Thursday, July 5, 2012

Chazon Ish: "Die rather than Transgress" - Literally?

There are three sins which a person must die rather than transgress, murder, idolatry and sexual immorality (Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 157:1). The Chazon Ish pronounced that drafting women was included and that a woman should resist even if it meant death (See the below excerpt). The Chazon Ish also said the same applied to shaking hands with women. My question is whether he meant that literally? In other words should a man faced with the choice of being killed or shaking hands with a woman - should allow himself to be killed?

[Just added the original report in Moadim u'Zemanim where it is clear that the Chazon Ish meant it literally.]
תשובות והנהגות כרך ד סימן ש    נישוק ונתינת יד לאמו החורגת  

נדרשתי מבחור ירא שמים, שנודע לו רק עכשיו שאמו מתה בילדותו, ואביו התחתן עם אשה שניה שגידלה אותו כבן ממש, ועכשיו כשנודע להבחור ממאן לנשק ולתת יד לאמו החורגת, ואביו כועס עליו מאד ואומר שזה לא הכרת הטוב לנהוג כן באשה שגדלתו במסירות, עד שרוצה לגרש את הבן מהבית. וכעין שאלה זו הבאתי ב"מועדים וזמנים" (ח"ד סימן שט"ז בהג"ה) ששאלתי למרן החזון איש זצ"ל והשיב שאין להתיר אפילו נתינת יד מפני שדרך חיבה היא ויהרג ואל יעבור. וסיפר לי השואל שאח"כ הלך לשאול גם את הגאון רבי משה פיינשטיין זצ"ל, והשיב שאם מדקדק לעשות בצורה ובאופן שניכר שאין זה דרך חיבה מותר, ואין בזה משום אביזרייהו, והביא לזה דברי הרמב"ם בהלכותיו שעיקר האיסור הוא דרך תאוה דוקא, ולדבריו התיר באופן שהבאנו

מועדים וזמנים (חלק ד' סי' שט"ז):
...הבן ביקש ממני ליכנס לרבינו ה"חזון איש" זצ"ל לשאול פיו לשמוע עצתו, נכנסתי וסיפרתי לו הדברים כהויתן, והשיב מיד "לתת יד לאשה קריבה לעירות, ומאביזרייהו דגלוי עריות שיהרג ואל יעבור, ואין שום היתר בזה מפני דרכי שלום או רגילה עמה כאמו", אבל סיים דבשמירת התורה לא יבוא לידי היזק, ושהבן יתעקש ויצליח בע"ה, ואודיע לו דבר זה בשמו והבחור באמת התעקש ומיאן לתת יד עד שלבסוף האשה גופא השפיעה על הבעל לעזוב אותו למנהגו אם מתעקש  כ"כ ושלום בבית והבחור זכה ב"ה לבית נאמן בישראל והוא תלמיד חכם שזכה לשלום בית ומשפחה וחיים מאושרים!
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RJJ Halacha Journal  Rav Yaakov Koniefsky reported that the Chazon Ish had declared that if the law were indeed passed, it was the duty of every Jew to resist unto death - literally.s For him it represented an encroachment upon the prohibition of "Arayot" - immorality and licentiousness - which is one of the three mitzyot for which a Jew must choose death rather than transgress. Rav Koniefsky also writes that the Chazon Ish, the Brisker Rav, and the Tchebiner Rav all concurred that if the measure became law, every family with·a draft-age daughter would have to leave the country! So strong were they in opposing the danger that they equally opposed a similar plan to draft girls not for the army but for some alternate National Service.

They left no doubt as to the cause for their opposition - the army in any country. and Israel is no different, is a place where moral standards are relaxed. to say the least, and it was just not the proper environment for a Jewish daughter, Against their will, the girls would be affected by the atmosphere and the environment to which they would be exposed, a milieu which would replace the positive reinforcement they would have gotten at home from parents and family.

Rabbis Isser Zalman Meltzer and Tzvi Pesach Frank also issued pronouncements that a person must choose death rather than accede to the government decree, as did the Steipler Rav and Rav Shach. When another rabbi suggested that perhaps it would not be so terrible if the girls served under carefully supervised conditions, the Chazon Ish retorted that the rabbi's opinion was totally worthless and, had he had any children, he would not have been able to say something like that The Chazon Ish actually ruled that the Sabbath should be desecrated to avoid compliance with a draft order and urged parents and teachers to inculcate young women with the laws of dying "al kiddush Hashem;' in sanctification of the Name

46 comments :

  1. I would like to see responsa from gedolim from 1000 years ago or more regarding this shyla. Chazon ish and others are very new to this shyla. Women and men being drafted into army is a very old shyla and so why don't we seee any psak frm way back. Why is it that we always quote from a psak from a few years ago. Dos the rambam address this shyla at all?

