t require explicitly teaching them to treat men like people…”

      In way too many schools outside the Jewish orbit, women (and men) are taught that men, especially white men, are oppressors until proven innocent. I hope that attitude isn’t spreading among us; it goes far beyond redressing the actual grievances.

      • Yossi says:

        This is what I’m afraid is happening. I remember a frum female psychologist who wrote in Jewish Action, and she said that while it is great that we’ve brought so many issues to the forefront through Jewish media, the fallout is that everyone thinks they’re experiencing those issues- my husband was short with me, he’s abusive, my wife picked at the salad, she’s anorexic.
        MeToo and the world of microagressions is telling everyone that they’ve been abused even when they don’t know it, and that the polite white gentleman is really patriarchal figure who is oppressing you.
        We have issues, and occasional scandals, RL. But in so many circles that I move in- Modern Orthodox, Yeshivish, the Kiruv world- I see a world where women are treated with respect, where people don’t make disparaging or suggestive comments, and where there is an inherent respect for women as with all Jews at least, and usually all people. (Unfortunately sometimes only for Jews)
        In the Kiruv circles I’m in, the women are respected as bona fide teachers and leaders, the guest speakers command the same honorarium male or female, and I think while there is a lot we have to fix, it’s not MeToo.

  8. Bob Miller says:

    Regardless of our occupation, we can all teach good manners by example. If frumkeit as a concept doesn’t now include all Torah-mandated good manners, it should. Believe it or not, this is more important than wearing the right uniform. Our basic attitudes as people should be made right, too; we shouldn’t behave ourselves in this or that situation only because we’re so commanded. Life is not just checking off a bunch of boxes.

  9. mk says:

    With all respect to Rabbi Feldman, I question whether this article was the venue for deciding that it is “quite ptoper” for a man to not shake a woman’s hand. There are a number of gedolim who permit shaking theyextended hand of a woman for the very issue of this discussion. Yo avoid embarrassing her!

    • tzippi says:

      And should an observant woman shake a man’s hand so as not to embarrass him?
      That’s generally not the reason the heter to shake hands is given in some circles.

    • bo says:

      According to certain authorities, embarrassing someone in public is yehareg v’al yaavor.
      According to certain authorities, shaking the extended hand of a woman is yehareg v’al yaavor.
      A decision needs to be made, regarding which one is improper?

    • Yossi says:

      As my rebbi said about it, there are two equally serious issues- arayos, and embarrassing someone badly, and one had to weigh those two sides very seriously.

  10. Ann koffsky says:

    What a pleasure to read a sensitive piece! Thank you rabbi Feldman for hearing the pain of this writer. I wonder how rare/ uncommon her experience is though. I personally have experienced some disrespect within the frum community for being female and many of my friends have as well. We swap stories. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen to me every day. But It it has happened. So if his women has ha fit… and I’ve had it… and many of my friends…I have to wonder if it’s really rare, as you describe. But I really appreciate you hearing and not dismissing her pain. Thank you!

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