Monday, May 31, 2004

Sex Segregated Street?

The following can be found in Yerushalmi Succah, the fifth perek:

דף כג, א פרק ה הלכה ב משנה מוצאי י"ט הראשון של חג היו יורדין לעזרת הנשים ומתקנין שם תיקון גדול ומנורות של זהב היו שם

The night following the first day of Succot they would descend to the Women's Courtyard, and there they made a great Tikkun {fix}.


דף כג, ב פרק ה הלכה ב גמרא ומתקנין שם תיקון גדול. מה תיקון היו עושין שם. שהיו מעמידין האנשים בפני עצמן והנשים בפני עצמן כהיא דתנינן תמן וחלקה היתה בראשה והקיפוה כצוצטרא שהנשים רואות מלמעלן והאנשים מלמטן כדי שלא יהו מעורבין. ממי למדו מדבר תורה. (זכריה יב) וספדה הארץ משפחות משפחות לבד תרין אמורין חד אמר זה הספידו של משיח וחורנה אמר זה הספידו של יצר הרע. מאן דאמר זה הספידו של משיח מה אם בשעה שהן אבילין את אמר האנשים בפני עצמן והנשים בפני עצמן בשעה שהן שמחים לא כל שכן מאן דאמר זה הספידו של יצר הרע מה אם בשעה שאין יצר הרע קיים את אמר האנשים בפני עצמן והנשים בפני עצמן בשעה שיצר הרע קיים לא כל שכן:

What Tikkun did they make there? That they stood the men by themselves and the women by themselves. Like that which learn there: It (the women's courtyard in the Bet Hamikdash) was smooth (without mechitzot) initially, and they surrounded it with a balcont so that the women saw from above and the men below so that they do not mix (with each other). From whom did they learn this? From a matter in Torah (here, this means Neviim). Zechariah 12:12
וְסָפְדָה הָאָרֶץ, מִשְׁפָּחוֹת מִשְׁפָּחוֹת לְבָד
"And the land shall mourn, every family apart..."

{Here I digress to give context so you can see this is not a drasha but follows directly from the psukim. Zecharia 12:12-14:
בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, יִגְדַּל הַמִּסְפֵּד בִּירוּשָׁלִַם, כְּמִסְפַּד הֲדַדְרִמּוֹן, בְּבִקְעַת מְגִדּוֹן.
וְסָפְדָה הָאָרֶץ, מִשְׁפָּחוֹת מִשְׁפָּחוֹת לְבָד: מִשְׁפַּחַת בֵּית-דָּוִיד לְבָד, וּנְשֵׁיהֶם לְבָד--מִשְׁפַּחַת בֵּית-נָתָן לְבָד, וּנְשֵׁיהֶם לְבָד.
מִשְׁפַּחַת בֵּית-לֵוִי לְבָד, וּנְשֵׁיהֶם לְבָד; מִשְׁפַּחַת הַשִּׁמְעִי לְבָד, וּנְשֵׁיהֶם לְבָד
כֹּל, הַמִּשְׁפָּחוֹת הַנִּשְׁאָרוֹת--מִשְׁפָּחֹת מִשְׁפָּחֹת, לְבָד; וּנְשֵׁיהֶם, לְבָד.
"In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.
And the land shall mourn, every family apart: the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart;
The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of the Shimeites apart, and their wives apart;
All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart."

So, each family=the men, and the women=their wives, and they are apart in their mourning. Now back to the translation:}

There are two Amoraim. One says this eulogy/mourning (mentioned in the verses in Zecharia) is the eulogy/mourning for the Mashiach {ben Yosef}, and the other says this is the eulogy/mourning for the Evil Inclination.

The one who says this is the eulogy/mourning for Mashiach, if at the hour that they are mourning you say the men by themselves and the women by themselves, at the hour that they are joyous (Simchat Bet HaShoeva) certainly so.

The one who says this is the eulogy/mourning for the Evil Inclination, if at the hour that the Evil Inclination is not around you say the men by themselves and the women by themselves, at the hour that the Evil Inclination is around, certainly so!

So, why am I posting this? Well, besides having to do with Succah, which I recently finished, Miriam, a guestblogger at Protocols posted the following:

According to Ma'ariv, the Admor Mevishna Street in Bnei Brak will now be segregated-- men on one side, women on the other.
I remember when they first suggested seperate buses, the joke was, what's next, segregated streets? So, what's next, seperate cities (perhaps husbands and wives can meet on neutral ground at appointed visiting hours)?

I replied the following in the comments for that post:

i don't find this so nuts. they are talking about a specific, crowded, and narrow street, where they feel the situation led to immodest contact.

I remember some of those streets in Mea Shearim, where there was two way traffic and incredibly narrow sidewalks. People walked in both directions on the narrow sidewalk, and to get past people walking in the opposite direction, I often went into the street, where there was more room. If people do not go into the street, they brush or more than brush past each other, and especially when there is a lot of foot traffic... i could see how they could consider this as creating a situation where there was immodest contact, and enact this ordinance for this specific street.

nowhere is anyone suggesting all city streets, or anything like that.