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    1. I would also be interested if there are earlier poskim who deal with the topic of Jewish girls being drafted into an army however I'm not sure what the Chazon Ish being more recent has to do with anything. That being said I would also like to see these Gedolei Yisroel's exact words. The case they are discussing is probably the first time that Jewish girls were being drafted into an army that Jews were running. That point could have everything to do with it.
      (As an aside I have heard that R Moshe Feinstein writes that going to a mixed beach is yahareg ve'al ya'avor. I have not seen this so if anyone knows the source... please.)

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    2. With regards to the first point I made let me ask the question instead of remarking... JJ what are you actually asking? "Why is it that we always quote from a psak from a few years ago." because the case that they are discussing are usually much closer to the cases that we discuss. You do not have to do so much abstracting.

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    3. What do you mean by "it's a very old shyla"? What army ever drafted women before Israel did?

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  2. Without meaning any disrespect to the Chazon Ish, where does he get the authority to simply decree something is "Yehareg v'al yaavor"?

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    1. He gets it from his vast knowledge of Torah and certification as one of the major poskim of his time. His deep understanding and great kedusha led him to know what Hashem wanted for his people.

      Who gives doctors the right to make life or death choices? The leftist, liberal schools they attend give them all the wrong attitudes and a total disrespect for life. The Chazon Ish was orders of magnitude more qualified than they are.

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  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscription this indicates that conscription of women has not been a historical issue and thus it is not "a very old shyla".

    Regarding the halachic issues - see the RJJ journal issue I linked to

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  4. doesn't it say in ktubot that in a milchemet mitzva there are no exemptions of ki tetze and the "afilu kala michupata" goes out to war? the rambam defines a milchemet mitzva as any situation where jews are being threatened by their enemies. with all due respect to the chazon ish it is obvious that he had an agenda (see your own post regarding the use of electricity on shabat).

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  5. If shaking A woman's hand were to become a law, it would without a doubt be included in 'yaihoreg v'aal yaavor' - Abizrai'hoo.... since to most it would be outright 'lo sikrevoo' and there would be no excuses of business etc. You really did not need the C"I or B"R to say that. They just wanted to make it clear to all circles. Women in the army is a "vaaday" to end up in good old arayous.

    On a private basis - a single girl decides to join the army WITH safe gaurds or if a businessman is put into a position where he "has to" shake a client's hand who happens to be female - THAT was the Shaale. Some Rabbonim paskened one way, others, with different backgrounds,looked at it differently and said what they said. (Its almost like a American yungerman going to college vs a Chasidisheh or Israeli yeshivahman trying the same. The Psokim will be 'min hakotzeh el ha'kotzeh".

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  6. until nachal chareidi it was always considered to be a off limits closed issue

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    1. Gerer & Chabad chassidim were in the IDF before Nachal Charedei.

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    2. mapitom. all these guys in the yeshivot - their fathers and grandfathers served in Tzahal.

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    3. Ger chasidim dont join the IDF.

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  7. There are only three cardinal sin which fall into YVY. Army is not one of them. And if u want to say that being in the army may cause arayoss then there are a boat loads of things we do that can lead to arayos if we wanted to. Going to walmart,going to a movie,renting a video,driving a car,working in manhatten, going away from your wife on buisiness. But the chazon ish doesn't say YVY. We have nisyonos every second of the day and we must learn to control it. If u can't control it then perhaps your chinuch which your parents paid dearly for was a waste of time. So go back and get reeducated so that you know right from wrong

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    1. if one decides that serving in the army is shmad, public shmad designed to destroyed Torah, than serving would be such a sin.

      IIRC the issue is not "exposure to sin". i read once that the brisker rav stated that even if their girls were told to stay at home and recite tehillim all day, it would still be YVY.

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  8. sorry. it's not ktubot, it's` sota 44b (mishna and gamara). see ramabam on the mishna and hilchot mlachim 5:1 etc.

