Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Something Beautiful in Beit Shemesh

Most of my posts about Beit Shemesh have not been very positive. But something wonderful transpired in Ramat Beit Shemesh today. (Since I spent the day in Botswana, this report and photos comes from my wife.)

Today is the yahrzeit of the three martyrs, Eyal, Gilad and Naftali hy"d. It has been designated as a "unity day." In Ramat Beit Shemesh, the dati-leumi schools and ganim organized a chain of girls and women around a street that forms a circle. They sang, recited Tehillim, and listened to a speech by a family member of one of the boys. In these photos, you can see some girls holding a poster that states "Acheinu KOL beis Yisrael." How beautiful!


On a related note, there is a new website called "Why Beit Shemesh?", which lists the benefits of this town. It's making me homesick - though on the other hand, if I was in Beit Shemesh today, I would not have seen a newborn giraffe, five lions, a herd of sable antelope, and over a dozen elephants swimming across the river in front of our boat...

27 comments:

  1. "They sang..."

    Where?

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  2. classic dati leumi being machshil the rabim in kol isha, ignoring halacha for a feel good event.
    joseph weiss

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    1. Aren't there poskim who hold that kol isha is only a problem if you can hear a single voice, and so groups of women singing is not a problem?

      Classic chareidi, insisting that only his interpretation of halacha is valid.

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    2. Classic dati leumi, being machshil all those charedim who get turned on by schoolgirls singing together.

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  3. Yes, chazal don't call it "How beautiful". They call it something else.

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    1. Yeah, it reminds me of those modern Orthodox girls who used to dance for the boys in the vineyards, on Tu B'Av.

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    2. And that modern orthodox hussy Miriam whatsername who danced around with a tambourine setting a bad example.

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    3. Those points are quite valid and the commentators say what they say.

      But if we are going to debate it let's have some proper halachik justification.

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    4. Exactly right. this is a classic example of MO tactics. throwing around stories and agadeta when everyone knows that there are a dozen aggadetas that can be used as a fig leaf to support what ever you want. All that matters is what it says in the halachik codes. kol isha is asur whether it makes you feel good or not.
      joseph weiss

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    5. OK, actual halakha: About a hundred years ago, R' Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, one of the greatest poskim of modern times, ruled that group singing was OK. Happy?

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    6. Tu b'av and yom kippur.

      Only applies to MO. Charedim use shadchanim; don't believe in pickups.

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    7. There's no Biblical prohibition of women singing anywhere. It's a Talmudic prohibition. In Torah literature, women sang freely in front of men, men admitted hearing them sing, and noone was scandalized.

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    8. "In Torah literature, women sang freely in front of men, men admitted hearing them sing, and noone was scandalized."

      A pretty sweeping assertion. Supposedly sourced in "Torah literature" (Talmudic sources not necessary nor included). And it goes against the Talmud.

      What are these sources that the Talmud missed but you scooped?

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    9. Intellectual HonestyJune 5, 2015 at 4:44 PM

      Nachum, while I don't really have a horse in this race one way or another, your citing of R' Weinberg, as I am sure you know, is completely irrelevant. He makes it very clear in the teshuva that his psak was motivated by the exigencies of the particular question at hand.

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    10. Nachum's usage of R Weinberg is disingenuous and /or dishonest.

      Its very clear that it was a horaas shaah.

      In any case, the teshuva is terribly controversial, and hardly accepted as normative halacha, despite acknowledgement of RYYW's status as a Gaon, so I am not sure why you choose to invoke it.

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  4. Nachum,

    Have you read the R'Yechiel's teshuvah? It was to justify a pre-existing status-quo, possibly for those with a specific mesorah, to strengthen those that might otherwise be put of yiddishkeit (and we don't know how frum those boys and girls actually were). R. Weinberg spends many paragraphs explaining that the complainers have a point; halakhic sources do favor a separation between the sexes and a concrete prohibition exists against men listening to women singing.

    Very different from the scenario in BS. But as Joseph Weiss points out, the finer detail of a particular teshuvah is often glossed over in those circles.

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  5. Dear "*********" and "Intellectual Honesty",

    You are both completely misquoting R' Weinberg completely!

    I too am a Chareidi and was always told that R' Weinberg was Matir only B'dieved etc.

    But that was until I looked up the Tshuvah for myself.

    He makes it very clear in his Teshuvah that his psak is L'Chatchilah and he even says that the Gedolei Ashkenaz permitted this.
    In other words, this isn't his own Psak at all, rather the Halachic consensus of Gedolei Ashkenaz!

    Here is an exact quote.

