More on the Belzer ban on woman driving

[Hat tip BA]

I’m not always a fan of Rabbi Yair Hoffman’s halachic analyses (in the sense that I don’t always agree במחילת הכבוד)

Here is his take from Yeshiva World News. I am not the greatest fan of the Be’er Moshe. He would never have been my Posek. There are some weird weird Tshuvos in his Sheylos U’Tshuvos, which I own and looked through years ago. Personally, I felt his brother, the Btzel Hachochma ex-Melbourne of Rockbrook Road! has left a bigger imprint with his Tshuvos on the dateline. Anyway, here is Rabbi Hoffman’s take. Belz wouldn’t take notice of Rav Elyashiv. Apart from being ex-Rabbanut, he was a litvak. They have their own Poskim. I’m pretty sure my Posek, Rav Schachter, would stay out of politics, and say we don’t do things like that and give reasons and leave it at that. He might even give a Shiur on it. Who knows.

Good think they don’t do Shidduchim with the Imahos. They would have been unTzniyusdik riding on a camel.

I’d love to see a world wide ban on boys under 18 going to Mikvah. That would be a much more important thing to deal with given what we are seeing the world over. A shower is a Mikvah iפ you are in long enough and so is a swimming pool, to me it’s good Chinuch to tell the kid why they can’t go. ובערת הרע מקרביך

The media has widely reported that a Belz Yeshiva in England has forbidden women from driving their children to Yeshiva. It was further reported that if the mothers do not comply, the children will be thrown out of Yeshiva.

In a letter sent to parents last week, seen by the Jewish Chronicle, they say there has been an increase in the number of mothers driving their children to school and add that this has led to “great resentment among parents of pupils of our [Hasidic] institutions”.

The letter says the ban, to come into force in the summer, is based on the recommendations of Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, the Belzer spiritual leader in Israel.

It says that if a mother has no other choice but to drive her child to school – for medical reasons, for example – she should “submit a request to the special committee to this effect and the committee shall consider her request.”

The question is what does halacha have to say about this?

It seems, of course, that the majority view of the Poskim is to allow it, as most Chareidi communities certainly allow women drivers. It was also the view of Rav Elyashiv to allow it. In a work entitled Ohel Yaakov (page 302), Rav Elyashiv zt”l is quoted as saying that although women should not drive in areas where it is not the custom to do so, there is no concern whatsoever in women driving elsewhere. This is certainly the predominate halachic view.

On the other hand, there are Poskim in the Chareidi community that have written otherwise. Rav Menashe Klein z”l in his Mishnah Halachos (Vol. XII #300) writes to forbid it, Rav Mordechai Gross Shlita a Rav in Bnei Brak also writes that it is a problem of Tznius in his work V’haya machanecha Kadosh (p. 15). The biggest authority who looks askance at the practice is Rav Shmuel Vosner z”l in his Shaivet haLevi (Vol. IV #1).
With due respect to the view of the latter three Poskim, however, I would like to suggest a source that indicates that, at least in the time of the Shulchan Aruch, it would have been permitted.

RENTING A DONKEY

There is a fascinating Shulchan Aruch (CM 308:1) that discusses whether someone who rented a donkey may allow a woman to ride on it without having had specifically contracted to allow it. The conclusion is that the renter may not do so. Rav Yehoshua Ben Alechsander HaCohain, the author of the Smah (1555-1614) explains that the reason is because of weight pattern differentials between genders.

The Chasdei Dovid on the Tosefta in Bava Metziah (7:6) provides a different explanation. He writes that women are not as proficient at riding as men are. Therefore, the one who rented it did not have them in mind necessarily, and it would require that it be stipulated specifically that a woman is riding the donkey.
It is clear, however, that both according to the Smah and the Chasdei Dovid, there is no breach in modesty whatsoever in allowing a woman to ride a donkey. There is no question that riding a donkey in public allows for more public exposure than driving a car. We see, therefore, that from a strict halachic point of view, there was no basis whatsoever to restrict a woman from driving a car.

One could perhaps argue that we are on a higher spiritual level than the people who lived in 16th century Tzfas. However, the general understanding of things is that as each generation progresses we are on a lower level of spirituality, as seen from the Gemorah in Shabbos 112b: If the earlier generations were like angels than we are like men etc.

Aside from this, however, there are four factors that are perhaps relevant to the issue. Admittedly, some readers will vehemently disagree with these four points, but these points do bear on the issue at hand and must be considered. These issues should be discussed with intelligence and not emotion.

POSSIBLY A GREATER BREACH

Another issue that must surely be taken into account is that when we forbid women to drive and they have a necessity to get to where they must go (doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, schools, and numerous other things) what ends up happening is that they need to take taxis. This creates an exposure that can, in our generation be much worse. This author is personally aware of two such incidences involving cab drivers that were, indeed, quite horrifying. Often these incidents are suppressed, however, and the general public is unaware of them. One can speak to Askanim to ascertain that these incidents are, in fact, quite real.
The communities in Eretz Yisroel are far different than those in Chutz La’Aretz in terms of distance. Our institutions in Chutz LaAretz are not “around the corner” as they are in Eretz Yisroel communities. We must be ever careful in creating a situation where we are forcing our women to be at the mercy of men. Logically, it is far safer for a woman to be able to travel by herself than to have to be dependant upon men, strangers or no strangers, for rides.

