Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Halacha that a woman should stay in house?

Tehilim (45:14):  כָּל כְּבוּדָּה בַת מֶלֶךְ פְּנִימָה מִמִּשְׁבְּצוֹת זָהָב לְבוּשָׁהּ
 The daughter of the king is all glorious within; her clothing is of embroidered gold.

Rav Menashe Klein (9:250): Question: Concerning the halacha principle that a Jewish woman is considered a princess and therefore it is more respectful for that status that she should remain in the home (kavod bas melech penima) – is it preferable that a wife leave the home for the sake of her husband to a place of immorality [in order to earn a living or other purposes]. Answer: It is difficult to give a clear written response to this question. That is because in modern time this principle that it is best that a Jewish woman should stay in the home is almost nonexistent – because of our many sins. If a woman does remain in her home and doesn’t go out for any reason– even if it causes her husband to lose Torah study - then this is definitely an example of the principle. Traditionally a woman did not go out of her house. However after the Holocaust (because of our many sins) – when we find ourselves a small minority amongst the nations of the world and earning a livelihood is difficult – it has become normative practice for women to leave their homes. However in places outside the home there is the possibility of immorality and no protection against sexual sins – therefore it depends on the nature of the society and the characteristics of the woman. In particular whether she would in fact remain in the house all day if she had the opportunity. (See what I wrote in Mishne Torah 4:125) concerning sending Beis Yaakov girls out to collect money for charity.) First we need to clarify whether we actually rule that this principle is the halacha. It seems that in fact that it is a dispute amongst the poskim - as we see from Gittin 12 that apparently we don’t follow such a principle. Similarly Mahari Bruno (#242) was asked regarding a maid servant who did not want to leave the home to do the shopping because of this principle. He responded that we don’t rule in accord with this principle. In contrast we see in Yevamos (77a) that this principle is cited as halacha [from the fact that Amonite and Moabite women were not punished for failing to provide the Jews with bread and water - since all respectable woman remain in the home] . The Nimukei Yosef say there that the principle is halacha because all Jews are considered royalty. Shulchan Aruch (E.H 4) also rules like Yevamos (77a). See the Levush. Consequently we seem to have contradictory evidence as to whether it is halacha. Furthermore in Shabbos (111a), Rav Shimon says that all Jews are royalty and that is the halacha. On the other hand the Ran says that the Rif says that the halacha that all Jews are not considered royalty. However the BeHag and Rabbeinu Chananel rule like Rav Shimon...Rashi (Shabbos 59) writes that all Jews are royalty. Similarly in Mishna Berachos (1:2) says that they are royalty. However Rabbeinu Yona says normally they are not considered royalty but here we do. In my chidushim I write that there are three different circumstances. In truth there is no question that the honor of a princess is to stay in the home. However in spite of that, we find with Ruth that she did go out to gather grain amongst the other harvesters – and she is praised for doing so.  But look at Rashi and the interpretations of Chazal that say when she went out she sought out the company of proper people. If so we can state that when a person does need to go out of the home this principle requires finding a place where there are proper people. In such circumstances there is no prohibition. 
Eiruvin(100b): She is wrapped like a mourner, banished from all man and imprisoned in a jail [because the honor of the king’s daughter is within – Rashi] 

Bereishis Rabba (8:12): R. Johanan b. Berokah said: Concerning both man and woman it says,  AND GOD BLESSED THEM, etc.2 ‘We-kibshah’ (and subdue her) is written: the man must master his wife, that she go not out into the market place, tor every woman who goes out into the market place will eventually come to grief. Whence do we know it? From Dinah, as it is written, And Dinah... went out, etc. (Gen. XXXIV, 1). R. Isaac said in R. Hanina's name: The law is as stated by R. Johanan b. Berokah.

שו"ת מהר"י מברונא סימן רמב

נשאלתי השוכר משרתת אשה או נערה בתולה וראובן שולח אותה על השוק ובבתי הגויים יחידית והמשרתת אומרת השכרתני לשרת כדרך המשרתות בבית ולא כדרך האנשים היוצאים בחוץ:

