Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yelling on The Bus

FYI I have edited, corrected and re-edited this post, because somehow blogger changes the order of lines and sentences.  This has gotten so messed up; even I have problems following what I had written. Does anyone else suffer these problems with blogger?

Yesterday I had a busy morning facilitated by miraculously convenient rides and buses.  Yes, siyata d'Shmaya, G-d's handy transportation system was very efficient. It even provided me with some entertainment.

After getting rather, B"H, easily to the pool in Neve Yaakov via a "tremp" (ride) and bus, I caught the 25 to Pisgat Zeev and bought some things in the mall for my father (and mother for when she makes aliyah, G-d willing.)  Then just as I got to the bus tremp stop, a 143 pulled up.  Since my tentative plan, depending on what G-d was to offer me, was to buy a couple of things at the Rami Levi discount supermarket in Shaar Binyamin, that Kochav Yaakov/Tel Zion bus was perfect.

As I was paying the driver, I heard a man's voice:
"Young women should sit in the back, to honor and not to distract the male passengers."

Obviously, he wasn't addressing me.  I quipped to the driver that women sixty-plus deserve their own honor.

Then I heard a woman reply to that man that he should stop staring at women and mind his own business.  Their argument got louder and I even joined in a bit.  It was very entertaining listening to them shouting out various rabbinic statements. 

The young woman, who had obviously caught his attention, had no problem putting down his demands, and I gave her the stage.  He ignored me and my even older female friend.  We sat very comfortably in the front of the bus.  The young woman was the lightening rod for his anger.  His parting shot was:

"You're a disgrace to chareidi women."
I guess she wore that "uniform," at least as far as he could discern.

There's one important thing she should have replied to his "the rabbis say."  In Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of the Fathers, it is written:

 "Rabban Gamliel said, make for yourself a rabbi, remove yourself from doubt, and do not give extra tithes due to estimation."
To that she could have added:

"Your rabbi isn't my rabbi. I follow the Mishna in Pirkei Avot and chose my own. My rabbi says that women should sit where convenient, and men should mind their own business.  Try looking out the window or in a book."
That man in the bus has no right to judge others and force his or his rabbi's opinion. It wasn't requested.


Hadassa said...

The Mehadrin buses (separate seating) are fine as a option, but those in favor of them must realize that they are a stringency that should not be forced on the general public. Men should sit in the back of the bus. Women are far more likely to get on the bus with small children - and strollers - and to be affected by motion sickness.
On regular buses, sitting next to a member of the opposite sex, which is problematic according to "normal" rabbis, can be avoided through mutual respect and a kind request.
The hareidim have unfortunately botched their campaign through insensitivity. A few explanations in the very beginning could have prevented much of the bad feeling caused by their demands.

Old Yellowstain said...

On regular buses, sitting next to a member of the opposite sex, which is problematic according to "normal" rabbis

"Normal" rabbis?

Then over my entire lifetime, I must not have known any "normal" rabbis. Not a single one of them ever gave us a discourse on not sitting down next to the opposite gender on public transport.

Perhaps "normal" is no more.

Batya said...

If they want separation, the men should go to the back, women and mixed in the front.

Why "mixed?" Simply because there are times when either a married couple or parent-child need/want to travel together.

And we don't need seat police! There are bigger sins to fry.

Anonymous said...

There are bigger sins to fry.

Have no fear. Sufganiya and latke season approacheth!

Keli Ata said...

LOL Shy. Let'ss bring on the fried dough!

The man on the bus should have kept his commentary to himself and wouldn't have ended up in an argument. Interesting how a dispute over men and women sitting on a bus led to a discussion and debate among women and a man over rabbinic rulings.

Only in Israel:)

Glad you enjoyed yourself, Batya:)

Batya said...

Yes, keli, it's never dull!

Hadassa said...

The problem with sitting next to a member of the opposite sex on a bus is that it is usually virtually impossible to not touch the person next to whom you are sitting because of the movement on the bus. Two very thin people may have a chance. Accidental touching is not specifically forbidden, but if the bus goes into a sharp, sudden curve, which has happened to me, it is very easy to end up on your neighbors lap. Crowded buses are particularly difficult to navigate. Why put yourself in a position like that?
I definitely remember in talks (given by educators in the national-religious, not hareidi, community) about modesty learning that one should not sit next to a member of the opposite sex unless there is no choice. And in observant - not specifically hareidi - communities in Israel this is a common practice, and not just on buses.

Batya said...

Yes, I've noticed that people have become much more careful about it over the years.

Rahel Jaskow said...

R. Moshe Feinstein said in his ruling that touching on public transportation was not a sin because it was inadvertent and not an expression of affection.

You can read about my experience on a taxi van a few years ago here.

The man on the bus was after power, not modesty. Modest people do not use threats, intimidation and shouting to get their way.

Batya said...

Well, Rahel, maybe for that guy it would be intentional. And why should he feel it necessary to speak to a strange woman and notice that she's attractive?

I guess to those chareidi men, women are just sex objects.

Lady-Light said...

Rahel said it beautifully: "The man on the bus was after power, not modesty. Modest people do not use threats, intimidation and shouting to get their way."

A "mentsch" would look down, or out the window, or at his sefer or newspaper rather than be nasty to a woman sitting there.

And, I wonder how many realize how wise a Rav Rav Moshe Feinstein (zts"l)was...?

(Batya, it's a good thing I wasn't on that bus...!)

Batya said...

Amen x2

Lady-Light said...

Batya, I posted a comment on your other post on this subject; hope it went through...(this subject makes me mad as hell; it means the Jewish people are going down the wrong path, in both directions!)

Batya said...

LL, we're on the same track.