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Haji 2003

Jewish Burqa

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A report in this week's Jewish Chronicle reports on the 100 or so followers of Rabbanit Bruria Keren, a mother of 10 from an ultra-Orthodox Charedi community who tells her followers to wear clothing strikingly similar to the Afghan burqa in order to keep their bodies under wraps and thus ensure salvation.

http://blogs.independent.co.uk/independent...ewish-burq.html

This is why it can be emancipating:

Professor Tamar Elor, a scholar of Charedi society at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, told the JC that there was a strong element of feminine defiance in the phenomenon.

“The decision over the modesty issue, and obsessive discussion about the body, was all in the hands of the rabbis.

“And here, the women took over it and brought it to the edge, just like a former trend in which women gave birth to more children than their spouse wanted.

“It’s as if they say, ‘If that’s my expertise — I’ll excel at it’. Thus, they move the power to their own hands”.

http://www.thejc.com/home.aspx?ParentId=m1...6&ATypeId=1

I am pretty sure I did not see this sort of comment in the mainstream UK press when hijab has been discussed:

The way I see it, a woman's body is her personal space which all too often-if not as a rule- men tend to 'occupy' with their gaze alone. It's a problem encountered by women all over the world, regardless of religious affiliations.

If a woman wishes to guard this personal and private space and make it off limits to strangers then she has a right to do so. The problem arises only where this is done forcefully and without both men and women understanding the reasons why the Abrahamic religions all called for modesty in dress for women.

In fact, the irony is that in doing so the religions impliedly acknowledge that men have a 'problem' in their ability to curb their sexual desires which makes men inherently 'weak' in some way.

The hijab/tzniut was probably never meant to be a way of oppressing women, instead a privilege bestowed on them that they have a right to protect themselves from the gaze of men. It's a 'hands off' symbol unlike any other and should be understood properly before these women have to suffer at the hands of society.

If we really want to liberate women, why don't we just let them choose what they want to wear and how.

http://blogs.independent.co.uk/independent...ewish-burq.html

Edited by Haji 2003

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Oh yeh I read this, and how they have total segregation in some parts of israel, like separate entrances and exits in the synagogue for men and women which leads to separate streets as well.

And I was talking to my mum and we were saying that this is just too extreme, Islam is the middle lane. You can’t really get sawaab for this as you’re not in any position to do wrong. When you can do wrong and choose not to that’s when you get the most sawaab.

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If a woman wishes to guard this personal and private space and make it off limits to strangers then she has a right to do so.

Agreed.

Women should be free to choose how they dress.

No man has any right to touch any women unless she says they can.

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WOW. Is that really what a Jewish hijab looks?

Oh my I had no idea. If I was any lay person I would have thought this woman was a muslim.

Jewish women's attire varies from community to community, but I wouldn't be surprised if I ran across a Jewish woman dressed like that. I often tell the story of the Shi'a couple who lives next to me -- that I initially thought they were Orthodox Jews.

So, the confusion -- Jew or Muslim -- goes both ways.

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Typical! :mad: When muslim women wear Hijab they are labelled 'oppressed' and are percieved to have had no choice in the matter, yet when Jewish women decide to, it's considered a powerful and liberating move!

In some respect due to the weakness and perverse nature of SOME men, it could be that women (jewish and muslim) do feel forced to wear Hijab. Maybe in the same way some weaker women feel forced to be scantily clad and immoral... LOL.. of course it definately isn't the woman's fault!*

* This was said in jest, please don't PM me lots of death threats, or quote me out of context.

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Interesting my predictions in post#8 are coming true

After reading further into it I didn't realize that orthodox jews are as into the gender seperation as us. the different shopping hours for men and women definitly caught my eye, because surprisingly that's just what happens in Saudi. wow!

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I think there are three issues going on.