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  9. Really, what this mentality shows, and it carries through to today, is that the more ghettoized a people become, the more insecure they are in their ability to maintain the walls of their ghetto. And, in effect, the more insecure they are about their faith and their ability to pass it on.

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  10. Often seems to me that Chareidim love hyperbole.

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    1. how do you know this is hyperbole? You also seem to imply that Chareidim use hyperbole more than others - proof?

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    2. Every other statement seems to or imply wild exaggeration. The only other person/group I can think of that acts like wise is, l'havdil folks like the Moslem Brotherhood and people like Al Sharpton and perhaps people like Yossi Sarid.

      All in all, not people I'd want to be associated with.

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    3. Dovy could you please pay attention to what you are saying! You made a assertion that "Chareidim love hyperbole" - I asked for proof- you responded "every other statement seems to imply wild exaggeration." How does repeating your unsupported assertion constitute evidence? Then you compound with the "proof" that they act just like Al Sharpton.

      To paraphrase your logic:

      "Jews love money. How do I know? Because everyone knows and in particular my brother in law told me last night that they love money. They love it the way that the Blacks love watermelon. Both of these groups see any legitimate criticism of them as proof of bias and bigotry. I mean why do I have to proof something which is so obvious that everyone knows it to be true?

      Dovy you can do better than that!

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    4. >Hyperbole (play /haɪˈpɜrbəliː/ hy-PUR-bə-lee;[1] Greek: ὑπερβολή, 'exaggeration') is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally.[2]<

      Every other statement I hear from many elements in the Chreidei camp seems to be wild exaggeration. The IDF are Nazis, the NYPD, attempting to give an ex-boss of mine a ticket for driving while using a cellphone, are vicious Jew-haters (prompting a full-blown riot several years ago), any talk of compromising with the Israeli gov. over sharing the national defense burden is "Harog v'Al Yavor", and on and on.

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    5. I have lived in the chareidi world in Israel for over 20 years and have not heard anyone refer to the IDF as Nazis and thus would never use that as an example of a chareidi attitude. Those fringe elements who would say such things mean it literally.

      Same for those who accuse New York police - etc genuinely believe that they are vicious Jew-haters.

      Compromise on defense burden is not hyperbole either as can be seen from the RJJ article I linked to my post.

      You have any other examples of "hyperbole"?

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  11. What did Rav cook say about women in the army?

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    1. he was niftar in 1935 - it wasn't relevant then

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    2. rav goren's daughter served.

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    3. rav herzog's position is relevant (and he wasn't so liberal on the question, even regarding sheirut leumi)

      גיוס נשים לשירות צבאי או לשירות לאומי אף הוא מהסוגיות שהעסיקו את הציבור בישראל בשנות החמישים. הרב הרצוג כמו רוב ההנהגה הדתית התנגד בנחרצות לגיוס נשים לצבא ופסק שהוא אסור על פי ההלכה.

      ב-1953 נחקק חוק שירות לאומי שקבע כי כל בת דתייה שקיבלה פטור משירות בצה"ל חייבת לשרת בשירות לאומי אזרחי. חוק זה עורר התנגדות רבה בציבור החרדי וגם בקרב חלק ניכר מהציבור הציוני-דתי. גם הרב הרצוג הביע את התנגדותו לחוק הן בשל אמונתו ששירות לאומי בכפייה תחת מרות גברים פוגע בצניעותן של הבנות הן בשל חששו שהחוק יגרום לקרע בעם בין דתיים לחילוניים. עם זאת הוא התנגד בתוקף ליציאה של המפלגות הדתיות הלאומיות ("המזרחי" ו"הפועל המזרחי") מהממשלה במהלך המשבר הממשלתי שגרמה חקיקתו של החוק. את התנגדותו לחוק השירות הלאומי הוא הביע במכתב לראש הממשלה בן-גוריון, (תעודה מס' 5). הרב הרצוג המשיך להתכתב בעניין זה עם מחליפו של בן-גוריון, ראש הממשלה משה שרת. בתשובתו לפניית הרב הצדיק שרת את החוק והסביר בפירוט מדוע לדעתו אין פגיעה בצניעותן ובאורח חייהן הדתי של הבחורות הדתיות המשרתות בשירות הלאומי על פי החוק החדש (תעודה מס' 6).

