Avodah Mailing List

Volume 04 : Number 312

Saturday, January 22 2000

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 12:53:34 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Histaklus BaNashim

--- Joelirich@aol.com wrote:
> what if a photographer does
> feel hirhurim?

I don't believe there is a blanket Heter.
In such an unlikely case, it would be obvious that he
shouldn't put himself in an envronment that produce
such thoughts in his mind. That individual should get
out of the business.

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Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 13:01:22 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Kitzur

--- Pawshas@aol.com wrote:
> Without commenting on the discussion regarding the
> effect of the Kitzur on 
> American Jewry, I think something should be made
> clear here. The Kitzur 
> Shulchan Aruch is not an abbreviated version of the
> Shulchan Aruch, despite 
> its title. There are many statements which are in
> Rav Nasan Gantzfried's 
> Sefer which do not appear in the Shulchan Aruch.

You are of course right but in my post on this subject
I did identify the Kitzur a an abbreviated version of
the SA for simplicity's sake.  For purposes of
discussion I felt that this was a subtle difference
because in essence. R. Ganzfried's tome was indeed
intended to be an abbreiviated Halachic exposition
largely in accord with the Shulchan Aruch itself,
designed for easy use.  

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Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 14:08:22 -0700 (MST)
From: Daniel Israel <daniel@pluto.ame.arizona.edu>
The Shulchan Arucgh as a Weapon

Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com> writes:
> The Kitzur SA is an abreviated version of the SA.

Actually, while they both cover much of the same ground, the ordering of
the topics is significantly different.

Daniel M. Israel
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ

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Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 17:00:40 EST
From: DFinchPC@aol.com
Re: Histaklus BaNashim

In a message dated 1/21/00 1:26:46 PM US Central Standard Time, 
hmaryles@yahoo.com writes:

<< Women simply do not have Hirhurei Aveirah when they
 watch men dancining, probably even eroticly.

This is not consistent with the observation and experience of many of my, uh, 
friends. ("Doc, my friend has this wierd pain in his foot. . . . ") Nor is it 
consistent with the science (real science, like it or not) of physical sexual 
response, about which contemporary neurologists know a lot.

David Finch

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Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 19:00 +0200
From: BACKON@vms.huji.ac.il
Re: Histaklus Ba'Anashim

The dress code for men should follow what the Rambam writes in Hilchot
Deot 5:6 and 5:9. With regard to what they must cover, I assume you refer
to tfilla: see Orach Chaim 34:5.


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Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 21:36:48 +0200 (GMT+0200)
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@math.tau.ac.il>
Re: Avodah V4 #311

Subject: yoatzot

Just a remark on an old topic. I spent this shabbat at a Matan weekend
in Jerusalem and spoke with a rabbi there.
He says he spends a lot of time working with the yoatzot on niddah
questions and finds there help fantastic. He says that many times they
think of questions to ask the women that he would think of by himself
despite his experience in the field. His wife said that there is no way
she would involve herself in these discussions and warmly supported
the yoatzot. 
This rabbi was sure that after the furor passes that they will be 
accepted by all communities. He strongly insisted on their role as
yoatzot and blamed the furor on mistaken language of poskot.
He mentioned that they are now considering a book on hilchot Niddah,
in English, based on the experiences of the rabbis and yoatzot working

Also, one of the yoatzot has just finished a seies of lectures in Raanana
with great success.

Eli Turkel

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Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 19:53:51 +0000
From: Chana/Heather Luntz <Chana/Heather@luntz.demon.co.uk>
Re: Histaklus BaNashim

In message , Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com> writes
>Histaklus is not just innocently looking at someone
>while having a conversation or an incidental glance.
>Histaklus implies looking at a woman with improper
>thoughts (hirhurim). "Ogling" might be a better
>translation of Histaklus than "looking". When women
>dance even in non-erotic fashion it can stir up, in
>some people gazing at them, some hihurim, which would
>qualify that activity as Histaklus.  The debate here
>has been about whether watching women dance at
>weddings qualifies halachicly as Hastalkus or whether
>it is qualifies as just innocent looking.

I understand the distinction.  However, dispite your dislike of sources,
to me you really need to go back to them to fully understand the issue.

