Friday, June 27, 2008

The Taliban - or being accused by others of having inferior moral standards

R' Josh Waxman said...

What is your take on this?

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Also reported in Jerusalem Post:
A grandiose event marking the inauguration of the new bridge at the entrance to Jerusalem was marred late Wednesday night when a girls' dance troupe performing at the celebration was forced to wear hats to conform to the demands of the haredi-run city hall, the head of the dance troupe said Thursday.

The NIS 2 million bash had already been criticized as excessively extravagant and a waste of public funds, when the girls, who ranged in age from 13 to 16, were informed by production organizers several hours before the event that at the municipality's instruction they had to don black knitted hats and wear long clothing for the performance, said Shlomi Hoffman, the director of the Jerusalem dance troupe.

The controversy over what media were referring to as the "Taliban dance troupe" brought the sensitive issue of religious coercion in the capital to the fore in an election year.

"As an Israeli and a Jerusalemite, it is very painful to see this process of frightening religious extremism," Hoffman said.

Hoffman, 58, who comes from a traditional home, said it was clear that Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski was involved in the "extremist" decision which, he said, started unfolding late Tuesday night when Deputy Jerusalem Mayor Yehoshua Pollack of the mayor's United Torah Judaism Party called the girls "promiscuous" in an interview with a haredi radio station and vowed that they would not appear at the event.

The head of the dance troupe noted that the girls - who were also informed an hour before the event that they could not perform three out of four of their planned dances - had danced in the official state Independence Day ceremony just one month ago on Mount Herzl in virtually the same attire.

"This was not a religious event or an event at the Western Wall, but an event for the public at large for the inauguration of a bridge," Hoffman said.

The girls' parents expressed outrage Thursday over the incident.

"[Up to] this very moment, I cannot understand how we allowed this to happen, and why we did not stop the performance," said Jerusalem resident Marcel Levy, whose 15-year-old daughter was a member of the dance troupe. "Since when do you force 15-year-old girls to cover up their hair?"

"This incident takes us back to the days of the Taliban," said Avi Ben-David, also of Jerusalem, whose 15-year-old daughter was also part of the performance. "This should serve as a wake-up call to Jerusalem's non-haredi voters ahead of the mayoral elections, and maybe this time they will [get out of] their apathetic state."

Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat said Thursday that a red line had been crossed by the haredi city leadership, which smacked of a pattern to drive secular residents out of the city.

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First of all if you live according to halacha - whether you are Chareidi or Modern Orthodox - there is a clear halachic problem of watching 13 to 16 year olds girls dancing - especially if they are not weaing modest clothing. As can seen be the before picture provided with the original url - these are not little girls performing at kindergarten graduation. Furthermore for those who live according to halacha - it is being quite lenient to have a public dance performance of young women dancing - even if they are modestly clothed. I am not sure why it should be permitted. Thus it has nothing to do with the Chareidi stringencies. If someone can provide me with the ruling of a respected rabbi permitting this I would be most appreciative.

However if you don't live according to halacha than the rest of the post is relevant.

I once gave a lecture in Great Neck to an Modern Orthodox audience concerning dealing with children becoming more religious than their parents. I asserted that there are many Jewish parents who would rather that their children join Hari Krishna or some other cult - than to become Chareidi. Some of the parents thought it was a ridiculous idea. However the rav of the Shul confirmed that in fact that was his experience - not only amongst secular parents but also amongst Modern Orthodox.
I have observed a similar phenomenon when children of yeshivishe families becomes chassidic - especially Breslav.

Another example, I have had the strange experience of walking to Shul on Shabbos in various American communities and being criticised by Jews for wearing my talis. They found it very embarrassing.

When I went to Rensselaer Polytechinic Institute in Troy New York - the Reform Temple had a rule - that the only person allowed to wear a kippah and talis was the cantor - who was a black woman who was not Jewish. Up until recently kippah and talis were embarrassing to the Reform Movement.

A few years ago I met Rabbi Eric Yoffie - President of the Reform Movement - at the International Book Fair in Jerusalem and he mentioned that there have been significant changes in the Reform movement in recent years. One of them was that they had appointed a new head of their New York Seminary - who accepted the job only on the condition that it would henceforth be referred to a beis medrash. He said he was sure many of the founders of the Reform movement were turning over in their graves because of the move towards more traditional forms of worship and behavior.