    *************************************************

    שו"ת שרידי אש חלק א סימן ח עמוד כ

    ומה שהנערות מתפללות בקול רם - אין בכך כלום. וכבר התירו גדולי אשכנז ובתוכם הגאון ר' עזריאל הילדסהיימר זצ"ל לאנשים ולנשים לזמר ביחד זמירות, משני טעמים: א. תרי קלי לא משתמעי. ב. זמירות קודש אין מביאים להרהורי עבירות.

    ועצתי, עצת זקן ובעל נסיון, שלא להתעקש נגד היראים אף שהם רק מתי מעט, שבאם היראים ההם יעזבו את הקהילה יוציאו שם רע על קהילתו שהיא קהילה ריפורמית, וסופה של מחלוקת זו תביא לידי הריסת הקהילה, ח"ו.

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  6. Intellectual HonestyJune 7, 2015 at 5:24 AM

    Charedi Chaim,
    I am not Charedi, but I have read the teshuva. You are quoting a differen teshuva. In responsa 1:77, R' Weinberg makes it very clear that he has a specific motivation to find a kula in this case. Here is his language (this is only a small section, he elaborates further):
    ואשיב על ראשון ראשון ועל אחרון אחרון. ערעורי החרדים בוודאי יש להם על מה לסמוך, שהרי עפ"י דין תורה צריך להפריש אנשים מנשים כדי שלא יבואו לקלות ראש, כמבואר במס' סוכה נ"א, ב: מאי תיקון גדול וכו' התקינו שיהיו נשים יושבות מבחוץ ואנשים מבפנים ועדיין היו באין לידי קלות ראש התקינו שיהיו נשים יושבות מלמעלה ואנשים מלמטה, ועי' סוכה נ"ב, א: ומה לעתיד לבוא שעוסקין בהספד ואין יצר הרע שולט בהם אמרה תורה אנשים לבד ונשים לבד וכו'. ועי' באו"ח סי' תקכ"ט סע' ד': חייבים בי"ד להעמיד שוטרים ברגלים וכו' שלא יתערבו אנשים ונשים בבתיהם בשמחה וכו'. ומטעם זה נמנעו בכל קהלות קדושות ליסד חברות שיש בהם תערובת אנשים ונשים, כידוע.
    והערעור השני, וודאי שצודק הוא, עפ"י מה שנאמר בגמ' ברכות כ"ד, א: קול באשה ערוה, ויש מי שאמר שהאיסור הוא רק לשמוע קול אשה ערוה כגון אשת איש וכד' אבל לא קול אשה פנוי' שאיננה ערוה וטעו להימשך אחר לשון הרמב"ם בהלכות איסורי ביאה פכ"א ה"ב וכן השו"ע אה"ע סי' כ"א סע' א', שכתבו ואסור לשמוע קול ערוה, אבל כבר הוכיח בשו"ת באר שבע שזו טעות ואין נ"מ בין נשואה ופנוי'. עי"ש בקונטרס באר מים חיים אות ג', ומדבריו יוצא שאף זמירות של שבת אסור לזמר בחורים עם בתולות.
    ג
    מכל מקום, כשנשאלתי ע"ז ממנהלי "ישורון" הוריתי להם שימשיכו את פעולתם עפ"י הדרך שהתוו להם גדולי אשכנז, שהיו צדיקים גדולים וכל [עמוד רטו] כוונתם היתה לשם שמים, להציל את הנוער מסכנת הטמיעה שהתפשטה באשכנז בימיהם ועי"כ הצילו כמה נפשות מישראל והצליחו לקרבם לתורה ולי"ש, וגדולי אשכנז היו בקיאים ומומחים בחכמת החינוך ולכן הצליחו במעשיהם להקים דורות שלמים של בעלי יר"ש והשכלה חילונית כאחד, מה שלא עלה בידי גאוני גדולי ליטא ופולין, לפי שלא ידעו לכונן את החינוך עפ"י תנאי הזמן. וידוע מה שסיפר הגאון מהר"י סלנטר זצ"ל בשובו מאשכנז ושם נזדמן עם הגה"צ ר"ע הילדסהיימר זצ"ל וראה אותו מרצה שיעורים בתנ"ך ושו"ע לפני נשים צעירות ובתולות. וכה אמר: אם יבוא מי מרבני ליטא להנהיג כן בעדתו, וודאי שיעבירו אותו מכהונתו, וכן הדין. מ"מ הלואי שיהי' חלקי בגן עדן עם הגה"צ ר"ע הילדסהיימר. והטעם הוא משום "עת לעשות לה' הפרו תורתך", כמו שנבאר להלן.
    והנה רבני פולין ואונגרן שנתגלגלו למדינת צרפת רואים את המנהגים החדשים שהנהיגו חרדי צרפת עפ"י שיטת גאוני וצדיקי אשכנז, והם מוחים נגדם בעוז, לפי שמנהגים אלו הם נגד דינים מפורשים בגמ' ופוסקים, כנ"ל. אולם אין הרבנים הנ"ל בקיאים בתנאי החיים השוררים במדינת צרפת ואינם רואים את המצב הירוד של היהדות שם. להיפך, בדרישותיהם הם מעמידים בסכנה את התפתחותו של הארגון הזה, אשר כבר הצליח הרבה בפעולתו החינוכית, כמו שתיאר כת"ר במכתבו וכל דבריו הם כנים ואמתיים, וזה ידוע לכל.