      עמדתו של הרב הרצוג בעניין חוק השירות הלאומי עוררה ביקורת בקרב מקצת ממנהיגי הציונות הדתית (בעיקר אנשי 'הפועל המזרחי') ואנשי ציבור דתיים, שהיו בעלי גישה ליברלית יותר ותמכו בשירות הלאומי ואפילו בשירות צבאי של בנות דתיות. אחד מהם היה ד"ר אהרן ברט, מנכ"ל בנק לאומי. באוגוסט 1953 הוא שלח מכתב לרב הרצוג ובו הביע את אכזבתו מהתנגדותו של הרב לחוק השירות הלאומי ואת ביקורתו עליה. כמו כן הוא ביקר את עמדותיו השמרניות של הרב בשורה של סוגיות דתיות וחברתיות שהוא (ד"ר ברט) ראה בהן כניעה של הרב לחוגים החרדיים (תעודה מס' 7). בעניין זה ראו גם: נייר עמדה מטעם הרב הרצוג שבו הוא מסביר את העמדה הרשמית של הרבנות הראשית בעניין זה (תעודה מס' 8); מכתב מאיש 'אגודת ישראל' המתייחס לתלונות על פגיעות בצניעותן של נערות דתיות ולא-דתיות שהתגייסו לצה"ל (תעודה מס' 9).

      http://www.archives.gov.il/ArchiveGov/Templates/Articals/Article.aspx?NRMODE=Published&NRNODEGUID=%7b8998B35B-95ED-4C9A-86DC-E002E33A5DB8%7d&NRORIGINALURL=%2fArchiveGov%2fpirsumyginzach%2fHistoricalPublications%2fHaravHerzog%2f&NRCACHEHINT=Guest#3

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  12. I'll keep my nose out of the halachic sha'alah, but I think it's worth noting that a recent documentary (The Invisible War) about rape in the US military apparently reported that the Defense Department's OWN figures state that 22,800 American service personnel were raped last year...often at the hands of superior officers!
    See this film review:
    http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120627/REVIEWS/120629975/1004/reviews08
    The military is NOT a safe place for a woman (nor, considering that 10% of those rapes were of men, for a man).

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  13. It seems to me that the quote you give about hand-shaking is specifically in that case, מפני שדרך חיבה היא. He doesn't say anything (here) about the general case of handshaking, which may not be דרך חיבה.

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    1. Rabbi Freifeld told me that it was a general psak regarding all handshaking.
      Rav Moshe Feinstein in the Igros also doesn't make distinctions but says that he knows of no heter

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    2. Bechol Nafshecha (R' YI Weinberg) chapter 6, footnote 9

      והנה ידוע בשם מרן החזו"א שאמר שעל נתינת יד לאשה יהרג ואל יעבור, והובא בקריינא דאיגרתא ח"א איגרת קס"ב, וכנראה ברור שאין כונתו על אופן שאונסים אותו או שעושה לרפואה, אלא כונתו להסביר את חומר הענין שאם עושים מעשה כזה לשם תאוה יש בזה חומר דיהרג ואל יעבור, אבל כשאינו לשם תאוה ודאי שרי במקום פקו"נ והסכימו על ידי שנים מגאוני הדור שליט"א

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  14. Sorry for not taking this seriouslyJuly 3, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    I asked our Rav about the pasak of the Chazon Ish. First he said that it was a good question and then explained that the Chazon Ish held that there was a change in the nature of the generations and even though there was no basis in the Gemara he saw fit to rule the way he did. "and Gedoli Hador" accepted it as a new standard.

    Live and learn

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  15. If the chazon ish came up on his own with this psak then maybe one can say that it was only ho'roass shah... but today maybe its different.after all the chazon ish is only a dass yachid.the fact that others followed his psak doesn't change that.

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    1. R'JJ and R' Seriously,
      IMHO this is an example of a meta-psak, i.e. grounded not in the micro halacha of yeharig v'al Yaavor but in the CI's take on what the draft would do to his flock (For those old enough - How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm After they've seen Paris, Paris?)
      KT
      Joel Rich

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    2. Uhmmm..."dass yachid"?

      The entire Moetzes of E"Y and America issued the identical psak based on their opinion.

      If anything the dass yachid is those who argue

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  16. Maybe we should deduce from the psak of the chazon ish that you should not be allowed to own a car because u can do alot more arayos with a car then going to the army. Where does YVY stop. Why start and stop with the army.women should not be able to work and neither should men outside of their homes for fear of assimilation and arayos.???