Bottom line is that people can tolerate and even value differences in others - if it doesn't reflect negatively on them. High standards of modesty can be tolerated by most of us - unless we perceive it as labeling us as deviants.

This talk about Taliban is an indication that the local population views such standards as indicating that they are lax in their moral standards. If they were visiting Saudi Arabia they would have no problem acting so as to not offend the natives. Or if they were hosting a Saudi Arabian diplomat they would not find it problematic to adhere to his standards so as not to offend him.

The standards of the world are changing. Constantly invoking the Taliban or mental illness or lack of common sense - just shows a fear of being judged as morally inferior.

In New York there is a community called Starrett City. The developers of the community were liberals in the old sense of the word - and they wanted to have a truly integrated community. They were advised by sociologists that whites would stay in the community with blacks as long as they were at least 60% of the community. Below that point they felt intimated by minority and would leave. So Starrett City introduced a rule that the whites must always be at least 60%.

The above rule applies to other communities. As the native population increasing views it self as a shrinking majority which is losing control over the values of the community - they get frightened and insecure and resentful.

That is one of the reasons that at least under Mayor Kolleck there was an attempt to have homogeneous neighborhoods of secular and religious Jews.

Bottom line is that it is a common reaction of the indigenous population - and there is no simple solution. There is usually a lot of very negative feelings to those who make us feel inferior and/or immoral when we have had a high view of ourselves up until the outsiders moved in.

21 comments :

  1. Just to clarify, the Yahoo article labeled it Taliban, not me.

    But,
    "Bottom line is that people can tolerate and even value differences in others - if it doesn't reflect negatively on them."

    But here, the chareidim could *not* tolerate or even value the differences in others, namely of these 13 years old dancers. And not only made them cover up their clothing with something frumpy, but *made them cover their hair*. And they did it under threat of protest. It seems the idea of protest is catching on.

    Since when does a 13 year old *penuya* have to cover her *hair*, and give in to this under threat of protest? (if i understand correctly, the dancers were from ages 6 to 13.) I understand that some chareidim may think that roshah parua includes betulah such that they braid hair (in accordance with a daat yachid position) -- but this is imposing that standard of tznius on others by threat of protest.

    If the chareidim did not like this, they could have turned the other way for the duration of the dance.

    Talk of Taliban may be relevant here because the Taliban *also* have modesty patrols which enforce their standards of tznius on others.

    Also, this was a detail that you did not note in your effort to be more sensitive the other day, by going to the bridge after everything was over.

    (The phenomenon of "flipping out" is a different issue, to my mind. And it is not one of becoming more *frum,* but of not recognizing in the first place certain ideals and then adopting another value system. Such as coming from a MO demographic in which Torah UMaddah and Religious Zionism are religious *ideals,* and coming back thinking college is traif and that the state of Israel was a bad idea. This comes from not inculcating children with a strong enough confidence in their value system *before* sending them off to another country to be brainwashed. But here is not the place to elaborate.

    Particularly Breslov is problematic, not because of becoming "frummer" but for other reasons of it being a rudderless ship, that I won't go into detail here in this comment.)

    Kol Tuv, and Shabbat Shalom,
    Josh

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  2. I think that this article is interesting that it portrays the converse reality in modern communities visa-vi non-conformity in being stringent versus the attitudes of enclaves such as Kiriat Sefer etc... where the reverse is true. People who have not taken on certain stringencies or who are less stringent period are also not tolerated. It shows that the intolerance goes both ways.

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  3. R' Josh Waxman wrote:

    If the chareidim did not like this, they could have turned the other way for the duration of the dance.

    Talk of Taliban may be relevant here because the Taliban *also* have modesty patrols which enforce their standards of tznius on others.

    Also, this was a detail that you did not note in your effort to be more sensitive the other day, by going to the bridge after everything was over.
    =========================
    I guess you didn't notice the picture that accompanied the article. Furthermore - as with the Parade - there are activities that are not acceptable. To the degree you can protest you have a halachic obligation to protest.