1. The principle of tzniut (modesty) is inherently flexible. What is considered modest in 21st century USA is not the same as what was considered modest in 14th century Egypt or 12th century Germany. I am not a woman so I am not an expert on this, but I can give you the analogous man's issue, which is that you are supposed to dress in synagogue on Shabbat like you would to meet the king (or President, or Prime Minister, depending on where you live). I assure you that if you walked into a synagogue in New Jersey dressed the way a 10th century Baghdadi Jew would have dressed to meet the sultan, people will stare -- even though it was completely appropriate for a 10th century Baghdadi Jew to dress that way in synagogue (whereas now it looks mainly like a costume). To meet the President today, you would wear a suit, so that's what you wear to synagogue on Shabbat. Anyway, the point is that details of dress evolve, and the Torah provides the general principles without regarding to fashion.

2. In this case, if you read the actual article at

http://www.thejc.com/home.aspx?ParentId=m1...6&ATypeId=1

you will see that this woman is leading a fringe splinter group. Indeed, a rabbinical court (in a decision that may have its own problems) issued a warrant for a psychiatric examination for one of her followers for wearing this type of veil.

3.

When muslim women wear Hijab they are labelled 'oppressed' and are percieved to have had no choice in the matter, yet when Jewish women decide to, it's considered a powerful and liberating move!

There are Islamic countries -- Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan come immediately to mind -- where a woman walking down the street without the "proper" veil will be arrested and/or beaten. That is what people mean by "oppressed" and "no choice." Obviously someone living in a Western country has a choice. And absolutely no one in Israel is forcing anyone to wear any kind of veil -- indeed, if you read the article, you'll see it's actually discouraged by the rabbinate.

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Interesting my predictions in post#8 are coming true

After reading further into it I didn't realize that orthodox jews are as into the gender seperation as us. the different shopping hours for men and women definitly caught my eye, because surprisingly that's just what happens in Saudi. wow!

That's beyond "extremism", for a Jewish community. We don't have nearly the level of gender separation that is seen in Muslim countries. Orthodox Jewish men may look to the side when I talk to them, but we can and do talk in public. And we even shop at the same stores at the same times. What Orthodox Jews don't do is engage in physical contact, pray on the same side of the divider (I'm a Conservative Jew, so I actually DO pray in the same space as men ...), and a few other things that are similar to Islam.

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That's beyond "extremism", for a Jewish community. We don't have nearly the level of gender separation that is seen in Muslim countries. Orthodox Jewish men may look to the side when I talk to them, but we can and do talk in public. And we even shop at the same stores at the same times. What Orthodox Jews don't do is engage in physical contact, pray on the same side of the divider (I'm a Conservative Jew, so I actually DO pray in the same space as men ...), and a few other things that are similar to Islam.

don't blame the messenger sis

http://blogs.independent.co.uk/independent...ewish-burq.html

the above linked article that the brother gave says that some orthodox jewish communities indeed have different shopping hours for men and women

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don't blame the messenger sis

http://blogs.independent.co.uk/independent...ewish-burq.html

the above linked article that the brother gave says that some orthodox jewish communities indeed have different shopping hours for men and women

Minor nit -- the article pointed out that they were both a "minority" and "ultra-Orthodox".

It's a shame the "ultra" Orthodox latched on to the "Orthodox" label. For that matter, it's a shame the "Orthodox" did as well. As I've explained to countless people, when explaining why the Orthodox are wrong, "We were BEDOUIN. We herded SHEEP. We rode CAMELS. All this Orthodox stuff would have been impossible for us."

A lot of Jews, in the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, turned inward to get closer to G-d and that led to this "if I cover me up even MORE, I'll be even MORE pious" silliness. How about, if you work in a soup kitchen MORE? If you mow the elderly woman's yard next to you MORE? Orthodox Jews drive me crazy.

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There are Islamic countries -- Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan come immediately to mind -- where a woman walking down the street without the "proper" veil will be arrested and/or beaten. That is what people mean by "oppressed" and "no choice." Obviously someone living in a Western country has a choice. And absolutely no one in Israel is forcing anyone to wear any kind of veil -- indeed, if you read the article, you'll see it's actually discouraged by the rabbinate.

