Thursday, November 24, 2011


Not Always as you Hear

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

I read this report on Life in Israel today.  What’s disturbing about it is not the topic under discussion but that two (supposedly) ultra-orthodox religious news outlets are reporting exactly OPPOSITE positions and directional words from a Torah leader.  We need to be aware that this is happening, and as it was reported Rav Kanviesky said, ‘if you didn’t hear it from me, don’t believe it (in my name)’…

Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita, head of Shuvu Banim and a leading Breslev rav, spoke out on the issue of women wearing shawls and full body coverings (the burqa women). 

There are conflicting reports as to what he said. Initial reports claimed Rav Berland spoke in favor of the shawls, saying that all women should be wearing shawls and that they are adding holiness and purity. It is prohibited to look at the shape of a woman, even if she is wearing a thousand coverings. Women, Rav Berland supposedly said, should not go outside and walk around in the streets - it is assur to see a woman even if she goes with a thousand shawls and a thousand covers.

Then Bechadrei got an actual recording of his shiur in which he (supposedly) said this and found he said the opposite!  According to this report, Rav Berland said those who go in shawls are building a beis hamikdash of lies, just like Chonyo built a false beis hamikdash. When a woman works on her holiness she does not put on a shawl. The shawl is meaningless. A woman who does not daven shacharis mincha or maariv wants to be considered a tzaddika so she puts on a shawl. Then another woman who davens shacharis mincha and maariv every day and sits at the Kotel for 4 hours every day saying tehillim is no longer called a tzadika. There are some women who wear the shawls who can't even hold a siddur. She puts on a shawl and suddenly she is the leading tzadekkes of the generation???

The topic itself is a very very very controversial topic and not the point of this article.  The point that there are two completely conflicting reports with one of them completely twisting a Torah leader’s words for their own agenda or opinion.

Not good.


  1. It's important that you pointed out this this phenomenon. And I'm glad to hear what he really said on the issue.

  2. thank-you for revealing what the Rav really said. Hmmkr1

  3. But either way, women can't win. Damned if we do and damned if we don't.

    Personally, I'm sick and tired of men telling us what we should be doing. I'd like to hear from some rebetzins, who are strangely silent.... although in light of all the above misquotes, it's not strange at all. In a perfect rabbinical world.....women would neither be seen, nor heard, whichever quote you want to go with.

  4. i dont know these guys are ridiculous all the avot had beautiful wives joshuas wife was a zona who had slept with a thousand men davids main wife was from adultery solomon had a thousand wives . Who are these skinny ugly men . God bless beautiful women they make my world go round .

  5. im going to amend my last comment 1 inm a baal tshuvah who used to live in the combat xzones of the world where some of the most beautiful womenb are . i actually asked my dad why so many beautiful women choose this ? my answer is by doing this theyve lost there soul in most cases . im amending this 2 because i read baba sali castigated a beautiful woman for not wearing her scarf . she refused . ended up in a mental hospital and died there a death of agony . so 3 i dont mess with tzaddikim and there views of women 4 im way way to incompetant . 5 slcha meod it was my animal soul not my godly soul .

  6. 6 beautiful women were my tiva since i was 5 years old on my mothers nudist colony . yeah you heard right . Baruch Hashem i say tehillim every day go to mikvah regularly and do constant hitbodedut on my tikkun . rav nachman says if you believe you can break believe you can fix . amen cain yehi ratzon zhut the true tzaddikim .

  7. Devorah,

    With all due respect (I know it's cliche, but I really mean it in your case), the rebbetzins don't help. I don't know about anyone else here, but I've had negative experiences with them many times, with only 1 or 2 exceptions -- same thing with rabbanim, BTW.
    I strongly feel that all this has to do with personality and mentality, not gender.
    For example, I read your blog not because you're a woman, but because I gain a lot from the information presented there and because I like the personality and hashkafah of your blog. These are also the reasons why I like Mystical Paths.
    I love the charedi world, but a lot of what's wrong with it has been and is propelled by rebbetzins as much as rabbanim. Just like there are very few truly special rabbanim/rebbes nowadays, there are very few truly special rebbetzins.
    What I'm trying to say is that we need clear voices coming from clear minds, regardless of gender, which I guess is what you mean, too.
    But these calls (not just from you) for women in general (just because they're women?) to speak up/show up doesn't solve the problem any more than putting women in politics or granting us the right to vote gave America so much. Women voted for Clinton and Obama in droves, female politicians have ended up being just as bad -- or good -- as male politicians and so on.

  8. Devorah, when you're saying you are tired of women telling us what to do, do you mean in regards to women and tznuit, or regarding the role of rabbis in Judaism of making halachic rulings that the rest of us are required to follow? Anyway, I think it would be a big kiddush Hashem for the Orthodox Jewish world if the Orthodox, both modern and Charedi, would stop adding stringencies over time. There is nothing in Judaism that says we must add more stringencies over time. It says somewhere to build a fence around a mitzvah, but not fences around fences around fences! People though increasing stringencies were important because of the rise of secularism, but they actually make the problem worse by discouraging ba'alei teshuvah and encouraging mockery and hatred. If we would only follow the halachic teachings of Rebbe Nachman, and follow the basic law(with tzniut and other subjects) without added stringencies!