    What do you think the halacha is about public behavior for females - 13-16?

    Another example is what level of immodesty/immorality do you tolerate in public billboards?

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  4. that accompanied which article?

    you said you went with your daughter after the event was over, no?

    how did they become 13 to 16? my source (which admittedly may be inaccurate) said 6 to 13.

    Aside from the short sleeves and pants, which I did notice (but am not going to discuss here), they made them wear caps. Do you agree that they should have made them wear caps? Why?

    It seems like protest is the way to go over every issue. Such that it does not only extend to gay parades but to every single issue.

    Kol Tuv,
    Josh

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  5. "the chareidim could *not* tolerate or even value the differences in others, namely of these 13 years old dancers. "

    Who are the "haredim" (the paper only mentions the mayor) who could not tolerate? This story (and the stories surrounding the Gay Parade) reads more like the Dr. Seuss classic "The Grinch who Stole Christmas" than a news article.

    "The Grinch, a bitter, cave-dwelling creature with a heart "two sizes too small," lives on snowy Mount Crumpit, a steep, 3,000 foot high mountain just north of Whoville, home of the merry and warm-hearted Whos. From his perch high atop Mount Crumpit, the Grinch can hear the noisy festivities that take place in Whoville. Envious of the Whos' happiness, he makes plans to descend on the town and deprive them of their fun and thus "prevent Christmas from coming". However, he learns in the end that despite his success in stealing all the Christmas presents and decorations from the Whos, Christmas comes just the same. He then realizes that Christmas is more than just gifts and presents. His heart grows three sizes larger, he returns all the presents and trimmings, and is warmly welcomed into the community of the Whos."

    Performers want people to enjoy their art and therefore they "play to the crowd". In this case the "crowd" would have left on account of the immodest costumes. How would that effect the self esteem of the young performers who only want to be appreciated for their talent?

    Kudos to Mayor Pollak for explaining to the director that many of the spectators might leave on account of the costumes, thus denying the girls an opportunity to perform to a full house.

    As far as the Islamic modesty patrol goes, they do not go to the Samba festival in Rio to enforce their standard on the residents there. But when someone from Rio travels to Iran, they are expected to follow the sensibilities and standards of the community there.

    Jerusalem is a holy place to Islam, Christianity and Judaism. When in Rome do as the Romans. There is no reason why visiting dancers in Jerusalem should not respect the majority of residents (Christian, Jewish and Muslim) in the area.Common sense would say that if one strives to be successful in a place where there is a general dress code, one should make every attempt to respect this.
    (Nancy Pelosi dressed modestly and put on a scarf to visit Pres. Assad, I am surprised that Yedioth Ahronoth or the Jerusalem Post did not use THAT as an opportunity to bash "Haredim").

    Like the Gay parade, this is not about "haredim" reaching out to Tel Aviv to impose a standard upon the residents that is rejected by the majority, but QUITE the opposite. This is about the "Taliban" of promiscuity reaching THEIR long arm into Jerusalem to impose THEIR standard upon the majority of residents of the Holy City who live in the Holy City BECAUSE they reject that lifestyle.

    Companies who spend millions for billboards and ads have the goal to sell product. If the copy or pictures offend instead, no one is going to buy their product. It is doing them a favor to inform them that they are offending their target audience. Religious Jews are not the only audience that is offended by insensitive or miscalculated productions.

    Israel is just the only country where its leaders and press can brazenly denigrate Jews. If the leader of any Arab country would have written the following copy, it would have been criticized all over the Western media.

    Change the word "Haredim" (who are merely observant Jews) in the copy to "Jews" and "Jerusalem" to "Europe" and you will have something worthy of being written by Hitler's publicist:

    "However, everything annoys the Jews especially their wheeler-dealers.

    The stronger the Jews become and influence Europe......

    But the Jews in Europe, with the incitement of their crass wheeler-dealers, make no distinction. They are only sons...

    Jewish rudeness has never learned..

    There is now a new Jewish trend that is reported prominently in the Jewish press: gathering together in sackcloth and ashes and praying to God.

    The problem is that the Jews are trying to impose....on all of Europe.

