Friday, April 24, 2009

Don't Seat Me In The Back Of The Bus!

Sorry, I couldn't find an illustration of a modern bus, of the types used here in Israel, but this one does have the same basic proportions.

In recent years there has been a very disturbing trend in Israel. Chareidi Jews, those who look for extreme ways of interpreting Jewish Law, have succeeded in getting the public bus companies to establish "separate seating routes."
I'm a religious, Torah-observant Jew and I don't see what's so holy in pushing women to the limited seats in the back of the bus. In these buses married couples are forbidden to sit together. Even if one of the couple is sick or infirm, his/her spouse must desert the needy partner or other passengers attack them.
Most bus seating arrangements are like this illustration. There are many more seats in the front of the bus, so it's very common for women to be forced to stand while the men are seated one to a two-passenger seat.
Now, I don't know what Torah these guys obey, but in their zeal not to look at women, they ignore those who need help. That is a much bigger sin than walking through an aisle in which women are sitting on both sides.
I'd like to hear some rabbis quoting Jewish Law opposing these discriminatory buses. It really bothers me that the non-Chareidi Torah rabbis allow the Chareidi ones to make up laws. I don't see the Chareidim as more authentically Jewish as us ordinary religious Torah Jews. Actually, it's the opposite. They've adopted very Christian attitudes.
The Chareidim have set up Jewish monasteries, differing only in that the yeshiva students are encouraged to marry and have children. Our forefathers and Chazal, wise men, always worked at professions. The great mitzah is to "work for six days and rest for the seventh." Studying theory isn't work.
Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom
Have a Good Month and A Peaceful Shabbat


Shiloh said...

Muse, you know how to push buttons now. I have been hammered about quoting the Torah, like what you mentioned, working 6 days... I quote the Torah often, and the Charedim are somewhat uncomfortable with me doing so. When I brought up about our sages who worked, I stated that they where actually worth listening to, why, because when one works, he or she lives the Torah. When one sits, milks off the system, and learns, they truly don't know haShem's Torah. They learn replacement theology. It is true, and a sore spot for most, that I agree that they are not what one may call authentic. The Torah states don't follow the majority to evil. I beleive that some are that. Moshe warned us in the Torah, we did not, still don't listen to what it says. We follow the fences, the additions and deletions. We are hammered by a non-people ('palestinian arabs') exactly, exactly, exactly like Moshe said would happen. Will we wake up, absouluty not. Will the ever so powerful Erev Rav delay the geulah. Absoulutly so. There are prophecies that took place, seven years ago roughly that I am sure you, nor any on this blog are aware. Some kosher rabbi's know about it, along with some not so kosher. Are they delaying the geulah or not as the Baal Shem Tov wrote about. Anyway, back to your post. It is utter nonsense for the incredible ignorance of the imposed fences which contradict the essence of the Torah. Cleanse ones heart of lusting after women whom you are not married to, not dating, are not attached to oneself. Follow the Torah, and you don't need all the fences. This all hacks me to no end. Shabbat Shalom.

Batya said...

Shiloh, yes, it's our Torah. We're the authentic Jews, Baruch Hashem! Don't let them shake you.

rickismom said...

Several points:
I don't know what type of chareidim you are talking about, but here in Bnei Brak, in my experience, we have no problem with ill-effects from separate seating.
1. The reason separate seating is asked for is not a demeaning of women, but simply trying to set up a system where a man does not have to push through a CROWDED bus of women to reach the exit.
2.In my experience, the "dividing line" between men and women is flexible, and if there are empty seats in the front, and none in the back, women ask the men in the last row(s) to move forward. I have NEVER seen a man refuse to do so.
3. Couples who want to sit together routinely do so in the "dividing line" area.

Once, when I was on my way Friday afternoon to sheva brochas in Jeruslem, I inadvertantly sat in the men's section (next to my son). The bus filled up. Then I was asked to move. I replied "Fine, but when I got on there were seats, and I am NOT standing all the way to Jerusalem. Arrange me a seat and I will move. This was arranged graciously.