The gemorra in Brochos 24a says that that histaklus is assur even in
relation to a woman's little finger.  This is brought by the various
authorities (eg Rambam issurei bi'a perek 21 halacha 2, Tur/SA Even
Haezer 21:2).  That is, we have it on good authority (the
gemorra no less) that some people can have hirhurim looking at a
woman's little finger (not to mention her face).  Similarly, it is
suggested in all the authorities, based on the gemorra, that a man run
in front of a woman, or turn to the wall if he sees her in the

This is why I say the position of those in Meah Shearim is totally
consistent.  There is a risk that if a man looks at a woman's little
finger, or her face, he will have hirhurim.  So, in order to avoid the
possibility, such men do not look at either a woman's face, or her
finger.  Such actions are a fence against the danger of stirring up

Similarly, such men would not look at women dancing and would refuse to
have a woman seated next to him, at a wedding or otherwise, for the same
reason, it might stir up hirhurim.

What I am trying to understand is why those who hold that the reason to
have separate seating or no possibility of viewing women dancing is a
fence lest one might come to histaklus do not appear to hold that a
similar fence needs to be made regarding seeing her finger or her face.
And yet the actions of this particular olam appears to be in favour of
just such a distinction.

Carl Sherer in suggesting that the difference is between a nuisance and
an attractive nuisance would seem to be implying that a man never finds
a woman attractive (or distracting) when speaking to her (eg at a shop
counter, in the street, at work, as part of one's function as a Rabbi),
but that same man finds her incredibly attractive when either seated
near him at a wedding, or when dancing.

But I am finding this difficult to credit.  Maybe I am just clueless,
being female, but from what Carl is saying, there is something intrinsic
about weddings that does something to a man who is otherwise under
control (not dancing, because if it was just dancing, then mixed seating
would be fine, it would just be the dancing that would be the problem).
And not only that, his statement would seem to contradict the gemorra,
the Rambam, the Tur, the Shulchan Aruch and everybody else who makes it
clear that a man *can* (not necessarily *will* but *can*) have hirhurim
when he sees a woman's little finger.

Now, as I mentioned, the position of Meah Shearim is consistent.
Consistent with the text.  So on what basis does anybody look at a
woman's face when talking, or engage in casual glancing.  ie why do we
not all posken like them?

My understanding of the answer to this question is that we rely on the
Levush!  The Levush says that in a society where contact of this nature
is common, there is no need (it is inappropriate to) make fences of this
nature, and therefore casual glancing is OK (of course if an individual
finds himself doing more than casual glancing, it would be incumbant on
him to look away, just as the gemorra prescribes, but we are not
poskening for the miut).

So what I am trying to understand is how, if you reject the Levush in
relation to weddings, you can accept him in relation to talking to a
woman.  Maybe there are other sources which say casual looking is
generally OK, but in relation to weddings it is not.  I was just trying
to seek them out (and understand them).

Obviously, it is more understandable if you are saying mixed seating at
weddings is OK, it is seeing dancing that is problematic, on the grounds
that dancing is something different from what is usually done in the
street, at work or while shopping.  Now that would seem to be a
judgement call, is dancing something radically different or not?
However, to say that dancing is something a) radically different and b)
it is therefore appropriate to have a fence for this where we do not
have a fence in general is a statement that requires justification.  We
*know* davening is different, we have lots of sources for that (eg there
are things a man can normally see but which he is not permitted to see
when he says krias shema).  Is there anything similar for dancing?  ie,
it would seem to me that once you say that casual glancing at a  woman
is OK as a general rule, then you have to justify the exceptions -
davening, easy, when she is not tzniusdikly dressed, easy, that is where
the other statements on that daf in Brochas come in, about ervah.  In
fact the Tzlach asks this question - why does the gemorra need to make
the statement that the shok of an isha is ervah if we have just finished
saying that histaklus b'etzba katana is ossur.  Answer, viewing ervah is
ossur whether or not there is any intent or pleasure derived.  Dancing?
well all the sources, if anything, seem to lean the other way (eg the
women dancing on Tisha B'Av, the various rishonic sources brought).
This is not to say you cannot distinguish all these sources, as people
have done (including on this list), but while if you hold the Meah
Shearim way, that it is all ossur, these distinctions are useful in
justifying your position, if you are trying to make a case for dancing
being an particular exception to the general rule, they are not terribly

