Saturday, February 20, 2010

Solution to the "Women to the Back" Bus Dilemma

This could very well be one of those pre-Purim jokes.  I wouldn't be surprised if the the Jerusalem Post had been conned when they published this piece about individual, portable mechitzot (curtains) for men to wear in airplanes to prevent them from seeing movies, women etc.

Let the men who insist that women should sit in the back of they bus, because they don't want to see them wear those "portable mechitzot" when traveling on the bus.  The driver should just announce each stop in advance like in the subways or the Long Island Railroad.

And don't forget the simplest solution for the man who doesn't want to sit next to a woman on the bus...  stand.  Yes, I'm serious and I've told men to sit together to free seats for women.

There are two very important elements ignored on the "mehadrin," women to the back buses.  One is דרך ארץ  derech eretz proper behavior between human beings, and the other is old-fashioned common sense.  On these buses, a man can't help his mother, nor can a woman help her father nor a husband a wife, etc.

Whether the ‘personal mehitzas’ is a joke or not, there are men who live as if they're wearing a lampshade on their head for many years.  I can never forget how some young chareidi men sat on the bus when a very pregnant me (almost twenty-seven years ago) stood uncomfortably.  An old woman got up to give me her seat.  Very loudly, I told her that she needed to sit, too, but those young boys should be getting up for me.

I admit that I'm no rabbi, not all that learned in Torah, but there's no doubt in my mind that it's a greater mitzvah to do "chesed," good deeds to other people than to cut yourself off and ignore others.

Shavua Tov uMevorach
Have a Good and Blessed Week


Daniel said...

It is sick. If the Chumrah is that sexes should sit separately, MEN should go to the back or stand. I was raised to always give my seat to a lady

Batya said...

Daniel, the sexes sitting in separate seats when possible is more pleasant, but dividing the buses into gender separate sections is something else.

No doubt you were well-raised.

Hadassa said...

I remember reading about the plans for mehadrin buses before they became a reality. They were supposed to be offered as an option on lines that had enough passengers to allow for some of the buses to be mehadrin without decreasing service for those who didn't want to sit separately and without being a financial drain. What happened? I read on a JPost comment that the hareidim started their own lines and then Egged asked them to stop because they would run mehadrin lines. Is that true? Privatizing the busing industry would solve this, and many other problems.
JPost article aside, in response to requests from passengers, ELAL made some of the sections on their planes movie-free. The operative word here is CHOICE. (Of course now most planes have individual screens for movies, which is good also if you want to take a nap when everyone else wants to watch a movie.)
I have stood on buses rather than sit next to men - my choice, not their demand. I have switched seats to allow men to avoid sitting next to women. I've said it before and I'll say it again, a few polite explanations from the hareidim probably would have prevented this ridiculous situation in which so many people are accusing Israel of being in the Dark Ages.
P.S. Did you quote the Tora when the old woman gave you her seat?

Batya said...

Hadassa, it really is easy on the plane to ignore movies. And if someone doesn't want to look at anyone, there are the sleep masks. I'm sure the personal mechitza story is a joke for Adar.

But about the buses, there's a "mehadrin" route in Neve Yaakov which skips the stop near the pool, because that's a Russian/chiloni neighborhood, though not exclusively. It's also a stop for the 25/45, which comes less frequently because of the mehadrin buses.

Money's a big part of the decision. Remember that more chareidm need buses than chilonium and Egged can't afford to lose their customers.

Hadassa said...

I can't sleep with a mask on and it was always impossible to ignore the big bright screen. People were given a CHOICE that made everyone happy. The same should be possible for bus travel, but it's not because the government regulates the industry to the extent that fair competition is impossible.