והשבתי כן הנשים דוברות. אין ראובן יכול לכופן ליכנס יחידית בבתי הגויים ואף יש איסור בדבר משום יחוד, ואף במקום שרבים רגילים ליכנס שם נהי דאיסור ליכא מ"מ אינו יכול לכופן, דיש נשים צנועות נוהגות בצניעות או יראות מרוב שנאה שלא יטילו עליה שם רע או כה"ג, אמנם על השוק בגילוי, רגילות הנשים לילך אבל הבתולות אין דרכן לצאת לשוק ואינו יכול לכוף, ונ"ל דאף איסור יש בדבר שנאמר לא תצא כצאת העבדים. וכתב בפי' התורה לר' יעקב בר אשר ז"ל שנקרא נזיר וז"ל י"מ שלא ישלחנה בחוץ לעשות מלאכתו אלא תשמשנו בבית, עכ"ל והתורה בבתולה קאי ובבתולה מיירי אבל נשים לא כדפירש', אף על גב דכתיב כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה מ"מ אשכחן בפ"ק דגיטין (יב א) דשכיח כדאמרינן מהו דתימא כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה קמ"ל, ובפרק המוצא תפלין (ערובין ק ב) אמר גבי יו"ד קללות שנתקללה חוה וחבושה בבית האסורים ואידך הנך שבח הוא לה דכתיב כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה, והטעם כל ישראל בני מלכים הם. ולית הלכתא הכי, דאמרינן בפ' המקב' (ב"מ קיג א) אמר אביי כולהו ס"ל כל ישראל בני מלכים הם, וכל היכא דאמר אביי הכי כולהו בחד שיטה לית הלכתא כחד מינייהו, כדפסק האשירי בכמה דוכתין, ואף על גב דבפ' ח' שרצים (שבת קכו ב) פסק רב הלכתא כרשב"ג דאמר הכי מפרש התם הלכתא כוותיה ולא מטעמיה ע"ש, וכן פסק האשירי בהדי' בפ' מפנין 


  1. Where was this mythical time and place that Jewish women did not leave the house? Certainly not anywhere in pre-war Europe where women in every shtetl of which I am aware worked as shop keepers and small business women outside the home. Certainly not in Medieval Europe or even in the Gemmorah times when Jewish women worked at the same jobs and as laudresses, dyers, hair dressers etc.

    1. Before modern times, most jobs were performed in or near the home. The shop keepers of "every shtetl" often lived above or next to their shops, so it was like an extension of the home. Quite different from today, where typically people travel considerable distances to an office or other place of business. (This is true for men and women.)

    2. i agree with raphael. i grew up with stories about my grandmothers and great grandmothers. they all worked, outside of the house. in europe they worked in markets (not in a shop) and in america in factories.

      IMO the statement "Traditionally a woman did not go out of her house." is a bit of revisionist history.

  2. 1) Women should stay inside:

    (a) Poskim

    1. Shulchan Aruch (73:1): A man must give his wife clothing like women normally wear outside. A woman should not go outside much. The beauty of a woman is to stay inside - "Kol Kevudah..."

    i. Gra (4): Hash-m did not create Chavah from Adam's foot, lest she roam too much (Bereishis Rabah 18:2). "Ishtecha k'Gefen Poriyah" is only when she is modest "b'Yarkesei Veisecha" (Medrash Tehilim 128:3).

    (b) Rishonim

    1. Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 13:11): A man must give his wife clothing like women normally wear outside in order that she can go to her father or a house of mourning or Simchah. She may go to these places to bestow Chesed to her friends and relatives, in order that they will come to her. She is not a prisoner who may not come and go. However, it is degrading for a woman to always be outside and on the streets. A man should prevent his wife from doing so. She should go outside once or twice a month, according to the need. The beauty of a woman is to stay inside - "Kol Kevudah Bas Melech Penimah".

    i. Source (Magid Mishneh): Bereishis Rabah (45:5) says that when the Torah discusses the detriment of women, it says that they go out - 'Va'Tetzei Dinah". The Sifri (Tetzei 242 (23)), regarding a Na'arah Me'orasah who was enticed to Zenus, says that a breach (going out in the city) calls to the thief. Bereishis Rabah (8:12) reads "Kivshuha" like 'Kavshah' to teach that a husband should prevent his wife from going out too much.

    2. Rambam (Nedarim 12:11): If a woman vowed not to give water to her husband's animals, he cannot annul it. A wife need not do this for her husband.

    i. Kesef Mishneh: A wife must give straw to her husband's animals, but she need not give water. This is because normally one leaves the house to go to the river or spring for this, and "Kol Kevudah..."

    4. Rosh (Kesuvos 13:17): If a man married a woman from a city of the same quality as his own, even if he married her in his city we force him to live in her city. We learn from "Be'ulas Ba'al"... Another reason is because he can go to visit his friends, but she cannot, due to "Kol Kevudah."

    5. Rosh (Shevu'os 4:2): The Ri ha'Levi learns from our Gemara that we do not disgrace an honorable woman to go to Beis Din, due to "Kol Kevudah." Rather, we send a Shali'ach of Beis Din to hear her claims. The Aruch and R. Chananel agree. The Ramban and Teshuvos of the Rif and Rav Sadya Gaon do not allow this. The Rif allows only that Beis Din send scribes to record her claim. The same applies to a Chacham for whom it is degrading to argue with Amei ha'Aretz in Beis Din; his honor is greater than a woman's.

    i. Teshuvos Maimoniyos (Mishpatim 5): The Gemara (Nazir 12a) says that women are Kevu'os due to "Kol Kevudah."

    1. key phrase in the rambam "She should go outside once or twice a month, according to the need.". whatever they needs were than, today needs are different. you can't define that the role of a woman is to provide for the physical needs of her husband (who should be learning) and than turn around and say "don't leave the house!".