BITUL TORAH

One way or the other, these children have to get to school. If the wife is not driving them, it will probably end up that the husband would be driving them. In the working Chareidi community in the United States, many of the men are attending shiurim in the morning or at least they are learning some of sort of Seder during these precious morning moments. Causing the men to drive car pool or to bring the children to school will invariably be the cause of Bitul Torah.

THE GEMORAH IN BRACHOS

There is yet another very significant point that the new rule is affecting. The Gemorah in Brachos 17a poses a question as to how the women of Klal Yisroel earn merit. The underlying rationale behind the question is that since women are exempt from the Mtzvah of Talmud Torah, and the merit of that Mitzvah is so extraordinary, how then can women earn a parallel merit to their husbands? The Gemorah answers in that they bring their children to the Bnei Knishta to study.

The repercussions of this new change are that the special merit that was discussed in the Gemorah about how women can receive a super-charged merit akin to the merit of Talmud Torah will be undone. Do we really have a right to undermine the merit discussed in the Gemorah?

V’AHAVTA L’RAYACHA KAMOCHA

A final issue is also relevant. The great leaders of Torah were always looking to make things easier for Klal Yisroel. This is a manifestation of the Torah Mitzvah of v’ahavta l’rayacha kamocha. Thus, we see in the Gemorah in Moed Katan 27b how Rabban Gamliel haZakain, when he saw how Jews were burying their dead in the finest of clothing, declared that plain burial shrouds should be used instead. He did so to make life easier for Klal Yisroel. In Hilchos Shabbos, we see how the great Tzemach Tzedek (of 17th century Poland), cited by the Mogain Avrohom in the beginning of hilchos Shabbos, once ruled (responsa #28) that when local fishermen collude and lift up the price the fish excessively, a prohibition can be levied upon the consumption of fish on Shabbos. It may take a week or two or even three, but eventually the collective buying power of ordinary people would force the price back down. The Tzemach Tzedek did so to make life easier for Klal Yisroel.

This new rule seems to be making things more difficult for both the men and women of that community. There is no question, of course, that Tznius is a very important aspect of our Avodas Hashem. However, all of the above factors must be taken into account – especially when it is highly likely that the “cure” may create an even greater breach of Tznius.

May Hashem guide us all in all our endeavors.

The author can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com

– See more at: http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/314938/forbidding-women-drivers-a-halachic-analysis.html#sthash.hljNWIq3.VxypzTCD.dpuf

Author: pitputim

I'm a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia. I skylark as the band leader/singer for the Schnapps band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

9 thoughts on “More on the Belzer ban on woman driving”

  1. During the Victorian times one was not allowed to see uncovered legs. Even legs of furniture had to be covered.
    If it is for Tznius, let them put a BURKAH over the car, or as many shawls necessary to cover it all. ובא לציון גואל
    Here is what the MALBIM says on the possuk KOL KVUDA BATH MELECH PNIMA:
    מלבי”ם תהלים פרק מה

    (יד) כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה, בארגז שהביא למנחה הונח פנימה כל כבודה של בת מלך, כל דברים היקרים ונכבדים הראוים לבת מלך, תכשיטין יקרים וכדומה, וגם הונח שם לבושה ממשבצות זהב, לבוש יקר הנעשה ממשבצות זהב, זה המנחה שהביאו עשירי עם:
    It surely cannot be that she should lock herself in the house. If it means that, then how can
    וְיִתְאָ֣ו הַמֶּ֣לֶךְ יָפְיֵ֑ךְ
    if she does not show herself?

    Like

    1. Thanks. For those who don’t understand Rav Aviner opines that although there are 2 Hungarian Poskim who forbid women driving in the sense that a community can make its rules (which I don’t think applies in Secular England in totality) he marshals some sources obvious and not so obvious who say this practice is a non sense. Rav Aviner is a Zionist Charedi

      Like

  2. This ban on women drivers is fraught with contention, especially in the light of this day and age of feminism,
    equal opportunity and women’s issues and the status of women. This means that if the Belz would state
    this decree onto the womens’ lobby groups,
    there would be uproar.
    Women argue that if a men can do it (depending what
    we are talking about), why can’t women do it,
    Are women lacking in the challenges in society
    in the same way as men face? Are women not on
    an equal footing with men?
    As far as I know, the whole issue of the male
    and the female gender is that both genders
    have their own and separate roles in life. That means
    that both genders complement each other
    and not to compete with each other.
    All this is fine in theory, but this theory does not
    really translate into practice.
    The frstl human being that Hashem created
    was a male. Further on in In parshas Berashis,
    we read that in seeking a partner for Adam,
    Hashem created Eve. And than the Parsha gives
    the expression of an Aizair Connecdo – a helpmate
    to Adam, meaning that the female gender has a
    supporting role to the male gender. And from the
    creation of Chava, this role has continued
    throughout life.
    But as it happened throught history and
    throughout life, the roles between the
    female and the male roles has caused
    the equalibrium and the boundaries to be shifted

    Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s