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Aug 8, 2010

Eida bans the Burqa... sort of

The burqa ban is officially here. Sort of.

There has been much speculation in recent weeks, after it was brought to light that some people had petitioned the Eida to ban the burqa, that they were about to do so.

Article after article, in news source after news source, printing speculative articles about what the Eida was about to do. I don't think the Eida ever got so much attention in such a small period of time ever before.

Well, here is what the Eida actually did. The era of speculation is finally over.

To the left you will see the latest pashkevil put out by the Eida askanim and rabbonim.

The first thing you will notice, before you even read it, is that just looking at the signatures makes you realize something fishy is going on. Not to be disrespectful to these rabbis, but only second tier Eida rabbis signed on this pashkevil. The big guns of the Eida did not put their names to this.

After that, you read the pashkevil, and while it is clearly referring to the burqa phenomenon, they never say so explicitly. They seem to be afraid to attack the burqa people directly, so they use language that is very vague, and sign it by the lower level of rabbis.

And at the same time that they very ambiguously ban the burqa, they very specifically talk about examples of non-tznua clothing.

Now let's go to the pashkevil. It was first out in the weekly ad publication, Afarsimon, published in RBS B and delivered late last night.

Here is my loose translation.

A Holy Call by City Rabbis to Fix and Strengthen the Parameters of Modesty

It is known how great it is to strengthen oneself and add hidurim to the mitzvos, especially in the realm of modesty, and through which one merits the increased closeness to Hashem, and drawing an abundance of His mercy and kindness..

And these are from the things that always require strengthening, as the rabbis have warned not to go in narrow clothing, with slits, see-through socks, or flesh colored socks/stockings, the length of the sleeve must be until the palm of the hand, the head covering must be proper, and we have merited that our righteous women have listened to these instructions, and there has been a great improvement in our camp in the issues of tzniyus.

But it is clear that any addition in these matters must be weighed carefully in the proper forum with daas torah, and it is completely forbidden that such things should be decided by women via their emotions, even if their intentions are good. [and even regarding men the Chazon Ish wrote that exactness in din has no place unless it is sourced in properly delving into the Torah], and the great pitfalls in this are known as acting independently without direction from the well known rabbonim who toil in purity and lead the community, its end will be disaster...

And for sure with women who's intelligence is light (daatan kalah: I couldn't think of a less insulting translation) it is so much worse, and care should be taken from wearing unusual clothing and coverings, that their pitfalls are very great, and in addition to that it brings them to treating their parents and teachers with disrespect, and they separate themselves from the community by removing their children from the educations systems that are administered in the ways of our forefathers and rabbonim, and who knows what the results of this will be rachmana l'tzlan, and this is definitely against the ways of tzniyus, whose main point is subservience and the honor of the women being internal, and by this way of acting they cause other people to have a certain amount of aversion to the benefits and importance of tzniyus, and they will eventually have to sit in judgement for this.

As the pasuk says, don't be overly righteous, and the error in misproperly weighing the importance of the ways of being mehader, leaving the line even to the side of overly righteou
s has already caused many pitfalls and the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash resulted from it as it says in Mesilas Yesharim.

Therefore we have come to reveal our opinion, daas torah that has been transmitted to us through the generations, and we herewith call to everyone to strengthen themselves and investigate into our own lives to fix our actions according to exactness in halacha, via adding hidurim in torah and mitzvos and fences against timely breeches, and specifically in the ways of tzniyus.. , though the directions of baalei torah v'horaah, and specifically in issues regarding the education of our dear children.


UPDATE: I was just sent the following pashkevil that is signed by the first tier Eida rabbis. This one says pretty similar things to the first pashkevil, but even more ambiguously.


  1. They seem to be saying nothing. Perhapsthere was a spare place in the magazine and they were asked to fill it on the spur of the moment :-)

  2. I was just sent a pashkevil on the topic that is signed by the head honchos of the Eida and it is even more ambiguous and says even less...

  3. The second one specifically says not to wear "re'elot", I'm not sure what the translation of that is.

  4. Those burka ladies have them scared.....

  5. I actually think the second ("first tier rabbis") pashkivil is very clear -- it says "and certainly not to wear "re'alot" (veils)".

    All of the burka/niqab type headcoverings are called "re'alot in Hebrew"

    Plus the second pashkivil at least doesn't insult women's intelligence or "emotions" ("Nashim da'atan kalah aleihen" etc.)

  6. They're not second tier; they're local.
    The burqa issue is largly a Beit Shemesh one, so it's a statement from Beit Shemesh rabbonim.

    As for the vague language, I thought they always write like that.

  7. Prediction:
    All of the chareidi leaning RBS residents who send their children to chareidi institutions with very strict and constantly updated clothing takanons that are not necessarily modest issues but rather social issues (like what material the clothing is, or skirts that cannot be too long that look like dati Leumi, etc.) - your grandkids will be going to schools that REQUIRE mothers to wear burqas. dress is not about modesty. it is about social structure. chareidem are not defined by more modestly dressed than dati leumi. many times on the contrary. compare magen avos mothers to Moriah mothers. one group is clearly chareidi, while the other is clearly dati leumi. But the chareidi group is clearly more stylish, tight, short, etc. The rabbanim know it. They have been battling this for years, to no avail. And the burqa is a solution for them. They have unsuccessfully tried telling people that pretty equals immodest. Now this is a perfect way to go. You want to be chareidi? a sheitel is not enough. Half of Ahavat Zion wear sheitels today! They need a different socially defining dress and the burqa hits 2 birds with one stone. Social and modest. Too bad it emulates Islam.


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