    2. The point remains that she should not go out for unessential activities.


  3. (c) Gemara

    1. (R. Yochanan): Avner told Do'eg 'We learned that an Amoni and a Mo'avi are forbidden, but an Amonis and a Mo'avis are not!'
    2. Question (Do'eg): If so, you should say that a Mitzri is forbidden, not a Mitzris!
    3. Answer (Avner): Mo'avim are forbidden "Because they did not go out to greet you with bread and water." This does not apply to women. It is normal for men to go out to greet, but not for women.
    4. Objection (Do'eg): The men should have gone out to greet the men, and the women to greet the women!
    5. Avner was silent.
    6. Question: How can we answer?
    7. Answer #1 (Chachamim of Bavel): "Kol Kevudah Vas Melech Penimah" (it is dishonorable for women to go outside, even to greet women).
    8. Answer #2 (Chachamim of Eretz Yisrael): We learn this from " ... Where is your wife Sarah?" (It is praiseworthy that she stayed in the tent.)
    9. (Beraisa - R. Yehudah): "Amoni" and "Mo'avi" are forbidden, not Amonis and Mo'avis;
    10. R. Shimon says, "Because they did not go out ..." - it is the way of a man ...
    11. Nazir 12a (R. Yochanan): If Reuven made a Shali'ach to be Mekadesh an unspecified woman and the agent died, Reuven may not marry any woman (Leah), lest the Shali'ach was Mekadesh Leah's relative to Reuven.
    12. Question (Reish Lakish): When a Hekdesh bird flies away, we are not concerned about other birds (lest it is the Hekdesh bird; we follow the majority. The same should apply here (most women are not Leah's relatives)!
    13. Answer (R. Yochanan): Because woman do not roam, the Safek is considered Kavu'a (fixed), so we don't follow the majority.
    15. Gitin 12a (Beraisa): If a wife was exiled to a refuge city, her husband must feed her. He can tell her to feed herself from her earnings only if she earns enough to feed herself.
    16. Question: If she can earn enough, this is obvious!
    17. Answer: One might have thought that due to "Kol Kevudah...", she need not work and he must feed her. The Beraisa teaches that this is not so.
    18. Shevu'os 30a - Question: What is the source that (women are invalid witnesses, so) Shevu'as ha'Edus does not apply to women?
    19. Answer (Beraisa): "V'Omdu Shnei ha'Anashim" refers to the witnesses.
    20. Question: Perhaps it refers to the parties in the case!
    21. Answer #1: The Torah would not say "men", for women also need to come for judgment.
    22. Answer #2: If you prefer, you can learn from "Shnei" (masculine).
    23. Question: What objection might one have to the first answer?
    24. Answer: Normally women do not come to Beis Din for judgment (rather, they send a man to plead their case), due to "Kol Kevudah..."

  4. So, someone else can pick up kids from school, lug home tons of groceries, run out every time a kid needs a new book or eraser for school, buy the kids shoes..and for that matter, go to work. I can still go out to do chesed and for s'machot...Sounds like a great deal to me, but it's not clear which "someone else" would do all these jobs...

  5. So let me get this straight:
    The man can't work, he can only go from home to shul to kollel and back.
    The woman can't leave the house.
    Internet is forbidden so she can't really do much in terms of a work-from-home business.
    And food will magically fall in their backyard if they maintain this "righteous" level"?

    1. Actually you missed the point. Because she needs to remain in the house the husband can't learn in kollel but needs to get a job.

      I heard Rav Feivel Cohen publicly state - 30 years ago - that if a man is in kollel because he is sending his wife to out to work in an inappropirate atmosphere - he has absolutely no reward for that Torah learning.

      We thus have a paradox according to those that hold that there is a genuine halacha that a wife should stay home. In order to be very frum and learn full time - then the wife is forced to violate basic laws of tznius. In short it is a mitzva habah b'aveira.

      On the other hand if you hold that there is no halacha for the wife to stay at home - then there is no halachic problem if she goes to work. We thus have a conflict of the maximal position on learning with the maximal position of tznius.

    2. There is no paradox. The husband goes to kollel. The wife stays home. And the posek who instructed them still gets his meals on a regular basis.

  6. Aishet Chayil: "Haysa kaniyos socher mimerchak tavi lachma"

    1. Yes she runs a business in her home

    2. Really? How many "home businesses" can an impoverished community support? How many women selling clothes out of their basement can keep afloat?

    3. Statements like "she runs a business in her home", just how closely do they reflect reality? How many women in Har Nof, those who work, do so out of their home?

    4. "mimerchak" means from afar.
      Regardless, "house arrest" is cruel. One common way that abusers keep their wives under control is by forbidding them to leave the house.
      Women in our community experience great pleasure in attending women-only plays and concerts. Since we don't have to worry about bitul Torah, it seems churlish to allow women out of the home only to work or for simchas.

    5. My point was simply that Aishes Chayil isn't necessarily proof against a woman staying home.

  7. Even goyim traditionally recognized for millenia that women belong in the home.


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