    Yesterday, at least two years before the light rail traverses the Chords Bridge, was the first collision. The car of stupidity and lack of planning on the part of those who planned the event smashed into the aggressiveness of the Jews. "

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  6. On one hand I agree completely that it's scandalous that the same people who would happily have covered those girls' hair had the Saudi ambassador made the request but were resentful because the Chareidim did it are hypocritical.

    However, one thing the leadership of the Chareidi community has never seemed to understand is that cooperation and living amongst others requires mutual respect even if there is disagreement.

    It may have been completely inappropriate to have 10 year old girls dancing in public. Choosing that as part of the display would mean excluding Chareidi participation and that is rude.

    But the reason for the comparison to the Taliban came from the essential modus operandi of this group. Under Taliban rule, even non-Muslims had to live by their strict interpretation of Islamic law. People get the impression that a Chareidi state would be quite similar - mandatary black hat and tichel for all, in the name of God's law.

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  7. I once gave a lecture in Great Neck to an Modern Orthodox audience concerning dealing with children becoming more religious than their parents. I asserted that there are many Jewish parents who would rather that their children join Hari Krishna or some other cult - than to become Chareidi. Some of the parents thought it was a ridiculous idea. However the rav of the Shul confirmed that in fact that was his experience - not only amongst secular parents but also amongst Modern Orthodox.
    ==================================

    Please identify the Rav in question. I have lived in the MO community for all my life and don't believe this canard, no matter how many times it's repeated by my brothers to the right. Going OTD is not considered a better result in the circles I am familiar with.

    KT
    Joel Rich

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  8. From Today's NY Times - a recurring point in our discussions

    "In one study, a group of Stanford students was exposed repeatedly to an unsubstantiated claim taken from a Web site that Coca-Cola is an effective paint thinner. Students who read the statement five times were nearly one-third more likely than those who read it only twice to attribute it to Consumer Reports (rather than The National Enquirer, their other choice), giving it a gloss of credibility.

    Adding to this innate tendency to mold information we recall is the way our brains fit facts into established mental frameworks. We tend to remember news that accords with our worldview, and discount statements that contradict it. "

    KT
    Joel Rich

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  9. R' Josh Waxman wrote:

    that accompanied which article?

    you said you went with your daughter after the event was over, no?

    how did they become 13 to 16? my source (which admittedly may be inaccurate) said 6 to 13.
    ===================
    The url you provided provides a picture of what they looked like before and after.
    The Jerusalem Post reported:
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1214492517128&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    "The NIS 2 million bash had already been criticized as excessively extravagant and a waste of public funds, when the girls, who ranged in age from 13 to 16, were informed by production organizers several hours before the event that at the municipality's instruction they had to don black knitted hats and wear long clothing for the performance, said Shlomi Hoffman, the director of the Jerusalem dance troupe."

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  10. What is your halachic take on the subject of people claiming lost tribe lineage? In light of these two articles from Ynet News - http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3561097,00.html

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3561097,00.html

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  11. Recipients and PublicityJune 29, 2008 at 10:07 AM

    Jersey girl is off on her tangents about Christianity again, when the
    subject of this post is about
    girls dressed in athletic suits/pants performing in public in front of Haredim (or call them what you will, but it refers to very "frum" or "ultra-Orthodox" people).

    You know, you lose so much credibility when you turn every post and issue into one subject like a "one issue candidate" as you keep up your monotonous drone.

    For a change Dr. Eidensohn is engaging someone here, "joshwaxman" on a different topic and it would help that if you can't stay on track then at least let them slog it out and let's see what comes of it.

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  12. Thanks.

    I would agree that the 13-16 age range makes sense, and has credibility based on that news report. So 13-16.

    Regardless, while their dress may not conform with halachic standards of tznius, it seems to me (based on the before picture) that they were extremely tznius by the standard of secular Israeli girls. They certainly did not intent to be immoral and immodest. In the article I linked to, the Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yehoshua Pollak said that he would similarly have made them conform to certain tznius standards had Arabs protested.

    I doubt this. Namely, had Arabs protested that Israeli girls were not wearing burqas, they would have been ignored.