On the contrary Moshe, I live in the UK up untill I started observing Hijaab I had never encountered a racist or prejudiced comment in my life, now I face nasty remarks and stereotyping everyday. Even from so called 'open minded' English women who ought to know better. I have been asked things like why I don't take my headscarf off when my dad's not around! :wacko

The trouble is that while there are those women who choose to dress as though they work in a brothel, the rest of us will face problems.

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The principle of tzniut (modesty) is inherently flexible.

Perhaps but did the fathers of Jewish ethics intend it to be as flexible as it is in modern society ? Or did they, explicitly or implicitly, prescribed codes that would limit this flexibility ?

I am not a woman so I am not an expert on this

I would have thought that the principle of modesty applied not only to women but also to men. In Islam, we also have dress codes for men.

There are Islamic countries -- Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan come immediately to mind -- where a woman walking down the street without the "proper" veil will be arrested and/or beaten.

That is not entirely true. But yes, it would make sense for immodest dress codes to spark official ire. That is, however, also true in the West. The New York police, I believe, would chase a streaker down to the Atlantic. Wouldn't they ? Perhaps it is just a matter of perception what is or is not modest.

And absolutely no one in Israel is forcing anyone to wear any kind of veil

May be the teachings of the fathers of the Jewish faith are being intentionally or unintentionally compromised. That was my question earlier. What dress codes, if any, did the founders prescribe ? Would Moses, if he were to come back, be happy to see scantily clad Jewish women romping the streets of Los Angeles or Munich ?

Obviously someone living in a Western country has a choice.

Again, I am not interested in finding out where choice exists or where it does'nt. But whether that choice has religious sanction and I don't mean from your rabbis. But from the original law makers of the faith.

Or is it just a matter of convenience ? Is it just a compromise that does not necessarily tie up with original Jewish teachings ? And please don't give us another link to read. I appreciate that approach but I am somewhat pressed for time and would be grateful for a quick and short (but comprehensive) answer.

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It's a shame the "ultra" Orthodox latched on to the "Orthodox" label. For that matter, it's a shame the "Orthodox" did as well. As I've explained to countless people, when explaining why the Orthodox are wrong, "We were BEDOUIN. We herded SHEEP. We rode CAMELS. All this Orthodox stuff would have been impossible for us."

A lot of Jews, in the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, turned inward to get closer to G-d and that led to this "if I cover me up even MORE, I'll be even MORE pious" silliness. How about, if you work in a soup kitchen MORE? If you mow the elderly woman's yard next to you MORE? Orthodox Jews drive me crazy.

ARGH that made no sense what so ever; I'm not Jewish nor do I have much of a Jewish ancestry so you gotta be more specific.

Could you please expand on what you are talking about here?

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that made no sense what so ever; I'm not Jewish nor do I have much of a Jewish ancestry so you gotta be more specific.
It's a shame the "ultra" Orthodox latched on to the "Orthodox" label. For that matter, it's a shame the "Orthodox" did as well. As I've explained to countless people, when explaining why the Orthodox are wrong, "We were BEDOUIN. We herded SHEEP. We rode CAMELS. All this Orthodox stuff would have been impossible for us.".

I think she was trying to say that for most Jews it was not easily possible to lead the life of the Orthodox - simply impossible. The life of he bedouin Jew, the shepherd and the camel grazier, did not blend in easily with the style espoused by the Orthodox.

"if I cover me up even MORE, I'll be even MORE pious" silliness. How about, if you work in a soup kitchen MORE? If you mow the elderly woman's yard next to you MORE? Orthodox Jews drive me crazy.

The Orthodox went for an overkill - beyond the necessary requirements of the faith.

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Yeah I guess. I've met some orthodox jews here in Canada. They won't talk to you, they'll just smile and walk away.

I would definitely want to go to Israel and check out some of their communities as I've heard they live very isolationist lives. There's that no tv rule, and many remain separate from the rest of the Jewish communities.

Israel to my knowledge only accepts the orthodox movement, while the reform and conservative ones aren't recognized.

