Nov 24, 2011

Updates On The Veiled/Burqa Ladies Cult And Women in Public Sphere

Over the past few days a number of interesting developments, incidents and updates have happened in the issues of the kat ha'shalim - the veiled/burqa ladies cult, and with the fight around women in the public sphere in Jerusalem. I am combining the two issues into one post, as the more I think about it the more I am convinced they are pretty much the same issue, or at least very closely connected.

Here are some interesting developments, in no particular order:
  •  Rav Ratzabi, a leading rav of the Yemenite community, spoke out the other day against the fight against the veiled/burqa ladies. Rav Ratzabi said there are tzanua women who want to wear veils, and some people including rabbonim and talmidei chachomim oppose this. They have made it into a war. They are trying to prevent people from performing a mitzva. This is something we never thought would come back, but women, nashim tzidkaniyos, have taken it upon themselves and renewed it. And now to come and oppose it? Even if rabbonim cannot lead the way in bringing it back, there are those women doing it on their own and instead of being respected for it they are being shamed. They say [they oppose it] because it is different, it is attracting, it causes chilul hashem. The rabbonim who have opposed the shals never came out against wigs, they never came out against pritzus. If they came out against shals and also against pritzus, I would say it is l'shem shamayim. But it seems like the yetzer ha'ra has taken control over them.
  • Rav Eliezer Berland, head of Shuvu Banim, also spoke out about the issue, though there are conflicting reports as to what he said. Initial reports claimed Rav berland spoke in favor of the shals, saying that all women should be wearing shals, 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 shals and a thousand covers...  Then Bechadrei got a recording of his shiur in which he said the opposite.  According to this report, Rav Berland said those who go in shals 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 shal. The shal is meaningless. A woman who does not daven shacharis mincha or maariv wants to be considered a tzaddika so she puts on a shal. 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 shals who can't even hold a siddur. She puts on a shal and suddenly she is the leading tzadekkes of the generation. 
  • Some yeshiva boys in Mea Shearim tried to light a womans shal on fire. I don't think such violence is justified.
  • Another crazy story has come out about the behavior of these women. I don't know if it is true or not, but this is what was reported: two of the leaders of the group agreed between themselves that their children would marry each other -a 16 year old son to a 23 year old daughter. The women ran the ceremony, despite the son not agreeing, and they were married (I am not sure how). Shortly after, he insisted on divorcing his new wife, but she refused to accept a get. Instead of working it out he simply went ahead and married someone else. Personally, I think this story is either completely made up or somehow confused with other stories into one mess of a story.
  • A city councilman in Jerusalem decided he has had enough with the suppression of women's images from the public sphere in Jerusalem. He decided to take action and hung from his office window a picture of a woman. Haredi askanim were upset calling it a provocation.Meir Margalit, the perpetrator of the "provocation" responded that it is not a provocation, rather there have been cases of vandalism where signs were destroyed because they had images of women. To protest the vandalism he hung the picture out his window. Margalit added that the haredim can do whatever they want in their own neighborhoods, but they should not mix into the lives of the secular public. He even claims he supports gender-segregation on haredi buses, as long as it is only on buses in haredi areas.
  • It has been said that even the women wearing shals and burqas are really expressing a form of womens liberation and freedom. Even though they are choosing to go 200 years backwards, they are choosing to do so and are not listening to the mens opinion or instructions. On that note, the women of the kotel are demanding equality by the Kotel. On the mens side of the Kotel area, various awnings have been installed for shade and protection from the elements, along with a large covered section within which many men can go to daven. On the womens side no awnings have been installed, and the covered section is very small. A group of "Kotel women" have requested of Rav Rabinovitch, the rav of the Kotel, that he create a covered area for the women as well. It seems this request was organized by an activist group after complaints of no covering after a rainy day, and they say that regular yerushalmi kotel women had complained to them as well. I don't know why no awnings or covered areas were installed by the women, but maybe it is now on the way.
  • A reporter, after following all the stories of the veiled women cult, was curious how people would react to actually see one. The reporter dressed up in a burqa and walked through downtown Jerusalem in her costume - downtown being Jaffa and King George streets. It turns out people are not so tolerant even though all she was doing was walking. The police had received a number of calls about a suspicious character and a possible terrorist. After sending cops to the area to check it out and chasing her down, they discovered it was a reporter working on a story.
Lots of crazy updates...


  1. Some yeshiva boys in Mea Shearim tried to light a womans shal on fire. I don't think such violence is justified.

    I would say it's criminal.

  2. The 2nd report, from Rav Berland, is VERY disturbing. CLEARLY it shows we can no longer rely on ANYTHING "heard" from ANY gadol unless we hear an actual recording! Who knows how it will be reported or passed around, even being told as the literal opposite.

  3. lav dafka a recording. people did some fancy cutting and pasting of stuff that rav elyashiv said

  4. I recently posted on the insanity of distorting halacha, which touches on what you wrote here (you might be interested). Rav Haim Amsalem seems to be a lone voice in the wilderness.

    Hopefully there will be others with the courage to speak up.


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