    The question to my mind is whether chareidim should be protesting when secular Israelis, who are being exceptionally tzanua by secular standards should be forced to conform to religious, let alone chareidi standards, any time they march in a parade in Yerushalayim. There is a difference between this and the pride parade, where at least one could argue that in the latter case they were trying to make a "non-tnius" point. I still maintain that the chareidim should simply have averted their gaze during this particular part of the performance, rather than forcing the world to conform to them.

    Aside from that, religious coercion is justifiably seen as religious coercion, and will be . This was an excellent method of richuk, rather than kiruv.

    Another point in the next comment, which I am separating into a separate comment so that it does not get lost.

    Kol Tuv,
    Josh

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  13. Here is my second comment:

    Great, so let us agree that watching 13-16 year old girls dance is most certainly assur.

    What then was the point in making them cover up prior to dancing? The chareidim should *still* avert their gaze! This was all pointless.

    I am fairly certain that for a large number of secular people, there is nothing sexually suggestive about these girls dancing. It was a beautiful display, just as for Rabbi Yochanan the women going to mikveh were just white geese. I think that an overconcern among religious people for covering up heightens awareness of sexuality in cases where things are uncovered. (and such an idea is found lehalacha in other instances.)

    This all reminds me of the gemara in Taanis which talks about how there were no greater days for Israel than Yom Kippur and Tu BeAv, during which the chareidim protested as the eligible Jewish girls danced in white dresses, telling the bachurim what to pay heed to...

    Oh, wait... Does the gemara mention the chareidim protesting on the sidelines?

    I know, yeridas hadoros. ;)

    Kol Tuv,
    Josh

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  14. R' Josh Waxman wrote:

    I am fairly certain that for a large number of secular people, there is nothing sexually suggestive about these girls dancing. It was a beautiful display, just as for Rabbi Yochanan the women going to mikveh were just white geese. I think that an overconcern among religious people for covering up heightens awareness of sexuality in cases where things are uncovered. (and such an idea is found lehalacha in other instances.)
    ===================
    You have a really weird sense of humor - or else a major disconnect from reality. Since when do chiloni lack a sex drive? What chiloni do you know who would say that watching 16 year old girls dancing is as interesting as watching a goose walk around! Why don't you ask them? If they agreed with you - tell them that they should have a medical checkup.

    Bottom line: You are firing off arguments without thinking too carefully what you are saying - except that you feel the chareidim are wrong. Even when I pointed out that your facts were seriously wrong - you managed to come to the same negative conclusion about the chareidim.

    You also seem to view our heritage and gedolim with a smirk - which has no place in a meaningful argument. While it is nice that you are so focused on the sensibilities of the chilonim - the charedim deserve equal concern.

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  15. The only facts seriously wrong was the age of the dancers, and I admit to that. I do not think that that makes a substantive difference, so I did not change my position. (Aside from that, I did indeed see the pictures beforehand.) Why should a 13 to 16 year old secular penuya require kisui harosh, which is only the requirement of certain groups? Are you in favor of this? Please elaborate.

    I was indeed writing tongue in cheek about the gemara in Taanis. But there was a serious point behind this. We see that young Jewish girls did dance in white, and the seeming peshat in the gemara is that Jewish boys watched them. Such that is seems a major disconnect. How do you deal with this? One prominent rav I asked answered me that it was yeridas hadoros, which seems strange to me given that kohanim in the beis hamikdash had to hire people to beat the bushes in the Temple precinct on Yom Kippur to prevent copulation.

    But I believe my point about lack of conditioning heightening awareness is indeed true, in terms of sexualizing what is otherwise non-sexual. (I may be wrong or right, but I do indeed see it as so.)

    I think we saw the same thing in terms of the sheitel display opposite the yeshiva, a while ago, in which chareidim saw it as extremely suggestive and seductive, whereas most religious non-chareidim saw it as not sexual at all. I think I saw it in an online discussion a while back about mixed seating at weddings, in which chareidim assume that one would spend the night ogling one's wife's friends and planning or actual executing a wife-swap, something which would shock many frum people who do attend mixed seating events. We do not think in those terms. But it seems that some chareidim imagine that in such a situation, they would be compelled to think in those terms.