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That is not entirely true. But yes, it would make sense for immodest dress codes to spark official ire. That is, however, also true in the West. The New York police, I believe, would chase a streaker down to the Atlantic. Wouldn't they ? Perhaps it is just a matter of perception what is or is not modest.

(salam) ,

I never thought of that point...very well put indeed! Because there are some people who believe in naturism to bare it all whereever they go. How come that's not accepted in the West if there's soo much freedom. Its the perception of modesty as the bro Baqar said.

BTW, I would have thought that lady was a Muslim too with that sort of hijaab.

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Perhaps but did the fathers of Jewish ethics intend it to be as flexible as it is in modern society ? Or did they, explicitly or implicitly, prescribed codes that would limit this flexibility ?

I would have thought that the principle of modesty applied not only to women but also to men. In Islam, we also have dress codes for men.

At the risk of repeating myself, I'm just going to say what I said before:

"What is considered modest in 21st century USA is not the same as what was considered modest in 14th century Egypt or 12th century Germany. I am not a woman so I am not an expert on this, but I can give you the analogous man's issue, which is that you are supposed to dress in synagogue on Shabbat like you would to meet the king (or President, or Prime Minister, depending on where you live). I assure you that if you walked into a synagogue in New Jersey dressed the way a 10th century Baghdadi Jew would have dressed to meet the sultan, people will stare -- even though it was completely appropriate for a 10th century Baghdadi Jew to dress that way in synagogue (whereas now it looks mainly like a costume). To meet the President today, you would wear a suit, so that's what you wear to synagogue on Shabbat. Anyway, the point is that details of dress evolve, and the Torah provides the general principles without regarding to fashion."

The underlying principle of tzniut (modesty) is timeless; the application to specific types of clothing does vary with context. Actually that is true of most Jewish law regarding outer clothing.

Just to pick an example, the Bible records an incident where King David was celebrating bringing the Ark to Jerusalem and started dancing in the street. His wife, Michal, saw this and got very upset. Michal said, quite bitingly, "How honored was today the king of Israel, who exposed himself today in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as would expose himself one of the idlers." 2 Samuel 6:20. In other words, David was wearing some sort of kilt or skirt-like tunic, and in the process of dancing vigorously, he ended up kicking the garment up, and exposing his ... well, you know.

Now, today, most authorities would say that a Jewish man cannot wear a kilt or skirt, if for no other reason than that it is forbidden for a man to wear women's clothing (Deut. 22:5). But obviously it was not a problem for David - a kilt or skirt or whatever it was wasn't considered "women's clothing" in his time. (Nor, perhaps, would it be in Scotland today, although I have yet to see a Scottish Jew in a kilt.) Similarly, there are Arab garments I have seen that would be considered a "woman's dress" in Western society, but which are considered perfectly appropriate for men to wear in those lands.

So this is an example where the particulars of social context provide "inputs" to the unchanging principle of Jewish law: if society considers a certain garment to be "women's clothing" then a Jewish man can't wear it. (By the way, the Torah contains the exact corollary prohibition against a woman wearing man's clothing.) The important part is not the garment itself and its seam lines and measurements; rather, it is that a Jew needs to dress in a way that reflects and respects the differences between men and women - whatever those are.

The same applies to tzniut. The principal guiding point is that a Jew should not dress in a way that overly emphasizes the physical or attracts undue attention. Let's say there are two societies. In society #1 it is considered extremely offensive to go barefoot. In society #2, everyone goes barefoot, including the king and his ministers, and it is considered normal. Well, if you were to consult a rabbi in society #1, he would undoubtedly tell you that going barefoot is forbidden. If you were to consult a rabbi in society #2, he would have a harder problem, because he would have to decide whether the proper 'frame of reference' was just the context of that society, or of the larger world. This is a question that cannot be answered in the abstract, but must be decided by a qualified rav in a particular context, because it involves questions like: Where is society #2 situated -- is it an 'island' surrounded by society #1? Do the other nations of the world look down on society #2 because of its barefootedness, such that if the Jews go along with it, it will reflect badly on the Torah? For that matter, is wearing shoes deeply offensive in society #2?

