Friday, October 12, 2012

Nitei Gavriel:Not speaking to women

Hebrew Books   Nitei Gavriel (Chapter 50 Yichud page 325): Avos (1:5) says, “A man should not have excessive idle conversation (sicha) with a woman. That is said in regards to one’s wife so even more so it applies to the wife of another.” Therefore when a man has no choice but to speak to a woman he should minimize it as much as possible. That is what the Derech Pekudecha (Mahartza Mudinov - Lo Saaseh 35:8) concluded. He said, “It is surprising that accomplished Torah scholars and G‑d fearing men are not careful of this prohibition which requires them to weigh precisely each word that they speak with a woman in order not to add even one unnecessary word. I personally could not find a legitimate justification for this behavior. However I provided some sort of rationale for it based on the Sefer Chasidim which is cited by the Beis Shmuel (E.H. 62:11). He says that at a wedding meal – if there a men and women together in a single room then the beracha of hasimcha b'miono should not be recited. That is because there is no true rejoicing in a place where the evil inclination operates freely. In fact I have not seen anyone who has acts in accord with this ruling. I did find an explanation for this in the Levush who writes, ‘And now we are not careful with to observe this ruling because it is normal for women to be frequently found together with men (e.g., business, professions, and stores). As a consequence of this reality, sinful thoughts when seeing women are not so prevalent as when the sexes were kept separate because they are viewed neutrally as one would view geese due to the constant habituation. Therefore since it has become normal to violate this concern – it is ignored .’ One must conclude according this analysis that when a Jewish community is operating properly and livelihood is readily obtained you will not see a single woman outside the home because they are not involved in commerce. Consequently a man living in that community if he happens to see a woman – it is something extremely rare experience and therefore it will generate erotic thoughts and feelings. In contrast when the weight of exile is heavy and livlihood is difficult to obtain the women are involved in commerce and there is no novelty for a man to see women. Therefore he becomes habituated to the sight of a woman and doesn’t become sexual aroused so much when he see one. Therefore if we see that habituation removes the problem of men having erotic thoughts from being with women, it should also apply to our case of excessive talking [and therefore when the norm is that men interact  with women there should be no restriction on conversation.]  We can answer this assertion by noting that it is clear that a man does not in fact get sexually aroused by excessive chatter because of habituation. Nevertheless despite the existence of habituation in conversation, it is clear that this leniency for habituation can not be applied in the case of conversation. That is because excessive conversation is prohibited even with his wife with whom he is obviously habituated. That is because speaking and voice are considered sexual because they are mentioned in the Shir haShirim (2:14), Your voice is sweet and Shir haShirim (4:3), Your speech is pleasant (This is astounding! Is the ordinary voice of a women considered sexually arousing – isn’t it in fact only the singing voice? N.G.). It is possible that at the time when ordinary conversations with a woman were presumed to prohibited because of sexual arousal that they made the decree to prohibit excessive talk even with one’s wife. [to be continued]

Nitei Gavriel Yichud Chapter 50


  1. The tile for this posting is inaccurate. It should read:

    Nitei Gavriel:Not speaking to women *excessively*

    1. If I was just translating the chapter heading you are correct - however that is not the content of the chapter which is the reason I posted this. His second halacha states, "When a person can not avoid speaking with her [another's wife] he must minimize it to the degree possible."

      Thus this chapter is saying the ideal is not to speak with women - in contrast to the language of Avos 1:5 - "one should not speak excessively with his wife and surely not with another's wife."

      He also brings a source which laments the comfort most frum people have in talking with women - and that he claims is not the ideal state but because of the economic necessities of our society. It is clear that he holds that ideally women should stay home and have no contact with men and that men should have no contact with women other than their wives.

      Thus my point is that he is has a different understanding of Avos 1:5 then the Alshech and others have. This perhaps is reflected the question that Rav Menashe Klein raised as to whether the halacha is like Gittin 12 & Mahri Bruna - that a woman is not required to stay in the house or Yevamos 77a that she is

  2. Can we please get a translation or at least a synopsis of what the Sefer says in the above quoted sections?

  3. So let the men leave kollel and go to work and let the women stay home. Why are we training our Beis Yaakov and seminary girls to work and support their families while there husbands sit in kollel? The girls should be taught to stay home and marry working men.


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