    In terms of halacha, it plays into whether hair of a married non-Jewish woman is considered erva, in a country in which non-Jewish women do not cover their hair.

    I reiterate, these girls were extremely tzniusdikly dressed for secular Israeli girls, in that their knees were covered, their upper body, and in many cases sleeves were covered. They were dressed like *dancers*. Secular Israelis are not Rabbi Yochanan. I said that tongue in cheek, and as a melitza. But secular Israelis would look at a girl in a tank top and miniskirt in a sexual manner. They would not see this as sexually suggestive to the same degree as you would. As an extreme, in African tribes, in which women go topless, the men do not look at these women with lust, and the women are not being nontzniusdik. (In terms of halacha, there might be absolutes in terms of things like this, but I am talking about human conditioning and reactions.) I believe that this is a sociological divide, such that it would be very difficult to convince you of this, even if I am right (as I think I am). Even if you think they would require a medical checkup.

    I am not firing off arguments without thinking about them, as you allege. Your response about Taliban, which seemed entirely off topic to me, seemed the same to me, as firing off arguments defensively. This might be a side-effect of standing on the opposite side of the argument. I think I have offered substantive arguments. But then, I am subjective in this matter. :)

    Finally,
    "You also seem to view our heritage and gedolim with a smirk - which has no place in a meaningful argument."

    I do not think I am doing that. But I do think that this modern perspective ignores historical precedent (of Tu BeAv), which is our heritage as well. How *do* you answer about Tu BeAv, by the way?

    Kol Tuv,
    Josh

    PS: I would add to the above that you are seeing one side of me. On other blogs, I have argued in *favor* of the chareidim, or gedolim, or the religious side. In general, I argue against what I see as excess. As just one example of my arguing the other side, see here, about the Incredible Jerusalem Compass. So I do not think this is simply a response of "chareidim bad" on my part.

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  16. R' Josh Waxman wrote:

    But I do think that this modern perspective ignores historical precedent (of Tu BeAv), which is our heritage as well. How *do* you answer about Tu BeAv, by the way?

    Kol Tuv,
    Josh

    PS: I would add to the above that you are seeing one side of me. On other blogs, I have argued in *favor* of the chareidim, or gedolim, or the religious side. In general, I argue against what I see as excess....
    =========================
    Firstly I apologize for misunderstanding your humor. I appreciate your writing about the compass. Perhaps it is simply easier to agree with you when you are supporting my position than attacking it.

    I do have a problem with your assumption that you knew what people were like and the context of actions of over 2000 years ago and your ready comparison of Chazal to the average secular Jew today.
    You repeated assert that you are sure - but how? Have you interviewed people to see how they perceive things?

    Regarding Tu BeAv you wrote:

    But I do think that this modern perspective ignores historical precedent (of Tu BeAv), which is our heritage as well. How *do* you answer about Tu BeAv, by the way?
    =====================
    What do you think it was? It was not a bridge dedication in which the sole purpose of the girls dancing was to be noticed.
    Aside from the fact that both situations involve guys looking at girls - where do you see that they were equivalent?
    Were you aware that chareidim think that young unmarried women who are intersted in marriage should look physically attractive and that wives should look attractive.
    So please explain carefully what point you were making by equating R' Yochanon and the dancing on Tu BeAv to a group of young teenage dances performing at all sorts of public events?

    BTW would your rebbeim make this type of comparison? If they would I would appreicate their names and phone numbers so they can explain to me why they think this way.

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  17. "It was not a bridge dedication in which the sole purpose of the girls dancing was to be noticed."

    I do not believe the sole purpose of the girls dancing was to be noticed. These are girls who love to dance. That is why they are dancers. They dance to celebrate the event.

    Meanwhile, the Mishna in Taanit 26b states:
    בחור שא נא עיניך וראה מה אתה בורר לך אל תתן עיניך בנוי תן עיניך במשפחה

    Then, on 31a, the gemara cites a brayta:
    תנו רבנן יפיפיות שבהן מה היו אומרות תנו עיניכם ליופי שאין האשה אלא ליופי מיוחסות שבהן מה היו אומרות תנו עיניכם למשפחה לפי שאין האשה אלא לבנים מכוערות שבהם מה היו אומרות קחו מקחכם לשום שמים ובלבד שתעטרונו בזהובים

    The pretty ones were explicitly telling the bachurim to look at their beauty. As they *danced*. They wanted to be noticed.