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  7. Chareidi Chaim- Not true. The sridei Eish is only mattir Lechatchilah Zmiros (like the Chasam Sofer) Stam girls singing with boys he allows B'Dieved only.

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  8. You have quoted two paragraphs completely out of context......

    Those paragraphs are discussing family Shabbos zemiros round the table.....for those with a particular mesorah.... And the rest is good advice to prevent machlokas re a pre existing situation.

    Nothing in there to permit the good women of Bet Shemesh to start singing in the streets. Sorry. Are you seriously suggesting he permits girls' choirs lechatchilah.....

    Take some time, translate the whole teshuva and link to your translation, rather than quoting bits to confuse readers. The fact that you selectively quote two paragraphs says it all..

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    1. I have not quoted anything out of context.

      Don't take my word for it, look up the Tshuvah yourself.

      He is speaking about girls singing in Shul from the Ezras Nashim in a way that men can hear. He is not speaking about a family Shabbos Seudah. Again, you can look up the Tshuvah yourself.

      Anyway, he makes clear it is L'Chatchilah and the Psak is from the Gedolei Ashkenaz.

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  9. Joseph Weiss: Who says they sang in the presence of men? Do you see any men in in the pictures? You are classic Haredi: Using any stick available to nastily bash the Dati Leumi.

    Lawrence Kaplan

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    1. Being that this event was held in the street, I don't see how there could not have been men passing by.

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  10. Irresepective of the singing involved, I fail to see any beauty over here. This is skin deep ephemeral partying. If those who claim unconditional love for all Jews were to do something significant for someone hashkafically distant to them, it would be meaningful. For example, let them go visit a group of Peace Now activists and spend an afternoon with them. Or listen to a presentation from someone from Meah Shearim.
    I guess achdus has its limits.

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    1. Someone from meah shearim will not give them a presentation.

      Perhaps a schnorr for money.

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  11. Good for the dati leumi girls from Ramat Beit Shemesh!

    Has it ever occurred to anyone that maybe Shmuel...(wait for it)...was wrong when he said "Kol b'isha erva" and/or that we have taken this principle to ridiculous extremes? (If merely entertaining this independent thought makes me an apikoros, so be it.) We (my wife & I) were at a bat mitzvah dinner (the daughter of friends of ours) a while back. At one point, the men were all asked to go outside 1) to daven ma'ariv and b) because the bat mitzvah girl (all of 12 years old mind you) as going to sing. The idea that I (all of 52 mind you) could get turned on or aroused by the voice of a 12-year-old girl is both ludicrous and insulting to me, both as a man & a Jew. Last week, my wife & I went down (literally) to Masada to see the dress rehearsal of the Israeli Opera doing Carmina Burana. It was fantastic. Women sang and (be still your hearts) women danced. Was I turned on or aroused? Not even close, not even remotely close, please don't insult me to suggest otherwise. We have gone so far overboard here it's not funny. In January 2012, Debra Nussbaum Cohen wrote in the Forward (gevalt!): "But there is another point missing from all of the discussion of the new vigilance on modesty and the backlash against it. The extreme focus on distancing from women turns them into sexual objects. There is something perverse about the obsession with female dress of these 'guardians of modesty,' and I don’t mean perverse just in the sociological sense. These men are so focused on sublimating their own sexual impulses that they see women only as sexual objects, whose images and very personhood must be contained to the point of invisibility...There are Haredi writers who have pointed to the sexualization of women in the general culture, visible in advertisements and commercials featuring scantily clad women, and I couldn’t agree more with that assessment. But there is a flipside to focusing on modesty to the point of seeing women almost only as sexual objects. It is a paradoxical sexualization amid all this repression of perceived sexual danger..." I couldn't agree more. The hyperemphasis on kol isha fits into this.

    I'll think about this some more on my way home listening (in good conscience) to Heart, or maybe Naomi Shemer.

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