I don't know about chareidim in other places, but here things are generally handled quite well. The problem in your area, it would seem, is not a problem with buses, but for some reason an attitude of animosity has arose, causing people to forget their should-know-better-good-manners.

Final Point: About chareidim and work I will post soon (maybe motzei shabbat??? Sunday???)bli neder.

rickismom said...

In the end I will not be making a separate post, just will add here:
Chareidi World- Men “Learning” as opposed to “working”

Often I hear rather seething comments from the more modern blogs about the chareidim not working, being leeches, etc. I would like to weigh in here with several thoughts. I have given these points a lot of thought, as I have all different types of viewpoints among my children.
The problem with all men "learning" as opposed to working (although many DO work today) is one in transition. Originally an answer to the near-erasure of the Torah world in the holocaust, society pressure has pressured everyone to "Learn". However ,we DO need good learners, and I would like to see:

-more good job opportunities for the chareidim and more APPROPRIATE educational settings to attain needed skills. (When the city hall here offers the SAME vocational courses year after year, I wonder if they think that Bnei Brak really needs that many photographers and reflexoligists.....

- I would also like to see more support for REALLY good learners. We as a nation really DO need good Torah scholars

-And since there ARE men who will want to learn even though they are not the best, I would like to see the girls seminaries offer more types of training. We are overloaded with teachers, and it is simply not a way to support a family.

Until we do this, I feel that we will simply lose more and more youth from our community, as youngsters who do not want to live in poverty opt out of the current system.

Batya said...

Rickismom, thanks for your input. I'm glad that the nastiness isn't universal.
About the learning full-time. It's more effective when combined with other studies and work, because Halacha is supposed to be integrated into real life. That's the true beauty of Judaism the synthesys of kodesh and chol, holy and "profane"/ordinary.
We're not supposed to have "two classes" of people, those who work and those who study.
I agree about needing much more variety of professional training for males and females.
Chodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom

Anonymous said...

oy, this post.
an authentic jew is a jew born of a jewish mother, or a person who converted according to halakhic guidelines.
the culture of the old yishuv -- you know, the one made up of those ashkenazi jews who showed up here in the 1850s or so -- was to be supported. this is just a continuation of the culture. i do not like it, but lets see it for what it is.
the bus companies *should* give the hareidim separate buses. they want it, and egged, as a govt mandated monopoly, should supply it.
whether the hareidim should want it is another question. i believe they see it as a matter of tznius, so they should not have to push thru a crowded bus. incidentally, i am sure you have noticed that, as it is, orthodox/hareidi men and women tend not to sit next to each other on the bus. this is more a matter of culture than of halakha, and should be respected.
there are plenty of r-z who learn all day, not working. har hamor, anyone?
and whats with the definition of hareidi as 'those who look for extreme ways of interpreting jewish law?' i am not sure if that is more ignorant or insulting.
sorry if i come off harsh or belligerent; i think it is your tone which has generated this.
have a good shabbos.

Batya said...

Well, a, some people may not like my tone, ok.
I don't think separate bus lines are all that efficient and good for the public. Many times when waiting for a bus in Neve Yaakov, buses, of the "separate line" pass and don't stop at the stop, because they only stop in chareidi neighborhoods. So Egged has to run extra buses at the same time. That's a waste of money. And it's a waste of time to be waiting for a "mixed bus." Neither bus is full at all.The only people who have pushed me at bus stops have been chareidi men. Non-religious men keep their distance. If those chareidi men would only learn to keep their hands to themselves, there would be no problem. And if they really want separate buses, let them sit in the back.

Netivotgirl said...

Batya, here I disagree with you. I've seen my husband have to squeeze past half naked women with no choice but touch them on the way to the exit. (You do notice that there is a new fashion statement whereby women show off their exposed chests!)

