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Dec 29, 2011

Interesting Psak: Talking To Female Security Guards

A few weeks ago there was a dispute in Jerusalem in a mall called Center 1. Center 1 is a small mehadrin mall - some small shops and a few restaurants that are all mehadrin food. This little mall main target clientele is the haredi public.

It was publicized a few weeks ago that a female security guard had been appointed as the head of security of the mall. Shortly after the announcement, within the day I think, her appointment was rescinded. She claimed that it was rescinded under pressure from haredi askanim who did not find it appropriate to have a female security guard and even worse to have her in charge of the whole place. Her being in such a position would require them to talk to a strange woman, as they would have to answer questions when asked for security reasons, and they would be under the authority of a secular woman.

The haredim took their time, but eventually the askanim denied it and said it was for purely professional reasons, as they didn't find her specifically to be suitable for the job. The fact that she was replaced by a male was coincidental. They even said there are other female security guards there and in many other places and nobody has a problem with it.

Classic "he says, she says" situation.

The story was reported in some of the haredi distribution, but did not really get noticed by the mainstream media.

The Yated Neeman, according to Mynet, related to the story now in the sense of an interesting psak that has come as a result of it.

According to the Yated, Rav Elyashiv's opinion is that because the security guard is only talking to you for security reasons, to ascertain that the person entering the mall is not a possible terrorist, there is no problem in responding to her query. A woman could respond to a male security guard, and a man could respond to a female security guard's question and greeting.

The Yated says that this is agreed to as well by Rav Shmuel Wosner and Rav Moshe Sternbuch. Answering with a few short words is not included in the prohibition of greeting and chatting with a woman. Rav Nissim Karelitz supposedly added, though I think his addition is also clear in what is quoted from Ravs Elyashiv, Wosner and Sternbuch, that a person should answer briefly and remove yourself from the situation quickly, so it should not develop into a superfluous conversation with a woman.


  1. You should retitle as "ridiculous psak". It is incredible that anyone should need Rav Elyashiv to tell him this. BTW this psak was originally given by Bruria - a woman - almost 2000 years ago and therefore even for those in need of such important spiritual guidance they should have just opened their gemaras. That is if there is no problem of reading the words spoken by a long dead woman... though given that these people are "בריא" maybe a dead woman is as good as an eight year old one.

  2. Could you do me a favor? Please go to Yerushalayim and ask Ra Elyashiv if it's permitted to buy something in a store where the clerk is female? Also, if it's permitted for my wife to shop in a store where the clerk is a man. After you get his psak, please go ask Rav Wosner, Rav Chaim, Rav Nissim Karelitz and Rav Aryeh Leib. I am not sure what to do next time we need food. I am really concerned we will have to start coordinating our shopping to make sure I go to the stores with male clerks and my wife to female clerks.

    I am amazed this isn't addressed in SH"A!

  3. You know what? More than worry about why these people have to ask such questions to R' Elyashiv, I just feel bad for R' Elyashiv! People make him crazy about the strangest things, and they do it incessantly...

    May HaShem help him and grant him good health.


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