Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Kol Koreh, Purim 2009

Bumped to top, since people might find it of most interest.
Note: Download it as a Word document. Also, see last year's kol koreh.

!ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניהן

While we have made great strides in tznius in the past, a matter of deep concern remains in maintaining the kedusha of the machaneh yisrael. Namely, while women in our community take care to cover all the hair on their head, שער באשה ערוה may well apply to *all* of a woman's hair. As מהרם אלשקר writes, and as מהרץ חיות cites in his teshuvot, siman 53, ואלא מעתה ולפי דרכם שער גבות עיניה נמי היה להם לאסור, דשער קריה רחמנא, כתיב וגלח את כל שערו וגו' ואת גבות עיניו כו', עכ"ל הרב מהר"מ אלשקר. We thus see from the laws of Nazir that eyebrows are considered hair, and by extension should be covered or not revealed, just like any other שער באשה.

Already, some nashim tzidkaniyos have taken it upon themselves to be stringent in this regard. Realizing how attractive eyebrows can be, especially bushy eyebrows and unibrows, they have accepted the practice of plucking out some of their eyebrows. This is a good start, but does not approach the requirements of halacha.

One possible recommendation is to make use of eyebrow wigs. This is sufficient for those communities which accept the kula of wearing sheitels. For other communities, which accept only sheitels under a hat, one may wear an eyebrow wig but only under a knitted eyebrow cover. Others may opt for shaving the eyebrow completely.

One issue that some poskim raise with regard to eyebrow wigs is that while in past generations, the eyebrow wigs were made of straw or horsehair, today's eyebrow wigs are made of human hair, or special synthetic material, which looks *better* than the woman's own eyebrows, רחמנא ליצלן!

On a related note, eyelashes may similarly be problematic for a true bas yisroel. As the pasuk in איוב states, וְעַל עַפְעַפַּי צַלְמָוֶת! Eyelashes, especially in modern culture, can be used for flirtatious purposes. Indeed, Rabbi Yochanan's beauty was such that (in בבא מציעא פד.) Resh Lakish stated it belonged to women, and in בבא קמא קיז., we see that Rabbi Yochanan had extremely long eyelashes. And lest one say that this was only much later in Rabbi Yochanan’s life, note that Bach on ברכות כ. states that this co-occurred with his great beauty. Yeshayahu Hanavi criticizes the women who used their eyes for flirtatious purposes, stating וּמְשַׂקְּרוֹת עֵינָיִם. Certainly Jewish women must take care to avoid this potential pitfall. Instead, we must take our lead from our holy Imahos. Leah Imeinu, בבא בתרא קכג. informs us, cried for years, and in the end, all her eyelashes fell out. If our our daughters begin at the age of 3, we can hope that by the age of bat mitzvah, they will have achieved this lofty goal.

Yet suggestions to continuously weep, or to simply pluck out eyelashes, have for some reason been met with great resistance in some quarters. A solution might be to wear false eyelashes, as a sort of eyelash wig, but today's false eyelashes are enticing, unlike the straw ones of yesteryear. Thus, Rabbi Falk states that "false eyelashes... should be alien to the Bas Yisroel," and also refers to a teshuva in Igros Moshe (Yoreh Deah 3:62) about how it might constitute a chatzitza. Perhaps the best solution would be to wear large sunglasses. One should take take care that these sunglasses be a refined color such as black or dark blue, and not some bright color which will draw attention (לא עלינו) to the eye area.

Indeed, in general, a woman's eye might also be considered quasi-erva. After all, the beautiful woman in שיר השירים is praised for the beauty of her eyes, הִנָּךְ יָפָה רַעְיָתִי, הִנָּךְ יָפָה--עֵינַיִךְ יוֹנִים, מִבַּעַד לְצַמָּתֵךְ. According to שבת פ., the women who were tznuous indeed went out with only one eye exposed, with the other covered behind a veil. Even this may be halachically problematic, as later in that same perek in שיר השירים, we read לִבַּבְתִּנִי בְּאַחַת מֵעֵינַיִךְ, that she has ravished his heart with even one of her eyes. The idea of using a dark monocle for sunglasses is thus ruled out, but perhaps the same solution of large, dark, and dark-colored sunglasses may suffice as well.

The Bnei Yisrael were redeemed from Mitzrayim in the merit of the nashim tzidkaniyos. So too, if our endeavors to be גועל ישראל are successful, we will hopefully merit the ultimate redemption, במהרה בימינו אמן!


Anonymous said...

well written!


joshwaxman said...


yaak said...

Was "גועל ישראל" intentionally misspelled?

joshwaxman said...

yes. :)


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