This chol ha'moed one of my married sons ended a picnic he and his wife had in a public park early because they felt so uncomfortable with this lewd manner of dress. So my son rightly left without as much as saying "boo," since those women (whom I pray some day come closer to Torah,) have the right to dress as they choose in a public area.

However as Anon mentioned, since the gov't won't allow the charedim in Jerusalem to organize a private bus service (they asked permission and were refused,) Egged should provide these services.

*sigh* I pray for the day we all try to "dan le'kav zechut" every Jew even when we don't agree with their ideas; behaviour; etc. I believe Mashiach is just waiting to come and THIS is the key. Even with national leaders I abhor, I pray they do teshuva. Call me naive!!!

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov!

Batya said...

Esther, I also pray that:
"pray for the day we all try to "dan le'kav zechut" every Jew even when we don't agree with their ideas; behaviour; etc. I believe Mashiach is just waiting to come and THIS is the key. Even with national leaders I abhor, I pray they do teshuva."

But you're mixing up the horrendous lack of tzniyus with the lack of derech erertz to women, the elderly etc. We don't have a car, and I use public transportation a lot.

More separate bus lines will reduce bus service for others. If chareidim travel on different lines, then there will be fewer traveling on existing lines, and that mean less frequent service.

On separate lines, spouses are forbidden to ride together, not even when one needs to help the other.

It's a pandora's box.

If the men insist on separate seating, they should take the back, where there are fewer seats. Not too many of them are pregnant and carrying infants and toddlers.

Shiloh said...

The Mashiakh is waiting for haShem to reveal him. We are too fragmented today to expect anything different. If we followed the Torah of haShem and NOT the mitvoth of men, we would unite. The problem is that we added to the Torah all to the point that neither Moshe, nor David would recognise what we call Judaism today. Show me one place in the Torah of Moshe for separate seating on busses and I will argue for it. Instead of following the Torah and cleansing the land, we quible over separate seating and thinking we then are fulfilling the will of haShem, thus pretending how holy we have become. It reminds me of the story in the Talmud of the not so kosher animal sticking out his hooves, saying "look at me, I am kosher". We are so far from the will of haShem and we absouluty refuse to see this fact. Thankyou Erev Rav for keeping us alive on one hand, while killing us spirtually on the other and condemning anyone who does not agree with the heavily redacted religion you have created. Oy to the faithless shepards who have lead us astray.

Josh said...

The men can't sit in the back (where the cool people sit). Then they'd be staring at every single girl that walks down the aisle. Apparently, women are supposed to get on in the back. I don't know how they pay. About ten years ago, I would take a bus route infrequently on which some buses were 'mehadrin' and sit in the back as usual. I didn't know at the time what that 'mehadrin' sticker meant, and frankly no one ever said anything to me.

What does 'it's our Torah' mean?

Frankly, I see the 'real Jew' somewhere between Haredi and Torani. 'Hardali' is close but there seems to only be one Hassidut of the Hardali Jew and that is Kook.

Anonymous said...

the basic answer is always: ahavat yisrael. how to apply it in specific situations. which includes women who lack tzius. they also need to understand respecting others who don't want to see their lack of tznius.

consideration is the key.

life has enough struggles, getting on a bus should not be one of them!!

Batya said...

josh, a, yes, it's not simple.

Maybe I'd be more "open" to it if I had experienced better treatment by Chareidi men. In my experiecne they don't get up for women, old or pregnant. Yes, when I was young and pregnant and now. If the women are hidden in the back, they'll have the perfect excuse.

In Jerusalem, at least, most female bus riders are religious and covered up.

You're supposed to help people not ignore them.

Keli Ata said...

I feel kind of stupid posting on this thread since I've not been to Israel and know nothing about the etiquette of taking a bus.