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  17. maybe we should deduce from your understanding that you don't believe that anyone's actions should be restricted no matter what the consequence for him or society? that no law is a good law and no government is a good government?

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  18. My point is not to deduce. Im trying to make a point. When the gemorah , brysa rashi etc.brings down a halacha, it doesn't just say that we had syata dishmaya to come up withis. It actually goes through the motion to explain how they came to that conclusion. Unlike all the bans that are passed out today like cigars. Oh we don't like a concert we are gonna ban it. No and if or but with no explanation. We are banning internet under all circumstances is what rav wozner paskind at the asifa, and then backed off after askanim had him briefed. Is this not laughable? Is a psak a psak just because someone says so with out backing it up? This is not how a psak was past in times of gemorah. Psokim and bans were not done in backroom deals with no accountability. We have abayye and rava we have hillel and shammai. Etc. Its called aylu vaelu. The entire bavli and yerushalmi consist of machlokes. That doesn't mean that one can force someone else to hold like him which is what we have today. For example in lakewood if you don't wear a black hat you are made to feel like u don't belong there. In williamsberg if u don't weaar a shpitzel, u are driven out of town. In lakewood, if you get married coming out of yeshiva you are socially forced to join kollel and if you don't you are treated as an outcst..etc. I think I said enough for now.

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    1. I don't agree your understanding of the good old days. the major difference is not so much the logic or scholarship - it is the highly fragmented nature of communities as opposed to a kehila or ghetto. This is what the Rambam points out in his introduction to Mishna Torah.

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  19. Rav Moshe's heter is presumably referring to the kissing also. Is that correct?
    It seems that he is saying that it's possible to kiss and shake hands in a way that it's ניכר there is no chiba. So can we apply this to other women also, at least close relatives such as an aunt etc.?

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  20. I have a question regarding the general draft for the Israeli army.

    In Europe, Jews were drafted in th Russian, Polish armies and nobody coudl refuse. Even some gedolim, including the Steipler were forced to serve in those armies. Yet, they did not sommit suicide or choose to be shot. So why is the army fighting for eretz Yisrael, defendin glives of Jews, with the ability tokeep kashrut (Ok, in the early days was not so well organised, but R' Goren fixed that as Rav of the army) suddenly something to avoid at all costs?

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    1. Answers to Eddie (Not that I believe them):

      1)Those Jewish soldiers weren't learning in kollel.

      2)The Zionist State doesn't really need them for the army. What they really want is to destroy all of Yiddishkeit, all Torah learning, and all observance of mitzvos. True, the Czarists wanted to do the same thing, but the Zioinsts are smarter.

      3)It's not that they don't want to go to the army, but that they fear that Kalal Yisroel would no longer be protected by the Torah learned in their kollelim.

      4)Or perhaps -- because the Czarists, unlike the Zionists, would have actually taken them up on the Yehareg v'al y'avor offer and actually shot them.

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    2. Shlomo's answers are quite amusing, but there is an element of truth in them.

      The poor Jews who were conscripted into armies of Napolean, the Czar etc, were also brutally savaged, pillaged,m murdered in pogroms by their Ashkenaz (= European ) compatriots. Yet they grew to love Europa, where the final Churban came. Gedolim from Lithuania and Poland despised the holy lands of Israel and America, and preferred to sit it out in their beloved Europe.

      Yet the Zionists, the evil secular Jews, never murdered Jewish communities, did not shoot down haredim who prostest (contrast with the wonderful Ishmaelites like Mr Assad, who are the beloved of the Neturei Karta), and nobody was enlisted in the rmy by force.

      Now it is true that there was abuse and kidnapping of a wave of Yemenite immigrants, and this is deplorable. But haredim learned they have little to fear from the evil Zionists, and hence can project the 2000 year hate for the goyim onto the lapsed Jewish Zionists, and not be murdered, pillaged etc, and even benefit largely for the educational subsidies they receive from the treife Medina.

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    3. I guess you didn't like answer #3, which was that they actually have no problem with going to the army, but would prefer to die rather than deny Klal Yisroel the protection brought to them by the kollelim.

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    4. Eddie,

      The poor in czarist Russia did not grow to love Europe. Millions of them emigrated when possible.

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