    "Don't follow excessive stringencies in your practice of the Torah. 'God does not rule over His creatures with tyranny' ( Avodah Zarah 3a) - 'The Torah was not given to ministering angels' ( Berachot 25b) .

    Our rabbis have taught that it is proper for each person to choose for himself one mitzvah to observe with particular care in all its fine details ( Shabbat 118b ). Yet even with your chosen mitzvah, you should not be excessively strict to the point of folly. Don't let it make you depressed. Simply try to keep the mitzvah carefully in all its finer points, but without excessive punctiliousness.

    As for the other mitzvot, simply follow the essential laws without adding extra stringencies. If only we could keep all the mitzvot of the Torah according to the simple interpretation of the law without seeking to go beyond it!

    There is no need to look for extra stringencies: this is foolish and confusing. The essence of serving God is simplicity and sincerity. Pray much, study much Torah and carry out many good deeds without seeking out or inventing unnecessary restrictions. Simply follow the path of our forefathers. 'The Torah was not given to ministering angels.'

    There is nothing that you absolutely must do or else. If you can, you can. But if you cannot: 'God exempts a person under duress' ( Bava Kama 28b)"

    Sichos HaRan #235.

  9. I knew I shouldn't have written anything, but in the end it's what I feel.

    Yes I'm fed up with men [rabbis] telling us what to do. Are we stupid? Are all women brain-dead? Hardly.

    If I have a halachic question, I can pick up the phone and call a rabbi. However, if I have a question about my clothing, I would not ask a male, I'd seek the advice of a woman.

    Apart from the fact that every rabbi has a different opinion.... the problem is that women are continually being judged, and blamed, for every terrible event that occurs: it must be because the women aren't tznius [sarcasm here].

    We live in a world where most Jews don't even know what the word "tznius" means. And even if they did know, they are not likely to be drawn into orthodox judaism by a rabbi in Israel [or anywhere else] telling them how to dress. It is insulting, and offensive, as far as I'm concerned, and I know I speak for many other women when I write that.

    If you want to encourage people to dress in a modest way [men and women] try accepting them for who they are first, showing them some love and acceptance, and win them over that way. Hell, fire and brimstone do not work today. Love, on the other hand, will always work.

    Orthodox Jews need to stop judging others, and look in the mirror and judge themselves. Don't worry what the woman nextdoor is wearing, that's her business, not yours. If you don't like it, don't look at her. The only person in the world anyone can really control is themselves.

    I see many "tznius" people behaving badly, some of them even in jail, and publicly concerned over their inability to dress as a Jew should dress in jail. The irony of all this seems to escape them.
    Give me an honest, badly-dressed person any day, over a dishonest "tznius" exterior.

    Yes, in an ideal world, women and men would all be dressed appropriately, but that is not the world we are living in. Where oh where are all the strong orthodox Jewish women/rebbetzins? I can think of one only: Rebetzin Jungreis - who writes on the internet. Are there any more? If there are, please direct them to my blog, I'd be very happy to post their words of wisdom.

  10. Rebbetzin Jungreis is a good example. Reb. Shoshana Savyon who runs a health service also has a blog. (It's not updated often because she is busy actively helping women leaving her little time to write about it.) There is the Naaleh website which features both rebbetzins and rabbanim and Rebbetzin Heller even has a Q&A in which she answers questions about tsnius and stuff.

    Rebbetzins Heller, Pavlov, and Smiles have all written books on Torah interpretation and Rbns. Pavlov and Heller have also written books specifically addressing women's issues either in Tanach or hashkafah.

    I've noticed that in Israel for around 5 years now, women have basically ignored what rabbanim say about dress. You have the long flowing "Breslev" way of dressing, you have the Yerushalmi type, you have the "I'd like to dress like a fashionista, but this is the closest I can come to it without completely chucking halachah to the side" style of dressing, and you have ladies in shawls, etc. Most women have an instinctive repulsion to the burqa cult.

    There is nothing stopping any woman from blogging, talking, or writing. (Let's not forget that most chareidi print media is run by female editors and staff around 50% female writers -- if not more).

    And Devorah, I still think the emphasis on rebbetzins is moot, according to my own experience. Also on rabbanim. People are receiving the same level of education nowadays and in addition, anyone can learn whatever they want on their own free time. The person with the title is not necessarily any wiser or better than the person without. Your next-door neighbor can be vastly wiser and more compassionate than your local rebbetzin. Same thing with rabbanim. I've met a couple of "gadolim." I was shocked and extremely disappointed to discover that they have the same issues with middos and lack of wisdom as anyone else.

    Rabbanim don't just comment on women's stuff; halachah covers basically everything so they comment on basically everything. Should they comment on everything except anything pertaining to women?

    If someone has something to say --whether male or female -- they can just say it (in a blog, shiur, book, etc.) and let the rest of us decide if this is the derech that will benefit us most (which is what is happening in the blogging world). We all have access to sefarim and our own eyes and mind to let us decide intelligently for ourselves whose derech to follow. (Which is what Jews have always done, if you think about it.)


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