Sam replied with:

Anecdotal evidence here, but isn't there a tshuva of rav moshe about subways - cramped by anyone's definition - that ridicules this line of thinking?

i don't know. which tshuva is that? i'd have to read it. what do you mean by ridicules? (or do you mean that fact that he matir-ed the subway, that fact ridicules this line of thinking? please elaborate.)

i do know that the gemara in succah speaks positively about the tikkun made in the mikdash. i would think that where it is a situation which continuously presents itself AND you have the capacity to make a simple fix, it certainly would not be a BAD thing.

I caution that I dont have the details, and have not seen it inside, but apparently, someone asked him about riding on the subway and negiah, and he responded that there was no problem, and that if he was having hirhurim from bumping into people on the subway he needed psychological help. As I said, very anecdotal, but I had heard this from a fairly reliable source - I'll see if I can find it inside.

Then, I tracked down the tshuva (even haezer 2:14), and posted the following. Note that Rav Moshe did not in fact say anything negative about people having hirhurim from bumbing into people on subways, and what he did say something negative somewhat about (someone who developed an erection as a result) was not that the person needed psychological help, but they should work on their nature by not being idle. Anyway, here is what I posted:

i looked up the tshuva, and will post on this soon. i would not exactly say ridicule...

So, I looked up Rav Moshe's tshuva. The question was basically whether one was permitted to ride on buses and subways since it one might be pressed against a woman.

The first, and largest part of the tshuva is demonstrating that physical contact between the sexes not done "derech chiba," in an affectionate way (such as taking a woman's pulse) does not present a problem.

The second part is the application. He says one need not, therefore worry about the contact that arises from the subway, or sitting next to a woman on the bus.

But all this is only from the perspective of just negia which is not derech chiba.

A close translation of the last part: And similarly there is no prohibition for this reason also to sit next to a woman *when there is no other spot* (emphasis mine) because this too is not the way of desire and affection. And if it were his wife who was a Nidda when they needed to sit pressed, perhaps there would be to prohibit according to the Bet Yosef. But, since the majority of Acharonim it seems hold like the Shach, and even according to the Bet Yosef it is not clearcut to prohibit since perhaps even with sitting next to each other we need not be concerned about the intent of hanaah (benefit); therefore there is not to prohibit.

(Note: The next paragraph is key; it seems he is talking about taking the subway and bus in general in the following paragraph.) But, if he knows that he will be brought to Hirhur (improper thoughts) he should hold himself back from going then if it not pressing (that is, important) for him to go, and if he has to go then to his work, there is not to prohibit him even in such circumstance, and he should make himself strong to move his mind away from them (the improper thoughts) and to thing about words of Torah, as per the advice of the Rambam there Halacha 19, and via this he will be able to rely and to go to his work. ***And if he knows that his nature is bad and he will come from this to have an erection, it is prohibited for him to go then, even for his work. But Chas VeShalom that a man should be such, for this comes from idleness, as it appears in Bavli Ketubot page 59 regarding the woman and similarly for the man, and he needs to involve himself in Torah and work, and so it will not be so for him.***

what i would surmise from this is:

even though Rav Moshe said there was issur in terms of the negia which was not derech chiba, it is not a good position to put oneself into. i derived that from his statement that it is ok to sit next to a woman if there is no other place. that implies that if there were another place, perhaps one should not sit there.

#2: Rav Moshe realized that people had different reactions to this type of contact. Some people would come to hirhur, in which case one should not go, or if one must go for work, to try to think thoughts of Torah. He is no way ridicules the person who has this reaction, and indeed, thinks that if someone has this reaction he should avoid such situations.

#3: Some people might get an erection, which is a reaction that involves various bad issurim, in which case even for work one should not put himself into that situation.
He does not ridicule the idea that someone would have that reaction. He seems to have come up with this case by himself (for the purpose of showing how to apply his tshuva), and such a reaction is something that one can find in some people, notably those who are idle from learning Torah and doing work. He does not thing this is a good nature to have, and gives a recommendation to try to change this nature, but he recognizes that some might have this reaction and tells them what to do.

finally, this all really has nothing to do with the Rabbis enacting ordanances where they see there are problems.

Rav Moshe nowhere attacks, or addresses, the gemara in the 5th perek of Succah that they makes a great Tikkun (fixing) of the Women's Courtyard so that the men did not commingle with the women.

Now, one could argue that bumbing into a woman at the Simchat Bet HaShoeva was not a problem if not done derech chiba, for the reasons specified by Rav Moshe.

However, that is on a personal level. On a communal level, there are some people who might have different reactions - the three types of people discussed by Rav Moshe. Some might even use it as a way to engage in licentious behavior. If you live in America and cannot specify how the subway/buses should be conducted, you need a tshuva about what to do on a personal level, and whether, after a self evaluation, you can board the subway or not, or whether you should distract yourself with Torah, etc.

But that does not mean that if you *do* have the power to specify how such matters are conducted (as these Rabbis did on this specific street in Mea Shearim where there were issues for the reasons I mentioned above), I would still say that it is probably a good thing (and I don't think based on what I have read that Rav Moshe would disagree). After all, there is precedent in which Chazal did this.

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