One further thing, RYZ brought the Ben Ish Chai.  Unlike some people
here, I do believe that the Ben Ish Chai is a major source of piskei
halacha - at least among Sephardim.  However, you have to remember one
critical thing. The Ben Ish Chai lived in Bagdad around 100 years ago,
and although there was some European influence on the upper classes, the
Bagdad of his era was a religious Moslem city (eg he has a psak about
zman tephilla that suggest that when you here the cry of the muezzen,
then you know .... ).  As a consequence - you generally did *not* see
the faces of women walking in the streets.  You did not generally come
across women at work or in the shops, and were certainly not expected to
look them in the face or talk to them.  So if certain Jewish sectors
were aping the European customs and having mixed seating at weddings, it
is not surprisng that he was horrified.  Of course he is not going to
agree with the Levush, in the society in which he lived I doubt the
Levush would have agreed with the Levush.  But his society was very
different from ours.

One further thing.  In the discussion on looking at a woman, one of the
exceptions basically permitted by everybody is when a man is looking at
a woman in order to decide to marry her.  But, this exception is revoked
in the case of a talmid chacham.  Now various commentators explain this
revocation is not as it seems, for a whole host of reasons, but some do
seem to suggest that it is because a talmid chacham is particularly
susceptable (and one of the reasons given is that he is so busy learning
that when he doesn't he is particularly vulnerable). Now, if you are
talking about a Rosh Yeshiva who only teaches and learns in a yeshiva
gedola and has all his life (ie no moonlighting to the local girls
seminary or regularly counselling/answering shialas of local women) has
never been to college and whose wife does all the shopping, it may well
be that he has been sheltered from women other than his wife and
daughters.  In such circumstances it may well be that *his* life is more
like that of the society of the Ben Ish Chai, and hence the statement of
the Levush would not apply to him.  Thus the policy of many, to put such
Roshei yeshiva on a single sex table as far away as possible from the
women's side of the dance floor would, in such cases, seem thoughtful
and appropriate.  

But, it seems to me, that any baal/as simcha needs to bear in mind the
extent of the suffering his/her particular choices will inflict on all
of his/her guests.  That goes for the Rosh Yeshiva.  That also goes for
his female guests who may desire to, but not be permitted to, dance (or
the lonely person who knows no-one except their spouse on the other side
of the mechitza). I realise that, while from the female side I do not
see (and cannot see) the internal struggles that revolve around the
issur of hirhurim, I am also aware that those on the other side of the
mechitza do not see the tears that I have seen in similar cases.  For
example, it doesn't seem to matter where I go around the world, every
year on simchas torah there is some little girl crying because she is
too old to dance and she just cannot understand why. And while big girls
(of the sort who attend weddings) don't cry, they just complain about
what a horrible wedding (festival) it is instead, that is often just the
grown up equivalent of the same thing.

So while we all need to consider the halacha and what it says (and not
just the simple formulas that are bandied about but the full complexity
which can be found on just about every issue on which there is machlokus
- for which I am afraid I believe you need to look at sources), I would
also put in a plea to not forget, in circumstances where there are a
range of opinions on which one can rely, and to look at the wider
picture of who will bear the brunt of your decision as well.


Shavuah tov


Chana/Heather Luntz

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Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 23:37:57 +0200
From: "Carl and Adina Sherer" <sherer@actcom.co.il>
Re: Histaklus BaNashim

On 21 Jan 00, at 9:51, Gershon Dubin wrote:

> > Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2000 01:29:32 EST
> > From: DFinchPC@aol.com
> > Subject: Re: Histaklus BaNashim
> <<Actions, on the other hand, can be controlled.  It's one thing to
> promote modesty. It's another to pretend to ban the circuitry in
> everyone's brain.>>
> 	To paraphrase what you're saying,  then,  we cannot control histaklus, 
> so telling people not to have improper thoughts is futile.  We can,
> however,  control actions,  so we put up a mechitza.  Or am I reading you
> incorrectly (it has happened to me <g>)?

If you read him wrongly, so did I.

-- Carl

Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for our son,
Baruch Yosef ben Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.  
Thank you very much.

Carl and Adina Sherer

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