When does a Woman not exist?

its old news that Adass chassidic will not write even the first initial of a lady. My wife would be known as ‘mrs I Balbin’ this is certainly a hall mark of Hungarian chassidic practice as well as some Russian/Polish chassidic.

contrast this to the wedding invitation that R Chaim Brisker used for his son Mishe’s wedding (Moshe Soloveitchik was the father of the Rav. He had signed it as ‘Chaim and Lifshe Soloveitchij’. No appellations and her name was ‘out in the wild’, heaven forfend. 

Author: pitputim

I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel and later in life at Machon L'Hora'ah, Yeshivas Halichos Olam.

15 thoughts on “When does a Woman not exist?”

  1. “Mrs I Balbin” is not some chassidic practise, it’s the traditional English practise, and was absolutely standard in Australia until only a few decades ago. And the invitation you cite is well known, but it was unique; that was absolutely not the standard practise at its time, either among yidden or goyim. There’s a reason people keep trotting that example out; it’s because they can’t find any others.


    1. Well I wasn’t looking for this example, I read it ten years ago, and furthermore I heard Rav Schachter talk about this very point in Shiur. I believe he also mentioned that a famous Rebbe (minchas elozor?) asked to stay at his house for Shabbos and stipulated that the wives should be in a separate room. The Chafetz Chaim told him to find another place to stay for Shabbos


  2. I don’t know how common it is now, but Hungarian practice used to be that the wife’s name disappeared altogether: the spouse of Pipik Mosé was Pipik Moséné. If she was lucky, she got to have her personal name appended in brackets: Pipik Moséné (Mirjam).


    1. You can’t generalise from Hungarians of course 🙂 but it does make me wonder what Charedim would have done to a Chumash. We wouldn’t have known Avraham’s wife’s name let alone that she was a good looker. Artscroll have already shown that Rishonim are fair game for revisionism. Perhaps one of the Geonim is next for their blade.


  3. I recently saw the wedding invitation of the 2nd Bobover Rebbe, the Kedushas Tzion, HY”D and both his name and his (soon to be) rebbetzin’s name’s were clearly written on the invitation..


    1. Yes that’s standard. It’s on the kesuba as well 😉 the question is whether mothers of chosson/kallah are on the invitation or the women is subsumed as an entity via אשתו כגופו. You see it on hostess lists as well. My wife becomes Mrs I Balbin. Wonder what they do if the wife is a doctor and the husband is not. They could do the right thing and follow the Torah’s approach to naming women: it names them. I guess one who isn’t married can’t be named on these Charedi hostess lists.


      1. Once again, this is standard (if rather old-fashioned) English. Informally a woman may be known by her own first name, but in all formal correspondence she is Mrs John Smith. Haven’t you ever heard of Princess Michael of Kent? Or The Princess Edward, Countess of Wessex (informally known as Princess Sophie)? Even the Duchess of Cambridge is formally Princess William, not Princess Catherine.

        And my point remains: You couldn’t find any other examples of a godol’s invitation with the mother’s name on it, and nor can anyone else, which is why this one gets trotted out over and over again, whenever someone wants to make the invalid point that you are making.

        And now you’ve come up with a new falsehood, that “the Torah’s approach to naming women: it names them”. No, it hardly ever does. Most women in the Torah are not named. They’re “eishes this one”, or “bas that one”, or even just “a woman”. Really, on Shovuos night go count the named women in the Torah and the unnamed ones and see which is greater (not to mention all the women who aren’t mentioned at all, even by their husband’s or father’s name).


          1. Again, that is rubbish. The Torah’s normal mode is not to name women. I challenge you to count the number of named women in the Torah and the number of unnamed women, and compare them. Ditto for the gemoroh; how many women are named, and how many are unnamed?

            And it’s not “bechukoseihem” any more than it is to wear trousers. Until our extremely informal age, in which we call everyone by their first names, it was the standard among everyone.


            1. Which proves the point. You can use names. And, when it is a norm to give כבוד by using a name, then the מצווה of קדושים תהיו behoves us to not treat our women with less respect. Is there some hidden איסור that you are hiding from us?


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