Women--especially pregnant-, the elderly and the handicapped just get the seats up front as a matter of courtesy. That's always been the standard, at least in the US. Where young people fail to honor this the bus driver usually instructs them to give their seat to the elderly, pregnant or handicapped.

I find it curious that in Israel men who would sing Eishet Chayil to their wives on Shabbat would relegate a modestly dressed woman to the back of the bus.

Just a little question--I typically smile at fellow passengers men and women when I get on a bus in the US. Would that be permitted in Israel? To smile at a man just as a friendly hello? Or would that be improper?

Batya said...

keli, good points. About the smiles, it depends. Some places a smile helps and others they're ignored or worse.

Shiloh said...

Keli, you should visit Israel. A real eye opener.

I went to Safed for Shabbat a couple of years ago. Upon returning to Jerusalem motzi Shabbat, just after midnight, I went to exit the bus out the front door. I had to fight my way out as all the righteous herd all at once wanted to enter the bus to get their seat. It was exactly like animals who have not been fed for a while. So sad. Then they come up with these fences so they remain holy and not undress a woman with their minds. Lets act like civil humans first.

josh said...

I am almost certain that I've posted this before here. Why should anyone have the right to expect any courtesy from anyone else? I think that is arrogance as well as ignorance. My wife also accuses me of missing things and I try to tell he that it's not on purpose. When she realized this, then this reduced her disappointment by 5%. Baruch Hashem!

If a man does not get up for 'someone in need', then perhaps asking nicely might do the trick. If anyone has been disappointed because they were not treated as expected, then, Baruch Hashem, move on, it is a big world and who can waste time on these emotions?

Batya said...

Yes, I've asked, and I've asked for others... and blogged about it, too, but don't have time to look for the links.

Batya said...

Shiloh, yes, exactly

Hadassa DeYoung said...

rickismom, over the past five-plus years I have seen many ads for training programs specifically for hareidim, men and women, separately of course, in a variety of useful professions: computers, medicine, accounting, business in general and more. The Intel plant in Jerusalem caters to the religious. The number of single-gender institutions offering degree programs, including masters degrees, grows every year. Most, if not all, offer "bagrut" completion programs. Most importantly these courses of study include religious studies along side acquiring a profession. "Rabban Gamliel.. All Torah study that is not together with work will cease in the end, and leads to transgressions." Ethics of the Fathers 2:2

Batya said...

Hadassa, thanks for adding the info.

Anonymous said...

About the learning situation, I would like to point out that this is somethin which happened only in the last two generations,
The way it should be is that at a certain age the roish yeshiva should decide which bochur is capable of being succesfull in learning and sending all the others to work. the problem as I understand it, is that the Roshei Yeshiva have no balls to decide and will urge everyone to learn.
And how did this whole madness start? by brainwashing the girls (and parents) about taking a choson a learner and by that forcing everyone to learn in order to get married with a choshuve shidduch. now tell me that Judaism wasen't hijacked...

Batya said...

a, it's a money thing. As the boys schools got weaker and less academic, the only thing the graduates could do was stay in the Beit Medrash. Vicious cycle.
Easier money than getting jobs.

Lady-Light said...

How the heck did I miss this post of yours?!
I agree with you, Batya: it is written in Pirkei Avot (paraphrasing), "ein Torah bli derech eretz," which means in that context that one needs to work to provide for his family and study Torah, not one or the other, exclusively.

The phrase "derech eretz" in other contexts also means consideration or respect, which the Hareidim on the buses that you're describing are lacking seriously.

Also, Shiloh's comment is right on: he(she?) says that 'we added to the Torah, to the point that Moshe Rabbeinu wouldn't recognize it!'

Does it not say in Devarim 4:2 -
לֹא תֹסִפוּ, עַל-הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם, וְלֹא תִגְרְעוּ, מִמֶּנּוּ ?

Do the Hareidim realized that they are violating the very principles of the Torah?

Batya said...

My dear girl, great comment.
You werent' visiting too many blogs when this was posted.