Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We Have Far To Go In Tznius

I saw an article to day that demonstrates that, Baruch Hashem, we have quite far to go in terms of extremes in tznius.

From the Daily Telegraph:
Besides the terrible killings inflicted by the fanatics on those who refuse to pledge allegiance to them, Al-Qa'eda has lost credibility for enforcing a series of rules imposing their way of thought on the most mundane aspects of everyday life.
They include a ban on women buying suggestively-shaped vegetables, according to one tribal leader in the western province of Anbar.
Sheikh Hameed al-Hayyes, a Sunni elder, told Reuters: "They even killed female goats because their private parts were not covered and their tails were pointed upward, which they said was haram.
"They regarded the cucumber as male and tomato as female. Women were not allowed to buy cucumbers, only men."
Should Jewish law extend so far? Luckily, so far it has not. But to prevent this law, about the goats, from appearing in the tznius book for farm animals, Eiz veHadar Levushah, I will preemptively rule it out. As we say in the fifth perek of Avos, הפוך בה והפוך בה דכולה בה. So even the regulations of the tznius of farm animals should be discoverable in Jewish sources.

Right off the bat, we can know that erva of animals is not considered erva. We only need to look to Yechezkel 23:20, אֲשֶׁר בְּשַׂר-חֲמוֹרִים בְּשָׂרָם, and associated derashot. But perhaps we can find out more, about the specific case under discussion.

We know some tznius rules from the sixth perek of Shabbos, במה אישה יוצאה. If a woman may go out on Shabbos in the public domain wearing something, without it being a violation of bringing something out into the public domain, presumably in terms of the laws of tznius it is also acceptable to go out wearing it.

For farm animals, we should look to the fifth perek of Shabbos, במה בהמה יוצאה. In the second Mishna, we find what is pictured (literally) to the right. The image is taken from Pnei Shabbos, which is a book of illustrated Mishnayos, based on the peirush of Bartenura.

The Mishna states that והרחלים יוצאות שחוזות, כבולות וכבונות. Thus, the sheep may go out shechuzot, kevulot, or kevunot, as pictured in the sheep below -- though I have my serious doubts that the tying was as in accordance with the picture. But at any rate, the ropes are not considered being carried.

The translation: Ewes may go out exposed, tied, or covered up.

"Exposed," shechuzot, would mean with their tails tied in an upward position, so that the rams could mount them. "Tied," kevulot, means that their tails are tied down to their legs, so that the rams cannot mount them. "Covered," kevunot, means with a protective cloth tied to them, to protect their wool.

The offending goats were perhaps not tied at all, and al Qaida wanted them to be kevulot, such that male goats could not mount them. Thus in their current state it was "haram." Or perhaps the goats had their tails tied up -- shechuzot -- since the owners wanted them to give birth to more goats. And this would be exceptionally forbidden, because of the accessibility to male goats, or the temptation to Al Qaeda terrorists. ;) Or perhaps their ideal would be the goat-burqa, as kevunot.

At any rate, according to halacha, sheep -- and goats -- can go out to the public domain while shechuzot.
So this should never become an issue.


Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...


By the way, I just want to commend you in general on your outstanding blog. I look forward to reading it every day (several times a day!) and it truly enriches my daily routine. Once I have my cup of coffee each morning, reading this blog is my first priority.

Thank you for all of the effort you invest in keeping the content of your site so well-researched and engagingly written.

joshwaxman said...

thanks for the compliments.

Kol Tuv,


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