Monday, August 21, 2023

The honor of a Jewish women is staying in the house - moral value or halacha?

Alschich(Bereishis 34:1): And Dina went out.  It is incredible that the holy offspring such as Dina would be a gadabout – something which is not acceptable for women and especially not young virgins. Our Sages (Bereishis Rabba 80:1) say that the reason that the verse says that she was the daughter of Leah was to explain that just as her mother was a gadabout as it says that Leah went out to meet her husband... However the fact is that the behavior of Leah was not comparable to that of Dina because Leah went out to meet her husband. Furthermore our Sages say that it was because she was withheld from Esav that she was captured. But all of this doesn't explain  the fact that Dina was a gadabout. I think that when the Torah says that she was Leah’s daughter it to explain why she was a gadabout.... It says in Berachos (60a) ...that after Leah became pregnant with a boy she prayed that it be a female so as to not further disgrace her sister Rachel to have less male children then the maidservants and have only one boy to complete the expected number of 12 male children. We see from this gemora that Dina when she was conceived was a boy but she was changed into a girl before being born. Therefore someone who is in essence a male – it is not surprising that she should be a gadabout because that is a male characteristic and everything follows from the essence....

Bereishis Rabbah(8:12): And subdue her – A man is required to rule over his wife so that she doesn’t go out to the market. That is because every woman who goes out to the market place will eventually come to grief. This is learned from Dina as it says in Bereishis (34:1) And Dinah went out…and she got into trouble as it says and Shechem saw her. R’ Chanina says the law is in accord with this view.

Chasam Sofer(Shabbos 21b): And those who are mehadrin (zealous) each person lights their own candle. I saw that someone asked why our women do not act according to the mehadrin view (and don’t light their own candle)?  Especially when we see that if there is no male member of the household lighting that they light an extra candle each day in accord with the view of mehadrin min hamehadrin (extremely zealous). If they follow the view of mehadrin min hamedhadrin why don’t they also follow the mehadrin view? Answer: In my humble opinion, initially they decreed that the candles should be lit at the entrance door outside the house. Thus the mehadrin view is that each family member would go outside to light his own candle in addition to that done by the family head. Thus we will not find any woman who follows the mehadrin practice because it is not respectable for her to go out into the street at night and to light amongst the men. However if there is no male member of the household who lights, then the obligation is on her and she is forced to go outside to light. However if there is a male household member light then it is not a pious act for her to be strict with herself which will arouse suspicions against her. So even now that everyone lights inside, nevertheless the original practice of lighting outside has not been rejected and thus we keep the original practice as much as possible and the women don’t light.

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].

Gra(Letter to his wife): Purchase all your needs through a messenger, even if this would cost two or three times as much.….Concerning solitude, the main thing is to remain at home. Even your visit to the synagogue should be very short. In fact, it is better to pray at home, for it is impossible to be spared from jealousy or from hearing idle talk or lashon hara in the synagogue. And one receives punishment for this, as we find (Shabbos 33a), "Also one who hears and is silent...." This is even the more so on Shabbos and Yom Tov when they gather to talk - It is then better that you don't pray at all. Refrain also from going to the cemetery (especially women), as it leads to all kinds of sorrow and sin. It is also advisable that your daughter not go to the synagogue, because she'll see beautiful clothes there, become jealous and talk about it at home. This will lead to lashon hara, etc.

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…”

Magid Mishna(Hilchos Ishus 13:11): If it is the custom in that community for a woman not to go out As we said before, everything depends on the local custom and therefore the Rambam did not have to go into detail except to note that even though she could stay in the house without a cloak but since she can not go to the market without it her husband is obligated to give her a cloak in order that she can go visit a house of mourners or other places.... But it is a degradation of a woman…  In Bereishis Rabba (8:12) it mentions that an insult to say that a woman is always going out as it says that Dina went out. 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. The husband should prevent her from going out too much... as it says in Bereishis Rabah (8:12) which reads "Kivshuha" like 'Kavshah' to teach that a husband should prevent his wife from going out too much.

Menoras HaMeor(Chapter 20: Derech Eretz): A woman should not go out of the doorway of her house – except out of great necessity. That is because a woman who “goes out” sins and causes others to sin. How will she sin? It is known that women are light headed (daatan kalah) and it is possible that she will see men in the market and lust after them in her heart. It says in Bereishis Rabbah, “And man will fill the earth and conquer it”, that is understood to mean that a man should control his wife that she should not go out to the market since all those who go to the market will end up stumbling as is proven by the incident of Dina. It says in Tanchuma, “And Dina went out,” but it says in Tehilim that all the glory of the king’s daughter is being inside. Rav Yossi said that when a woman secludes herself within the house she deserves to marry a high priest and to have sons who are high priests as it says, “All the glory of the king’s daughter is being inside.” And if you remain honorably within the house then you will end up wearing golden garments meaning that you will marry someone one who deserves to wear the precious garments of the high priest. Rav Pinchas bar Chama said, When a woman secludes herself within the house – then just as the altar atones for sins - she will atone for her house.

Rambam(Hilchos Ishus 13:11): …A woman should be given proper clothing to go the house of her father or to the house of mourning or to a banquet. That is because every woman should visit her father’s house or visit the house of mourning or a banquet as well as show kindness to her friends and relatives in order that they should reciprocate with her. She is not a prisoner in her house that she is not free to come and go. However it is a degrading thing if she is always going outside - sometimes just outside and at other times into the streets. It is necessary that the husband restrains his wife from this and not let his wife go out except once a month or perhaps twice a month according to need. That is because the beauty of a woman is to sit in the corner of her house as it says in Tehilim (45:14): All the honor of the king’s daughter is inside.

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.

Shulchan Aruch (EH 73:1): Regarding clothing, a man is obligated to give his wife according to what women normally wear outside... And thus if a woman normally would not go out without a cloak that covers her whole body he is required to give her one. However a woman should not not accustom herself  to go out a lot becasue the beauty of a woman is to dwell inside her home...

Tehilim(45:14): All the honor of the king’s daughter is within; her clothing is of embrodiered gold.

Tur(E.H. 73): It is appropriate that a wife go the the house of mourning or to simcha. That is because every woman should go visit her parents as well the house of mourning or a simcha in order to bestow kindness on her friends and relatives - in order that they reciprocate for her. After all she is not a prisoner in jail who can not come and go. However it is degrading for a woman to go out of her home constantly either to go somewhere or to be on the street. Consequently a man should prevent his wife from doing so. He should not allow her out except for once or twice a month according to the need. That is because there is no beauty for a women except to sit inside her home  as it says “All the honor of the princess is to be inside.”

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