    How could they have done this if it is absolutely assur, in all contexts?

    The appeal to Rabbi Yochanan was just a melitza, to drive the idea home in a way that utilized a gemara, in a slightly over-the-top way.

    "Were you aware..."
    yes.
    though I have heard that in *some* communities the girl is told to be at the supermarket at time Z, and the mother of the prospective chassan goes to check her out. (Presumably, in these admittedly extreme cases, the chassan gets to see her at least once before the wedding, so there are no problems of veahavta lereacha kamocha, as in the gemara in kiddushin of mekadesh via a shaliach.)

    I have not discussed this comparison with my rabbeim, and even if I did (which I did *not*) and they would approved of the comparison (I don't know), I would not drag them into this conversation. I will say that I am not *embarrassed* of the comparison I made here, which I think is a valid comparison and which should be addressed. I know you did not mean it like this, but such questions almost *appear* as if to shame me into retracting, or making me feel threatened that I am going to be "told on" when you call their phone numbers. You can argue with me, or you can dismiss me, on the merits or demerits of my arguments.

    I *did* ask Rabbi Kohn at YU about this gemara, after he made a derasha in the YU beis medrash about the terribleness of when they bring the chasan over to the girl's side at weddings and the unmarried boys come along, and he answered yeridas hadoros. But then, he is not my rebbe.

    I know there is a gemara which relates that they would hire people to beat the bushes in the Temple precincts because young men and women were going into those bushes on Yom Kippur. That might tell us something about the common folk 2000 years ago, and whether the bachurim back then were only thinking of marriage. Yeridas haDoros sounds to me like a frum cop-out, rather than a serious attempt to deal with the sources, and it has been used as a cop-out in too many other contexts when one wants to dismiss a source towards leniency.

    Regardless, assur is assur. Are you saying that watching dancing is indeed muttar in certain contexts?

    And I could turn around (in fact I have in a previous comment) and ask whether you really know the popular perception of secular Israelis 3 or 4 days ago. To give some idea, the *parents* of these children have no problem with them going out performing like that, though there is a level at which they would think their daughter was dressed like an exotic dancer and would not let them perform, or go out in public. Why do you think this is?

    Kol Tuv,
    Josh

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  18. R' Josh Waxman wrote:

    "Regardless, assur is assur. Are you saying that watching dancing is indeed muttar in certain contexts?"
    Yes - it seems to have been a means of promoting marriage. I don't have any idea why it was done that way but it was. [BTW we don't really know what is meant by dancing. The gemora in Kesubos seems to understand dancing as giving speeches.]
    Similarly we allow a young man to go out on 6 to 20 dates with a young woman - during which time he is allowed to look at her - because it facilitates deciding whether to get married. Meiri says it was a means of chosing a wife:
    בית הבחירה למאירי מסכת תענית {לא.)

    ומי שאין לו אשה הולך ובורר ופי' בגמ' שכלן צווחות כפי מה שמרגישות בעצמן יפפיות שבהן אומרות תנו עיניכם ביופי שאין אשה אלא ליופי מיוחסות שבהן אומרות תנו עיניכם במשפחה שאין אשה אלא לבנים מכוערות שבהן אומרות קחו מקחם לשם שמים ואם היו מתרצין זה לזה מודיעים לקרוביהם אחר שחזרו ומתרצים ומתארסים


    "And I could turn around (in fact I have in a previous comment) and ask whether you really know the popular perception of secular Israelis 3 or 4 days ago."

    The secualr parents do not seem to have a problem with sexual activity of their children - before marriage. they do not have a problem of them watching tv and movies where the idea of sexual activity of teenagers is considered normal.

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  19. Dancing meaning speeches in this context seemed like quite the apologetics. Would making speeches I don't think Artscroll translates it this way. And I don't think even Rabbi Kahn would translate it that way. I should tell the rav of my shul that rikkud is assur on shabbos and yom tov, according to the gemara in Beitza 30a, and we could get to chulent that much sooner. (yes, I am kidding here. ;) )

    The tradition of festivities on Tu BeAv with the girls dancing would seem to precede any intent on marriage. Thus, in sefer Shofetim they were dancing at Shiloh, and then it just happened that this was the solution to the problem of shevet Binyamin.