I picked this example not entirely at random. The Shulchan Aruch is a famous, authoritative code of Jewish law written by Rabbi Yosef Karo, a 16th century Sephardic rabbi who lived in Tzfat (Safed), Israel. It is accepted as authoritative by both Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews. However, Ashkenazic Jews read it with the commentary provided by Rabbi Moshe Isserles of Poland, known as the Rema, who provided a commentary explaining where Ashkenazi practice differed from Sephardi practice. In Orach Chaim, chapter 2, halacha 6, the Rema adds, seemingly out of nowhere, that one should not go barefoot. Perhaps barefootedness was quite accepted in the warm climate of Israel and other lands (Mediterranean) where Sephardic Jews lived, but was considered strange and immodest in the Ashkenazic (Eastern European) world. I don't know. But it is a good example of how the general principle can have different specific applications.

Would Moses, if he were to come back, be happy to see scantily clad Jewish women romping the streets of Los Angeles or Munich ?

Probably not. But by the same token I doubt that he would venture to posken (issue a legal ruling) on minimum sleeve or hemline length, or percent of hair covering required, without immersing himself in the specific details of the situation.

By the way, clothing is just one aspect of tzniut. The other side (some would say, the more important side; others would say, the equally important side) is the cultivation of humility and modesty as a character trait.

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At the risk of repeating myself, I'm just going to say what I said before:

"What is considered modest in 21st century USA is not the same as what was considered modest in 14th century Egypt or 12th century Germany.

I don't think they are asking about "modest" in the sense of "Can you wear a Simpson's TV to shul?", but "Can you where a garment which exposes some amount of the chest (v-neck -- work with me on this) and arms?" The garment styles might have changed, but the basic rules have not. Styles for snoods (a net-like Jewish women's head covering) and scarves might change with the fashions, but the basic rule that no more than a finger's breadth (and I may have that wrong -- single woman, no head covering required ...) hasn't. Back in the 1970's (and in Hawaii today :) ), I'm sure that very colorful scarves were considered "kosher". Today? Probably not as much. But then and now, they'd better cover the hair.

What Maimonides did not mention is that, for example, the steps leading up to the altar in the Temple had to be a certain height -- not very high -- so that a man climbing the steps did not expose himself to the altar. Back then there were no pants, but there were still laws about modesty.

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I don't think they are asking about "modest" in the sense of "Can you wear a Simpson's TV to shul?", but "Can you where a garment which exposes some amount of the chest (v-neck -- work with me on this) and arms?" The garment styles might have changed, but the basic rules have not.

But let's take a very simple issue: T-shirts and shorts for guys. I did the year in Israel thing after high school, and there you will see plenty of guys in talit katan and kipah wearing T-shirts, shorts, and sandals, including in shul (not for Shabbat of course ... for that, it's a polo shirt, khakis, and sandals). And plenty of yeshivot where the rebbeim have no problem with this (even if they don't dress that way themselves). Other guys go to more hard-core yeshivot where it's black suit all day, no exceptions, and their rebbeim will swear that it's issur to do anything less. Here in America it would be very odd for a Jew to wear t-shirt, shorts, & sandals to shul even on a Tuesday in August, and unthinkable on Shabbat. The difference is not one of halacha. It is that Israel is 1) overall more informal, and 2) hotter. It is, as we say, "minhag hamakom" (the custom of the place). At least that is how I understand it.

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Here in America it would be very odd for a Jew to wear t-shirt, shorts, & sandals to shul even on a Tuesday in August ...

August. 110F. Weather calls for as little clothing as one can get away with. Even in shul.

Ties used to be illegal in the summer where I live. No one ever went to jail for being so stupid as to wear a tie in the heat of the summer, in the midst of a months long drought, but some laws don't require judicial enforcement.

Just thought I'd share :)

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