    "The secualr parents do not seem to have a problem with sexual activity of their children - before marriage."
    I do not believe this is true, as a matter of fact. watching tv and movies is nowhere near the same as actually engaging in sexual activities. In the non-Jewish mind, and the secular mind, they are quite distinct. Perhaps not from a chareidi perspective. But I think this is way off the mark. So once again, it comes down to a question of metzius.

    At any rate, all the best. I think we are going to have to agree to disagree.

    Kol Tuv,
    Josh

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  20. R'Josh Waxman wrote:

    "The secualr parents do not seem to have a problem with sexual activity of their children - before marriage."
    I do not believe this is true, as a matter of fact. watching tv and movies is nowhere near the same as actually engaging in sexual activities. In the non-Jewish mind, and the secular mind, they are quite distinct. Perhaps not from a chareidi perspective. But I think this is way off the mark. So once again, it comes down to a question of metzius.
    ==========================
    Pardon me if I think you are naive.
    You might want to read this CBS report http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/12/19/national/main2282940.shtml
    I don't see any evidence that Israelis are reticent than Americans in these matters.

    ---------------------------------

    (AP) More than nine out of 10 Americans, men and women alike, have had premarital sex, according to a new study. The high rates extend even to women born in the 1940s, challenging perceptions that people were more chaste in the past.

    "This is reality-check research," said the study's author, Lawrence Finer. "Premarital sex is normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades."

    Finer is a research director at the Guttmacher Institute, a private New York-based think tank that studies sexual and reproductive issues and which disagrees with government-funded programs that rely primarily on abstinence-only teachings. The study, released Tuesday, appears in the new issue of Public Health Reports.

    The study, examining how sexual behavior before marriage has changed over time, was based on interviews conducted with more than 38,000 people — about 33,000 of them women — in 1982, 1988, 1995 and 2002 for the federal National Survey of Family Growth. According to Finer's analysis, 99 percent of the respondents had had sex by age 44, and 95 percent had done so before marriage.

    Even among a subgroup of those who abstained from sex until at least age 20, four-fifths had had premarital sex by age 44, the study found.

    Finer said the likelihood of Americans having sex before marriage has remained stable since the 1950s, though people now wait longer to get married and thus are sexually active as singles for extensive periods.

    The study found women virtually as likely as men to engage in premarital sex, even those born decades ago. Among women born between 1950 and 1978, at least 91 percent had had premarital sex by age 30, he said, while among those born in the 1940s, 88 percent had done so by age 44.

    "The data clearly show that the majority of older teens and adults have already had sex before marriage, which calls into question the federal government's funding of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs for 12- to 29-year-olds," Finer said.

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  21. just to clarify. i realized i might not have been clear before. i am not advancing that gemara for the purpose of making a halachic claim that religious people should (or should not -- I am not taking any stand) be watching those girls dance. i was taking it from the perspective of the dancers -- that Jewish girls can be dancing in front of men, and it is not absolute harlotry that therefore may not exist in Yerushalayim, and must be forcefully protested. It is not so farfetched to be melamed zechus on our fellow Jews and say that they, too, did not intend it as seductive. (and in fact, I believe this to be so as a matter of actual fact.)

    In terms of your study, I do not think that it shows what you wanted to show before.

    Your claim: parents want their kids to have sex, because they let them watch tv and movies.

    The article: More than nine out of ten Americans have had premarital sex.

    This has absolutely *nothing* to do with parents' attitudes, and what they want their children to be doing.

    Furthermore, this article was about premarital sex up to age 44. But surely in halacha, marriage for gentiles is just committing to a specific person. In many of these cases, this is people moving in together and living together without formal marriage.

    But again, the article has absolutely *nothing* to do with your claim, which was that secular parents *want* their teenage kids to have premarital sex. This is just not true.

    A large part of deciding halacha is halacha. Another large part is determining metzius. Both are important components.

    Kol Tuv,
    Josh

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